Chapter 158 Loose Ends
“I’m with you on this one. Perhaps some of them can redeem themselves, or they already have.” Kyrian said to her and she thought about it.
It would be much easier to just kill all of them now. She sighed and walked up to the first person. A young man, early twenties it seemed and he looked at her with fear in his eyes.
“Can you remove the gag?” she asked and promptly the behind the man’s head opened up and the sphere moved out of his mouth. He coughed a couple times before he looked up to Ilea again. She was surprised that he didn’t chose to talk immediately.
“Why should you live?” she asked the man. He looked at her for a moment and then turned his attention to the ground before him.
“I… I shouldn’t…,” he said and opened his mouth again but nothing came out. Ilea grabbed the man and moved him towards the farm house. Entering, she watched the survivors and Trevor turn towards her as she dumped the man in front of her.
“All of you, tell me what you know of him. What did he do, what did he not do.” she said and leaned on the wall behind the man. Getting closer to his ear, she whispered. “If you talk without me allowing it, you’re dead.”
“I don’t know him.” Trevor said. Some of the survivors shook their heads. One of the women looked to the ground.
“You, can you speak? You don’t have to.” Ilea said, pointing at the woman who looked up, tears forming in her eyes.
“He… can he say a few words?” she said in a quiet voice.
“Go on.” Ilea said, kicking the man lightly. He looked at the woman as tears formed on his eyes as well.
“I am so sorry. They made me…,” he said but stopped again, looking at the ground.
“It’s him.” the woman said as she looked at Ilea. “He… he violated me.” the woman said and Ilea went to grab the man again but stopped when the woman continued. “He came back in the same night… to clean me up and bring me food. He apologized. He was scared…,” she said and Ilea lifted him up with one hand.
“He did what he did. You always have a choice.” Ilea said. “Do you wish for him to live?” Ilea asked, locking eyes with the woman. “Decide in the next minute.” she said and walked outside, throwing the man on the ground before the house.
When she returned, the woman had tears in her eyes. “What… what will happen to him if he lives?” she asked.
“We will bring them to Riverwatch, where the guard takes over. After that, I don’t know.” Ilea said.
“Let him live then.” the woman said, looking into Ilea’s eyes. She nodded and walked out again, grabbing the man and throwing him next to Kyrian. “Can you prepare a wagon or something? We’ll have to move all these people and I doubt you can do that much with your magic.”
“It would be too much, yes.” Kyrian said as he got up and went to the wagons. “I’ll keep an eye on them, go on.” he said, looking back at her.
The next prisoner was taken and his gag removed by Kyrian. He started smiling as he looked at Ilea.
“You fucking bitch… we could’ve had the whole city if it weren’t for you...” Ilea crouched down in front of him and sighed. She unsheathed Aki and swiftly moved the blade across his throat. The cut was so deep she nearly took his head. He gurgled and died as she looked into his eyes. The man sacked down a moment later and Ilea moved on to the next one.
It took them two hours to go through all of them, Kyrian took over after ten people and Ilea did the last three of them. They killed eighteen out of the twenty two that were there, most of them because of their actions against the prisoners. Three didn’t do anything and even smuggled in food and water from time to time. Two of them tried to save the people even, going as far as planning escape routes and preparing supplies. They thanked Ilea for intervening and killing Melian. They’d still go to the guard with the evidence and the witness reports that Trevor begrudgingly wrote down.
“Any fire mages among you?” Ilea asked the survivors and one of them lifted their arm. A young woman with a scar running across her face. “Good, we need to burn the corpses.” she said and walked outside, the woman following.
“Kyrian, can you dig a big hole?” she asked the man who had finished preparing three wagons, no horses had been prepared but he probably didn’t know how to do that. Neither did Ilea. “I’ll go ask them if anybody knows how to saddle and strap horses onto the wagons…,” she said as he started to form metal plates to cut into the ground in the nearby field.
“How recent is that scar?” Ilea asked as she passed the waiting woman.
“Two months… I think.” she said.
“Let me try…,” Ilea said and carefully touched the woman, using her healing mana to work on the scar. The color around the scar turned a little more healthy but she couldn’t remove it completely. “A little better at least.” she said and smiled to the woman.
“Any of you know how to prepare horses?” Ilea asked the survivors who came out of the farm house. Two nodded and walked over to the animals.
“The old man woke up.” one of them said to her as he passed.
“Thanks.” Ilea said and walked to the house, entering and going to the room where the old man sat in the bed, a woman sitting next to him and talking about a knight saving them. Ilea smiled as she entered, a knight out of all things?
“You woke up. How are you feeling?” Ilea asked.
“Did you kill that monster?” the man asked as he looked at her.
“I did. Remember me? I think I know you.” Ilea said and watched him thinking. She motioned for the woman to leave and removed her hood afterwards. Recognition dawned in his eyes as he started laughing.
