Chapter 4: Ironic Home

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 70



Back in the Zyrean fortress, the forest wasn't nearly as quiet as it would usually be. In the last twenty minutes or so, it had been randomly plagued by cussing and angry bursts of fire, none of which lasted long enough to cause an actual forest fire. Either way, it was becoming more and more clear that the impatient trainee wasn't having any luck.

By now, Kita was pacing as she strained herself to create another shot of aura. Above her, there was a somewhat large circle where branches had been damaged, and the leaves were withered. Except for one tiny patch of branches, where the tiny dagger blade was stuck and taunting her.

"I can do this," she muttered. "Thirteenth time's a charm, right?"

Kita closed one eye, aiming up at the blade. Her fingers twitched, bracing to fire the shot. As soon as she did, it flew, spiraling through the air. 

However, it landed an inch next to the blade.

Kita groaned angrily. She slammed a fist into the nearest tree, only to grimace and rub her knuckles painfully.

"Dammit, how am I supposed to hit that thing?" Her eyes narrowed. "Maybe Thundur won't notice if I move it just a little..."

"What the hell are you doing?"

Kita flinched, but calmed down when seeing that it was just Timbur, shifting from wolf to demon form as he approached. He seemed irritated -which wasn't surprising, especially while looking up at the burnt branches and withered leaves.

"Hello, Timbur," Kita greeted.

"Are you going to answer or dodge the question?" Timbur interrogated. His hand suddenly emitted green aura, and as he touched it to the trunk of a nearby tree, the branches' breaks filled in and the leaves looked healthier. Even moss sprouted in random patches.

"Sorry," Kita replied. "It was Thundur's training; she said that if I wanted to get any further, I would have to hit that blade with a shot of magic."

Timbur looked up, finding the dagger's blade.

"Four dammit," he growled. "I told her to stop that!"

Kita arched one brow. "With all due respect, Timbur, is this your forest? If not, I think Thundur's decision outranks yours."

"No backtalk!" Timbur snapped. "This forest is mine because I'm the only one who's kept this place from burning down or dying!"

"Very self-centered, for you," Kita muttered.

Timbur crossed his arms. "Also, Leiytning specifically said it was mine when we claimed this place, so don't even think about trying to undermine that."

"That explains it," Kita remarked. "And would also explain the thorns and poisonous plants. Would it kill you to make a forest that doesn't try to kill everyone that walks by?"

"Yes," Timbur retorted. "They've kept out vermin, and prevented my idiotic brothers from invading my chambers. A win-win, you could say." He growled, shaking his head. "Wait, what am I talking about? Stop screwing around and do something productive."

"Like what?" Asked Kita. "Thundur just told me to practice, so that's what I've been doing."

"Then practice is over," Timbur argued. "At least until I get Thundur to move you somewhere else for training. Zin, Scorch, and Jem are about to leave on a patrol, so go with them and make yourself useful."

"Alright, Lord Timbur," Kita responded, starting off.

"And don't ever call me that again!" Timbur snapped.

Kita ignored him, but couldn't help smirking and rolling her eyes. Sure, Timbur was still annoying in more ways than one, but she came to appreciate him. Especially after the surprising confession he made in the Wasteland. It proved that she would just need to get past his overdriven anger to realize he was a loyal and responsible person, even kind in his own way.

'I have proven that I'm a good warrior, myself.' If Timbur's saying it, I guess I really have made some great progress. And he's not so bad. Honestly, even considering the way I saw them back then, I think I'd prefer to be stuck with him as a teammate instead of anybody in Sybilius.

Eventually, Kita found who she was looking for. Jem, Zin, and Scorch all in the Hex Den, probably trying to procrastinate their mission as much as possible. While Zin still had his blue hair in a mess, he was wearing dark purple pants and a gray jacket with light blue lining and a droplet-shaped pin. One silver pauldron was strapped over his right shoulder. His gold sword was held by a yellow cloth belt, and supported a blue flag with a decorative design.

Jem looked most different, since she cut her dark brown hair so short. She was wearing a blue-teal tulle skirt over her dark shorts. She had a dark green hood, connected to a cape, over her gray shirt. Even Scorch changed his look, too, with a yellow shirt under his gray jacket and two bandoliers over it; one was red and held random shotgun shells, the other gray and more like a belt. His vibrant red-orange hair was as spiky and untamed as ever, though.

Zin groaned, "I really don't want to go to the cavern. Jem, can't you cover for me?"

"I'm already going, moron," Jem argued. "Come on, we'll do our suffering together."

Kita interfered, "Cavern patrol?"

Jem nodded. "And it's probably going to be as boring as always."

"Do you mind if I go with you?" Asked Kita. "Timbur complains otherwise."

"Preach to the choir," Zin muttered. "Yeah, come on. Let's finish this today."

Once Zin started to head out, the other two followed, Kita lingering behind. Through the entrance tunnel, they came across the Dead Beach, and left through the portal in the sand. Seconds after falling through its darkness, Kita landed in a very familiar mountainous, rocky terrain. She was now more graceful when it came to portal travel, seeing as how she had to use it so much in the past several months. No more crash-landings or stumbles.

The band of demons, with their one hybrid, continued along the twisted old trail that would take them to a pitch-black cave, known as the Raven's Cavern. Naturally, it was good as nonexistent to many. Only the demons, their informants, and some vermin knew of it.

Along the way, Scorch teased, "Shouldn't we have brought a leash? What if Kita wanders off again?"

Zin cackled, "True!"

Kita crossed her arms. "For your information, it was just for a few weeks while I was training Caligo."

