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Chapter: 167


The sight of Vii scarred and limping through the city streets, sends shivers through my mana form. If the soul has a palpable shape, then I’m sure that would explain the trembling I feel that’s consuming me, apart from my flesh and my mana.

My skin itches at the sight of her now, her bald head mottled with barely healed skin, her beautiful wings now flimsy little limbs that seem impossibly thin. Terror floods through me, engulfing the flames of rage that try to spark upon its oily surface.

What’s mine has been… disfigured.

I want to vomit.

"Vii, are you okay?" I ask, already knowing the answer without need for reply. She isn’t okay, she can’t be okay. The scar tissue is splitting at her limbs, bleeding down what remains of her wings.

"I’m not okay." Vii replies quickly. "It hurts, and it feels wrong, and I don’t like this, but I can’t stop or everyone will get hurt trying to protect me. I have to keep moving. It’s fine if I just keep moving."

"You’re doing great." I reply, trying to find something better to soothe her. "The healer is going to fix everything up. Just hurry up and get out of the city, okay?"

"Kyra." Vii sends just my name before following up with more. "I want cuddles after this. From everyone. I want to close my eyes have your arms around me holding me together.

"I’m not okay, Kyra." She says, stumbling and rolling to the ground. "I’m not okay."

I grit my teeth, shivering in rage, in fear, and in disgust with the nature of the world that would permit this to occur.

Vii is somehow handling holding herself together, racing alongside Shen and the others while they try to make it out towards the wall where they can retreat. The war isn’t over, but they’ve done enough.

"Kyra. It’s okay, they made it through the fight." Adler says, touching at my hand. The mana running though me is enough to overpower her attempts to pull it back, but it must burn her just to touch me.

"She’s… her face… her wings." The world spins as I try to catch my breath that’s at some point escaped me. "It’s not right."

I feel violated, sick, and disgusted by the reality around me.

"She’ll be fine. The healer will help her recover." Adler says, her voice soft and gentle, more so than I’ve ever heard from her before. "It’s all going to be fine."

"Vii…" I whisper her name, trying to put aside my worries. She’s still alive, she’s going to recover, and everything will be back to what it was. I’m not going to lose her.

The water bubbles uncomfortably to our side, and through the eyes of the twins, I see the gremlins swimming towards us. Unlike most of those in the city below, these ones seem dangerous, and well familiar with the water.

They move with a power and grace that I’ve never seen from their kind before. It’s almost like looking at an entirely different species of creature.

Swimming alongside them is a strange group of creatures. They have the large eyes and soft fur, and the characteristic adorable face of a cat, but the long limbs trailing behind, are shaped more like the grasping tentacles of an octopus. They follow the gremlins around, sometimes pulling along with their limbs to adjust their movement.

Some form of pet, or companion?

Seia swims in close and lashes out with a powerful blast of pressure that connects with one of these creatures. The energy of the blow is enough to scatter the body of the creature, but that’s not the end of the creature. The mass of writhing, scattered hairs, quickly gathers itself back together into its old shape again.

Seia kicks herself into the enemy ranks, focusing instead on the gremlins, pulling off limbs and blasting the creatures out through the surface of the water. The strange gravity here tries to pull the gremlin back up to us, but a follow up strike sends him flying down far enough that he falls down to the city instead. His screams join the cacophony rising from the city below us.

While Seia is busy with more of the gremlins, the shapeshifting hairballs wrap themselves around her limbs in a clear attempt to tie her down. A pulse of pressure throws them off rather easily, while support from the line of green-feet’s warriors pushes the beasts further away from us.

Bessy waves her limbs around threateningly, and the beasts are forced to retreat, moving to surround us instead. Strangely I can’t see any significant threat from them, nothing that my guards can’t easily deal with.

I turn my attention back to the city below, finding soldiers dying in Lakesh’s army, gremlins being slaughtered in the streets, and the white fire slowly dying out as both sides suppress it’s spread. Everyone keeps a hold of a sample to use as a weapon, but neither of us want it to spread beyond our control.

I can deal with it if it comes to it, but I’d rather not need to go so far.

Eshya has finally pushed through the city streets and arrived at where the two bugs are hiding themselves. I’m not even sure if it’s a good idea for her to attack, but we need to be sure that they’re restrained so that they can’t come and target me directly. If too many of the elites can make their way to me, then Loekan might be able to force me to use my current spell against them instead.

The streets around the Roach’s and Beetle’s tower are filled with the debris of fallen traps, while the windows of the tower have been boarded up. Eshya looks up around the outside of the building, considering climbing if I’m to guess from the way she looks at it, but she shakes the thought from her head.

"Need to learn how to fly already." She grumbles, the slightest tremor filling her as she wipes away a few scattered tears.

"She’s fine." Eshya says, burying the emotion and striding on.

This place is almost certainly trapped, and she treads carefully while trying to see them coming. This morning has been more experience in trap deactivation than we’ve ever experienced before in our lives.

In the end, most were ‘deactivated’ by running right through them, so it’s more to say that they were activated and failed to do their jobs.

Inside the tower is dark and damp, a world apart from the atmosphere outside. The walls are covered in some sort of dark sticky goop, the sort that would be perfect for use in a horror movie, but nothing stirs from it, and there’s no hands reaching out from the walls to grab them.

Not yet at least.

Eshya carefully treads deeper, startling for a moment as she sees the marker indicating Roach’s position rapidly moving down towards them. The team gathers themselves to face the threat, and Eshya pauses where she stands.