“Fate has brought you here.” he said after a while. “I am forever in your debt young woman. I feel like last time I could see your level though.” he said with a grin that missed more than one tooth.
“You could. You seem oddly happy, I remember you being tortured…,” she said and his grin vanished.
“I am happy it’s over. Experienced worse, though old wounds have reopened. I don’t think I can stay on this farm anymore.” he said and she nodded.
“I can see that. Well you were nice to me back then so why don’t I buy you a house in Riverwatch, how does that sound?” she said and he started laughing again immediately.
“I died didn’t I?” he asked, touching his face.
“Maybe we’re both dead.” Ilea said in a quiet voice, leaning on the wall next to her.
“I forgot your name I’m afraid.” she said and he smiled.
“Old Greg didn’t leave enough of an impression it seemed. I must admit the same, knight.” he said and laughed.
“Greg, it’s nice to see you alive. I’m Ilea.” she said and smiled, putting her hood back up and covering her face.
“To know the name of a Shadow. Now I do not want to be rude but I feel like I haven’t pissed and eaten in a week.” he said.
“Need help?” she asked as she pushed herself off the wall.
“Ah don’t mock me woman. I look older than I am.” he said and hopped out of bed. She nodded warily and quickly touched the man who walked past her to check him for damage. He spoke the truth though it seemed.
“Wagons are prepared.” Kyrian walked up to her when she exited the house. A fire was burning in the field, a thick black smoke rising and the smell of something akin to pig spreading in the vicinity.
Ilea nodded. “Let’s get out of here then.” she said and sat on the wagon with the survivors. She’d find Dale in a couple hours to rendezvous in Riverwatch, both to report back and give over the survivors and criminals.
It took them half a day to finish everything up, most of the time spent on getting the house for Greg. The prices were rather low apparently because of all the people leaving the city. The refugees still didn’t have enough money to buy houses but for Ilea it was a good time to do so. Twenty five gold, she spent and the man got a rather nice and spacious place. That left her at 2369 gold coins left, nearly all of it from the Taleen dungeon still. She had spent quite a bit of it but not enough to really make a dent into her retirement savings.
Perhaps she should invest though. In Riverwatch and Ravenhall maybe. Not like she really had a reason to keep all of it but she didn’t really want to bother with administrating all of that either. Owning some restaurants would be cool though. Maybe she could ask Claire to do that for her. She doubted Dale wanted to do something like that and she didn’t trust Trevor enough for such an endeavor.
She had informed the criminal to let the woman they hired go. She at least trusted him that much, though she did mention that his head would be the one to roll should anything happen to her.
“Thank you so much again. You won’t get the recognition for what you did but I know that the survivors will at least tell the tale.” Dale told her as he shook her hand.
“Gladly, just find me if you need something else but don’t advertise it too much, especially my name. I have enemies in the west and maybe here too.” she said and he nodded.
“I assumed as much. You’re not the quiet and complacent type.” he said and chuckled. “But hey, you managed to save a city.” he said with a smile.
“Stop it, I helped out a friend.” she said and turned around. Kyrian waited near the gate already.
“Goodbye Ilea.” Dale said and waved.
“Bye Dale. See you around.” she said and smiled before she put up her hood and flew upwards and towards the eastern gate.
The two of them ascended over the city of Riverwatch, the weak light sources from below soon fading into the rainy clouds. “Wanna speed up the way back a little?” Ilea asked the man.
“If I can keep up.” Kyrian said and Ilea nodded, her wings flapping in the wind before she accelerated upwards and to the east. The wind smashed into her face immediately as she sped up from a floating position to her top speed in a matter of less than ten seconds. Her body didn’t give in though, the wind and needle like rain barely a distraction to her now natural defenses. Activating her Veil of Ash, she found her speed barely decreasing while the experience turned from a windy flight to cruising in a luxury airliner.
Looking back, Ilea found her teammate slowly falling behind. She turned around and flew backwards, doing twirls as she formed a vortex of ash around her, trying hard to keep its speed up with her own. It didn’t quite work but she did manage to form little balls, spears and tendrils of ash she shot Kyrian’s way who in turn dodged or blocked all of it with quickly forming metal shields.
The man responded in kind as Ilea saw metal needles fly towards her through her Sphere as she slowed down a little to match his speed. The two twirled around each other in the air, shooting projectiles towards each other. Ilea found her quickly created ash to disperse after a couple dozen meters already but with the speed they were traveling at, she couldn’t condense it any more in the air around her.
Stopping her attacks while still flying, Ilea formed a ball of ash in her hand and kept it there to avoid it falling behind in the air around her. The ball condensed further and further until she couldn’t get it any denser. She felt that she could go further but her understanding of the related skill simply wasn’t great enough yet. The ball looked more black than any of the previously created projectiles and Ilea released it towards Kyrian, not with her manipulation skill that allowed a somewhat fast propel, instead she used her arm to throw the ball.
