Ah the next chapter. Onto the Selepation Cave. I hated the cave worm, that boss was so annoying to beat. And we get an actual explanation from the last chapter, yay!
Oh and also. VERY sorry for taking forever to upload this, I kind of got out of the habit of writing and yeah... Well, hopefully I can do another chapter within this next month or whatever huh...? To those who're still reading this, I really am sorry.
"Ferra...?" Retalm asked hesitantly. No one had seen her kick him, and he didn't want everyone annoyed at her, but he still planned to be very cautious about the Yuke. They were heading back, almost at the Fields of Fum. "Do you mind me asking what exactly you did...?"
Ferra remained silent for so long that everyone expected no answer to be forthcoming, but to their surprise Ferra spoke. "In one of the books in the Moschet Library, there was outlined a spell that allows one to destroy a monster by converting it back to miasma. The catches are that you must have a sample of the miasma, for example, having cut it and using some of the blood to fuel the spell, and also, it wears greatly on the caster." Ferra explained. "I'm sorry for being rather ill-tempered afterwards, however, I was in a lot of pain, and that can't just be flung aside by a cure spell, there's no way to block it out. It will cause pain even without a cure spell."
"Wait, wait..." Verron said, staring at Ferra. "You snuck into the library, even when Lynum specifically said don't go in there...? You're lucky you weren't caught!"
"I was actually..." Ferra said, fiddling with her hands awkwardly. "He was kind enough to let me go, but on the promise that I didn't tell anyone of you some other stuff. And don't ask. It's things, magic that are much better left unsaid and unused. Things which are much more deadly than what I used..."
"Alright, I can understand that. Now what about the magnetism or whatever you called it?" Verron asked, eyes gleaming curiously.
"Ah. Magnetism is a property of some metals, in which they can be attracted to other metals with the same property. The swords of the Lizardmen we fought at the Veo Lu Sluice are made mainly of a metallic metal, and since their equipment seems to be the same no matter the rank... Well, I used the sword, and its pieces, magnetised them after throwing them, so they would be attracted to the arrows and axe of the king. And since he was moving, the pieces would also be moving, and, well, like they did, hopefully run into him and cause some fairly serious damage." Verron nodded as he listened, seeming rather impressed.
"Would that work for other monsters? I mean, could we keep some of the metal bits around maybe and use them?" the Lilty asked curiously.
Ferra nodded slowly. "That would be possible I suppose..." she murmured, about to speak when seven names were called out in rapid succession. Sena was waving to everyone, while Anemos stood some distance off, a quiet nod towards them the only motion he made, both waiting near the edge of the massive barrier which surrounded the Fields of Fum. As soon as the caravan was inside the larger protective shield Sena rushed forwards, checking on all her friends while Anemos approached more cautiously, glancing between everyone. "What happened?" he asked. "Was there a fire?"
Curious looks were exchanged before mostly everyone realized that ashes and soot were clinging to them, little patches here and there.
"In a sense. We kind of blew up the entire Daemon's Court."
Ria had never seen Anemos look so perplexed and astonished, bursting out laughing as he began to nod then whipped his head around. "Come again?" he asked in shock.
"They were preparing for some form of attack..." Retalm explained. "They had stored a large amount of explosive powder inside the actually main building, and all we had to do was set it alight."
Anemos remained looking shocked, but shut his mouth, nodding a little. "Ah, I see..." he murmured softly. "I take it that everyone is alright, though...?"
"Yeah, pretty much. Cuts, scrapes, bruises, the basic stuff of fighting monsters, nothing major.
"Well, it's good that everyone is fine." Anemos said softly with a dip of his head. "How long do you think you'll all want to rest?"
Various glances were exchanged. After the whole fight and everything... Well, Selepation Cave wasn't supposed to be the scariest of places, but still, anywhere with monsters was dangerous. "Perhaps three or four days." Ferra said, making the decision, given the multiple glances that had been tossed her way.
