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A note from dotturndot

Heh?? I just realized that there isn't any author's note here. Weird.. future future me BTw. I'm currently replacing the non edited ones. And I just happen to stumble upon an empty spot.

Sha. Sha.

The lifeless corpses ticked like clocks, all of them moving in sync as they swayed like a pendulum. The shadows lurched closer as if death itself was coming, just like the ones experienced by the corpses before their life ended.

“Ellis?”

“Yes!” Ellis tried to hide her fear with a raised shout.

Shooting out like spears, vine-like pseudopodia shot out from the dark. Ellis who jumped on her two feet slashed her sword out in front. Curtis reflexively created a basic shield of fire in front of him.

{Flame Shield}

The vine-like pseudopodia burnt into crisps under the compressed flames.

However, more come their way. The pseudopodia were capable of twisting flexibly in air, troublesome to discern its direction of attack.

The campfire erupted into a pure white flame. Visibility was increased with light shunning the dark.

{Stream blade: Quint-strike}

Ellis regaining her composure. A 5 strike combo was unleashed at precise positions, blossoming into a pentagram pattern. Pseudopodia that got in the way dropped to the ground, wriggled like struggling earthworms in a rather disgusting way. Yucky green juice spurted out and white smoke was seen when it came in contact with the ground.

Acid.

Ellis’ brow twitched. She was sure a least a few drops landed on her.

{Auxiliary Support}

“You alright Ellis?”

A faint light enveloped her whole body and a revitalizing sensation was felt. Her body became lighter, her mind clearer. All her basic functions were enhanced by a point or two.

“Let me handle it! Thanks!” Ellis sent a yelp, slicing forward to fend off another wave of shooting vines.

‘Her swordsmanship is laudable, I’ll leave it to her then.’

{Inferno Gyrosphere}

As Curtis thought such a thing, flame rings appeared rotating around him at high speeds. It roasted the pseudopodia that came into contact.

Levitating just above Curtis’ hand was his spellbook, which had shrunk to the size of a wallet. It emanated a faint orange light.

{Inferno Gyrosphere} was a complex spell, as such, the spellbook was required.

{Coat O’ Arms}

‘Five spells. That’s about my limit..’

A different light enveloped Ellis, this was a special spell that reduced incoming impact. If the attack was sharp, it would nullify the attack by distributing the force throughout the coat. So if say a projection was to past through Ellis’ sword defense, this coat would at least help prevent any injuries to her body.

Both {Auxiliary Note} and {Coat O’ Arms} required a constant supply of mana. But both these support spell were used on only a single target. Thus, the consumption was still less when combined in comparison to {Inferno Gyrosphere} alone. Well, Curtis was also trying his best to maintain the campfire and light orbs while he was at it.

The seven mana crystals on Curtis’ necklace was pulsing.

Ellis who had already sliced pseudopodia projections that went upwards to 3 digits felt that something was wrong. What were these things?

If this was a non-stop onslaught, Curtis had it worse. Vines were coming at him trice the number Ellis was dealing with. If it weren’t for the rotating flame rings, Curtis would have already turned into a pile of flesh.

Ellis felt a chill sweep past.

{Sharpness}

The orange-blue crystal, better known as a fusion crystal on the guard of her jade sword flashed. The crystal enchanted her sword, sharpening the edge of the blade.

Ellis held her breath and swung her sword to her flank. What she saw made the hairs on her body stand on end. She bit her lips to forcefully restrain her urge to scream.

It was the figure, the human corpse. The silhouette was now dangling right before her. With all four of its limbs, head, skin and torso still attached.

The eyes had already decomposed into its socket, the two dark recess exuding an extremely eerie vibe. The skin had already been stained in a muddy-chocolate colour, faint white blotches of bloodless skin could be seen underneath. Vines curled around the body, concentrating on the joints.

The torso together with the femur had been cleanly bisected into halves.

The vines that curled around the neck loosed, dropping the carcass to the ground.

Ellis shuddered. Then a faint sweet scent hit her.

