Chapter 127 Air Support
“That brings us to you demon. You’ve reached your goal and I’m debating on killing you right here, right now.” Trian said, the map already looking too complicated for Ilea to remember all of it.
“Why would you do that, he’s not attacked us since.” Ilea said.
“Because we’re right here. What if he leaves and hunts down humans?” he asked but the demon interjected.
“You speak true human, I have reached my goal. But now I desire to experience this new world. If I may be of use, do use me. If you should not kill me or even protect me in turn I would do anything to stay!” he was obviously in distress. Gaining all these new influences and now his life was up for discussion. Ilea was a bit disgusted at Trian’s suggestions but she had to accept that there was a demon sitting on their table. One of the demons that had massacred thousands of humans. Not him directly but one of their kind.
“Don’t be a racist.” she said quietly.
“Ilea. They eat humans.” Trian just stated. “Alright then we’ll use you for now. Just be aware that if you betray us we’ll kill you and if you flee and hide or attack humans they’ll fight back and kill you as well so I suggest you listen to us. It’s your best bet of continuous survival.” he explained, driving a hard bargain but a truthful one nonetheless. Of course the near level two hundred mind mage would wreak havoc among among any given human city but in the end he would be cut down, one way or the other. That was if he was alone.
“How many of the spawn can you control? And would you be willing to cut down your own kind?” Trian asked. The demon just looked at him for a while.
“I’m confused. Why would I not fight them? I’ve been doing so for two hundred years.” the demon said.
“That’s settled then. Well I want us to work together. We hunt down demons and some of the higher leveled ones we find you add to your troop.” Trian explained.
“That sounds agreeable. I can control around one hundred and fifty spawn, less if they’re above my level.” the demon said, his impressive level of 186 would help them a lot against most of the spawn at much lower levels.
“Good, then we all know our roles. Let’s move out.”
“Finally.” Ilea said, lifting her head from the table it had rested on.
Sulivhaan ate in silence as he usually did, his mask lifted just enough to be able to eat. He didn’t allow himself to smile as he looked around the campfire to find his team still standing strong. Some of the few that remained in close proximity to the deathtrap previously known as the city of Ravenhall. Rock’s stomach rumbled when he finished the meal but it would cost them days to get to the next town for re-provisioning. They had enough to work with but in these situations the squad leader was missing a storage device of some sort the most.
“I should be fine now, going to sleep for two hours.” Rock said as he put the plate down and started rubbing it with snow to somewhat clean it. At least water wouldn’t be an issue, even if it weren’t winter. Navalis nodded her very light nod, barely noticeable to anybody outside of their team. They all were still clad in black but more and more, red was joining in, their gear growing more rugged by the day.
Senia, their rogue was already sleeping, her skills not allowing her much in the sense of reduced rest. She was small and Rock would carry her in normal circumstances. Aided by Sulivhaan’s gravity magic it wouldn’t be much of an issue. The ranger and mage were left behind at the still warm site, now only ashes remaining from the camp fire. They had learned early on that demon encounters wouldn’t increase much when they lit a fire, a peculiarity the monsters didn’t have in common with most other predators in Elos.
Navalis got up quietly and left for her hourly scouting while Sulivhaan was working with his gravity magic to ease the rest of his companions. He put down his mask again as he meditated.
Sunrise came and a pat to his shoulder woke Sulivhaan out of his meditative state. Navalis was standing near a tree and Senia above it, already somewhat shrouded in shadow. Sulivhaan reduced gravity around him as he rose, prepared for another day of fighting.
“We’ll scout around the south of the city today, same as always.” he said as the group moved out, more and more familiar with the surroundings. Senia vanished into her surroundings, about as hard to make out as Navalis who reached nearly the same level of camouflage with experience and the help of some minor skills. Sulivhaan was glad that the young woman saw Navalis more as a role model and less as competition, otherwise he wasn’t sure the team would still be together.
Rock was their tank and would lure enemies towards him but even he managed to stay relatively quiet while he ran through the forest. Sulivhaan himself of course was floating, the exercise not a skill but a combination of his gravity magic spells that he worked on for years to perfect, now the fastest moving member of their team for long distances.
It didn’t take long for them to find the first group of demons. Whoever controlled them was sure to send out scouts and groups of them to check the surroundings of the city regularly, proving them to at least not be mere beasts. Of course Sulivhaan had his suspicions as to the reason of the demons’ appearance. He wouldn’t put it past some of the Hand’s members to use this for their own gain. His best bet was on a failed experiment by a random member dabbling in necromancy or summoning, not that it hadn’t happened before.
