31 Another Attack
It wasn't long before the little family of light foxes completely opened up to Finn. Every time he stopped, they wouldn't even hesitate to climb on him and rest their bodies under his welcoming aura.
Their behavior broadened Finn's horizons on magical beasts. I suppose there are magical beasts with gentle natures out there... His only experiences thus far had been negative, with the exception of the wind python, but that was still quite unsettling.
Although, that blacksmith's salamander seemed harmless enough. I suppose any magical beast is pretty much harmless at rank one... Finn tried keeping an open mind about all this.
Hmm? Finn's thoughts were interrupted when a small tuft of fur fell over his eyes. The littlest of the four light foxes, which he affectionately named Shrimp, was chewing on the horn growth poking out of the side of his head!
It was the same furball that had been the first to jump on Finn's back.
Shrimp reminded Finn of one of his younger grandkids, a rascal of a boy who always had too much energy. This little light fox held no fear towards him from the start, and even dared to ride on his back while he walked.
From a distance, it looked like four cottonballs had gotten stuck to Finn's scales. Gently shaking his head, the little fox wisely stopped chewing on his left horn... before immediately running over and chewing on his tail.
Finn let out a long sigh. He had dealt with kids his whole adult life. They never change... Finn was thankful for the tolerance he had built up over years of having kids of his own.
Out of the corner of his eye, Finn saw the two bigger foxes watching their pups carefully, making sure they didn't run too far.
At least they aren't wary of me anymore... Finn couldn't deny that their presence was welcome. Their arrival broke the monotony that had been his past few weeks of trudging along through the dark, sinister, and dangerous woods.
In fact, watching the baby light foxes play had been the highlight of his boring days. Now though, it was time to move on. Raising his body, the light foxes let out a string of calls before they all hopped onto his back.
I guess I'm their new mobile home... Finn lampooned internally, wondering if these creatures had a burrow somewhere that they abandoned. Or maybe they were natural roamers, Finn didn't know for sure.
Hours went by as Finn walked with a steady pace. Physical fatigue was a thing of the past due to his abilities, but mental fatigue could not be cured with his power alone, which is why he still rested a couple times a day.
As Finn's thoughts were about to wander, a terrified squeal jolted him back into focus. It was from one of the light foxes on his back!
Unconsciously bracing himself, Finn spun around wildly, trying to see find any source of danger. He couldn't smell or hear anything, but that was the problem... it was far too quiet!
It was as if all the birds in the area vanished. The sounds of bird calls had become so constant, that Finn didn't even register their presence until it was gone.
What is it? Finn could tell something was wrong, but he still couldn't sense anything yet...
Hmm? Now that it was so quiet, Finn could hear a rumbling sound off in the distance... followed by the faint sound of... trees crashing!
Finn tensed up immediately. The sounds of destruction... they were getting closer.
As unlikely as it was, Finn was still hoping that whatever thing was coming was not actually aiming for him, but just heading sort of in his direction.
His hopes were dashed the moment he saw what was approaching. Indeed, his luck at avoiding confrontations had run out.
What the hell? It was a massive ball as tall as him... a ball made of dirt, stones, and what appeared the be spikes poking out its sides as it rolled in a straight line towards him, decimating everything in its path.
The earth shook as trees that were unlucky enough to be in its path were bulldozed aside.
Finn noticed a faint green glow outlining the surface which told him one thing, this had to be a magical beast of some kind.
And clearly, it was coming for him!
Not one to stand and wait for death, Finn started charging a sunbeam. Meanwhile, Finn heard the calls of the light foxes on his back as he felt them jump off and flee into the woods. They hid behind cover and vanished from his sight.
Good, they would only get in the way... Finn would have felt devastated to see his cute little stowaways get hurt.
The spiked ball of earth picked up speed, as if sensing Finn was close. Having little time, Finn only managed to build up ten seconds worth of energy before the beast got into range.
