Chapter 204 Ice, Silver and Blood
Then they hit the water. Ice spread immediately, encasing the both of them in a prison of frozen water, Ilea now being attacked from all sides. Still, she held on, still she channeled her mana into the woman who more and more lacked the capability to counteract it.
In a moment of despair, silver formed in the tight space between the ice and her body before it cut through her arm right below her shoulder, separating Ilea’s direct connection to her body and allowing her to finally take a breather. Contrary to Ilea, she didn’t need a physical link for her magic to work, Ilea now exposed to her magic.
Still, with her Veil, Ice Resistance, healing and the ash spreading in the minuscule space between her body and the freezing cold, Ilea persevered. The spikes of ice that formed and stabbed at her were mostly stopped by her veil already and the ones that didn’t were stopped by her armor. It seemed her enemy was panicked enough not to focus on her weak spots, being her eyes and the small spaces connecting her armor pieces.
We’re sinking…, The thought reached Ilea’s mind as her sphere was unable to perceive anything else but water anymore. She had to get out. She let go of the separated arm and started moving, punching at the ice around her, moving her body as much as she could, her ash heating up and trying to counteract the ice magic. To no avail.
Summoning an explosive arrow into her hand, she activated it right before the thing was frozen solid. The explosion ripped through her and the ice, not as strong as she expected and barely damaging herself. Sadly the effect on the ice was similar. Still, there was an effect. Especially compressed to such a small space, the arrows punched harder than they would against a high level ice mage’s creation. Ilea grinned and summoned all the arrows she had left, fire, explosive and lightning. And then she activated all of them at the same time, her mana reaching the enchantments and lighting up the small sphere of ice below the surface of the ocean.
She was free, for but a moment and the ice formed again just a second later. Enough time for her to blink out. Out and upwards, again and again before she spread her wings above the water, continuing to heal the damage she had sustained from both the enemy and her own attempts to free herself.
“Are you alright!” Felicia shouted from a distance, looking down at the water before a rain of ice lashed out from below, the spikes deflected by a whirlwind of air around the mage, Ilea simply holding up her arms to block the attack. No ice spread after the impact, leading her to believe that Tiana was injured rather badly.
“Don’t worry about me! She’s lost an arm. Don’t let her get away.” Ilea said and looked around, blinking twice and grabbing Maurice out of the water, the cold having spread nearly through his whole right side before her mana started healing the damage, counteracting the terrifying power devouring the man.
“Would’ve thought you’re less stupid.” She said, her wings flapping as they got higher, watching Felicia in the distance when Tiana came out from below, the water around her freezing, her arm replaced by a silver one, mixed with blood. Her eyes were unfocused and bloodied, a scream leaving her lungs before ice spikes rushed out towards them.
Ilea moved her body in front of Maurice, continuing to heal him as the magical attack glanced off the Veil behind her, some even stuck at the ash she had formed between them and the enemy.
Tiana of course didn’t stop, focusing on Felicia who deflected as well as she could. Maurice stopped Ilea with a gesture, his birds appearing from above, rushing to get at the ice and silver mage. “I’m fine.” He said, Ilea nodding and letting go of him before she vanished and rushed at Tiana again. She wouldn’t get trapped below the water again this time. The silver mage was running on fumes, the pain of her lost arm visibly getting to her and her health at a point where her concentration would likely be inhibited as well.
Felicia had actually managed to get the upper hand in their ranged battle, Tiana’s ice attacks rather useless when they could be deflected without touching them physically. Ilea appeared next to her, swinging her fist at her, moving slightly to avoid the silver arm that was raised to block the attack, instead ducking and using her left hand to attack. The hit wasn’t deflected and Ilea felt bones crack when her fist impacted the woman’s ribcage, air and blood spit out before the silver arm grabbed at her. Ilea had already blinked away, a flurry of wind blades slashing at the beat down woman, blood spurting from new wounds that formed when her armor was pierced.
And then she vanished, appearing closer to the mainland before she vanished again. The three pursuers followed, some of Maurice’s birds actually keeping up with both Ilea and Tiana who were traveling at a similar speed. Ilea didn’t want to go in recklessly, knowing that the silver mage was at her last strength. Maurice didn’t have to worry about that, an eagle like creature crashing into the woman right after she had used her teleportation ability, the bird picking and clawing at her in a battle to the death.
It slowly froze along the blood and bits of flesh and cloth that were ripped out before the two of them spiraled to the ground, the impact sending the silver mage tumbling as the bird of prey shattered to pieces of black and red. Ilea watched as the woman struggled to get up when a group of crows started picking at her, meeting a similar fate as the eagle had just moments before. Maurice’s onslaught didn’t stop before a blast of wind sent the birdsspiraling through the air and the silver mage on her knees, struggling against the attack. A second blast pushed her arms aside, the woman unable to respond to the wind magic that right after cut through her neck.
