Chapter 198 Demonic Fishes
A loud noise and an incredible magical discharge rushed through his whole body just moments after he left the demon to his rune magic. That damn monster. He thought and rushed back to the room, his dark magic flowing through and around him, turning his eyes black and his muscles to steel. The lock cracked when his spell hit the door, sending the whole thing flying and into the opposite wall.
Walter entered the room and prepared another spell. The bizarre scene before him made him freeze in his step. An illusion? He asked himself, probing his mind for any intrusion, the magic flowing through his body for any inconsistencies. Nothing came up.
“Ah hahahahaha!” The sound of laughter rang through his head. The demon spoke to him through his telepathic ability.
“What’s so funny. Boy what are you doing?! That’s raw!” Walter shouted and walked to the boy but the demon stopped him.
“It is as it should be. Now join us, Walter of Skorn. It is the tastiest flesh of the great salt. The only thing I have missed from that barren world.” The demon said, not taking his massive maw from the big fish’s corpse even for a second, the sound of flesh being ripped through the only noise in the room. Chewing and gulping following right after.
“The… that’s a massive fish.” Walter said. “How the hell did you get this massive fish into this room?” He asked but the runes he had even inspected beforehand were of course the answer. “Why did you summon a fish?”
“QUIET!” The demon said and ripped out a piece of the fish’s body, turning around to face the dark sorcerer with blood dripping down his maw, blackness staring back at Walter.
“Taste and all will be understood.” The demon said in a telepathic whisper. The demon was a little lower in level than him but just the look of the thing terrified him. He took the fish and bit into it. Chewing and finally swallowing.
“Wow…,” He said, unsheathing the knife he had on his belt and kneeling down next to the boy. A piece of flesh was cut off and eaten, the kid, man and demon sharing the moment of pure bliss.
“I summoned it, I claim the eyes and bones.” Weavy said after a while.
“Whatever demon. What even is this creature?” Walter asked with a full mouth. It was the best meal he had in years.
“The famed Blackfish. Well famed among us demons, not much to compare it to in the Salt. After eating your world’s creatures, I have found that swimming creatures have not reached its deep flavor and satisfying texture.” The demon explained and continued his meal, the crunching of bones adding to the musical of consumption.
Neeto joined them a moment later, ignoring the bizarre scene before him. “Walter. We have found a group of mercenaries in the dungeon. They have been looking for Ilea it seems.”
The leader of the Vultures stopped his meal and got up. “Weavy, you summon more of those fish if you can. Let’s look at the runes together later. Do invest some time to work with Indra as well, he really wants to learn from your expertise.”
“Human. He irritates me. I do not understand his obsession with the long eared ones. Their teeth are nothing special compared to mine.” Weavy replied, continuing his meal as he slurped up the seven eyes of the fish individually.
“Oh that’s disgusting.” Walter said. “Just try ok, he would appreciate it and you’re part of our group now, try to play nice. Ok?”
“Alright, I will try Skorn. Communication is key in relationships after all.” Weavy said.
His adaption to humanity is still weird to see… that fish though. Walter thought and looked at the monsters. “Where are they? Still in the dungeon or apprehended?” He turned and looked at Neeto.
“Three were killed by the hounds, the other two apprehended by the undead. They are injured but nothing life threatening. I claimed their bones already, should they perish.” Neeto said, his empty eye sockets sometimes nearly as unsettling as the demon’s. Still, Walter had gotten used to them and he will get used to Weavy.
You wanted an open minded society removed from humanity’s restrictions and rules. He thought, sighing as they made their way to the guest rooms.
“It’s going to be ok Walter. The demon has a good heart. Figuratively speaking of course. Haha.” Neeto said. “That fish’s bones looked interesting.”
“He has already claimed those bones. Perhaps you may trade them?” Walter asked which made the skeleton stop and consider.
“I will do so.” He said and left the man on his own. Walter didn’t try to convince the skeleton otherwise, he knew better than that.
Last time he nearly took my arm. Damn strong magic for a level 140. Bone magic is special after all. The thought went through his head when he opened the door to the guest room, finding Lucia already there, talking to the two guests that were chained up and in their underwear, bleeding from several wounds.
“Stop screaming you dumb fuck. Shouldn’t have come here in the first place, the dogs are hungry all the time.” Lucia said as she cleaned a nasty bite wound.
[Warrior – lvl 101]
[Mage – lvl 89]
Should be manageable. Walter thought but it of course depended on their reason to be here.
“Take your hands off me witch!” The warrior shouted and spit at Lucia’s face.
She carefully cleaned it off with the cloth she had used to clean his wounds and looked at Walter, a smile on her face.
“No manners in the god damned fucking human kingdoms is it?” She asked. “I’ll take this one for enchantments. Any problem with that?”
“Do as you please Lucia. I don’t think it would be a good idea for him to leave this place.” Walter said in a resigning tone. She had taken this role since the beginning and he had to quiet the small voice inside of him that wanted to let the man go with a pat on his back. Remember the last time you did that.
