Chapter 118 Mind Weaver
Ilea’s veil reformed when another set of claws was stopped by it, her bladed gauntlets cutting into the monster’s mouth and beyond as she pushed on, grabbing its jaw and ripping downwards. It screeched, Ilea ripping out the blade to blink towards her next target, her blades flashing, two tentacles and two bony legs removed from her enemy. The blob of meat fell to the ground when her bladed gauntlets turned black and she landed in an explosion of gore and blood, some of it splattering on her armor even through her veil.
She looked up to find a massive demon charging at her, her body moving skillfully towards the beast as she turned with the exact timing to merge her full bodyweight and enhanced power into a destructive and heavy punch that stopped the monster in its tracks. Ilea moved back barely a single meter as she heard the bones crack, blinking upwards to deliver another punch aided by the massive weight of her gauntlets. This time what she thought of as the spine was the target, her fist smashing the bone as if it were just a wooden twig. The creature fell down and Ilea jumped towards its head and finished it with a stomp of her armored boot.
Looking around, she found a blood red battlefield covered in corpses, a smell worse than what she had ever experienced and a flying mage delivering death upon a group of zealous demons. Some of them were still fighting each other, unaware of the intruders. Whenever they did notice they turned on the humans but Ilea quite welcomed the confusion, stomping again on the clean ground next to her to remove the guts that had splattered up her leg.
The obsidian gauntlets vanished again as her speed increased, landing with a bladed twirl of her other weapons in a group of entangled monsters, already injured by their previous battle. Tendons were cut and limbs removed as Ilea dodged and weaved through the seven creatures around her, ash spreading to distract and shroud as she cut and killed, ripping through them like a hurricane of blades.
A heavy impact on her back sent her flying, unable to blink or dodge the attack that likely wasn’t even meant for her but for the creature she still had her blades sunken into. Ilea skidded to a halt, coughing up blood into her helmet before her healing skill took over. The beast focused on her again and she danced backwards to avoid any further hits, appearing before its head after the third back step, her blades both sinking into its head. It grabbed at her, making her store her gauntlets and blink downwards, kicking into the back of the demon’s legs, making it stumble.
Her bladed weapons around her arms again, she removed the legs altogether with another set of attacks before a blink landed her on top of its chest, a set of heavy punches landing into it as the three meter tall muscled creature desperately tried to get away the under two meters woman destroying its bones and organs with her black gauntlets. Her veil protected her from the enemy’s claws until it finally stopped moving altogether, Ilea blinking away right before a set of bone spears entered her.
The armored woman ran through the splattered and broken corpses while avoiding any projectiles, looking for more fighting creatures ready to be surprised.
Trian used his ranged attacks to fry any clustered groups of demons engaged with each other or running after Ilea who managed to attract more attention than she thought she did. Compared to the demons that had attacked the tournament half a week ago these seemed to be more preoccupied with each other than the two humans but then again the situation was considerably more chaotic for the members of the hand, now the whole thing was reversed, at least the surprising party was.
The two continued moving through the thinning mass of demons, Trian noticing that many of them actually started running away from the area, either injured or visibly weaker than the remaining actors. Ilea dodged a set of bone spears and finally managed to make out the aggressor, a mass of flesh regrowing bone as it slithered around a mound of corpses, hiding away right after the attack. The woman came to a halt and blinked towards the enemy, keeping her buffs and sphere up as she activated Meditation, ready to move quicker again as soon as the situation required.
She wasn’t in any dire need of a pause yet but in a battle like this one had to pace oneself, otherwise the remaining enemies may be too much and this time Ilea didn’t think she could just run to the next room as she did with the Taleen robots. These demons looked like they’d hunt her down right up to the ocean and perhaps even beyond. “Come on out little one...” Ilea whispered, spotting a bit of movement next to the mound, spears of bone flying towards her before she blinked, her field of vision changing to the enemy standing in front of her, not quite ready for what was to come.
Shaking her shrouded fist of the guts and blood, Ilea looked around while Meditation helped her restore some of the spent energy. Trian was flying in the distance, followed by a couple flying demons and two rather slim ones running below, occasionally throwing a corpse or bone his way. Her buffs active, the blue and red light inside her helmet reassured her as her fist closed and reopened, a cold breath leaving her mouth. “Alright.” she said and started running, ignoring the smell of blood in the air and the terrifying noises of screaming monsters ready to tear out her limbs.
The two slim creatures were running and watching Trian in the air, avoiding the thrown projectiles and flying monsters behind him when the armored and buffed level two hundred First Hunter crashed into them, her weight and speed aiding the bladed weapons to cut through both of their necks with a precise motion, their bodies sliding onwards for several meters before they came to a stop. The Hunter had already left the position, jumping up with the help of her ashen wings she was following Trian’s pursuers and cut them down one by one, in the end nearly colliding with the man who finished the last of them.
