The Forsaken Race; Darker Times

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 19 (v.1) - Overruling Instinct

Submitted: October 24, 2018

Reads: 118

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Submitted: October 24, 2018

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"It didn't flee."

Kita was curious when she heard Leiytning say that, looking back to him for an explanation. He only retrieved a stone from the ground.

"What do you mean?" Kita inquired.

She watched him throw the stone so that it bounced, seeming to imitate foot (more hoof, on second though) steps, toward the water. It stopped right at the edge of the water. It seemed nothing happened, leaving Kita confused.

"Why would-"

'RIEE-EE-EE!'

Suddenly, a large beast leaped out of the water. Its jaws snapped at nothing as it crashed onto the bank, quickly regaining its footing. Kita was forced to fall back, keeping a fifteen- foot radius between herself and this thing.

From what she could see, it had a long crocodile-like body and long horns, but it also had a short beak and feather-like details on the sides of its face. It was covered in green scales, and a lighter green spinal ridge ran from the start of its neck to the edge of its thick tail. The beast clicked its beak, glaring at both Kita and Leiytning with angry black eyes.

"Wh-What is that?" Kita asked, still startled by the monster's sudden appearance.

"A hydrigon," Leiytning answered. "Basically, a waterborne variant of the wyvern."

"Four have mercy," Kita muttered, slowly stepping back. The beast tried to stand tall, but it was hard when its legs were so short.

Leiytning went on to remark, "They are weak, ironic considering the others from its genus. This makes good practice for you. Killing beasts isn't the first thing I'd do, but whatever works; I can't spare it when it's this far in the fortress."

The words suddenly clicked in Kita's mind, and she snapped, "I can't fight that thing!" 

The hydrigon's head snapped back, glaring at Kita. In only a few seconds, it slithered back into the water, then launched itself out again, in an attempt to snap at her. She hardly dodged the attack, then retreated far out of its way, cowering behind Leiytning.

"They don't like loud noises," Leiytning explained.

"Now you tell me?" Kita muttered. "No offense, but I think that your judgment is impaired. I can't fight that thing; it's huge!"

"Size isn't everything," Leiytning responded. 

"When it's a ten-foot difference, then it does!" Kita argued, trying not to raise her voice too much.

"Timbur can defeat a forest wyvern, which is a foot or two bigger than this one. Seyber's fought lycanthropes, Thundur's defeated corrupted gods, and so on. Does size ratio affect any of that?"

Kita didn't respond, but understood what he meant. Without a response, Leiytning continued to speak.

"This is the easy part. Much like people, every common predator has its vulnerabilities, and a hydrigon's are the most obvious. The easy part is finding them. Then you find a way to use those flaws against it, so that you have the advantage in battle."

"It's big," Kita blankly replied. "And it has a very sharp beak, huge claws, and that tail looks like it could easily be weaponized."

"Now you're being dramatic," Leiytning muttered. "Obviously, it is very slow on land. Not only that, but a short beak very much limits its range, and while the tail can be weaponized, it can also weigh it down. Perhaps trying to overpower it would be unwise, considering said weight, so what else is there that you have more of? See where I'm getting at?"

Kita groaned, but finally unsheathed her dark sword. "I think so."

From this safe distance, she watched the beast closely, again scanning it. To her surprise, it was just sitting there, half its body still in the water. The beak was agape, and its black eyes glared over her and Leiytning with a look that read 'go away.'

"Why is it just staying there?" Asked Kita.

"Reason one, they're extremely nearsighted, so it probably can't see us," said Leiytning. "Reason two, they're not aggressive, just territorial."

"What do I aim for?" Kita inquired.

Leiytning ushered her forward. "You tell me."

"Well..." Kita inspected the beast, which seemed to be dead from being so motionless. Though scared, she took a deep breath and tried to apply what she just learned. 

"The spinal ridge and thicker scales mean that hitting the spine or neck would be a challenge. It's too low to the ground to aim for the heart or underside...so it would be best to aim for the head, I think."

"Correct," said Leiytning. "So then you know what to aim for and what to avoid. Still think you can't defeat it?"

"I guess I have a chance," said Kita.

"More than just 'chance' with that knowledge, Kita, that's half the fight. All you need to do now is complete said fight."

Kita nodded in assent, then began to carefully approach the hydrigon. Eventually, she stood right across from it, with her sword unsheathed and ready to strike. The hydrigon clicked its beak, as if acknowledging her decreasing distance. Kita took a split second to run the plan through her mind.