“What do you mean? You can’t do this! The Forkspears will never forgive this!” The warrior shouted, damn near frothing at his mouth.
“So we know about the people paying you. Why are you here then?” Walter asked as he closed the distance to the two guests.
“We’re supposed to look for Alice Forkspear, she’s one of the daughters of the noble house. Fled when the elves attacked it seemed. I’ve got no idea why she’d do something like that.” The mage said, in a very calm way. The man didn’t seem to be afraid at all.
“Come on.” Lucia said, her arm starting to glow a little before her fist slammed the warrior’s head back and into the wall, knocking him out cold. The chains unlocked and the man fell down with a hard thud. “Ah fuck, always forget to catch them.” Lucia said and dragged him out of the room as the other two watched the scene, more curses and dragging the only noise between them. She briefly got stuck on the door frame but another head trauma for the warrior solved that problem.
“She’s quite the powerhouse ain’t she.” The mage said and smiled.
“You have no idea.” Walter remarked. “You were looking for Alice? I don’t know her, never heard the name really.”
“You haven’t. Well I believe you. To be honest, finding you lot here I think this mission is beyond what we’re being paid for. Forkspears have a reputation for being cheapskates but this is just ridiculous. The only lead we got was a girl called Lilith, a healer warrior or something that went on a mission for the noble girl damn near a year ago. You know her?” The mage asked.
“I have a suspicion, yes. I’m not sure, I know she went into a Taleen dungeon once in Dawntree. That the one?” Walter asked as he sat down on the nearby bed.
“Yea, that’ll be her.” The mage said.
“And you were sent? No offense but…,” Walter said and smiled.
“What? She’s supposed to be a healer near level one hundred. I think we should be able to handle that.” The mage said.
“What’s your name?” Walter asked as he sat back.
“Theo usually. People call me different things.” The man said.
“Well Theo. If it’s really the person you’re looking for then she’s not a healer anymore, she’s a warrior with the Shadow’s Hand.” He said.
“A Shadow? Of course she is. Just my luck with missions.” Theo said and laughed out loud. “Oh well, to find my death in this crypt is not the worst way to go. May I have a little time before you kill me?” He asked.
“Theo, we’re not that uncivilized here. You seem like a decent man. All we want is to make sure you don’t go around and tell people about our location. Your friend here already showed us that he likely wouldn’t be agreeable to that idea.” Walter said. “Now if you behave yourself we’ll see where that leads you.” He said and got up to unshackle the man.
“Really?” Theo asked and laughed again. “Well that is a surprise. I thought it would be poetic to find my end at the hands of death worshipers.
“We’re more a community of the unlife. We don’t discriminate against people that are alive. I’m alive too.” Walter explained. “I’ll have to find your clothes. Lucia always throws them out somewhere. Come with me, so I can have an eye on you.” Walter said.
“As long as my harmonica is still around somewhere.” Theo joked.
“You play? I’m a bard, guitar and the lute mostly. Perhaps your time here won’t be as unbearable as you thought.” Walter said, his step already a little lighter. The appreciation of music was something he had always tried to change in the Vulture Brotherhood. As long as people had their passions, he wouldn’t be pushy but sometimes he did feel a little lonely being the only musical person around.
“Wonderful, I’ve dabbled in both of them too but my talent just isn’t there.” Theo said.
“Ah by the way, we reported to the Riverwatch guard where we’d be, should we not come back after a week or two. If you want to stay hidden I might have to report back with a story.” Theo said.
“We’ll see about that when the time comes. Do you hold no grudge because your team died?” Walter asked.
“You should’ve seen their lack of coordination. A young rowdy pack of meatheads. I’m glad no more of those stalker hounds have died. They are beautiful creatures aren’t they?” Theo asked, lost in thought as he nearly walked into the wall.
I don’t think this one will be a problem. Walter thought and smiled to himself. Lucia, I swear if you burnt those clothes again…,
Ilea and Kyrian needed two days of traveling to return to the outskirts of Virilya. Smoke was still rising from the distant city, alarming everybody about the state of the city. They didn’t get close enough to see anything but Ilea was sure that Maria had news about the current developments ready when they arrived. The two of them traveled the last part of their journey at a very low altitude, using every bit of cover they could find.
It wasn’t necessary as it turned out, the two of them not spotting a single scout or soldier to the east of Virilya. A couple of wild cats the size of bears trailed them for a while but Ilea thought it was more out of curiosity than anything. They never came close enough to strike and couldn’t keep up with their speed whenever they moved on open land.
“Silver cats eh?” Kyrian asked when they slowed down near the hideout.
“Yep. Beautiful creatures aren’t they?” She asked. “Though I still prefer Swordmouth Tigers.”
“Can’t think of a reason why.” Kyrian said dryly when they landed.
