Chapter 315 Survivors
Ilea noted that Maro was uninjured still, his shield with a purple hue in her sphere and dozens of connections to the undead and skeletons that rushed at the enemy group. Catelyn stepped back, moving closer to them as she panted, blood dripping from various wounds and burning up immediately, slowly healing thanks to Ilea’s power. We need time to recover. How much fucking health do you have foxy?
Ilea watched the skeletons freeze over, the level two eighty ice mage having lost his helmet looked mostly uninjured, the two warriors burnt and steaming cut through the undead Feynor with scythe and claws, sharp enough to sever steel and bones as the connections to the necromancer were cut. One was at three ten and the other at three twenty one. The barrier mage at two seventy five was crawling on the floor, moaning in pain as he grasped his missing face, scales, armor and skin molten together. The curse and drain mage had stopped draining mana, likely because her resistance was causing more problems than it was worth it.
The lance still stuck in his side, he was bleeding from dozens of cuts, limping alongside the wall as he tried to get some distance between the groups. He was at level three hundred nine. The fire burning the ground, walls and ceiling had stopped near the Feynor and she saw in her sphere that one of their mages, at three hundred and two was influencing the flames. Lastly there was the mage in black armor, none of his features showing as he formed three lances of steel around him. The battle had gone on for a while, both parties starving for mana, some for health as well. It had cost her heavily in resources, Catelyn likely as well, to take down their healer but in the end it would be worth it.
The others likely had a way to recover too but it would be slower than a dedicated mage. Should we even fight? She wasn’t sure. The enemy had the numbers but the fight hadn’t been as one sided as one might expect. Ilea’s ability to pretty much ignore Catelyn’s ridiculous fires had cost them a man and Maro brought numbers to distract them, bones still piling up next to him as more and more of his creatures formed and stood up. One look at Catelyn was enough to tell her how this would end, the fox monster literally seething.
“Recover your mana. I’ll keep them occupied.” Maro said, stepping forward as a tide of his skeletons rushed at the Feynor, many of them quickly cut apart or frozen, a broad purple beam crashing into the fire mage, his own magic trying to cancel the death magic before weapons of bone slashed into him from the creatures rushing towards them. Minor cuts only but enough to distract him, a second beam slamming into the mage’s legs while Ilea deflected the steel lances flying at the necromancer.
Her own projectiles were sent at the injured mages, the barrier mage pierced before he slid away, not dead but certainly taken out of the fight for now. The curse mage managed to deflect her attacks but he stumbled and fell, his injury worsening. It didn’t take long but when Maro’s creatures were all cut down, Catelyn stepped forward, releasing a cone of fire that enveloped all but the warriors, ice and steel mage who teleported to the side of the limiting hall.
She heard the muffled screams from the barrier and curse mages as well as the fire mage who tried redirecting the attack but failing mostly. A beam of purple light slammed into him before an ashen lance pierced his head, sending his body tumbling back, dead and unmoving.
Three notifications, the mages reduced to molten steel and skin. Ilea had recovered a couple hundred mana but still waited as the remaining warriors approached quickly. Her heart of cinder was eating away at her health but she refused to let it go yet. Catelyn moved to the side as quickly as a small fox would move, dodging the scythe strikes as the warrior using claws slammed into Maro’s shield, ripping away at his defenses while his body started to burn with purple flames. Beams flared out but the warrior dodged them with incredible speed. Ilea realized that the metal mage was forming a massive array of needles, hundreds of them floating in the air around him.
She in turn formed walls of ash connected to herself, moving them when he released the attack, focused on Maro. The air around her froze when she blinked to intercept his projectiles, a chunk of her ash turning to ice before it shattered, hundreds of needles rushing through, stopped by her ash or armor. She felt them dig in but ignored it, instead blinking to the ice mage who vanished immediately, Ilea following as her wings spread. A beam of freezing mana slammed into her chest, her ash cooling down as crystals of ice formed on her. She didn’t blink, waiting until she had reached the Feynor.
His eyes wide open, he vanished. Ilea blinked to the disturbance she felt in her sphere, appearing while she sacrificed three hundred health before releasing Heart of Cinder, the attack charged up longer than she had ever tried before. The heat rushed out, slamming into the mage as her ashen limbs cut into him, her wings moving them both forward before he smashed into the wall, Ilea slamming into him right after.
Whatever shield he had put up had saved his life but his armor was gone now, as were his shields. Her fist slammed into him, time and time again, lances of steel slamming into the ashen armor on her back, coupled with dozens of needles, both exploding and digging deeper before once again ripping out chunks of armor, skin and muscle. It didn’t change the sound of bones cracking under her fist, the wet sound of brain matter being reduced to an unidentifiable sludge. Ilea knew he was dead before the ding in her mind even resounded. She deflected two more lances with her limbs, a third one navigating around them before it dug into her skin, finding a spot where her armor hadn’t recovered yet.
