174. Attacked Again
After getting the needed sleep disguised as a Human, I left the small town and was ready to fly off for the Merryster estates. I didn’t need to wait to transform. My cooldown between [Partial Mortality]’s use had decreased with each level I gained. Now, it only took five hours before I was able to change forms again.
A voice called out to me as I spread my wings out, disguising it with my blue fire. I turned to an elderly woman. She was being assisted by her grandson as she hobbled over my way.
“Please, Ms adventurer.”
She bowed her head deeply as passersby stopped to stare.
“Is that granny Elia?”
“What’s she saying to that adventurer?”
“I can’t see that girl’s level—”
With a deep breath, the so-called granny Elia spoke.
“You who are so powerful and wise beyond your years, a Diamond Rank adventurer who has seen death and destruction unbound. I beseech you, save our town of Sleetrock. Protect us from that vile Demon’s rampage.”
There were gasps. Whispers.
“That young girl is a Diamond Rank adventurer?”
“Can she save us?”
“Mommy— is she a [Hero]?”
I looked at her, before turning to the townspeople. It was a small village. They probably had a hundred people living here at most. They weren’t in the route of Belzu’s path of mindless slaughter. However, they could be at any point in time. Each and every single one of the people here could be killed by Belzu without being able to put up a fight.
I smiled at them.
And I took off.
I wasn’t being cruel. If Daniel or Edithe were here, they’d certainly say I was being unnecessarily mean or evil or whatever other words mortals liked to make up. First of all, that old woman insulted me by calling Demons vile!
That wasn’t very nice.
But beyond just that… well, I couldn’t kill Belzu for one. And for another, if I helped them, it’d be like when I first became Gold Rank all over again. Getting pestered with incessant annoying requests.
I didn’t want that!
So, I gave them no aid. I left the town without even once glancing back, headed straight for the Merryster estates. I had, of course, asked the [Innkeeper] for directions. He told me I could find the lands of the Merryster Dukedom in the province of Houndmire. It was one of the lands adjacent to Falisfield— the place which I saved from Lucerna— and close to the Capital city of Nightsveil.
Belzu’s rampage didn’t bring him that close to the Capital. Not just yet. Although I caught sight of a Human army amassing around it. [Archers], for whatever reason, tried to shoot me down from my flight. Some of their bolts came awfully close to me despite being at this high of an altitude, as I spun and twirled out of the way at my full speed.
There had to be some Level 100s standing on the battlements of the sprawling city. One of their arrows even honed in after me, forcing me to use [Banish] to get rid of it. And with that singular act against a possible Level 100, I leveled in my Class.
Class [Adept of the Fae] Level Up!
[Adept of the Fae - Lvl. 31] -> [Adept of the Fae - Lvl. 32]
Gained 2 Secondary Skill Points!
I spread my arms wide, welcoming the challenge.
“Try that again!”
But that [Archer] must have given up. Whatever Skill he used to reach me must have had a cooldown. It was definitely a powerful Skill. I was certain it would pierce through the aura of Greater Protection around me if it struck through. I didn’t think it would kili me though, if I had flaming armor too.
Nevertheless, I continued. Past Nightsveil, over the palace that was gripped in fear. I went to the lands beyond. Past rolling fields and farmland, which were still full of [Farmers] tilling away at their fields. I saw the land change and tilted my head.
“Is this it?”
It was a heavily forested area I landed in. The entire region seemed like it was for logging and gathering timber. The forests weren’t uniform either. Some of them were marshlands with trees very similar to the crest I had.
“I think this might be it.”
There was a mansion surrounded by a thick forest and a large plot of land around it. I saw figures rushing out as I came closer. Some drew their bows and crossbows, while others wielded wands and staffs as well.
I rolled my eyes.
I didn’t want to deal with this, so I dove straight down. As quickly as I could. They could barely get their first volley of projectiles out by the time I crashed, knocking them off their feet with a gust of wind.
Most of the guards here were in their low 20s, and a handful of them were above Gold Rank. I leapt out at the Gold ranks, grabbing them by their necks. There were three of them, so I simply created a [Faux Limb] to hold onto the third.
