Beneath the Dragoneye Moons

by

Selkie

Chapter 64 – Adventures on the way to Perinthus II

Advertisement
Remove
Settings

A note from Selkie

I'm going to leave these here for no good reason. *whistles*

It took a few weeks, but we made it to the town of Genua without further noticeable incident, and had a nice week off, doing not much. It was a welcome relief from the road, the petty disputes we resolved, the random attacks, the urgent calls in the night. We left Genua, and headed to Salona, the next town on our route.

There was one of those lovely days in late winter when spring was pretending it had arrived, but it wasn’t quite around yet. No matter how I sliced it, it was a wonderful day, a blessed break from the nearly never-ending drizzle turning the ground to mud that was winter in Remus. A break, a change from when I’d left Aquiliea all that time ago in the late summer. Close to five, six months ago. An entire lifetime ago. I was part of the team now, a Ranger. The sky was clear and blue, the sun high and warm. We were a few days out from Salona, having lunch, when trouble struck.

Origen and Arthur were out hunting, while Maximus and Julius were having a light spar. Artemis and I were chowing down as hard as we could – constantly practicing magic did that to your appetite, and it helped level [Fuel for the Fire]. Weird skill. I wasn’t complaining. Kallisto was hanging out, alternating between joining in on our conversation, and yelling commentary at Julius and Maximus.

“Just hit him!” He yelled unhelpfully at Maximus.

“What do you think I’m trying to do!?” Maximus yelled back in frustration.

Julius paused a few steps away, chuckling.

“See, this is why being fast’s the best. You’re higher level than me, but if you can’t touch me, it’s useless!”

Artemis glanced over.

“Elaine could hurt you more than Maximus could, and she’s half your level. And the class that’d be hurting you is like, level 30, compared to both of your 200+ classes.” She pointed out. “On the other hand, Maximus would barely notice. You know it’s all a trade-off.”

A huge shadow fell over us, and like everyone in the Republic of Remus, young to old, male and female, rural hunters to city-dwellers, we reflexively looked up to the sky.

[Vigilant] went nuts.

There they were. The terror of the skies. The reason for the fear, sharpened so long it had turned to instinct, the doom of travelers, the reason the wagon was encased in metal.

A flock of Ornithocheirus. Flying dinosaurs, nothing terribly special by itself – heck, I might be able to fight one, if I was given full armor, weapons, prep time, excess Arcanite to keep casting fire spells, and an enclosed arena to stop it dive-bombing me constantly – but they travelled in massive flocks, hundreds to thousands strong.

And. They. Were. Hungry.

Their standard tactic was to dive-bomb prey, hitting fast and hard. Hit hard enough, and it was lethal. They’d then start chowing down, ripping and tearing flesh.

You could only pray their dive bomb was lethal, and not crippling.

They were the reason everything was built out of stone. They were the reason hastily constructed shanty towns didn’t exist outside of the town walls. They were part of the reason why it was so hard to expand, to build a new town.

The standard tactic was to duck and cover, to hide inside a building. Occasionally, if an attack got bad, or enough things worked out, a massive effort with spears could drive them off a town. They’d learned that, for the most part, towns were poor pickings. Lots of spears, food was usually in stone.

There was still enough dino-food in a town to tempt them to attack now and then.

We moved as fast as we could. We didn’t bother trying to grab our supplies, pick up a spare sparring shield, nothing. It was directly to the Argo with us, neatly falling into a line as most of us aimed for the back of the Argo, which was the entrance currently facing us.

Our horses were insanely, ridiculously well-trained. Charging into a fight with a Nothosaurus. Patiently standing still when attacked by goblins. Following the inexperienced commands of a 14-year-old girl.

14 and a half! And change!

Anyways. With all that experience, with how obedient they were, it came as a bit of a surprise to me when I heard them whinny, and take off at full speed, loose items coming out of the back door of the wagon.

Our safety was bailing as fast as they could, not that I blamed them.

Julius stepped on the speed, flitting around to the front of the wagon. I’m not quite sure what he did there, what arcane levers were pulled and which straps cut, but suddenly the horses were free of the Argo, running with sharp neighs of terror.

They had a snowflake’s chance in hell being able to escape in their harness. They didn’t even have that chance while attached to the Argo.

