Chapter 9 – Expanding Horizons.
Velvet woke up to a world of hurt. The slash across her front was excruciatingly painful as she tried to sit up, and her body felt like it was on fire. But it was still a million times better than when she had woken previously, when she hadn’t even been able to move. All she had been able to do then was to try and weave what little healing magic she had learned from Cammine, that she was able to manage, Light encouraging her along. A little bit at a time, targetting the worst areas, until she had lost consciousness again. But it seemed to have paid off. There was a lot more to the Demon King’s weapon than met the eye. Sorene had been able to kill a dragon familiar in one hit with it, and when it had sliced through her flesh Velvet had felt the magic of the weapon trying to eat away at her body and her own magic, which had flared up in response and been able to repulse most of the foreign power from her body. But it had already taken it’s toll, and combined with the shock, blood loss, and actual severity of the wound, she had faded well before she had hit the ground.
She weaved her magic, trying to target the fever, which she knew was magical in nature, and weaken it enough so that her body could start fighting it by itself. The flesh from the wound was raw and weepy, but with the basic healing magic that she was continually refreshing, she hoped it would be enough to put her fully on the road to recovery. It was exhausting work, as one’s magic was tied to your physical energy, but Velvet was blessed in that even in the bad state that she was in she was still able to use some measure of her power. It would leave a large scar too, but that was the price of her actions. She just hoped that Myne wouldn’t be too upset with her. It had almost been instinctual, as Ruby was a powerful ally that they really couldn’t afford to lose, especially since it appeared that far too many of the Riders were now sided with Lady Knight Sorene and hence the Demon King. She couldn’t understand why they would want to do so, but what was, was. Ruby was now dragon-less, but Velvet was confident that as Melody had suggested Myne would be able to help them out. She really really missed Myne, and not being with her at the moment hurt just as much as her physical wounds.
The dress was also ruined, and not even a master tailor would be able to repair the damage that the sword and her blood had done to it. It had been a gift from Myne, and she had been over the moon when she had given it to her, and now it was no more, which devastated her. She would greave over it later though, as she had more pressing concerns. First and foremost, followed closely by that she was currently mostly naked, was where was she. Her consciousness had been too fuzzy last time that she hadn’t been able to take anything in, but this time she was sure that she’d be able to take account of her surroundings.
From what she could tell she was in a large stone structure, in which she was sitting near one edge. It was open on the sides, a stone ceiling overhead supported by numerous pillars that were evenly interspaced throughout the building. Scattered through out the floor were the numerous remains of some kind of metal and glass... things, in various conditions. A few still reflected the sunlight of their coloured shiny hulls, while others appeared to be no more than a pile of rust. Most were in between the two extremes, and the whole area looked like it hadn’t been disturbed in a long time. Velvet had no idea how high up she was, the terrain just below the level that she was on completely blanketed in fog, the landscape littered with many more stone structures that poked out of said fog, some towering into the sky, others just jutting out. Like what she had around her, the structures were also in varying states of repair, some looking in pristine condition, while others were nothing more than slowly collapsing piles of rubble. It was like nothing that she had ever seen, but at a guess she would say that once it was a city. The building in which she was located was just high enough that she could make out some forests beyond the edge of the city, but only on one side, as the cityscape itself was blocking her view of any other areas. As far as she could tell she was also alone, the only other sign of life bedsides herself and Light being a flock of small birds that were just starting to return to look at her with curiosity. They were unfamiliar to her, small, brown, and dowdy. She couldn’t hear any other signs of civilization, but if there were any people in the fog then it would also muffle their sounds.
‘Where are we?’ she asked of Light as her dragon familiar sat beside her in her chibi form.
‘I don’t know,’ replied Light. ‘Everything is foreign to me as well. Where ever we are, we do seem to be near the top of this building. There is only one layer above us.’
‘Where is Ashling?’ She couldn’t see him anywhere, and while she instinctively knew that he was still in existence, she couldn’t sense him at all. While she didn’t know what her range with her familiars was like, she did know that it was quite significant, so they must be quite a fair distance away from him.
‘Hopefully still with Myne at the Academia de Magica.’ Light said. ‘We were swallowed by your light shortly after landing there.’
That had its advantages. If Ashling was still with Myne, then when they got within communication range she’d be able to talk with Myne by proxy, and it would also let Myne know that they were still alive. But why had her magic swallowed them and brought her here, and left Ashling behind? She didn’t recall anything of the battle after she had formed the giant magical shield and commanded Light to get everyone out of there. But if they had made it back to the Academia de Magica then everyone must be safe, and there was no way that Sorene would be able to find them there. She’d also be missing part of an arm now, which she so rightly deserved. Hopefully none of the Demon Kings minions had any abilities that would allow its reattachment.
‘Ruby survived right? She asked of her familiar, wanting to make sure.