A massive blast of wind rocked over the caravanners, howling fitfully as it swirled and swung its way between various rocks and into and out of oddly shaped holes within the stones, eerie screechy noises and deep moans ringing out in a cacophony of noises, dying away for a time before another huge blast of wind followed after one the heels of the first. Everyone shielded their eyes at the entrance to the cave as bits of grit flung towards them, before moving quickly forwards, moving inside the spacious area. When they were through the initial tight entrance, the winds became much calmer, though still easily strong enough to whip around clothes and hair. "No wonder there's the rumour that all the wind in the world comes from this one spot, all the winds from the cave get compressed at the entrance..." Ferra observed.
Various nods met the words as the group continued further in, careful to stay in the middle of the cave, away from the deep pits which appeared, sloping downwards into blackness, a fall no one wanted to take. Another gust of wind pushed the air around, causing many shivers as the cold air was forced against skin. Anemos smiled a little when he saw the motions. "Now what did I say about dressing warmly, because it'd be much colder in the cave than outside?" he asked, taking a bundle of fabric from his back and setting it down on the ground, unwinding it calmly, handing various warmer clothes, mainly hats and gloves, out to most of the members, but he did toss the two other Selkies a jacket each. "Next time maybe you'll trust me?" he asked, looking towards Rom, and giving a slight glance to Sena. Rom had steadfastly refused to believe a cave could get as cold as it was in the winter, and Sena had somewhat sided with him on that, something which irked Anemos to no end, likely the reason he was looking a little smug that he had been right.
"Are you sure the gloves won't get in the way of our weapons?" Sena asked, choosing to ignore the comment.
"They have some padding on the fingers so that you can grip things well. Yes, you'll be able to handle things fine. Now come on, let's get through here already."
And so they went, walking forwards, not encountering anything for a decent portion of time, actually, until...
Two familiar green coloured monsters stood, walking along a part of the cave, on both sides a sharp drop off. "Here's a question. Why don't we just go down and not bother trying to not fall off? I mean, we could travel along teh bottom and climb up when we have to..." Verron asked, looking between everyone as he strung his bow.
"Simple, those drops are pits. Meaning we would have to go down and back up and down and back up. And also, they are extraordinarily deep as far as I am aware, and very straight downwards. And I'm not sure I want to know what lurks down at the bottom of them." Retalm said, a pale blue light swirling around his hand. At a nod to Verron, an arrow flew and a blizzard spell was released. Neither of the two lizardmen had a chance, leaving the way clear to continue on.
"Hmm..." Retalm said, staring up at the gate in frustration. Nothing, absolutely nothing, seemed to be opening it. They had tried various spells, brute force, everything. And Ria's light tapping of the odd purple crystals hanging down, producing an odd musical tone with her axe knocking against them, was not helping his temper. "Ria, would you please stop that?" he finally demanded, temper worn thin.
Ria threw her axe down, aggravated. "Alright, fine, sheesh!" She said, slumping down. "We've been waiting here for at least half an hour, trying to shove it open, tried to basically blow it up, we've tried everything! So how are we supposed to keep going, huh?" she demanded.
"I don't know, try thinking, perhaps!" Retalm growled out, before inhaling and clutching his hands together.
"What's THAT supposed to mean?" Ria demanded, her temper flaring up quickly.
Iris stepped between the two, looking between both, giving them a look which made both the Yuke and the Lilty feel rather ashamed for fighting. "We're supposed to work together, not argue..." she murmured.
Everyone had spread out to think or try things after they couldn't move past the door, Rom and Sena quietly talking together, while Kevin, Iris, Ferra, and Verron had all began to speak as well, Iris leaving the group to prevent the fight before going back. Anemos was staring outwards, standing right at the edge of one of the pits, just staring downwards curiously, until Sena noticed and yanked him away, calling him an idiot.
"I know the previous caravan mentioned something about it." Kevin said with a frown. "They said they had troubles getting past the door, but they never really talked much about the cave..." he mumbled with a frown.
"And you can't recall anything." Ferra said, to which Kevin nodded. After another few minutes Ria tapped the crystals a few more times, before apologising as Retalm turned to her. Suddenly Kevin moved forwards, hitting his own weapon against the purple rocks.
"Oh for goodness sake, save annoying us for later!" Retalm growled.
