Chapter 30 Claymore

Roland waded through the Nazarks before him, cutting into their limbs with his axes. After getting outside again, some of them had turned on the humans running behind and between them.

As the terror of hearing and seeing the Basilisk left them, they were again filled with bloodlust and revenge.

Roland didn’t care much, he welcomed the fight and these were certainly enemies he could face. ‘Unlike that fucker in there… I hope some of the people survived… Ilea.’

He liked the woman. She was talkative and fun, quick to joke yet completely fine with an afternoon of no words at all. And of course the sex. He could finally go all out, compared to his husband and two wives. ‘Although George can take quite a bit as well…,’ he thought.

Dodging a claw that would otherwise have taken his face off, he kicked the Nazark and smashed one of his heavy axes into its skull. Blood splattered over him and he smiled, a red glow barely recognizable in his eyes with only the shrouded light of the moon.

A cloudy night.” he said, ripping the axe and half of the monster’s head from the corpse.

HAHAHAHAHA!!!” Iris laughed loudly as her claymore cleaved through another of the unholy monsters “FEEL MY WRATH! CURSED BEINGS!” a claw impacted her head but she just impaled the Nazark before her.

Magic lit up the night as warriors glowed in different auras, blades of fire and ice impacting upon the monster’s bodies while torrents of spikes impaled even more of them.

The lower leveled monsters didn’t stand a chance against the remaining warriors and mages of the caravan guard, even with their once vastly superior numbers. Many were already killed in their initial assault, and what was left was quickly being whittled away.

Regroup! To mee!” the surviving leader of the support group shouted. Most of the survivors follow his call, quickly building a core of fighters, pushing back against the remaining Nazarks while protecting the heavily injured.

They moved through the monsters, their formation strengthened in time with rangers and mages. Behind them some of the civilians even started to throw rocks at the enemies while others laid on the ground crying.

In the end they cleared out the beasts, some of them attempting to flee. Two warriors didn’t let up though and hunted down the running monsters. One in silence and the other in a manic laughter.

She’s mad that one.” someone commented and got a couple grunts of assent.

They noticed that after a while more and more people came running or walking from the rift. The sound of battle still raged inside but none of them went back in.

“That was a Basilisk… I hear they can take on whole groups of Ruby level adventurers… ” one of the fighters said, nervously moving his sword from hand to hand.

“Stop that hooey. Let’s help the ones that come out. Form a defensive line back there.” the support leader, an older white haired enchanter took charge and motioned for the survivors to move further away from the rift.

The faster warriors were to take the exiting survivors and bring them to the rest where they were treated as well as could be done. Sadly none of the healers had made it out.

For the next ten to fifteen minutes more and more people came out. Roland was still on the hunt while Iris had returned. She was sitting near the group mumbling to herself about unbelievers and blood mostly.

Some of the others tried to distance themselves a bit from the woman. She was quite famous for killing whomever she deemed unholy. Some wondered why she was allowed to join the caravan but one doesn’t question the guild.

Arven or Mia could deal with her after all, so it wasn’t an issue. Neither were here right now though.

“Look, more made it!” one of the surviving civilians exclaimed.

One of the healers was emerging from the rift with nearly ten other people, most of them being defenders.

“Sebastian...” the old enchanter said, relief spreading on his face.

They soon reached the group. “Ilea is still in there. I think Arven, her and some others are distracting the Basilisk… we’re safe here though, it won’t follow us out.”

Many of the people shouted or clapped at that. Some because they were apparently now safe. Some because they knew Arven or Ilea and had seen them fight or heal.

“They stayed behind to save us…,” someone said. Others joined with similar statements while Sebastian started to treat the injured.

Three minutes later some guards and adventurers exited the rift and joined them. Ilea, Mia and Arven were apparently still buying time against the terrifying Basilisk.

Some of the survivors went closer to the rift again, believing the words of Sebastian. Just as they reached the massive entrance, the five remaining survivors exited. A rogue helping a warrior stand, Ilea waking next to them and Arven carrying Mia.

He set the woman down and Ilea immediately checked her. “She’s fine. No mana though, just let her sleep for a while.” Arven nodded at that. They had made sure the Basilisk wasn’t following them before exiting.

The beast was still sending waves of air their way but didn’t move closer. The magic dissipating after a couple hundred meters.

Ilea started to treat the man that was running next to her on their assault on the beast. Ryan was apparently his name. “You can lie down, back to the rock.” he followed her orders as she started treating his broken arm and shoulder.

“Unholy!” a sudden scream made all the people focus on Iris who was pushing through the people around her. Her armor stained by blood, she unsheathed her sword and suddenly rushed at Ilea with an incredible burst of speed.

Her claymore held high, Arven could only watch as the healer he so learned to respect was cleaved in half.

That didn’t happen though. Ilea sidestepped skillfully and just slapped the woman with all her strength and a full load of Destruction. A loud clap resounded and a wave of force could be felt by the closest bystanders as the corpse of Iris slid a couple meters to the left of Ilea, her neck broken.

