OoC: Well, since its been a little over a week since Fateful Night ended, so let's continue. ^_^
BiC: Loud hammering. The thunder of the blast furnace as the metals slowly melded into the proper alloy. From there, all that was left was cooling and building up the electrical wiring and adding the other enhancements. After all, this armor wasn't like any knight armor, it was an ideal armor that balanced offensive usefulness and defensive usefulness. Even though her last armor had been destroyed, Emile found herself recreating it very easily. After all, all that was left was the helmet.
It had been nearly two days, and tomorrow, she and the fruit that she had been letting stay in the basement of her house and feeding to be used as a dog to sniff out her target would be setting out. First, they were heading to some place called the "Dome", and from there, she would continue tracking this man that had dispatched this mage to fight her.
Last time I fought Zachary was in that city. When I fought him then, he wasn't much tougher than a child. That must be why he sent this guy to do his bidding. This stupid mage simply came here to fight me because he's probably getting paid, but I'll make Zachary pay. He won't get the better of me.
Emile stood up as she began to craft the helmet into its shape. After a few hours, the last bit of her armor had been refurbished. As for her spear, she had already tuned it up, so it was good to go. She had reinforced it with a bit of steel, to make it much stronger, so it could withstand whatever Zachary could produce.
The purple haired woman looked out the single window of her basement and sat down in a chair. "Tomorrow," Emile muttered as she laid her head down onto the table and drifted off to sleep.
Zachary emerged from the Dome as a man stepped out behind him. The dawn sun began to break the horizon as the two looked out into the distance. "Well, it seems that this hunting trip isn't going to be too productive. We pretty much wiped out all of the demons over the past three days. Still, we have one last thing to do, right?" the ice mage asked.
The Quincy nodded. "You've done very well setting it up too. After all, now we head for Estrella's Point. First, we have to trek towards the pathway that leads there. Still, we need to find our way through this forest," the dark clad man said as he drew as Seele Schneider and started cutting through the thick brush. "Its a long walk, but it will lead us to a path that'll lead us to some stairs that leads us into the mountains."
The Replicator stepped forwards and began to follow the archer. "Well, I guess we need to get going. They'll be on our heels before long. We need time to set up the ritual, right?"
Monroe nodded as he continued to carve a path towards where he guessed they were heading. "Don't think about it. If we need to, we can slow them down."
"Good," the amateur sorcerer commented as he followed and crossed his arms.
Emile stepped out of her house at the breaking of dawn, wearing her brand new exoskeleton armor as she looked at the oddly garbed man next to her. "Why didn't you wake me up earlier? We were supposed to get heading out before the sun was up! Now that its dawn, we're running behind."
The lancer clenched her fists tightly and stared at the mage with the intention of punching him in the face. "Just show me where they are," the woman commented as she looked at Arin.
“I tried to wake you up, but let’s face it, you sleep like a bear,” Arin replied, swiftly receiving a hit on the head from Emile. It had been like this for the past three days. It seemed every time he went to open his mouth; the violent woman would hit him, even if he meant no insult whatsoever. In fact, it even seemed like his mere presence was extremely offensive to her.
This didn’t surprise him. Given the world she came from, it only seemed natural that his appearance would turn heads, but not cause outright hatred for him. Alas, this made no difference since he spent most of his time in her dank, old basement.
He lead on in silence to the door he came from, hoping to find Zachary quickly so he could be rid of the violent demonic banshee once and for all. Sometimes, the mage cursed his curiosity, and that he could rarely turn down a request… especially when the alternative was pain.
“Hurry up!” Emile called to him impatiently.
“Listen, I’m not exactly a good runner,” Arin started.
“Well, you’d better learn, or else I beat you to a bloody pulp!”
He sighed heavily. Why couldn’t he meet a nice woman during his trips? It seemed fate had left him without that option, which saddened him greatly. Alas, he picked up the pace, speed walking over to the door he emerged out of, the magical presence of the Dome still lingering.
The mage hated that she treated him like a bloodhound, but still opened the door and allowed her entry. If worse came to worse, and he really started to hate her, he could always shove her through a door and leave her stranded there anyway.
