Author’s note: The combat in this chapter took a bit more of a brutal turn than most. Just a warning since usually things are less gory than this chapter.
Despite Alva’s protests, Fuzz knew this was exactly the time to eat. He just couldn’t have explained it to anyone if asked, both because of the inability to speak and the unclear reason behind it. Sometimes, there were things you just knew.
That was why Fuzz didn’t give up even though it was really tough to chew these things. He didn’t give up when he was being attacked by the small ones, despite them clawing at his fury. He wasn’t going to give up on chewing through this big hunk of arm, despite the alarming number of teeth he was breaking. He fortified his mouth with as much energy as he could and it could barely overcome the durability and lingering energy of the limbs.
That was a problem. That was the problem Fuzz had, actually. He was supposed to be stronger than Alva so he could keep her safe. If he couldn’t be stronger than her, he at least had to keep up with her… but ever since she’d reached the next level of power he hadn’t been good enough. He doubted the pack would just abandon him, but he needed to keep up. The strong, chewy muscles beneath the scales he tore through would provide him that power.
Hopefully. Otherwise he was making Alva fight more or less alone for no reason at all. But nothing was going to stop him from chewing now. Not incoming creatures, not the pain in his mouth, and not a splash of extremely hot liquid rock from one of the two big lizards. The one in the pool of the glowing stuff was quite upset, and was splashing around with the clear intention to create a big mess.
When a huge chunk of that flew towards Fuzz, he dodged out of the way- Alva was still riding on his back after all. The arm was a bit heavier than anticipated so he was swung around and didn’t quite leave the radius of danger, but as some of it splashed over his head he merely added it to the pain he was experiencing. He shook his head, flinging off the burning globules before Alva could try to brush them off with her hand.
Fuzz was hot. Obviously his fur was far too warm for such a place. Rocks weren’t supposed to melt, but melt they had. It was a testament to his durability that his fur hadn’t instantly caught on fire as he entered the area, though it was certainly smoldering now. His face was of course very hot where it had directly touched the lava. His own burned flesh was an unappetizing smell, especially when mixed with that of his blood, but he continued to rip out pieces of the inside of the limb he now held in his paws, most of the pesky scales discarded.
The hottest part was not either of those things, however, but instead Fuzz’ insides. He was quite aware of the difference between energy and fire in most circumstances, but inside of him the line was really starting to blur. But he couldn’t stop now. The heat and pressure inside of him built up until it finally cracked.
Part of his back split open when it did so. Nothing big, just a line about the size of a human’s arm. A squiggly one, like the things Catarina made in his fur and had tattooed on him. Those didn’t hurt. This one was painful, but in a good way. Like when you gorged yourself on too much of a beast and then had to vomit it out, it felt good to have the pressure relieved. In this case… Fuzz hadn’t eaten too much.
He tore another chunk out of the arm in front of him, finding it slightly easier than before. He felt pretty good now, and some of his teeth were even straightening out where they’d been broken. The others would probably take some time to grow back, but he also had his claws. And he was feeling much better.
He focused in on Devon, who was fighting the big one that had splashed the hot rock on him. It was risky to bring Alva close to that, but Devon was a member of the pack too. Family of Anton and Alva, specifically. If Alva didn’t want to go close, she was entirely capable of being independently mobile.
Fuzz readied himself, then charged- knocking aside the smaller creatures that tried to stand in his way. His newly empowered energy protected him while his body was beginning to knit itself into what he was certain was a stronger and more durable form. He couldn’t wait for it to finish, however, because the battle wasn’t over.
Alva remained with Fuzz right up until the edge where the big lizard was half-sticking out of the pool of very hot liquid rock. He was glad she chose to dismount there, because the big creature could attack her directly on his back with either teeth or claws. Plus there was all of the splashing rock.
Devon’s chains surrounded him defensively, but they were not actively holding onto the creature. Likewise, the powerful armored man fighting next to him would occasionally strike the creature, but maintained a defensive position. Such a strategy might draw out the battle, but it would not win. Fuzz leapt forward and latched onto its foremost limb on the left side. He was large, but still significantly smaller than the creature. Even so, he could restrict its movements, and as power flowed through him he thought maybe he could drag it out of its defensive position.
His teeth pierced through the scales to find a grip and he yanked hard, pulling it back a single step. Then the creature’s many limbs stopped its movement, and its overly large maw chomped down on his shoulder.
Despite his lack of scales, Fuzz’ hide was extremely durable. His bones were too, which was very important in this particular case because it kept his front-left appendage from being severed. The teeth sunk deep, though, and the mouth yanked.
Fuzz had to choose between keeping his own leg and holding onto the creature’s leg. If it had fewer of them he might have stood firm, but he only had four himself versus the many fours it had. And while the lizard seemed quite willing to give up its limbs, Fuzz was less certain he could grow his back.
So he let go, and found himself flung up into the air, sailing over the lizard. Such a slow and meandering arc would normally not have been a problem, but the landing place was a bit problematic. The good news was that Fuzz landed on his feet. Yet more good news was that the swirling energy flowing through and out of him kept his pads from instantly burning away. The best news was that he was sinking slowly into the very hot, liquid rock.