More demons had noticed the two humans in the meantime, following them on foot mostly as Ilea nodded to Trian before she turned around, her heavy gauntlets equipped before she flew downwards and into the first of the creatures with her full weight, the demon’s claws cutting through her veil and scratching at her armor in its last living movement. A set of spears scratched at her chest armor, pushing her back when one of the projectiles fired from close range managed to pierce right below her shoulder, destroying her right lung right before Ilea saw a boned mace land on her chest from the left. She managed to blink twenty meters backwards and pulled out the bone with a scream as a burst of lightning stopped the running mass of demons closing in on her.
Hunter Recovery took over as the wound closed and the spear was tossed aside. Ilea let out a hiss and focused on the ranged demon slithering between the more aggressive monsters. She blinked inside as lightning wrecked through their adversaries, her fists smashing into the creature, leaving it close to death before she ducked, the bladed bone rushing over her head, her left hand landing on the ground before a kick sent the demon behind her flying. She blinked upwards, summoning her bow and shooting a lightning arrow into the injured ranged attacker, killing it instantly.
The bow vanished and was replaced by obsidian gauntlets that landed with a heavy punch into the massive creature blocking the way of even more monsters. Two more punches landed before the beast extended its ribcage outwards, piercing Ilea on several weak spots in her armor. She pushed herself off before blinking next to Trian, blocking several thrown spears with her arms. The man wasn’t completely fine either, pierced by more than a single projectile.
“We should go, that thing you just attacked is blocking like fifty more of them...” he said and she nodded, flying upwards while touching him, sending a healing pulse through the man.
“Get those spears out.” she said as the two flew upwards, avoiding more projectiles coming from below thanks to her Sphere and some intercepting lightning. Trian started ripping out the bladed weapons, leaving heavily bleeding wounds behind that Ilea immediately took care of, her own injuries stabilized already. Looking downwards she saw some flying enemies following but they wouldn’t be much of a problem.
“You alright for more?” Trian nodded, breathing out.
“Give me a minute...” he said. Ilea nodded as they continued upwards, already inside a low hanging cloud. The two stopped after exiting above and Ilea intercepted the flying monsters coming from below with a grin below her helmet. She blinked behind the first creature, cutting into its back with her bladed gauntlets and pushing her destructive mana into it through her legs that wrapped around it. Feeling a lack of struggle from the creature, she let it fall down and blinked to the next one, her wings letting her avoid its sharp claws coming for her. The other flying demons focused on her now as well, Trian still hanging a couple dozen meters higher up as Ilea smashed her fist into the next unfortunate demon.
“Fuck...” she gurgled, one of them having managed to get through her defenses with a clawed arm, cutting into her neck. She grabbed and threw it away before stopping the bleeding with her hand, her healing taking over right after. Lightning coursed through the enemy she had thrown as two more of them advanced, making her blink behind them. Ilea grabbed them by their necks and held them upwards when a massive bolt of lightning coursed through the three of them. They stopped struggling as Ilea’s veil started rebuilding through her team mate’s attack, her Resistances to his magic likely miles higher than the adversaries she let drop a moment later, their lifeless bodies entering the clouds below.
Silence followed after, Ilea getting her health up to the max as her meditation skill helped her regain the used mana. Summoning her weapons took a little less out of her than a combination of Wave of Ember and Destruction and for the demons it was preferable to attack with blunt or bladed weapons instead of her usual mana intrusion. Trian slowly made his way down to her.
“Couple minutes then I’m ready.” he said and got a nod in response.
“Me too, you think they’re fighting each other again down there?” she asked, looking down not seeing a thing through the dense clouds.
“Let’s hope so, otherwise we might have to move away from here at this altitude...” Trian answered.
“Let’s move a little while we meditate then, some are certainly waiting right below.” she said and the two slowly flew into a random direction.
Around seven minutes later the two slowly made their way downwards expecting either scattered enemies or a bloodbath between the creatures. The actual circumstance of the battlefield was rather different as the remaining fifty or so demons of various sizes were standing as if frozen, clustered in a group below where the two humans had flown upwards.
“What are they...” Ilea started when a heavy pressure suddenly pushed against her head, breaking her concentration and making her wobble in the air. Trian’s wings vanished as he started plummeting downwards, caught a couple meters later by Ilea, her veil up and consciousness fighting against the mind attack she was very familiar with. ‘Knocking out Trian in a single hit...’ she thought, shaking her head as she pushed healing mana into the man in her arms. The attack was strong certainly and had taken them off guard but it was brute force compared to Eve’s attacks she had trained with.
‘Where the hell is it...’ she thought, looking around, finding a single demon looking towards her from the middle of the clustered group, his head sporting the same black holes as the staff wielder had. The same look as the demon summoned into the necromancer home so many months ago. Compared to then it was easy to resist, the pain but a distant phantom gnawing at her brain as she locked her eyes with the lack of his, or hers.
