Chapter 10: Rocks Fall
What had she done to deserve this?
Alright, stop. It was a rhetorical question.
Juri, silently regretting several life choices, continued slogging through sewer tunnels. Needing something -- anything -- to take her mind off of the pungent smells and alarmingly chunky current around her calves, she tried to figure out exactly what kind of place she had been ushered into this time. It didn't seem terribly advanced; these tunnels were simply carved through the bedrock it resided in, with little to no regard for looks or craftsmanship. But there must have been something at least above this worth having, judging by the muffled booms and muted rumbles which made their way down this far despite layers of stone. So before professional plumbing, but after blackpowder bombs. What a time to be alive.
Her investigation was halted as a pinprick of golden light passed by her ear, letting off a fluttery tinkle noise before it shot off down one of the tunnels in an upcoming fork.
It clearly wanted her to follow. It was probably an obvious, horrible trap. But still, would that be any worse than what she had now?
Picking up her pace, Juri eagerly chased the fleeing glow.
The mysterious twinkle had a head start and the gift of flight, but if Juri had one skill to her name it was the ability to hustle when needed. It was not long before Han was able to snatch the glowing object right out of the air and bring it down for closer examination.
This was by far the weirdest looking mosquito she had ever seen.
Jokes aside, she gazed down in silent awe at the little creature as it tried to free its lower half from Juri's grasp and fluttered its dazzling rainbow wings. Up until this point the only fairy she knew wore a silly mask and refused to shut up about his face. Not only finding the real deal, but actually holding it while the thing spouted off angry chime noises, for a brief moment let what little sense of childlike wonder she still had burble to the surface.
It was only a moment, though. And after it submerged once more, what remained began to mull over possibilities.
The little pixie girl's cries -- while still small by nature -- grew louder as Juri slowly tightened her grip. The fairy shook its head from side to side in a much more translatable plea, but that was halted as Juri placed her hooked thumb under its tiny chin. The mystical, delicate creature was now being handled like a champagne bottle; complete with a "cork" ready to be popped.
"Think happy thoughts, Tink."
Before she could finish sending her new friend to Neverland, Juri heard the sound of a bowstring pulling taut somewhere nearby. Having kept in mind the possibility of an ambush, Juri ducked down and five arrows flew over her.
Turning to find the source, expecting to find a small band of archers, Juri was instead greeted only by a single figure. It was difficult to hammer out specifics due to the cloak; but it was definitely a woman, she was a bit on the small side, and she held a bow which was currently being readied once again.
Juri drew from her Feng Shui engine to advance on her foe through the next barrage of arrows; amazed -- yet befuddled -- at how the girl was firing entire volleys like that at all, let alone so quickly. Causing the last shot to go wild as she kicked the bow straight up, Juri finally got a better look at her new toy when she recoiled and her hood fell back.
Oh, that explained a bit. This little knife-ear could pull off archery tricks no human could ever attempt because she wasn't human.
Juri had never killed an elf before. This was going to be a learning experience for the both of them.
Han moved in to play, but was cut short as the one wild arrow came down right between them. Enchanted with some strange type of elf magic, its landing produced a small shockwave along the ground. The Elf was obviously ready for this, but Juri stumbled back and accidentally lost hold of the fairy while trying her best not to faceplant into raw sewage.
Seeing that the Elf had already retreated to a safe distance, Juri focused on recapturing the pixie as soon as her footing was back under control. It fluttered past her shoulder, and as she swung around to reach for it she...
This must be the muscle. This must be all the muscle.
Juri swung to the side as an absolutely colossal axe -- more than enough to cleave her cleanly in two, surely -- came down with all the force of a meteor on the spot where she was just previously standing. This naturally sent many things best left unmentioned in many directions best left unelaborated on, but Juri paid it next to no mind. Squeamishness was a luxury, and one which had now long passed.
Judging that such a mighty blow must have firmly wedged the double-headed battleaxe into the ground, Juri quickly engaged the Amazon (there was nothing else a woman like that could be) before she had any chance to pry it loose. Han was correct in her assumption, but had overlooked a few important details.
As Juri brought around a roundhouse kick to floor the Amazon, she found it halted halfway by a similar kick from the Amazon herself. Juri switched tacks and tried to move in for a knee, but got a boot to the gut for her troubles. It seemed that those thunder thighs were not just for show; this larger-than-life warrior was rivaling the artificially enhanced footsies of Han via sheer muscle mass alone.