She stumbled to the side, the remains of the dead Feynor hanging inside the broken in wall as she felt the steel dig deeper and deeper, dull explosions resounding as she healed against the damage. New tissue formed over the needles that exploded moments later, ripping through what she had recovered. The mage was focused on her alone, only standing ten meters away as more and more needles of black steel formed around him.
A group of explosions ripped through her lungs, heart and other organs as she blinked away. A chunk of mana left her as her body returned to normal, armor of ash forming on top as she stared at the mage. A massive shock wave made them both turn towards the others, bones and corpses exploding in purple light as both Catelyn and the scythe warrior moved quickly through the debris to avoid the death magic.
The sounds stopped a moment later, purple and normal flames littering what remained of the hall, water dripping down from above. Ilea gulped as she saw the claw warrior standing before Maro, his stomach pierced by the shining talons. A sudden flare of purple fire pushed the Feynor back a little, bones forming around Maro as a roar resounded, the hairs on her back standing up before she ran to the side, dodging the steel needles rushing after her.
Ilea reached the mage before she felt the attack coming, her ash pierced by the spikes suddenly extending from his armor. Her back was pierced by the needles as her ashen limbs started smashing into his armor. You should have blinked. She thought with a savage grin, pumping destructive mana into him, his arms holding hers as they struggled against each other, ash against metal, both his armor and projectiles against her limbs and walls of ash forming to stop his needles to get in.
Neither relented, both meditating to recover mana. Whenever his steel was pierced, it reformed and closed up again just as her own ashen armor recovered time and time again. The only difference was that his actual wounds didn’t heal as quickly. They stayed entangled for half a minute, his spikes ripping into her defenses, digging into her ash before explosions ripped out more and more of it. Her back had opened up already, tissue ripped out and recovering time and time again.
When she finally slammed her ash through the steel covering his head, she cut into one of his eyes before releasing her Heart of Cinder, big parts of his steel burnt away and his face partially molten. He stumbled back, steel falling to the ground as it moved out of her body, Ilea’s wounds slowly recovering as she fell to her knees, nearly out of mana and focusing only on recovering the wounds. The Feynor made pained noises, Ilea grinning at the realization that he didn’t have his Pain Tolerance in the second tier.
While she recovered more mana, she didn’t let up with her ashen limbs, cutting into his face again and again as he struggled to recover his armor, her limbs moving on to his legs and stomach. He stumbled to the side to dodge the lances she sent his way, the third one hitting and breaking through. Ilea stood up, her ash connected to stop his teleportation magic before she grabbed him by the shoulder. Her armor had recovered entirely, his attempts to attack her slamming into her defenses as she charged up her Absolute Destruction. She only had enough mana for five seconds, her third tier Aspect of Ash wrapping her arm in fire, her sacrifice of three hundred health lighting up blue runes below her ash. Her fist landed on his face, his head bending backwards as her mana wrecked his brain. Her limbs followed, cutting into his neck before she finally ripped off his head, throwing it to the side, the ding resounding in her mind.
No head recovery at least.
The hall was filling up with water, parts already flooded as more and more flowed in from the cracks above. She found a crouching Maro covered in wounds and protected by bones, purple fire around him as he deflected the scythe time and time again. Slowly, she walked towards them, her mana recovering and her wounds healing. Catelyn was gone, not gone but small and unconscious, lying below Maro. The other warrior lay cut in half to the side and the scythe wielder didn’t look to be in much better shape than the necromancer himself. Both were panting, their attacks slow, the scythe digging into the man with each strike, the fire flaring up before each hit.
Ilea blinked behind the warrior, the Feynor turning before his blade cut into her, stopped by the ash as she grabbed onto his weapon. He jumped back, effortlessly ripping the pole out of her hands before he sunk down to one knee. His armor had been discarded, the Feynor only having his scales for defense. Looking around, they heard the ceiling crack, chunks of stone falling down as Ilea extended her limbs, stabilizing both Maro and Catelyn, the latter in much better shape than the necromancer. Her eyes opened wide as she saw his wounds, his body barely alive. That’s a death mage for you.
She grinned, looking at the Feynor who panted hard, coughing up blood as he stared at them with hate. Leave. Ilea thought, the ceiling cracking more before the warrior rushed at them. Her limbs moved out, the Feynor dodging them with quick movements before steel projectiles slammed into his chest, Ilea’s ashen ones piercing his stomach before a beam of purple light enveloped his head. He stumbled back, weapon flung to the side before he slid to a stop. Terok appeared above him, his arm slamming down on the Feynor’s head. The hit landed but the creature grabbed and moved away his steel arm, the metal groaning before Terok’s other arm shifted, a beam of white light cutting into the enemy’s head before his arm went limb. A ding resounded in Ilea’s mind as Terok stumbled backwards, holding his arm as the steel reformed.
