When you spend your entire life learning to kill something, then killing that thing, it's awfully hard to turn around and refuse those instincts, Morrelia reflected.
Thinking back to her childhood, the long days spent drilling skills with her brother in the practice court whilst Mother watched, laughing at their exuberance. When her father was home he would take them the Legionary fort in Liria and they would practice with the trainees. Even from a young age the two children had been a match for those twice as old. She could remember once defeated an eighteen year old sword apprentice when she was only ten, not yet grown into her class.
Her father had smiled broadly and ordered the trainee to double his practice time before lifting his daughter in one massive arm and kissing her on the cheek. She'd been so proud.
Her brother had shone even brighter, his skills rose so quickly as he trained with such ferocious intensity that he'd been accepted to the Legion two years early, and immediately became the strongest trainee the moment he walked in the door.
When he died it was like the light went out of their family.
Father withdrew, mother left and when the time came Morrelia refused to enlist in the Legion, instead she soldiered around, fighting was the only thing she knew how to do and she was damn good at it. Eventually she settled on her current work, offering her services to villages and small towns on the border to deal with monster infestations. The pay was terrible and the experience was worse, with her skills she could have been a royal guard, but it wasn't so bad, she felt useful.
When she found a Dungeon entrance out here in the wilds, things had become better. She would sneak out here and delve, on her own at first and then later with her team. The experience had been much better, not to mention the money, it allowed her to take poorer paying jobs helping the more remote villages on the edge of the wilderness and not go hungry.
Now here they were. While she was out fighting, the entire kingdom had burnt to the ground. Father was who knows where in the Dungeon and she was stuck here in a refugee camp that worshipped monsters.
Sitting in her tent, Morrelia sighed and rubbed her temples. By the System she was tired. The berserker rage always took a lot out of her but this was more than just that. The city of Liria had been her home, she knew so many people there. Her classmates, the guards who taught her gambling skills behind her parent's back, the Legion members she spent so much time around. All of it gone, flattened by Monsters.
It just didn't seem possible.
Refusing to sit and dwell on it anymore, Morrelia forced herself to her feet and walked out of her tent., pushing the flap aside with one calloused hand. Even if she was only twenty three years old, it had been a long time since she'd been home. She'd been out selling her sword since she was fifteen. The city was gone, the people were here and she'd be damned if she wouldn't do what she could to help them.
Dianne had set up their camp just outside the village proper. The refugees were busy erecting buildings almost full time but it was never enough, more and more families arrived and they needed the shelter far more than her team did. They had their tents and bedrolls, they'd be fine.
Despite the vicious battle only hours before there was a decided buzz about the place. People rushed about, building, cleaning, distributing supplies and caring for the wounded. Morrelia's feet took her to the large open area those who were injured in the battle were being tended.
As she approached she could see dozens of men and women, on their backs, lying on simple wooden beams placed together to make a raised resting place. Morrelia grimaced, there was nothing here that could be called a bed, not even close.
To her shock there had been fewer casualties than she had expected. Once the berserker rage had fallen from her eyes and she realised the villagers had come out to fight, her first instinct had been that she might have killed some of them. Thankfully not. They'd fought well, the priest in the vanguard, chanting and swinging a hammer one handed.
He was here now, by some miracle still standing, moving amongst the wounded, talking to them.
She approached him.
As she walked closer he caught sight of her and smiled.
"Miss Morrelia. I had no idea you possessed the Berserker class. Quite a rare thing indeed."
She paused, not expecting him to comment on it. Then she shrugged.
"I've always had a temper, it just unlocked one day."
The light in the priests' eyes shifted and she knew he was aware of the lie but he let it pass. Instead, he walked closer, drawing her attention once more back to the thing she had been trying to avoid thinking about.
"Now you have seen our saviour, the Great Ant, in battle. He is powerful, is he not? Even acting out to prevent the deaths of humans. I wonder how you will resolve that fact with your narrow view of monsters, Ms Morrelia?"
Her immediate reaction was to sneer.
"Don't call me Miss."
Eyes bright, Beyn nodded, waiting patiently for her to answer his questions.
"It's a tough little bugger and no mistake", Beyn coughed at her disrespectful language but she continued, "the magic it uses is weird, but effective. To be honest, those pets of his…"
They might be even stronger than the ant was, which was ridiculous. The gigantic ape bat was clearly evolved from a lightning fist ape but it was a variety that she had never seen. It's powerful electrical attacks and immense strength were frightening.
And the tentacle creature. Morrelia shuddered. Seeing that thing, cutting, tearing and stuffing monsters into its seemingly bottomless mouth had been a disturbing sight to say the least. How the ant had managed to defeat such a strange variety of shadow beast she had no idea.
There was no doubt in her mind that if it wanted them too, those two pets would flatten the village and destroy everyone in it without the creature having to lift a finger. Not that it had fingers…
Thankfully it appeared to be one of a kind. If the rest of the colony were to be as powerful as that one ant… It boggled the mind.
Eventually she just laughed.
"I just don't understand it" she finally admitted to the priest. "I've never heard of a monster that would act to protect humans. I don't know how, I don't know why. If I hadn't witnessed it for myself I would never have believed it."
Beyn nodded eagerly, his youthful face alight with energy despite the dirt and grime all over him. It was easy to forget that his man was no older than she was.
"Yes. Yes! This is something knew, something different. The System has brought forth a miracle in order to save …"
Morrelia raised a hand to stall his gathering momentum.
"Whoa there, buddy. I don't need the whole sermon. I still don't trust it, but I'm willing to give it a chance. I don't have anything to do except stay here and help the refugees anyway, so my team and I will stick around."
"In that case, you might want to find Enid, she's sure to have a use for you."
Morrelia found the white haired old woman in the thick of the action, as always. Her thin hair was tied up in a tight bun and a small knot of people followed her wherever she went, taking directions and asking questions as Enid continuously spoke in her soft, no nonsense tone.
It turned out Enid most wanted Morrelia and her group to help with training the villagers. Apparently the farmers, with their ridiculous pools of stamina (the only thing the class was good for) could handle the work, but the people needed to be able to defend themselves.
Which is how she found herself not half an hour later with a small group of able bodied students aged from ten to forty, going over basic spear and sword forms.
Training people to fight who worshipped a monster. What on earth would her father think?
Morrelia chuckled to herself. The commander would throw a pink fit, but Titus wasn't here right now and these people needed help. So she would help them.