The mage, although unwillingly, lead Emile back to the door to the Dome and the two headed into the building. The building of infinite corridors would have been hard to traverse normally for non-teachers, but such a fate was not to befall Emile and her guide. The main reason being that the ice mage had passed through here recently.
"So, where did he go?" the lancer asked impatiently as the robed man started walking. "I asked you a question!" she stated loudly as she followed after the man quickly.
"He went this way. I can feel his magic here, so don't worry. He didn't pass through here too long ago either, so this might be easier than we thought," the man stated with a small smile.
"Oh..." the armored woman commented as she continued to follow him. "Well, that's good. Just keep leading me to where we're going," the Silver Beauty said as she continued to follow Arin. Quickly, the magic user lead her to a door and opened it shakily. Before the two knew it, they were in a jungle. "OKay, what genius put a jungle here?" she asked as she began to look around. "Now where?" the woman asked as she began to scan for where the man could have gone.
The two men left the thick jungle and continued walking. "Leaving her a path will make it easier for her to catch up to us, but those poachers we gave a thrashing a while back should work well as a distraction," Zachary commented as he looked at Monroe.
The Quincy nodded and crossed his arms as they continued walking. The jungle flora had all but vanished, and was slowly being replaced by a plateau and flatland. "We're nearing the path that will lead us to the upward that will take us to Estrella's Point. Once we pass through the gate, we'll be almost halfway there. From there, we head along the paths and mountains to the our destination."
"From there, we set up, right?" the Replicator asked as he continued walking. "Anyway, why are we heading to this remote point in the mountains? Wouldn't it be easier to fight her elsewhere?"
"It isn't just that we have to set up some things. Its also that Estrella's Point has a very high density of magical energy spiritual powers since it is where a great meteor struck years past. Aside from that, you wanted her powers to fully manifest, right?"
The amateur sorcerer nodded as he and the archer continued to walk across the flatlands. "I wish to see exactly what this power is that Zorlo told me about. Once I've seen that, I'll be mostly disinterested in Emile, although I sense she'll probably keep following me."
Monroe nodded. "Probably. After all, it does seem she has some vendetta against you, so you should be careful if you choose to let her live."
In all honesty, the mage wanted to point in a random direction and hope this jungle would do her in. Yet somehow, he doubted she’d fall for a trick like that. “They went straight ahead,” he sighed. Immediately, he began to walk, thanking his robs for counter-acting most of the ungodly heat in the tropical climate. Yes, he lived in one himself, but the humidity had to be no less then 99%.
Ambient noise soon filed their ears as they walked on in silence. Arin began to wonder how Emile managed to go without complaining. After all, with her armour on, she had to be practically boiling. Maybe it has a spell on it, like my Infinity Robes.
As they pressed deeper into the heart of the jungle, the terrain slowly became more unyielding, and animals neither had ever seen came out of the woodwork. The mage instinctively proceeded with caution, unsure if monsters dwelled within the tangle of vines and trees. In fact, the bush became so thick at one point the mage had to turn his staff into a machete in order to cut through the thick, spine-covered growth.
Thankfully, around noon they found an open patch of ground with a small creek running through the center. Arin stopped and has a seat on the ground, his legs sore from a full morning of walking.
“What are you resting for!” Emile complained. “I want to kick that guy’s ass, and if you don’t make yourself more useful, I’m going to beat you to a pulp!”
Arin rolled his eyes, the Silver Beauty beginning to sound like a broken record.
“I’ll have you know…” He stopped. A rustling sound came from the bushes on the edge of the clearing. Slowly, the mage stood and faced the disturbance, waiting for the source to emerge, staff pointed in its direction.
A few moments past after the rustling and still nothing had emerged. The woman found herself using her visor to scan around for anything that seemed too out of the ordinary. "You were saying?" she asked curtly as the lancer continued to look for a potential of noise that they had heard. Still, something moved, and that gave her the chance she wanted to move.
Two arrows bounced off the plate of her armor as the woman stared into the shrubbery. Her anger, coupled with the heat, hadn't been able to easily settle here. If she wanted to get some aggression out, she'd need to know who and what she was fighting. Still, the arrows were a good enough source of knowledge to prove that the attackers were humans.
