Dreamweaver chapter 26
Oh man...I think it is.
Its that weird dream state I was in last night. Here I am again! Because I’d been sleepy and fatigued, it’d taken a sec to figure out where the hell I was.
Damn this place is dangerous.
This living hunk of meat in front of me was huge. I had to look up and bend my neck to see the top of his head. I’d never seen a man this big or with this much steroid like muscle and meat on him. Wait…was it even a man? The torchlight didn’t give me a good look at him yet. It was too big and not shaped right with a large head and prominent forehead features. It was humanoid and dressed in clothes made from the furs of animals that had been shaped into leggings, boots also of fur, and he was so massive in his chest area and chest muscles that he had the girth of several men. His chest seemed too big to have a shirt on.
After I saw it like this for a bit…something was different about it. It was bald and facing the wrong way so I hadn’t been able to see him from the front. But then slowly but surely it turned to face me. The nose was long and thick with a heavy looking forehead. It was the most intimidating thing I’d seen in this world yet.
It wasn’t human after all, plus it was like eight or nine feet tall. It surprised me too, seeing horns on his forehead that pointed straight up and his ears were pointed, though he was clearly too bulky and big to be an elf. His beard was shaggy and wiry at the same time with skin that wasn’t quite as ugly as the orcs, but more evil looking by several levels. In short, he almost looked like a blend of human and orc, but on mega steroids and super tall, while also managing to look like he could snap a man in half with huge hands. He sort of had a skin color between the color of orcs and humans all mixed into one. Not only that but his muscles on his arms and hands looked so powerful the tendons were sticking out like steel cables under the skin.
What was he? It wasn’t an orc, but somehow I guessed it was something with similar genes. Whatever he was, he was scary.
Then I saw he was carrying a long handled, heavy looking sledge hammer with an iron head. This was also the first time I’d seen iron weapons in this world that I knew of, but I doubt he’d made it himself. He’d probably acquired it somewhere, by force, since his aura was obviously sinister and cruel looking. Nor was he dressed like a craftsman or artisan of any kind.
He roared at me with such deep lung capacity that he could fill the room with echoes. Then he charged at me, loping along on his legs that were somehow bow legged.
I ran like crazy. He was way over matched for me and it didn’t take a genius to be able to figure that out. But just because he was uber strong didn’t mean he couldn’t run fast. He chased me all over the room, and I was lucky I had pretty good balance because going up the stairs that fast I nearly tripped several times.
I somehow managed to dodge and roll when I got up on the balcony, while his massive hammer smashed into the rock. From his powerful hit a lot of masonry sections of the balcony rail broke away and sent a shower of broken rock and dust everywhere.
I kept running while he ran up behind me, sometimes missing me with his swings by hairs breadths. I would have to evade him and keep going. He was too big and too strong. It was only the fact that he limped slightly with his right leg why I hadn’t died yet.
My lungs were heaving. Was I going to die? I couldn’t give up! I also wished the room was larger, even though its size wasn’t too bad. After all when a big guy is chasing you, no dungeon room is big enough when you need running room.
“Stop! Please!” I cried out for mercy to whatever had summoned this thing.
That familiar feminine voice from last time is at it again.
“I pulled this out of the memories of the orc boss. It’s actually one of the previous orc fortress’ leaders. He’s obviously not an orc, as you can see, but orcs don’t mind have an ogre leader once in awhile. Of course the catch is that if it keeps their bellies full of meat. With a full belly and a chance to pillage they don’t get too picky who leads them. Orcs don’t do well and have a lot of civil disorder when they are hungry from any leader though. That’s what matters to them. Are you proud of me making such a cool minion with my abilities? Don’t worry, I didn’t enhance this one like the others, since I didn’t need to,” she seemed cheerful. She chuckled.
Damn! He was an ogre?! No way! All the stories I’d read didn’t even come close to how awful the real thing is! Those people that think orcs and ogres in RPGs are wimps have no idea. They are extremely scary and very strong.
I huffed and pumped my arms, dodging more of the heavy long handled hammer swings behind me. The blows came with such force that I could feel the wind from it more than three feet away and gave me goose bumps. It was terrifying. He swung again and again while I kept running.
Then I was going down the steps again but managed to throw rocks at him. Some of them hit and made him mad.