“HuuuMan.” its voice echoed through her head, the sound of its voice more painful than the mind attack that was still hammering into her defenses.
“Yes, human. Nice to meet you demon. Would you be so kind and stop this so we can deck it out like the monsters we are?” she asked in a more than sarcastic tone.
“YoU ResIst? How?” its voice sounded more curious than anything else. Compared to the arrogant supremacist demon she had met before this one seemed rather pleasant. Maybe second date material even.
“I have fought your kind before.” Ilea answered, curious as well as to the nature of her enemy. The other demons seemed rather adamant on getting their teeth into her, Trian and each other for that matter. Getting information wasn’t her strong suit but even Ilea realized that perhaps this time talking came before her fists. The fifty demons likely under the adversary’s control didn’t help the fist argument either.
“YoU HavE, aNd SURviVED???!” the creature was now moving a little closer to them, actually hovering over the ground at around half a meter.
“I like that hovering, is that a skill?” Ilea burst out, actually interested as it did look rather cool to her.
“AaaH YeeS, IT iiiS sloW but AERiAL comBaT is POSsible. ThOSe ThiNGS wHAt arE thEY?” the other demons had turned towards them and were marching closer, pushing away the corpses of their fallen brethren as they mindlessly advanced. Ilea was a little confused as to the question but the motions the demon did with its hands made her understand.
“Ah yes, those are my wings. Ashen wings to be exact.” she answered, slowly moving backwards at the same pace as the creature advanced. Trian was still out and she was pretty sure she would lose against the combined forces of the enemy without his help. At least without flying away.
“WiNGs? AshEN? ThAT is IntERESTING!” the shout inside her brain made Ilea wince.
“Do you not have those… can you talk a little less loud, you’re hurting my brain.” she asked.
“LeSS LoUd… Do you mean this?” the voice was still uneven but much less loud. “I can do that but are you sure you can understand me?”
Ilea nodded “I can hear you just fine, before you were shouting.” Ilea said.
“AAAAHhhhh yes, your skills in mind magic are inadequate at best. For the sake of curiosity I will humor you. No, we do not have wings but they do look similar to some of the flying variations of spawn. The word itself was unfamiliar. Ash is new as well, what is it?” it asked, the whole group of beings slowly moving through the salt desert while the conversation went on. Ilea was certainly impressed with the creature’s ability to keep so many of the demons under control.
“I have answered some of your questions, now it’s your turn to answer some of mine.” she said, immediately a strong force of magic pushing against her mind. Ilea was ready and endured, her healing pulsing through her.
“HoW DaRE YoU DeMANd?! SpAWN!!” the demon was shouting again. Ilea’s negotiations were certainly not going well.
“I’m not spawn and if you don’t answer I’ll just fly away and you won’t get anything out of it. Are you not interested in trading information?” she asked.
“Trade… you do look quite unlike spawn. Are you not human then? Is that black shell… perhaps a new species?” the demon seemed to calm down again.
“I’m not sure what you mean by spawn actually. I’m human but I can obviously resist you so are you interested in new information. I can tell you about ash… about fire and lightning. Hmm?” Ilea said. “Or I can fly away and you will be left with nothing.”
The demon stopped as did the fifty creatures around it. “Intriguing. You are human but your logic is sound. I will have to add this to the collection. What is it you desire to know?” the demon asked, Ilea rejoicing in her mind.
“Finally. Alright...” she said, quite unsure of what question to ask first. “Aki you there?” she whispered. “What should I ask it?”
“I’m here, didn’t want to interrupt this miracle from happening. It’s like watching two imbeciles of different species figure out fire together.” the dagger commented, making the demon look at the piece of metal.
“Another artifact, with a bound soul. Interesting...” the demon said, not trying to hide the words.
“Will you help me or not? Not like the ten thousand year swimming lesson isn’t still up my friend.” Ilea chuckled.
“Alright alright. We need to know where we are and how we can get out. Focus on that and don’t get distracted by unnecessary things as you usually do.” the dagger said. Ilea nodded and focused.
“Alright demon you heard him. Where are we?” Ilea asked.
“I don’t understand. You are here human.” the demon answered.
“What, no. I mean how is this place called? Is it part of Elos or are we somewhere else?”
“This?” the demon motioned around him and to the ground below. “I do not know of Elos. The salt is referred to as the great emptiness by some.” it said.
“What about the ocean around it?” Ilea asked, receiving a confused gesture from the monster. “The water around the salt?” still nothing “The waves you know...” she moved Trian in a wavy motion.
“We do not speak of this.” the demon said.
“Aaaalright then. So the great emptiness… well that’s not helping. How do we get out? Any idea?”
“Out, yes. You want to leave as well then?” Ilea’s mood sunk a little at the realization that they might not be the only ones trying to get out of here.
‘This might take a while...’ she thought.