Ilea shook most of the new blood on her hand off and continued to treat Ryan. “Anyone got a problem with that?” she asked, with her back to the group.

Nobody said anything until Arven started laughing. A loud, deep laugh and soon joined by everyone else present.

The survivors couldn’t stop laughing, their situation so ridiculous, all the adrenaline leaving their bodies. Some collapsed in relief while others hugged each other. Nobody had heard Arven laugh before but that didn’t matter in that moment.

Ilea finished patching up Ryan and helped Sebastian with the rest. He smiled weakly at her, not stopping his work.

They were done an hour later when Arven got up from his sitting position next to Mia and addressed everyone.

“Alright people. We’re only forty five remaining out of the hundred fifty that left Riverwatch. We have some decisions to make.”

Thirty seven out of those forty five were from the guard. A miracle really that eight civilians even survived. They had been between the carts when the Basilisk first attacked. Most of them died instantly.

Ilea finished her work and joined the others that were listening to Arven. They voted on going back to Riverwatch or continuing their way to Salia. Most of them wanted to continue. Some of them seemed to change their mind after seeing Ilea and Arven choosing Salia.

“Alright that’s settled then. I suggest we camp out here for a while until everyone’s recovered a bit. Then some of us can go in again to salvage whatever we can from the caravan. Did anyone see any horses survive?”

Some people nodded and mentioned that they saw a bunch of them running away towards the forest. Arven nodded to the remaining Rangers who nodded and fanned out. It was in the middle of the night but they would likely still find the animals.

“Tom, do you feel up for a scout inside the rift in an hour or so?” Arven asked the Rogue.

“Sure, if you and Ilea wait at the entrance to bail me out should anything happen.” he replied

They were of course alright with that and so everyone spent the next hour recovering. Seeing all their physical injuries were healed, it was mostly a mental thing. Ilea remembered after half an hour of checking her armor’s damage that she could heal mental damage. ‘Maybe it works on shock and building PTSD as well…,’

She started healing the civilians who all seemed a bit more relaxed after. Most of the adventurers and guards seemed to be fine, mostly. Life in those professions brought similar things like what happened that night on a regular basis, albeit maybe not as intense.

Ilea finished checking up on the last one of them when Arven patted her on the shoulder. “It’s time, ready?”

She joined him and they escorted Tom into the rift. “This is far enough, you guys are too loud.” the rogue stopped them with a gesture after a while and continued on alone, crouching slightly.

“I couldn’t do that…,” Ilea said after a minute.

“What do you mean?” Arven asked, scanning the open space before them. There was no sight of the Basilisk or anything else moving really.

“I mean the rougey kind of work you know…,” she kicked the dust on the ground.

“Yea. Not my thing either. Didn’t expect you to be a psycho though.” the man said with a completely straight face.

“Psycho, what’s that supposed to mean? And yea, you’re more the leader type.” Ilea then removed her mace and started playing with it, throwing it into the air and catching it.

“It’s what I call people like you. The ones that get enjoyment out of… well this…,” he gestured to the scene before them.

“It’s not that I enjoy the killing and deaths, trust me I don’t. It’s just… the fighting itself. There’s something about it.” the mace fell to the ground a couple meters away from her. She went to it and picked it up.

“I know I know. Many Psychos do though, so you’re a special case I think. Sometimes I just think it would make it easier you know. To enjoy it.” he started tweaking the straps on his armor.

I get you.” she started to throw her mace again. “What’s that armor made of by the way? Heard someone whisper about a dragon.” This time she caught the mace out of the air.

“It’s a secret.” was his plain response. In that moment Ilea felt a presence with her spherical perception and turned to her side to see Tom crouching closer to her. His eyes widened and he straightened himself immediately.

“At least you’re not completely unaware of your surroundings. But holy fuck you idiots, can you be even louder?” he cocked his head as he looked at the now slightly embarrassed pair.

“No sign of the Basilisk, or anything else living. The tracks should be at least an hour old so the thing probably left soon after the fight.”

“You think we’re fine with checking?” Arven asked, none of the embarrassment showing anymore.

Tom made a wavy motion with his hand. “I’d give it another hour or two. Maybe let them sleep first.” he suggested. Arven grunted affirmatively.

They went back outside and informed the group. A watch plan was put into place while the rest prepared to get some sleep. Some of the others apparently had a similarly reduced need for sleep as Ilea. She believed the Body of Azarinth skill or the class itself was responsible for that.

She could certainly sleep for over ten hours if she was in a safe environment and wasn’t woken up, but two hours was all she really needed at this point. If she meditated regularly, she could even push sleep aside for days upon days. It didn’t feel right to her though and would always end with a headache. Ilea didn’t like headaches.

Sleep took her after all though as the night had been rather intense, even for her. A shout woke her up three hours later. One of the guards on watch had his sword drawn at the sight before him.