The problem was that he was stronger and had better reach than I did. So I couldn’t even face him directly. Plus I can’t parry or block a massively strong hammer blow like that yet, even if I could match his reach. I would be flattened trying to do so, or knocked prone in one hit. So it basically made it impossible for me to use my axe, so I stowed it in the belt. Plus if I were to try to get it close to him, no doubt he’d covet it and just rip it out of my hands.
Sure enough he howled in despair when I put the steel axe away. How could simulated monsters be so cunning and deadly? If they were this smart I might really have real damage if they gutted me.
“It’s just an illusion of some kind,” I tried to tell myself, under my breath.
I ran some more, but then came up with an idea. As I went up the calves on my legs ached from the strain of going up with all my weight so fast. I’d noticed he sometimes would concentrate his strength and pull back for overhand strikes.
When I came at the stairs the next time I’d circled around, I briefly tempted him into running at me with an overhead blow. I rolled to the right just as his hammer came down on the stairs. His strength was so powerful that he ended up smashing up bricks on the stairs deep into the masonry while I ran.
We repeated the same process when I circled back around the edge of the room again. Slowly the whole room was getting bashed to bits and it was getting dusty.
But then it happened; he kicked out with his leg hitting me in the arm, while I dodged his primary hammer strike. I’d forgotten he could use other attacks besides the hammer strike. My arm felt like needles were stabbed in it, he’d hit me so hard with his first. It ached like crazy, but I think he hadn’t broken the bone.
The pain was real…
But still I rolled away again just barely in time to evade his follow up hammer smash. Then I ran again, after stumbling away from another blow.
“Hmm, you can’t keep that up forever, you know? His hammer was known in it’s time for being pretty deadly too. But I don’t speak orc so I couldn’t tell you more than that,” the girl’s voice called out to me.
I breathed really hard now while my other arm was being held by the other. By holding it, the pain was significantly less when I ran. But it still didn’t take away all the pain.
I ran up the other steps while the thing chased me as best as I could. But then when I’d crossed over to the middle of the balcony he stopped and suddenly ran the other way around.
“What was he doing?” I wondered aloud.
I was surprised that this move gave me more advantage than it did him. He was trying to cut me off, but in effect he’d only given me a chance to rest for a longer period of time on the balcony area.
Feeling my arm I could also feel that there was blood…from being punched?! What?! That didn’t make sense. But then I realized his fingernails were long and sharpened and more like claws than anything else. He also had metal studs sticking out of where his knuckles were. It was some kind of orc martial art extension weaponry. Plus, he’s just so freaking strong; I was lucky that wasn’t a direct hit, but more of a glancing blow.
I wasn’t sure which one he’d clipped me with right now, but I was grateful I could still move my arm.
“Eh?! I’m bleeding?!”
He easily was loping along and not even trying to be fast now. He was smiling at me, knowing he’d win. In short, I’d become his new game to play. That’s when I noticed his black teeth were also sharpened like a wolf or a tiger might have.
I frowned. How come this just keeps getting worse and not better?
Still…this was a good time to test out how heal would work in the dream state. I hadn’t had a need to before, plus while running with him only right behind me I couldn’t do it then either.
“Cure!” I chanted, while picturing rays of sunlight floating down on me and trying to pool energy into my soul. I’d repeated it exactly like the best effect I’d seen so far, when I’d tried to use it on Akira.
Sure enough it worked, on the first try…which was really good, because there wasn’t enough time for me to have a long wait trying to get it to work while the ogre was still moving against me. The glowy little blue spark was still about the same size as before I confirmed. It hovered in the air above my palm while I slowly let it evaporate into my wound and making the pain and sting float away with it. Because it wasn’t a deep or big wound it did happen to close up pretty well.
But would the wound even still be there when I woke up?
“Ah, you can do magic?! Hmm,” the girl asked suddenly very surprised. Her tone of voice was like a different person.
“So complicated…” she complained, after I wouldn’t answer her. I was afraid of what her talking meant. Last time we talked she’d made the ogre appear.
She said something else in a different language and suddenly the ogre disappeared. At first, I didn’t believe he was gone, and looked over the balcony edge to make sure there was nothing there hiding somewhere.
Was it a trick?
Uh oh what was she going to do to me now?