The ding resounding in Ilea’s mind let her know the fight had ended, Tiana’s head unceremoniously falling to the ground. “One down.” Ilea said and blinked to Maurice, who collapsed to his knees and coughed up blood. He shivered and sighed when she started healing him.
“Damn cunt nearly got me.” The man said, looking over at the corpse.
“Recover your mana, we’re going back to help the others.” Felicia said as she walked over.
Ilea nodded and finished up healing Maurice which took longer than expected. The damage to his organs and tissue had been extensive. If anybody else had gotten caught in that ice ball. The thought lingered only for a moment. It had to be her. Checking through her messages, she found her Ice Resistance had increased again but decided to check on all that after the fight had ended.
I need something other than a bunch of arrows to counter a situation like that. Like a death switch but with a massive explosion to get me out. I can heal, most others can’t. The thought was something she’d have to bring up with Balduur, Iana or perhaps Claire. She wasn’t sure if enchantments could be activated by other people. At least explosive ones like the woman used. Then again, water stones in her bath, the explosive arrows, certain gates she had opened, they were all enchantments that she could activate with her mana.
“You’re good, come on.” Ilea said as she walked over to the corpse of Tiana, grabbing the head and body before she ascended, the three of them rushing towards the island of Garath.
The bestial screams could be heard from several hundred meters away. The terrace was in ruins, even more than it had before. The beast was still alive, though barely it seemed. Burnt to the bone in some parts, missing one of its arms and eyes. Their own group didn’t look much better though. Popi was eating a pastry with a massive cut in his chest that bled through his armor, the man leaning on the ramparts to the side.
Edwin had lost an arm in turn but the wound looked nastier than what the beast had been granted. Maria looked to drop any second, blood streaming from her nose as her void magic blocked the beast from advancing on them, Aliana standing before her and Edwin, small but high pressured streams of water forming and lashing into the beast, burning its defensive mantle of flesh and muscle.
Ilea landed next to Popi, as did Maurice. “You alright there big guy?” She asked, touching him on his shoulder as she examined him, healing mana flooding into the man while she activated her meditation skill.
“Popi… is tired.” He said after a moment and closed his eyes.
“Popi, don’t give up. We’ve been through too much shit for you to die here!” Maurice said as he clutched the man’s hand, Ilea just looking at him with interest.
“He’s fine. I think he literally just is tired.” She said, the man looking at her with a shocked expression before the hand slipped from his own.
“I knew that.” He said and got up, dusting himself off.
“Go help the others.” Ilea said and smiled at him. Nobody had died though Edwin looked close enough. It made sense. They knew the enemy and it was four on one. Three on one for Ilea’s group and two of them were nearly goners. You really have to be careful facing enemies at our level. She thought, looking at the corpse of Tiana she had dumped on the ramparts. She’d ask Aliana to take care of it later. No reason in leaving evidence behind.
The beast looked terrifying. At least to her former self it would’ve. Now she was more impressed with its speed and endurance. It was a man no doubt, a man who had turned himself into that. And despite the heavy injuries and magic from three dangerous attackers raining in on him, he stood. He stood and still kept them at a distance, slashing with his one arm at his foes as he circled them, using stone and walls as defensive measures while wind, water and void magic rushed his way.
And he didn’t even try to get away. Commendable but stupid. Ilea would’ve been out of there as soon as she would’ve spotted more than two enemies her level. Tiana tried and failed. She thought. Then again Tiana wasn’t exactly as quick as she was. Neither was she as enduring. Bad luck on her part to find Felicia and herself here. Two people that could keep up with her. Ilea even with the incredible damage she dealt. With all the monsters out there you’d think more people would go the defensive route. She thought and shook her head, the wounds on Popi closed as the man breathed steadily.
Now, let’s finish that beast. Ilea thought and appeared next to the monster, punching at its already heavily injured side without an arm, her offensive skills pushing mana into it as it roared in pain, wind cutting into it while a murder of crows finally latched onto it, starting their picking and clawing into the burnt wounds and exposed skin.
The beast howled in pain and anger, flinging its body at Ilea with all its strength, the woman disappearing right outside its range before she punched again.The monster turned and rushed towards the standing group of mages, Ilea right behind it when Edwin’s remaining sword flared up in red flame. The remaining clawed arm rushed at him when the warrior vanished and appeared just a meter ahead, his blade swinging upwards and cleaving through the remaining arm of the beast before its massive form slammed into him.
The man was pushed down, his sword clanging onto the stone floor. Maria touched the injured beast and closed her eyes, a surge of mana leaving her body before she collapsed to one knee.
A ding resounded in Ilea’s mind, the monster’s head sinking in to an unnatural degree right after. She grinned and looked at Maria who was now sitting down, breathing hard. I wonder if she can rip out my brain that easily. Then again, she doubted the beast had void resistance and a Veil of Ash to increase that resistance even more.
