Chapter 151 I did this before but #traveling
Eve suppressed her cough, focusing her eyes on the mage before her as the cocoon of thorns and roots opened up. The scene of a terrified girl, her hands clutched on the dagger’s handle stuck in her head, opened before her. A moment later a cloud of pink mist exploded outwards and Eve ran. She ran for her life with all the energy she had left until she reached the very wall of the cave, crouching down and covering her face with her arms.
The mist still reached her, landing on her armor as a sizzling sound came to her ears. She had to wait still, the attack lasted for seven seconds before. Her armor was burnt through in some places and the mist landed on her skin. Eve screamed, she screamed to herself and to her enemy as she endured the melding of her flesh. The first time the woman had used her mist attack, she had taken it frontal and with full force. Her armor had been weakened but now it was getting dangerous.
The seven seconds passed and Eve turned around, shedding herself from the corroding armor pieces that were left as she used her dagger to cut out the parts of her flesh still covered in mist. Her tears and blood mixed as she grit her teeth. A cold fury burnt inside of her and all that remained of Eve in that moment was a deep desire to win, to kill her enemy.
Her clothes and armor in tatters, she advanced through the cave, the flowers and lush trees were dead or dying, their colors faltering under the mist of death and poison. Eve’s feet were light as she moved through the dirt, her boots still held, her footing solid. Her foe was sitting on the ground, crying and still clutching the dagger in her head. She was beautiful, a lone figure previously surrounded by flowers but now she was no more.
Eve walked up to the woman while she hummed, putting pressure on her mind before her dagger was stabbed in the woman’s neck. A gulp could be heard as Eve ripped out the weapon again and stabbed a different spot. Again and again until she ripped the woman’s head off her shoulders, throwing it to the side as both of their bodies collapsed. Her breathing was harsh, her lungs must’ve been punctured at one point or the other.
At least she was the one still breathing. A small smile came to her as she ignored the notifications about her level rising. She had to move. If she stayed here without medical help, she’d die. The bleeding didn’t stop, not a single one of them, the woman’s poisons and weapons had ensured as much. Eve focused, all the remaining skills she could afford to keep active were burning through her as she forced herself up. Blood was coughed up but she continued.
Half a minute later, she was standing. Each step hurt her as she looked forwards through murky eyes. She would have to get back to a hideout. To get a potion. Her mind focused only on that, she ignored her desire to lie down, to sleep, to die. The pain was in the background now as she advanced slowly and with unsteady steps through the now empty manor. She won.
“It’s warm today.” Ilea said as she stepped out from her house. Cless followed behind, as did Kyrian back in his spiked armor. Behind them followed a bunch of cages floating on top of metal plates, the edges hooked to give them more stability.
“It’s warmer, yes.” Kyrian commented as Ilea held out her hand to Cless who smiled in response.
“Happy to fly again?” Ilea asked and smiled. She was clad in leather armor today, her Juggernaut one not clean yet from the past week’s battle. The girl nodded and grabbed her hand before Ilea heaved her up, ashen wings spreading on her back. Kyrian started floating as well, spheres of metal flying into his hands and forming around his boots to allow him more speed and control. He reminded Ilea more and more of a certain Metal man she had seen in movies back on earth. Though this one was still struggling to read.
‘I’m staring…,’ she thought and looked up before they ascended the cliff side. A lone figure was waiting on top, clad in a black robe and a hood. Not quite lone, as Ilea realized, seeing five more demons hiding in the tree line. He had managed to salvage some high leveled ones in the past days. Not enough for an army but enough to protect himself and possibly level himself up a little.
“Good morning Weavy. Did you sleep well?” Ilea asked as she landed near the demon shrouded in his hood, an additional piece of cloth covering most of his face. The spawn stepping out from behind the trees were clad in leather armor and metal helmets though it was quite noticeable by their stance that they weren’t quite human.
“I rarely sleep Ilea.” he said and bowed his head. It seemed Cless was quite comfortable with the demon too at this point as she waved at him. Weavy in turn didn’t wave back, contrary to his name.
“Well I do too at this point, not that I like it.” she responded. “Do you want to come to Ravenhall as well? We can leave afterwards.” she asked.
“I will, though my spawn will wait outside the city. Those… imperial soldiers? They are not fond of us.” he said.
“Yea, don’t take it personally. Just that your kind has recently murdered a couple hundred thousand of our kind. Most people will be holding a grudge, also why we have to get you somewhere safe. Not that you need much protection but I’d rather avoid a bloodbath caused by you.” Ilea said.
“Your warriors are too much for me to handle anyway, I don’t see how I might cause a bloodbath.” Weavy said, starting to float as well as they continued towards Ravenhall. The demons below followed by running.
“You’ll find most humans aren’t quite that strong. Still don’t start murdering them unconditionally. You’ll rouse the attention of stronger ones. That’s kind of how we work.”
“Understood, I’ll hunt for other species then.” the demon said.