After confirming a look around I seemed only a bit less suspicious. I was still alive and might still live for another day it seemed. I sighed in relief and took in big gulps of air. When you are so tired that you want to pass out from running around, air is the most delicious thing and feels crisp and beautiful in your lungs. It’s better than cake.
This was one of those types of opportunities to feel such things.
“Who gave you that magic? Tell me! How?!” she asked forcefully. I could hear and feel her indecision. She was trying to figure out what to do with me it seemed.
I wasn’t sure what to say, so she asked me again.
“Can you show yourself to me? Let’s talk, please?” I answered back meekly. I wasn’t sure what she’d do, but at least having her not kill me is good.
At first nothing happened. I waited a few seconds.
But then suddenly down in the middle of the room a fox girl was waving at me with strangely long thin-clawed but very clean and slender hands. She wasn’t smiling though, nor was she angry either, but trying to figure me out with an intense stare of distrust. She had a red hair color like a normal red fox, which was sleek and silky the way it flowed down from the top of her head. She looked pretty close to about the height of a really tall human. Then I was a bit surprised that she not only had long pointed ears that stood straight up from the top of her head facing forward, but she also had two fox tails, each with a white tip that flowed out from behind her. Her tails were also the same color rich red color as her hair except for the white tips. Although she was shorter than I was, I didn’t dare underestimate her because of how she was able to manipulate how the ogre manifested.
I wanted to run, but I couldn’t see another way of escaping this room. I sighed.
Different than how I was dressed she had on some kind of robes, if I’d ever seen any, with simple sandals on her feet. Her robes appeared to be clean, but sleeveless. It was a silky sheen robe that covered everything up conservatively. Overall she was also as good looking as Sunghee, but just covered up more. Her age was harder to tell though. It looked like over eighteen but I wasn’t good at reading non-humans. Plus the look in her penetrating gaze and eyes made her seem as if she might be older.
“Hi?” I said carefully, not sure how to proceed.
Instead she scowled flashing a few canine teeth, “I don’t like humans. Humans are bad.” She spat on the ground in disgust.
Still, I was pretty happy since she wasn’t trying to kill me anymore.
“So can we talk?” I again suggested, after a pause to let her adjust to me.
“Just don’t make any sudden moves and keep your distance,” she said carefully. Her eyes were narrow slits trained onto me watching for anything out of the ordinary.
“Wish we had a place to sit down, I said.
She waved her hand in the air, and two clean looking cushions appeared on the ground. I couldn’t help but notice there was a lot of distance between us, showing her distrust. She sat on one of them and then gestured for me to take the other.
“Don’t come any closer,” she warned, but nodded for us to proceed.
It was also painfully obvious that she was good at manipulating magic.
“Ah, this is nice!” I said smiling and trying to seem at ease. The cushions did feel good after being in hell.
She almost smiled back, but her mouth twisted into a sneer. “I’m still deciding if I’ll kill you. I have hated humans for as long as I can remember.”
“Eh? But why?” I asked.
She didn’t answer but shook her head, looking away. Then she turned back, “you know nothing good will come out of this, or of trying to know you.”
“Are you sure? Maybe we can work something out?” I said humbly. It felt bad hearing her hate humans.
She glared at me some more, “for starters whoever has the demon box will always be corrupted by its power. That is its true danger, though there are other dangers beyond that. There will also always be victims trapped within it. Secondly, humans are trash. I don’t mean that in terms of discrimination, but in terms of seeing endless acts of evil. This world has been brutalized for humans for so many millennia that all the creatures of the land have turned on them and trying to eradicate them for good. You understand don’t you? What genocide means? The humans in this world had practiced genocide on many people’s and races that held the balance of this world over a long, long period of time. Now they are facing a backlash of their own actions. It’s not something you alone can stop. Plus, it is a judgment of the Gods.”
“Yes, that’s the tool you have, that you inherited from the boss orc,” she explained. “When you open up the item box that isn’t quite an item box...and see it has things other item boxes don’t...yeah you know what I mean.”
Ah crap. This was starting kind of bad. I didn’t expect this world would be good but…the way she described it sounded like Creature World War. But the part about judgment could be her personal opinion maybe?
“Well can’t we work it out?” I asked. “Maybe we can help each other and cooperate.”
