Chapter 124 Into the Light
Ilea looked through the corpses to see if any items were dropped or if any of the demons wore anything valuable or interesting while Trian checked out the runed control panel in the middle of the hall which had made the elder vanish. She had gained another couple levels in both classes and some skills but nothing changed significantly.
Her new second stage of Hunter’s Sight revealed nothing about the demons she was fighting. Some of the mages they had killed at the beginning panicked right before they died but that was evident on their reduced but not completely absent facial expressions. Ilea activated her buffs when she saw something a little unexpected, a mind weaver hiding below a pile of demon corpses.
“I can see you demon, come out or die.” she said, Trian glancing towards her but continuing his tinkering right after. The demon moved immediately but was obviously stuck under the corpses, its strength not enough to move the massive pile of flesh even in the slightest.
“It’s Me!” it shouted into her mind, Ilea’s eye twitching at the sudden assault of mind magic.
“Why not just say that immediately you idiot.” she said and walked over, grabbing the first best corpse and flinging it away, the body landing with a thud on the metal ground, its innards and blood splattering the gray with red. Another ten seconds later the demon was lying before her, looking at her with his biologically big eyes, or lack thereof. Ilea just grabbed his leg and flung him away as well, the demon using his levitation magic to somewhat dampen the impact.
“Don’t use your mind magic like that, I’ve told you before. It’s like me just randomly punching you. I can start doing that if you like.” Ilea suggested but the demon got up quickly and held out his clawed hands to soothe her.
“No, no. I don’t think I’m as resilient as you are to my magic.” the monster said, floating a little above the corpses around him. Ilea could feel a little distress in the demon when he looked at her. A good thing she thought, lest he makes a bad decision that will cost his life. She continued her work while the demon joined Trian, the two immediately sharing their thoughts on the runes and their respective functions, nobody bothered by the blood soaked cloth the demon was dressed in.
Ilea had reduced her perception of smell inside her sphere to the minimum, the stench not overwhelming her anymore. ‘Another one...’ she thought as she pushed aside a massive demon corpse, taking the small mana crystal lying below. She had found eight in total, each only having a charge of three, whatever that meant. Compared to the fifty charges in the one she got from the dog it was obviously worse.
Looking up to the faraway ceiling that was tinted in orange red light, Ilea held up the crystal and looked through it and remembered the first time she ran out onto a battlefield with a smile on her face. Dale had been there, looking over the inexperienced healer. It all could’ve ended there, with her breaking down in the midst of that ambush. “But it didn’t.” Ilea said out loud and made the crystal vanish. Trian’s concerns meant more to her than he knew, her regards of him gaining favor again and again.
He was a good man and a good friend, putting on the noble asshat facade whenever he spoke to people but she knew there was more to him. Of course he didn’t know that she kept up her sphere while she rested in the middle of the field, her second stage of Azarinth Perception ensuring that no attack would outright kill her in one blow. In the midst of them she could see them, smell them and it was then that she felt most confident in her abilities. Ilea would get strong enough to fight the Taleen Praetorians, she would gather enough knowledge to find out what had happened to her, what had brought her here. And most important of all she’ll have fun doing it.
A flash of light and loud crackling noise brought her out of her thoughts, looking over to the others she found Trian’s body slightly smoking from the control panel’s feedback. Blinking over she checked but found him barely damaged, healing the rest with her spell. “It’s gonna take a while isn’t it?” she asked but he just ignored her. The demon looked away, Ilea sighing and walking away, removing her helmet and summoning a cloth to clean it.
“I’ll be nearby, call out when you’re further.” she said. Her helmet cleaned up, she summoned one of Albert’s books and started reading, sitting on a metal ledge far enough away from the carnage to not smell terrible.
“Ilea! You might want to see this!” Trian’s shout got her out of the concentration, the woman placing a small piece of paper into the book and snapping it closed. It vanished as her helmet came back over her head.
“Progress already? Been barely two hours.” she said, her tone a little on the sarcastic side. Trian didn’t answer but showed her as lightning flowed into specific runes, a holographic image coming to life above the control panel. The image flowed between sceneries, Ilea using her buffs to enhance her body to the fullest, trying to see the different environments. There were deserts, rock, water, fire, snow and many more. Ilea thought the snow was more prevalent but the images were moving quickly.
“Are those places we can go to?” she asked, seeing glimpses of different civilizations rarely in between. More so than the massive and terrifying creatures she saw as well, one of them looking right back at her.