“It’s alright, I know the guy.” Ilea said from her half sitting position.

Roland gestured to her in a friendly manner and sheathed his axes. “You survived hmm? Well I won’t say I’m surprised. Managed to run away in the end?” he approached them as the guard sheathed his sword.

“I was in there for most of it. Quite a thing that Basilisk…,” she laid back down, resting her head on her hands.

Roland laid down next to her “Glad you made it.” he said after a minute of silence.

“Same.” Ilea said.

The sky was clear that night, stars shining bright. People sleeping could be heard while the occasional howl of a wolf split the night.

Ilea quietly chuckled to herself. ‘How did I get here…,’ she smiled at the absurd situation she had found herself in. ‘Guess I’m twenty now too. And I didn’t even celebrate my birthday by shutting myself in and avoiding all human contact...’

She didn’t feel like it was her mission to find out why she came to this world but there was certainly interest. No obvious party declared her the hero of the land and there seemed plenty of people stronger or wiser than her. Neither was there a demon lord to be defeated.

‘It just seems like some sort of joke. I do appreciate jokes but where’s the punchline?’ she thought about it for another hour or two before getting up and stretching.

The sun was already rising at that point and more of the guards woke up. The atmosphere was certainly not a happy one but to Ilea it seemed not gloomy enough for what happened the last night. ‘Life here is tough huh?’

Roland shared some fresh eggs and meat he fried with her. “Where’s the wind taking you after this? You’ll stay in Salia?”

“No no, I’m heading for Dawntree actually, I’ll likely stay in Salia for a couple days or so though. What about you?” she bit down on one of the eggs.

“Salia for me. Back to the family again.” he finished eating and started sharpening one of his axes with a whetstone.

Ilea finished her first egg “Kids? Don’t tell me you’re married.”

“Oh yes, yes. Seven of them. Two wives and a husband.” he smiled at her, completely straight faced.

Ilea laughed at his joke but stopped after half a minute “Wait, you’re serious?”

“Of course… why wouldn’t I be?” he stopped his sharpening and looked at her confused.

Ilea bit into the second egg, not realizing she was eating the shell as well. “Well that’s neat…,” she gave him a thumbs up.

‘And here I thought he was cheating… he’s only triple cheating.’ she continued to chew on the egg ‘Or is it even cheating for him?’

“Can I meet them? Your family I mean.” she tested.

“Sure! They’ll love you. Although the kids might be too much for you… main reason I do this job, next to you know… my well let’s call them needs.” he chuckled lightheartedly at that and continued to sharpen his axe.

‘Well that settles it then I guess. I won’t out myself as the backwards conservative prude that prefers monogamy…,’

“Sure, I’ll need a guide to the city anyway. Maybe one of your kids can show me around.”

Arven’s signature clap resounded and woke the last of the late sleepers. “Tom says the coast is clear. Ilea and… Roland was it? Feel like joining us to check the wreckage?”

They both got ready. Ilea asked Roland quietly why the people didn’t seem more bothered by what had happened the night before. “What do you mean? They encountered a Basilisk and lived. If anything there’s reason to celebrate.” was his response.

“Huh...” she got out as she followed him and the other seven people that chose to join Arven. ‘Guess something like that beast is more akin to a natural catastrophe…,’ she thought.

The group entered the rift’s entrance and were joined by Tom and another roguish adventurer. There was no sight of any beast and the place was as quiet and peaceful as when they had arrived the day prior.

‘Eerie…,’ Ilea thought as she looked at the pile of bodies and wreckage of carts. They quietly got to work. There were too many corpses to be reasonably buried, not that Ilea knew for sure that that was actually a custom here.

One of the mages made a massive hole in the ground where another one burned the corpses. Of course they were first stripped of any useful gear. ‘That seems cold…,’ Ilea thought, looking at the scene.

It didn’t seem like something special to the people around her, just everyday life...or death. She shuddered and continued to help work through the wreckage.

The sun was shining into the rift from far above, illuminating half of the cave inside and the humans working to recover what they could from their once proud caravan.

The group worked for nearly six hours to salvage what they could. Some of the goods were rather sturdy and four wagons that stood a little to the side were nearly completely fine.

The rangers had gotten some of the horses back in the night. They had more horses than needed to pull the carts at least.

Another two hours passed until the damaged wagons were repaired and filled with whatever was remaining. Many of the people had to walk next to the wagons because of a lack of horses. They would need a bit over a week to get to Salia.

Considering the large amount of management and coordination a large caravan needed, they didn’t lose as much time as Ilea expected by going this much slower.

Some beasts tried to get close and some of the guards got injured but it was much like the first week of travel. Nothing major like the Nazark’s attack or the Basilisk happened. It might just have overwhelmed the already decimated group.

Roland was certainly confused when Ilea refused to share his bed from now on but accepted her decision.

A note from Rhaegar

2019 June: Updated to address issues with tenses, spacing, paragraphs and dialogue.

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