She shook her head no. “It’s already in motion. Even if the humans would suddenly repent and change their ways, the orcs have gained a critical point in their numbers. You understand when a people gets so populous and so numerous that they describe it as the sands of the seashore, or as numerous as the stars in the heavens?” She asked.
I nodded. I’d heard the term vaguely.
“The orcs and their numerous kingdoms have reached such a point at this time, having swallowed up several human kingdoms recently. It’s a critical point where things cannot be undone. They have so many soldiers combing the lands, that there isn’t a way for them to be stopped anymore. Before you even recover your blows from cutting one down you will be swarmed with five more to take its place. Plus humans don’t support one another to even try to save yourselves. The humans haven’t yet begun to notice such things, but the end is already in motion.”
“But I thought the orcs need other cultures to breed? If they are the dominant culture then won’t that mean an end to this world when all their females are gone and they have nothing to harvest from other creatures?” I said carefully.
She sighed, “It is as you say. After the humans are taken from this world and no longer exist it is inevitable that other creatures and peoples of this world will also slowly disappear with them. It’s a tragedy but its true,” she shrugged.
“So isn’t there a way to fix things?” I asked.
She sighed. “If we were in the old days, when the Eldar still walked the land then it might have been possible to awaken their magic. But such a thing is not possible. The last village of the Eldar fell a thousand years ago. It was their magic that was keeping the orcs and the order of this world in check. And of all the things that could happen to this world their loss was the most evil and vile. You see the Eldar didn’t fall through losing battles. They fell through the betrayal of their human allies. It’s ironic that their betrayal sowed the seeds of the humans’ own despair.”
I could see the scorn and hate on the fox girl’s face. Obviously she was involved in things that humans had done to other people. She didn’t hide the hate she felt well enough to mask it. Her strange eyes were regarding me almost like I were an enemy now.
“But I’m not from this world. We’re victims too. We just have been wanting to go back to our world if there’s a way,” I protested.
“Hmm, that just means you haven’t stolen from the cookie jar yet,” she protested and remaining unconvinced. But she did look uncomfortable. After a few seconds she squirmed.
“We were kidnapped!” I protested. “So was Sunghee! We didn’t choose this!”
“Eh? You met Sunghee?” she asked.
“You didn’t do anything to her did you?” her eyes became narrow slits of paranoia.
“No way! I promise I didn’t touch her!”
“I suppose what you say is true,” she admitted, looking down.
“Can you help me?” I asked.
“First tell me how you got your magic?” she asked.
So I told her how we got here, and my experiences with the others and trying to stay alive. She listened carefully the whole time.
“Well you are in luck. Your story is fairly similar to how Sunghee and others were brought here so I know it’s possible. Then your clothes confirm it after that,” she said. “That kind of magic you possess is the rarest of all. Eons ago healing magic was very popular, but it takes a pure spirit to handle it properly. Over the years as corruption spread through the land fewer and fewer people were found to be able to use it. It comes from having pure intentions and a good heart. That was the only reason I didn’t kill you and why I sent the ogre away. It’s bad luck to hurt such a rare thing and those that wield healing magic are considered sacred among my kind. We are forbidden from hurting those with healing magic. You see in this world, all creatures have some magic, but very few actually have enough to use it a lot and by that I also include the magic of certain types that are considered the real thing.”
“Like rangers?” I asked.
She laughed, “Pffh, please. Those are just servants of the wilderness. They actually have very little magic, and none of them will ever in their life time have as much as you or I. It’s true, the things you call rangers do have a little bit though, but it’s like a small drop in the bigger scope of things.”
“Rangers do have some though right?” I wondered.
She considered her words carefully. “Ranger magic is like…hmm…how do I put it? It’s the magic of emulating how creatures live. It’s a type of survival magic and one of the oldest types but very simple. And they have very limited mana pools. Think about it; they can emulate combat, and forage traits; plus other things right? Basically it’s very simple low power of mimicking how animals survive and learn to coexist with the world. That’s also why it was the first type of magic to manifest. In other words it’s a magic of beast mimicry. Mimicry of wolves to track, mimicry of squirrels to find nuts and seeds, mimicry of how beaver make a den, mimicry of the bear keeping the wolves at bay, mimicry of how deer run and evade their enemies. It’s simple yet effective nonetheless.”
“I hadn’t thought about it that way. You make it sound like it’s not worth much,” I said, but inwardly what she said interested me greatly about them.