At least Juri still had the speed advantage. At first. As they continued to trade blows on one another, it soon became clear that this muscle-mountain was also a slow burner on top of everything else. What were once haltingly cautious movements soon flowed effortlessly into each other, sealing shut all vulnerable openings and turning her onslaught into a continuous flow of pain as she got more and more into the groove of battle.
Now Juri was just trying to keep pace instead of leading the fight; a concept both unfamiliar and more than a little frightening to her. Doing her best to defend herself, she desperately looked around for something to shake things up.
Well, there was the Elf back there. She had retrieved her ammo and had been circling the duel, but had not fully readied her notched arrow yet. Apparently, she couldn't get a clear enough bead on Han.
Juri could probably help with that.
Launching herself over the Amazon entirely -- but grabbing hold of her wild locks while doing so -- Juri landed on the other side, flung up her arms, and puffed out her chest in display.
Faced with such a brazen, obvious target, the Elf couldn't help but take the bait. Which is just what Juri was hoping for.
Right as the volley of arrows was loosed, Han pulled down on the Amazon's hair. The Amazon herself was forced to fall backwards due to this; landing face-up and draped over the now crouching Juri.
The five arrows, meant for Han, sunk into the flesh of her human shield instead. One hit the Amazon in the mouth; plowing through her teeth and slowing to a stop only after it had already pierced through the bottom of her jaw. Another landed home in an eyesocket, destroying the contents with a terrible squelch and a spray of liquid. The other three, going higher, were peppered about her chest and collarbone.
The Amazon had only a moment to gurgle in confusion before Juri finished rolling her over her shoulders, heaving the wounded warrior face down into the muck so that the weight of her body could drive the arrows in even deeper.
Juri glanced back up at the Elf. Mortified, she had dropped her bow and now held both of her hands in front of her mouth.
"Missed" Juri jeered.
Juri was more than willing to just step back and leave them alone for a minute or so, if only to see how this haughty-by-default Elf would handle an ally dying in her arms. But the choice was ultimately not left up to her, as she soon discovered when a miniature tornado formed at her feet and lifted her into the air.
Flailing about in the twister, Juri eventually spotted the new addition to this party. Apparently the fairy had gone off to get even more backup, and had returned seated on the shoulder of this...
Excuse me, what?
How would she... how does she... how can she be? Imagine just trying to sit up in the morning!
Maybe she was overthinking this. That's clearly a witch. Even if Juri wasn't currently floating because of her, the hat and staff were a dead giveaway. Magic mastery could probably pull off a whole lot more than even the best plastic surgeons. Throw in a couple tactically placed levitation enchantments, and hell-
Juri's sidetracking would have to wait, as this witch was not content with just annoying her opponent. Pointing her wooden staff at the stone roof, a decent sized chunk broke off to fall onto Juri and send her crashing into the sludge below.
Furiously sputtering, Juri pushed herself up to a crouch.
"You hag, my mouth was ope-"
Her griping was frozen, quite literally, as the witch motioned again and Juri was engulfed by a surge of ice. But the ice was only a thin layer -- brittle and quickly thawing -- while it's captive was now absolutely flaming with white-hot rage. The witch had only a moment to start casting her next attack -- and the fairy a moment to take flight and get some distance from any possible danger -- before Juri had broken free and was upon her.
To the caster's credit, though, the spell did make it through. It just didn't help much in it's current state. A small, angry thundercloud drifted off aimlessly, shooting down bolts of lightning at random while it's creator was beaten behind it.
This Sorceress, being a well versed practitioner of powerful dark arts, was no doubt a mighty force to be reckoned with... from twenty feet away, and with fifteen minutes of prep time. There were good reasons why the term "Squishy wizard" had gained traction among certain communities, and in an up close and personal brawl with an angry martial artist she proved to be just about as dough-like as expected.
Panicking, the Sorceress attempted to raise a wall of ice between her and her assailant, but the incantation was foiled by a rising flip-kick that was meant for her face but had failed to clear her ludicrous chest on the way up. Letting out a hurt gasp, she attempted to use her new airborne state to levitate some distance between her and her opponent, but Juri quickly put an end to that by seizing her legs and slamming her back onto the slimy floor.
Writhing in pain and partially engulfed by the rancid river they were fighting through, the Sorceress had only just fully regained her senses when Juri picked her new method of attack. Seizing one leg in one hand, and a clump of red hair in the other, Juri began to stomp down on the spellcaster's twig of a stomach to see how fast she could turn this hourglass figure into a two-part series.
