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A note from Freethorm

With this update I've burnt through my backlog of chapters, so updates are going to be slower. So for those of you saddened by this I drew some Nightmares designs to help console your pain, enjoy.

Spoiler: Spoiler

 

Most of the Nightmares are dead, the breaches have all been sealed, and for a time Dailin thought that perhaps the worst part of the journey was over. They were making good headway only running into small skirmishes with the Nightmares, and it was only with the Maggots. None of the Stingers, and certainly no Behemoths. Even Aethin after it was peaceful long enough came out of his trance. Looked about and smiled. It wasn’t a large one, rather one of relief for the both of them as Aethin grip lessened a great deal.

Not all was well, the halls are all pitch black and the Lightstones could only reveal so far, he spent most his time worried about what lay beyond. Imagining creatures that weren’t there, eyes moving about panicked overshadows and illusions. Their speed crept up greatly, with no corpses or chunks of stone blocking their way. They may have been out of the settlement by now if the Chanters didn’t take the time to reseal every breach they came across.

At first, Dailin was thrilled when the sounds of battle and dying went away, replaced by silence. But as they marched the halls, their footfalls the only constant ruckus in the dark. It was making him nervous, with the Wards gone Dailin had expected his ears to pick up on movements. The enemy clicking about behind thin walls. Instead, he was left with an odd silence, one that didn't match the situation they were in.

That thought kept him distracted, tuning out the people around him and their endless marching. ‘Are we going to the surface? Or are we going deeper into the ground? Is their other life besides Nightmares?’ So many questions and him too afraid to seek answers even with Aethin at his side with nothing better to do. He couldn’t risk it, ‘what would the others do if they found out I'm a newborn?’ Would they send him straight to the front of the caravan? His fears ate at him, he tried emptying his mind, focusing on the confined world around him.  He caught a glimpse of the door, a block like the others, it gave no impression it led to realms beyond.

Not from a distance anyway, but as he got closer he could see it was more detailed and obvious had much more work put into it. A Chanter the one that voiced commands moved from the others and pushed passed all the commoners and guards that didn’t get out of his path. At the door he took out an object and presses it against the block, it glowed then raised upward. The Chanter returned to them quickly, not once looking over his shoulder to see if everything had gone right.

Curiosity, worry, fear they mixed in him as he watched the door move to reveal the world beyond. What it showed had his mind and eyes at odds with each other. If not for the nightmarish creatures there would be no need for walls. What lay before him past the door, was life, such much of it that it dazzled his eyes. A curtain of color and light emanating from numerous plants. So much so that it was hurting his eyes after the dim light from the stones they carried. His mind was still trying to accept the scene, for they were still underground. The cavern was large, very large and covered completely in plant life. the floor, walls, ceiling it didn’t matter life clung to any surface that was available. This place appeared more dreamlike than his actual dream, he pitched himself to make sure he wasn’t actually dreaming. That he hadn’t fainted at some point without his notice. But no, what he was seeing was real, somehow and it is beautiful. Had the gods shown him mercy for once? Simply testing him or playing a joke with creatures of horror before showing the paradise that awaited him?

He woke from his stupor as Guards moved forward. He could hear them shaking their metal bits of armor creaking. They didn’t’ go far, they spread out in a semi-circle formation. Some held Light stones in their hands holding them up. Moving the stones to illuminate shadowed areas that may hold threats. All it served was to show Dailin that even in this heavenly place, these people still only thought of the creatures that hunted them. In fact, as he looked all those he viewed held some form of fear or weariness about themselves. The front Guards locked shields together and waited.

The Better equipped Guards went next, followed by the commoners who had their heads down, many wept, doing wonders for Dailin fears. Soon it was the Chanters turn and he could sense the overall feel of people. Their hesitation and body movements screamed ‘None of us want to do this, perhaps we should just go back and wait this out.’ Dailin would have approved of this a moment before but now, now he wanted to see this world of life awaiting outside these constraining walls.