"Come out!" she ordered.
The order was met with a group of eight men dressed for their surroundings. Two were carrying crossbows that they gripped tightly in their hands. They hadn't yet had time to reload, so this would be a little easier. Of the other six, four of them carried machetes tightly, looking rather fierce. A single man stood in the back, loading his flintlock musket and trying to get ready to attack. The final man carried a very decorated looking, doubled edged sword that he bravely pointed at the two.
"It's been a bad day for us. Two sets of visitors today to our hunting grounds, and none of which have looked too easy to kill. Still, you two look weaker than the last pair that came through here. Now then, if you don't mind, I think we'll be-" the man paused as he watched a spear fly past him and impale the man holding the musket, killing him instantly.
"Other two, huh?" the woman asked as a devious smile covered her face. The Silver Beauty crossed her arms as she looked at the man. "You have two seconds to tell me about the guys that came through here before we tear you guys apart!" the purple haired woman threatened.
"We?! You can handle things on-" Arin paused as he caught an angry glare she was giving him. Quickly, he shrunk back and began to cast a spell.
"Well," the leader said as he took a step back, "you see... they were... men, kill them!" the leader ordered as he scurried off in terror. The others were too preoccupied leaping forwards into the battle to notice their leader flee the scene, but still, it was too easy.
Emile drew back her right fist and smiled as she held up her left arm. A machete struck her armor and the blade shattered. Quickly following the breaking of the blunt blade, a powerful blow too down the poacher in front of her, and a powerful kick took out a second man that moved to attack her.
The Silver Beauty skated forwards and grabbed her spear as she continued onwards. "Well, Arin, I'll leave these guys to you. I'm gonna go interrogate their leader!" the lancer called back as she skated towards her target.
The man continued to scurry away, trying to put as much distance between himself and the two as possible. However, things didn't hold out too well for him. Two sudden jolts of electricity struck the man's legs, causing him to fall forwards and tumble head first into a tree. The lancer moved closer and lifted the man up by his hair and looked at him. "Who were these men?"
The leader shuddered in terror as the woman held him by his hair. "A guy with red hair that had some white streaks and some guy that wore all black. They said they didn't have time to play and broke though me and my men in moments. We never had a chance. Please let me go..." the man said, looking terrified as she continued to hold him.
The purple haired woman looked at the man with disgust and tossed him away like a rag doll as she looked behind her. Surely Arin would be catching up soon. She'd wait for him. After all, if she got lost without him, it wouldn't be his problem, but hers. Although if he ran, Emile told her, she'd kill him when she found him.
The way these grunts fought was quite pathetic: one would charge, then the others would follow suit, like lambs to the slaughter. They held their weapons high into the air before trying to bring them down on his head, the gunman kneeling and aiming a shot at him from behind. However, he heard the click of the rifle in time to jump out of the way, the bullet hitting his comrade in the head, killing him instantly.
Quickly, the mage fired off the Ice barrage he intended to use on the man with the machete, hundreds of ice shards impaling him. His blood splattered against the trunk of the tree as the shards hit it, screams of pain echoing in the jungle. However, the mage had no time to celebrate as two bolts flew past him, just barely missing him.
He quickly let off a Wind Arrow to stun them while he dealed with the reaming three men. Each came in strong and fast, but they were no match for the elf crystal staff. Three spears of crystal shot from the staff like lightning, hitting the three men in the heart, killing them and spilling tons of blood. As the mage walked over to the bush, he saw the attack knocked out the two men with the crossbows.
Satisfied with the small victory, Arin trudged through the bush in the direction he saw Emile give chase, deciding against abandoning her because she’d come back to haunt him. Sure enough, after a few minutes of walking he ran into her, this time it was his turn to be surly.
“Well? Did you hear what you wanted to? Well if you did, let’s get going,” he spoke. Killing things never left him in a good mood. Even if she lashed out at him it was worth it to vent a little.
