CHAPTER 2: Larancia Pass-

[POV character: Marietta]

A scarfed man wearing tattered clothes looked out into the horizon from one of Larancia's many peaks. One quick glance and he noticed a strange sight. Something is moving through Larancia pass, he just can't see it.

His eyes start to glow dimly. In an instant, he sees the strange machination of what seems to be a huge floating box. Squinting his eyes further, he starts to see the auras of whoever is inside it. None of them interesting.

Except this one. It is glowing bright yellow. The man flinched for a moment, shocked at what he just realized.

"Hmm" He said before vanishing into a thin veil of smoke.

Marietta looked outside the carriage's window. The Larancia pass is a dead wasteland, just two mountains that are barely together such that it forms a valley of sorts. The carriage is moving at quite a slow pace. It is noontime, causing the ground to have more prominent cracks.

Nothing fancy is inside the carriage, just crates containing various weaponry and commodities just enough so that the squad can last for a month. The walls seem to be made of maple wood. Every side has it's window, making it easier to see what's outside and if there is something... or someone following them. Currently, Ruffo is dictating the path of the carriage, as he is the only one intricate enough to know how it works.

Currently, Marietta huddled herself in a corner with a window. Gorf laid beside Ruffo which is in the other corner. Leo and Quirlin sat together and Silio sat on the corner directly against Marietta's.

Marietta sighed and feels the boredom getting to her."While all this invisibility and 'auto-control' is impressive, it is quite slow. And we really need to hurry." She said to the group.

Ruffo, reading a tome, said to her,"We have to be slow, this pass is notorious for garnering many demons and other forms of monsters. If we go too fast, we will get noticed even if we are invisible."

The carriage continues at a slow pace, it's clockwork machinery making most of the background noise.

Marietta told Ruffo,"What I think is that faster is better, mortal. I do not think these demons you speak of are capable of outmaneuvering if so."

Ruffo closed his tome, "Maria, the monsters we fought two days ago are pretty dumb. The monsters in here aren't. I bet they will probably outnumber us too."

Marietta sighed. She observed his current group members. Gorf seems to be sleeping. Leo looks out the window, thinking of something. Ruffo continues to read his tome. Quirlin is polishing his sword. Lastly, Silio stares at her.

Marietta glared at Silio, "What are you looking at?" said Marietta with an annoyed tone.

"Oh nothing, it's just so rare to see an Angel. Might as well make the most of it!" Silio chuckled.

Marietta ignored him and stares at the window. There are barely any signs of life at all, no plants, no animals, just rock.

Quirlin asked,"Maria, why do you not have wings? If I recall correctly, angels are known to have wings."

Marietta replied, "I don't have the means and energy to show mine."

Quirlin frowned, disappointed that he could not see Marietta showing her wings, "Why not?"

"I need my staff." Marietta said while still staring outside the window.

"Hey!" Leo shouted. "There's something.. someone up there in the peaks!".

Marietta looked at the window. She could see something there. It stayed in one place. Smoke quickly replaced it.

"Did you see that?" Leo shouted. Marietta nodded. "What do you think of this, Ruffo?" Quirlin replied, he seemed to finish polishing his sword.

"We will be fine, you do know that we are in an invisible carriage, right? This carriage lets us traverse dangerous paths safely." Ruffo said proudly.

Marietta looked out at the window. The "thing" and its smoke disappeared completely. Nothing else changed in the landscape. Everyone in the group remained in their position. By the tell of their faces, Marietta knows that they are getting impatient too.

Leo yawned. "If only this place had scenery, it would be much leeessss boring."

After a few minutes, trees start to sprout in the horizon. The end of the pass is near. Not only that, but vague shapes start to form in the incoming roadside.

Gorf woke up, "Are we there yet" he said.

"Seriously, people should stop fussing, they might just be clueless monsters." Ruffo said.

As the carriage starts to get nearer, the shapes start to become more clear.

They are demons. One is a gigantic single-eyed arachnoid with a pulsating abdomen. Another one is much more humanoid, but inhumanely tall. It currently carries a club and wears primitive clothing, similar to cavemen.