Behind him, he heard Vernac “Forward, Forward my fellows we must hurry, no time for rest.” Dailin focused on hiding his confusion. The Chanters ahead of him began moving forward none happy about it either. Aethin pressed closer to him, his hand grip returned to its former agonizing height.

Dailin even finding peace in the new landscape awaiting him couldn’t keep his old fears from creeping back in. Not with all those around him acting as if they were going to drop dead at any moment. His heart pounded faster and when he went through the door he held his breath. He expected something to go wrong then, some attack from above as he looked up. Instead, he had his breath taken as his mind registered just how large the carven was. The height of the ceiling probably matched that of a small mountain. Life grew up there too, long hanging vines and leaves, with flowers that glowed a multi-range of colors. 

He noticed the movement of shadows, His eyes widened when he caught glimpses of Nightmares crawling along the ceiling. As he followed the lines of movement, he could see that they were on the walls as well, then the floor at their level, but still far away. But they were there and now his fears were back in full. He brought his attention back to his fellows, noticing the formation was an enclosed circle. The Guards on the outside, commoners afterward then the Chanters. In the center of them, it wouldn’t be a hard guess that it was Vernac and other important people. Dailin couldn’t complain he had achieved much in less than a day of life. Even if it was due to chances outside his control, he was better off than the majority of the people that lived in the Settlement.

Now he just needed to survive, to reach the next town. looking at the surrounding landscape he wondered how low his odds were. When the last of the people exited the tunnel the door key was placed in an insert close to the entrance. The block came back down ending with a thud, a final reminder that turning back was gone. The Chanters went from reluctances to being out there helping the Guards to now open fear. Heads bobbing up and down left and right, everyone was keeping track of the horde heading their way. The Guards, then the group as a whole moved forward. Dailin was confused about how they were going to find their way to another city. The plant life covered everything, it was a dense forest. There were no clear markers that he could see, no walls were close enough for him to make out a passage.

Yet they marched, Dailin clueless of their heading. Even with the surroundings representing a forest, its void of any animalistic sounds. No bird calls or small animals scurrying about, not even the buzzing of insects. It made his ears very sensitive, able to pick up every scuff of sound they were making as they marched. He wondered if it was even possible to creep up on someone without them noticing. He felt completely exposed, only now aware how much the Wards made him feel secure. a solid object keeping things at bay. Now though even with the environment whimsical, he couldn’t stop himself from looking around. Trying to find anything that represented a danger, or some emanate attack lurking in the many shadows.

Everyone did the same, the Guards even as the pace continued to increase. They weren’t running or jugging, but the speed was clearly that of a fast hurried walk. It had been more than once that he had stumbled over daggled vines. His legs quickly grew sore as time stretched on. A quick break or a chance to ride on the hover platforms would do him good. But the group made no signs of stopping and those on platforms never had time to trade places with others.

He should have eaten more, but at the time the worry in his gut killed his appetite, now his gut was rumbling and with nothing to sate it with.

“Hold, Form up” went one of the better-clad Guards. Everyone stopped in their tracks, the circle formation that had become loose formed back into place. Everyone was looking around, but Dailin focused on were the Guard who spoke was looking. At the very outer edge of the light, shifting could be seen. The faintest outline of a mass, Dailin jaw clenched. Doing a quick hum to speed his mana back into ready circulation. He heard others do the way and saw the hover platforms edge closer to the Guards, those abroad had their arms raised.