Emile looked at the man and nodded her head. "Yep, they've passed through the plateau in front of us," the lancer said as she took a few steps forwards and watched as the plant life reduced a little as the land started to move upwards. "I see... so this is lowlands, and as we head up, it'll get colder so these plants can't grow," the armored woman said as she and the mage began to walk up a very cleanly cut path.
The plains before the two swept on for what looked like miles. A few hundred feet above seal level, the temperature became only somewhat humid, completely unlike the jungle the two had just left. "What in the world is going on here?" the Silver Beauty asked as she looked around.
"It's probably an effect of the Dome. After all, the Dome is a massive source of magical energies, so it could have seeped into the landscape here for centuries and created a humid landscape right next to a plateau. Even further north we'll find mountains."
"How do you know that?" Emile asked as she looked around the plains that were all but empty, aside from the wildlife that grazed on them. For as long as she had been in her world, she hadn't seen magic, but now, as she stood on this plateau, it began to shake her just how magical existence really was. It was everywhere in some places, and nowhere in others. "It's really... amazing."
Arin looked at Emile and quirked an eyebrow. "Not really, I just can tell. There are mountains in the distance, but they're not too far off. If we keep walking, we should catch up before the day is out," the mage commented as he continued to walk.
The Divine Lancer realized what comment she had made and narrowed her eyes. "I was talking about you! I was talking about the scenery. This place is really, quite beautiful," she commented as the lancer continued to walk around. "So, how much farther are they ahead of us?"
They can’t be more then ten miles,” the mage replied. The answer seemed to satisfy her, because the mage in the multi-coloured robes heard no further voice of complaint. As they walked, the mage thought back on her words. He never pictured her as the type to take a moment and view the scenery, but then again he only knew her for all of three days, or so.
As they continued to walk, something began to feel more… out of place. Despite his magic, Arin couldn’t discern exactly what caused him to feel this way. However, as they continued on their path, the feeling began to intensify. Traveling about ten more minutes led them to the end of the grass, leaving brown, sand-like dirt in lying in their path. Still, as much as it bothered him, a nudge from the testy woman urged him forward.
Strangely, as soon as the weird feeling came, it just as suddenly vanished, leaving him only guessing what the source was. Turning his attention back to the horizon, the rainbow-clad man quickly began to pick up the pace. The sun in the distance began to hang dangerously low, as twilight would come in mere moments. The mage doubted Emile would stop for a little thing like night though.
Suddenly, a squishing sensation came from underfoot as the mage hit mud. He swiftly stepped out of the giant mud puddle before he could become stuck. However, the mage found it strange that there would be mud in that particular spot instead of all over the plateau. Quickly shaking those thoughts aside, he continued on his merry way until…
“You son of a b****!” Emile shouted, enraged about something… again. “You're not about to leave me here to drown to death in sand! I swear to God if you don’t turn around now, I'll kill you where you stand!”
“What the hell are you talking abou-“ Arin started. However, as he turned around he saw her waist deep in the mud. “… Quicksand. Oh, so that’s why that particular area was wet,” he smiled as he walked to the edge of the pit.
However, a dilemma played across his mind. On one hand, he could save her and possibly earn less b****ing from her, or watch her sink and drown because of the heavy armour. He bit his lower lip in contemplation.
As the sand slowly consumed more and more of her body, the woman flailed about and continued to sink into the mud. This was a ****ty way to die, she noted. If she got out of this and he didn't help her, she'd make sure to kill him in the most painful way possible. For now though, she continued to struggle, not realizing it wasn't helping at all.
"You know, the more you struggle, the faster you sink, right?" the mage asked her as she noticed she was now down to just her neck and arms. She narrowed her eyes at him and nodded, stopping her struggling. The rainbow clad man didn't seem to make any move to help her, just looking contemplatively at her. This embarrassing situation couldn't get any worse.
Well, it could, but she would have to work to make it worse. The woman pushed back as much of her pride as she could and looked at the man, trying to seem pleading. "Please, oh powerful mage, help this young girl who's sinking into the mud out to freedom before she drowns to death. After all, I'm too young and frail to defend myself," she muttered, hating every moment of it.