As the Sorceress' cries grew weaker under the almost literal mudhole stomping, and her arms fell back to bob limply in the muck around them, Juri started thinking about possible ways to top her off. Maybe she could test out that old theory about witches being able to float? Ooh! If she could find a torch-
A sharp bolt of agony bit into the small of her back, causing her to freeze up in pain. Reaching behind her, she found a small hand and the hilt of a dagger before it was pulled out only to be plunged back into her side.
Stumbling back and attempting not to crumple as the Elf wrapped an arm around her neck, Juri let go of her previous prey and tried to shake off this renewed threat. She barely regarded the little poof of her former captive teleporting away with the fairy, but still made note of it with growing frustration. This game of musical chairs was getting old.
The dagger currently carving up her back and side was just as fun-sized as it's owner, but that did not mean it was harmless. Juri could already feel the flesh wounds start to tingle and numb; apparently reacting to some sort of toxin coating the blade. And even if she could recover from this poison given time, it would be significantly harder to bounce back from a slit throat.
The Elf was too nimble to get a good hold on from such an awkward position, and too clingy to shake off. But she still was... well, a fragile little elf.
Allowing herself to fall backwards completely, Juri's body pinned down her diminutive opponent under the sewer waterline.
Realizing too late the situation she had trapped herself in, the little knife-ear released her grip on Han and began to flail about in an attempt to break free. It was a futile effort; her kind was never built with raw strength in mind, and the body pinning her down outweighed her several times over. In an act of desperation she tried to force Juri off by bringing the dagger around to stab at her face, but Han was actually waiting for this and seized her by the wrist before the weapon could be driven home.
Juri pried the knife out of the Elf's slackening grasp, and with a hold still on her wrist sat up and looked about for inspiration. Settling her gaze on the aimless little cloud still puttering around the sewer, Han broke into a smile.
Standing up, and spinning the Elf around her a few times to build up momentum, Juri flung her lithe opponent up and through the supernatural thunderhead. The Elf sizzled and crackled through the air after plowing through it, only to hit the opposite wall face-first and slide down into a twitching heap.
Juri took a step toward the smoking Elf, testing the weight of the pilfered dagger in her grasp, then stopped. Oh no. She wasn't falling for this again.
Readying her new blade and spinning in place, Juri swept the area for the next possible blindsiding.
Figures. The first time she was ready for someone breathing down her neck, no one was there.
The Sorceress had apparently booked it for real, with no trace of her left but that finally fading raincloud. The Elf was still smoldering against the wall over there. And the Amazon was the first to...
...Waait a second.
It seemed that Juri was wrong to count out the grayback so soon. Leaning against her colossal battleaxe, the Amazon grimaced as she finished pulling the last arrow through her jaw. The others, more securely embedded, were merely broken off at their wounds to not further inhibit movement but the message was clear: She was by no means done yet.
"Well well well..." Juri chided, moving in while trying to mask how heavy her poisoned limbs felt. "...You get lost on your way to Valhalla?"
The Amazon looked up at Juri with the one eye she had left, and in spite of the circumstances managed what would have probably been considered a pained smile if she had seven or so more teeth. Slowly, the one hand not being used to keep her standing moved down to a tiny locket strapped to her armored bikini string and popped it open. Dabbing her fingers inside it to coat them with warpaint, she then dragged them across her face to stain herself even more crimson.
Then with a determined heft of her axe, and a war cry far more booming than it had any right to be, the Amazon lunged and swung.
Despite all the bravado that still remained, the Amazon was more than half dead and moved like it. But Juri was not the most nimble at the moment either; firmly in the grips of a venom plucking away at her nervous system. The resulting fight was thus slow and deliberate, and not just because of the "molasses" they were forced to wade through.
Juri ducked under the Amazon's horizontal swipe, rising afterwards to press an attack, but found herself battered and bowled over by a barrage of phantom swings following it. Turned out that the warpaint was not just for show. The Amazon now had several deceptively solid afterimages following her every motion; and while they did not pack the lethal edge of the original, being struck by three echoes of such a mighty blow was still nothing to take lightly.
Aching, but still aware enough to realize what the new cry above her meant, Juri scrambled around the Amazon as the axe came down behind her. While her mountain of an opponent re-hefted her colossal weapon, Juri took the opportunity to stab her a few times in the thigh with her stolen dagger. It was like trying to fell an ox, with so many layers of muscle in the way that nothing important was even touched, but if the toxin on this blade hit her as bad as it did Juri then that would soon be a moot point.
The Amazon turned and raised her weapon for an overhead smash, giving Juri plenty of time to gouge away at her stomach. This was going surprisingly well all things considered; her foe was simply too slow to maneuver that cinderblock of a tool, and all Juri had to do was keep at it until she eventually crumbled.