"No, shut up for a second." Kevin commented lightly, flicking his rapier between the two. "That's it... That's what these are here for, I can't believe it took me so long to realise! Ria, Retalm, hit the other two when I say now, alright?" Kevin said eagerly. Everyone gathered nearby, watching as the three weapons hit the crystals, a different, calmer and happier note ringing out into the air as the three sounds melded together harmoniously. "Hah!" Kevin shouted as the door creaked slowly open. "Got it!"
"So, you have to hit the crystals as one to open the door..." Rom said, moving and grabbing the chalice with a small laugh, tugging it close to his body as another gust blew through, this one strong enough that everyone shielded their eyes from it.
"But aside from frustrating a caravan, what purpose does it serve?" wondered Ferra quietly, though only Anemos heard her, giving a worried nod towards the Yuke in recognition of her words. What purpose indeed... the only thing I can think of is to alert something of our presence...
And so they travelled further, moving into an area within the cave that was dotted with small pools of water, apparently as deep as the dips around the cave, though the liquid made it hard to tell, obscuring light more quickly. Skirting around the small holes, they kept moving on until there was a sudden splashing noise. Everyone whirled about to see a fishlike creature hop from a pool, then several others from other pools of water. Slowly, each pit was revealed to have one of the monsters within it. "This... is going to be a problem." Verron murmured, an arrow aiming into the tightest throng. There was silence for the longest time, no one moving, until all as one the sahagins attacked, lunging forwards in one wave.
While they were not the strongest of creatures, there certainly were a LOT of them, and the green bodies shoved forwards, claws slashing out, tail flailing, aiming to maim the caravanners in any way possible. Rom darted from side to side, his daggers stabbing quickly, hauling Sena and Retalm back as they were threatened to be cut off from the main group.
Verron, after firing two arrows, had put down his bow and drawn his short sword, which was much more useful in close combat, slashing and stabbing quickly with it beside Kevin, whose blade was poking with deadly precision. Ferra and Retalm had moved to the center of the group, sending out bursts of magic, causing bolts of lightning and brilliant flames to burn and shock the fish monsters.
Iris had taken the flames from one of Ferra's attacks, and was using it alongside her sword to slash and strike, to burn and sending some of them scurrying back into the water, extinguishing the flames which clung to them like little painful ropes. Sena was swinging her racquet, giving hard blows to each of the monsters, and, whenever there was a brief lull near her, holding the racquet out, gathering a ball of energy around it and flicking the weapon, sending it flying off, smashing into one of the monsters and killing it.
After a time the fight ended, and everyone took a few minutes break to rest and recover, before once more moving forwards, further into the cave. Into a deeper part, where the winds once again became stronger, and two monsters barred their path.
Unlike Lynum, the gigas was smaller, as well as wearing a collection of tattered rags over its purple skin, anger and violence burning in its eyes as it gave a guttural growl. "Caravanners!" came the roar as it charged forwards at them. The second monster was bird like, with oddly coloured, almost stone like feathers, and charged at the group of nine as well.
Kevin's rapier slashed at the gigas as it roared past, but was tossed down from a swing of the arm. How strong is Lynum if this one can do that!? Came the shocked thought as he hauled himself to his feet. The purple monster aimed a punch at the two Lilties, who both jumped aside to avoid it. The monster whirled, growling deeply and throwing another punch, focussing on the two smaller fighters.
Meanwhile the cockatrice had run forwards in the confusion, stabbing its beak viciously forwards, hitting Anemos and Iris, leaving them frozen as stone. Rom, however, was too quick to be caught by the bird, and ran around it, leaping over and continuing to move side to side, ducking and weaving, away from the beak, before the bird paused and exhaled a cloud of poisonous gas at him. Given how wide the blast was he was caught, coughing and backing away quickly. Unfortunately for the monster, it left itself wide open, the sharpened edge of Sena's racquet leaving a deep cut on its neck before the blunt part smashed down on its head, killing the bird.