Curtis managed to keep up with the pseudopodia projections— rather, he stood there without moving this whole time. His only focus was on maintaining the spells.

Crack.

A slight vibration below his feet.

Crack. Sizzle.

Buds grew from the ground. Curtis glared at it, trying to discern the shape. It looked like young bamboo sprouts with red spikes on the surface.

{Quake}

Curtis lightly tapped his feet on the ground.

The hardened ground expanded outwards, crushing the buds together with the underground roots. Cracks ran across the earth with a slight rumble.

The spike buds? They were rolling on the floor like flowers being plucked fresh from the garden.

{Wind}

And then tossed into the fire.

The flame rings were spinning with the sound of acid steaming. Besides that, it was quiet. There were no more vines coming his way. The attacks had stopped.

Removing the flames around him, Curtis looked around.

The corpses in the distance were gone together with the pseudopodia and so was Ellis.

She just vanished. Gone.

‘Oh great.’

{Soul String: Locate}

|

|

 

That spark before was {Soul String}. Curtis had connected himself to Ellis without her knowing. Back then, he felt a bad premonition, it turned out to be true.

{Soul String} was a spell that connected two people, the caster and the target. A spectre string attached to both their fingers.

The string pointed Curtis in the direction of the eerie woods. He dropped his shoulders a little annoyed.

‘Where in the world did she go?’

{Gale Steps}

He ran towards the forest.

Curtis would pass a small group of glowing krill, each group differentiated their conglomerate colours. He also met with ground crabs— the size of his torso. They didn’t seem to be hostile, so Curtis just passed them.

Tiny gems that stuck to some species of trees glistened faintly as the light orb came into contact. Bioluminescent corals growing on the trees glowed in a hazy mess of colours.

Stopping for a moment, Curtis realized he stumbled upon something unusual. A red gemstone embedded in a tree.

‘Red crystals don’t grow on trees?’

Whatever it was, Curtis took the gemstone and tossed it inside his pocket. The crystal didn’t grow from the tree, it was as if it had been placed there purposely by someone or something-- Curtis caught on to something.

From the sensation he felt from {Soul String}, Ellis was sleeping. A gentle sweet mood, like lollipops and candy. She was dreaming, but why something sweet?

“Sleeping gas?” Curtis muttered under his breath. What he caught onto was the possibility of this creature being a Forest Sprite, an intelligent species thought to be driven to the edge of extinction. He read about this. Forest Sprites no longer exist in most kingdoms, but he couldn’t say the same here because he was on new land.

Pseudopodia-like projections, cactus bulbs and possibly sleeping gas. The plant-like creature even knew how to play tricks on them.

Prey.

Curtis ruminated about that for a moment. The Forest Sprite, besides obtaining nutrients from the earth, required mana to sustain itself. The earth held too little in reserves, hence Forest Sprites consumed other creatures that were rich in mana— humans included.

Curtis came to an open area. The ceiling was covered with dense leaves, forming a canopy. The light orbs split into two, then four, then eight.

A massive dead zone, one could wonder if this was actually a natural phenomenon. The grass grew in an unimaginably organized manner, dividing the ground into segments.

Curtis felt his nose itch and sneezed. The sound echoed with a strange wavy-ness to it.

As if waiting for this moment, pseudopodia projections came at him. It looked different, red dense thorns embedded to the side, the pseudopodia were thickened with green fibres and large crimson flowers grew on it that resembled mouths.

{Inferno Gyrosphere}

The mana crystals around his necklace lit up once more. Of the seven crystals, one had gone dim.

The scent of charred greens quickly enveloped the air.

Caustic liquid spurt out where the vines met the fire. Entire trees corroded into thick white smoke; leaves withered to a lifeless brown. Some unlucky trees had their bark melt right off the body, their branches fell with a thud.

Curtis gulped. He was fortunate a wind barrier surrounded him.

The Forest Sprite would consume its victim’s mana by encasing them in a cocoon. The victim would bath inside a sweet liquid and due to its special characteristics be trapped in sleep. The victim would naturally recover mana— just to be leached by the Forest Sprite. Prey treated like livestock. Naturally, Curtis didn’t want Ellis to end up like that.