Silence fell upon them after everyone was in their fighting stance. The seconds counted down but no change occurred. Vernac spoke even though it was a whisper it seemed to echo in this oppressive void. “You” pointing a finger at one of the hovers “Fire a chant at the thing the Prime Guard sees. The Chanter aimed and fired giving no voice of warning as Lightning sprung from his fingers. The area bathed in light revealing the walls and ceiling. All shadows were banished, and a clear view of many Nightmares lying in wait under thick leaves appeared. Where the spell hit maggots had been, they were set aflame bursting apart. Dailin was shaking, Aethin grip felt as like an iron trap. The light instantly died out just as fast has it appeared. But it had been far than enough for him to get a look. The walls, ceiling, and floor were filled with those things, digging or tunneling out of the stone. Or at least they had been, from what he saw every single one of them stood perfectly still, and all had been looking in their direction. The glows from the flowers and other vegetation had deceived him. The light enough to disrupt his eyes from being able to pierce the shadows to reveal how deep they truly were.

Chills ran down his spine, he wanted to run back the way they came, do anything everything to fix the Wards and hold up. That would be better than what they were doing now, a moving meal luring all the creature they pass to them. “Forward” called the Prime guard, and the front did so, though this time at a slow guarded pace. The silence was gone now, not only from the racket they were making but from the maggots springing to life. They seemed to know they had been spotted and began moving. Their clicking speech echoing around them. Dailin was looking up, unable to see how many were moving in the shadows. If the creatures were completely suicidal or eager enough they could drop from above. Their mass and the height would kill someone if they hit.

Screeches echoed ahead and the Guards were set upon by the Maggots their peaks impacting shields. The spears glowed and tore the things apart. One of the Chanters pointed their hands upward, a circle of light materialized and shot up. The light showed the host before them gathering on all sides. Chanters aimed and for a moment the whole cavern was lit by their spells. He could see the enemy number, could see that the further along they went the cavern would shrink in size. That the maggots and other larger things were waiting for them in the smaller tunnel.

The caravan as a whole moved never stopping, but their pace was slow. None stood around and held ground against the Nightmares but maintained a constant retreat. Chanters killed an endless number of them, it was clear they would be overrun if they dared stay put. The constant light showed allowed Dailin to watch their progress, the Nightmares ahead of them that had been waiting rushed forward. A couple Behemoths at their head. Calls of alarm were raised and a number of Chanters redirected their attacks. Concentrated air blasts and ice shards from many hands barreled down on the charging line. Rending it into pulp when the last of the spells wore off. Dailin tried to suppress a shiver as he stepped through the mess that was made.

Chanters fired ahead of them down into a tunnel passage. Screeches echoed from it as the spells hit, and the Chanters sent more to answer its call. The tunnel was closing in on them the walls easily seeable now and the roof overhead was coming into full focus. More blasts of air struck the roof of the cave, Maggots that had been hanging their readying to drop down on them sliced and broken apart. Their blood raining down on the front caravan. ‘The gods be praised.’ as he was sparred being bathed in blood. The lower ceiling was cleared but he could see other forms moving towards them from higher up. At the speed the caravan was going they would be away before the Chanters had to clear the roof again.

The way ahead seemed open, Chanters traded places with each other on the platforms, as things simmered down a little. His ears were picking much commotion coming from behind. The rear guard sounding as if they were in trouble. He only glanced back for a quick look, but that was enough. Nightmares were in mass, and the Chanters acted quickly to thin their number. Without the confines of the tunnels, the Nightmares didn’t seem as much of a threat, least not to a Chanter. They fired with impunity, nothing was shot back at them. The Nightmares so far seemed to have no ranged attacks. Dailin counted their blessings, for all the smarts they had shown the Nightmares appeared only to be clever beasts, nothing more.

He wasn’t sure as they neared the tunnel, but Dailin didn’t think they had lost anyone from that attack, some may have been injured, but overall it had gone well. Properly because of the spell work that was on display, the Guards alone didn’t have good odds against the Nightmares no matter the terrain they fought in. Fighting a Nightmare up close was a foolish thing to do. The last thing that should be done, these men should have crossbows of some sort. Anything that would allow them to fight from a distance. ‘Something I could work on if all else fails, anything to keep me from those damned things.’

