Kyle barely managed to duck the strike of the second manticor, feeling the wind from the monster’s tail as it passed over his head. He noticed that the path of destruction in the wall intersected one of his illusory paintings. It looked odd hanging off of empty space utterly unchanged by the lack of support. Kyle also noticed that was a stupid last thought, as he threw another shield across the hallway. It wasn’t really big enough to protect his back but would make attacking him slightly harder. He spun toward the first manticor just in time to see his shield in that direction vanish.
Apparently that manticor realized he had a defense against quick strikes. It took a step toward him and moved its tail out slowly. Its strategy was easy to guess. It would just stab him with the venomous thing slowly. If he cast a shield in its way it would reach around it, or move through it when that shield vanished.
It didn’t get the chance. Without anything in the way of warning, lightning washed across it.
The pure liquid power in the tiny space was deafening and blinding simultaneously. Kyle lost sight of the hall in a wash of white light, and he couldn’t hear anything around the electrical crackles. Every hair on his body stood up and his fillings ached as they absorbed enough static charge to grow hot. Objectively, the lightning probably only lasted for 20 seconds, but that was 19 seconds longer than forever. Kyle dropped into a crouch while it was still flowing as he realized that the shield behind him had probably fallen and there was a slim chance the enemy there might have the wit to strike.
When the lightning finally ended there was a moment of silence in the hall. Then the lights came on. In the sudden illumination, Kyle saw two things. First, Jun was standing at the entrance to the hall with one hand on the light switch and one hand outstretched. Second, the manticor behind Kyle wasn’t down though it was smoking slightly. It threw back its head and shrieked. Fortunately, Kyle’s ears were already numb, otherwise he probably would have been debilitated by the noise.
As it was, he barely heard Jun shouting at him, “Cast block above it! Jump over using shield.”
That, Kyle thought, was a clever idea. He tossed a block into empty air and yelled, “Dùnpái!” That made another shield just above the distracted manticore. This one was sloped at an angle Kyle hoped to be able to run across. Wasting no time, he jumped on it. Looking down through the translucent shield, he realized something strange. The second manticor was a female. Odder still, it was really cute. Its face was sort of heart shaped. She had large eyes, rosebud lips, and a button nose. That was just unsettling.
Then there was the sound of shattering drywall behind Klye and something clipped him in the back flinging him forward and off the shield. Apparently the first manticor had recovered enough to strike. Kyle landed in an utterly ungraceful heap on the floor. He tried to feel if his back was cut or not. He didn’t actually know how toxic manticor poison was, but he assumed even a little bit would probably kill.
Above him, Kyle heard Jun shouting something in a language he didn’t know. There was a sound like a tornado and wind rushed above Kyle’s head. It didn’t really hit him directly, but it was still strong enough to change the air-pressure just above the tiles and make his ears pop. There was the sound of scrabbling then meaty thumps behind him. From the floor Kyle couldn’t see anything much, but he hoped that was the sound of manticor being swept away along a hallway.
The wind ended and a hand thrust itself into his vision. “On your feet. That probably won’t keep them down for long. I can’t believe the lightening did no harm!”
“Looked like it hurt,” Kyle offered stupidly taking Jun’s hand and climbing to his feet. “Am I cut?”
“No. Back through the door!”
They both stepped backwards out of the hall and into the room Kyle had used as his reception area. Kyle wondered if they should run, but he didn’t think they’d have the time unless the monsters were injured. Jun had taken a position against the wall to the right side of the door and started to cast another spell. Kyle took a position against the wall on the left side of the door. He hoped the Manticor wouldn’t be able to turn to face that spot quickly. Then he whipped out his hand and said “Flash!”
Kyle thought he recognized the language of Jun’s spell. It was something tonal, so probably Mandarin. There were gestures with this spell, Jun seemed to repeatedly draw something in the air.
They’d only been in position for a few seconds when there was the sound of running in the hall. It was a gait a human wouldn’t have been able to maintain, rapid double thuds that lasted only an instant in the short hallway. The creature hit the end of the hallway and managed to turn far more neatly than Kyle had imagined. It bounded onto one wall, lept to the other, and exited almost without slowing.
That threw Kyle off. He shot his spell into the chest of the manticore, and then flooded it with power. Only the monster was moving so fast that the spell passed through it before flaring to full intensity. The room was lit with strobe-light brilliance for an instant, then Kyle cut the power not wanting to blind everyone. At least the manticor got the worst of it.
The manticor howled and lept at Kyle. By this time Kyle had learned that lighting fast leaping attacks were to be expected and he had already dropped to the floor. It passed over him, but rebounded off the wall directly into a second attack. Kyle managed to cast a shield just above himself the instant before it hit. The manticor hit it, and skipped off the top of the shield almost like a stone skipping over water. Its trajectory carried it though the shop’s plate glass window. Shards of glass flew everywhere one even managed to cut Kyle across the shoulder. Kyle hoped the building had insurance. He certainly didn’t, at least nothing that would cover a Persian monster attacking his store, and there was no way he was going to be able to pay for the damage out of pocket. It didn’t matter, he doubted he was going to walk away from the fight.
While the male manticor was occupied picking itself off the street and out of the shards of glass it had landed in, Kyle stole a glance over at Jun to see if the older man needed help. Jun did not need help. His spell had apparently summoned a crystal long sword. Or, at least, some spell had, because he now held a sword almost as long as he was tall with a huge handle and a wide cross piece. He was using it to very good effect. The female manticor had a deep slash across its chest, a few marks on its front legs, and it was just barely managing to parry blows from the magical blade with its hard barbed tail.
Kyle summoned another ball of light but he left it unfired expecting the male manticor to make it back through the window quickly. It did.