“Space squids, what the fuck...” she said, taking a step back.
“Are you alright? I can’t make it slow down. This rune here is supposed to be responsible for targeting but I have no idea how to do that. At least we think it does that...” Trian explained, the last part not inciting confidence in Ilea.
“Dagger, got any ideas?” he asked.
“It’s Aki, and no. Just because I’m old doesn’t mean I know a lot about demonic runes.” the dagger said.
“Not demonic, the Lost use… older runes. Different.” the demon beamed into their minds.
“Just think of something real hard? Like Viscera maybe?” Ilea asked and Trian shrugged, activating the runes again. This time there were more glimpses of cities and underground halls but nothing looked quite like the city they’ve grown to know.
“So thinking does have an influence. Can I try?” Ilea asked, having an idea.
“I don’t think you can activate the rune.” Trian said.
“Well you keep it activated and I’ll just touch it, I think I can at least let some mana seep into it.” she said and used reversed reconstruction to push her mana into the rune. This time cities appeared again, a glimpse of earth made her release her spell and take a step back. “That’s...” the possibility was there. Whatever this device was it had the power to bring her back home. Still the images had been moving incredibly quickly and Ilea hadn’t yet started trying her initial idea but still, there was a possibility.
“I need a moment.” she said and walked away, going back to the same place she had waited for the others. Trian just shrugged and continued to focus on something, even trying to talk to the runes.
“You’ve seen it, haven’t you?” Aki asked. Ilea nodded after a while.
“Well do you want to go back then? Or back to Elos?” the dagger asked, a question Ilea found hard to answer. Not because she didn’t know but because she felt guilty about her answer.
She wanted to find out what had brought her to Elos and why. She wanted to know if there was a way back. At least now the possibility of it all being a simulation was significantly smaller. She wanted to understand but in the end, she didn’t want to lose everything she had gained in this place filled by magic. Kick-boxing couldn’t come close to what she had here, the thrill of fighting for one’s life something she couldn’t have imagined beforehand. The reality of being gunned down no matter how good one was at martial arts blowing every wish to become a certain bat.
And she would have to start studying. With her powers here she had several sure job securities that brought both fun, freedom and money. Not something one would easily give up. Most of all in Ilea’s mind was the fact that she could fly. That fact alone, even before considering everything else was enough to make the decision an easy one. Still, she felt guilty. Her family was there and even with the relationship they had she knew that a mother and father would not be unaffected by the disappearance of their only child.
But just as they had been selfish, this time it was her turn. They would get over it, both of them already had a psychiatrist, one of them assigned by law. Suddenly Ilea was quite happy that she hadn’t found love in her time on earth, or friends she would die for. The choice between this nearly intoxicating freedom and love was not something she would want to face.
“No. No I don’t want to go back.” Ilea answered the overdue question and walked back to Trian who was still standing in front of moving images. She simply pushed her hand onto the rune while using reconstruction. Her mind focused on her home on the cliff side. “Hold on demon, this might be your way out.” the monster immediately grabbed her arm, Trian still using his lightning to push into the runes.
The pictures were moving quickly, images of houses and cliffs flying around when Ilea activated the third stage of blink. Her mana drained quickly as the magic took hold. Time passed as she focused all of her thoughts into the living room of her newly built palace. Half her mana was gone and the others waited for anything to take effect. Ilea wasn’t sure it would work but it felt like the best bet, the combination of her magic with a set destination and her thoughts maybe enough for the device before them to find their intended destination.
A big mana pulse came from the machine, the images moving with a slowing pace. Ilea stopped focusing on them and closed her eyes, only thinking of her home and the spell forming around her. Ten seconds before the half hour activation time came to a close, she spoke out. “Give it all you have Trian.” she said and vaguely noticed him nodding. A pulse of lightning as bright as the sun came out of his hand and flowed into the rune and nothingness took them.
Kyrian watched on as the little girl finished her latest masterwork, his thoughts on the possibilities should she reach higher and higher levels of her skills. There was something entrancing about her skill usage and even now she would rival the best nobles at her age with her output of power, her barrier able to stop a surprising amount of force.
“Cless, are you ready for dinner?” he asked, the girl looking up to him and smiling. She nodded and jumped off her small chair and walked towards the stairs, leaving the man who looked at the painting. One of many that now decorated the walls behind the dwarven weapons displayed in the cellar. “Where are you?” he asked into the silent room and shook his head, walking upstairs to join the girl.