Arin quirked an eyebrow at her and reached his hand out, grabbing the shaft of her spear and slowly reeling her back out of the quicksand. Finally, her whole body emerged, a little of the quicksand on her armor, but not much. Well, not enough to worry about, anyway. She looked at him with the same sympathetic glance she had hoped convinced him when he spoke. "Never, ever do that again. That was creepy," he muttered getting up and starting to walk away.
"I know... I just had to convince you to help me. That's all," the woman stated as she walked a few feet. "Now then, we've still got some ways to go, right?" the lancer asked as she looked at the man. She'd be there soon, and Zachary would pay. Her revenge was so close... she could taste it.
Hour passed as the duo continued on their quest. Arin knew that, deep down, he would never allow Emile to drown, or die at all. He just wanted to see how desperate she’d be to save her own hide. With the answer firmly cemented in the back of his mind, he made sure to step around any mysterious wet patches on the plateau’s face.
The day grew late as the mage trudged onwards. Emile’s reluctance to stop had yielded a hungry and tired ‘bloodhound’ who felt like he was going to fall down any second. However, the sun began to set, in a glorious display of reds, oranges, and purples, the mage and the woman came upon the mountain range he talked about earlier.
“Can we stop for a few minutes? Me feet are killing me,” the mage groaned, jealous of the wheels on her shoes.
“No way, jackass!” Emile retorted. “We’re so close to those two I can taste them… in fact, I can see them!” With no warning Arin, she rocketed forward.
At first, Arin began to wonder if she was hallucinating… until he too saw the two figures standing at the entrance to the mountain tunnel. Sighing at the possibility of no rest, he reluctantly began to speed up, thankful her interest shifted to the two figures in the distance.
The Quincy looked at the arch of the tunnel that would lead them upwards, ever closer towards Estrella's Point. "Trajecto de Estrella. We're almost there," the archer stated as he took a few steps forwards into the tunnel. "However, we've got some guests," the dark clad man stated as he crossed his arms. "We don't have time to play with them," the Quincy stated as he walked further into the tunnel.
"I'll catch up, don't worry," Zachary said he turned around and walked towards the approaching woman. Emile's skates burned up the ground almost, tearing earth from beneath her as she rushed towards the ice mage. The lancer stopped and looked at the Replicator, grasping her spear tightly as she readied to charge.
The amateur sorcerer could see the mage running not too far behind her. He'd be here soon. Still, there was no need to fight him. This would only take a single blow.
Lightning began to crackle and release from the tip of spear as the Silver Beauty readied to make her move. "Gae Bolg!" the purple haired woman said as her body exploded forwards at the ice mage.
"That worked in the city, when I was still wounded and just getting the hang of my powers," the Replicator stated as he sidestepped the attack and reeled his right arm back, "but it won't work now that I've finished gaining a true understanding of my powers!" the sorcerer said as he punched Emile hard in the chest, denting her armor.
The armored woman flew back, heavily winded from the blow, and her body sailed a distance until she collided with the mage and the two slid back. Emile had been knocked unconscious, and who knew about that other guy. It was none of Zachary's business. The Replicator turned around and began to head into the tunnel. "Continue following us after you and her get some rest, Arin. You're almost done with your job," the ice mage said as he continued after the Quincy.
“Damn, that hurt,” Arin recoiled after the ice mage retreated into the tunnel. The weight of Emile and her armour crushed him a little, winding him for a good quarter of an hour or so. Finally gathering some breath, he rolled the unconscious woman off him and onto her face. Standing up, he gave he a slight tap of a kick into her chest armour; partial payback for what he’d been through.
He sighed as he dusted his robes off, inspecting them for any rips, or tears. Fortunately, he found none. Yet as the sun continued to set, and the shadows grew longer, the issue came about setting up camp for the night. He managed to get a fire going in record time, the last rays of daylight dying as he put on some food for dinner.
Sometime around ten o’clock, some four hours after sunset, the armoured woman began to stir, moaning a little as though suffering from a bad hangover.
“Welcome back to the land of the living,” Arin joked.
“Bite me,” she spat acidly.