Finn fired, a bright column of searing light leaving his mouth and hitting the ball of earth square in the center. Unable to resist its power, the green film of protective energy covering it dissipated immediately, and the sunbeam began burning the dirt and stones surrounding what Finn assumed was the magical beast controlling them.
Finn's eyes widened. Its not enough! Given time, Finn was sure he could burn through almost anything. However, because the ball of stones and dirt was spinning, it was distributing the heat as it rolled.
Although it was leaving a nice black scorch mark, Finn realized he could not burn through fast enough to affect the magical beast underneath before it rammed him.
Cutting off his attack abruptly, Finn steadied himself. The maximum unimpeded range of attack with his sunbeams was around a hundred and fifty feet, which he estimated through testing.
Adrenaline pumping though his veins, Finn's thought processes slowed down.
One hundred feet...fifty feet... It only took a couple seconds for the spiked ball of death to nearly reach him. Waiting for just the right moment, Finn quickly leapt out of the way, dodging it at the last second.
Having nearly been cut by the spikes on the side, Finn assumption that it couldn't change direction fast was proven correct. The laws of momentum were still in effect.
Shaking the ground as it rolled, the ball of dirt and stones sailed past harmlessly, but then it did something that froze Finn's good feelings from having dodged... it came to rapid stop, throwing up soil and rocks all around it.
As if on a pedestal, the now motionless spiked ball of earth let out dirt crunching sounds as it started turning slowly, until what Finn assumed was the front was facing him again.
Then, it resumed rolling...
Dammit! Finn was disheartened at its persistence. It gave him no time to come up with any countermeasures.
Digging his heels in, Finn broke into a sprint, running as fast as he could away from the magical beast.
As he fled, he started thinking of ways he could possibly stop something like this. He didn't have time to dig a trap or prepare in any way...
Wait! There was one solution that came to mind, water!
If he could find a stream, he could lead the rolling mass of earth right into the water, slowing it down and adding weight. Finn didn't believe that whatever magical beast lay beneath would be able to control the earth as easily if it was soaked.
It wasn't the best of solutions, but it was all Finn could think of in a pinch.
Well, there was one problem with this, Finn had not seen a stream or river for many days.
The sounds of crashing trees and quaking earth behind him were growing louder. Even at his fastest speed, Finn was still slower than the boulder of earth that was aiming to crush him.
In other words, it was gaining fast!
Finn snorted in disbelief. Once again he was on the run from a chasing magical beast that he was helpless against. For as powerful and strong as he'd become, there was always something worse that could threaten him.
I really need to escape this dreadful forest... Finn felt so done with it all. Even his patience had limits.
Finn was mentally prepared to turn this chase into a game of cat and mouse. He had the endurance, and the sun would be up for a few more hours. He could definitely outlast the chasing magical beast until he found a stream or something.
I wonder how long it can stay in that form... Finn wondered this as he suddenly jumped over a fallen tree.
Finn's pupils constricted to slits. Turning his head, he saw that the smallest light fox, Shrimp, was flying through the air, having just fallen off his back when he abruptly leapt.
When did he...! Finn had thought all of his little passengers had fled when he prepared himself to fight. Turns out one hadn't, and he had been too preoccupied to notice.
Out of the corner of his eye, Finn could see the scratch marks on his scales where the poor little guy had been holding on for dear life.
A flare of anger rose within Finn's chest. Inexplicably, he felt like scolding the baby fox for being so foolish before remembering that it wasn't a human child, but a baby fox.
However, his anger turned to terror when he witnessed the little furball harshly tumble to the ground, right in the path of the rolling magical beast.
Screw it! There wasn't any time to think. Finn's claws dig deep as he abruptly turned around. Looking up, he could see death approaching in the form of an unstoppable wrecking ball.
It was moving fast! Too fast! Finn rushed in, scooping up the little fox as carefully as he could with his claws before flinging it out of the way.
There was no time to be gentle, nor was there anytime to check on its condition. The magical beast was upon him!