“Are you there?” Ilea asked towards the hideout, the door opening to reveal Felicia with a big smile on her face.
“Welcome back!” She shouted and walked towards them.
“Felicia.” Ilea heard Edwin’s voice coming from behind the woman and watched her stop and sigh. She didn’t seem any less enthusiastic to see them though.
“I know brother.” She said towards her back. “Come on in, they’ve been preparing for days. What’s your wind magic resistance at by the way?” Felicia asked as she hugged Ilea.
“Level eight currently why? Do you want to train some?” Ilea asked, letting go of the woman and staring into her near yellow eyes.
“I mean sure, I’d love to see you dodge my attacks again. It’s been so long since I seriously tried to kill you.” She said with a perfect smile. “Father is a wind mage.” She added in a much more subdued tone.
“Ah he is.” Ilea said, Kyrian closing the door behind them before the illusion enchantment snapped back into place, hiding them from unknowing eyes.
“And a terrifying one at that. I think he’s also a blood mage but what noble isn’t.” Felicia added as they joined the others.
“You’re earlier than expected. Good.” Edwin said when she sat down. Kyrian went over to Aliana who was of course cooking. She looked at him and then back to her food a little too quickly.
Perhaps he’ll find his relationship sooner than he thought. Ilea mused. Her interest in the man had vaned somewhat. At least from a sexual standpoint. He had become a dear friend and she wouldn’t hurt a friend like that. Not when she knew they were looking for something different entirely.
“We’re leaving in an hour. The journey will take us several days to the north. We’ll stay close to the sea and will avoid any cities and villages we come by.” Edwin explained.
“You mean several days for us, while we’re carrying you.” Ilea said. She watched the weird thing in her Sphere turn into Maria behind her before her hands landed on her shoulders. The smile to frown transformation on her face amused her greatly. She thought I didn’t see her.
“You are SO provocative aren’t you.” Maria said before she let go of her.
“Not with everybody. This guy has worked hard to earn my most annoying self.” Ilea said.
“Thanks for coming.” Maria said in a quieter voice before she sat down next to Edwin.
“I’m surprised you didn’t leave alone already.” Ilea said.
“Flight will save us more time in the end.” Maria said. “Simple as that.” The grin on her face was like a reflection of herself.
“You have beautiful purple eyes Maria.” Ilea said, watching the woman’s brain gears start to turn. She tried hard not to smile herself. Maria was smart, smarter than her probably. A random remark like that without any other purpose than to compliment her was like cryptonite she imagined.
“She’s fucking with you.” Edwin said and sighed. “One hour.” He added and got up.
“Will Felicia and Aliana join us this time? You could use some more firepower. I doubt the man will be alone, not that that wouldn’t be dangerous enough.” Ilea said, turning in her chair.
“They won’t be.” Edwin stated.
“Why not? Felicia is at two hundred and Aliana is close enough.” Ilea said, looking at Felicia who smiled at her.
“I said they won’t be joining us.” Edwin said and left the room after a hard stare at her.
Ilea just rolled her eyes and relaxed in her chair, taking off her helmet. Manually to not show off her necklace unnecessarily. Felicia moved closer and put a hand on her leg.
“I’m glad you’re going with him.” She said in a quiet voice.
“You’re strong too, why not come as well?” Ilea asked.
“What did he mean you’re fucking with me? What’s with my purple eyes?” Maria asked, standing up and staring at her with ice cold eyes.
“Maria sit down, you DO have beautiful eyes, as do you Ilea. Calm down and accept a simple compliment.” Felicia said, staring back at her. Surprisingly the woman did sit down but seemed to still think about it. “Ilea, don’t think too bad of him ok? He just wants to protect us.”
“Does he now?” Ilea asked, smiling again.
“Yes. And while he’s willing to trample and murder everyone in his way, he does care about the people here. Sans you and the metal curse mage who has taken our cook’s heart.” Felicia explained before she got up. “Excuse me.” She said and walked over to the two cooks who were talking about different combinations of sauces and meat.
“I’ll kill you if you hurt her.” Maria said, appearing next to Ilea and sitting down.
“What?” Ilea asked, seriously confused. “You’re aware that the only reason I’m even working with you guys is her don’t you?” She asked.
“You are?” Maria said. “You’re seriously confusing me today.”
“You’re not the most perceptive social analyst are you. And no, you don’t have to mention your years of torture. I’m aware, not the best teacher of things like that.” She said.
“Don’t take away my dark humor. All that’s left otherwise is void magic and you don’t want to have that in your face.” Maria said with a smile. “Sorry for reacting like this. We’ve all been… well on edge. Years of planning went into this and I’ve imagined ripping out that horrible fucker’s throat for so long…,”
“Don’t worry about it. Takes more than that to offend me. We can have a bout to clear our heads a little if you feel like it.” Ilea suggested but she waved her off.
“No. We shouldn’t compromise our hideout any more than we already have.” Maria said.