Chapter 187 Bath before the Storm
A loud crack was heard, Ilea’s last punch breaking the man’s back, his body falling down limply.
‘ding’ ‘You have killed [Beastblood warrior 210 / Pure Enhancer 203].’
Ilea again closed the man’s eyes and looked upwards. The girl was on her final straws, more and more spells nearly getting through her defenses. Ilea blinked upwards and looked around. A pile of corpses littered the roof, both Baralia soldiers, mercenaries and Birmingale guards and family. The stench of blood, piss and the same in burnt and poisoned variations filled the air, nearly making her gag now that she focused on it.
The city was on fire as far as she could see. The first signs of dawn could be seen in the distance but the damage done to the city was as of yet unclear. Less spells rained from above by now but she could hear fighting from every direction, shouts and screams filled with anger and fear. The soldiers hadn’t noticed her yet, six of them continuously attacking the last remaining defender of the fort.
Ilea looked over the side of the building and found Trian and Kyrian standing over the dead wood mage’s corpse. Around them was a similar scene as on the roof. She jumped down and blinked three times, appearing close to them and holding up her arms to alert them.
“You’re alive.” Kyrian said and nodded. “We’re both somewhat injured.” he said, taking a step towards her but losing his balance before she caught the man.
“He saved my life.” Trian said as he looked at her, Ilea’s healing flowing through Kyrian as she inspected his injuries. There were burns and internal bleedings but worst of all were a series of wooden stakes having pierced his armor right above his waist. Placing the man down, she slowly healed the injuries as she slid out the stakes one by one. It took a while but no more soldiers from Baralia were focused on their location anymore, their black armor likely lost in the sea of corpses and fires.
As soon as Kyrian was stable, Ilea moved on to Trian without a word and checked him as well. The man had broken damn near all his ribs, a wonder that none of them had pierced his lungs. Then again he had some way to steal other people’s health. Perhaps that’s what saved him. The rest of his injuries were minor at best and Ilea moved back to Kyrian.
“Anyone still alive?” Trian asked.
“One of the girls, the shield ones. The old guy asked me to let her go. Wallace was his name. Said they didn’t have anything to do with it.” Ilea said, continuing her healing. Trian grunted at that, sending a lightning bolt next to the dead wood mage’s corpse, burning the earth and adding another small fire to the field.
“Are you going for her?” she asked the man, moving on to Kyrian’s minor injuries as she watched him.
“We got the people behind it. I don’t… care anymore. The Birmingales are no more.” he said and sat down, wincing at the pain of his broken bones.
“Just use your drain on me.” Ilea said but he grunted again. Regardless, Ilea found her health draining a little a moment later, making her move some of her healing capabilities to herself. Hunter Recovery was much more efficient on her own body, making the distraction minor at best.
“He’s done.” she said, moving on to Trian who had mended about a third of his injuries before she started working on the rest.
“Thank you.” he said quietly after a while.
“I don’t want you guys to die.” Ilea said but he shook his head.
“No, thank you for this.” he said and gestured around. “I know it’s not easy for you. Blame me if it helps.” he added but she waved him off.
“What I did, I did myself. And I will deal with that myself Trian.” she said and left it at that.
“Ah I passed out didn’t I.” Kyrian murmured from the side as he slowly got up. “I need to get me some healing spells as well.” he said and got up, wincing and touching his stomach. “Those were close.” he said, checking the holes in his armor.
“We should get out and hide. Or do you want to leave the city immediately?” Trian asked.
“It would be safer to hide for a while. There are probably a lot of troops surrounding the city.” Kyrian said.
“We’d break through easily.” Ilea said. “I’d like to check with the informant we found earlier though. Before he dies.” Ilea added.
“Back to the inn then, if it’s still standing.” Trian said. Ilea turned towards the fort and looked up.
“I’ll be right there.” she said and spread her wings, the ashen limbs pushing away the air and fire around them, making her ascend. Ilea rushed towards the roof of the fort and landed silently, watching the soldiers beat the last remaining survivor, one of them ripping away her clothes.
‘I don’t have to kill her.’ she thought and silently made her way to the group, a mist of ash coming to life around her and floating menacingly with her. “But she deserves a better death.” she whispered, smiling as her ash enveloped the group of soldiers and the girl, her form shrouded in it as her arms reached around the first man’s neck, a strong and quick jerk broke his neck and ended his life. Shouts resounded around her in the mass of confused people, her arms lashing out at the perfectly visible targets, breaking bones and destroying joints and ligaments alike.