The Argo continued rolling down, the momentum combined with the slight slant we were on giving it wind, having it pick up speed. I couldn’t see what Julius did, but he managed to get it to stop, safety once more staying still.

I was the slowpoke. I had [Running], I had 50 speed, but I was still the slowest member of the team, and in the back, falling further and further behind. The Ornithocheirus screamed, and I glanced up to see some of them split from the flock, preparing to dive-bomb us.

Preparing to dive-bomb me.

Maximus made it to the Argo first, promptly vanishing through the doorway, making sure he was clear of the entrance, so we could run in unobstructed. I saw a flash of Julius moving off to the side, as Kallisto and Artemis made it into the wagon.

50 feet. 40 feet. [Vigilant] went berserk. I threw up a [Veil of the Aurora] like a ceiling, only to stumble as it almost immediately broke, taking hundreds of points of my mana with it. A single physical blow, so powerful it overloaded my Magic Power. I still had mana, but the monster had overloaded what the shield could tank in a single hit – a heavy monster dive-bombing from such a height, it was no surprise.

And it was only one dinosaur. The only reason it hadn’t managed to land right on me, was [Veil] had hidden me, had helped foul its shot.

I was alive. But there was an angry, hungry dinosaur staring me in the face, eyeing up its next meal.

I reflexively used [Identify], having never been so close to one, never been this face-to-face with one.

If I ever had been, I’d have been turned into dino-chow already.

[Ornithocheirus].

Surprisingly low level. Strength in numbers and all that. I had no time to try and analyze though, as it darted its beak towards me, jaws open.

I dropped and rolled, throwing up another shield between me and it, thanking all the gods out there for [Center of the Galaxy]. I’d never be able to dodge without it, would be in two pieces, with one of them going into the belly of the beast.

Julius showed up with the wind at his heels, scooping me up, throwing me over a shoulder, running me over to the Argo. I was bouncing over his shoulder, looking back and up, seeing a few more flying terrors break off, start circling. One decided that yes, we looked tasty enough, and dove down towards us.

I stared death in the eye, unflinching, and abruptly the sky turned to metal as we entered the Argo at full speed, not slowing down in the slightest.

With a bang, a thud, and a clatter, along with the highly unpleasant sound of bones breaking, Julius and I came to a halt against the other end of the Argo, the closed and locked door on the other side trembling as we hit it at nearly full speed.

My legs felt cracked, if not broken, and a scream from Julius told me he wasn’t uninjured either. Artemis threw the door shut, but didn’t bolt it.

“Origen.” Julius gasped out.

Maximus slowly shook his head.

“Haven’t seen him. Maybe Arthur’s hiding him?” He suggested.

I hit Julius with [Vastness] – our fearless leader might as well have a clear head – as I spent a moment evaluating Julius’s injuries.

There was blood all over his face, but that seemed to be from a broken nose more than anything. His arms were in poor shape.

Fine. Good enough to heal him – knowing what I needed to fix, and how they should be fixed, did wonders for my healing efficiency. It would take an absurd multiplier if I just focused on ‘healing’, versus focusing on what injuries I was fixing where, and how they were being fixed. I touched him, focusing on restoring him, on his arms becoming whole and healthy like the full moon.

Julius shook his head as his arms and face were reformed. I eyed my work. One day I’d figure out cleaning blood off at the same time.

“Elaine, Artemis. You’re both clear to draw mana from the Argo. Keep it over 40% reserves – that’s how much we usually need to fuel the enchantments against one of these attacks.”

I saluted my understanding. Artemis probably already knew all of this; it was for my benefit he was reminding me.

I looked at Artemis. Maybe it was also for her benefit, I mentally amended.

“Time to focus.” Julius called us to order. “Origen and Arthur are still out there. Arthur I’m not worried about, it’s Origen I’m concerned about. Plans?”

Maximus immediately spoke up.

“Artemis makes a stone tunnel to help Origen make it. Elaine supports with snap-shields as needed.”

“Fine. We’re doing that. Kallisto, back door. I’ll handle the front. Elaine, Artemis, top up your mana now.”

I put my hand on the walls of the Argo, drawing from the attuned Arcanite that was embedded into the walls. On the other side, Artemis was doing the same. I hadn’t even seen her cast any spells!