The gigas was continuing to roar and throw violent punches, trying to kill both Lilties, a berserk fury in its eyes. While Ferra was treating the poisoned and petrified caravanners, and Retalm healing Kevin, who had been tossed aside a second time, ending up half conscious on the ground, Verron had drawn his sword, slashing the arm that once more pummeled the ground next to him, Ria's axe leaving a deep cut in the monster's chest. The gigas roared in frustration as Iris stabbed it in the back, whirling around, wrenching her sword from her hands, and sending a blast of icy breath at the clavat, knocking her backwards and leaving her shivering awfully.
"Now, you two are dead!" it roared out, inhaling again. Obviously it didn't expect both Lilties to leap towards it as it prepared the attack, two blades slashing almost simultaneously into the monster's chest, leaving another few deep wounds. The icy blast exploded outwards once more, but both Lilties, being rather short, barely even felt the blast. "Got you now!" came the next thunderous roar, a sweeping arm knocking both across the icy rock, charging after the two once more, seeking to hurl them from within the chalice's protective field. However, that ended up being its undoing, as it once again hurled itself recklessly at them, the two slashed in unison, Ria's axe stabbing deep into the purple neck while Verron's sword embedded itself between two ribs. The gigas gasped out quietly, before slumping over. The good thing was that it was dead, the bad thing was that it took half the caravan to toss the body from the two Lilties, neither of whom seemed too happy about being almost crushed.
After the fight against the pair of monsters had finished, everyone continued to walk along calmly, but still looking about carefully. However, the time without fights lulled them all into a false sense of security, as no one was ready when a sahagin burst from its cover among some rocks, running forwards and tackling two of the members off of the narrow ledge they had been travelling across, down into a pit.
Well, it turned out the pits just had black stone around the bottom, making it look deeper. Not that it was exactly easy to get up, but... The sahagin had died in its reckless attack, one of Rom's daggers stabbed in its neck. The Selkie grabbed the fish like carcass and hurled it away from him and Sena, who had been the second member to fall down into the pit. "You alright?" he asked, helping her up.
"Yeah... just a bit sore... We rolled down the side kind of?" she asked. This pit was not a vertical fall, but a steeply sloped one.
"Mhm... Oi, guys! Mind throwin' us a rope or something?" Rom called up loudly to the caravanners who had gathered over the pit and were looking down. Ria nodded, moving away, while everyone else waited.
"We'll have to tie a few together, give me a minute." She called out.
Rom sighed slightly, tapping his foot impatiently, then looked to Sena, noticing her leaning heavily against the cold wall. "What's wrong?"
"I think I may have twisted my ankle." She murmured, shivering a little. "Like... really badly..." Rom sighed, moving over to her and letting her lean on his shoulder instead.
"I don't want you frozen." He said in an explanation as Sena gave him a curious look. She just nodded, before stiffening at an odd sound emitting from the edge of the pit, a kind of odd snuffling, sucking noise. What was most disturbing though, was that the sahagin had vanished, aside from its tail, which suddenly disappeared into the blackness. And, shuffling from the dark part, came an bulbous monster. It was rotund, had a blue carapace, no noticeable eyes, and moved on stubby legs, a round mouth gaping, almost large enough to swallow a caravanner standing up. Small teeth formed a pointy ring inside of the opening, and the worm like creature gave another inhale, slurping the last bit of the sahagin's tail into its maw. Sena stared in shock while Rom raised his dagger. "Well, this isn't good." He murmured.
Sena nodded, aiming her racquet, a white ball of light swirling around it once more before it launched forwards, smashing against the monster's hide. That caused it to briefly pause its slow approach, but came nowhere near stopping it. It just basically ignored the attack. "Okay, this is a lot worse than not good, that should've done something!" she yelped out, staring with horror.
"How are we supposed to kill something like that?" Ferra asked up top, not wanting to risk magic, if that would even affect the thing, given how it was getting too close to the others.
Retalm shook his head. "Cave worm! I've never heard of how to kill them, Anemos, have-?" He turned his helm, then glanced downwards. "What are you doing?" he demanded in a shout as the third Selkie skidded down the rocks.