“No thank you. You ARE welcome to bite some of the food I made,” he replied, lying on his back. He always looking at the stars, and violent banshee or not, he was going to watch them tonight.
The woman sat up and removed her helmet, placing it on the ground. Over the next few minutes, she removed her intricately placed together armor and laid it on the ground. The woman rested her spear down on the white sheet she had wrapped around herself under her armor in case she needed to remove it. Aside from the dent, she had luckily avoided damage to her armor.
"Well, miss Silver Beauty, what now?" Arin asked, looking at her as he ate some more of his food.
"Don't call me that," Emile responded, looking at him. "When I'm not in my armor, I'm just plain old Emile Velos. A person who's never amounted to anything in her life," she said with a sigh as she hung her head for a few seconds, looking at the food. "But the Silver Beauty... she's divine. She fights with powerful warriors and pushes herself to her limits to become truly powerful. I wish I could truly become her, instead of just playing her."
The mage quirked an eyebrow as he looked at Emile and decided to respond to that comment. "So... what you're saying is that you're not some kind of super hero?" he joked to her, looking at her armor. "With how you change your whole persona by putting on armor, what do you think you are? Some kind of super hero or something?"
"No! I'm not trying to be a super hero. I'm trying to... to find something... I don't know what it is or when I lost it... but I'll know it when I find it," Emile responded as she removed one of the roasting animals Arin had captured and started eating it. "Anyway, thanks again for helping her. Without your help, the Silver Beauty would never be able to exact her chance to get closer to Zachary one more time," she said, sighing a little bit as she stood up.
The purple haired woman began to walk off as she heard a question. Probably something like where was she going or something along those lines. "I need some time to think," the woman said as she headed off and stood at the arch, looking at it.
This is where he went... this is where the strongest man I've met went. I need to follow him... because I want to know where that strength comes from... I want to know where he got it and... I want to... Emile stopped thinking for a moment, feeling a little bit odd. I want to impress him so that he'll acknowledge me... and possibly, so that I can be with him, the woman told herself, smiling ear to ear.
She had never felt this way before, but she did know one thing: he made her feel special, in some way. He was luring her to him, which meant he must have wanted her to be with him or something? That was it, wasn't it? Well, she'd find out shortly. But for now, she needed to rest. Emile headed back towards camp. She needed to get some rest before the morning, since they were heading into the mountains tomorrow. This chase wasn't done yet.
The Quincy stopped, looking back at the man that had finally caught up to him. "Well, it seemed to take you a little longer than I thought to catch up to me," he stated, smiling. "So, how'd it go?" the man asked.
"Fine. I dealt with her in a single blow. I didn't pull my punches with that blow. She'll definitely continue following, because now she's seen my full strength. It should get her nice and fired up. By tomorrow night, we should be ready to go, right?" the Replicator walked through the city of stone buildings built atop a flattened mountain top that had a stairway to where the men were headed.
"How far are we from Estrella's Point?" Zachary asked as he looked at Monroe again.
"We'll be there before the end of the night. You'll have some time to rest while I set up," the dark clad man stated as the two continued to walk through the abandoned, ancient city towards their goal. They'd be there in no time at this rate. From there, the real test could begin.
A good night’s rest healed both the mages mood, and his stomach from having hundred of pounds in Emile and armour hurled at it. He gave a quiet yawn as he stood up to stretch and douse the fire at long last. Reviewing his situation, he returned to his resolve to get this over and done with quickly. Thankfully, by the time he put the fire out breakfast was already cooked.
The smell of cooking must’ve woken her up, because soon after he began to dig into his food she sat up and yawned.
“Morning,” Arin said simply, not even bothering to look up from his meal.
Emile ate some food and the two quickly finished their breakfast. It took some time for Emile to put her armor back on, but she was finally ready to go. The mage and the lancer began moving quickly again, heading towards the Trajecto de Estrella. They stopped at the arch and looked back at each other.
The woman looked at the mage as she took her first step into the long tunnel. "This tunnel leads to the mountains, right? Guess we should start walking," Emile commented as she began to move through the slightly slanted path. This would be a long journey, but once they were through here, they'd be most of the way there.
