Chapter 61 Sharing is caring
“We fled the hall after the throne room...but from everywhere the guardians closed in. We were in the main group with Jasper and Agor, fleeing while destroying guardians. A while after we were separated by a centurion. Rin was hit badly and Stevan here managed to drag her into one of the nearby houses. We held off the guardians that came for us and managed to advance a couple streets further back...” Jeremy chewed on some bread and swallowed hard before continuing.
“Two of them followed us, their eyes were glowing, just like the Praetorian’s had. They wouldn’t relent so me and Stevan took them down. It was a close one that fight...” he sighed and nodded to Stevan who was staring into nothingness before him.
“You were hit weren’t you...by one of them...I saw you on the ground when you...” Jeremy stopped talking, seeing her hands shake. She held them together to stop it but still tears formed on her eyes.
She wiped them away and looked at him with red eyes. “The scythe...it’s cursed. A fire mage saved my life and I didn’t even see their face...” she remembered the person burning her wounds to stop the bleeding. “The internal bleeding nearly killed me still and the curse of course...”
“Curse...what have we gotten ourselves into...” Jeremy said, focusing on the street again.
“We’ll move further back...and out of this hellhole as soon as she’s up again...” Ilea said and nodded to the unconscious Rin. She summoned two more swords and placed them next to the armor that lay prepared for the woman.
Jeremy nodded and silently finished his food. “The others...” he said but Ilea stopped him.
“We would die trying to save them...you saw those machines...what they can do. None of us here can stop them.”
“But we have to try….” he stopped talking and looked away. “The cave before the dungeon...in the worst possible outcome it was where we should meet...” he said, starting to take off his armor.
“Then we’ll go there. We’ll wake her if she doesn’t herself in half an hour. The longer we stay here the more dangerous it gets...” Ilea said and finished her food as well, getting her helmet back on.
The thirty minutes passed in silence, both Jeremy and Stevan had gotten on the armor. The latter seemed to have calmed down a little compared to before. Though he was still staring at nothing. They all had rather similar demons to fight and Ilea was glad when the defined time had passed.
Gently Jeremy woke up Rin, who took a deep breath, her eyes opening wide. Her breathing was hectic but calmed quickly as she saw Jeremy looming above her. She hugged the man and started sobbing quietly while he hugged her closely. “Lilith saved us my dear...we have to keep moving though, I’m sorry.” he said and released the hug.
Rin looked at Ilea with hopeful eyes before she looked downwards again, having seen Ilea’s cold stare. “The armor and swords. Can you fight?” Ilea asked and Rin nodded weakly.
“Thank you...” she said but Ilea waved her off.
“Thank me once we’re out of here...” she said and got up to check the street. Rin quickly ate the food left for her and then got the armor on. The swords she held one in each hand.
“Do you guys want helmets?” Ilea asked. Jeremy was the only one who agreed and she gave him the one helmet without any attachments to it. Her own had horns again but it was a more lithe design than the dwarven craft had been.
“Thank you for the gear...” Rin said. Nobody seemed bothered by the fact that she had hid a storage device from them before.
“Let’s move then...” Jeremy said, seemingly in higher spirits now that Rin was up again. Ilea was glad to see him take the lead as she had been struggling herself, trying not to be overwhelmed by her thoughts.
‘Focus now...you’ll get out of here alive...and these people with you...’ she told herself as they moved quietly through the houses until reaching the next square. There were no guardians they could see, which continued for four more streets. On the fifth square though stood two sword guardians, still their eyes were glowing. They were looking around as if they were searching.
Ilea pressed herself on the wall of the house they were in and started breathing heavily, sinking down on the ground. Jeremy was on her quickly, steadying the woman while holding a hand over her mouth. “Ssssh, calm down Lilith. What did you see?” he asked but it took a minute for her to calm down.
“T...two sword...guardians...” she said in a whisper. The man looked at her, his look something between worry and pity.
“Come on...think of the time you dismantled groups of them alone in the dungeons...I saw the remains and those weren’t destroyed by Agor...and the time you faced the centurion with the others. These guardians are nothing to you...” he said.
It was clear that Jeremy wasn’t sure the three of them alone could take on the two guardians without any injuries. They needed Lilith, she was powerful enough to take on centurions but apparently less experienced than he had thought.
“You can do this.” he said and repeated the words three times.
‘You can do this...’ Ilea heard the voice of her mind speaking. ‘They’re just normal guardians...you’ve faced worse...much worse and you’re stronger...stronger than you’ve ever been...’ she thought but somehow the cold in her stomach got the upper hand again.
“It’s just two of them...we cannot linger...” Stevan harshly whispered to Jeremy who had gone back to the others. “We take them down and she can heal us after if anything happens...come on.” Jeremy nodded after looking towards Ilea again.