“Close enough…,” Ilea said as they crossed the snowy mountain valleys, the demonic spawn hunting down and shredding the occasional wildlife or monster. Ilea wasn’t the one to be teaching the demon what to do and what not to, she did however consider him a friend at this point and to send a friend into a razor’s edge wasn’t quite what she considered decent.
“I’ll find a place for her, don’t worry about it, as will we for the animals. If we have anything in this city right now it’s space. We have plans in place that will allow people to populate both Morhill and Ravenhall again in around two months already.” Claire said to Ilea, turning towards Cless and kneeling down a little. “Until then you’ll stay with me. You can be my assistant, how does that sound Miss?”
“At your service!” the girl yelled and saluted. Ilea smiled at the scene. She was glad that Claire was not only unbothered by the child but seemed to actively enjoy her presence. The woman never seemed like the adventuring type, perhaps it’ll help having a kid to care for in the midst of all the serious politics. Plus Cless was smart, she’d grow into someone rather scary in no time, of that Ilea was sure.
“You’ll be off then?” Claire asked as she casually dropped a bunch of documents and books into Cless’ arms. The girl wobbled a little but caught herself a moment later.
“Yea, bringing Weavy here to a safer location. Wouldn’t want to have him here for any longer.” Ilea said.
“As much as interrogating would help us, we’ve got enough new information to process for now and rebuilding the city will take a while as well. I trust you Ilea.” Claire said, nodding towards Weavy. “Would you be willing to share information with the Hand at some point in the future?” Claire asked the demon.
“I don’t see why not. In exchange for, goods and services. That is how you work here is it not?” the demon said directly into their minds.
“Of course, you’ll receive fair compensation. Though I must ask, is there any greater danger at the moment coming from your realm? Like the two monsters that came out and do you know about the demon Ilea fought, Green?” Claire asked, irking Ilea a little bit but she didn’t stop her for now.
“No, the summoning ritual is unknown to me. Likely another mind weaver had discovered or created it. Creatures like the ones summoned are no friend to us, too strong to be controlled. My theory is that Green made the mind weavers summon them. I believe he had an ability to resist our control as well.” Weavy explained.
“And you think he used that ability to gather the mind weavers together to work for him?” Claire speculated.
“Yes, otherwise I doubt a possibility of such cooperation to exist among us. It is not our nature.” the demon said.
“What about you then? You’re cooperating with us aren’t you?” Claire asked, the tone in her voice changing.
“He is and if you have more questions I suggest you’ll wait with them for the future, alright?” Ilea interrupted, stepping a little closer to her friend who shook her head.
“Of course, I’m sorry Ilea. Just, don’t be too trusting.” the rune mage said.
“Ah, I don’t care anymore at this point. At least he’s not human, to me that’s a plus. He know’s I’d take him down with me at least if he goes against me.” Ilea said and winked towards the demon.
“He’ll kill humans you know.” Claire said as a last try to convince Ilea to be more careful.
“Nothing other humans don’t do. We’ll teach him to kill the shit ones alright?” Ilea answered and watched the woman sight and then chuckle.
“You are, one of a kind. Well do come back in at most a month, I’ll have missions for you. There’s enough to do in the city right now but I doubt you’d be the one to join the cleanup.” Claire said.
“Hey! I already did, where’s my pay for that anyway?” Ilea asked and watched as Claire looked through some documents she had summoned after her comment.
“Wow you’re right, as I said. One of a kind. Here, fourteen silver. It includes the services as a healer and your part in the fight.” Claire said and summoned the coins before handing them to Ilea.
‘Guess I really won’t be joining any cleanup jobs anymore…,’ Ilea thought, taking the silver and handing it to Weavy.
“Thanks, Weavy take this, it’s your starter kit. You can exchange it for goods and services.” she said and enjoyed the somewhat confused look on Claire’s face.
“I’ll make sure to visit again.” she said.
“Oooh, so this is the gold people have been talking about.” the demon marveled at the coins and Ilea just looked at him. Not her job.
“Well then I’ll be off, see you around Claire. And you Cless.” she said and shook their hands.
“Thanks again, for coming to help us.” Claire said and locked eyes with Ilea “Whenever you need anything just write me or come to Ravenhall. I’ll make sure to be influential enough to crush a country for you.” she said with a grin.
“Ah don’t worry about it Claire, I’ll make sure to become strong enough to fight a country by myself.” Ilea joked and smiled before the two parted. Kyrian said his goodbyes to Claire as well before he joined Ilea outside the Hand’s headquarters.
“Where to now?” the man asked as he put on his helmet. It looked like he had already cleaned his armor thoroughly. A task Ilea was still dreading. She spread her wings and motioned towards Weavy who walked up to her before grabbing her arm. They ascended together with Kyrian following close behind.
“Riverwatch, and some friends nearby. I’m sure they’ll like Weavy just fine.” Ilea said as they joined Weavy’s Spawn outside the city. Kyrian created little carriers with his metal that the beasts could hold onto.
