Chapter 179 Moonlit Talk
“I can imagine that. The Centurions were already pretty scary. But to know that you faced even stronger ones… and elves as well. We encountered one a long time ago but fled after Ed managed to injure him.” Felicia said.
“They’re incredibly aggressive. Arrogant and kind of stupid.” Ilea said and chuckled, remembering the literal temper tantrums they would have.
“The ones that come here, yes. Ed talked about it once, saying that it’s dangerous to go further west. There was another Taleen dungeon in the forest, we knew where it was but people don’t usually come back from there. He said that the elves there are stronger.” Felicia said with a concerned voice.
“Might be something else as well. Like a ton of beastwolves.” Ilea answered.
Felicia punched her jokingly. “Don’t joke about that, that thing nearly ripped us apart.”
“I know. We humans are really weak aren’t we? To think that me and Edwin are already at near the top.” Ilea said and shook her head. “And still there are things out there we probably can’t even comprehend.”
“It’s exciting isn’t it?” Felicia said. “To think that we have only seen such a small part of the world.”
“I thought you wanted to live on a farm or something?” Ilea asked confused and sat up.
“Well it can still be exciting, no? I don’t have to do all that myself. I’ve seen enough exotic creatures.” Felicia said and laughed. “I’ll have time to read again if we get a farm.” she said with a nostalgic voice.
“Ever seen a dragon?” Ilea asked out of the blue when Felicia covered her mouth and looked up with a scared look on her face.
“Are you mad!?” she asked and let go of Ilea again. “You can’t just blurt out that name, nothing good comes of it.”
“Alright, alright. Always wondered why people here never mention them. They exist though, right? They have to. It’s a bloody fantasy world.” she said and chuckled.
“Maybe. I only know some stories. Of cities vanishing and whole kingdoms burning. It’s forbidden to talk of them and common knowledge that one doesn’t utter the name, lest one appears and swallows you whole.” Felicia said in a dramatic voice.
“Well now it sounds like a faery tail.” Ilea said.
“Why do you keep tempting fate? First that and now this?” Felicia asked, a disturbed look on her face. Ilea actually felt sorry now. She hadn’t really asked about those creatures before, understanding that it was kind of a taboo. With Felicia she didn’t feel so restricted.
“Apologies my lady. I’ll stop my blasphemous talk.” she said. “I’ve actually met one of the latter ones.” she added, peaking Felicia’s interest.
“You did? Well no, let’s not talk about that. One of the boys in court talked about them once and he vanished that same day.” Felicia said in a whisper.
“Interesting. I wonder where to.” Ilea said and looked to the stars. Fae and dragons, two of the most magical creatures she could think of. And yet all she truly saw so far was death.
‘No, that’s not true.’ she thought as ash started forming in her hand, a swirling ball formed quickly as it spun around. She smiled and looked at the magic before her.
“Is that ash? You’re a creator? Wow.” Felicia said and seemed genuinely impressed. “You’re not mainly a mage though.”
“I’m not. It’s my second class.” Ilea said.
“Didn’t you have something with fire? Well I guess it makes sense that it evolved. You should really focus on that. The legends always say creators were grand mages.” Felicia pondered as she looked at the sphere, reaching out to touch the swirling ash.
Ilea moved it towards the woman’s hand and let go of it after it had reached enough density to sustain itself. “I know. There are other things on my mind right now though. Other things than my skills and classes.”
“It’s good to think about things. Maybe you should take some time to train and think you know? Your revenge won’t run away. Ed… well I think he forgot to live and enjoy things as he did before he… found out about our family.” Felicia said.
Ilea looked at the woman briefly as a night breeze flowed over the clearing, rustling her hair. “What if I die on the way, what if my target dies?”
“Then so be it. Don’t forget who you are because of revenge. He was so sweet and nice before.” Felicia said, quieting down at the end and lost in thought. She laughed a moment later, filling the clearing with the noise. “And you’re strong, your best asset is your healing. You were a healer before weren’t you?”
“I was and yea, I’m pretty tough. But there are monsters out there that can beat me in mere seconds.” Ilea said.
“Then escape before that. And come back once you can face them. You’re a hunter aren’t you?” Felicia asked, catching Ilea by surprise.
“What do you mean by that?” she asked in turn.
“You hunt, you’re not the one being hunted. You’re a predator and I’m sure that if you set your mind to it you can achieve whatever you want.” Felicia said.
“Or I’ll die trying.” Ilea said before she chuckled.
“With a smile on your face.” Felicia said. “My second class is Arcane Berserker, trust me I know the feeling.” she said with a grin. “Even though I’m not normally like that. When the power rushes through me I’m one with the fight.”
“Arcane Berserker… do you lose control?” Ilea asked and the woman shook her head.
“No, not completely. Even if I’m close to death. Level two hundred helped me there.” The reply made Ilea grin.
