35 The Final Trial Part 2
As Zoey observed, the ogre slowly regained its sight after several minutes of angry bellowing. Zoey took this time to reload her magazine. She checked her knife and found that the one strike she made with the magic blade and the Ice Venom rune active had used half of the magic battery in the knife handle. She would have to be careful about how she used it in the future. She refilled the knife's battery and turned her attention back to the ogre.
The creature was now on the ground, weakly bellowing occasionally as the Ice Venom spread through its blood stream. The venom could endlessly spread as long as it come into contact with more blood. At this point the ogre could barely move as the Ice Venom slowly poisoned it from within.
Eventually the big creature stopped moving and bellowing. Zoey approached and confirmed that it was dead. Sure enough the ogre was no longer breathing. Before she could inspect the corpse any further, the body suddenly twitched. Allarmed, Zoey instantly distanced herself from the dead ogre and aimed her gun at the twitching body.
How was this thing not dead yet? Had the Ice Venom not actually killed it? She was not sure what had happened but she would find out soon enough.
Suddenly, the ogre's chest was split open from the inside with a gristly sound and something emerged from inside the body. As Zoey looked on in horror, the creature freed itself from the corpse and stood above it and shrieked, making Zoey wince.
The new monster was covered in the ogre's blood and viscera, and looked like a strange evolution of a praying mantis. Its two arms were long and deadly scythes, and it stood on four crab-like legs. It was small, not bigger that her and the torso and limbs were thin and covered in carapace plates. Most importantly, this creature actually felt dangerous to Zoey, she could feel a pressure from this creature that would only come from something stronger that her.
Then the creature looked at her, its four glassy eyes locking on to her. Zoey was instantly tense and on guard, not knowing what this thing was capable of. Then it disappeared. Zoey instinctively activated her shield array and crouched, readying herself to react.
She felt movement to her right and attempted to turn and fire her gun, but she was too slow. By the time she started to react, the mantis creature was already swinging its scythe at her. The blade seemed like it was cutting the air itself due to how fast it was, and Zoey desperately tried to avoid it, but the mantis was too fast and had the element of surprise.
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The mantis's blade impacted her lower back, clearly aiming for her spine. Her shield array flashed and shattered under the impact, but the impact allowed her to create some distance from the mantis by rolling forward after she was hit. As she rolled she fired at the mantis and heard the satisfying crunch as the slug impacted her target. She rolled back to her feet and faced the creature, and realized the mantis had disappeared again, but had left behind one of its blades. Her slug had managed to completely sever the blade when it hit leaving only one to worry about.
But, she had lost her shield array. Thankfully it had protected her against the attack, but she couldn't repair it right now. She would have to face the mantis without it. Now that she had some idea of its attack pattern and style she wouldn't be caught like that again.
That was her though before the mantis appeared out of thin air to her left and sliced at her with its remaining scythe. Zoey reacted and tried to avoid the strike, but the mantis was faster this time than it was before! The blade managed to catch her left forearm as she dodged, and Zoey felt her arm bone snap followed by a flash of pain causing her to drop her knife. Zoey gritted her teeth from the pain and managed to fire a shot at the mantis before it disappeared again, tearing off one of its legs. She wanted to get the second scythe, but the angle was bad, so she aimed for the leg instead.
She quickly looked at her left arm to assess the damage. Thankfully the scythe was not sharp enough to make it through the nano armor fabric of her clothing, but the impact was strong enough to snap the bone. She tightened her grip on her 9mm custom. She had to kill this creature before she took more damage. Somehow she had to stop it from disappearing.
Zoey came to the realization that the stealth of the mantis likely functioned with magic, and she had a new rune that perfectly countered magic. She smiled and without a second thought, activated her Null Field rune. A strange sensation settled over her as the rune activated, like she had another sense that she lost. She knew that this was her sense of magic being turned off, but she did not have time to dwell on this feeling as just a few meters away, a stunned mantis was caught flat-footed as its stealth was stripped from it while it was trying to approach her.
Zoey did not let this opportunity by. She dashed up to the still stunned mantis and sent a kick at one of the three remaining leggs. There was a crack of breaking carapace and bone, and the mantis toppled over with a squeal of pain. Zoey quickly stepped on its remaining scythe and pinned it as she deactivated her Null Field and jammed her gun barrel against the struggling mantis's forehead, pressing it against the ground and holding it in place.
She poured her magic into the array on her 9mm custom, causing the array etched into the barrel to light up with the influx of power. Without hesitation she pulled the trigger as soon as the array reached capacity, sending an overcharged magic slug through the creature's head. There was a wet pop as the head simply vaporized from the power of the slug, and the body of the mantis went limp.
Zoey stepped away from the body as the tension inside her slowly bled away and the corpse began to dissolve into the grey particles she had seen after the first trial.
She had survived!