However, she soon discovered that she wasn't the only one to reach this conclusion.
Letting the raised axe drop and embed itself with a weighty thud behind her, the Amazon quickly reached down to take hold of either side of Juri's head. Then, lifting her fully off the ground, started adding pressure with intent to crush her skull.
Feet dangling and headache rapidly mounting, Juri frantically slashed at the arms and upper body of her opponent to no avail. Although the poison would eventually take its toll, Han would be little more than a discarded corpse floating down the sewers by the time it could make any difference.
Slowly, but surely, Juri's struggles began to wane. The dagger slipped out of her now fumbling grip, and despite all the willpower she had left demanding otherwise her arms eventually fell to limply sway at her sides.
Feeling herself start to cloud over as the pressure reached excruciating levels, Juri's glassy gaze tried to focus on what could be very well the last face she ever saw. The one good eye of her dominator all but blazed with triumph, the other obviously...
With the last of her strength, Juri reached out to the Amazon's face...
...dug her shivering fingers into the warrior's bare eyesocket...
...took hold of the embedded arrow shaft as firmly as she could...
As a sickening, wet SHLRRK filled the sour air, and Juri was splattered with chunks of grey matter, the pressure on her skull ceased and she was allowed to fall back into the muck. Never so happy to be covered in refuse, Han bobbed helplessly for a few minutes before getting enough of herself back together to rise.
The Amazon was... Still not dead?
She had fallen to a kneel, coming to a rest on her considerable haunches. The Amazon had obviously lost control of almost everything -- her only movement being involuntary seizing of her body and twitches across her face -- but her one good eye still lazily tracked Juri as she moved. She was on death's welcoming mat, and the door was wide open. All that she needed was a little push.
Wrapping both of her hands around the broken woman's throat, Juri brought herself in and spoke.
"Your princess put up a better fight."
Then, laying on her weight, Juri forced the Amazon back and onto the axe blade embedded behind her.
The Amazon could do little to even protest her agonizing execution, but her seizures intensified and a few involuntary groans escaped as she sunk deeper into her own weapon. Only when Juri felt new pain herself -- that of the axe making it's way clear through the shuddering mountain of muscle below her and cutting into her own stomach -- did she stop actively pushing and simply rest on her newest trophy. She merely laid there, exploring the many features of such an exceptional body, until it eventually ceased to even tremble and began to cool.
After she felt that she had her fill, and was ready to continue, Juri slid off her slippery prize and retrieved her discarded dagger.
One down. Two and a tenth to go.
The Elf was still slumped against her wall; alive and breathing, but out of it. That wouldn't be any fun at all.
The Elf woozily came-to and turned to the source of the call, only to stifle a shriek at what she saw. What used to be her comrade-in-arms was now nothing more than a corpse, broken and violated upon her own weapon. And the monster which had done this was now hobbling it's way towards her.
"I have something of yours." Juri cooed, waving the dagger playfully. "Where should I return it?"
Hastily, the Elf ran through her options. This woman had just slaughtered their best close quarters fighter, so she wouldn't have anything even approaching a chance in an actual duel. She still had her bow -- having holstered it on her back when she went in with the dagger -- but with her state of panic and the aftereffects of electrocution she would barely get an arrow notched before her own knife came down. She needed an opening to escape and regroup.
Putting forward one palm and closing her eyes, the Elf called for the spirits of nature to aid her.
At first Juri did not take note of the ripples, chalking it all up to her wading through the "river" causing them. But as waves began to form, pushing her back with each collision, she soon put two and two together.
This was by far the most disgusting strategy she had ever been subject to. Sure, the Elf didn't have the best of options concerning water down here, but come on. Come on!
Bracing herself against the new fetid tide wishing to wash her away, and trying her best to ignore the sting of it pouring over her open wounds, Juri continued the now much more difficult trek to her next plaything.
Opening her eyes a fraction, the Elf examined what was happening and was slightly dismayed. The monster had been slowed, but not stopped, and what she actually needed was to push it away.
Bringing her other hand up alongside the first, the Elf called harder to the spirits and the waves transformed into a geyser.
The Elf lost sight of Juri completely underneath the surge of water, but that was inconsequential. She couldn't have been faring terribly well behind all that. Bringing her hands closer together to better focus the blast, the Elf briefly entertained the idea of this monster being crushed against the sewer wall...
...until a fist swung out of the torrent, skewering both of her hands on a dagger.
