The shadow creatures reached their party first. And unlike the ones they’d encountered back at camp this particular group was much better organized.
The familiar loud clicking sound filled the cavern as the creatures rushed past Nyx, their claws snapping in a synchronized rhythm. No longer were they stilted puppets, with their master in such close proximity they no longer had any handicaps.
Joohyun was calm though. “Tofu, Kimchi. Take care of these things for us.”
Her hellhounds howled and tore past them to meet the creatures head on. The first clash happened almost in slow motion as Kimchi barreled right over the first unfortunate minion and immediately lunged for a second, his lips pulled back in a snarl as he snapped his teeth around its body, cleaving it in two. The two halves of the body hit the cave floor and disappeared in a puff of darkness. Tofu followed his brother’s example and caught a third creature with his claws, slamming it to the ground with enough force to pulverize it into another shower of dark particles.
Seulgi knew that Nyx’s monsters were little more than shells of darkness, incapable of feelings or even pain. But even so, the clicking got louder and more frantic, as if the creatures were angered by the death of their comrade. The remaining nine creatures drew back out of the range of the massive hellhounds. They were learning. And that scared Seulgi.
But Joohyun’s companions had done their job. Nyx’s minions were now focused solely on them, which leveled the playing field a bit.
Good. I would hate for this to end so quickly.
Nyx didn’t seem at all fazed by this turn of events, the shadows swirling around her feet coalescing into two thick tendrils of darkness that whipped around her body and lashed out at Joohyun and Seulgi.
“Heads up, you two, here she comes!” Seungwan warned.
Joohyun was ready though, and the daughter of Hades effortlessly blocked the blow, using the tendrils’ momentum against them to parry one of them to the side before switching her grip on her axe to duck under the second as it glanced off the axe head, the tendril flying past Seulgi’s head and lodging into the cave wall behind them. With one clean blow, Joohyun stood tall and severed the second tendril as it struggled to free itself. Seulgi watched as, like the shadow creatures, the tendril hit the cave floor and writhed once, twice before dissolving.
Nyx screamed that time, a maddening tone that made Seulgi wince in displeasure. Whatever Nyx had become down in Tartarus had slowly stripped the once proud primordial goddess of every last shred of her divinity. By now Tofu and Kimchi had dispatched of her remaining minions and had rallied back to their master’s side. Seulgi couldn’t help but notice in the moment though that Tofu had trotted back to stand not next to Joohyun but to her. She looked up at him and met his gaze, a single understanding passing between them: We will protect her together.
Seulgi’s focus snapped back to Nyx as the goddess roared, another much larger wave of creatures spawning from just beyond the wall of darkness. The clicking returned with at least twice the intensity as more of them spilled into view.
She realized Nyx’s plan too late.
The creatures pressed in from all sides, slowly but surely separating the five of them. Nyx’s smirk said it all. They knew they’d never win alone. She had to find the others in this sea of shadows.
What will I do with your corpses? Nyx sang almost cheerfully as they were forced apart from each other. Seulgi was momentarily distracted and that was enough for one of the creatures to send her sprawling. The golden aura around her body flickered as her concentration was interrupted, pain ripping through her as the creature sliced through the protective leather armor on her lower leg.
She kicked wildly at the creature, feeling warm blood spill down her leg and into her boot. She reached for her own dagger to dispatch of the thing once and for all before more of its friends took advantage of her position—but before she could strike, Yeri came dashing into her field of vision from out of nowhere, the younger girl stabbing the creature still attached to Seulgi’s leg and returning it to the shadows.
“Are you okay, unnie?” she asked, easily batting away more of the creatures with her weapons. Seulgi nodded, gritting her teeth as she got to her feet. There would be time to process her pain later.
“Where did you even--?” Seulgi said. She hadn’t even seen their maknae approaching.
Yeri pointed at the baseball cap she was wearing. “I think this thing makes me turn invisible, as soon as Nyx’s creatures started swarming us I noticed they completely ignored me. How cool is that?”
She bounced on the balls of her feet, clearly excited and not at all concerned about the imminent danger surrounding them. Seulgi could only wish she shared the blonde’s sentiment. “So cool. Listen Yeri, I’m fine now I need you to go find the others and clear a path back to me. Nyx knows we’re stronger together, we can’t let her drive us apart.”
Yeri nodded seriously, tipping her cap in Seulgi’s direction before melting into her surroundings and walking right past a group of Nyx’s minions. The daughter of Apollo couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief as she reignited her Dawnbreaker aura. She still didn’t quite know how to control most of her power but at least she’d figured out how to turn it on and off…maybe there was hope for them yet.
Twenty minutes later though and Seulgi was beginning to lose a little bit of that hope. She didn’t know how many of the creatures she’d slain but whenever she dusted one another took its place. Yeri hadn’t returned yet and she was starting to get worried. Even Nyx had retreated to watch them fight endlessly against her minions. Out of everything, that irked Seulgi the most. The goddess couldn’t even be bothered to fight them again herself.
Suddenly there was an explosion to her right and a half-dozen of Nyx’s creatures were blown backwards, allowing her a glimpse of Sooyoung, who had detonated the magic in her spear to clear a small circle around her. Nyx took notice and sent a pair of her tendrils shooting after the daughter of Ares.
Sooyoung’s back was to Seulgi and the daughter of Apollo opened to warn her of the incoming tendrils.
It turned out she had nothing to worry about.
Red eyes glinting in the darkness, Sooyoung turned around to see the tendrils flying towards her face. She smirked, dropping her spear and reaching into her pocket to pull out what looked like a tiny portable bottle of pepper spray. Which then turned into the small machine gun Seulgi had seen when she had first met the daughter of Ares. Sooyoung’s weapon trilled as a hail of bullets ripped into the tendrils, shredding them to pieces. A few of the celestial bronze bullets even flew past them, striking Nyx in the shoulder. Thick, black blood poured down the goddess’ arm.
The creatures stopped swarming, and as one they turned around and instead of charging for the girls they charged at Nyx. Seulgi made sure to take a note of that, it seemed like Nyx also had to maintain a certain level of concentration on her creatures in order to exert her will on them. Which meant that if they could break her concentration…
Nyx howled as the shadow creatures leapt for her, their claws stabbing into her body like they were trying to dig out more of her blood.
With the creatures gone, Seulgi was finally able to see the others again. Joohyun and Seungwan had managed to find each other in the chaos and while the two of them looked tired and sported a few scratches here and there they looked otherwise unharmed. Yeri shimmered back into view next to them. Good. All of her girls were safe.
Joohyun seemed to have noticed the same thing Seulgi did, and she called out to Sooyoung. “Joy!”
Seulgi saw Sooyoung stow away her machine gun and pick up her spear, flipping cleanly over a pile of creatures as they swarmed Nyx to drive her s