“We have to get the fuck out of here.” He said, Ilea lacking the strength to speak as she pushed all her recovered mana into the two mages. She grabbed Catelyn with ashen limbs and supported Maro with her shoulder, his arm weakly wrapping around her as they stumbled out of the room, Terok holding up a shield to deflect the chunks of stone coming down on them. Water flowed out into the hallway, the sounds of collapsing stones audible behind.
Ilea never stopped healing, her mana recovery directly flowing into the other two. Catelyn was stable when they reached the next room but Maro’s condition didn’t change. She collapsed when they came out into the hall, the necromancer falling next to her as she meditated, forcing herself to stay awake as the corners of her vision became blurry. Terok stood next to the three, asking something that Ilea couldn’t hear.
Time passed, Ilea’s mana recovering as she healed away. Her vision was back to normal and while exhausted, she was ready should there be more enemies waiting. “Was that all of them?” Terok asked.
“I think so.” She said simply, spitting out blood that had accumulated in her mouth. “Why were they here?”
The dwarf shook his head, checking on Catelyn. Maro was on his knees, head towards his chest with eyes closed. Ilea felt him exude mana still, likely in a meditative state as well. Her healing was showing results by now, much slower than anybody she had healed previously. There was nothing inherently wrong with his body, at least not to her spell. The pulses of purple mana in her sphere were likely an indication.
When Catelyn’s insane health pool was topped, she started pushing mana into her more aggressively. On the third try, the fox woke up. Coughing lightly, she stumbled up and looked around, baring her teeth. Ilea chuckled, “You’re safe. Look almost cute without knowing about that fire form.”
The fox laid down and snorted, “You… you saved my life.”
“As did those two.” Ilea said, her ash still in contact with all three of them. “We should head back, in case the Abyss gets attacked.” She stood up and nearly stumbled, catching herself before Terok moved in to help. “Don’t.” She exclaimed, holding a hand out towards him.
“You should rest. Too much mana use. I trust Haiden and the power of that group… they weren’t here for the town.” Catelyn said, starting to pace around slowly, “We need those corpses. Anything left behind could help…,” She said, looking at the dwarf, “Terok. Can you get them out or are your injuries bad?”
He looked at Ilea and then shook his head, arm forming into a big sledgehammer, “I’m fine. Only joined the fun in the last moments. My rate is twenty silver per hour.”
Catelyn ignored his mention of pay, “Why would they target me? Or did we misjudge the Feynor’s power. The Dark Protector will run into trouble if some random attack squad has six people above three hundred.”
“The attacked the Vineyard Caves too. Didn’t see a single one above my level. Amongst hundreds.” Ilea supplied, looking at Maro who had stopped exuding mana. She quickly moved when he collapsed, catching him before he woke up.
“Ah… my dreams come true. A lovely knight in nothing but her shredded leathers.” He muttered, quietly. The strain on his body to deliver the joke must have been enormous.
Ilea switched her destroyed leather armor to a shirt and pants, “Thought you were a goner for sure.” She said, punching his head lightly.
“Death itself cannot be bested.” He coughed, blood spraying onto her shirt and face. “Sorry.”
She laughed, ash moving past to clean off the blood, “Then it was targeted. The vineyard caves have much closer ties to the army. Why me?”
“Looked like dragon worshipers. Seems like this age didn’t change much.” Maro said, sitting up as he reassured Ilea he was fine, “You know what they usually like?” He paused, “Fire. You damn near broke through my shield with your presence alone, what the fuck even are you?”
The fox chuckled, smiling wryly while Terok started to rip out chunks of rock from the collapsed in hall. “Well they just wasted incredibly strong people. Can’t say I dislike it. What do you want for you help?”
Ilea shrugged, “I can pet you whenever.”
Maro though about it and nodded, “Same. Though maybe you can help her with some leather armor.” He chuckled.
“I can ask Goliath, don’t worry.” Ilea replied. The fox just looked at them in turn before shaking her head.
“Elana was right.” She said, “You two are utterly useless when it comes to negotiation and management. I’ll open accounts in your names, my debt will be repaid, if you want it or not. The petting is fine, as long as you don’t sexualize me. I’m a fox.”
Maro snorted, “The big version capable of melting forged steel is a turn on, not going to lie.” A hard hit by Ilea made him shut up.
“Don’t jeopardize our privileges. What are you going to do about the Feynor?” She asked.
“This is a heavy loss. I doubt they will try something again soon. All I can do is make Hallowfort more attractive for powerful people and level up myself. Guess my days of dabbling in alchemy are over.” She said and sighed.
“Need someone to pinpoint their locations. I won’t dig out that whole bloody room.” Terok said, having paused his work.
“I’ll get someone to you. Come, let us return for now. If there were any Feynor still, they would have attacked already.” Catelyn said, moving towards the town, guided by three flames floating in the air.