Amy watched, eyes filled with amusement, as the bandits rushed her.
The bandits’ faces flushed red with anger and brandished their shortswords as they ran to cross the distance. They left a trail behind them as frost fell off their icy bodies. Amy considered her options: should she continue to play around with them and stall for time, or should she whittle down their numbers?
They were almost within range. Let’s kill one of them, then. She sent a thick cloud of conjured mist towards them and charged up her staff with mana. Amy stepped back slowly, watching the mist for movement. Within seconds, she saw three black silhouettes materialize within the cloud, and let loose her spell.
Her hair stood on end while she pointed her staff at one of the bandits. Electricity raced up the length of the staff and arced to the target, sending him spasming to the ground. The putrid smell of his charred flesh drifted through the air.
[Warrior (32) - Defeated!]
There was no reprieve because moments after her spell hit, the other two bandits exited the mist and charged towards her. “John! Need some help here, pretty please.” She scrambled back and prepared another charge.
“On it.” John ran past her to engage the bandits. Despite his best efforts, one of the bandits sidestepped him and locked his attention onto Amy, hatred in his eyes. John moved to stop him, but the bandit closest to John landed a slash across his arm. The draconian cried out in pain, forced to focus on his fight.
Amy frantically pointed her staff at the bandit closing in on her. Unable to use her signature explosive spells for fear of hitting John, she let loose another chain of lightning and watched it arc past the bandit.
Shit. She cursed her tense and inaccurate aim; she had panicked. The bandit was upon her with a maniacal grin on his face and his sword descended through the air. Time seemed to slow to a crawl, her staff inched its way forward in a desperate attempt to stop the deadly slash that would end her life. Suddenly, her vision filled with a shadowy black cloak and the sound of metal on metal rang out as sparks flew from an expert parry. Lilly!
Lilly approached the end of the fire, mostly recovered from being blasted halfway to kingdom come. It had taken her longer than she would’ve liked to admit, having tripped over her own feet a few times on the way.
She passed the field of scorching earth, the heat roasting her right side. Lilly drew one of her shortswords and prepared herself for battle. When she scanned the battlefield, her eyes fell on the bandit rapidly approaching Amy, and her imminent, impending doom.
Now or never. Clearing her head and focusing on the location in front of Amy, Lilly activated [Afterimage]. This time, she successfully teleported where she had aimed. She raised her blade to parry the bandit warrior’s strike. Lilly had to brace her sword with her off-hand to deflect the warrior’s heavy blow, his strength almost overwhelming her defense.
She tackled the bandit, tumbling with him a few meters away from Amy. She quickly untangled herself before he could engage her in a grapple and made space. Spitting out the dirt from her mouth, she readied her sword as the warrior thrust his blade towards her torso.
“Lilly! Back up!” Lilly heard Amy call out from behind her. She blinked away from the man in front of her and watched as the bandit ripped through her afterimage in a flurry of attacks that seemed to triplicate his sword.
Lilly felt her hair stand up and glanced back. Seeing Amy raising an electrically charged staff to the sky, she drove out of the line of fire. Lightning discharged into the sky, coming down to strike their opponent as if the gods themselves smote the scoundrel.
[Warrior (34) - Defeated!]
Lilly looked over to see John had blood soaking the left side of his body from a slash on his arm. He struggled to finish off the bandit he was occupied with, so she blinked over and appeared behind the other bandit. She had intended to slash at the man’s leg to create an opening for John, but it felt as if the bandit had eyes on the back of his head. He immediately lashed out with his leg, sending a powerful kick into her torso that sent her rolling down the hill.
That moment was all John needed. He swung his war axe in a wide horizontal arc, light seeming to trail behind the head. The bandit raised his blade to parry, but the axe cut right through his sword like butter, wrapped in a thin sheen of mana. John’s strike took the bandit’s arm and seconds later, John ended the bandit’s life.