Marietta realized that it is an ogre. She remembered that she fought one of those in the surface world Aventheim. Huh, they are here too she thought.

A pack of horned wolves roams with them, continuously sniffing the roadside. A winged eyeball starts to hover around the giant.

What's shocking are the presence of humans. One of them is a woman, wearing rural-clothing like of a farmwoman, and currently equips a wand. The other is a man with tattered clothes. His most prominent feature is his long scarf and dimly glowing eyes.

None of them notice the carriage for the moment.

"Oh great, a huge pack of monsters" Leo sarcastically said.

"I don't get why there are humans though." Gorf said, picking up his axe.

"Let's keep moving, they won't notice us." Ruffo said to them.

Marietta is about to protest but she realized that this is their only hope of safely leaving the pass.

The group of monsters and the pair of humans gathered about in the middle of the road. The carriage slowly stops a few meters away from the crowd.

"Crap, this is bad." Quirlin said.

"Let's wait it out and-" Ruffo said before Leo intervened, "It's too late they see us now."

One of the humans, the man stared at the carriage. With a musky voice, he said, "One of them... valuable..."

The woman replied, "Oh dear, some fresh meat I see! Good job, husband for finding this precious loot." The monsters remained oblivious of the carriage's presence.

Ruffo pushed the button to open the carriage. The carriage slowly starts to appear. The walls transformed into gray, with blue lines occasionally swirling around its surface. The walls start to fold into the carriage floor, completely exposing the passengers in it.

Ruffo stood. Other members followed his example.

"Can you please get out of the way?" Leo shouted to the couple.

"Idiot, now they won't let us through." Gorf said.

"What are you doing here?" Ruffo said to them.

The woman said, "What do you think, dear? Stealing your loot of course! My husband told me that your girl will make the monsters very satisfied."

Marietta snapped at her, "Mortal, you do not know who you are dealing with."

The woman laughed so hard. After she regained her composure she said, "Of course we do! You are clearly something special in my husband's eyes. Makes me very jealous too!"

The monsters around the couple start to feel uneasy. Marietta noticed that they are looking for a fight. The horned wolves start to snarl.

"Why are you fighting with monsters?" Ruffo asked.

"Don't you get it, boy?! The gods have abandoned us! Even the royal kingdom are no help! The monsters... they saved us, spared us!", she laughed maniacally, "We owe debts to them, and destroying you is one way to do so!"

The woman twirls her wand and points at Gorf. Gorf looked confused at the moment before an unseen force knocks him off the disassembled carriage.

"Gorf!", Silio shouted and instinctively ran towards him. Quirlin joined Silio to check out Gorf.

"You... pricks! Look's like we're gonna fight." Leo said to the couple. Marietta said, "Hand me a weapon, I can handle them." Ruffo complied and fumbled in one of the carriage's boxes then hands out a rapier pointing towards him, it's handle on the opposite end.

Marietta took the weapon, and points to the woman. "You will die, in the gods' name."

The woman chuckled, "These brats never listen, attack them, for chaos!"

The monsters immediately swept into motion, the pack of wolves leading the way. Ruffo starts to chant some scriptures from his tome. A wide sandstone wall slowly rises from the ground between the two opposing forces. The wolves quickly halted their progress. The winged eyeball flew over the 10-foot tall wall, eyes glowing and preparing to strike.

Leo unsheathed one of the daggers in his back then throws it directly to the eyeball. It noticed this and quickly dodged out of the way.

Marietta pointed her newly-acquired sword against the heavens, saying, "Petalis de Puniceis!". Radiant yellow energy crackled from Marietta's hand, slowly enveloping the sword. The sword slowly turned crimson red, it's guard transformed into thorned vine.

The winged eyeball's iris expanded, jutting out a laser beam directly aimed towards Marietta.

Marietta anticipated this and leaped out from the carriage, causing the beam to make contact with the carriage floor and explode. Leo and Ruffo also went out of the carriage due to this.

Marietta leaped forward towards the flying eyeball with sword ready to pierce it out of existence. The winged eyeball narrowly dodged and tackled her, making her fall near the wall.