Rin looked at her with sympathetic eyes, a tear rolling down her cheek before she nodded determined. “Let’s go...as quietly as possible...” the woman said as her dwarven blades started glowing red. Jeremy’s shield grew rock on it while magic started gathering around Stevan.
“I open...” the mage said and stepped out of the house ten seconds later. Ilea’s sphere was still active as she absentmindedly saw a spike of ice form and hit one of the guardians. The two engaged the group, Rin and Jeremy running at them with weapons drawn as spikes and mist of ice hit the guardians to slow and damage them.
Rin was cut on her arm slightly as she entered the first guardian’s guard, cutting the machine with both her blades. Jeremy blocked the machine’s hits as spikes of earth hit the enemy from below, summoned on each blocked hit on his shield.
The first of the guardians fell half a minute later, a spike of ice finishing it. Quickly thereafter the three focused down the second enemy, Rin’s swords cleaved through its neck with glowing blades before she landed with a flip.
Her arm was bleeding heavily as they reached Ilea who had been hugging her knees while sitting down on the ground. “Get up!” Stevan said in a harsh tone before Rin slapped the man.
“Don’t talk to her!” she said in a loud hiss and knelt down next to Ilea.
“We have to continue. I’m sorry but we have to.” she didn’t mention her bleeding arm but upon touching Ilea, mana flowed through her and fixed the arm. She smiled brightly and helped Ilea up.
“Thank you. We’ll get you out of here, alright?” she told her and tightly held her shaking hands with her own.
Stevan scoffed but then slapped his face with both hands, focusing again. “I’m sorry.” he said in a whisper that Ilea only heard thanks to her sphere.
‘What the hell was that...’ she thought about the panic that had suddenly gripped her.
‘ding’ ‘Curse Resistance reaches lvl 2’
‘It’s still there...’ she thought and activated her pain again. She hissed, Rin immediately checking on her, stopping the three.
“Walk on...I’m fine...” Ilea said through gritted teeth and tears in her eyes. “I have to...do this...” she said and forced herself to keep walking. The pain was less bad than before but still there. She felt the cold in her was still there yet not as prominent as earlier. The pain helped her focus.
‘Get out of here...’ she thought and the three kept walking, entering the houses again to avoid more guardian encounters. Two streets later Ilea groaned.
“What is it?” Jeremy asked, checking their surroundings.
“People, there.” Ilea said, gritting through the pain. Her tolerance had leveled again five minutes earlier. She pointed to a house on the left after the square in front of them. She saw four people on the first floor of the building.
The group entered and Jeremy announced them before going up to the first floor. “We’re from the expedition. Can you hear us? We have a healer.” he said and Ilea saw the people start moving agitated. Two of them preparing to fight.
“Come up then!” a familiar voice said. It was the arcane mage who had managed to block in the Praetorians before their flight. They came up and found the arcane mage and another mage with bloodied clothes but otherwise not in too bad of a condition. One of the smiths was with them, holding a smith’s hammer ready to strike. The last of the group was one of the scouts without armor or weapons.
“Anybody hurt?” Jeremy asked but the mage who seemed to have become the leader of the small group shook his head.
“We haven’t encountered anymore guardians after the initial assault. If you have food and water though...” Ilea summoned the last of her food and handed it to Rin, standing a little behind Jeremy. The mage likely noticed the storage item but didn’t seem to care at the moment. Rin handed the food to the others whose eyes lit up as they went through the food in under a minute.
“No water either sadly. But it shouldn’t be too far anymore. Maybe a couple hours.” Jeremy said and the mage nodded.
“Thank you. We’ll move on then, or do you need a break?” he asked Jeremy who shook his head.
“We move on.” they all got up before the last of Ilea’s armors clattered to the floor.
“The last one I have.” a spear, warhammer and two shields fell to the ground as well. “A spear?” she looked at the scout who nodded.
“A spear...” he said and grabbed the weapon and a shield. The smith threw away his hammer and grabbed the war hammer and a shield instead. They nodded to Ilea who was looking at the ground before her. She saw Jeremy shake his head at the mage with her sphere.
The group continued in silence for the next hour, no more enemies were encountered and luckily they soon reached a part of the residential area they had cleared out before. “We’ll be out in another hour.” The mage said as they walked through another house.
Another empty square lay before them and Jeremy motioned for the group to follow. As they reached the middle of the square the tank suddenly spun around and deflected a spear with his shield, the weapons continuing into the closest house and vanishing again.
“Get back...” he said as he looked at the centurion that emerged from another side street. Ilea stuttered and walked backwards when the smith grabbed her, strapping his shield to his back.