She was sniffling at the cooking food as always, squealing at the smell. Something she had in common with their unknowing host. Ilea had left behind plenty of food, able to feed half a town. Plus they were far enough out from Ravenhall to ensure the girl’s safety and his own for that matter. Kyrian grabbed a chunk of meat and walked outside and closer to the cave nearby. Its resident at first ignored as a nod to Ilea but in the weeks that passed it turned out to be the right decision.
The chunk of meat was put down at the beginning of the cave and soon the swordmouth tiger appeared, looking first at Kyrian and then the meat. He tried to wait for the animal for a while but again it wouldn’t come closer, looking at the man with its blue eyes glowing. Sighing he left the cave and went to eat with Cless who told him about her hometown, something she had started talking about after the first week of living together in Ilea’s house.
“I’m happy I don’t have to go to school anymore. Mrs. Johnson doesn’t like me, I think there’s more you know?” the girl explained.
“I do, I do. Now eat or it’ll get cold Cless.” the man answered, his armor clinking when it touched the glass on the table. Cless looked at it and frowned.
“Don’t you have nice clothes?” she asked, for the tenth time already in the past weeks.
“You know I have to. I promise I’ll get something nice after this is over.” he smiled at her and continued eating. Twenty minutes later he got up.
“Do I have to hide again?” the girl said and pouted.
“You can paint more, no?” he asked but found the answer unsatisfying after giving it so many times. “Look Cless this isn’t forever ok, we’ll find a solution at some point. A safe place where you can stay. Or you can work on your skills and get stronger. Until you can match me it’s too dangerous out there right now.” he explained to the girl. She was smart and would understand. He knew she didn’t like it and was craving entertainment but sadly he wasn’t the best to teach her reading with the copious amounts of books upstairs.
“We’ll do something as soon as Ilea is back ok?” he said, having found that mentioning the name made the girl usually light up. She nodded and waved towards him, walking down into the cellar again right after.
The man stood there and sighed again. He had been doing that a lot lately. Kyrian’s helmet appeared and he walked outside, closing the door behind him as metal spheres started floating around him. It wasn’t easy without the team, he had gotten used to their support. Two spheres landed in his hands and two formed chunks around his legs before they started pulling him upwards, his face turning serious as he flew upwards at a high speed, a little faster every day.
Checking the surroundings of the house, especially the area above, Kyrian found it deserted as most days but he had to make sure. “Alright, let’s go.” he said, trying to emulate Ilea and Trian who never seemed to doubt themselves when rushing into battle. It did help a little in the end. The first screams could be heard in the distance, no human screams. Flying over the next snowy hill he found his first targets. A group of demons shy of reaching level two hundred eating a dead horse and a woman unfortunate enough to be around.
He concentrated on the demons as the metal spheres around him formed into small needles, some into bigger spikes. Mana flowed into them as the curse concentrated. Two small needles sneaked around the distracted group of monsters and started painting into the snow below. Twenty seconds later the storm was set loose, the demons looking up and screeching when the curse took hold around them, followed by needles and spikes of metal crashing into their bodies, shredding their slowed and feared bodies with the multitude of sharp flying objects.
A minute later the last of them fell without even knowing what had attacked it. Kyrian glanced at the destroyed body of the woman, went down and closed her eyes. Something Ilea had told him about. He felt like it was the right thing to do.
Continuing onwards, the man took care of all the smaller groups of demons he found, even some stragglers completely alone. The bigger ones were a bit more difficult but with his skill set it was only a matter of time before they fell. He had to hide several times when flying demons or groups too big for him to handle appeared. The mind mage in the most recent group had nearly detected him but Kyrian stayed calm, hiding behind a set of trees and breathing steadily.
They had hid well when the demons first appeared in Eregar’s Haven, not showing themselves even after it had been declared clear. Kyrian knew he could resist one of them at least but they were different beings still, some stronger than others. Eve and her magic was the reason he was still alive at this point, wherever she was. The group of demons passed, running towards the east and Kyrian got out from behind the trees, flying at a low altitude until he came up on the hills overlooking Ravenhall. The fires were still burning, it was quiet as he looked towards the broken gates and the mind mage standing on the walls, looking towards the outside world with its black holes for eyes.
“Not today…” the man said and ran westwards, every killed demon another dent in their forces, albeit a small one.