Losing control of the water, the Elf was left face to face with a Juri soaked, soiled, and pissed in more ways than one.
"You're going to pay for that." Juri growled at her cowering captive.
The Elf tried to back away, but Juri used her... hold on both of the archer's hands to pull her in for a knee to the face. The twig-like crunch of that delicate little nose breaking was music to Juri's ears, and as the hooded girl fell to her knees Han sauntered around and cradled her jaw from behind.
"You know, I don't have to make this horrible for you. Could just snap your dainty little neck. Quick, easy, and relatively dignified."
She caressed the Elf's head with her free hand, ending at the tip of one of her pointed ears, before continuing.
"I won't, though."
Giving the Elf's back a kick and forcing her onto all fours, Juri lightly rested a foot between the small girl's shoulderblades before continuing.
"I could say it's because of how you cut me up. I could say it's because of that septic avenger crap you just pulled. I could just say that it's just because I feel like it. But all of that isn't quite right."
Juri's foot bore down a little harder, causing the girl's elbows to tremble under the growing force and her hands to grind even worse against the blade inside them.
"Truth is, you're an elf. Never liked elves in anything they've popped up in. I don't think anyone really does."
Her arms were now threatening to buckle under the pressure; a worrying proposition, considering what lay below.
"An ancient race of snooty twits that only exist to complain and get nothing done. You almost always have aeons on any other living race, but even goblins figure out stuff like engines and bombs before you do. You give nothing and expect everything, just because you're good at not-dying in some out of the way forest. But I could forgive all that. You know what really gets me?"
Juri leaned down as far as she could, and whispered:
"Your cookies suck."
Before finally bearing down in full and forcing her captive under the waterline.
The Elf thrashed and grasped under the vile waters, searching for a way back to air but finding none. She wanted to weep and cry out, but knew that it would bring an end to her that much faster. Not like this. Not like this!
"Easy there," Juri spoke down to the bucking form under her. "Breathe deep and relax. Santa's calling you home."
The Elf reached out to the spirits -- of nature, of her ancestors, of anything -- but she was far too panicked to get any useful message out to sympathetic ears.
She did attract some attention, though, and as her lungs began to burn several beings from beyond the veil paused to take notice.
"Huh." Juri mumbled to herself, watching with interest as droplets of water began to rise and circle around them.
The Elf, despite every fiber of her being shrieking against it, could not take it any more. Her lungs finally expelled the last of her used-up air in a single, violent burst, and with no other option available began to pull in sewage
She was now officially drowning. And, as her traitorous body filled her mouth and nose with the worst of the worst, she could not wait to die.
The water drops had now almost completely filled the area around them, and had picked up quite an impressive speed. The effect was like looking at the world through thousands of tiny, constantly shifting lenses. Juri was quite impressed that such a surreal, breathtaking sight could take place down here of all places; but then again, she had a habit of finding beauty in unusual things.
Speaking of which, she looked down at the relaxing form beneath her foot. It was getting about that time.
The Elf's bulging, bloodshot eyes stung as the dirty water flowed over them, but she didn't care enough to will them closed. It would not be an issue for much longer. As her body finished it's last weak, pitiful gulps, and a warmth spread through her brain, she was thankful.
It was over. Finally over.
Thank... the spirits...
It was a tad difficult to really gauge when someone has fully drowned. At least usually. But when the mystical watershow around them ceased and fell back into the "river" just as the Elf's final spasms wound down, Juri was rather certain that she could chalk this one up as a done deal.
Removing her foot from what used to be the Elf, she watched the body bounce up and bob for a moment before seizing it by the hood. Dragging it behind her as she walked back to her previous battleground, Juri prepared for take three.
The Sorceress bit her lip, and tried not to groan with every lurch.
Forced to use her staff of untold magical power as a simple walking stick, she queasily carried on with her free hand clutching her bruised stomach. It pained her to leave her allies high and dry like that; but she could barely take a step without the urge to dry heave, let alone help in a battle.
The others were more than good enough to deal with a single threat. Surely they had it under wraps by now, and when they met up again she could apologize for-
The Sorceress was filled with a sense of foreboding as the little fairy Tiki, who had gone scouting ahead, flew back into sight and didn't even slow as she zipped by.
The feeling cemented itself into much more concrete despair when she found out exactly what her guide was fleeing from.
So worth it.
It was no easy feat dragging the corpses of the two adventurers behind her all this way -- the Elf by her hood and the Amazon by her hair -- but the look on this witch's face more than made up for everything. Juri only wished that she could somehow get a personal recording, just so she could pinpoint the exact moment the spellcaster's hope died.