As they enter the tunnel it quickly branched off into many directions. He couldn’t see any marking or Wards that let them know which direction to take. Just as the open cavern every inch of surface was coved in plant life, only adding to Dailin confusion as the vines helped hide passages. The front didn’t seem to be plagued with this disorientation, as they turned towards a tunnel near the right side that appeared to slope down. At first, the poorly made tunnels were the same width and height as the Warded ones, but the further they went it came in on them more and more. It wasn’t straight either the tunnel was full of twists and turns, branching off in many more directions.

Screeches echoed and for the first time, he truly hadn’t the slightest clue of which direction it came from. Commotions sounded a ways behind him, but the twists and turns made it impossible to know if they were being attacked. The circle formation was gone, they were now stretched out in thin lines to traverse the narrowing tunnels. It was a blessing that the height wasn’t changing, allowing Chanters to hover over their heads. If that was lost defending themselves without friendly fire would become. Difficult.

Dailin took deep breaths, the enclosed surroundings making his mind run rapid with thoughts and ideas of ways the Nightmares could attack them, and he caught in the middle of it. With how confined they were in their movements if a Nightmare hammered a new passage into the tunnel the Guards response would be limited. If it happens within the Chanters ranks some would surely be killed. The Guards at least had armor on, not that it did them much good. But many Chanters wore only cloaks or elaborate garbs. Not something that’s going to block a sword long stinger or a beak that crushes stone.

Cries echoed ahead, his limbs surging with new life, the panic sending heat waves through him. He couldn’t see what was happening, as it was hidden behind a bend, but the attack must be fierce as the line had stopped. The Hovers went forward, and Dailin eyed them with envy. ‘To be able to retreat and move over obstacles with ease, how is that not useful?’ Looking at Aethin the man’s eyes were glazed over ‘What did it get in return for that hover plate?’

Sighing he focused on the screams, the echoes ahead grow louder, and the sound of thunder hit him. The Chanters were aiding against Nightmares, and he is stuck twiddling his thumbs wonder when his turn would come. The time he’ll be found out lesser than those around him, the time he may be sent forward to die with the other less worthy people. Truly if they knew he was a newborn it would happen in an instant. He hadn’t seen a single child within the full host of those fleeing their home. He didn’t even see any of the other newborn, it should have been child’s play to spot them if they had been there. Their confused looks or empty-headed stares would have been easy to spot.

He didn’t notice he was shuffling forward again, his woes consuming him, but reality gave him something with enough force to wake him. The smell of death and cooked meat stirred him, he replaced it with flowers and pastries. However, there was nothing he could do about the sensation of stepping in blood and guts. ‘This race needs footwear dammit!’ he didn’t care that their feet didn’t need them, the thought and feeling of such filth on him was almost worse than the Nightmares.

Least they could be dealt with, his feet, however, are going to remain dirty and defiled for who knew how long. He gritted his teeth moving the mana in him down towards his feet, where he focused on a sensation of his feet being clean. He sighed in content when it worked and the feeling took hold of him. But focusing on two things was still too much and the sensation of grime return.

Self-pity and dark thoughts accompanied and distract him, while he and the worried masses twisted and turned in ever increasing deranged tunnels. If Dailin somehow ever got separated from the group he knew it would be a miracle he would find them or the path that led to another Settlement. The sounds of battle echoed constantly more so from the rear. The times where the noise came from the front, Chanters went forward to aid them. Their pace would halt for a short time before the problem would be dealt with. His legs soreness protesting the most during those periods, and he desperately wanted to sit down and rest. However, being trampled under uncaring feet and then being left behind gave him strength enough to continue on.

Even though their quick pace never slowed, making it messy when drinking from a canteen to quench his thirst. The water helped push the pains of hunger away for a short while, and he had to fight his urges not to pour the water out on his feet. He wondered about the insanity and cruelty of this world that a possibly day old child could be treated so. This life he knew would remain firmly remember when he moved on. It stood out too much not to. His time as a child will probably be plagued with the memories of this ordeal. That and the crushing pain of his hand being slowly broken. Even in his dream-like state Aethin still acted on certain impulses, such as the sounds of fighting or screeches. Each time his hand would crush Dailin's harder. It would eventually let up, but his hand still throbbed afterward.