“Wanna show me? My Wind Resistance could be higher you know.” she said and got up, her armor replaced by her Ashen Hunter Armor.
“You’re only allowed to use ash, that’s the deal.” Felicia said with a smile and Ilea blinked upwards and landed in the grass.
“Agreed.” she said with a smile, ashen spheres forming around her, a Veil of it protecting her body.
Felicia’s eyes started glowing a light green as she got up, the grass pushed aside by magical pressure alone before the air around the woman turned chaotic, cutting into the ground and the nearby trees as Ilea moved back a little further to avoid being attacked already.
Green lines formed around Felicia’s eyes before she opened them with a grin. “Ready?” she asked in a voice almost ethereal.
Ilea nodded and saw a blade of air moving towards her. It was so dense that her eyes alone let her know about it but her sphere gave her a bit more of an insight, telling her that there were dozens of smaller blades coming her way as well, covering different paths of her possible escape. A blink towards Felicia was the most reasonable thing to do and so she advanced.
Appearing behind the blades of wind, Ilea watched Felicia advance with frightening speed, her arms reaching out before cones of air were released from them. Ilea dodged both attacks with a jump, assisted by her wings before another wind blade smashed into her armor, making her tumble through the air before she landed on her feet, skidding on the ground for a couple meters.
“You’re really something. Half a year ago that would’ve halved you.” Felicia said as she slowly approached. Ilea’s ash moved then, spinning black spheres rushed towards Felicia who moved protected by a tornado around her. The spheres were torn apart but Ilea was already forming spikes, making them spin before she shot them out.
This time Felicia dodged the projectiles, her tornado moving her body as if it was controlled by a puppeteer. A cloud of ash formed around Ilea but was quickly blown away by a stream of wind.
“You’re not gonna obscure my vision.” Felicia said, sending more air blades towards Ilea. This time she dodged more defensively, not getting too close to the mage as she formed new projectiles, this time aiming for a much bigger area.
Even dodging, one of the black spikes cut through the tornado and hit Felicia on her shoulder. It didn’t pierce but the speed and weight still stunned the woman slightly.
“Creation really is something else.” Felicia murmured. “I could simply trap and crush you with air if I had such a skill.”
“Can’t you do that with your air manipulation?” Ilea asked, dodging backwards and into the woods as air blades rushed through the trees, some of them slowly sliding down do the ground, cleanly cut through.
“No, the extent of manipulating existing elements is limited. While helpful it takes time to infuse it with mana and use it more freely. Your metal mage friend does it that way. You seem to be completely in control of your ash immediately upon creation.” Felicia wondered.
“I can barely pierce your defenses though.” Ilea said with a frown.
“Hmm, I let that one pass to see how it would fare against my armor. You don’t have any skills that enhance your ash do you? Mine are basically all about making my air blades more damaging.”
“Hence they cut through trees like butter.” Ilea said.
“Exactly.” Felicia said and smiled, more blades cutting through the forest.
“Something’s nearby. Let’s stop for now.” Ilea said, turning around to look where she had sensed something. Trees were still creaking and falling when Felicia landed next to Ilea, her eyes still with a green line around them but the tornado was absent.
“You think the beastwolf followed us?” Felicia asked but Ilea shook her head.
“It felt different. There it is.” she said, pointing to a bush but all that happened was a bunny hopping out from behind.
Ilea identified the creatures just to be sure.
[Bunny – lvl 3]
“You never know.” she murmured and started walking back towards the clearing. At least fifteen trees had been cut down in their little mock battle. Ilea thought about the power of certain beasts and species when this was considered weak in comparison.
“We should head back soon.” Felicia said. “Lest we attract unwanted attention.”
Ilea nodded and the two made their way back, casually flying over the trees as they took in the night sky and moonlit lands around them.
“You’re back. Good. If I understood your friend correctly, he needs some time to plan the attack. We’ll be gone tomorrow for a couple days. Felicia and Aliana will stay here.” Edwin said upon their return. He didn’t mention Felicia’s absence and Ilea saw that the note she had left on the table was missing.
“Alright, just don’t disappear on us.” she said and walked to their room. Entering, she found the two men discussing over a big piece of paper, a map or ground plan.
“Welcome back.” Trian said as he turned his head. Kyrian looked at her as well and smiled.
“You look better.” he said and nodded before he focused on the plan again.
‘Do I?’ Ilea asked herself and took a seat. Talking to Felicia was nice. Worst case, she would tell Edwin about the necklace and her Ashen abilities but she wanted to give the woman the benefit of the doubt. They wouldn’t sleep without two people awake and Ilea was confident in their group’s ability to escape. Even if Edwin somehow got other people involved.
She doubted it would be worth the resources needed but just in case. “Is it alright if we don’t stay here during the others’ absence? I don’t trust them that far.” Ilea said and Trian just nodded.
“We can leave in the morning, go somewhere nearby and build a shelter.” Kyrian said. Ilea nodded and watched as Trian continued drawing on the plan.