“Better idea.” Kallisto yelled. “Julius, grab Artemis and sprint to Origen. Artemis raises a hut, camp out in it.”

Julius spent a fraction of a second thinking about it.

“New plan. Kallisto’s plan. Artemis, grab as much Arcanite as you can. Elaine, you’re on shields here, back up Kallisto. Remember – 40%.”

“He’s here.” Kallisto yelled from the back. Artemis and I moved there, as Kallisto slid over to the side. I noticed with a start that he had gotten all of his armor on already, and his spear and shield were leaning up against the rear wall, ready for action.

Julius picked Artemis up in a piggyback as I fumbled my earring off.

Fuck it, I had no time.

I moved to rip my earring off, pausing as [Oath] screamed bloody murder about self-mutilation like that.

Gods damnit Oath. I’m trying here.

I shoved the one earring I’d taken off – the left one – into Artemis’s hand, right as Julius shot off.

I hear Maximus closing and bolting the door behind me properly, as I laid down on my stomach to get a better view of what was going on. Otherwise, I’d be trying to look through Kallisto, as he held a guard’s stance at the door.

Origen had seen us, and gave a warrior’s salute, hand over heart, half-bowed towards us. The only thing I could think of was:

Ave Imperator, morituri te salutant.

Hail, Emperor, those who are about to die salute you.

He looked – he felt – just like a gladiator who was in the arena, ready to pitch his life against the endless hordes of monsters. The only question was, how many monsters would he bring down with him? The ending wasn’t in doubt.

Origen had no weapon. He’d abandoned it, or left it with Arthur, when the Ornithocheirus had shown up. He started to charge towards us, leaping forward to avoid a dive-bombing dinosaur, rolling to the side as another one snapped at him. Even from as far as I was, I could see glowing lines from the inscription all over him, his own personal style of fighting coming to bear as he burned his mana to boost his stats.

Dodging one, dodging two or three was easy. But they kept coming, a dozen more peeling away from the flock above, trying their chance at some fresh man meat. Julius was running, sprinting as fast as he could with Artemis on his back, the occasional flickering bolt scorching the dinosaurs, keeping them at bay.

I frowned. Artemis had more than enough juice to blast them out of the sky – why wasn’t she?

Questions for later.

“We should close the door.” Maximus said, eyes glued to the scene just outside. “They’ll attack us next, and they’ll know we’re here once we close up. It makes it harder for us.”

“Agreed.” Kallisto said, not moving an inch.

“Yeah, we should.” I said from my position on the ground, continuing to watch.

“There’s no way we do that before we see what happens is there?” Maximus asked rhetorically.

“Nope.” Kallisto and I chimed in together.

We watched with bated breath as more and more Ornithocheirus came down, flocking around Origen.

He leapt over one snapping beak, then bent over backwards to dodge a wing swiped at him. He used that momentum to do a backwards hand-stand, narrowly avoiding a dinosaur trying to land on him.

But there were too many of them. A kick from one of the dinos got his arm, and he went down. A beak went down, a scream came over the cries of the dinos, making it to us, as Artemis and Julius arrived.

I couldn’t hear Artemis speak, not from so far away, but a massive eruption of lightning from their area, and a dozen of the dinosaurs falling, twitching and burning, cleared the area for us to see Origen, streaked with blood. Earthen walls started to rise around them, and -

I felt myself being dragged away from the door, crying in protest. Kallisto closed the door as soon as Maximus finished dragging me away from the entrance, bolting it shut.

I was never a patient person. Waiting in the Argo, hearing the thuds and thumps of the dinosaurs outside, the whole wagon shaking as they butted against it, trying to crack us open like a mussel to get to that sweet, tasty human meat inside.

I put on all of my armor, helmet, shield and all. The enchantments should hold, the inscriptions fresh, the wagon full up on mana. If they didn’t, if by some freak accident they broke in, I was not going to go gently down their throat.

“Why is nobody worried about Arthur?” I asked, only just realizing the obvious question.

“He grew up basically in the wilderness. We suspect – he won’t say – that most of his skills came from needing to survive attacks like this, and worse, regularly. This sort of attack? This is easy for him.” Kallisto said.