Of all the mentors he could have been partnered with, it had to be the one worthless in a fight. Of course in a world where fights seemed commonplace. ‘How has this man survived this long? He must be someone of import to avoid these troubles up till now.’ It’s possible that Aethin was younger than he expected, he wouldn’t be surprised the way things were here surviving was a constant struggle. Everyone one he had seen looked young, at the time he chopped it up to mana working, making people youthful. But now it could equally be that they were just naturally young. The young don’t have much in the way of morals, not that he was one to talk. But it would hold sense into why they cared so little about sending newborn to die. That or their selfish cold-hearted monsters, like the Nightmares they fight. The Chanters would fit that as they cared little about anything save for themselves. The Commoners and Guards he didn’t know, he’s yet to have an actual conversation with one.

He knew the next place they were going was going to be the same in its treatment of others, maybe worse as he recalled the table conservations. The Chanters offer a stable safe area away from the Nightmares. At a high cost and perhaps betrayal at any moment to save their own skins. On the other hand, the Guards and commoners go wherever they can, safe or not and do the best they can to survive. He had seen how quick they were to help each other, how quick they seek to group up to face a problem.

‘If all else fails I can try mingling with the common folk, a man with magic would always be wanted.’ He felt cold when registering the fact of having to deal with the Nightmares every day for this unpleasant life. How could someone sleep soundly if they didn’t have Wards to protect them? One moment surrounded by safe looking walls, the next a maggot has eaten through it and has moved on to the sleeping victim.

Cries flew along with the battle screeches of a Behemoth, their calls already memorized by his mind. He felt the ground shake under him from an impact further ahead, hidden yet again behind a bend. The Grounder roared but it cut off halfway silenced by the thundering retort of a bolt of ice or air blast. ‘Yes, I feel befriending the Guards would go well if needed.’ The tunnel fell into its oppressive silence as the line started moving. He eventually arrived at the source of conflict a hole had been opened up and reclosed. But the creatures and other bodies were nowhere to be seen. Not that he cared since it was already cramped, dead bodies not being in the way was a plus. Looking at the misshaped and poor remade wall ‘they must have thrown the bodies in before fixing the breach’. A shame as he looked around ‘you think there would be a spell to clean the blood and guts spilled.’ He did his best to avoid stepping on any innards, but blood once more painted his feet. He repressed a shiver, hoping this race didn’t have terrible diseases that traveled through the blood.

As time passed the tunnel opened into another great expansive cavern. an overly lush forest staring back at him. His heart pounded wildly as he looked up trying to make out the ceiling and the death they could be hanging from it. Soft glowing lights hung the entire length of the ceiling, but he knew better now. Anything could be up there hiding amongst the entangled vines looking down on them. Reluctantly he faced forward watching as the Circle formation was reformed, and he felt slightly safer. Least he would see the Nightmares coming now. But it also gave him a good look at the condition of the Guards and Commoners. Many looked rough when he glanced behind at the rear Guard they looked even worse. Their numbers greatly thinned, and Guards reworked their order to fill in the missing men.

They may have been walking for hours now if he held any strong trust in the pain his throbbing legs gave off. He was ready to call it quits, take a breather maybe find something mushroom-like to eat, and all he had done was walk. Most around him had been fighting the entire time, some are leaning against each other. Even with the threat of attack, the guards and commoners didn’t appear lively anymore. Their shoulders slump, back bent, and droopy-eyed. ‘Oh, gods please let us be close to a city.’

“Forward” called out Vernac anger held in his tone. The caravan was already, they should have moved on, but no one wanted to, or more correctly those doing most of the work didn’t want to. Most Chanters hadn’t done anything, they may be sore footed at worst. But in good condition to carry on for however long was required. The rest of the group looked like they had another hour in them before they started losing people to fatigue. ‘Which we were told about, and the Chanters expect to happen. What they want to happen.’