There’s no good defensive position to take, and rushing on ahead seems no better than standing where they are now. So they prepare themselves for a fight, their weapons aglow.

My dear elvish lover grits her teeth and falls into a confident and familiar stance. It’s something I’ve seen from her in training a hundred times before.

When the marker reaches the ceiling above them, Eshya ducks low to evade the bladed arm that stabs out at her through the dark goop covering the ceiling. She doesn’t hesitate for even a moment, launching up at the ceiling and thrusting through it with her own weapon.

The bright white light glows at the tip of her sword, easing its passage through the ceiling up towards that marker, but she doesn’t hit. She pulls the sword back out, hanging her weight off of it, but even as it slowly unsheathes itself from the ceiling, the goop gathers along the blade.

Another sharp forelimb stabs down from the ceiling, but her ally is fast to block it with his blood soaked shield. The blade slides off the layer of blood, quickly pulling back, but Roach isn’t yet finished.

Sliding down to their level, he hides on the other side of the wall to their side, thrusting out with a half dozen limbs at once. They slice horizontally along the length of the room, and while Eshya is able to leap over them, and the shieldman blocks those that would hit him, the others struggle a little more.

A pair of blades cut right through the red leaves of Gerry, who brushes himself back into shape while retreating from the wall, his eyes facial expression violent and hate filled.

"Am I really going to be the target of attack, every, single, time!" He shouts, spreading out his arms along the wall. "I am not the one with the shield, and my role here isn’t to be taking all the hits!"

As he shouts, he spreads his red leaves out along the black goop on the walls, when he covers a whole section of the wall, he clicks his fingers and pulls it all back. The red leaves, and the thin roots directly attached, pull away from the wall, withdrawing the black goop like a waxing strip pulling away hair.

Eshya charges with her sword, still covered in the clinging oily goop, pushing it through the gap made by Gerry. At the very last second, I see the blade rushing out to meet her, and it’s clear that she sees it too, but she doesn’t dodge; she doesn’t block.

The blade is aimed for the side of her abdomen, and she throws herself on it to finish her own attack. Her sword pierces through the gap in the wall, sticking into Roach about the same place where his limb cuts into her.

"Vii didn’t complain." Eshya says, pulling her sword back out and going for another attack without minding her own defence. She’s struck through again on the other side by a confused Roach who steps back to try and escape her own sword.

"I’m meant to be the soldier," She says, "I’m meant to be the strength, and the sacrifice. I’m not going to let her show me up."

I restrain myself from drowning her and Vii with messages simply because I know it would distract them. Possibly getting them killed.

The shied user rushes in by Eshya’s side, but before I can breath a sigh of relief, he throws himself bodily through the wall, his shield held out with its lower edge pointing towards the large insect.

Gerry sends out waves of his own leaves to try and attack with them, but Roach has had enough. Without sparing a word, he leaps up into the black goop on the ceiling and disappears, climbing up the tower.

"Here." The insect on Eshya’s own team tosses out the contents of a potion on my lovers many wounds.

A half dozen stab wounds immediately scar over as the magic heals them. The elf barely even makes a face at the scars that make my own skin crawl. I need to have that fixed too.

"Don’t be that reckless." I send her a message as her team aggressively continues the hunt, climbing the tower and fighting off the pair of bugs as they come down to harass them.

"I’m your soldier, Kyra. I’m going to get hurt. You saw what happened to Vii just like I did." She says.

The classic argument.

She did it, so why can’t I?

It’s all headaches and childish games until self-flagellation gets involved. That’s where I draw the line.

"Get hurt then, but don’t go out of your way to try and get hit. You’re not even dodging!" I reply, watching her as she gets struck once more in the side. For some reason her face has turned a little sour as she trudges on up the stairs.

"They’re not aiming to kill." She says. "They’re aiming to do enough damage to force me to retreat. This isn’t a proper fight."

She seems grumpy at the evaluation while I’m feeling rather elated at the thought that she’s not actually in as much danger as she seems.

As she passes through the final stretch. She climbs up to the floor below that which the bugs have been defending so carefully. This time it’s the both of them that come down to meet with us.

They share a careful look before opening the discussion.

"A duel." They say, standing carefully to support one another. "We wish for a duel. If we win, you leave and don’t come back. If you win, we surrender."

"If you can guarantee that you won’t go after Kyra or any of our people, then we can leave you to your business here right now." Eshya says, clearly a little grumpy. Partly because they’re not fighting properly and partly because this offer means that she can’t fight to a proper conclusion.

"We… cannot agree so easily." The Beetle says, looking towards Roach. "We are not seeking death, but we are loyal. We fight hard to show our loyalty to Loekan, and if he is to die, then that same loyalty can be shown to this Kyra of yours."

"But we’re not killing each other?" Eshya asks, grumbling as she looks out the window towards where Red is performing her own ritual fight, though hers has a slightly different meaning to it.

"We cannot guarantee your lives." The pair say, gazing at Eshya, Gerry, and the others. "Ready yourselves. We will begin."

With as much said, they charge into battle, the black goop around the room taking on new shapes as it lashes out at Eshya from below her feet.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Skills & Stats

~Mana Form:

Current mana density: 52,798 units

~Mana distribution:

Defence: 0/100%

Offense: 0/100%

Mana sense: 0/100%

Recovery: 0/100%

Gluttony: 0/100%

Misc.: 0/100%

Efficiency: 0/100%

~Favourited Skills:

-Tag and Film

-Trapping

-Mana surge movement

-Annihilation defence

-Annihilation flame burst

-Annihilation net

-Eyes of an Empire

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

//Author Note

More chapters available

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