Hun. Interesting. I’d never thought of Arthur’s background before, but it made sense.

“Elaine, please stop pacing, you’re driving me insane.” Maximus ordered tensely. “If you need something to do, check your level-ups.”

Ugh. Fine.

[*Ding!* Your Party has slain a [Ornithocheirus] (Air, lv 185)]

13 repeats later…

[*Ding!* Your Party has slain a [Ornithocheirus] (Air, lv 188)]

 

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Constellation of the Healer] has leveled up to level 133! +10 Free Stats, +15 Mana, +15 Mana Regen, +15 Magic power, +15 Magic Control from your Class! +1 Free Stat for being Human! +1 Mana, +1 Mana Regen from your Element!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Celestial Affinity] has reached level 133!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Warmth of the Sun] has reached level 111!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Medicine] has reached level 116!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Center of the Galaxy] has reached level 109!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Phases of the Moon] has reached level 81!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Veil of the Aurora] has reached level 76!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Vastness of the Stars] has reached level 75!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Identify] has reached level 76!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Vigilant] has reached level 111!]

[*Ding!* Congratulations! [Running] has reached level 75!]

Yay. Levels. What about Origen?

I didn’t even care that I was being a grump, I needed Origen to be alive. I continued pacing, occasionally throwing my hands out for balance when the Argo took a particularly bad hit.

“This is a pretty light attack.” Kallisto remarked.

“Idiot.” Maximus threw a look of disdain at Kallisto. “It’s because Artemis fried a dozen of them. They hate being attacked, but more than that, it means a ton of fresh food for them to eat, and it probably brought down half the flock on their head. We’ll be lucky if they’re alive. Blasted cannibal birds.”

I paled at that. I hadn’t realized. Town attacks were always all-flock events, and I hadn’t quite put two and two together on only part of the flock attacking, and them getting pissed. Also, free food.

“We need to-“ I started heading towards the door, only for Maximus to trip me with a foot.

“Stay put. If you go out there and turn into their lunch, there’s nobody to heal Origen. Artemis is a survivor. Wait. That’s an order from the current commander.

The chain of command was Julius>Artemis>Maximus>Kallisto>Origen>Arthur. I didn’t yet rate. Plus, if everyone else was gone, I was alone, and in command by default. I’d gotten pulled aside quietly by Julius one night, who told me that if that happened by some fluke, to make my way to Ranger HQ by boat, and go from there.

Blah. I got up, and continued to pace around.

The cries of the Ornithocheirus started to fade, and thumps became less frequent.

“Should we check now?” I asked.

“No. Wait.”

I waited another minute.

“How about now?”

“No.”

…..

“How-“

“I will say when we check. Not before. Wait.”

After an indeterminate amount of time passed, Maximus carefully unbolted the door, cracking the door open a hair. Kallisto was ready in a defensive stance, prepared to bash in any dinosaur poking their long snout in. I was ready to throw up [Veil], which would be much more useful when there weren’t hundreds of feet of momentum behind them. My heart was pounding so loudly I could hear it in my ears.

Nothing. All clear.

“Elaine. Stay.” Maximus ordered. “Kallisto, cover Elaine. Our healer goes down here, and we’re losing at least one person.”

I wanted to scream in frustration. Artemis was out there! She could be hurt! She needed me! What if it was too late by the time I got there, what if I found her, life slipping away?

Kallisto shifted his stance slightly, seemingly reading my mind.

“You won’t always get orders you like.” He said. “But you need to follow them. It’s for all of our good.”

I wanted to scream. Instead I waited for the all-clear signal from Maximus. I got it, and Kallisto got out of my way as I shot out, towards the mound that Artemis had made.

The mound, a bright red from blood, painted all over it. The mound, with dozens of dino-prints in it, holes where the Ornithocheirus had stabbed through.

The mound, that was the potential grave of three of my closest friends.

I started to tear up. I couldn’t lose them. I couldn’t lose my friends again. Not like this. I started to claw at the earth, losing vision as my eyes blurred.

I barely saw Maximus doing something out of the corner of my eye. Was he – was he rolling his eyes at me? The jerk! They were his teammates as well! Why –

The mound rumbled, as a small hole was created.