Of course the extend of this outbreak was different but they would quell it, one way or the other. The emergency protocol of the Hand would be put in place whenever Ravenhall would fall, something that has happened at least three times in the history of the order. They would meet in the current capital of the empire or kingdom the city currently belonged to. In these times that would be the empire of Lys with its capital, Virilya. He himself had seen many of the Hand flee, most of their casualties coming from the encounter in the Haven. Seeing Verena fight that monster was something he wouldn’t forget for quite some time. The heights of human power and still she would continue to grow. With people like her on their side it would take more than some simple demons to take them out.
The woman had vanished into a portal the beast had summoned, with a group of members that had helped her fight it but Sulivhaan was sure they were all alive, he was an optimist after all.
“RAAAAAHRRRRR” the battle shout of their tank made Sulivhaan focus as he prepared his magic, the group of demons a big one. Navalis would assess them from a distance and would call for a retreat if she thought the encounter not manageable but so far there was no signal, so they engaged.
A field of increased gravity spread out around Rock who swung his massive hammer around him, blood and guts spraying as he cleaved through some of the monsters, their bones crushed together before they impacted with the next body. The first lines of golden light came from the trees behind Sulivhaan, impacting the heads of several demons. Senia appeared in the midst of the group, slashing at their necks and heads with her daggers while using Rock as a shield to find shelter behind. She would appear and disappear, reaping the lives of their enemies while moving in tandem with Rock’s hammer swings she guided pursuing demons towards.
His preparations were finished and while Sulivhaan was not one to hold the spot of being their leader through sheer force, he had more than just a strategic mind and ability to lead. A big chunk of demons suddenly flailed in the air when a magical force took them upwards. The gravity field around Rock suddenly pulsed outwards as the tank smiled, his shoulders hanging less low, his stance less strained and his hammer light as a feather. The demons around him couldn’t move, pushed towards the ground as hammer swings and daggers took them apart.
The group hanging high in the air stopped before a pulse of magic left Sulivhaan, the demons flying towards the ground with around five times the speed they should’ve fell. The snow on the ground didn’t help much as their bodies were splashed on the ground, leaving none of them alive as he prepared his next spell, focusing on another group when a heavy presence in his mind made him focus on a specific part of the forest in front.
“Mind weaver!” he shouted as several golden streaks of light flew into the direction of the mage. A massive monster, bones growing from its back blocked the ranged attacks as two more groups of demons appeared on either side of it, each as numerous as the one they had just fought. The signal for retreat came immediately from Navalis, Sulivhaan preparing his last area spell to slow down the enemy as they retreated. The mind weavers learned to round themselves with demons, less arrogant than they had been in the first couple days after their appearance.
Another signal arrow came from their ranger, now from a different position. A signal to reengage. The man smiled as his delaying spell was reformed into an offensive one. A loud crackling could be heard from above when a massive bolt of lightning smashed into one of the groups of demons, their flesh burning, some even exploding from the sheer energy of the spell. Simultaneously spikes of metal smashed into the massive bone monster protecting the mind weaver when a winged silhouette in black armor landed hard in the group coming from the left, ash coming into existence around the warrior as demon corpses where thrown out of the cloud. Sulivhaan concentrated again as his spell took form, lifting up the bone monster and mind weaver behind it, the two rising as lightning and golden arrows smashed into them. Senia vanished into the black ash cloud while Rock engaged the remaining enemies in the right hand group.
The mind weaver was dead already from the continued ranged attacks, the pressure in his head leaving gradually as he put a chunk of his mana towards the fall of the still struggling bone demon, the subsequent impact sending a shock wave of snow and frozen dirt towards them, the cloud of ash clearing as two mages landed near it, the warrior in black standing next to Senia who teleported away and towards Sulivhaan.
They did engage the demons but Sulivhaan was prepared for everything, at least until the helmet on the black warrior vanished, revealing a face he hadn’t seen since the collapse of Ravenhall.
“HAHAHA Ilea you fuck!” Rock exclaimed, throwing his hammer to the ground as he walked towards the woman who followed his example, the two hugging briefly before they disengaged and smashed their fists together, creating a loud noise of metal against metal.
“Wow.” he said to himself as he approached the group, Navalis falling in next to him.
“You knew it was her?” he asked, knowing the answer even without a response.
“Another squad is still here, that’s good news then.” Trian said as he looked at the approaching figures. Ilea knew at least one of them, that was sure and they were fighting demons while wearing black. A good enough reason to join them.
“Yes, all the demons are dead… nothing left for our weaver.” Kyrian said, looking back to see the slowly approaching mind weaver with his band of sorry looking demons. They had fought all through the night and morning but had found few high leveled enemies, until this group.
The ranger of the other team was rather perceptive, raising her bow and aiming towards the slope where their group of demons was approaching, still hundreds of meters away. Trian appeared a couple meters in front of her with a disengaging stance. “They’re on our side.” he simply spoke, the ranger keeping her bow tense until the mage of the other group spoke.