Rationality went out the window as the shadow of the rolling mass of earth enveloped him, leaving nothing behind but fear and dread.
Unexpectedly, in the heat of the moment Finn relied on his human instincts, standing on his hind legs and bringing his limbs up in a boxer stance, bracing just like a human would.
Without even meaning too, a thick golden layer of energy appeared on his scales...
A boulder of dirt and stone as tall as him collided with Finn, knocking him back with the force of a speeding truck. The boulder lost most of its momentum, nearly coming to a stop.
Finn, however, was not nearly as lucky.
Ack! Finn let out a strangled cry as his limbs were crushed, having been braced to recieve the majority of the blow.
Although he had prepared, his strong hind legs could not maintain themselves and failed under the monumental force.
End over end, Finn tumbled backwards, crashing through the underbrush until he smashed into a tree that cracked under his weight.
Pain was all Finn could fathom for a few moments before his magical beast instincts took back over. Immediately, his healing energy started pumping through his body, fixing everything that had been damaged.
His front limbs were a mess, mangled under the intense pressure of the impact. Although not as bad as his arms, all other parts of his body suffered various degrees of injury.
If he was some other type of magical beast, this would have been a death sentence, but Finn knew he only needed time to heal. Already, his body was showing signs of improvement.
However, time was in short supply. There was still a magical beast aiming for his life!
As if emerging from a cocoon, the sphere of dirt and rock split open to reveal sharp teeth covered in drool. From the ball emerged what appeared to be some type of boar creature, although it looked quite strange for a boar.
Its legs had fur, but it's back and sides appeared to be covered in... plates. They had patterns similar to a turtle's shell. Even more strange was that the plates on its ribs were layered with several boney spikes that were each nearly a meter long.
It reminded Finn of a mutated version of an armored prehistoric dinosaur that he couldn't remember the name of.
Size wise, it was only slightly smaller than Finn himself, but that definitely didn't faze the beast as it approached him.
Finn unconsciously released a low growl, baring his sharp teeth as the armored boar approached him. It was already licking its mouth, drooling pooling under as it approach.
Smelling its terrible breath, Finn felt primal emotions rising from within him. Wrath and feelings of hurt pride welled from his very being. Sitting up, Finn balanced himself on his back legs, still unable to support any weight on his front limbs.
Finn roared his grievances right into the face of the armored boar, which appeared stunned at his recovery. Clearly, it had already believed it had won once it crushed him. This had been the first prey it had encountered that was still able to fight back after being hit by its boulder attack.
Not wasting time, the boar rushed him, headbutting his chest in an attempt to knock Finn over. He held fast, his back legs leaving trenches in the dirt as he was pushed back.
Bringing his head down, Finn ferociously bit at the armoured boars neck. He was dissatisfied to find that even his razor sharp teeth couldn't penetrate its armor plates.
Unable to succeed with physical measures, Finn used this chance to concentrate a beam of superheated light right onto the spot he was biting, just like how he dealt with the earth wolf long ago.
The armoured boar let out a blood curdling scream as its neck began cooking. Giving up on tackling Finn, the boar bucked and threw Finn off of itself.
Backing up a respectable distance, the boar started circling Finn, both growling at each other menacingly. Finn fired a quick sunbeam, at which the boar turned its body, taking the blow with its side plates.
Beginning to feel the heat from the concentrated firepower, the boar let out a squeal before it rapidly burrowed into the ground, using its earth energy to push the dirt aside like a magic powered mole.
Finn was seeing red, mentally cursing the beast for daring to run. However, he was mistaken. The ground beneath Finn had started vibrating...
A sudden pain in his left hind leg brought Finn collapsing to the ground. Looking down his body, he saw a crimson bone spike sticking out of the dirt, impaled through his back claw.
The beast had attacked him from underground!
Covered in his blood, the bone spike was quickly retracted back into the earth. Sensing a familiar vibration, Finn reacted by rolling, narrowly dodging another spike that sprung from the ground, aimed at his back.
