Eventually, Odette's body finds a clearing, where the glade bears a frozen lake – the surface is sheening under the moonlight. Her body walks onto the ice and her feet burn through, steaming the ice into liquid, making her touch the water below.
"Oh no!" Lulu goes.
The white maiden leaves a trail of bubbling, hissing water as she wanders deeper down the lake; knee deep, waist deep. Then with a shudder the rest of her body plops down the cold depths, and fresh ice rapidly reseals the exposed portions amidst the mass of steam – the open wound closing.
"Whoa," LeBlanc mumbles. It's so cool to see, and at the same time unnerving. The knife she's tucked on her belt comes to mind.
"This must be it," Twisted Fate says.
The steam dissipates, simmering up and out. Instead of the bare ice though, what seems like an illusion at first has emerged in place. It is a giantess – looming at least twice their height. The steam erupting around her pale, contoured body. Nine white tails blossom behind her; each of which gleams with a silver sheen, each wavering and contorting like a whip on the verge.
"Who art thou?" she asks.
"'Art thou?'" Twisted Fate goes. "We're just travellers wanting to get to Anor Londo. Only question is, what happened to the path? The last time I went, there wasn't any blockage, or a forest that deep."
"Tis an accident thou hast misstept into my world?" she says. "If that is true, plunge down into the lake and hurry back safe. Else, if thou art seeking for thine witch-thief, thine desires shall be requited not, for she hast dishonoured herself so in her attempt to puncture a hole in this realm."
Ice seeps away from the lake's middle, leaving the clear waters lapping at the hole.
"No.." LeBlanc says to the giantess. Something just doesn't feel right about it. "That's Odette, and she just wanted to see if there's something going on with the path."
"Not true," the giantess replies, a grimace starting to show on her face. "Thine witch-thief despite all my warning has chosen to venture into the void; does thou knowest not of her use of red eye rock? It is poison. She would steal my vitality and claim it for her own."
LeBlanc is at a loss for words.
"Thou ought to returneth whence thou came," the giantess says. "I desire nothing more than peace, and thou truly does not belong."
"If you're not willing to return Odette," Vayne says, readying her crossbow, "I'm not going back.." She glances at LeBlanc, at the others for any sign of agreement. It's going to get very ugly.
"I beg of thee – do plunge down into the waters!" A desperate tone permeates her words, and her tails are fluctuating tensely.
Twisted Fate pulls out his deck of cards. He nods at everyone to get ready. Shen has his hand on his sheathed katana, while Lulu crowds by LeBlanc – Pixy fluttering in-between them.
"Pick a card miss."
And four encharged cards come out of Twisted Fate's fingers, flying in the giantess's direction. But a swift flick from one of her tails deflects the projectiles--
they're coming back,
"Watch OUT!" Shen yells as the party runs away, and LeBlanc just hears the whizz of a card past her head before it strikes the snow beside, and a jolt she feels pushing through her body, staggering her. She lands hard upon the ground, sliding – her left shoulder taking the brunt of the impact.
Straining her neck, she sees the others scattered all over the snow, having left skid marks where they've landed.
And then there is the giantess coming from the lake, gleaming. "Why dost thee hurry toward thine deaths? Thine bonfire hast been put out. Thou hast nowhere proper left to revive."
Pain throbs where LeBlanc has landed – her shoulder, her back. She brushes the hair from her face, feeling the chill of the snow over her. It seems like attacking the giantess is a terrible mistake – she could just easily swat away anything that is thrown at her; her tails are like fly-swatters. Unless someone here still has aces up their sleeve.
LeBlanc glances at where the giantess is standing – the frontal portion of the lake where it's still covered in ice. Maybe she can make her sink in the water somehow.. is the water actually a way back to reality, or is it..
(Odette's body trudging down into the lake.)
Is it actually a trap, designed to steal away the soul essences? That seems to be it.
The giantess is now wielding a large scythe in one hand, waiting, tempting everyone to try her again. The razor-edged blade looks as though it can cut through an entire body in one fell swoop. Better be careful.
LeBlanc and the others pull themselves up.
