First teaser after Quest of the Brokenhearted went live for 99 cents. So, exciting. While this isn’t Kira’s first battle in the story, this is the first official champion that she faces. I had a lot of fun writing the scene and it set the stage for all the others being difficult challenges that required a lot of thinking on ones feet. Both for me and Kira since I never had a clear idea of how to beat these guys.
“Somebody is in big trouble,” a melodic voice says as the humans approach the Conquest Fountain. A ripple runs along the crystalline water that cascades from the mouth of the three-headed stag statue. “The only rule for you, Gauntlier, is to not help the challengers with the game. You can talk to them or even become their friend, but leading them to a champion is a no-no. What do you have to say for yourself?”
“I’m sorry, Aganippe, but this is not what it seems,” Roland replies, putting up his hands and backing away from Kira. He takes a seat on a nearby bench and leans forward to press his hands between his knees. “She had already learned your location from the Stabler Brothers, but her attendant is back to the castle. I merely showed her the way and that’s where my assistance ends. Sorry, Grasdon, but I need to stick to those rules. Hope you can forgive me for being a coward.”
“You did what you had to do,” Kira states while stretching her arms. Spinning the sickle at her side, she takes a few cautious steps towards the fountain. “So, you’re the famous Aganippe who I’ve never heard of before. I’m curious to meet a champion who sends out minions. Not that I have a problem with the tactic since everything goes here. Mind coming out and getting this started? I think I have a bath waiting for me if I survive.”
Scrying portals appear around Lacarsis as a warm mist flows out of the fountain, the vapor rising to Kira’s knees. Four light blue arms emerge from the statue’s central mouth and grip the marble jaws. Pulling herself into the open, Aganippe dangles above the basin with water dripping from her naked body. She is a beautiful woman with foamy hair and armor-like scales that are thickest across her chest. Riding the gentle cascade down to the fountain’s rim, she holds out her arms to the applause of the entire city. Turning around, she flexes her shoulder muscles to extend a large shark fin that has a faint vertebrae pattern along the edge. With a graceful spin, the smiling monster jumps to the ground and faces her opponent. The eloquent speech she had prepared is abruptly caught in her throat when she is met with a blank stare and has to duck under a swing of the sickle.
“What is wrong with you?” Aganippe asks as she flips back into the basin. Sinking into the water, she swims with only her fin above the surface. “My kind are so rare that the world thinks we’re extinct. I doubt you’ve even heard of a Cuvier. Stop trying to hit me before we give them a show! This is supposed to be entertainment, you fleshy psychopath. Why aren’t you scared of me?”
“I’m having fun if that means anything to you,” Kira answers, hopping onto the edge of the fountain. Seeing the surface bubble, she leaps away from a blast of superheated water that leaves a streak of steam in the air. “Sorry, but I don’t see why I’d be scared of someone with water and ice powers. Betting an old rival of mine was more dangerous than you and I spent a few months training to beat her. Even without my special gear, I don’t think you’re going to be much of a problem.”
“Cuviers don’t control ice, you idiot.”
“In that case, this is going to be easier than I thought.”
“Yeah, I’m not sure where the ego is coming from either. Just seemed to bubble up when the fight started.”
Kira sidesteps a blast of water, but her stomach is skimmed by Aganippe’s shark fin that erupts from the geyser. The monster hits the misty ground and disappears into the thick cloud, the only way to track her being by sound. Faint slaps are made by her hands and feet hitting the solid stone, her path taking her in a wide circle at an alarming speed. Kira spins and whips her kusari-gama from side-to-side, which creates a minor defense that she can turn into an attack as soon as she sees a target. When Aganippe looms out of the mist behind her, the adventurer flicks the club end under her arm. The metal bar strikes the monster in the chest, but she is still able to grow watery claws and strike. Instead of diving away and risking her back, Kira jumps closer and watches the dripping nails get tangled in front of her face. She ducks when they are pulled towards her, the weapons exploding against Aganippe’s body and turning into a hot fog. The adventurer dives out of the cloud, which leaves her with minor burns on her face.