“How’s your speed with all that weight?” Ilea asked the man.
“Slower? No idea honestly, we’ll see.” he said and Ilea shrugged at that. They weren’t exactly in a hurry so she didn’t mind. The flight would take a while as the city was at least three times as far away as the capital of Lys. Hopefully no elves would find themselves still hiding in the beginnings of the forest.
“Alright, let’s go then and see if Walter is still alive.” Ilea said as she increased her speed, the cold mountain air flowing through her exposed hair as a smile blossomed on her face. Flying would never get old.
They reached the outskirts of Morhill a couple hours later, Kyrian’s reduced speed really put a hamper on Ilea’s travel time. Contrary to her expectations, it didn’t hamper her mood at all. The past months were packed with training, elven and demon invasions and a lot of talking. Flying over the mountains was beautiful, the feeling of freedom was nearly graspable to her and with her somewhat silent companions she felt joyous in her solitude.
Ilea noticed that the snow weighed less on the trees anymore. Winter truly had ended and soon spring would come. She knew it wouldn’t affect the picture around Ravenhall and Morhil much, they were after all places high in the mountains. Though thinking of Riverwatch and the forest near the Azarinth temple, she couldn’t help but smile and think back on her arrival to this place, her journey so far and the things still to come.
Ilea felt ready as she grasped the air before her with a tight fist, happy to find none of her companions commenting on it, not even Aki. The group found Morhil not completely deserted. Some members of the Hand were present, as were Imperial soldiers that didn’t look like they were part of the same regiment stationed in Ravenhall. At least there were no demons around the city.
“Do you want to stop?” Kyrian asked, breaking the two hour long silence.
“No, not if you two can go on?” Ilea asked and got a nod from him in reply. Weavy sent a confirming feeling into her mind, something she’d probably not get used to. Then again she likely didn’t have to.
“Then let’s continue.” she said, moving her wings to pick up the pace again.
Two hours later the group finally emerged out of the mountain chain in the south of Lys, flying out and towards the plains that stretched as far as the eye could see. There were patches of forests, especially to the West. The ocean was too far away to see already. The suns were still high, indicating that it was at least midday.
The three of them accompanied by Ilea’s talking dagger and a group of demons hanging onto their floating metal frames flew over the plains where the first green was already showing itself in some places. More and more as they traveled away from the mountains. They flew lower than before and crossed the occasional road. Travelers were few and far in between though they did come across a caravan a couple hours into their travels.
The group looked to have more wagons than even people, some of the horses and oxes directly bound to the wagon before them.
“What do you think?” Ilea asked nobody in particular.
“They probably survived a demon attack. Not many it seems. Makes sense doesn’t it? Demons don’t seem to care much about anything else but killing and eating.” Kyrian said.
“How did they get all those animals then?” Aki asked and Ilea shrugged. The man didn’t have an answer and the group went on. The farther they would move away from Ravenhall, the more careful they had to be about the demons they had in tow, especially Weavy. Come to think of it, Ilea remembered the whole debacle with the summoned demon inside the necromancer den.
Perhaps they wouldn’t be most happy about one of their kind asking to live with them but if anybody was tolerant enough to accept Weavy, then it was them.
“Weavy, right?” Aki asked, the wind flowing through them as they reached the beginning of the western forests. Ilea wasn’t sure if this was still territory of the empire or if they were already in another kingdom.
“Yes. Enchantment.” Weavy replied.
“I’m Aki. Did Ilea even ask you what you would like to do?” the dagger asked. Ilea stayed quiet, continuing towards Karth.
“Aki, it is a pleasure to learn your name. I am unfamiliar with this realm. Ilea has not yet killed me and now she is traveling a long way to bring me to a place I might be able to stay. I cannot form an opinion on what to do yet in this newfound realm, not with my current knowledge.” the demon said. Ilea smiled, knowing that he was just a bit different than his kin.
“Eh, you sound way too nice. You’re gonna be abused if you stay like that. Don’t you demons just want to kill and conquer?” Aki asked.
“I indeed want to kill and conquer but how would I do that if I get killed immediately?” Weavy replied.
“I’m beginning to think this was a bad idea.” Ilea said though she still wore her trademark grin.
“Well no shit, he’s a demon you literal tree stump.” Aki said.
“You’re being racist.” Ilea said.
“Yea, because they’re a literal race of monsters.” Aki replied before Kyrian’s laugh shut them both up.
“What is it?” the dagger asked but Kyrian kept quiet. Ilea smiled as well and looked towards the man who kept his gaze onto the horizon.
“Exactly.” she said as her smile widened. “We should pause soon, maybe find a warm place somewhere to stay the night.”
“We should.” Kyrian confirmed though he didn’t sound tired. The Meditation pauses they did earlier were simply held in the air. Moving slower while airborne allowed for the skill to replenish their mana easily enough.
“A bed would be nice.” Ilea said and looked for roads and villages as they continued.