Half a minute later none of them were alive anymore, a crying woman holding up a shield above what was likely her dead sister. Blood dripping from several injuries and barely any cloth left to cover her. Ilea summoned the blade she had taken and slammed it into the roof, the ash dispersing around her, the woman locking eyes with her as she sobbed.
“You should leave and hide. They are dead and neither would want the same fate for you.” she said and blinked away, not giving the woman an opportunity to strike at her. Her survival was her own now.
Neither Trian nor Kyrian said a word as she rejoined them and the three rushed towards the inn they had stayed at earlier.
The attack was massive and the three of them found troops of both sides rushing through the streets, adventurers and civilians running to safety as doors were smashed in and spells set buildings ablaze. The three of them avoided confrontation and it seemed most of the soldiers didn’t want to engage with a random squad of Shadow’s Hand mercenaries either, not seeing them or simply ignoring their presence as they made their way through the city.
Smoke darkened the dawn as they arrived at the inn, finding the entrance shut and two soldiers banging on the door.
“I told you we’re closed!” the innkeeper shouted from within, not quite managing to hide the fear in his voice. The building itself and most of the surrounding ones were spared from the long range attacks, likely because they were further away from where the brunt of the attacks had come from.
“We’re just here for your gold. Open the doors and hand it over.” one of the soldiers said as Ilea identified them to be around level one hundred.
“I have the gold here, take it and leave.” the innkeeper said before a small window opened and a sack of coin was thrown onto the street, silver spilling out.
The soldier looked at it and shook his head. “I said gold, not silver. Ian?” he gestured to the other soldier who summoned a sphere of fire into his hand. “Burn it down.” the first man said when Ilea appeared behind them and grabbed the mage’s arm.
“Aren’t you imperials?” she asked as they turned around, startled at her sudden appearance.
“Yes mam, keeping the peace.” the other soldier said.
“By burning down an inn.” Ilea said.
“They’re traitors, in cahoots with Baralia!” the man said, Ilea’s fist lashing out and smashing his face. His jaw was broken and he fell down on his ass with a pained whimper.
“There’s plenty of real enemies coming. I suggest you leave.” Ilea said and let go of the mage who ran to save his life. The soldier on the ground scrambled up and ran after his buddy.
“They’ll find another target.” Kyrian said as he approached, picking up the sack of silver.
“Maybe.” she answered and left it at that.
“I heard you were closed. We’d like to rent our room again though.” Kyrian said, handing the sack of silver to Ilea. She vanished and appeared in the midst of the inn’s common room. Around a dozen people, some mothers with children, some old people and even one or two adventurers looked at her in her bloodied black armor and she could see the fear in their eyes, the terror.
“We just want food, a room and a bath.” she said, dropping the bag of coins. “I’ll take care of shit soldiers like those.” she added and opened the window, Kyrian jumping through it and Trian appearing next to her.
The innkeeper looked at them and then at the other occupants and nodded. “Of… of course.. esteemed guests please follow…,” Ilea waved him off and walked towards the stairs.
“Piss off with that, just serve some food and send someone to get a bath going.” she said, waiting in the biggest room with a bath for merely half a minute before a young boy entered, scared but determined as he rushed to the bath and activated the runes, heating the appearing water with his magic.
Trian and Kyrian sat in the armchairs placed in the room and Ilea sat on the bed, the wood nearly giving under her own weight combined with her armor.
“Anything else mam?” the boy asked.
“No, thank you. Leave and close the door.” Ilea said and he promptly followed her orders.
She stored her armor and blinked into the bath, instantly enveloped by the hot water.
“We got them.” Kyrian quietly said to Trian. The man just looked at him without a word.
Ilea closed her eyes and leaned her head on the tub’s rim as she enjoyed the cleansing ritual. Looking through her notifications, Ilea focused on what she had gained tonight.
‘ding’ ‘Wave of Ember reaches 2nd lvl 14’
‘ding’ ‘Ashen Warrior reaches 2nd lvl 18’
No class level ups and none of her Ashen skills had reached 2nd lvl 20. Forgetting about that again, Ilea remembered the night, from the first fight with the Baralia soldier to her slaughter of seven of them. A lot of people would die tonight, in this city. She knew that but she felt numb to it. A statistic more than anything. Virilya might be taken or they might manage to defend themselves but in the end the number of deaths would just be recorded somewhere and forgotten.
“I didn’t sign up for fucking wars.” she said to herself.
“Then let’s leave.” Trian said. “I’m sick of this city. Sick of all this. I’m going back to the family I have left. Build something new in Ravenhall.” he said and got up.
“Then do that. I’ll stay and find out about Eve and the Golden Lily. I think working with Edwin might be a good idea as well. Kyrian what will you do?” she asked.