Rom's attention was distracted by Retalm's shocked yell, looking upwards, hearing Anemos's voice echo slightly as well. "Move!" came the command, and Rom moved to the side, dragging Sena with him. Is he trying to get himself killed, at that speed he'll end up smashing right into it! He even left his spear up top! Well, Rom didn't have time to think that out, as words take time to form, but their general meaning appeared in a flicker of lightning fast thought. Then he noticed something, a small, black vial in one hand of Anemos, an icicle like dagger clenched in the other. Anemos didn't bother trying to stop at the bottom, using his speed to dive forwards at the monster, plunging his arm right into the mouth, stabbing upwards, the tip of the shiny white blade stabbing up through the blue armour. Nothing moved for a few seconds, then the monster began to dissolve to miasma. As soon as enough of it had faded away, Anemos staggered back a few paces, the dagger falling with a clatter to the ground, the wielder hunching over, kneeling and pressing his head to the ground, arm clutched tight to his chest.
Both the two Selkies moved quickly over to him, trying to get him to sit up, but he just shook his head slightly. Though neither could see it, two streaks of tears were running down his face and his teeth were grinding together as a pool of red began to form under his arm, already colouring his robes and soaking them. Sena looked on in shock as the blood began to pool before yelling up to Ferra and Retalm.
So it was, over twenty minutes later, the five emerged from the pit, Anemos staggering over to a wall to lean and rest against, the sleeve of the arm he had thrust into the monster's mouth ripped to tatters, more holes than intact cloth, the front of his robes, as well as the knees and both sleeves, dyed red. The silver eyes were closed, his face oddly pale, breathing coming softly and tiredly. "I need... a few minutes..." he muttered softly.
Everyone nodded, though none but the Yukes were quite sure what had happened. Both Lilties elected to go on watch for any approaching monsters, Kevin going with them while two worried Selkies and a Clavat talked to the two healers. "What happened to him?"
Retalm sat down, sighing. "Are you absolutely sure you want to know? It is not nearly... happy or anything close."
"Tell us." Sena commanded.
"Very well... Cave worms are powerful monsters, known for their ability to eat mostly anything." Retalm began. "When they grow large enough they produce a light gas which allows them to move by floating, and the inside of their mouth becomes covered with a very hard armour, akin to their outer shell. However... The armour grows from multiple teeth."
"So...?" Iris asked, expecting she wouldn't like the answer.
"Look at his sleeve." Everyone did as Retalm commanded. "His entire arm was like that, down to the bone. The cave worms can rotate their teeth about fifteen degrees to shred anything."
Iris stared in shock, clapping a hand over her mouth, while Sena made a slight retching noise, leaning against Rom for support, who shuddered at the thought. "Oh god..." he muttered. "Is he going to recover?"
"He will, the curing spell is currently working on replenishing the blood he lost." Retalm said calmly. "However, we need to wait at least a half hour before he is fit to go on." Everyone nodded quietly, while Sena made her way over to Anemos, sitting down beside him.
To her surprise the Selkie was still awake. "Why bother coming over here?" he asked softly.
"Because I want to know why you... well. Risked that happening." She said, gesturing to his arm.
"One arm or two lives, hard choice." Came the sarcastic reply, silver eyes half shut, though there was pain lingering in them. "Also, I didn't pour out all the poison, some remained in the vial, it's a thick liquid. So I still have it for emergencies, and I don't think that monster would've died to much else."
Sena shrugged slightly, looking uncomfortable, gently patting his shoulder. "Sorry." She murmured, surprised by how... distant he seemed. "Just... if you need a break after we get going again, tell us." She added quietly, going back to everyone else.
"I can't think of anything I'd rather not fight than a fully grown one of those..." Retalm was saying as she returned.
Kevin had rejoined the group while Sena had talked to Anemos. "Yeah, one issue..." he murmured. "I'm pretty sure a full grown one is guarding the myrrh tree..."
-headdesk- Anemos apparently will not stop being spotlight hoggy. Okay well. Maybe kind of, soon enough. After Selepation cave, though given that he could be called the main main character, well, yeah... And yes, I know I did skip some parts and such, but, really, fight scenes get to be so... repetitive at times. That's why I try to come up with new stuff and all, but... yeah. Hope you liked this chapter.
ANYWAYS next chapter: So they managed to kill a small one of the cave worms. But is it even possible to kill one which is fully grown? Sometimes running away is the only option, but with such strong winds is that even possible?