Kyrian barely dodged and answered with five metal spears, two of which Ilea caught while the rest were dodged with a small turn of her body. The ashen sphere flew farther than Ilea imagined, vanishing into the clouds behind the metal mage.
The two of them continued their bout as they progressed further towards the east, high up in the air as they attacked each other, Ilea getting more and more quick with the sphere creation. She still had to use her hands to stop the ash from simply flowing away but she felt that should she be standing still, she could do the same in the air around her.
‘ding’ ‘Ash Creation reaches 2nd lvl 18’
The sudden message had her tumble in the air and barely dodge the most recent metal spears sent her way. Kyrian caught up quickly, metal spheres floating around him, easily keeping up with him.
“You alright?” he asked.
Ilea nodded “How do you get the spheres to match your speed?” she asked as they continued on.
“They are what carry me. My speed is directly related so all the other metal is the same. Even faster really because it doesn’t have to carry me.” the man explained.
“Interesting… what about the needles you shoot towards me, they’re faster than you are.” she said.
“They’re smaller as well, lighter and I allow my control over them to lessen when they shoot towards the target, otherwise they’d rather easily be dodged.” Kyrian said.
Ilea twirled around herself, their bout continuing. “But…,” she said, dodging three projectiles “… you can still turn them around again…,” she finished as she concentrated on the needles through her Sphere.
“I lessen my control, I don’t remove it completely. They slow down a lot as they turn.” he said and she could see exactly what he meant as the needles changed their course and rushed towards her again, speeding up as soon as they pointed towards her body.
‘Interesting…,’ Ilea thought as she formed another sphere of ash. She didn’t really have the need to even keep the ash with her like the metal mage who couldn’t simply create new metal.
Testing it, Ilea used her manipulation to shoot the sphere towards Kyrian but pushed it away with as much speed as she could, feeling her control over the element lessen and then completely slip as it sped up. It was much faster than before, not quite as fast as her simply throwing it but more accurate by miles. Kyrian lifted a metal plate to deflect the attack and followed her.
The two travelers paused a couple hours later to meditate and restore their strength. Ilea offered the man some food as she sat down on the ground and let the rain fall on her armor. It was already late in the afternoon but the suns didn’t quite manage to push through the dark clouds above. Still it wasn’t very cold, winter having passed at least in the plains.
“Why don’t you give up control over the spheres that carry you? You’d be faster…,” Ilea said as she turned to look at Kyrian who had removed his helmet to eat.
He looked at her and swallowed. “I’d be a much easier target. And it’s not as easy for me to fly as it is for you. Maybe you noticed my lacking maneuvers compared to you. You’re moving like you’re on the ground…,” he said and continued eating.
“Yea my wings are pretty cool. Then again at least you can fly and you’re pretty quick.” she said and ate as well. He grunted at that as they sat in silence, the rain dripping off their armors.
Ilea remembered the caravan travel to Salia from song long ago. It really was a difference now. Even running was back then but now she could literally fly. An improvement to her life she didn’t really expect when she landed in this world in the first place. Kyrian soon got up again and started floating. She looked at him and blinked upwards, her wings spreading right after as they continued on their way towards Ravenhall.
It took them a couple more hours to reach the mountain chain and the city within. There was still some snow but at least the weather was much clearer up near Ravenhall.
“Wanna go back already or stay home for a while?” Ilea asked. The man shrugged in response, looking at her.
“You wanna stay home don’t you?” he asked.
“I do.” she said and smiled at him, changing into her leather armor. Kyrian just nodded and started flying again, this time towards her house. She’d finally get around to read at least a little bit again.
Edwin’s sword slashed through the neck of the kneeling man before him. Blood started exiting the wound before the body fell down, the head rolling a little further, its dead eyes staring into his. A moment passed before he looked up again and around the room. His old training hall. The man sighed as he repressed the memories that floated up in the back of his mind, concentrating on the task at hand and the danger they were currently in.
Another scream filled the richly decorated hall, now joined by the corpses of trainers and nobles alike. ‘Slavers…,’ Edwin thought as he walked towards his companion. Maria looked into the woman’s face as her magic slowly removed more and more parts of her body, her hate filled eyes focused on the trainer’s face.
“You’re going to alert the whole city if you continue this.” Edwin said. A sudden burst of magic later, Maria threw the now heartless corpse to the side, a tear rolling down her face. She brushed it away and looked around the hall.
“What should we do with them?” she asked after a moment, motioning to a group of young children, not even in their teens yet. Their expressions were mostly dominated by terror as they pushed against the wall behind them, stumbling over each other. It had only been a couple minutes since the two had infiltrated the training grounds of the Redleaf family.
“Leave them, they know who we are anyway.” Edwin said. “We’re not here for them.” Maria nodded and suddenly jerked her head towards the stairs.
“Someone’s coming.” she said, magic flowing around her.