She wasn’t in any sort of immediate danger. The liquid wouldn’t drown the victim, probably. Definitely not common sense.

That didn’t mean she wasn’t in deep trouble if this continued on. The Forest Sprite could always do something outside the scope of his current knowledge.

Curtis walked forward, dragging {Inferno Gryosphere} along. He didn’t forget to harden the earth beneath him.

Curtis sneezed again.

‘Oh, I see.... hallucination.’

Written literally in the encyclopedia, the one who breathed in this gas would hallucinate wonderful dreams. What did this imply in reality?

{Wind}

Curtis circulated the air around him, though he was unsure if it could really help in this situation.

There was calm silence— nothing. The pseudopodia had stopped its frenzy. That was until a muffled voice rang in the distance. Someone desperately struggling.

‘That height, that figure— Ellis?’

Curtis wanted to walk forward but he noticed how {Soul String} was direct elsewhere.

“Nmmmmmnnm..” the figure moaned. Wriggling around with vines incapacitating her movement.

“That’s not Ellis,” Curtis shook his head to remind himself. Hallucinations are hallucinations. He focused on the calm, tranquil feeling emanating from {Soul String}, this was Ellis’ current situation in emotion.

If that wasn’t Ellis then—

The silhouette that resembled Ellis continued to struggle as it wriggled in the air. Vines curled around the neck, arms, torso, thighs and ankle. It stopped moving, dangling there like a marionette.

Curtis inspected the limp figure. Could this be a hallucination? Curtis had inhaled what he thought to be a little of the hallucination-inducing gas.

In confusion, Curtis closed the distance between them.

The vines around the figure loosened, slowly letting the figure down from the trees. Like an angel descending from the sky, but with the rigidity of a puppet. The vines raised her just above the bare ground, making her slant sloppily from the waist down.

This figure was in fact, Ellis. It was Ellis’ body, naked. Those vines curling around her alluring legs and chest were already enough to cause Curtis’ mind to go numb. This person in front of him was Ellis but couldn’t possibly be Ellis at the same time, not a chance.

Beautiful brown hair covered her face, the strands curled around her shoulders. Her legs formed a ‘W’ and her incapacitated arms held her entire body in the air. This glorious sight Curtis assumed to be the ‘wonderful dream’ the encyclopedia talked about-- it looked legit but..

Curtis sighed and turned towards the direction where the soul string tugged at. He ignored ‘Ellis’ right there in front of him.

“Curtis,” A plea. It stuck his mind like clapping thunder. Didn’t he say he would protect Ellis? Turning back, he could see her deep breathing, chest expanding and contracting. Shiny perspiration covered her body. Even the wheezing in her breath could be heard. This sweet plea sounded exactly like—Ellis.

Curtis shook his head, with a calm voice, “You’re not Ellis.”

“How did you guess my Curtis?” The once drooping figure of Ellis was now standing upright with a rather celestial smile. She was suddenly wearing a plant-like garment.

Now, where had he heard this voice before?

‘More important— it can talk?!’

Curtis staggered a few steps back, shaking his head.

‘Calm down, calm down, this is an illusion.. a hallucination.. just an illusion..’

Behind her back, magnanimous fairy wings spread out into a perfect ‘V’ and her voice—he knew it, he was sure of it, but it wasn’t Ellis’ voice. It sounded like a certain someone’s voice-- a girl.

The Forest Sprite could not only steal it’s prey’s mana, but also its intelligence?

‘Wait, so does this mean that the Forest Sprite ate a super young aristocrat? From her manner of speech..’

“This body of hers represents me,” said in a very elegant child-like voice.

Curtis’ legs stiffen.

“Explain,” Curtis requested with a reproachful voice. Contrary to his cold attitude, that Ellis replied rather cheerfully.

“Curtis. It’s inevitable, isn’t it? You’re not going to leave are you?” the girl’s voice called out.

“This isn’t real. Stop fooling around..?”

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dotturndot

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