132. Seeking Help
The red-haired woman clutched at her stomach, bursting out into a coughing fit. Blood splattered out of her mouth as Daniel and I stood over her. We were helpless. Mana poisoning? I had never heard of such a thing.
I slowly held a hand out over her, a worried look on my face.
I trailed off. Most questions I could ask would be too stupid and pointless for her to answer now. It was blatantly clear she was in pain. There was only one question that mattered right now.
“What do we need to do?”
I stared at her. At the agony she was going through. Her face scrunched up as she spoke through gritted teeth.
“The blight… and I can’t recover my mana.”
She panted, laboriously taking each breath. However, I connected the dots immediately. The blight ate away at your Status. If she could not restore her mana— possibly due to mana poisoning— that meant…
I did not know what it meant. But it couldn’t be good.
I picked Edithe up, hefting her over my shoulders once again.
“Come on, Daniel. We have to get out of here. Now.”
“Right. We’ll have to return to Huthwaite, and get a healer to look at her.”
He nodded, sheathing his sword. I shook my head.
“We aren’t going to Huthwaithe.”
I faced him with a defiant gaze. I knew he would want to argue, so I made sure to let him know I was not going to waste any time discussing it.
“We’re going to Unarith.”
I had a simple and straightforward logic for wanting to go to the Kobold city with my Human companions. First of all, I would not bring them into the city itself. I would keep them a good enough distance away, hidden from sight.
The second and main reason was because of Xidra. She was a high leveled [Herbalist]. She had given me cleansing flowers to cure me from my blight. The most important thing Edithe needed right now was to stop her mana from being entirely depleted. Or even depleted for an extended period of time.
We could put our heads together and try to figure out a way to cure her mana poisoning later. We just had to stop the blight afflicting her right now.
I did not know exactly where Unarith was. But Daniel had a map, and he could read it. While Human maps did not outline the exact location of the Kobold city, it brought us close enough that I began to recognize the familiar landscape.
“Oh, I think I’ve seen this rocky pillar before.”
“Are you sure?”
Daniel gave me a dubious look, which only made me more uncertain.
“Um. Maybe? Well, if not, I’ll remember it now.”
I was trying to make a change within myself; no longer was I going to get lost, worrying my companions. Perhaps they might even trust me to do things on my own if I proved myself competent enough to return to them!
I caught a glimpse of the sprawling city in the distance. Its minarets peaked up, like a beacon for me to see. I left Daniel alone, transforming to my Kobold Mortal Form as I put on some robes, then I started through the tumulous landscape.
Even before I reached the city, I knew I was already being watched. The feeling of eyes clinging to me put me on alert— my [Passive - A Hunter’s Sense] once more proving itself extremely useful. I looked over my Status, ensuring that I had distributed all of my Stats and Skills from my previous levels.
Salvos (Death of the Destroyer)
Species: [Greater Demon of Pride]
Subspecies: [Asura Changeling] - Lvl. 89
[Advanced Mana Manipulation] - Lvl. 6
[Identification] - Lvl. 5
[Racial Skill: Universal Language Comprehension] - Lvl. 1
[Racial Skill: Mortal Form] - Lvl. 4
[Rest] - Lvl. 4
[Lesser Enhanced Wisdom] - Lvl. 2
[Title Skill: Zealous Call] - Lvl. 3
[Available Stat Points: 0]
[Vitality]: 100 (+5)
[Strength]: 71 (+5) (-5)
[Endurance]: 85 (+5) (-5)
[Wisdom]: 130 (+5) (+6)(-5)
[Agility]: 180 (+5) (-5)
[Available Skill Points: 3]
[Advanced Fire Creation] - Lvl. 30 (Maxed)
[Barrage of Cinders] - Lvl. 18
[Ember Core] - Lvl. 12
[Flame Burst] - Lvl. 12
[Flaming Breath] - Lvl. 5
[Intimidation] - Lvl. 5
[Radiant Slash] - Lvl. 12
[Self Haste] - Lvl. 10 (Maxed)
[Passive - A Hunter’s Sense] - Lvl. 5
[Passive - Blue Flames] - Lvl. 20 (Maxed)
[Passive - Weapon Mastery] - Lvl. 20 (Maxed)
I walked through Unarith, standing out just a little bit due to how dirty I was compared to the Kobold men and women there. However, word of me saving Xidra— or the First Dragonling— must have spread since a few people whom I had never met looked upon me with recognition in their eyes.