Zachary and Monroe looked at the impact sight. Estrella's Point. The place where, long ago, a mountain had become indented by a falling meteor. The point of impact was no greater than two hundred meters in diameter, clearly very large nonetheless, but it had great importance to the people that had once lived here. A temple had been built here, since it was seen as a place that connected man to the gods! Still, now, it had all but been destroyed by something. All that remained was the foundation.
Zachary bent down and looked at the fifty meter area that was the foundation and rubbed his hand over it. "So this is the spot where the meteor impacted? This place is... kinda strange feeling," Zachary said as he looked around.
"I imagine it should be. After all, a meteor hit here, and from then on this area was treated as a place where the gift of the gods would come to. Naturally, sacrifices and the like would create a high level of magical and spiritual tension. It's idea for fighting," Monroe said as he placed down a long, black pack he had been carrying and removed four rods. Quickly, the Quincy placed one rod at each edge of the foundation and began using a hand held device to measure the magical power of the area.
"There is enough magical energy here to force out her latent power, even if its forcefully," the dark clad man said as he moved to the top of the crater. "You wait there and get some rest. The foundation will be your arena when she arrives. For now, we're prepared," the archer stated as he nodded at the ice mage. Now came the fun part: waiting.
If one thing bothered Arin the most, it was going underground. To him, going beneath the surface of the earth meant nothing but trouble, and this tunnel looked no different. In fact, if there were a tunnel on his route back home, he’d take massive detours just to avoid it. Alas, there was no avoiding this one; the woman wouldn’t have any of it.
Darkness quickly flooded their vision, any torches along the walls long since burned out or stolen. Grabbing one of the remaining torches, he took it in his hand and ignited it with magical flame, bringing light back to the damp hole. Stone pillars and intricate designs laced the once extravagate tunnel, indicating whatever lay beyond had quite some importance to the people who made it.
The warm, orange glow served as their guide through the long, slightly inclined tunnel. Every so often, they’d encounter the remains of creatures that fled in here for shelter, but no indication of why they died.
“Okay, I’m getting creeped out now,” Arin spoke as they passed the tenth corpse.
“Stop being such a pansy and keep going! We’re almost there!” Emile exclaimed.
“That’s what worries me,” he replied under his breath.
Sure enough, as they traveled closer to the end, the denser the field of corpses became. The mage put himself on high alert; well aware that this place could be the lair of some monster, he just hoped it was only in the past tense.
Something rattled. Arin held the torch up and the pit of bones and bodies lit up a little more. "Human sacrifices, maybe?" Emile asked, mostly talking to herself as she moved a few bones. "But then... what was here?" the woman asked as she looked at the path that was taking them further up. "We're heading up into the mountains using this path, so... then what made this?"
Some more rattling echoed from behind as the lancer turned and placed her hand on her spear. "Is someone there?" the armored woman asked, shaking a little bit. She couldn't tell if it was fear or the fact she was anxious. If it was the second, then this would be fun, she had the feeling.
Arin looked around nervously as he continued to move the torch around. Still, nothing could be seen, but every so often, a few more bones would rattle. Finally, the creature revealed itself, somewhat. Glowing, red eyes appeared. First, they stared down Emile, a few inches from her. The Silver Beauty stepped back a few steps and thrust her spear forwards without any hesitation.
As the creature's skin was pierced and yellow, glowing blood dripped to the ground, a loud roar echoed out. In the next few moments, many numbers of glowing, red eyes appeared. The lancer drew her spear from the creature and stepped back. "Any ideas?" she asked, feeling a little nervous about this one.
With that, the mage bolted with the Purple-haired woman quickly in tow. Well, at least she has some common sense, the mage thought. Normally, he’d stay and fight, but the darkness, and the lack of room to maneuver signaled to him that this was one battle to avoid. Hundreds of tiny, glowing red eyes come from beyond the darkness as they ran, hoping to catch them and possibly eat them.
