17 Chapter 16: Lust and Blood
Facing the nine remaining Mimics, Kira kicked the dead Bruin away from them. She whispered in a husky voice, "Diana, Save your turns. These things are probably too stupid to know how to conserve them."
Feeling a small flutter in her chest, Diana was so surprised that she unconsciously suppressed her retort that the Hersha herself hadn't utilized her turns efficiently. She shouldn't have used such a brash attack to try to intimidate the Mimics. After all, Mimics didn't know fear: if one of them died, they'd just charge forward with even greater fury. Twisted souls trapped in corpses had little left to live for besides the deaths of others. Diana shuddered at the thought. Stoically ignoring her strange affection for the Hersha, the [Knight] clenched her fists and readied her Skills.
Kira warily watched the approaching figures, her |Warrior's Awareness| flaring as she tried to predict their angles of attack. With perfect coordination, three of them broke around to try to flank Kira and get to Diana while the remaining six strode forward. Kira slammed into one of those approaching her but couldn't do more than rake her claws against its chest before it threatened to counterattack on her turn. With that, the second round officially began.
The injured Mimic retreated behind its brethren as it licked its wounds, trying to stem the flow of blood. Thankfully, these rather simpler creatures of darkness were while deadly, enhanced, and fearless, far less durable than the corrupted bear from before.
A tall, treant Mimic thrust its sinewy arms at Kira's throat. She ducked and successfully counterattacked before it could pull its arm back. Ripping its arm off, she allowed herself a small smile as she weaved between two lunging lion Mimics that took the next turn. With a yell, Kira managed to exert the energy to take a second turn in a single round and greet a lion with a fist of talons, plucking out its eyes. With a howl, the lion shrieked but was too slow to use the brief pause to retaliate. Breathing out a sigh in relief upon seeing Kira safe, Diana saved her own turn, increasing her count to two.
Determining that Kira was a tough opponent, the fifth and sixth Mimics charged at Diana. Gritting her teeth and refusing to back down, Diana blocked the humanoid Servant Mimic from before by pushing her arm against the inside of its guard. Then she stepped into the reach of another long-armed treant Mimic. Within the perfect range, Diana exhaled and used |Fearless Sunder|, snapping the neck of the treant. It went down without a sound. To make sure, Diana stomped on it and kicked it out of the circle of light before her turn ended, leaving her back exposed to the humanoid Servant Mimic from before. Luckily, it couldn't take advantage of her vulnerability as it had already used its turn.
"Yo, pretty face, I told you to save your turns!"
"My target was there. Besides, it would've been halved anyway. You know the System fully saves only three turns."
Grunting, Kira slammed an elbow into a Bruin Mimic that foolishly thought it could use its turn to ambush the Hersha, sending it flying away. It stumbled back to its feet though.
While the Hersha was turning to swing into that Bruin, a dark elvish looking Mimic slammed into her from behind, reforming the hole in her back, sending blood spurting into the air. Kira grunted and fell to the ground, narrowly rolling over to prevent a humongous ogre Mimic, who had been previously aiming for Diana, from stomping on her head. She kicked upward at its groin, but besides a low groan, the Mimic seemed unaffected.
Diana observed Kira, guessing the Hersha was at most at half health, and these constant uses of counterattacks had to be grueling both on Kira's stamina and mental willpower. Eventually, once she became too exhausted, she might even suffer losses in health. After all, while the System allowed for retaliation when not on one's turn, it also penalized it, preventing many legendary Adventurers from becoming one-man armies.
Kira gasped, "I can't double attack anymore without using a Skill. Need to conserve stamina." Diana nodded in concern, feeling a spike of emotion for the girl.
A blush appeared on Diana's cheeks, and she was amazed to see a similar one reflected in Kira's smoldering gaze. Kira turned away reluctantly. "We need to resist. This fight comes first."
Diana felt confused. She'd never had these feelings for a woman before. Struggling to ignore the aching between her legs, she reddened even further upon noticing a distinct musk in the air. "Are you?"
Kira coughed up some blood. "I shouldn't be. It's not my time. What are we doing? We need to fight…"
Diana felt as if a lust-filled haze was clouding her mind. Despite their dire situation, everything felt so distant. It was as if she were a confused teen pinning after her first crush.
The third round began before either of them could fully sort out their thoughts. Eight out of the original ten Mimics remained; three of which were severely injured. This would normally be a great combat statistic, but Kira also had one foot in the grave.
The second, uninjured lion sensed Kira's weakness and pounced at her. From her kneeling position, Kira raised an arm, forcing the lion to impale its neck on her waiting claws. Spitting some blood to the side, Kira shifted the body slightly in front of the two. Its death throes prevented the other seven from approaching. "Stupid bi*t@hes." Kira's |Blood Rites| started kicking in again, but with far less vigor. While the blood slowed a bit, the wound remaining a gaping hole.
Kira now took her turn, twisting in an attempt to slash the one-armed treant when she shuddered for a brief moment. This brief flash was all the treant needed to send a fist into Kira's chest, knocking her against the wall. Diana cursed. Even Kira's |Advanced Pain Resistance| and |Berserker's Will| was faltering. It looked like Kira might be as low as 15% of her max HP. Kira roared, "Diana, stay away. I can't control myself well without James in my next state."
Diana's eyes widened. Even through her confusedly aroused state, she recognized the danger a truly insane |Berserker| could bring. While she didn't know how Kira wasn't completely insane already, it seemed the Hersha was now preparing to cross that thin line. Was Kira about to flare her |Berserk| skill? Diana frowned. Even if Kira survived, the backlash from using such a Skill would probably kill her, not to mention that she'd be practically insane and probably target Diana as well…
Quickly making up her mind, Diana decided to use the last turn in which she could safely stay in Kira's presence to finish off the treant. Boosting her |Enhanced Strength|, Diana tore through the treant's head and chest, eventually finding a twisted Core within. After she crushed it, the treant Mimic crumpled to the ground. Breathing heavily, Diana used the rest of her turn to retreat behind Kira. Six left.
Amazingly, Kira puffed up even more, and her eyes turned a darker shade of red. With a furious bellow, the [Berserker] launched itself at the dark elf Mimic that had first injured her. Ripping its head straight off, she tossed the headless corpse and howled a challenge at the remaining five Mimics. Diana grimaced. While a true |Berserk| state could nearly ignore turns due to the lengthy action times given to them by the System, it would come at a huge cost the more Kira used it.
This could not continue any longer. Ignoring the wetness between her legs at the fierce display, Diana |Sprint|ed out of the circle of light toward the three cloaks, hoping to find something useful there.