Guards moved their steps slower, the pace down to walk rather than the near jog they had before. Commoner’s rotated each other around giving the more spent of their group a break from pulling along supplies. Chanters traded places with each other over rights to the hover plates. A couple dozen minutes passed in relative silence, the Nightmares were around them but at the moment not engaging. A quick glance had shown Maggots and other creatures pour out the tunnel they had just left. They were also many on the ceiling scurrying around, rushing for the walls. Those at the floor level were bunching up with each other or dashing to hide under thick-leaved plants. It would be easy to kill them all by lighting this forest on fire. Though Dailin was sure they would die as well. Plus there was no telling how far the blaze would spread or if it would ever stop. ‘How has this entire system not burned to the ground yet?’

His default spell on hand was a lightning bolt, now it didn’t seem so bright of an idea. He had assumed others were using air or water as it may be an easier, less costly chant. Now though it’s obviously all about the plant life. Dailin mouth opens then closed as he remembers he couldn’t ask Aethin questions. ‘My mentor looks like those empty-headed newborn.’ None of which he has seen nor the others that had been part of his group. ‘Looks like I’m the only one left.’ He smiled a little, then frowned as it wasn’t the most amazing accomplishment. It would have been downright pathetic on his part if he had died before all the others. He had numerous lives under his belt, lifetimes of common sense and experience, while the newborn was forced, grown children.

Looking around Nightmares were amassing, ready for another assault. ‘Those children are better off, they would have never made this trip, walking for a few minutes was too much of a challenge for them.’

The caravan was slowing almost to a stop before Vernac began bellowing. “Forward, FORWARD” his voice echoing out into the distance. “You all will push through, you will not stop unless told.” Guards and commoners ahead of Dailin began to scream in pain, looking back at Vernac he could see the madman is performing a spell of sorts. He didn’t know what one but it had people withering in agony. The noise had the Nightmares doubling in their activity all of them focused on their group. Everywhere he looked Dailin only saw creatures with fangs bared, eager to sink into his flesh. ‘Isn’t there at least one animal in this world that doesn’t want to eat me?’

The breaking of branches and the rustling of leaves sounded behind them, a mass of Nightmares that had followed the Caravan out of the tunnels came charging forth. To the front and sides, others followed suit, dashing from under their hiding places, screeching their own form of a battle cry. Chanters acted without out need of command.

Plant life withered into dry husks, as masses of water formed around the group of them. The air once humid became dry, and Dailin throat felt parched. Pools worth of water floated over their heads divided into heavy droplets. Then formed into pointed ice daggers firing out in volleys. The charging creatures from every side were speared by thousands of needles, their shells doing nothing to slow the projectiles. Those that didn’t die stumbled over their dead and became easy targets for the next volley.

In a matter of seconds, the waves of income death were reduced to porcupine corpses. During the whole ordeal, the caravan as Vernac had instructed continued moving forward. Nightmares what remained retreated to form back into larger numbers or hid underbrush waiting for an opportunity to kill. The forest returned to its calm silent atmosphere, them and the Nightmares seeming to be the only living creatures. ‘The Nightmares properly ate all the others.’

The cavern was far larger than the last, it may have been an hour with them traveling through it. There were many tunnels leading out, but the one his group is looking for has yet to appear. How they knew which one they were looking for was still a mystery to him. Not that he was paying much attention to notice any marking or engraving that would let him know. No, he was too busy keeping track of the growing number of Nightmares tailing them. It was becoming quite the horde, and that was just from the one he could see. He knew many more were hiding based on the raging sounds of shushing leaves all around them. ‘Maybe we could keep the fire under control? With magic involved, I’m sure there’s a reliable way of keeping the whole forest from going up, probably.’