"Hey," LeBlanc goes. "I have an idea."
"What?" Vayne says.
"I think the lake is actually a soul receptacle," LeBlanc goes. "It's not an escape; if we can get that foxy lady into the water, we can get free of her."
"Hmmph." Vayne and the others ponder the notion for a bit. "Let's do it."
"I think I'll be doing the distracting.." Vayne aims her crossbow at the giantess, who seems ready to be tickled by the oncoming projectiles.
In the meanwhile, circling around seems to be a good way to approach. LeBlanc starts to strafe squeakily to the left, with Lulu deciding to follow her. Twisted Fate is strafing the other way; Shen lingers by Vayne's side – he'll help shield the crossbow artiste from any incoming danger.
The giantess can only laugh at their attempting. "Does thou truly thinketh I may find defeat by thine hands?"
Vayne unleashes her first volley of bolts; the silver bolts pierce through the air, arcing down to the giantess's torso and chest. A whiplash from her tails shatter the bolts – the giantess winces with pain as burn marks appear where they've been touched. And another volley is coming.
There's crossable ground by the lake's border, and LeBlanc and Lulu hastily traverse the snow before the ice. Their legs are quivering from the need to get into position, while struggling against the loss of sensation from the coldness. Whilst in the distance, the giantess moans from the scathing pain that Vayne's bolts deliver.
The next volley slices directly through her burnt tails; white blood streaks out from the wound, jetting over onto the ice in droplets. The giantess screeches out, her howls deafening in the very night.
"You hit her!" Shen exclaims. "You might even be able to take her down single-handedly at this rate!"
Vayne is loading a fresh batch of bolts into her crossbow. Before she readies herself to shoot though, she sees the giantess beginning to glimmer. A smug grin comes over the giantess's face, and she swishes her wounded tails in front of her, and the tails rapidly wave up and down. At first it is the blood that trickles out – then thick mist joins in also, obscuring her, and it billows out from her in a slow explosion.
"What's.." Vayne mutters.
What the mist touches, you briefly see covered with a veneer of frost before it's hidden.
"It's gonna freeze us to death!" Vayne goes.
But Shen is already dashing in front of Vayne, and he erects an energy shield that surrounds them. A poof of smoke comes beside – Twisted Fate also joins them inside the bubble.
On the far side of the lake, Lulu gets her Pixy to put up a shield of his own for herself and LeBlanc; the outside noises are muted.
The mist gets close, and LeBlanc finds herself holding her breath as she sees how the mist is composed of numerous little snowflakes, before it envelops them and they are plunged into an autistic darkness.
The only light now is from Pixy's wings, as he seems stuck in place mid-air. The only noise LeBlanc hears is that distant rumbling, and her own quivering breaths with Lulu's.
"Are you there..?" LeBlanc asks.
"I'm here," Lulu goes. "It's kinda scary, huh?"
Then LeBlanc feels something touch her fingers – the warmth of Lulu's hands clasping tightly around hers.
"I'm c-- cold.." LeBlanc says. "I'm freezing. I don't know if you are, but I wish I had an extra coat on me."
Then a faint crackle in the dark. The mist is passing them by, and gradually more light sheens through until they can see the lake and trees once more, now transformed into a pure glassy, chalk whiteness.
The giantess seems to have gone.
Pixy flutters back to Lulu's shoulder – he's weak, he is shivering. Lulu pets him – "You did great," she tells him, and she gently puts him in the comfort of her pockets.
Back over there, LeBlanc notices the other three (Shen, Twisted Fate and Vayne) recovering from the blast of mist. Phew, they're fine too, at least.
"Hey," LeBlanc says, "where'd the foxy lady with the tails go?"
"I dunno," Lulu goes.
"Hm, why don't you send Pixy over to find out?"
"Pixy needs his nappy time," Lulu goes, frowning.
"Oh, right-- merde.."
LeBlanc glances over the frozen lake, looking for any sign of the giantess. Where's the last spot she was at? Then, on a closer look, the lake's frost seems to show a pattern that points towards an epicentre. That's where.