Alright...aim for the head. Its best weapon seems to be its tail, since its legs are too short for the claws to come in use, and the beak is so short that it limits range. Avoid the tail, and I should probably watch the horns. Most of all, if I move more on the lines of faster and agile, then I could use its lack of speed against it.

Now confident in her ability, Kita flicked her fingernail against the sword's blade. This caused a loud ring, which irritated the hydrigon. 

The fight began there, and the beast charged forth. Though it was slow, it surprised Kita when it flipped its body around, lashing its long, heavy tail at her. Kita tried to dodge, but the pokey spinal ridge scraped her leg, leaving a long slit across her knee. Kita grimaced, but when the hydrigon tried to attack again, she managed to hit back with her sword. 

Its tail was literally being used as a weapon; a very heavy whip. It lashed at her again, but Kita blocked it with her sword.

However, Kita did not expect the next attack to be so heavy. The hydrigon launched its entire body up and pummeled her. It caused Kita to collapse, and the beast began trying to tear at her throat. Kita blocked it with her sword, but it still pursued its goal of slaying her. Now, she was trapped between the stone ground and the hydrigon itself, and all that she had to save herself was her sword.

As she hoped for reinforcement, it was granted; Kita saw Leiytning grasp it by one horn, and the beast was thrown back across the room, hitting the stone wall hard, and then falling to the ground with a 'thud.' It seemed to be dazed. 

"Remember what I said?" Asked Leiytning. "When in battle, it's easy to lose focus and forget your strategy."

"I guess I lost it," Kita remarked. "I should've dodged, instead of trying to just endure and block the hit."

"Precisely," Leiytning responded. "Remember, overpowering it would be a bad idea. Try again, but keep focus."

Kita hurried back to her feet, clutching her sword tightly. Meanwhile, the hydrigon had just recovered, and was glaring at her while clicking its beak. As it did, Leiytning continued speaking from the sidelines.

"As an Aubade, it's in your instinct to revert back to primitive behavior when threatened. Avoid that, and be patient."

Kita was just confused, now.

"But I thought you said it was in my nature to run away when threatened."

"It is, and it's that fear that makes you lose it," Leiytning explained. "Now you're being trained as a warrior, and you therefore know to not run away from a fight unless necessary. As a result, your instinct changes from running away, to getting rid of what's putting you in danger at all; you intend to destroy it at any cost. That's not a good moral to follow in an advanced fight. Understand?"

Kita nodded, trying to swallow the same fear that formed a lump in her throat. She then took a deep breath, and clear her mind. All she thought of was the enemy, and blocked out everything else. It seemed to be only her and this beast in the world.

Be patient...

Again, the hydrigon unexpectedly charged forward. It tried to launch itself at Kita again, but Kita ducked, then countered the attack by slicing open its underside. The hydrigon screeched and twisted itself around. Its tail lashed at Kita, but the sylph blocked that attack. 

This just gave Kita a new idea. She moved in a certain manner, and let the beast lash its tail at her again. She dodged, then stepped farther away. The hydrigon rushed forward, but fell over its own tail. Before it could recover, Kita hastily shoved the sword through its skull. 

Letting out one last annoying chortle, the beast finally went limp still as red blood pooled from its body. Kita ripped the sword out of its limp body, flicking away the excess blood which stained her blade.

"Well done," Leiytning spoke.

"Thanks," Kita responded, trying to catch her breath. She started to look ecstatic, almost. "I can't believe I actually defeated it! Here I thought I was worthless, and I defeated a beast like that!"

"Not worthless, but remember to be wise with selecting your opponents," said Leiytning. "Beasts like this one may be in your league, but others you will need assistance with, such as a kumodin or another kind of wyvern. In other words, try to consider consequence over gain."

"'Every move comes with a price,'" Kita chimed. Leiytning didn't respond, but looked more solemn (than usual) after hearing his sister's quote.

Before anything else could be said, someone ran out of the tunnel opening. Kita flinched, afraid it might've been more vermin, but she became relieved to see that it was only another demon. It was not hard to recognize Scorch, in his reddish-brown wolf form. He looked irritated, and spoke with a tone of anger.

"Leiytning, please tell your damned apprentice to get his pardix out of the Magma Chamber. I can't even get into my own room, now!"

"One found its way into the chambers?" Asked Leiytning.