“It was them then?” she asked and Trian nodded. Ilea sighed, she didn’t want to ask about the details and simply watched as the two talked and planned. Trian excused himself to sleep for a while after an hour, leaving the other two to protect him.
Kyrian moved closer to her and sat down. They remained in silence for a long while, both in their thoughts.
“You talked to your friend?” Kyrian asked, waking Ilea from her thoughtful state.
“Hmm? Yea, caught up a little.” she said and smiled.
“Good, you seem like you’re doing a little better.” he said and sighed.
“I’ve been on edge lately. Sorry if I’ve been a bit of a bitch to you.” Ilea said, thinking about the past days and weeks. They didn’t have a longer downtime for a while and now they were planning to attack a noblehouse in the capital of the empire.
“Don’t worry about it. I don’t mind too much, it’s kind of sexy actually.” he said.
“I’m not in the mood for this Kyrian.” Ilea said and he chuckled in response.
“I didn’t mean it that way. Just an observation. Don’t beat yourself up over it.” he added and took her hand. “I’m glad you could talk to her.”
Ilea nodded and held his hand for a while.
“Did you watch when the man was tortured?” Ilea asked.
“I was there, yes.” Kyrian said. “I’ve seen similar things and worse when I was younger.”
“Does it get easier?” Ilea said as she looked at a candle and the moving flame on top.
“A little, I think. It helps to know they at least somewhat deserve it.” Ilea grunted at that and created a couple ash spheres around her, swirling them around to work on the skill.
Kyrian joined her a moment later, still holding her hand while metal and ash fought a fierce battle around them.
The next days were spent planning and preparing. Edwin and Maria were gone for two days, returning on the third while Ilea and her group stayed a couple kilometers further away from the hideout.
Black spheres rushed into a tree, their spin coming to a stop a couple centimeters into the wood as Ilea concentrated to create more and more of them. Sweat was dripping down her brow as the suns shined down from above. Her control had improved. While the skills didn’t rise in level, Ilea was now able to create the spheres without the massive mist of ash to be condensed afterwards. Instead the formed a small bubble of ash and started forming the sphere in the middle of it.
The same technique was applied to creating many other forms. A drill like spike turned out to be the most destructive for now, at least as far as projectiles went. Ilea thought it possible to use tendrils of ash connected to her for attack as well. It was easier for her to imagine the tendrils attacking if they were connected to her body and magic was a lot about your imagination. Her high skills helped of course.
Ilea also tried to use swords, spears and axes from the Taleen dungeon to attack, the gear held up and moved by her ash. It sadly turned out to be even less effective than simply attacking with the ash itself, even without any buffs to its damage.
Kyrian had improved as well after Ilea discussed possible projectile designs with him. Her ash simply lacked the power output to really get something out of the designs but Kyrian had successfully created something akin to a frag grenade. While Ilea’s design managed to dig into trees, Kyrian’s managed to fell them.
Cursed frag grenades was something she didn’t really want to encounter. Traps and mines followed after but Kyrian had to be somewhat close to be able to still control everything. Still it was an asset and would definitely help to defend a camp or prepare an ambush.
Creating another dozen spheres, Ilea formed them into spikes quickly before they rushed out into the trees.
‘ding’ ‘Ash Creation reaches 2nd lvl 20’
She had reached her goal for now. The skill was close to twenty already for a while now.
“You’re improving.” Kyrian said before he focused himself on the creation before him again.
Ilea lay on her back and turned towards him as she panted, damn near out of mana, even with her meditation skill constantly active. ‘When is that one gonna level again?’ she asked herself but got distracted by the ball of metal in front of Kyrian.
“What are you building? A mini nuke?” she asked.
“I don’t know what that is Ilea.” the man said and put in the last piece of metal.
“This is all the metal I have and I’ve pumped in three times my total mana. Let’s see what it can do.” he said as the thing started moving, hovering higher until it was on eye level with the man.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to test it on your face.” Ilea said and got a chuckle from him in response before the ball flew into the forest.
The two of them got into cover before a loud crash resounded. Less like an explosion and more like two cars crashing together. Shrapnel flew over them, shredding through trees and the ground. One of the trees fell on Ilea who caught it and rolled it away from her. ‘I just caught a tree.’ she thought and noted the ridiculousness of her strength as she got up.
“Damn, not bad.” she exclaimed as she looked at the weirdly destroyed area. Seemed less like a bomb had exploded and more like a tornado of sharks had appeared before it vanished again.
“You wanna use that when we go for it? The area might cover a couple rooms.” Ilea said, thinking about the damage it would to to people. All the pieces would inflict a curse as well, not to be underestimated.
“I’ll think about it. For now I’ll have to work on the details some more. You continue your training.” he said as metal started ripping out of the ground and trees, forming spheres again as it got closer to the mage.
“Yes sir.” Ilea said in a tired voice, recharging her mana with meditation.