The shovel bent from the impact and the rabbit creature flew over 50 yards away. But the other rabbit landed near her, unnaturally humanoid arms and trying to grab her with its claws. If it succeeded, it would try to take a bite out of her. In the meantime, the first bunny shook dust off of its fuzz, getting ready to charge in again with a few lunges and attempting a headbutt.
Further back in the ruin, Loveline just reached the tool storage area and started gathering some extra tools.
“Oh, crap, I needed that!” Ariana looked at her bent shovel. Love would be pissed that she broke something important! Not paying attention, she was grabbed by the second rabbit with ease and found herself dragged towards its mouth. She wiggled, but its grip was strong. Quickly she began to grow an anchor in her hands, letting its mass pull her down, dragging her back away from the rabbit’s jaws. She had enough room to kick out now, her feet sinking into the creature’s chest fuzz as she put her full weight into pushing away. It was in this position, tilted back with her head nearly to the floor, that she saw the other rabbit charging her headfirst. She had nowhere to move, so she did the only thing that made sense. Her own head drew back, and she swung to meet skull with skull.
The first rabbit monster stumbled back and crouched on all fours after Ariana kicked him away. The other one headbutted with its tough skull and was met with another one of similar toughness. It reeled back from the force of the collision and fell all the way on its back. But the first one recained its footing and rose up as tall as it could, humanoid arms raised in the air, fist in fist, and smashed down to where Ariana was supposed to be.
Love finished gathering the tools and started going back. When she heard a loud crash coming from Ariana's direction, she got worried. Surely the rabbits didn't wake up... Surely... She picked up the pace, wanting to get back as fast as she could!
“Owwwww…” Ariana rubbed her skull. Maybe that wasn’t the best way to counter. She pumped out a wave of icy coldness at the rabbit she clashed with before sticking her frozen hands to her head in the hopes of numbing the pain. She only dropped them to face the other beast, charging right for her. One hand pulled back as she prepared to throw the very punch that Love taught her. She didn’t get the chance. Her punch didn’t quite make it before the rabbit’s own blow landed. She was smashed face-first into the dirt, and there she stayed. It might have been the hardest hit she had ever taken, and her body wasn't prepared for it in the slightest. All she could see was dust, and her head was spinning so badly she didn’t know down from up. Nothing felt right, and her legs wouldn’t obey her. “Looove…” She tried to cry out, but it barely made a peep. She could only hope she was nearly back, as she grabbed the beast’s legs and held tight, trying to hold out a little bit longer.
"Boom Boom Dandelion!" A swarm of explosions around the rabbit's head threw it back screeching. "Get away from her, you freak!" Loveline flew right at it and swung her scythe to behead it it one fell swoop the blade only cut into arm flesh. It bit deep into the rabbit's guard but she didn't have the strength to cut through its tough bones She backed off before it could retaliate only to see the other rabbit leaping at her too, aiming its back legs to knock her into a wall. She flew down, letting it soar over her but getting grazed by its sharp claw when it tried grabbing her in mid air. She ignored the pain in her back for the second and grabbed Ariana, flying her off to the other side of the room to buy them just a few seconds of respite.
Numbed as she was, Ariana recognized the difference between Love’s touch and a rabbit smashing her. That or she had died and an angel was taking her soul. She wiggled in that grasp and kissed her savior. Yep, it was Love. “Yeah. Think I’m okay.” She gave Love a loopy grin as her eyes came back into focus. “These things hit pretty hard, huh?” She couldn’t get her legs to stay under her just yet. They just wobbled too much. All she could do was float off the ground. “Think we need to leave? Maybe we can go out the holes in the roof…” She got her hands up, but was having trouble focusing on anything. Was this what a concussion was like?
Love felt relieved when Ariana opened her eyes. And then Ariana's lips found her own, just for a second, but Love felt electricity flowing down her spine. She stammered, "Now's not the time, silly!" She felt her cheeks flush. "I mean, you're supposed to wait for me to finish saving you before you reward me, you know." She wanted to hide her embarrassment. She did have a point though, it was very much not the time. One of the rabbits was charging right at them and lept forward, horrible maw stretching open as it got closer and closer...
“Not time for retreat? Okay…” Ariana wasn’t all there, but if Love thought they had it, she had to trust her. Even when she didn’t have a head injury, Love was a lot smarter than her. She just had to follow her lead and keep her safe. The moment she had to do so came quick. One of the rabbits was coming and Love wasn’t doing anything. Ariana could only move by instinct, copying something Loveline showed her. She took a stance, not perfect but recognizable as a boxer’s. How did Love show her? Arms up, fists below the chin? Let her arm snap out, not push. Love hadn’t shown her a one-two, and Ariana probably wouldn’t use jabs here anyway. All she knew how to use was a massive right, her body falling into the punch as her balance was overcome by the force of her own punch.
Loveline hadn't noticed it. Not until the beast was almost upon her. The world seemed to slow down while she turned in shock. Ariana was already on her feet, arms raised in a pose Love recognized. The beast drew closer. her guard was up as she readied her fist. The rabbit's maw just about reached her. And with a powerful twist of her body, her right shot straight out, smashing the rabbit straight in the nose. It seemed to hang in the air for just a moment as the shock went through its entire body. Then it flew back. Like a missile, it smashed into the wall and got covered in rubble.