They struggled and squirmed but they couldn’t break free. The other guards readied their weapons, before being swept off their feet by an invisible hand. I didn’t even once glance at them as they were lifted off their feet.
“She’s a monster!”
Someone screamed, and I bared my teeth.
“Well, yes. But no.”
I tossed them all aside, marching up to the front door of the mansion. I kicked it open, and a figure stepped forward with a broadsword.
“Halt, intruder! You shall not get any further!”
He stood before a cowering woman, hugging a boy and a girl. He was Platinum Rank in level— somewhere in his low 80s. I started forward and he swung his blade.
I narrowed my eyes and stepped past the attack. It tore apart the tiled floor, like an incredible earthquake concentrated in a small area. He hefted his blade, and I spun around and kicked him in the face.
There was a flicker. A flash. He had some kind of protection artifact on. He only stumbled back from the hit. I raised a brow.
“How dare you assault the Merryster estates! I am Feirdun Merryster, second heir to the—”
He flew back as I struck him with a fiery strike. The flames broke whatever enchantment protected him. He smashed into the wall, bleeding from the nose. I was about to land a follow-up attack when I paused.
“Wait, Feirdun Merryster?”
The man struggled to get to his feet. I stood over him, raising a hand. He winced— but I shook his hand.
“Hi! You’re Saffron’s brother, aren’t you? I’m Saffron’s friend! Nice to meet you!”
His eyes glazed over.
I sat at a couch in the Merryster mansion, kicking my legs up as I spoke casually to the woman and man across from me.
“...and you came here to ask where my daughter is?”
The woman— Zahra Merryster— was apparently Saffron’s mom. She was dressed in decorated robes which looked like they were merely aesthetics at first, but closer inspection revealed the etchings to be protective enchantments against all kinds of attacks.
“Yep! I completely forgot where she went! And I need her help, so…”
Feirdun slammed a fist on the table. He quickly accepted a cloth dipped in healing potion from a servant and dabbed it on his nose.
“You can’t possibly believe her lies, do you Mother?”
“But I have a crest!”
I protested, holding up the gold object Saffron gave me. Feirdun scowled.
“You could’ve stolen it. Just like how you attacked our estate!”
“I didn’t attack anyone! You guys attacked me first!”
Zahra spoke with finality in her voice. She kind of reminded me of Edithe, even though her black hair was nothing like Edithe’s red. Her tone seemed to startle the boy and the girl sitting beside her, and she ran a hand through their head.
“Everything is fine, Lucie, Warren.”
They were almost identical, apart from their genders. Tugging at her sleeves, they spoke one after another.
“Mother, will she not hurt us?”
“She’s so high-leveled. But she smells—”
“It’s alright, my dears.”
Zahra shooshed them and faced me with a gentle smile.
“While I’d like to believe your story, Ms Salvos—”
“It’s just Salvos!”
“...right. But I’d like to voice the same concern as Feirdun. I’d like some reassurance that you do not have any malicious intent against my family.”
There wasn’t really anything I could do to prove myself to them. In times like this, I needed someone else to vouch for me. I tilted my head up as I remembered something.
“Saffron had a… friend? She had someone accompanying her when we met! A servant like that man over there!”
I pointed at one of the men dressed in a suit, standing to the side of the room. Zahra paused.
“Ah, do you mean Matthew?”
“Yes! That’s his name!”
“Fetch Matthew for me.”
She waved a hand, and her servants ran off. Feirdun glared at me with his arms crossed, murmuring under his breath.
“If father and brother were here, they wouldn’t even entertaain…”
“But they’re not here, Feirdun. They sallied forth to protect our kingdom from that Primeval Demon.”
“They have. And they shall slay that evil monster before returning with haste!”
“I’m certain they will. But while they’re gone, you are in charge. You can’t be this brash if you hope to be a leader like them.”
Zahra glanced over at me.
“You’ve been disrespecting our guest for the past hour. It was a misunderstanding which can be resolved with words alone. That’s one of the most important aspects of being a leader.”