“It’s alright. Very interesting, now I would like to know the reason for a friendly group of these monsters. My name is Sulivhaan, squad leader of team eight, Shadow’s Hand. And you are?” Trian smiled now, having heard of the team before.
“Trian, team thirty four. And yes, I’m sure we have a lot to discuss.” he said, shaking hands with the man.
“The day is still young...” Ilea said as she approached the group, lightly nodding to the ranger in the process. “And the sun is high. Our numbers just doubled and the enemy’s numbers in the hundreds of thousands, why are we still standing here?”
Sulivhaan had expected some people to have stayed behind but in the past weeks all they had found were individuals, all trying to get into the destroyed city for personal gain, both random adventurer and member of the Hand. At this point he hadn’t expected to find a full team had remained.
His inquiries were cut short by the team leader of the other group, Trian. They had apparently managed to talk one of the demons to their side, a story much too vague for him to believe at the moment but Sulivhaan was rarely one to be too hung up on the details. A job needed to be done, and he would get it done. Seeing the others reap through the enemy group of demons currently being slaughtered by them brought a big smile to his masked face, their powers working together incredibly well.
The large enemy groups allowed for full scale usage of all their abilities without inhibiting themselves, something seen only in bigger dungeons or wars. A group of seven level two hundred individuals going all out was not something most people or monsters alike would want to stand against.
The woman had grown, at a pace he had expected. More importantly she had made friends, team mates that would hopefully stand by her side whenever she needed them, whenever the barrier she tried to punch through was too much to overcome on her own. She would survive, and help the others do so as well.
His spell finished as he stopped thinking about his newfound companions, the enemy stopping in the air and flying to their deaths a moment later with a more than unhealthy velocity. Sulivhaan looked to the next group even before the previous one impacted the hard stone ground below. Hard winds pushed at his coat, making parts of it flutter as he saw streaks of red and gold destroy the confused enemy lines.
A storm was coming up, not uncommon in these altitudes. The snow would help them more than the enemy, concealing their forms and magic to their enraged and wild minds. The current group numbered in the sixties when they had found them and by now their melee fighters were hunting down the last remaining standing stragglers who managed to escape the large scale magical attacks by his gravity magic and Trian’s lightning.
“Good job.” Trian said, checking on some of the injured demons who were left alive on purpose.
“Are you sure we can trust that demon?” Sulivhaan asked the flying mage next to him. The armored man looked at him, his once black armor was chipped in places and showed red below the applied color by the Hand, something common to anyone returning to Ravenhall after months of travel and fighting. The man coughed and clapped his hand together, a spark forming and growing all around his body.
“Not at all, he’s a demon like them but we can use him. Trust me that monster is afraid of us more than of his brethren.” the man said.
“And once this is done?” Sulivhaan asked but the man just looked at him and then back to the field of snow and corpses below, floating downwards slowly.
“We have three at one sixty and another four at one twenty. Guess we’ll use em.” Rock stated, chucking the screaming demons on a pile, their arms and legs removed by the skilled rogue in their group, quite skilled at removing limbs and not something anybody below her strength would want to ask about.
“Best we could get, seems like the higher leveled ones died mostly in the initial summoning or they’re hiding inside the city.” Rock said, motioning towards the general direction of Ravenhall with his hammer.
“Some must’ve gone off to other cities or even the south.” Senia said, moving one of her daggers around her hand as if it were floating.
“Then let them dry to death in the desert.” Trian landed and looked around. “Where’s Ilea?”
“She’s fighting one of them still, low leveled. I think she’s trying something with her ash skills.” Rock said and pointed to a silhouette in the distance, the falling snow making it hard to make out details.
“Ilea!” Trian shouted and waited for the figure to turn around. The woman came closer soon, her hand firmly grasped around a struggling demon’s neck as ash circled around her, tendrils pushing and pointing at the corpses and the ground.
“Come and heal them, where is that damn demon again. Mind weaver!” Trian continued to shout, now floating upwards again.
“Could at least ask nicely.” Ilea said and threw the demon at Trian, its claws trying to dig into the floating man who responded with a high voltage charge that fried its brain.
“Fuck off!” he shouted down to her and continued to look for the friendly demon.
Ilea just shrugged and walked to the pile of moving demons, her face showing a disgusted grimace under her helmet. They were obviously in pain, enraged and powerless against the opponent they had found themselves against. They were rabid, monstrous killing machines akin to something she had seen in science fiction movies about aliens. Demon was a good name for them but still she preferred just fighting and killing them. Mutilating didn’t sit right, they were animals at least. Still she started healing the first one of them, the suffering of these monsters worth it a thousand times over if they could be used to fight the remaining masses left behind in the city she had grown to like. More importantly to avenge the humans they once were.