Then it was quiet for a bit. "Riri... That was amazing! You're even stronger than I thought! You're the best!" Love exclaimed. But her exhilaration was cut short by an ear-piercing screech coming from the remaining rabbit. Its companion being brought down made it mad. It started hopping around faster than before, landing violently and leaping forcefully with its mannish arms aiming to crush the girls rather than grab them.
"Boom Boom Dandelion!" Loveline managed to push it away with her explosive shots, but it wasn't stopping. It just kept coming until finally it saw an opportunity to swipe properly at Ariana.
Ariana was already teetering. She had put her all into the punch, and only her ability to fly prevented her from falling on her face. The effects of gravity were halted and she leaned back upright for another precious few moments. The monster was upon them, and she couldn’t do that again. Her limbs weren’t working right, each at odds with one another. Loveline was using magic, and maybe that was all she had too. The temperature around her dropped, and she extended her arms. It was more than a blizzard, a sheer blast of absolute cold. Every bit of her mana went into dropping the temperature, and as ice filled half the hallway, she dropped back into her normal form and collapsed to her knees. She felt even worse now, like her brain was bouncing like a rubber ball inside her skull.
Love tried her best, but it wasn't enough. The rabbit drew closer to Ariana and swiped at her. It was only Ariana's final exertion that stopped it, the blizzard pushing it away as it struggled to get closer, its limbs getting more and more rigid until the creature was frozen solid along with a large chunk of the room.
Love rushed to Ariana's side, slowing down only enough to not knock her over with a hug. "You did it! You're my hero, Riri!" She hugged her tight while using her power to feel out any injuries she could fix. Then she saw a shadow streaking across the floor.
Looking up, she saw a large chunk of the wall coming right toward them. She jumped to her feet and used Boom Boom Dandelion to knock the rubble away, but a second piece was hidden right behind it. The chunk struck her, pinning her against the wall behind them, just barely missing Ariana. The unfrozen bunny, the one Ariana had punched, was more red than white, blood poured out of cuts and gashes and it was frothing at the mouth in a mad rage. One arm trailed behind it when it jumped, broken in more places than not, and the other was poised to smash Ariana. Love saw the strike coming and screamed out helplessly, tears already welling up. Then Ariana's neck glowed for a split second.
The world blurred, not because of tears though. Loveline didn't see what happened in the next moment. She didn't see the rabbit being thrown. She only saw Arthur standing where the rabbit was just a second ago, serious and with a hint of malice in his eyes. The rabbit left a bloody trail as it slid down the wall close to Love, but it wasn't ready to give up. But it didn't matter. As it set up to lunge off the wall, the block of ice holding its partner pinned it against the wall. A moment later, Arthur standing on top of it. An icy sword stuck out of its skull.
"Your friend is already gone. You shouldn't suffer anymore either."
Another moment later, and Arthur was already beside Loveline, kicking the rubble off of her and helping her stand up.
"I have to admit, you two got into a lot more trouble than I expected," he said, while Love rushed to Ariana's side. He smiled gently, seeing Love breathe a sigh of relief that Ariana wasn't hurt. "But I'm impressed. You took down a Blunteku and badly hurt another. But I think your adventure is over for today after all that excitement."
Warm arms wrapped around Ariana. Half-awake, she blinked around the room. The rabbits were all down. “We… won?” Her eyes cleared enough to see the ice sword sticking from a beast’s skull. She couldn’t do that. “Oh…” She finally became aware of Arthur, and she teared up. “We really fucked up. I’m sorry.” It was finally hitting her. Because of her insistence on going off-route, she had nearly gotten both herself and Love killed. “Yeah… I want to go home…” Ariana teared up and flopped into Love’s arms.
Arthur saw Ariana's disappointment and Love's guilt after hearing those words. She felt bad for not tamping down Ariana's inquistive urges. No, for stoking them even. Seeing this was an opportunity for some seriousness, he suppressed a budding smile. "True, you two were pretty reckless here. But I do believe you've learned something about your limits today. Both of you." Of course, he read the two like a picture book. He had to give them the amulets, knowing they were likely to get themselves in more danger than they were ready for.
Love nodded solemnly. "We should've been more careful... Sorry, dad. I'll be more careful from now on."
"I'll hold you to that. Now, I trust you two won't mind if I go ahead first, clear the way while you trek back?" He cast a healing spell on both of the girls to get them back in shape. "Love did put a lot of effort in making some sandwiches," he nodded toward her backpack. "It would be a shame if they went uneaten."
Loveline felt her cheeks turning hotter. "I don't mind if Riri doesn't..." She looked at Ariana.
“Yeah… I guess just being strong isn’t enough sometimes.” Ariana looked down at the sapphire gem in her hands. She thought she was invincible when she used her powers, but there were still things way stronger than she was. She hadn’t really internalized that until now. “I absolutely want to eat your sandwiches.” Ariana sat up enough to kiss Love’s cheek before she rocked back onto her hips and grabbed her meal. “Your dad is the coolest… and your sandwiches are great.” Ariana leaned close to whisper in Love’s ear and kiss her cheek before she tore into her sandwich.