She shook her head, “The skills and practice built up of the servants of the wilderness will yield fruit and are great, but don’t think that’s the end point of this world’s magic. It’s a good set of skills. But I don’t think you wish to spend all your time on such arguments. There are other types of magic and ways to live that could utilize your power more effectively.”
“So can you help me?” I asked carefully. “My sister and the others with me are in a lot of trouble. We need help to live. We don’t know how to survive in this world, and the orcs are coming for us.” I described to her how we’d been summoned next to one such fortress.
She face palmed herself, shaking her head right after. “That’s just more human recklessness. The ones you call the Egyptians have been playing with that spell too much, trying to bring others here to help them fight as slaves and pawns. The last group they brought here and the one before that are already wiped out, with only a handful of survivors and their culture annihilated from this world.”
“So there are others?” I asked wanting to confirm.
She nodded, “Sunghee probably told you about KoreaTown. It’s now a dangerous ruin, so don’t bother looking for friends there. There’s no one left there after it was sacked by monsters...of both kinds. You won’t find the survivors of KoreaTown there. There were a few other towns summoned here before them from your world, that didn’t even last a day. The Egyptian priests and others won’t listen though even though others have warned them. They do a lot of harm by that spell, you see. Not only are there deaths from the people not knowing how to live here, and being destroyed by monsters; but you see to use that much power all at once and rip a whole community from another world, there is only one way to have that much power gathered up.”
I listened while she took a deep breath. Then she sighed again.
“They were basically using blood sacrifice to gather up that much power.” She wiped away a tear. Somehow that tear was for someone who was sacrificed I think.
“Ah. You are talking like…human sacrifice?” I couldn’t say anything coherently. It was too shocking.
“Yo-you’re sure?” I then asked.
She nodded, being emotionally overcome. She couldn’t speak for a while. “They gather up everyone that’s not their people. Doesn’t matter who it is; orcs, other demi-humans, goblins, kobolds, Yayoi villagers taken by night, and others…Basically everyone they can and sacrifice them in a temple to one of their evil gods and then at some point when they’ve done enough damage sooner or later a whole town of people somehow ends up on their frontier acting as a buffer against the orcs for them. But I’m not entirely sure if their summoning the school next to the orcs is from recklessness only or if they also have poor math skills too, or both.”
“But there’s like no gain! People die like crazy!” I protested, thinking of all the people in my school.
She nodded, “that’s why I think it’s better if this world doesn’t have humans anymore. Blood sacrifice is pretty awful. It’s true you can generate a lot of magic fast, but you have like a famine after that because you killed off so many people who were using magic, and seeds for future magic. They can only destroy, but not create anymore. Somehow the people of this world have become so evil that it’s like they live like cockroaches.”
She then added, “by the way the reason you off-worlders are given magic is that through the sum of all the magic power changing your bodies as you cross worlds. It’s like how water condenses on jars and containers from the outside trying to cross over.”
“That’s interesting. I’d wondered about that and why some of our people changed. So, you are thinking I should avoid living with the Egyptians? Are they doing that all the time or only certain time periods?” I asked.
She shook her head, “Well I didn’t exactly go there to check that small detail. I’d probably avoid them if I were you though. They don’t care if they make a mistake on who they sacrifice. I don’t consider their cities safe enough for me to investigate that bit.”
“What can you do to help us?” I asked.
“How?” she asked harshly and a bit annoyed.
“Well for starters, I need a safe place to take the people that were pulled into this world with me. I also need a way of keeping us all from being slaves, and we have a problem with not being able to read the magic windows and magic system in this world, since it’s written in Egyptian?”
She thought for a minute, again looking annoyed. “I can’t believe I’m helping a human. Hmm, first we need to let you meet the elders from my village. They will have to give me the OK. But the resurfacing of lost magic will interest them. You see healing magic has been lost from here. We still have life transfer, but that gets messy with overuse. I still don’t like humans. But I can’t ignore that among my people cure and heal magic is considered sacred and something that needs to be protected.”
“So you’ll do it?” my mouth gaped in astonishment. I was surprised she’d said that. I’d wanted information, but if she was willing to do more that’d be great too.
