With the Carapace Demon using his deadly scythe to support the weight of his body, Sunny was temporarily safe from its sharp blade. Of course, the monster had other means of attack. Each one of his towering legs was like a siege ram, dangerous and capable of devastating destruction.
But at the moment, his position was too precarious to lash out with them. Sunny had at least a second to do whatever he wished to, with no risk involved.
The only thing he had to avoid was going directly under the behemoth, thus putting himself in danger of being crushed to death by the demon's giant body.
Coincidentally, that was exactly what he had to do.
'Crap, crap, crap!'
Glancing up at the massive armored creature, Sunny cursed and dashed forward. A moment later, he dove underneath the Carapace Demon, feeling the thick shadows swallow him whole.
Instantly, Sunny was covered in cold sweat. There was nothing but polished metal and murderous intent above him now. All the monster had to do to turn the tiny human into a puddle of blood was to rest his body on the sand.
Under the crushing weight, Sunny's organs would burst and his bones would turn to dust. There wouldn't be anything solid left of him at all, only a thin layer of bloody goo smeared across the ground.
Not the best situation to find yourself in.
With his nerves on the verge of melting, Sunny brandished his sword and rushed forward. His eyes were glued to the joints of Carapace Demon's legs. He was utterly focused, looking for the slightest movement. Waiting for it.
With no room for error, Sunny pushed every unnecessary thought and emotion into the farthest corner of his mind, not allowing dread, doubt and his tendency to overthink things to slow him down even by a fraction of a second.
Time moved excruciatingly slowly. It felt as though hours had passed, but in reality, it was only a couple of moments. Sunny was only at the second pair of the giant monster's legs.
It was then that he finally noticed the almost imperceptible change in the demon's posture. The tension in his joint changed slightly, indicating that the behemoth was about to move.
This was the sign that Sunny was both hoping for and terrified of. Now, his survival was wholly dependent on whether or not he was fast enough.
As soon as his eyes had registered the change in the creature's posture, Sunny pivoted on one leg and dashed to the side, trying to get away from underneath the armored giant. A small cloud of sand was sent flying by his sudden turn.
But the demon was incredibly fast. He threw his body down, determined to squash the odious invader like a bug. With inertia and the limits of his human body slowing Sunny down, he felt the metal surface of the carapace begin to fall down on his head long before reaching the safe zone.
Death was approaching with abhorrent speed.
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One step, two… was he going to make it in time?!
The Carapace Demon fell to the ground with a thunderous crash, sending large clouds of sand into the air. The impact was so strong that the whole island trembled.
The furious mass of falling metal and spikes missed Sunny by just a few centimeters. He flew from underneath the demon's body at the last possible moment by performing a desperate dive.
Crushing into the sand, Sunny rolled away and jumped back to his feet, slightly disoriented by the shockwave of the giant's fall.
'Huh… I actually managed to survive.'
Sometimes, life was full of surprises.
But, all jokes aside, he was not really astonished. His actions, while potentially fatal, had been deliberate and calculated. He was not in the habit of putting his life at risk without being sure that there would be at least a moderate chance of making it out alive.
His actions were also always purposeful and pursued a specific goal.
In this case, it was to bring the Carapace Demon down.
Only by forcing the giant creature down to the ground, in reach of their blades, could they hope to kill it.
In that sense, this dangerous gamble ended in resounding success. The bastard was now lying on his abdomen, his carapace and humanoid torso, where all the vital organs were situated, well in the Changing Star's attack range.
Now Sunny just had to create an opening for her to deal the fatal blow… although he still had no idea about how she was planning to bypass the impenetrable barrier of the demon's armor.
However, creating that opening was not going to be a trivial task. Despite the fact that the monster's mobility was now severely reduced, the distance between him and the two Sleepers was also much smaller. Which made dodging his attacks that much harder.
Sunny was about to experience that hardship for himself.
He was barely back on his feet when the terrifying scythe flashed through the air, threatening to slice his body in half. Sunny had no idea how Nephis was doing on the other side of the creature's enormous body against the pincer, but dealing with the scythe was almost beyond his abilities.
The burning eye of the demon that followed his every move was not helping the situation at all.
With very little time to react, Sunny did the only thing he could think of — he jumped as high as he could and pulled his legs up to his chest, performing a very awkward forward somersault.
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Because of the number of shadow fragments he had consumed and the physical enhancement brought by the shadow, the height of his jump was nothing short of impressive, by human standards. The scythe's blade whistled beneath Sunny, so close that he could feel the wind brushing against his face.
Landing on the ground, he dashed forward. Sunny knew that the scythe would come back, but he had a second or two to change his position, getting in front of the behemoth.
He had to make the giant creature forget about Nephis completely and concentrate fully on dealing with him, and him alone. To do that, he had to get in range of both the scythe and the pincer.
What a lovely task!
Feeling that his time was running out, Sunny spun around and raised the Azure Blade.
Just as he thought, the Carapace Demon was already bringing the scythe down at him again, this time in a ruthless horizontal thrust. The sharp tip of the scythe was flying through the air, aimed at his chest.
However, he had slightly underestimated the demon's reaction time. As the result, there was already no time to dodge.
One small mistake was the difference between life and death on the Forgotten Shore.
The scene of their first fight against a carapace centurion flashed in Sunny's mind. The situation was eerily similar to this one, with the inescapable doom approaching him at the speed of lightning, too swift and close to be avoided.
Brought by the blade of a carapace creatures's scythe.
But Sunny wasn't the same as he was before. Since that fateful battle, he had spent every day training, gaining experience and gathering power. He had fought his way through this hell, paying a price of blood for every step.
He wasn't that easy to kill anymore.
Instead of soft flesh, the scythe was met by the hard steel of the Azure Blade. Not only did Sunny block the blow, he even managed to angle the sword in a way that would deflect most of the impact instead of absorbing the full force of it.
One of his hands was placed on the hilt, the other gripped the tip of the blade with enough strength to prevent the edge from cutting his fingers off.
The residual force was still enough to send him flying back… but it was not enough to break the bones in his hands. Not with the shadow enhancing the resilience of his body.
...The Azure Blade, however, was not as lucky.
With a sorrowful ring, the blade shattered, breaking off near the crossguard. Beautiful shards of blue steel fell to the ground.
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Sunny gritted his teeth, knowing what would happen next.
The Spell spoke, announcing the destruction of his trusty sword.
[Your Memory has been…]
He didn't get to hear the rest of the sentence, because, in the next moment, his body collided with the ground. Sunny bounced a couple of times, feeling flashes of pain radiating through his bones, rolled, and finally came to a stop.
He was comparatively fine.
Standing up, Sunny stumbled and barely managed to remain on his feet. He glanced around and noticed that the trunk of the great tree was not that far away.
Two dozen meters away, the Carapace Demon was slowly turning his head, planning to concentrate his murderous rage on Nephis. This was the exact opposite of what Sunny had to achieve.
He had to attract the monster's attention somehow.
But what could he do?
As the remains of the Azure Blade began to shine with soft light in his hand, ready to disintegrate into a rain of sparks, Sunny raised his hand and threw the broken sword with as much force as he could gather.
However, he didn't throw it at the demon.
Instead, he threw it at the miraculous tree, as though trying to harm it.
Not far away, the demon suddenly froze, even if only for a second. His scarlet eye followed the shining Memory as it flew through the air, approaching the trunk of the great tree.
Then the broken sword fell apart, turning into a shower of white sparks, which then disappeared without a trace. None of them even touched the obsidian bark.
However, the Azure Blade had already fulfilled its purpose.
It distracted the giant for a few precious moments.
For Changing Star, that was more than enough.
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