“Awkwardly,” Artemis said from inside, as my heart leapt in my chest in joy. “I seem to have used all my mana getting us safe, and I can’t actually dig us out.”

I started to cry-laugh in joy, as I fumbled at my other ear, my second earring. It took me four tries, but I got it off, passing it to Artemis.

“Thanks healy-bug.”

“How’s Origen?” I called in.

“Eh, without a healer, he would have a bad time. As it is, he’ll be fine.” Artemis said.

A slightly exasperated sound came from Julius.

“Elaine, we do know first aid, and how to treat most injuries you know. How do you think the average Ranger squad does it? How do you think we did until now?” He said from inside the mound, voice echoing oddly.

The mound came down, and I rushed inside, touching Origen, healing him up. It would’ve been extremely nasty for him, normally requiring treatment at Ranger HQ, but he would’ve been fine, still able to inscribe armor from inside of the Argo. Fortunately, he was now back up and ready to keep going. He’d need a solid chow-fest though.

Shame there were no dinos to eat. I wanted a taste, after they’d almost eaten me. Eat, or be eaten, never felt so literal.

I cried as I hugged Artemis, then Julius and Origen in turn. I was so thankful they were alive!

“Now comes the hard part.” Julius said, stony faced. Everyone else groaned as well.

“Hmmm? What’s up?” I asked, confused. There was some joke everyone was in but me.

“We gotta push the wagon the rest of the way to the next town.”

[Name: Elaine]

[Race: Human]

[Age: 14]

[Mana: 3770/3770]

[Mana Regen: 6082]

Stats

[Free Stats: 31]

[Strength: 35]

[Dexterity: 64]

[Vitality: 57]

[Speed: 64]

[Mana: 377]

[Mana Regeneration: 821]

[Magic Power: 378]

[Magic Control: 878]

[Class 1: [Constellation of the Healer - Celestial: Lv 133]]

[Celestial Affinity: 133]

[Warmth of the Sun: 111]

[Medicine: 116]

[Center of the Galaxy: 109]

[Phases of the Moon: 81]

[Eyes of the Milky Way: 93]

[Veil of the Aurora: 76]

[Vastness of the Stars: 75]

[Class 2: [Firebug - Fire: Lv 29]]

[Fire Affinity: 29]

[Fire Resistance: 25]

[Fire Conjuration: 29]

[Fire Manipulation: 29]

[Fuel for the Fire: 20]

[: ]

[: ]

[: ]

[Class 3: Locked]

General Skills

[Identify: 76]

[Recollection of a Distant Life: 79]

[Pretty: 100]

[Vigilant: 111]

[Oath of Elaine to Lyra: 111]

[Ranger's Lore: 44]

[Running: 75]

[Learning: 107]

 

Advertisement
A note from Selkie

I've been hinting at these dinosaurs for some time now. I figured chapter 64 was a solid time for the reveal!


If you could give me an advanced review, that'd be great. They're weighted more heavily than anything else, and I've been looking carefully at trending - it's clear that the rating the novel has is super important. Hence, advanced reviews help me go up in the trending list. They help more people see it, which gets more people rating and following it, which has a synergistic effect that hopefully turns into a runaway effect, which gets enough people interested that I get to do this full-time. Seriously, it matters, and it helps.

BTDEM is bog standard in many ways. However, I'm willing to do things that turn some readers off - and so far, more of my reviews have been from people that I make mad more than people who are happy. Just how the internet works. I'm hoping some of you that are enjoying things are willing to leave reviews or advanced reviews. They matter. You matter.

Help keep BTDEM going - it's as simple as rating, as easy as reviewing.

Or you can help pay my rent, which is a MUCH more direct way of keeping things going! It's the start of the month after all, max Patreon benefits!

Discord for chatting: https://discord.gg/GStatMC

Now, if you'd like to help me pay my rent, you can! With 10 advanced chapters, bonus chapters, bonus worldbuilding content, discord roles, and more!

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/SelkieMyth

Ko-Fi: https://ko-fi.com/selkiemyth

 


 

Book 1 of Beneath the Dragoneye Moons is for sale on Amazon! Click Here to be taken to it!


 


Support "Beneath the Dragoneye Moons"

About the author

Selkie

Bio:

Achievements
Comments(73)
Log in to comment
Log In

Log in to comment
Log In