Ilea moved to the beast’s front and checked on Edwin. He looked close to death, his eyes focusing on her as she walked up. “You look utter shit.” She said and lifted the monster up with one arm.
“I don’t need your…,” The man said and coughed. “… help.” He finished.
“Oh, okay.” Ilea said and let go of the monster again, Edwin wincing as the weight came down on him again.
Felicia rushed to him and shot her an angry glance before air gathered around her, pushing the massive creature back and away from her brother.
Ilea wordlessly checked on Aliana, healing the minor injuries she had sustained in the fight before she moved on to Maria, doing the same for her.
“Ilea.” Felicia said, looking up at her. “Please.” She added, tears in her eyes. Ilea rolled her eyes a little but appeared next to the two, starting to heal Edwin who was of course the closest to death out of all of them. His pride would’ve been his undoing today were it not for his dear sister. Ilea was sure she had saved him more than once already. Even today, she shouldn’t have been here at all. The fights against Tiana and the big bastard could’ve gone quite a lot worse without Aliana and Felicia there to help, let alone Popi and Maurice.
Then again, we planned for Kyrian to be here. Ilea said, her grin wiped off her face at the thought. He’s fine. She thought. The man had a storage item, an ability to heal himself as long as there were enemies to fight and he had enough experience to survive on his own. Even in a place like Iz. At least Ilea hoped so.
“Do we know anything about the teleportation gate that was used on me, Kyrian and that white armored woman?” Ilea asked, taking her absence as proof that she was teleported as well. Neither of them being in Iz with her, at least at that particular exit point gave her some hope that they weren’t in that place at all.
“No.” Maria said as she stepped up. “There are still people in the castle, perhaps they’ll be of use to answer that question. Is Arthur dead?”
“Arthur is dead. Felicia finished the job.” Ilea said, making the woman turn to the wind mage, her eyebrows rising in surprise. They locked eyes for a moment before Maria turned away.
“I’ll talk to them then. He should be fine in a minute or two. You recover your mana.” Ilea said to Maria, Edwin’s missing arm regrowing before them. A sight to see apparently, all of them except Popi watching the process with emotions ranging from disgust to fascination.
“Edwin and me will take care of them.” Maria retorted.
“No, you will not. Arthur Redleaf is dead. Your goal is fulfilled. Kyrian vanished and I know nothing more about the god damned Golden Lily. Whatever remains in this castle is mine.” Ilea said calmly, without looking at the woman.
“I will go with you.” Felicia said.
“As will I. If we can f… find him.” Aliana said. “We should try.” She added.
“Fuck it, I’ll come too. I know the place, can show you around. Perhaps there will be stuff you won’t want. Won’t say no to some gold.” Maurice chimed in and chuckled.
“Don’t but in mercenary.” Maria said but didn’t say anything else as she stood there and watched Edwin get healed.
“He seems to be exhausted. Perhaps you should take care of him for a while.” Ilea said. “We also have to get Arthur’s corpse and get rid of it. I think you two would like to see him before you do that.” Ilea said and stood up, Edwin looking somewhat well again, despite his armor being in tatters.
Told him his gear sucks. Ilea thought and pointed towards the plains. “You’ll find the battlefield near the coastline.”
Maria looked at her angrily but shook her head. “Thank you. For the help.” She said, looking at Ilea, Felicia and Aliana in turn before she knelt down next to Edwin, taking his hand in hers.
“What about us. Popi damn near died for you.” Maurice murmured and shook his head. “Damn ungrateful wenches.”
“Wenches, as in plural?” Ilea asked, standing up and walking to the castle entrance, the man, Felicia and Aliana following behind.
“Wench doesn’t necessarily mean female.” Maurice said.
“I think it does.” Felicia said.
The man ignored the remark and looked towards Popi “Will he be alright? He burnt her remember.”
“I won’t harm your friend and neither will he.” Maria said, having heard their conversation.
“And when has believing a wench ever been a good idea?” Maurice asked.
“She can be difficult but Maria is not a liar.” Felicia said.
“I sometimes wish she were.” Aliana whispered and walked to the door.
“Coming, castle guide? I booked at tour.” Ilea said to the man who was still glancing over to Popi.
“That’s two silvers by the way. Tour guide isn’t an easy job.” Maurice said as he turned towards her.
“So, this bloody fucking castle was build two thousand years ago by the gods of castles themselves. The stone is actually their dried shit. If you smell carefully, you’ll notice the resemblance with your own crap.” He continued as Ilea handed him two silver coins, surprising the man and halting his speech.
“Do go on.” She said and yawned. “I want to hear all about the castle gods.” Ilea said. She was new to the world after all. “I’m interested in the indigenous religions of this land.”
The man closed his eyes and smiled before he shook his head. “From an obsessed plant enthusiast to a sarcastic indestructible smartass.” He murmured. “The gods chose this place because it was close to the sea, the smell easily spread through the winds of the ocean. It offended the men nearby, simple fishers unknowing of magic and the wide world…,”