“John!” She rushed over to the bleeding draconian, propped him up on her shoulder, and brought him away from the battle. Pulling out bandages and a towel from her inventory without regard for secrecy, Lilly packed the gash with bandages, overlaid the towel, and wrapped the whole thing tight; hopefully, it would last until a healer could tend to him. She tried to get John to drink another healing potion, but he pushed it away.
“I already drank one earlier and its regenerative properties are still in effect. The potions diminish in potency when you drink more so it’s best if you save that for later.”
She nodded and put away the potion, pulled out some water and gave it to John to drink. Afterwards, Lilly packed it away and laid him down on the ground.
“Thanks.” John was a draconian, but despite that, Lilly thought he looked a little pale compared to normal. “You alright there Lilly? You got blown away pretty damn far.”
“Worry about yourself,” she reprimanded the man. “But to answer your question, I got my head shaken quite a bit, but thank the Lord for health potions.”
John looked at her with questioning eyes. “The lord?”
Oh shit, good job Lilly. She thought, annoyed with herself for the slip-up. “Just a saying from where I’m from,” she said and waved her hand dismissively.
In her peripheral vision, she saw Amy walk up. “Hey, shouldn’t we like, help out the others?” She pointed behind Lilly.
Lilly turned around and saw the main adventurer party of four had managed to take down one of the remaining three bandits, but were heavily injured. “Yeah, you’re right.” She got up and ran towards the group. She heard Amy following close behind, and prepared to blink into the fray.
However, before they could get close, the leader-esque bandit saw their approach, and called a retreat. In that same moment, three more bandits called a warning from the wagons nearest the bridge; more adventurers were coming.
The bandits abandoned the fight and fled over the back over the hill from whence they came. The adventurers were left barely standing, so it was probably for the best that the fighting stopped now, before the casualty count increased. Lilly looked back towards John to find that Eli had joined him, and beyond a few scorch marks, Eli seemed fine.
After she confirmed that John was in safe hands with Eli, she regrouped with the other adventurers and tended to their wounds. Their berserker and warrior were bleeding heavily from cuts all over their forearms and backs, with their bard coming in at a very close third. The ranger was the least injured, but she was out of arrows, lying against a wagon drenched in sweat.
Lilly treated them carefully, asking Amy to supply water magic so that Lilly could wash their wounds before drying them off and bandaging the most severe. The thick, iron smell of blood wafted through the air. She helped them to the wagons and told them to rest a little bit, getting some appreciative nods. The bard would’ve helped with the healing, but he was completely drained of mana from buffing and healing during the fight. It was a miracle he was evenl conscious.
Lilly stood and took stock of the situation. The bandits were nowhere to be seen. The fireball that initiated the fight had overturned and immolated the last wagon, and set the second to last wagon ablaze. Merchants and teamsters scrambled to douse the flames with water. Lilly was about to ask Amy to douse the wagon, when a large spray of water hit the flaming remains, a loud HISS emitting from the contact. She turned around and saw the other two adventurer parties arriving on the scene, one of which was dousing the fires with their magic.
The parties went to scout where the enemies went and to secure the perimeter, while the merchants split up to check over the cargo and assess damages. The healer assessed everyones’ injuries, making their rounds, closing the most serious of wounds, and ensuring none of us had concussions or internal bleeding.
“I’m fine, thanks.” Lilly declined the help when the healer approached her. Aside from feeling extremely sore after the initial adrenaline rush went away, she didn’t feel any life threatening injuries had occurred that the healing potion didn’t take care of. She pointed to John instead. “Please go help my friend, he nearly bled out earlier.”
The healer nodded and went over to John, tending to his freshly soaked bandages. The rest of the adventurers returned and it seemed that the caravan was in the clear for now.
Hi! My name is Nyx, and I am an up-and-coming writer for Royal Road. At this moment, I am writing the WN Azalea, about a young adult named Lilly and her journeys through the world of, you guessed it, Azalea.
I appreciate any and all support on this completely surreal journey!