"Hey Sabrina," Juri started, pulling up her cargo so that the witch could get a good look at their vacant, slack faces. "Are these yours?"
Han unceremoniously threw the bodies at the witch's feet, and watched with pleasure as the spellcaster carefully kneeled down to examine them.
"You should have heard them as they died," Juri continued, attempting to twist the knife as much as she could. "They were calling out your..."
She looked on with confusion as the Sorceress brought the head of her staff down on the bodies, "shocking" them with a burst of magic. It was only when the corpses started to stir, and they turned their empty stares back at her, did she realize her mistake.
"You're... you're a necromancer, huh?"
The bad news for Juri was that it was three on one yet again.
The good news was that, whatever was in the bodies now, it weren't the original souls. These things were a little slower, a tad weaker, and a whole lot dumber.
The "Elf" probably wasn't going to be much of a problem; she still had her hands skewered together, and was making no effort to free them, meaning that as long as Juri didn't stop to take a nap she could probably fend off that one just fine. The "Amazon" however, might be tricky. Juri had left the colossal axe behind (and thank god for that), but it still left this bear of a body trying its best to either beat her skull in or tear her arms off.
And then there was the witch.
Juri moved in on the Amazon corpse with a Feng Shui Engine-powered axe kick, hoping to put it down fast so that she could more easily deal with the other two, but hit an unexpected snag. Her opponent was covered in a divine, yellow glow moments before her strike connected with the Amazon corpse's forehead, and the only difference it made now was that she had a bruised heel.
Hopping back and resisting the urge to massage her foot, Juri quickly realized the source of this new bother. That bloody witch with a capital "B" was not much of a fighter by herself, but that didn't mean she was useless. Concentrating on her glowing staff, she was very clearly channeling a protection spell for her undead minions.
That simply wouldn't do.
Juri turned to go after the witch herself, but was grabbed from behind by what used to be the Amazon. Wrapping it's muscled arms around her, it held Han in place as it bit down on her shoulder.
Juri gasped as fresh blood began to run down her chest; mortified at the new prospect that, after all she had gone through, it could likely end like a pitiful little bird beneath a crowd of jackals. The reanimated limbs which held her were beastly in strength even before factoring in her fatigue, holding strong against all of her struggles. In fact, the only "give" she could feel was...
...Eergh. Was there any way this day couldn't go lower?
Taking a deep breath, then bringing up her hands to instead shove back against the Amazon's grip, Juri pushed herself through the huge axe wound in the corpse's torso and out the other side.
Juri was less than thrilled to add a new coat of viscera to her current layers of filth, and even less so the addition of even more as she fell right back into the sewer "water" upon exit, but with any luck at all this would be the last indignity for today.
On her, of course.
Crawling through the Amazon's legs and moving away from it as the less-than-bright force inside attempted to parse what had just happened, Juri worked her way towards her actual target. The Elf tried to get in the way at this point, but Han only paused to yank the dagger out of it before shoving over the negligible threat.
The Sorceress, lost in concentration, only came back to the here and now when she felt a hand cover the one holding her staff.
And she had only begun to vocalize a warning as her opponent, long past caring at all, stomped down on the Sorceress' staff to snap it in two and release the energies coursing through it.
The Sorceress came-to slunched against the wall, in what was now apparently a winter wonderland.
The magic staves that spellcasters of her type worked with always linked a single natural element more closely than any of the others. Although many often considered the choice minor, it actually did effect what the user could do and how well they could perform at certain tasks. This Sorceress appreciated the many supplemental capabilities of ice, and thus it was that energy which was released in a blast upon its destruction.
The walls were covered by a thin sheer of crystal, giving it a bit of a sheen depending on the angle viewed from. The sewer waters were also partially frozen, although it was only a surface layer already on it's way to thawing out completely. And while she was chilled by the speckles of ice all across her body, it was by no means a danger to her health.
The real danger in that regard was just turning back her way, having finished looting her freshly de-animated companions.
Juri stood tall as she could as she worked her way back through the icy slush, obviously slowing down to let the Sorceress take everything in. She still held the stolen dagger which had served her well enough thus far, but true to the spirit of an adventurer had also added even more weaponry as spoils from her conquests. The Sorceress could see what used to be the Elf's bow and quiver strapped to her back -- by far the most obvious prizes -- but no doubt other trinkets had been snatched and squirreled away as well.