This continued for a bit, Finn dodging the magical beast's deadly spikes as he rolled out of the way. As long as he reacted fast enough, the spikes wouldn't hit.
Finn grunted in pain, he was finally able to put weight back onto his front limbs, but it was excruciating. He could only bear it as long as he kept the healing energy flowing.
As he became faster, Finn also grew frustrated. I can't hit the damn thing as long as it stays below! Rage consuming him, Finn dodged another bone spike before chomping down on it, just before it could reenter the ground.
Ignoring the pain in his limbs, Finn used his great strength to rip the spike from below, along with a chunk of flesh.
Finn had torn the bone spike straight off the magical beast!
As if on cue, the armoured boar emerged, squealing in hatred as the gaping wound on its side where its spike used to be bled furiously.
It tried charging once again. Finn reacted by swinging his body, bringing his tail that was covered in a golden aura whipping around...
His tail struck the armoured boars face with great force, disorientating it, causing it to veer off target.
As it ran past, Finn body slammed it, knocking it onto its side. Avoiding its spikes, Finn jumped onto the beast, pinning it by locking its legs in place with his own, like a magical beast version of wrestling.
The armored boar roared in indignation, furiously trying to break free. Its struggles turned more and more desperate as it began to feel heat radiating from its limbs.
Finn's claws were glowing white hot as the gripped onto the fur of its legs, creating a horrid burnt hair smell in the air.
Meanwhile, Finn started charging his sunbeam. Panic was evident in the boar's eyes as it felt massive waves of energy radiating off the sphere of light that was forming in front of Finn's mouth.
Having pinned the beast, Finn had secured all the time he needed. As he finished forming his most powerful attack, the armoured boar summoned all its remaining energy.
Slamming its head against the earth, the area around Finn started shaking vigorously. It had created a miniature earthquake!
Sadly, this act of desperation bore no fruit as Finn was too tightly clamped to the boar. Having lost his patience, Finn released his control over the miniature sun held in control by his power.
Aimed at the boars head, blinding beam of light incinerated everything in its path, leaving nothing but a large smoking crater. The boars head was missing, the parts that had been connected to it cauterized by the heat.
Finn crawled off the body of the armoured boar and released a loud roar that echoed into the distance. As if a switch was flipped, the intense bloodlust and savagery that Finn unknowingly displayed earlier, faded away.
Collapsing in exhaustion, Finn worriedly pondered if these new savage feelings and emotions were permanent, if they were just a new aspect of himself he would just have to live with and control.
Also, how many brushes of death was he supposed to survive. I am just an old man, I cant keep this up forever... Finn suddenly felt homesick.
Looking over to the dead magical beast, Finn confirmed that it indeed wasn't a dream. Just like with every fight before, he had felt like he was in a murderous haze the whole time.
Looking around, it was hard to fathom the destruction their fighting had caused. Overturned trees, shattered earth, burning underbrush... it reminded Finn of the scene he had witnessed when he had been born, just on a much smaller scale.
Putting all his concerned thoughts aside, Finn was about to begin meditating to recover his energy when he felt a small presence jump onto his back. Turning his head in alarm, Finn was rendered speechless... It was the smallest light fox, Shrimp!
What are you doing here? Did you follow me all this way? Finn brought his head in close to inspect the tiny ball of fur. When he did so, the tiny thing licked his snout, to his surprise. Tilting his head, Finn came to an understanding.
At least you know how to be grateful you brat... Finn smiled internally, believing this was some form of thanks.
It wasn't long before he was rejoined by the other three light foxes, who squealed happily when they found him and their pup.
Finn didn't know how, but they somehow were able to track him despite having run quite a distance. Maybe their sense of smell was much stronger? Finn could only guess.
As he began absorbing sunlight, Finn looked a certain direction and focused his eyes. After a second, they widened in realization.
Is that... a mountain?