Marietta grunted."Pesky scum...", she said.

The sandstone wall starts to shake, cracks start to appear in its surface.

"Maria, look out!" Ruffo shouted from a distance.

The wall blasted apart, showing the remaining monsters. The wolves start to howl, finding their new prey. The ogre readies its club. The giant spider hisses at her. Marietta stood up and took her defensive stance.

Leo immediately dashed towards Marietta, holding a spherical metal ball in his hand with another unsheated dagger at the other. "Ruffo, give us cover!"

Ruffo nodded and started to chant words from his tome. A small, ethereal winged shield about the size of a fist starts to hover above Leo and Marietta's head. "It will only protect you once!"

The ogre swings his club at Marietta. Marietta parried it, her sword burning bright red. She is starting to get pushed backwards. Meanwhile the pack of wolves and the giant spider starts to lunge at her "Hngh..." Marietta tries to counteract the club's weight and the ogre's force with her two hands, but clearly she's losing the battle of strength. The ogre smirked, applying more force with his other hand and pushing Marietta further back.

A flurry of arrows start to rain towards the demonic forces. Upon contact on the ground, icicle shards sprout out of the arrows, contrasting with the cracked sun-burned ground. One of the wolves were hit by the ice-imbued arrows in its back. The wolf paused as its body slowly turns to ice. The corpse of the winged eyeball fell to the ground, multiple arrows instantly turning it into ice. The other wolves and the spider dodged the attack. The battlefield is covered with icicle shards, deterring the foes to make movements.

Silio appeared behind Ruffo, "These monsters will pay on what they have done to Gorf! Ruffo, enchant my arrow!". Ruffo nodded, touching the bow as Silio takes aim. "Where's Quirlin by the way?" Ruffo asked.

Silio's arrowhead starts to burn bright white,"Oh he's with Gorf at the moment. Gorf's still unconscious."

The ogre has been struck by one of the arrows in it's shoulder. He used his other hand to shrug it off. "Puny woman" The ogre said before fully forcing the ogre upon the sword with his two hands.

Marietta's leg start to shake. She realized she couldn't handle it anymore. Her arms also start to weaken, the flaming sword slowly goes dim. Suddenly a huge ornate shield sprung out between the sword and the club. The ogre appeared confused, bashing the shield with his club to no avail.

Leo threw his ball in the air. The ball split into 4 parts, forming what seems to be a metallic net. The net caught the rest of the wolves. The net's heavy weight resisted the wolves' efforts to throw it out. In an instant, the net flared with electricity. The wolves yelped, feeling their skin start to burn. After a few minutes, all that remained are ashes and the metallic net turning back to it's sphericall ball shape.

The gigantic spider lashed out by spurting it's web onto the approaching Leo. Leo got trapped by the web. The spider approached Leo, baring his venomous fangs at him, preparing for a bite.

Marietta, ignored by the ogre, dashed and leapt towards the gigantic spider. With great force, he impaled the spider's thorax. The spider imploded, green acid spread everywhere. "Get me out of here!" Leo said, his face covered withe the spiders green muck.

Marietta touched the web with her sword. The web slowly disintegrated due to its warmth. "Thanks" said Leo with a huge grin.

"We have to kill the two remaining humans" Marietta said.

The couple stood behind the battle all the time, amused of what is currently happening.

Leo nodded, "Yeah, I think they are too powerful though..."

The shield dissolved, and the ogre started to run towards Marietta, "PUNY WOMAN!" the ogre roared, his club ready for another smack.

Silio's arrow flew at a phenomenal speed and great accuracy. It hit the ogre's head, particularly it's brain. The ogre grunted, then fell, dead.

Ruffo said to Silio, "I have... to rest..."

Silio nodded, "Okay, go look out for Gorf." Ruffo complied, joining Quirlin to support the unconscious Gorf.

Meanwhile, the couple starts to walk towards the battlefield. The icicle shards near them start to melt.

"What a surprise, you survived! Certainly you are not traders.. Too bad we did not get easy pickings today." The woman sighed with disappointment.