As Juri closed the last bit of distance the Sorceress pushed herself up and held out a pleading hand; but that only let Juri pin it cleanly to the wall above them with the dagger before Han laid a round of knees into her already bruised stomach. Feeling her insides churn with each blow, the witch could only lean against her torturer as she dry-heaved against Han's shoulder.
For a moment the blows stopped, and the Sorceress was given a moment of respite to cough and sputter, but the she soon discovered that this was not an act of mercy. When Juri's arms wrapped around her tiny waist, and she was lifted into the air, she could only look down at the grinning face between her breasts and beg for mercy.
"You kidding?" Juri asked; having to consciously avoid licking her dirty lips as she smirked up at what could be seen of her prey's face between the mountains she was buried between. "I've been waiting all day for this!"
Juri waited until the bearhug started to cut off her victim's air supply before she brought her face back down and committed to burying herself between the Sorceress' breasts. She wanted to hear the spellcaster get choked off, and she wasn't entirely sure if the noises would even reach her where she was going.
The Sorceress herself arched her back, in a desperate attempt to relieve the pressure of Juri's hold, and gasped for air that refused to come. Her one free hand fruitlessly beat on Juri's shoulder, the blows capable by her scholarly muscles barely even registering to the seasoned combatant they landed against.
Even if the Sorceress could put up a good fight, Juri probably wouldn't have paid any more attention to it. She was too busy taking in what was truly a once-in-a-lifetime situation. She was more than familiar with the idea of "burying" oneself in cleavage, but with the literally head-sized mounds on either side of her she had truly been enveloped. It was in a way primally satisfying; no light, no noise, no world. Just the moist darkness of flesh, and the pulse of racing heart.
The Sorceress' tongue escaped her mouth and lolled as she willed herself not to pass out, knowing full well that if she drifted off she would probably never wake up again. Her struggles were ironically bolstered as something popped in her spine, and waves of agony coursing through her back jolted her back into full awareness.
Juri was well aware of the first give, hearing the dislocation as well as the witch's heart skipping a beat even better than the spellcaster herself. Beaming within her personal paradise, Juri ratcheted up the pressure and listened to the music.
The Sorceress tried to let loose shriek after shriek as her back bowed more and she felt it crumble apart inside her, but the only noises her body could make were the crackles of her spine itself. Turning both blue from the lack of air and pale from the sheer trauma, she could do nothing more at this point than weakly hold on to the back of Juri's head with her good hand.
Juri could not see the Sorceress' pitiful state from below, but it did not mean that she could not tell. The heartbeats and pulsings of blood below the skin had begun to slow and grow erratic. It would only take a few more moments to finish her for good.
That was a tempting offer, but Juri... was not finished yet.
Bidding the natural nirvana farewell, Juri pulled with all her might in one brutal motion.
Despite the tiny size of it compared to everything else, the Sorceress' torso let loose an impressive snap as it finally broke in two and folded back upon itself. Juri once again saw light as the chest she was buried in fell away, no longer limited by the restrictions of a spine.
Letting go and stepping back, Juri let the shuddering body slide back down the wall. Although still kept somewhat upright by the dagger-embedded hand, there was no chance of the Sorceress standing on her own power any more; and the only thing she did upon regaining the ability to breathe was let out the wails that had built up until then.
She actually kept at that for quite a while; it was mostly the increasing hoarseness of her vocal chords that forced her to stop than anything else. Only when she could physically scream no more did she look up and discover the next stage of her misery.
Juri had stepped back a ways, and had raised and aimed the Elf's stolen bow with a similarly pilfered arrow already notched. She was obviously not nearly as adept with it as the previous owner; her aim wavering an alarming amount even as she tried to steady her hand.
"Hey Salem..." Juri spoke to the witch in a mockingly conversational tone. "...you think I can hit your hat?"
Juri's first shot naturally went-off target, and considering basic probabilities it was no surprise where it actually landed.
The Sorceress convulsed as the first arrow buried itself deep into her right breast, piercing through the fat and slowing to a stop against her chestplate. She tried to beg for Han to stop, but could only manage an unintelligible mewl.
Damn it, Juri thought to herself. She really should have taken her father up on that archery tutor. Would have served her a lot better than accounting, that's for sure.
Oh well, hindsight is always 20/20. And as Juri notched another arrow, she briefly debated on whether it was better to aim with one eye closed or not before giving up and loosing it anyway.
The second shot embedded itself between the collarbone and throat of the spellcaster, turning her whimpers into burbles and raspy coughs. Knowing that this may have nicked a jugular, and thus drastically reduced their time left together, Juri hastily took a handful of arrows from the quiver and tried them one after the other.