Feirdun bit his lower lip. Then he bowed his head deeply.
“I… apologize for my rude words.”
I wanted to just wave a hand off casually. But listening to Zahra really reminded me of listening to Edithe. I could hear one of her lectures already playing in my head. Etiquette. Decency. Etcetera. All the things required to blend in well as a Human. So, I stood up and bowed back.
“No, no. It’s my fault. I erred in thinking I could simply fly into your estates without alarming your guards. I should’ve made my arrival known to prevent any sort of misunderstanding. I sincerely apologize for my actions.”
“Thank you, Salvos.”
With that, the door swung open. A man I recognized entered the room, his eyes flickering towards me but saying nothing. He addressed only Zahra.
“My lady, I heard you have need of my presence.”
“Yes, Matthew. This young lady here has spoken in great detail about her relationship with my daughter, Saffron. While I do not doubt the veracity of her words, I was told you could corroborate her story, is that correct?”
“It is, my lady.”
“Then it seems the air has cleared.”
I sat back down as Zahra told me where Saffron was. Apparently, she went to a country called Shedos. To the northeast of Nixa. Or east from the Motharis Mountain Range. It was squeezed between the Helbir Plains and the Eastern Kingdoms, famous for its enclave of Cyclops lands right by the ocean.
The academy Saffron attended was called Mavos Academy. It specialized heavily in magic, with most of its graduates reaching Platinum Rank in level when they were finished with their education.
“It is famous enough that you can stop anyone in Shedos and ask for directions to the academy without getting lost. I’m sure you’ll have no trouble finding it.”
“Thank you, lady Zahra. Or… Lady Zahra?”
I cocked my head, and she laughed.
“Unfortunately, unlike my daughter, I never was quite interested in receiving the Title of Lady. I hold a more… prestigious Title than that of a mere noble.”
She winked at me before standing up. The boy and girl hopped to their feet and eyed me. They tugged her robes, and she nodded.
“Would you like to join us for dinner? It’s getting rather late and I’m sure you wouldn’t want to make the trip while exhausted.”
I looked at Zahra. Then I glanced at the pair of curious children. For whatever reason, they wanted me to stay. And I guess it couldn’t hurt. Especially since it would only be courteous for me to accept their invitation. But—
“Sure. But, um, do you serve bugs?”
The whole family paused. Feirdun lost his scowl. Even the servants blinked. They stared at me as I scratched the back of my head.
The next day, I woke up as the sun rose, all ready to head to Mavos Academy. But a figure stopped me as I stepped out of the front door. Matthew nodded at Zahra before approaching me.
“Apologies, Ms Salvos. But lady Zahra has requested I make a delivery to Lady Saffron.”
He lifted up a rather luxurious Bag of Holding, showing something inside of it. It looked like a bottle. I sniffed the air, but he quickly closed it and the smell dissipated.
“This is an elixir of great import that I have been tasked to hand to Lady Saffron. I was supposed to leave for Mavos Academy a month ago, but unfortunately the roads have been closed for only the armies of all the noble families to use.”
“Because of Belzu, right?”
He creased a brow, and I pursed my lip.
“I mean that Demon.”
“Yes, Ms Salvos.”
“It’s just Salvos.”
I snorted before waving a hand off.
“And sure, you can come with me. Just know that I won’t fly slow for you, alright?”
“I will keep that in mind, Ms Salvos. You have my thanks.”
I bade the Merryster family farewell as I took off into the air, holding Matthew from under his arms. I glanced back down once to see the pair of children excitedly talking to each other. Which was odd, considering they were very quiet even during dinner last night.
As I looked back up, I caught a glimpse of the Bag of Holding Matthew was holding. It was probably very expensive. I could see the way the mana weaved into it was refined. Space magic that far exceeded my level. But I wasn’t focused on that.
There was something else. It bothered me slightly. I barely got a whiff of it. It was stored too quickly for me to properly inspect it. But that elixir Matthew was carrying…
Why did it smell of blood?