Stopping one of the aforementioned passersby, I asked for directions to the minaret of the Risen Dragons. They pointed me to a structure towards the center of the city. I arrived at the entrance of the place of worship, before stopping as I recognized a familiar red-scaled Kobold.
I started, but caught myself from exclaiming. Clearing my throat, I bowed lightly.
“Nav the [Warrior], it is a pleasure to see you again.”
The red-scaled Kobold stared at me, puzzled. His companions— a pair of Kobolds whom I had never met— fixed me with a suspicious gaze.
“Introduce yourself, [Mage]. How do you know the esteemed Nav?”
I narrowed my eyes. Nav was someone important? I never knew that. But instead of letting that expression show on my face, I bowed once more.
“I am Salvos the [Mage]. I have only met with Nav the [Warrior] once before, after I saved Xidra— the First Dragonling from the captivities of the Scale Sentinels and escorted her back to Unarith.”
“Is this true, Nav the [Warrior]?”
The other Kobolds gave Nav a dubious look. But he slowly nodded, still staring at me in shock.
“She… is speaking the truth. Salvos— Salvos the [Mage].”
He cleared his throat.
“What brings you back to Unarith. I was told by the First Dragonling that you had taken your leave from the city.”
Did Xidra tell him that I was a Demon? I didn’t remember telling him myself, but she seemed to trust him. Perhaps not as much as Hoxle. It was better for me not to assume for now.
I took a deep breath, carefully choosing my words before I spoke.
“I am in dire need of aid, Nav the [Warrior]. I seek the presence of the First Dragonling herself.”
He once again stared at me. Was he rubbing his eyes in confusion? Did Kobolds even have eyelids? I felt the urge to check but instead held still, carrying myself as solemnly as I could. I raised my head slightly and faced him with a pleading look.
“Please. Is this favor too much to ask from you?”
Finally, Nav sighed.
“Very well. I shall take you to the First Dragonling. Come.”
The other Kobold guards watched as I was led through the double doors of the building. When I was through, I smiled softly at Nav.
“What do you really want?”
He asked me with a frown. I shrugged, speaking more casually than before as we were led up the spiral stairway.
“I was telling the truth. I need Xidra’s help.”
“The First Dragonling can’t just entertain everyone who requests to meet her.”
“I’m not just anyone— I’m Salvos!”
Nav didn’t respond. We finally stopped at the floor of Xidra's room. The red-scaled Kobold rapped against the door, speaking.
“Xidra the [Herbalist], you have a visitor.”
The door slowly shifted open. A familiar face poked out, peering my way. Recognition filled her eyes and she fully stepped from the room.
“Salvos the [Mage]. What brings you back here?”
She greeted me, and I explained.
“I need your help, Xidra. We were in the Plaguelands when we were forced to run into a blight flower field. Now, my companion is suffering from both the blight and mana poisoning. She can’t restore her mana, and I think it might be bad if the blight continues affecting her when she runs out of mana. Please, I need a cleansing flower. For her.”
Xidra blinked, then waved her hand as if trying to calm me.
“Slow down, Salvos the [Mage]. Explain it again.”
I spoke slower this time, gesticulating as I started from scratch. Xidra asked a few questions, scratching a claw on her chin. I glanced over at Nav a few times, seeing how he would react to the mention of my Human companions. He did not seem visibly surprised. Which was a good thing.
Finally, Xidra gave me a reassuring nod as she placed a hand on my shoulder.
“Worry not, Salvos the [Mage]. Bring me to your companion. I will treat both her blight and her mana poisoning.”
I smiled gratefully at her. Then I quickly stuck my tongue out— that was how Kobolds smiled.