However, the mage quickly found he began to lag behind Emile who, in her wheeled shoes, easily outstripped the mage in speed. He pumped his legs into overdrive, not looking back as the horde of red eyes continued to follow. Occasionally, one would pop out in front of him and try to cut him off, but he blasted them away with a wind arrow; taking care not to extinguish the torch.
Thankfully, the literal light at the end of the tunnel grew larger with each passing second. Coming very close to the end, the mage ran as fast as he could, slowly catching up to the speeding woman. The monsters began to slow as they saw their prey run into the light of the sun, unable to handle the intense light.
Coming to rest a fair distance away from the gaping maw of the tunnel, Arin leaned against a crumbling wall, trying to catch his breath.
“Why did you run!” Emile protested. “We could’ve taken them!”
If he weren’t so tired, he would have yelled at her. Instead, he replied quietly, saying, “Why… did… you follow… then?” The question seemed to throw her off guard, silencing her protests before they could escalate into a full-on fight. Meanwhile, as the mage continued to catch his breath, he looked around in muted awe at the vastness of this ruin they stumbled upon.
The man's question caught the lancer off guard. She rested her index finger upon her chin and thought about it for a few seconds. "It was a tactical retreat. I was hoping to lure them into a bright enough area to find out what we were fighting again!" she stated firmly, even if it did sound a little bit forced. "Anyway, I knew you'd help me out while I got away. What a gentlemen you are," the purple haired woman said in earnest as she looked at the ruins.
Great lines of simple, stone buildings built and carved from the mountain's rock seemed to stretch into the distance, where all the armored woman could see was a large flight of stairs. Even if she didn't know for certain, the Silver Beauty could guess that they were almost there. She took her first step and started walking into the city of stone buildings, simply smiling and admiring the craftsmanship as she moved along.
"This village... its very nice. I wonder why people would want to live up here, though?" The woman continued to walk down past rows of buildings. What an interesting town.
"This town in Florheim had once been a mountain community of nomads and small villages. One day, a meteorite fell from the sky and struck this mountain. It was that falling star, and what was inside the meteor, that drew the people here," Zachary said, looking at Monroe. "Master told me that a blacksmith, a man who worked with things like obsidian and brass and the like, saw the meteor strike and went to find it."
The Quincy was still working hard on setting up the reactive devices to track strength and energy growth when the fighting started, but still found himself listening with some interest. After all, these legends were always fascinating.
"When he found the meteorite, he also found some kind of metal he had never seen before. He brought it back to his workshop and cast it into sword. He kept the beautiful, golden sword in his workshop, unless he was out traveling, and went into the mountains every so often, looking for more of the fallen rocks or the metal."
"The sword was strong, though. Strong enough to cut through anything that could be forged at the time. The blacksmith was no warrior, so one day, he gave the sword to a king. After showing the king where he had found the metal for the sword, the king brought his people into the mountains and built this town out of the mountain. Although as to what happened to it, I don't know. Good story though, right?"
The archer nodded as he finished changing some things around and started up the systems analyzers. "Good to go!" he said and Zachary nodded. Now, they just had to wait for Emile to arrive.
Arin could sense him in the distance: the amateur mage who hired him in the first place. His magical presence wasn’t moving, meaning him and the man he traveled with stopped for some reason. Two conclusions came to his mind; they were either setting a trap, or resting to recoup energy. Either way, they’d probably be a while, so the mage figured that the two should explore, even if only a little, until they began to move again, or after about a half-hour.
“Listen, Emile, Zach isn’t moving, so if you want to take a quick pause we can explore this place for about a half an hour. You don’t want to be tired from traveling, do you?” Arin asked, his breath returned.
Emile pondered the thought. And pondered. And pondered. "Stopped, you say?" she asked, removing her helmet and slowly removing her other pieces of armor. "How about an hour rest?" she said, sitting against a building and laying the pieces of her removed armor down. "I forgot how long we've been traveling."
“Alright,” Arin replied with a smirk. His feet were beginning to kill him from all the running and quick traveling that she demanded. He sat on the ground thankfully, resting for about five minutes before standing up again. “I don’t know about you, but I’m going to this place a bit. Come along, if you want to. Don’t worry about me trying to get away though, I’m interested in what this is all about now.”