‘That she did. I carried her back to the ruins, along with yourself and Myne,’ said Light.
Velvet tried to move around to get a better view of the area, but it proved to be more than she was capable of at the moment, a strong sharp pain resounding through her body, causing her to collapse on the floor of the building again. At least it wasn’t cold she thought to herself as she stared at the ceiling above her. She was hungry though. Food would certainly aid her recovery as well, but that was likely a dream at this stage. She sighed, watching the small birds flying around. It wasn’t long before she had faded from consciousness again.
Her slumber was restless, scenes from the battle playing through her mind as her magic continued to heal her body, fighting against the poisonous decay wrought by the Demon Kings weapon. Somewhere in the background to it all she could just make out some voices seeping in through her dreams.
“Hey, look. You were right, There is someone here.” The voice sounded young and energetic.
“Of course I was. That kind of entrance is unmistakable for one attuned correctly.” The other voice, that of a woman Velvet thought, carried a certainty and maturity with it.
“It’s a girl. She’s beautiful!” the young voice exclaimed in awe. “She’s really badly wounded though.”
“And naked, so stop staring at her.”
“She has a dress,” the young voice said defensively. “Sort of.”
“Not much of one any more. Don’t kid yourself. You’re perving,” the woman accused. “Here, put this over her,” she then instructed.
There was a brief pause.
“How did she get here though, especially in that state?” The young one resumed the conversation again
“That would be a good question,” the woman replied. “We shall have to ask her that one, once she wakens. There is more to her than there appears to be. At the least that wound should have killed her.”
“Do you think she’ll like me?” The young one sounded hopeful.
“Not a chance.” The woman was very blunt.
“Well, you never know.”
“She’s above your class Clocky,” the woman stated. “And her pet will likely tear you limb from limb if you have any dirty thoughts,” she added.
“That thing? It’s kinda cute.”
“You really can’t tell, can you.”
“Huh?” There was obviously a lot that the young one didn’t know.
The woman sighed. “You have a lot to learn. It’s not a creature changed by magic, it’s a creature of magic. Pick her up, we’re heading back. And watch where you put your hands.”
The voices disappeared after that, her dreams fading too.
Velvet woke to find that she was not where she was previously, the voices obviously not a dream. She was now lying in a soft bed in an unfamiliar room, sunlight filtering in through the large window on the opposite side of the room, where Light was currently perched. Her wound had been treated, the strong smell of the salve, that had been applied underneath the bandages that had been tightly bound around her chest, assaulting her nostrils. While the wound still hurt like hell the edge had been taken off it, and since there was no one in the room with her at the moment, Velvet went about weaving her healing magic again, and since she felt up to it, she also tried little modifications here and there to try and boost its effectiveness. The effort was still draining though, and she relaxed back into the bed once she was done. She was definitely glad that her magic was powerful enough that she didn’t have to worry about drawing out ritualistic circles in order to perform the magic that she was currently using, and she was glad for what Cammine had taught her.
‘Where are we now?’ Velvet asked of her familiar.
‘In a room on the top level of one of the massive structures near the edge of the city. It appears to be where those two currently make their home.’ Light flew over to the bed. ‘They’ve changed the dressing three times already. The salve does seem to be helping to draw out the magical poison of the Demon Kings blade. However the lady is weird. I’ve seen her use magic, but I can’t sense any magic in either of them.’
‘Odd.’ That was unusual. ‘Any idea of who they are then? Or where this city is located?’
‘No clue. They didn’t say much on the journey back, and their banter has been very generic. The boy seems quite enamoured with you, much to the lady’s disapproval.’ Light had an amused grin on her face. ‘They don’t seem at all surprised by having found you though or even by my existence, and this place does remind me of what we have seen of the old world.’
‘That it does,’ Velvet agreed, though admittedly she hadn't seen a whole lot of it. ‘How long have we been here?’ she wondered.
‘You’ve slept for a full day since they brought you here,’ Light informed her.
‘How long has it been since we came to the city then?’
‘Just two days.’
‘And you haven’t you seen any other people beside those two?’
‘None. Mind you, the mist is very thick down there at the moment, and it’s hard to see anything unless you know where you are going. It rolled in yesterday morning. They were using some kind of tool for navigation,’ Light replied.
‘Like Myne’s seeking magic?’
‘Something like that I’d guess. More akin to what was in the Lyrissa’s chamber though.’
‘So old world “technology” then?’ Velvet wondered.
‘That’d be my guess,’ Light confirmed. “By the way, we were twelve levels up in that building. It was quite a walk down, and the boy grumbled whenever he wasn’t staring at you. Getting up here was easy though, as they have used moving room that took us all the way up. The lady fed some magic into it to get it to work.’
Velvet chuckled in amusement at the tales of the boys antics. She was rather curious about the lady and her use of magic though.