This turned out to be a remarkably poor decision. Han's aim, already nothing special, turned to hot garbage as she focused on speed over accuracy. Bolts plunged into the Sorceress' chest, arms, stomach, and in one particularly embarrassing case leg as the woman convulsed and wept below them.
Reaching once more to the quiver on her back, Juri discovered that she had only one arrow left.
Alright. Had to make this count.
Wading her way up to her pincushion, Juri pulled back the arrow and notched it. Then, using the tip as a pointer, forced the Sorceress' head upwards.
They stayed that way for a moment, with Juri aiming upwards through the witch's jaw and the spellcaster looking down at Juri with bleary, tear framed eyes. Curiously, it was the Sorceress who eventually broke the silence.
Juri, pleasantly surprised, could at first only reply with a chuckle before continuing.
"Don't you know it."
Juri released her hold on the arrow, and it shot up through the Sorceress' chin and into her skull. It slowed as it plowed through brain and bone, but with point-blank range it had enough force to tunnel the bolt right through. Finally grinding to a halt, the metal arrow head twinkled crimson as it poked through the magician's hat it had pierced from below.
The Sorceress' eyes lost focus, and slowly crossed as internal signals misfired and shorted out. Her jaw dropped, and a thin line of drool began to drip down as gravity ran its course. Gradually, in unnatural jerks, her head drooped until it rested against her collarbone. She trembled a few more times -- mere shivers more than anything -- and then hung motionless.
Juri dropped the bow and took a few steps back, so to better frame her newest conquest. The arrows were more than a bit sloppy, but it kind of added a brutal appeal. Not too bad, all things considered.
Although, she knew that she was still not quite finished here.
The tiny fairy Tiki flew on, absolutely overcome with terror. She had to find an exit, but all of these passages blended together as she fled. She couldn't hide, as her glowing body would be clear as day no matter where she went. All she could do was race on and pray that-
Tiki's tiny heart almost gave out as the woman she was fleeing from appeared before her, having apparently recovered well enough to pull off her feats of speed again. The shock had only halted her flight for a moment, but that was long enough, and Juri plucked her right out of the air by seizing one of her feet between a thumb and forefinger.
"Did you think I forgot about you?" Juri asked, flicking her wrist to whip the petrified pixie back and forth. "Still got to pay you back for that little surprise party you set up."
Juri's hand slowed to a stop, allowing the slightly concussed Tiki to dangle from her grip as she thought something over.
"Although, you did help me find everyone I would have needed to kill anyway... but then again, it probably would have been easier if I fought them one-by-one..."
Juri raised the little creature up in front of her face, eyeing it with care.
"I'm not exactly sure what to do with you, all things considered. Let me think about it for a moment."
Tiki was lowered again, and was given a couple seconds to regain her wits. But as she came fully back, her renewed struggles were halted as another thumb and finger clamped down on the upper segment of her left wing.
The beautiful, transparent upper half of one of her wings was pulled clear off of her body, then let go to drift lazily to the sewer floor as Tiki shrieked and thrashed. Her little fairy language was built in such a way that even her cries of agony were oddly soothing, like a wind chime in a strong gust.
"Forgive you not."
Her upper right wing segment was plucked and discarded, doubling the fairy's musical squeals of pain and despair. In a fit of desperation Tiki reached back herself and tried to hold her bottom left wing segment in place as it was pinched; but her tiny struggles could do nothing against the comparatively titanic force that ripped it from her.
Tiki's tiny body was wracked with convulsions, then went limp as the seizes passed. Knowing that she could do nothing to stop it, she did not even try to resist as the last piece of her wings was torn free of her body.
"Forgive you n... oh, tough break Tink..."
Juri brought the little fairy back up for inspection. She hung freely from Han's grip, no longer struggling at all. Her delicate frame seized every now and again, both from pain and her hitching sobs. A steady trickle of tears flowed up her forehead, into her hairline, and dripped off the top of her upside-down head.
"Aw, you in a bad place? Don't worry. I read a story once that told me what to do to help fairies."
Juri threw the crippled creature up into the air and, cartwheeling helplessly, Tiki could only scream her tiny lungs raw as she fell back down-
-and disappeared between Juri's hands with a thunderous CLAP.
Juri kept her hands held together, feeling the pitiful shudders between her palms quickly sputter out, and smiled.
To hell with the second star. This was good enough.
Juri Han Versus The World 10: Rocks Fall by Sickerton
Can the Dragon's Crown crew avoid a total party wipe? And where the hell is Rannie?