"Yes!" Scorch exclaimed. "There's this, and Jem ran some of them out of the Crystal Chamber twice in the past three days!"

Leiytning facepalmed at this, looking irritated. "How hard is it to contain a damn cat?"

The term 'pardix' made Kita shudder. "Please don't tell me that there's a pardix in the fortress."

"Yeah, there is," Scorch responded. "Three of them, actually. Timbur uses his forest magic to tame them, and he uses them when fighting in the depths, or as security guards for his room. The problem is that he couldn't keep them contained if his life depended..." Scorch trailed off, as if the point just clicked. "Wait, Kita, don't tell me that you're afraid of a few cats?"

"Yes!" Kita responded. "I hate pardixes. They're savage beasts, and I almost got killed by one!"

Scorch chuckled in a mischievous way. "If that scares you enough, then try wandering the Oculus Cavern. We've actually been debating on letting you free-roam there."

"Don't torment Echo," Leiytning interfered, his eye narrowed to a glare. "He's not even aggressive, and it's shameful to treat him like a circus pet."

"My time in the prison; I think I actually saw 'Echo,'" Kita remarked. "I also regret seeing it, though."

"You and everyone else," Leiytning muttered. "Scorch, take Kita back to the beach. I'll talk to Timbur about the pardixes."

Scorch sighed at the thought. "I'm really starting to that them, too. Anyways, mortal, follow me."

"Alright," Kita responded. The sylph sheathed her sword, then followed Scorch back through the tunnel. 

Leiytning stayed behind for a moment. His hand sparked and bolted with electric energy, then he shot a beam of lightning at the corpse of the hydrigon, which turned into nothing but a pile of ash. He did this so that the body wouldn't be in the way. 

He then felt something spark in the back of his mind, though.

Speaking of which...

He summoned his communication crystal in a flash of dark aura. The stone was already glowing, and a voice transmitting through. It sounded like Timbur's, as he suspected, which was convenient given the timing of Scorch's complaint.

"Leiytning, there's something I've discovered, and I need to discuss it with you. Both Griffon and Savux were in the cavern, and they both found the same thing. It's nowhere close to being good news, but it is interesting. My question; where the hell did you go? I can't find you."

"Fortress maintenance," Leiytning explained. "Where are you now?"

"The storm-eye."

"Just wait, then, I'll be there shortly."

"Very well."

The sapphire-like crystal stopped glowing, then disappeared in the same way it appeared. Leiytning shifted into wolf form, then rushed out of the room, looking like nothing but a shifting shadow.

'Nowhere close to being good news.' What else is new?

The path was simple enough. When back in the forest, one would continue from the southern side of the forest to the north, where another dark entrance tunnel waited near the east corner. When getting to the end of this tunnel, the large storm-eye could be seen; 'eye' meaning it was a large sphere of churning dark clouds, occasionally sparking bolts of energy. Going through the cloud barrier revealed the hallways where stone plinths and wolf statuettes lined either side. 

Sure enough, Timbur was waiting halfway down the hall, leaned against one of the plinths as he waited. He stood in a more respectable way when seeing his master arrive, though.

"What kind of vermin were you dealing with?" He inquired.

"Just a hydrigon," Leiytning answered, shifting back to demon form. "What did you want to say?"

"As I said, it's definitely interesting," Timbur explained. "So we know that the Equus ghouls and the rogue Petrifs got their weapons from the Magma harpies, right? Well, recently, Savux and Griffon both reported to us with an intriguing update. Evidently, there was a patrol of harpies communicating with a patrol of Aubades, and over trade matters."

"Great," Leiytning muttered with sarcasm.

Timbur continued, "At least now we have evidence that not only are the Aubades responsible for the attacks on the Aquarus and Maldur, but they're also responsible for any attacks that the Equus or rogue Petrifs cause, like the Equus's attack on the Leo ghouls. Once again, all the trouble links back to Corelia."

Leiytning spoke more to himself, "Seems everyone is losing themselves. A few rogue Petrifs is one thing, but all the harpies? They're a very solitary race, and would attack anything else on sight. Now they're trading with someone as infamous as Corelia?"

"Who knows what goes on in a harpy's mind," Timbur remarked. "Damn bird-folk are shifty. I do suppose that bending will and forcing submission is one of the Aubades best skills, though. That could explain it."

"That may be, but there's still one question. It's a trade, not charity, so the Aubades give the harpies weapons in return for what, exactly?"