“I need to advance my skills. I think I could gain a lot by cursing some soldiers tonight. If you want to work with Edwin then you need someone to have your back, don’t you?” the man asked, his head cocked a little.
‘Damn idiot.’ she thought and couldn’t help but smile. “The next bunch of cunts is coming towards the inn. Maybe they’re your first targets?” she asked, brushing at her skin to get away the rest of the blood and grime, likely not the last to dirty it in the near future.
“Perhaps they might be.” the man said and got up, the holes in his armor closed by now, his moving metal having adjusted to the damages.
“Another inn, why aren’t we going for smithies Jack.” one of his stupidest followers asked. Perhaps he’d let him storm in and die to the hands of some peasant.
“They have good money and where do you think the imperials send their troops first?” another asked to point out the stupidity of the question.
“Shut it, just go and get the gold. Kill anyone inside.” Jack said. The elves in the west, the demons running rampart and now Baralia attacking. If he got out of this fucking city alive, he’d do so as rich as he possibly could. Move somewhere northeast to one of the port cities. Safer than this lot. To think the capital would get sacked. He shook his head at the thought when his men started to hack at the closed door.
A window to the right opened, an armored figure exiting and standing up, spheres of dull metal floated around him when a wrong feeling suddenly took Jack. He buckled down and retched up the last meal he’d eaten, the feeling getting worse by the second. Looking up, he removed the cork of the healing potion he had stolen earlier just to find that the feeling didn’t get any better.
Small thin needles shot past him on the ground, forming and intricate design around their group before a moment later magic flowed through it, pain shooting down his spine before he fell down, spasming on the ground. “Why aren’t we going for smithies Jack?” he heard in his mind over and over again as the pain worsened and he felt his body grow weaker and weaker.
The commotion in the common room came to a close when Kyrian entered again through the window, grabbing three plates of food and walking upstairs as Ilea watched on through her Sphere.
The door opened with a creak and the man closed it again behind him, a metal plate floating before him, the food placed on top of it. He handed one to Ilea and another to Trian before he sat down on his armchair again.
“Do you guys want to take a bath as well?” she asked.
“There are going to be more fights soon. I don’t see the point.” Kyrian said.
“Me neither.” Trian said and started eating. “Thanks.” he added a couple bites later, putting the plate back down on the small table next to him. “For your help avenging my family.” he said.
“We’re a team. Call for me whenever something comes up again.” Ilea said and left the tub, appreciating the lack of looks she got before putting on her leather armor, dumping her metal one in the water to scrub off at least some of the blood on it. Especially inside.
“Same for me.” Kyrian said, getting up and touching Trian’s shoulder. Ilea worried a little about him, perhaps the realization of loss fully hit him now that his immediate goal was fulfilled.
“You should leave for Ravenhall tomorrow. Being together with your sister will be good I think.” Ilea said and got a grunt in return.
“I will. Don’t get too caught up in the politics. I don’t want you two dead.” Trian said after a while. She smiled at that, at least he cared still.
“We won’t. At least I won’t. Ilea promise me you won’t single handedly fight a war.” Kyrian said as he went to the door.
“I won’t promise anything Kyrian. Going out alone?” she asked the man.
“I doubt anybody will care enough to catch and kill me. And you two have been holding me back long enough.” the man said, the tone suggesting a smile on his face before he left.
Ilea dried her armor and switched to it after she had finished cleaning. “You’re going as well?” Trian asked, tapping the armchair with his fingers.
“I will.” Ilea answered.
“You care, don’t you? It’s dangerous you know?” the man said.
Ilea turned around to face him. “The problem is that I don’t care Trian. But I can at least do something. Get out there and look for clues while keeping people from getting raped and murdered.”
“Just don’t get killed for some random kid.” the man said but Ilea didn’t want to continue the conversation.
“Can you stay and protect the inn at least?” Ilea asked and was glad to see him nod slightly in response.
Blinking upwards, Ilea found herself on the roof of the inn looking over a burning city. The sun would rise in around an hour but the fighting wouldn’t stop anytime soon. Virilya was simply too large to be taken quickly, not by any force Ilea had seen in this world or her previous one.
Gaining levels and information was the plan for now. She would meet with Edwin and Maria in a couple weeks but seeing this large scale attack, perhaps those plans changed as well. One thing was clear, she had to get stronger. Her classes, skills, stats and resistances had to be higher to face what was to come. She had to gain experience to face people in the business of killing for dozens if not more years. And she had to get evidence and information that might be getting destroyed in the fires of war in that very moment.
“A bunch of big tasks.” she said to herself and spread her wings. “Better get started.”