As he checked their surroundings it became clear they were completely surrounded, the enemy only waiting for the most importuned time. Nightmares were coming out of the walls, tunnels they had passed, even from the ground. All bunched up into large groups watching them and following along.

Chanters weren’t just letting this happen without recourse. When a group got too large or close enough, they would be blasted by a spell or two. Rending all into a red paste, which was then set upon by Nightmares fighting over their own kinds corpses. That had bought them time on numerous occasions, the Nightmares cared more for a free meal than actually coming to kill them. There might even be other things out there to hunt and eat, but at the moment the caravan must look like the easiest target.

Chanters had just sent another two groups through the grinder before the caravan finally aimed for a passage that was larger than most. Their pace which was now pathetically slow compared to when they first started, came to an abrupt halt. As the supplies and carriages were positon single file to fit. The Nightmares took this as the signal to charge all at once. Guards had expected this as the bulk of them had formed a defensive line before supplies began funneling through the tunnel.

Spells were launched in every direction, as the whole forest came alive with movement. Hundreds of the creatures had been hiding as Dailin was focused on the noisy and easy to see. He held his breath as the mass charged with blind hunger. Spells killed many, creating large craters in the Nightmares ranks, but they quickly filled as more of the abomination appeared from tunnels or the ground itself. Dailin looked down as he felt the ground under him vibrating. His eyes widening at the thought of Maggots bursting up from under them.

Other Chanters had the same thought, as all those around sent spells into the soil. It hardened became stone in appearance and feel. The ground stopped moving, they were safe for a time. Long enough for them to die to the many fangs heading their way, as Dailin looked back up. The Horde was about to descend on them, the volleys of spells doing nothing to slow the creatures advance. Before the horde struck the air buzzed, and his ears began to tingle. Spears Guards carried lit up and Dailin eyes could see the very air ripple. The mass of fangs and claws dissolved, washed over many lines of Guards as torrents of liquid fresh. Dailin placed a hand over his mouth as his face went green, swallowing hard to force the contents back down.

He closed his eyes in vain attempt to shut out the scene before him, praying that none of that slush made its way to him. Eventually, the contents of his stomach went down and the unease ebbed away. The throbbing pain from his hand Aethin was crushing helped distract him. His eyes opened when a sudden shift in the air had his ears pop. Water a rivers worth was rushing over their heads, as all the surrounding plant life withered. Ice shards fired off rapidly cutting through Nightmares, as the bulk of the water flowed over the Guards. It crashed down cutting the Guards and Nightmare off from each other. The water shaping into thick ice.

Dailin could hear the scraping of claws on its surface. The ice wall extended, shifting into a dome that covered all the way to the tunnel entrance. He didn’t think it the smartest move at first since he could see Nightmares clawing overhead of them. But as the mass of Nightmares reached a certain volume, Chanters sent spells out contacting the ice dome. It was hard to make out, but it appeared large ice spikes shoot out then retracted in a timed sequence. It was effective and disgusting as the once clear ice turn muddled from the bleed that began to mix with it. Dailin had to swallow and look away, he turned to the tunnel knowing that the battle hadn’t been long but wished the caravan would hurry. He had no interest in Nightmares landing on his head when they eventually broke through.

By the time he and Aethin began moving the dome of ice had become dark, if not for the light stone most carried they would have been standing in a pitch black room. He wondered if the ice was made up of more blood, and other things rather than pure water now. Even when he worked up the never to look above he couldn’t see anything. Chanters still poured mana into the ice though he wasn’t sure if their attacks were doing anything anymore. 

Even though he knew the tunnel they enter didn’t offer any real protection he still breathed a sigh of relief. As they moved no one spoke, not even Vernac, but he would launch a spell at the front when they slowed too much. He couldn’t see it but the cries of agony were enough of a giveaway. He took a few calming breaths and hoped the worst was behind them.

 

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Freethorm

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tyes77 @tyes77 ago

So many mysteries!!!! ty for the chapter