Then she looks down at her feet. She scrapes the frosted ground across, and sees how she leaves a visible indent.
Then she glances back at the epicentre and notices how there's alternating marks, like footprints, in a direction that is coming straight towards her.
And another footprint has just been made, by an unseen foot.
"Oh merde--!" LeBlanc goes. "She's still here..! There's footprints, foxy lady's turned invisible!"
Another footprint; the giantess must be pretty close already – a few more steps and she could easily swoop her scythe.
"I see footprints too!" Lulu pips.
"We gotta run," LeBlanc goes, and she takes Lulu's hand and starts to bolt away from those footprints. "Run!"
She hears a whooosh just then, and the loud slice through the place that they once were. Glancing back, LeBlanc almost imagines that she's seen the visage of the giantess post-swing, before flickering into invisibility once more.
Squeak squeak squeak.
For some reason, Lulu is dawdling behind, and LeBlanc feels the lag of having to pull the fey girl with her.
"It's so slippery," Lulu goes, in-between pants. Her feet slip and slide on the icy ground.
Squeak squeak squeak! LeBlanc's bunny slippers seem to squeak with a newfound desperation.
"My slippers must be weatherproof," LeBlanc says.
Slice! The giantess's scythe chops a section of the ground behind into bits; shards of ice fly up from the impact, while the giantess flickers into hiding.
"She's gaining on us!" Lulu goes. "Some stuff got on my hair."
Up ahead is the watery portion of the lake. It's the exposed hole, surrounded by that solid ice. LeBlanc only makes it some more steps before--
"Waaahh--!" Lulu's been struck by a lightning; the redness spills from her back from the scythe's cleave, and she tumbles onto her belly, sliding a little from inertia. LeBlanc notices her scream and the slackening of her grip, and she glances behind.
The giantess is visible – her scythe's point has deeply embedded itself in the blooded ground by Lulu, and she is trying to yank it back out with two hands. The calm, assured smile on her face wants to suggest that their deaths are an inevitable fact, embedded scythe or not.
"Run.. I'm done for.." Lulu half-mutters on her face. As she glances up at LeBlanc's eyes, you'd notice the tears verging on pouring down her cheeks. The bloodstain on her back is ballooning.
The giantess tugs on her scythe's handle, and the ground cracks a bit.
"Please.." Lulu goes, her voice already growing weaker. "Run away.."
Lulu's eyelids droop, and her tears run free.
Suddenly an almost supernatural willpower is flowing through LeBlanc – she scrambles over to Lulu and finding a hold under, she strains, lifting the bleeding Lulu in her arms, don't let your damned knees buckle.
The ground before the scythe splits open in a hail of ice and snow, and already the giantess pulls the scythe back to swing.
It almost seems like the scythe itself is swinging in slow-motion.
All the other sounds are pushed away as the surge of heartbeats rushes through LeBlanc's ears, beating and beating, her pulse like an erratic drum under the waterfall.
The very air seems to sizzle around the scythe's incoming trajectory – directly towards her abdomen.
With all might, LeBlanc hurls herself to the side, away from the scythe, tumbling down to the ground, Lulu huddled in her arms. The scythe manages to shear the cloth of her forearm, passing over her.
The ice catches her hard on her sides, making her spit out air, and she slips down an additional distance before resting.
She is wheezing. Sweat is all over her skin (mon coeur est sur le point d'exploser), and she's feeling the uncomfortable dichotomy of her inner heat merging with the outer freeze.
"Ouchies.." Lulu quietly goes.
LeBlanc realises the warm, coagulating redness that's been dripping down her hands. "Ouchies.. indeed," she goes.
The giantess is approaching.Her scythe scrapes along the ice. It's Death's scythe, signalling their death knell.
For LeBlanc, it feels like all the life and energies have been sapped out of her. It's so hard to will herself just to move even an inch. Her body is aching, even while adrenaline is being forced through her blood.
All the while, the scraping feels deafeningly loud.
"At least.. I tried," LeBlanc says. "Hehe."
Pixy pokes his head out of Lulu's pockets.
