As Zoey and Viridi made their way through the area, they became increasingly aware of a presence lurking beneath them. Something was down there... They would catch occasional glimpses of movement in the darkness below as they carefully picked their way across the gaps and chasms that block their way. The ground in this area was completely perforated with chasms, canyons, and sinkholes that made everything a nightmare to traverse. As they continued on, Viridi's fur was standing on edge, and Zoe could not help but pull out her 9mm and grip it tightly. Whatever was down there, they would know soon enough.
Zoey's premonition was verified soon enough. When they were crossing a narrow gap between two sinkholes, the ground beneath them started to suddenly crumble away as if something had pulled it from below. Zoey try to jump backwards to safety but her body suddenly felt heavy, causing her to miss the jump and plummet towards the darkness below. Viridi instantly lept after her friend, spreading her shadowy wings wide and diving down after her. Only moments before she would have hit the ground, Zoey was able to grab onto Viridi's front paw as they fell. Viridi then flapped her wings powerfully, slowing their descent enough so they could land safely.
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As they looked around and took in their surroundings, both of them were on edge, adrenaline pumping through them and dialing their senses up as high as they would go. Zoey had her Dark Star Vision active and her 9mm ready, scanning the area for targets. Viridi crouched protectively at her back, waving her powerful tail in tense anticipation. Despite the situation, Zoey was comforted by the feeling of Viridi standing behind her. Regardless of what enemy awaited them, they would face it together.
Zoey saw that they seemed to be in a canyon around a hundred meters below the surface where they had been. There was a thick, dark fog covering everything like a blanket of shadow, making it extremely difficult to make out anything around them. On top of that, Zoey and Viridi both felt their bodies were heavier somehow, almost like gravity was stronger down here...
Only a few seconds after they hit the ground, Zoey caught movement deeper inside the canyon depths. She only managed to see it thanks to her Dark Star Vision, but showed no reaction to it, only sending Viridi a mental warning and preparing herself for the attack she knew was coming.
Sure enough, whatever was hiding in the shadows slowly moved closer before launching its first attack.
Zoey and Viridi were suddenly subjected to an intense weight pressing down on them. Zoey instantly realized that this creature was somehow controlling the gravity in the area to the point where they were barely able to move! The creature likely intended to immobilize them before finishing them off with another attack. Her premonition was right. From the direction where creature lurked in the shadows, out of the darkness came hundreds of one meter long stone spears slicing through the air towards them with grim purpose.
This was the moment Zoey and Viridi were waiting for. Helpless before their enemy and their defeat imminent, this was the perfect opportunity for a counterattack. In a blur of movement, they sprang into action. Both activated there Null Field runes, completely negating the gravity affect the creature had placed them under. Viridi launched herself into the air with a powerful burst from her wings and immediately launched a barrage of Shadow Blades at the creature lurking in the dark. Zoey lept agiley to the wall of the canyon nearby, attaching herself to it with her Crystal Claw Bracer, then fired several shots at the creature with her 9mm. The stone spheres that had been sent at them passed harmlessly where they had been only moments before, missing them completely. The creature that attacked them could not even react before a barrage of magical slugs and Shadow blades turned it into a twitching heap.
As the gunshot sounds echoed away through the canyon, Zoey and Viridi dropped back down to the ground. tAs they approached the dead creature, Zoey patted Viridi's head in appreciation of a job well done. Their teamwork and coordination there had been pretty good.
When they got to the creature, Zoey realized that her 9mm had not been very effective on it. Most of the damage had been caused by Viridi with her Shadow Blades. The creature in question resembled the reptilian crocodiles Zoey remembered from Gaia. However, this one had six legs and its tail ended in a strange rounded ball made out of stone. It had a long reptilian snout filled with teeth which oddly enough were also made of stone. In fact, the entire skin of the creature seemed to be a layer of stoney scales that overlapped to form a layer of armor. Zoey's slugs had barely left a scratch on the scales while the Shadow Blades had sliced through with apparent ease. She would have to look into that when she had the chance. Her 9mm was getting increasingly ineffective against the beasts they were encountering.
Zoey made quick work of extracting the essence stone from the creature's corpse. She did not want to be down here any longer than they had to be. The thick shadowy fog was still covering the area, and she had a bad feeling that this was not the only one of these creatures down here. Luck seemed to be on her side though as the stone she extracted from the corpse was actually a Rank 3 essence stone! If her luck held out she could use this one to to get to Rank 4 if it was compatible with her elemental affinity.
As she got back up she suddenly got a warning from Viridi who had been watching her back. Turning around she felt her breath catch her throat. There were hundreds of them. Hundreds of the same creature they had just killed were crawling their way across the floor and walls of the canyon towards them! Before they could even react, all of the creatures simultaneously activated their gravity ability targeting Zoey and Viridi.
Despite the fact that Zoey and Viridi both had their Null Field runes active, the simultaneous attack from over a hundred of these creatures was strong enough to overpower the nullifying effect, driving them down to the ground, unable to move. As Zoey desperately tried to figure out a way to get free, the ground beneath them suddenly crumbled and collapsed. The sheer amount of force had been too much, making the whole area unstable.
As the ground caved away and the walls of the canyon begin to crumble in upon themselves, Zoey could only grab onto Viridi as they tumbled into the darkness that opened up from below. Viridi tried to flap her wings as powerfully as she could, but they we're still being pushed down by the overwhelming effects of the gravity ability from the attacking creatures.
They could only activate their Ice Armor runes and fall, hoping that they would not be buried by the ground caving in above them.