Timbur shrugged his shoulders. "Sylphs are as crazy as harpies, but I'd think they're trying to get magic. That's what she knows gets us more than anything."

"Basic fire magic, though?" Leiytning argued. "The only successful hit she's landed on us was with very powerful enchantments that even Thundur gave up on decoding. What magic tribes she is dealing with have nothing more than very basics to offer."

"Also, Maldurs and Magma harpies," said Timbur. "I think she could like the thought of fire magic. Strong, unstable, shiny things; all appealing to sylph troops."

"This is actually more concerning than you think. Usually, if she were to rely on the magic laws at all, then Corelia would target sources of magic opposite to the leader's own element. Aura or earth against Thundur, water or poison against myself. Fire doesn't work great against forest elements, either. The only one she could really damage with it is Seyber, and I doubt she's still a target."

"She might not be targeting us at all," Timbur sighed. "On the other hand, only so many races would agree. Perhaps it's a matter of whatever she can get her hands on?"

"Suppose so. This is all you found, too?"

"Yes, for now. What should we do about this?"

"Yet again, I don't think we have many options. It's not like we can interrogate harpies, and Sybilius is too well-guarded with this rise in troops and weapons. For now, we'll just have to ignore it and see what happens next."

"In that case," Timbur spoke as he began to walk away, "I'll see if-"

Leiytning interfered before he got far. "One more thing, before you go. One of your damn pardixes got into the chambers, and it's really irritating the others. Fix that."

Timbur groaned. "I can't entirely help it. They're cats; they're going to want to wander."

"You can always get rid of them," Leiytning argued. "Would you prefer that?"

"No," Timbur replied.

"Then put them in yours or an extra room, keep them there, or they're going back into the portal they crawled from."

"What if I did the same to your oculus friend? That thing always escapes."

"Why does everyone have to drag him into this?" Leiytning muttered. "It's degrading enough to be treated like some pet, and now you're all treating him like he'll bring the apocalypse."

Timbur stopped arguing, there, knowing this would lead nowhere. "Anyways, I'll take care of the pardixes, then get to work."

That being said, Timbur shifted into wolf form and ran off. Meanwhile, Leiytning continued to his and Thundur's room, where he retrieved a small metal gadget, previously on the workbench. It seemed to be a replacement finger to his prosthetic. 

Sadly, Thundur still lay motionless on the bed. Not one twitch came from her, and she barely seemed to be breathing. It was like she was already dead, the thought making Leiytning cringe.

That also prompted the dark voice to speak up. 

It chimed, 'Pointless fight, delaying inevitable, no escape, eternal suffering never ceases- NOT ONCE! Just accept your fate, Leiyt. The second she decides to give up, you both get to come with me.'

Try to take me, bastard, it's never happening.

'Then where will you go? You should know that Afterworld won't accept someone like you or her. Even if they don't appear so, your souls are twisted so far that no one will see you as a Zyrean. They'll think you're just another lost cause, ethereal monster to be damned. Just like...'

The last words were less prominent, but Leiytning was still angered by them.

"Always have to push your limits," he growled, clinging to the black stone that hung from the wire on his neck. "Fucking parasite; rot in hell, already."

'Ignore him,' Shadow Star's raspy voice spoke with an impatient tone. 'I'm trying to silence him, but it will take a while. It's been getting harder, no thanks to you.'

Though Leiytning tried to ignore the Hysteric, and the annoying spirit that accompanied it, it was hard to get the words out of his head. He glanced at Thundur again. Still no movement. As he released the black stone, a few words began to ring inside his mind, but these were not the demon's.

'It uses the strength of many good memories, you see, so it's turned into a weapon for nightmares like these demons, who use the horrid traumatic memories as their fuel. Not to mention, it's pretty much a good luck charm, at this point.'

"How lucky," Leiytning muttered.

Though he had never thought he'd find himself doing this, Leiytning slipped the wire over his head, dangling the charm in his hand. A white symbol was painted onto it with white ink. A crescent moon enclosed in a circle, with a line running through the center.

This symbol was the Realm Crest, though it was not what the crest truly represented that mattered 

This symbol was the Realm Crest, though it was not what the crest truly represented that mattered. Its history was the important part. Though sometimes it brought bad memories, it was also used as a ward against them, and as this voice from the past had stated, a fuel for the good ones. Even though this pendant meant that much to him, he placed the black stone in Thundur's limp hand.

"You're the one who needs luck," Leiytning spoke. "...Please come back."


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