“Thank you, Xidra. This really means a lot to me.”
“You saved my life. It is only natural that I help you in your plight.”
She turned back to Nav.
“Nav the [Warrior], you shall escort Salvos the [Mage] and I to her companions. Alone. Do not tell others of the true purpose of this trip.”
“Yes, First Dragonling.”
He did not protest. Xidra returned to her room briefly, to fetch some ingredients. Then she returned with a satchel slung over her shoulder. Waving a claw to follow, she started down the stairs.
We were just leaving the vicinity of the Shrine of the Risen Dragons when a crowd appeared before us. The streets were not that busy earlier— it was evening, after all. Even if Kobolds did not need as much sleep as Humans, I noticed last time I was here that activity did slightly die down when the sun set.
My gaze focused on the figure moving through the streets, heading our way. It was a familiar figure. I recognized the dark scales anywhere.
One of the Scale Sentinels who attacked Ghostlight.
He approached the three of us with his own procession. A dozen other Kobolds— both men and women— followed behind him. They were dressed in luxurious clothing, with intricate designs patterned on their robes.
His eyes fixed on me, and I felt the same feeling of being watched as when I first entered the city. Was that you? I shrunk back slightly, trying to hide myself behind Xidra. If he recognized me— but he couldn’t. There was no way he could.
I was a Human when he saw me near Ghostlight. I was a Kobold now. He couldn’t possibly have recognized me, right?
And yet, he still stared at me. I did not sense recognition in his gaze— only an inkling of suspicion. It was enough to make me nervous.
He bowed at Xidra.
“Xidra the [Herbalist]. I see you have decided to leave your high tower for once.”
“Zix the [Warrior], is there a reason for you to intercept me in the free streets of Unarith?”
The obsidian-scaled Kobold shook his head. He bowed, his tongue sneaking out of his mouth almost slyly.
“I simply wished to apologize to you. I have heard about what happened with Gexli. I can promise you his actions were not orchestrated by anyone but him. He was acting on his own, and we condemn him for it.”
“You can condemn him all you want, Zix the [Warrior]. That does not change the events that have occurred.”
“I assure you, we will punish his family and his followers—”
She raised a hand, cutting him off. Xidra glared his way, before starting past him.
“There is no point getting the uninvolved hurt just to save your face. Your faction’s failure to kill me and your failure at Ghostlight will not be forgotten simply because you execute a few innocents.”
The whisper crowd grew hushed in an instant. Zix’s companions sputtered in outrage, filling the silence with their angry voices. I followed Xidra, glancing about warily. Were they going to attack us? I didn’t know how Kobold culture worked enough to be sure.
Nav was on guard, so I should be too. I was just about to conjure a fire dagger— just in case— before Zix spoke out. The gathering wisps of blue flame vanished as I gulped.
“Who is that with you, Xidra the [Herbalist]?”
The First Dragonling paused. She glanced back at Zix.
“She is the one who saved me from Gexli.”
His tongue slithered back into his mouth as he folded his arms behind his back in parade rest.
“A [Mage] of her level was able to best Gexli in combat? And someone as enchantingly beautiful as her? I am impressed.”
I reached to scratch the back of my head— and quickly poked at my scales instead. To seem more Kobold-like. Bowing slightly, I tried to be courteous.
“Thank you, Zix the [Warrior].”
“What is your name, if I may ask?”
He gave me an inquiring look. I opened my mouth to answer.
“I am Sa—”
“She is with me. That is all you need to know about her.”
Xidra glanced at me with a look. I nodded slowly as she continued walking.
“Let us go. And do not bother us any longer, Zix the [Warrior]. I am in a hurry.”
The obsidian-scaled Kobold said nothing else. It was only when we left the city did Xidra speak.
“Zix is dangerous, Salvos. His evolution offers him a sharp intuition. If he figures out your true identity, he will turn the entire city against you. And there will be nothing I can do to save you.”
I stared at her, frowning.
“He’ll have me killed just because I’m a Demon?”
I knew the answer even before Xidra spoke. It was one I was used to hearing by now.