The invisible giantess must be leering over them now. Like a buzzard over its prey, she circles around their forms – the bottom of her scythe is scratching over the ice. It's unbearable to hear.
When the scratching comes in front of them, it stops. There's a loud clang on the ground by that spot, and the giantess flashes visibly for a bit, having slammed her scythe down.
And another clang.
Each clang sends a jolt through LeBlanc, as all her attention is on the place of impact. The curved blade pointing up. On the third clang, the giantess remains visible against the backdrop of the pale moon.
"Witness," the giantess goes. "Thy future's end."
She swoops her scythe up.
LeBlanc can only see the light fading in Lulu's eyes, before seeing it descend upon her.But suddenly, she sees a quick movement – Pixy flies right up, and in a blinding flash of light he intercepts the scythe mid-air.
The giantess struggles to get the scythe down against the butterfly's resistance. The blade's point wavers, sparks exploding out from where it hits Pixy's hastily-improvised shield.
"What is this trickery?" the giantess asks. "A mere butterfly, being brave?" The briefest moment comes when she slackens the exerted pressure on the scythe, to pull back for another blow – but instead, Pixy uses this opportunity to carry the scythe forth with its momentum, pulling the giantess's arms back and tripping her away, and getting the scythe out of her hands.
The scythe is flung up into the air, with Pixy following in the weapon's wake. The weapon gleams under the moonlight, before it starts to glow red hot, white hot; finally it explodes in a dazzling thunder. The shattered figments seem to dissolve away into thin air, like steam.
LeBlanc can't help breathing a sigh of relief.
"Le.. blonk.." she hears Lulu go. Lulu's so weak – her face has gone so pale that it almost looks like a different face entirely. Her fingers wiggle with the slightest movements. "In my pockets.. sprinkle.. dust.. on yourself." She coughs a high-pitched cough.
So LeBlanc struggles to Lulu, pulling herself to her, and she reaches inside Lulu's bloody clothes, feeling for that dust. Right away, she catches a whiff of that sweet scent – bingo. She pulls her hand to herself, and haphazardly she pats the dust on her chest, her abdomen. It feels tingly, as if littered with an electric charge.
"Do you want.. biggie?" Lulu sputters.
Lulu takes it as a yes; mustering the last of her strength, Lulu intently glances at LeBlanc (with a mischievous grin), and pips out, "Hugeify!"
Suddenly that latent electricity surges. It's a rush of air and coarsing energy, and LeBlanc's feels something loosen in her ear canals as Lulu seems to shrink into a petite, injured toy. The ice rumbles underneath her; it feels a little fragile to be on.
She has been made into a giant. The forest trees are just slightly taller than her. And nearby, the other giantess is lying prone on her back – a short distance from the lake's watery pit.
"Hey—" LeBlanc goes, her voice booming. She takes a step forward, and her movement feels slightly cumbersome, as though her body is weighed down by something, with the inertia of being underwater. (Still, now she can take on the giantess on better terms.)
A few more steps, and LeBlanc gets a better hang of giantism.
She approaches the giantess. The ice almost seems to bend under their combined weight. What can LeBlanc do with her? The watery pit looks like it could just barely fit one giantess as it is, and maybe she'll have to jump down on her if she and her tails get stuck somehow in the hole.
But the giantess is actually still awake. She's recovering from her daze, and she is perking her head up at LeBlanc--
A swift, squeakykick to the giantess's abdomen knocks the wind out of her. There's very little time, as LeBlanc hurriedly tries kneeling down and dragging the giantess's arms to the hole – the slippery ice makes it somewhat easier to do.
The giantess starts to tense under her grip. Time for another thrashing!
As LeBlanc aims a punch at the giantess's nose, her fist is stopped by the giantess's grip on her wrist.
"Thou cannot," the giantess goes.
"I will," LeBlanc retorts, trying to haul her wrist away.
"Thou will not."
The giantess's grip on LeBlanc's wrist tightens very hard in a deathgrip. It hurts. And with the other hand, the giantess lunges for her throat. The ferocity of it strikes her by surprise – she gags, and the giantess rises from the ground, while plunging LeBlanc onto it.