“Come on lassy, we’d be in the way.” he calmly said and quickly rushed her to the nearest house. The rest of the group faced the centurion while slowly walking backwards.
“Can we just run away?” the scout asked but Jeremy shook his head.
“We have open space here and these things are damn fast...mages to the back, we’ll have to whittle it down. Prepare.” the centurion was upon them and Ilea watched on as the group moved into a formation, the mages attacking from behind while the scout and Rin circled the machine and Jeremy tried to hold its attention, clashing the sword against his shield.
The smith watched from the door as Ilea fell down on her knees and skidded backwards to the wall before hitting it and breathing hard. He alternated between looking at the fight and her. Jeremy was thrown back by the Centurion’s attack before it was distracted by Rin’s attacks. The scout managed to get a spear attack in before being punched back by the enemy.
Magic missiles were fired by the mages, impacting on the centurion and forcing it to block with its spear. Ilea watched the fight through blurry eyes filled with tears, the action happened outside of her sphere’s reach. ‘no’ she thought.
‘No’ the voice in her head grew louder. The pain in her body was agonizing, the cold in her stomach flaring up.
‘NO’ the back of her fist hit the wall next to her, slapping onto the metal with barely a sound.
“No...” she said. Her left arm cleared the tears away from her eyes as they focused. Jeremy was bleeding from his side and Rin circled the centurion before being thrown back, hitting the ground hard.
“No” she said again, lines of red and yellow fire formed on her body as she hit the wall again. The smith looked back at the noise with wide eyes, seeing the crack in the wall.
“NO!” Ilea shouted, blue runes shining inside her armor as her fist hit the wall and punched through it.
Jeremy could only look on as the centurion advanced on the downed Rin, still skidding backwards from the last spear he had deflected. The mages were attacking nonstop but the centurion didn’t seem to care. The scout was unsteadily scrambling to his feet, having hit his head on the stone floor.
Rin looked at the advancing spear and closed her eyes, the sound of it impacting her reverberated through her head but she didn’t feel anything. Opening her eyes again a winged creature in black armor stood before her.
“I said no more...” Ilea said to the machine quietly, struggling to hold the spear in front of her.
The centurion removed the spear from her grasp and thrust at her. She moved her body slightly to the right, the spear glancing off her shroud of ash and armor below before a jab of her right fist hit the machine’s outstretched arm, sending destructive mana through its body.
The machine continued its assault on the woman before him but none of its hits seemed to go through. The mages got out of their haze and continued their barrage as Jeremy quickly used one of his small healing spells to steady the scout who shook his head.
Rin scrambled backwards before getting up and circling the machine again. Ilea danced with the centurion, blinking behind it when it tried to grab her. Sending mana through the machine when it managed to grasp her arm. Its spear was deflected again and again from her armor and shroud, the healer moved her body ever so slightly to never allow a direct piercing hit to land on her.
Dozens of scratches could be seen on her armor already when the machine went into its final form. She stopped attacking and simply dodged the crazed machine and blocked its attacks that were directed at the others in their group. The magic and her occasional flow of destructive mana whittled the enemy down until its core started glowing. She blinked away immediately before the centurion managed to grab her and stood a couple meters in front of it.
“Jeremy!” she shouted as a dense wall of rock formed in front of her, quickly evaporated by the coming explosion. Ilea stood where she was, blocking any debris from hitting the mages behind her.
Metal and rock was still falling when she turned around to the group. “They must’ve heard that. We have to move.” she said, a slight smile on her face below the helmet and a warm feeling in her stomach.
‘ding’ ‘Curse Resistance reaches lvl 3’
She ignored the rest of the messages, noting that both her classes leveled by one. The ten points were put into Strength as the group ran back to the dungeon entrance, Ilea at the front. In her sphere she noticed Jeremy glance at Rin and both smiling at each other.
The last stretch of the way was littered by destroyed guardians and even another centurion in between. Some corpses of adventurers were sadly strewn in between but it didn’t deter the group as they ran faster, driven by hope.
Ilea stopped suddenly and turned around. The rest of the group continued running, Rin slowing down though and shouting to Ilea. “Lilith we have to go, come on!!”
Ilea watched the empty street with clenched fists, slowly getting them up to remove her helmet. It vanished in her hands. The green and eerie light still shone onto the street below, illuminating the destroyed guardians of this ancient place.
“There will always be a drake...” Ilea said quietly and turned around. ‘And for this one too I shall be back...’ she started walking towards the exit, the rest of the group had reached it already, Rin entered the doorway at that moment. ‘...but not today.’ she thought and entered the doorway, looking back one last time before a slight smile tugged on her lips.