“There’s just one small problem,” the fox girl said. “You see, I’m trapped in here too. So I can’t very well guide and help you when I’m imprisoned in a crystal too.” She frowned. She probably hadn’t wanted to tell me that, and it was obviously it was eating away at her pride.
“Eh?! What? That can’t be! You fought me! You weren’t in a jail cell like the others!” I exclaimed.
She shook her head, “I just bent reality a bit because I possess similar magic as the type of magic that fuels this demon box. I fight back, but I’m limited to how much I can fight back. And I can’t get out on my own. For that reason, being of common elements, and because my element is “bending reality” I could do so, but the cost is high. Also, the reason I’m in the box is the same as the other girls. He wanted me to be his sex slave, but I fought him every step of the way. I almost got him in check mate a few times. But then he started getting stronger. The only thing that’s different is I’ve been resisting it, and not allowing the boss orc to have his way with me. That’s why I tried to kill you and pulled you away from Sunghee.”
She then suddenly pulled down her mage robe collar and I could see the same silver collar that Sunghee had cuffed around her neck. Now I finally understood it wasn’t just jewelry, but was a slave control device of some kind. She frowned, showing it of course. But I still didn’t dare piss her off, since she’d almost killed me with the ogre.
“I was captured by the boss orc, because at the time he’d restrained me with his orc priests. But I was originally more powerful than him or his minions and more dangerous, so he wasn’t able to violate me and really struggled to even imprison me, because I could get out of the chains and restraints, but not out of the demon box. Thus he put me in a crystal, but I still was strong enough to resist him and we would often fight over my jail cell while I resisted him as much as I could. More often than not I’d run around the whole time until he ran out of time in the box,” she said.
“So you know how to fight the orcs?” I asked, hoping for something good. I listened like a kid to her story. After all, this entire world was unique. I couldn’t believe I was meeting a person that wasn’t human too! This was amazing! I struggled to contain my excitement, but I was afraid if I overwhelmed her with stuff to ask that she’d run off or get annoyed.
“True...but I can’t help you.”
She shook her head, “The truth is, I’ve bled away a lot of my power fighting him. I’ll be lucky if I have anything left when I get out. Witches and people of my kind can’t just use magic non-stop forever without a good rest. Contrary to popular believe mages don’t regenerate all of their power back within just one sleep either like some think. The demon box prevents me from being injured because it’s a pocket dimension, but because it’s been a time stop it’s like I’ve fought non-stop with no rest for a long time. With that happening the boss orc would get to rest and come back to fight me every day with breaks.”
“So you can see why that would bleed out my power just trying to hang on. If you hadn’t come along, I would have succumbed to defeat probably in another year or two.” She shrugged, “I can’t fight the demon box’s power forever even though it’s similar to my elements of magic. But I did OK hanging on for awhile and avoided him defiling me. So I’m happy enough how it turned out. But I feel very bad for Sunghee, who was had the worst of it.”
She had her head low, looking sad. Still even though she said she hated humans if she felt sorry for Sunghee there was a chance I could probably sway her. I think her seeing Sunghee’s suffering had made her forget Sunghee was just a human.
It also meant that it was probably my only chance.
“I want to help Sunghee. I feel bad for her,” I said, which was true. Just thinking about Sunghee made me want feel bad. To have been trapped here for so long must have been a hard thing for her.
The fox girl was regarding me strangely for awhile. I could tell she still didn’t trust me yet. Who knows, it might take years for that to happen. But at least I’d gotten her to talk to me. I knew more about this world too, even if it was only a tiny piece of the whole larger puzzle.
“Who would have thought a human would have a lost magic,” she muttered, with her arms crossed.
“I’ll have to think about this,” she added after a pause.
I was going to ask her more when I suddenly felt myself being pulled away from her. Just like gravity, I was being sucked backwards against the wall. I needed more answers from her, but even while fighting it I couldn’t halt my progress into the inky black fog blotting out the edges of my vision.
Then I realized as the dream was fading into darkness that it was really someone shaking my shoulder and arms and trying to wake me up from the dream. The shaking was getting more intense and then suddenly someone pinched my cheek. Only Rina would pinch my cheek like that to wake me up.
NO! Just when I was making some progress! Argh! I was going to be so mad when I found out who was waking me up! If only they’d waited just a few more minutes!
That fox girl was also just getting to the pieces of the puzzle I needed!