The reason the latter was good news was because if he had been fully submerged Fuzz wasn’t sure how long he would survive. Even with his energy protecting him Fuzz felt the burns. He started running his way back towards the big lizard, wondering if he could hop onto its back and damage it there. His jaws couldn’t get around its neck, but he might find purchase somewhere.
A flicking movement distracted him from the side. He half saw it half felt it, as something very large moved under the surface. Not another creature, but the same one. Its tail, lobbing globs of fire at the group fighting it. And a section of land nearby that was not quite so hot as to be melted.
Thinking wasn’t for wolves. It certainly wasn’t for wolves in the middle of battle. The most important thing he could do was be active. So he quickly changed his trajectory to his new target.
Fuzz would have liked to stand on the less-burning-hot ground and grab the end of the tail, but it remained firmly buried in the goop most of the time. Even when it flung chunks, it rarely broke the surface.
So he dove for it instead. Fuzz was very good at digging, and while the ground here was not nearly so friendly for a burrowing wolf as dirt, he ignored the way it splattered against his belly as he went a leg’s length into the hot goop. The heavy density of it was actually quite convenient, as it flowed together more slowly than loose dirt. It would be a problem if he wanted it to keep its shape, but he only needed a very short time to reach his target. A nice, tender, mouth-width chunk of moving flesh and scale.
As his jaws clamped onto it, he also got a mouthful of the liquid rock. That was extremely uncomfortable, but nobody ever said battle was comfortable. Not real battles. And this one was probably going to get worse.
As Fuzz lifted and pulled, his feet sunk into the surface below. It took several yanks before he broke a chunk of the tail free from the material, then it began moving and thrashing to throw him off.
He let it pull him in a particular direction, but kept his feet planted as firmly as he could most of the time. His jaw remained clamped even as everything burned.
When his feet found the solid segment, he pulled upwards, standing onto his hind legs. It was something he would do only rarely, as he was not a human. He just didn’t work like that. But he couldn’t get enough height otherwise.
He then threw himself to the side, using his weight to snap the tail tight and that momentum to yank the creature towards him.
Devon felt great sympathy for Fuzz as his shoulder was bitten into, and great worry as he was flung onto the magma. The wolf was already pretty badly beaten up, and he didn’t look like he could withstand much more. The intense aura of determination coming from Fuzz didn’t help him feel better about that.
When the wolf diverted course he was almost distracted enough to get himself clamped between the lizard’s jaws, but two chains flexed apart around him and gave him time to dodge away. Unfortunately, that brought him under the creature.
The chains were crushed and broken apart, which was a shame. He had developed a method to make his energy durable and more akin to a real object, but that meant when it broke it was more damaging than just a standard chunk of energy being broken through. Since he was already pushing himself to his limits to deal with the overlord, he didn’t have the spare energy to form more chains. Thus, the two that protected him were simply lost.
While Devon hadn’t expected Fuzz’ detour, the beast was clearly even less prepared for it. It was actually yanked backwards, its front feet sliding back over the magma where it quickly sank. That left just its head and neck above the surface, a fact that Devon took advantage immediately.
His position below it was suddenly useful for a brief moment, as his remaining handful of chains looped around to either side and up and over the creature. Without the distraction it would have simply crushed him, but when its head came down the force was much less than the whole weight of its body. He broke one, maybe two or three ribs at most.
Elder Magro was quick to react, leaping up onto the creature’s head as Devon’s chains wrapped around its jaws. He punched an eye, and when an eyelid simply blocked the blow he grabbed firmly and pulled it open. Another translucent eyelid remained inside that one, which he grabbed with his other hand.
That left the creature relatively restrained and an easy target for Alva. With its eyes being nearly the size of a standard archery target, it was difficult for her to miss even with it thrashing about. Her first arrow barely penetrated at all, but each subsequent one broke further layers through the eye.
Elder Magro participated by kicking at the oversized orb, while Devon tried to keep the thing slightly still. The fact that it was dealing with assaults from both ends had thrown it off, but it was still overpoweringly strong. The nearby disciples were quick to leap to their assistance. The Black Earth Clan members formed layers of rock around the creature’s forelimbs. Each was nearly instantly snapped off, but another was ready to form immediately afterwards.
Disciples of the Iron Fist Sect leapt onto the head as well, targeting the other eye and anything else they could vaguely guess was a weak point. Their efforts weren’t useful for the damage so much as the extra weight holding the creature down, even if it made it more difficult for Devon to edge out from underneath its jaw.
Alva’s arrows and Elder Magro’s steel toed boots soon found their way through the left eye, and then into the creature’s brain. Even though the brain was very small by comparison to its size, it still took several hits to cause significant damage, ending with Elder Magro’s entire leg in the beast’s head before it stopped consciously thrashing.
The creature still took some time to properly perish, but it did die. That freed up everyone fighting it to move on to the other creature, though all participants were at least a little bit bloodied and some were barely standing. But Devon knew that his grandfather was holding down the fight with the other one and they would certainly overcome it… though it wouldn’t be easy.