"No matter, you will all die anyway as sacrifices to the demon gods!" The woman made an impossibly wide grin. His husband stayed silent, eyes still glowing luminiscent yellow.

Silio approached both of his teammates. "3 for 2, you two are the easy pickings." He said to them.

Leo looked at the carriage wreck behind him, "Where's Ruffo, Quirlin and Gorf?"

Silio replied, "Both are resting. Quirlin's looking out for them."

The group heard a familiar voice behind, "Ruffo! He... disappeared!". It appears to be Quirlin, who still stayed behind for Gorf.

"Oooh, your precious teammate? Too bad you left him behind." The farmwoman said to them. With a twirl of her wand, Ruffo suddenly appeared, unconscious and floating as if hanged from a tree.

"Ruffo!" Silio and Leo shouted.

"We'll have a deal. You can get this kid back, if you give us her." The woman points to Marietta. Marietta glared back at her.

"No." Silio and Leo both said to the woman.

"No?" The woman flustered. "Fine, looks like he'll be sent to Niflheim right in front of your eyes."

The woman points her wand to Ruffo. Purple energy discharges from the wand, electrocuting Ruffo. "Gah!" Ruffo suddenly awoke due to the pain he just experienced.

Leo instinctively threw his dagger at the woman. "Oh no you didn't!" Leo said. The dagger threw off the wand, which stopped the discharge to Ruffo. Ruffo groaned, fell to the ground and eventually returning to being unconscious.

"You will die first, boy." The woman angrily said, picking up her wand again.

Silio shot an ice-imbued arrow. The farmwoman smirked as the arrow suddenly stopped right at her face before burning into a crisp.

Her husband suddenly dashes towards Leo, grappling him and throwing them both into the ground. Smoke suddenly formed around them. Few moments later, the smoke dissipated, both the husband and Leo absent in it.

"Bastard, what have you done to him!" Silio raged at her.

"Oh, my honey doesn't like team fights."

"I've had enough of this." Marietta said.

Marietta lunged towards the farmwoman, swinging her flaming sword with great force. The farmwoman sidestepped, pointing her wand at her. Marietta tries to get up, but it seems she can't move. "Is that the best you can do? I don't know what my husband sees in you, pathetic girl." The farmwoman said, her wand glowing purple, ready to consume Marietta from existence.

An ice arrow shot her shoulder, ice slowly creeps from her wound. The woman lashed out. "You will pay for this, pretty boy!". The farmwoman tries to remove the ice slowly growing in her shoulder.

Marietta kneels and swings her sword at the woman's waist, "You talk too much, mortal." The woman gasped, as she slowly realize that she is cut into two halves.

"N-no..." The woman's face paused as if screaming, but no sound came.

Marietta sighed. No wonder fickle mortals can't be trusted with power she thought.

"Maria, are you alright?" Silio offers his hand.

Maria took it, getting up. "Yes, but there are other things we should worry about."

Silio looked back towards the destroyed carriage and he sees the silhouette of two persons, "Is that Gorf? and Quirlin too! Oh thank the gods that he is alright."

The Gorf slowly approached them, his injury still not fully healed. Gorf looked around, "Where's Leo?"

"He disappeared with the creepy-eyed man." Silio frowned.

Gorf chuckled, "Don't worry Silio, Leo has a few tricks under his sleeve to defeat him." Silio smiled weakly. Gorf and Silio carries the unconscious Ruffo. Ruffo has multiple burn marks in his skin.

The group returned to the carriage wreck. While nothing of value has been destroyed, the carriage is no longer usable.

Quirlin took up 2 large backpacks, "Maria, can you please carry that backpack over there?" Pointing to a green leather bag. "It contains our medical supplies." Maria nodded and took up the bag.

Quirlin said, " I guess this is enough, we have to abandon our other weapons and stuff here, we can't carry them all now."

Silio looked towards the sky. It is currently dusk, the sun is about to set. "Let's hurry, I'm sick of meeting more monsters."

The group went to the forest, and made their shelter for the night.