"Oh right, that gloom," Jem remarked. "Seriously, why tame it? It was perfectly fine in that little cave. It was there for the last sixteen seasons, after all."

"Only sixteen seasons?" Asked Kita, translating it to four years.

"Yeah, it moved in later than you think," Scorch concurred. "We wanted to drive it out, but were forbidden so long as it stayed peaceful. Thank our 'scary' leader for that. You're the first one to go changing that."

"I just felt bad," Kita explained. "He was always alone in that cave, probably scared because of us and all the vermin. I know people have critical opinions of creatures like glooms, so I didn't want to make anything obvious, nor did I want to make a fool of myself if something went wrong. That's why I trained him in secret, as I said. Although, I think he was already slightly tame since he was living among you for so long."

"Alright, that's fair," Scorch agreed. "But where did you learn?"

"I took some tips from Leiytning and Thundur," Kita explained. "Combined with some pointers I found in Kodin's journals, it was finally possible."

"That explains a lot," Jem muttered.

Kita nodded. "As of now, the gloom is just an oversized companion. Like a bigger Stud."

Scorch arched one brow. "Uh, what's a stud?"

"I think it's her rat-thingy," Zin replied.

"He's a dog," Kita insisted. "A very small dog that I'm guessing only evolved in Sybilius."

Jem rolled her eyes. "If that's a dog, then I'm a rabbit. That's just a disgrace to wolfkind!"

I've been arguing for too long, Kita thought. "You know, you're right. He may as well be a rat."

From there, the others went mostly silent, with just some other dumb remarks from the boys. Kita spaced out, drifting into her thoughts as she looked over the sky, which was partially obscured by the nearby mountain peaks. However, that only lasted for a few minutes before Jem had to practically drag her into the narrow crevice -the entrance to the dark Raven's Cavern. The demons could just barely see far enough to know where they were stepping, avoiding obstacles like stray stones and pitfalls.

It didn't take long for them to reach the well-lit area that was the crystal garden, with its impressively pretty main chamber, laden with crystals in all colors and sizes, and six trails that branched away.

I never get tired of this, Kita thought. Or any of our territories, actually. They're all so enchanting in their own ways, except for the moors.

It was true that the longer she spent here, the more Kita felt at home among the demons and their land. Before all of this happened, she never would've expected Sybilius to become a foreign land full of danger, with Corelia and her soldiers like wild beasts willing to tear her to pieces. Furthermore, she wouldn't expect demons, who were very questionable people on their own, to become like a family. She wouldn't expect this massive, complex, magical land beyond to be more compelling than her original, much safer home. Everything about it was pure irony.

At least while I'm out here, they don't treat me like a witch, stranger, or monster. Even better, I  can walk, talk, and learn as I please, all without punishment. Coro may be dead, but I can't seem to forget every time he raised a fist, stick, or even the hilt of that damn rifle...

Kita shook her head clear, knowing that recalling such memories was just begging for trouble.

The point being, this freedom has come with its own prices, but it's worth every drop of sweat and blood. Not just for what I've gotten in return, but to get away from those horrible people I somehow tolerated. I'd much rather die for these great people, and doing this hard work is better than working for that old doctor in Sybilius.

She focused on the mission, trying to find humor in the brothers' and sister's random quips and bickering. For now, she tried not to interfere, lest she just get dragged into a pointless debate that would last for hours, maybe even days.

They proceeded with the usual task, which Kita had done so many times that she could navigate most of the path blind. The only time the schedule was interrupted was when there really was a threat, or when the others got lazy and left early, which happened more often than it should have.

For now, neither of those things happened. The cavern was quiet and clear, and nobody was bracing to leave yet. They took the usual route, inspecting the two chambers to the west, then the one in the north, where the gloom used to dwell. 

When all that was left was the three chambers to the east, one of which never required investigating, they stopped.

"I say there's nothing," Zin remarked.

"We haven't checked the other two chambers, though," Jem argued.

"There's never anything in them," Zin insisted. "If there was, then-"

"Help, help!"

Zin looked sad. "I had to open my mouth..."

"What else is new?" Scorch teased.

The screaming came from a tiny greenish creature that just ran into the chamber. It was hardly taller than four feet, with bugged black eyes, spindly fingers, pointed ears, and a hooked nose. Despite being very ugly and somewhat creepy, this goblin was no threat. It was just a former informant that now dwelled here, acting as a very weak form of security for the cavern.

"What is it now, Griffon?" Asked Jem.

"H-He saw spider!" Griffon insisted. "Griffon saw a spider, yes, a big, big, BIG spider! A monster!"

Scorch drew his gun. "So help me, if there's really a kumodin in here, bullets are going to fly."

"Sounds like it," Jem remarked, drawing her mace. "Come on, let's see."

Griffon was about to lead them back, but suddenly shot behind a crystal. 

"It comes, it comes!"

Kita drew her sword, looking anxious. While the goblin cowered, the demons looked ready to kill, their weapons at the ready.

'Tck-tck-tck, tck-tck-tck...'

There came the horrid sound of tapping against the stone ground, slowly getting louder and louder as it neared the main chamber. A shadow began to manifest against the wall. The demons were ready to fire...

Just as a one-foot spider appeared.

Zin arched one brow. "Is it a baby, or something?"

Scorch shrugged his shoulders. "Well, it's probably harmless. It's actually kind of cute."

Just as Scorch stepped forward, the spider hissed. He squealed and jumped back, firing four rounds at the tiny thing until was a pile of ash and slime.

Zin and Kita burst out laughing.

Jem sheathed her mace. "You were saying, Scorch? I'll tell you what was cute. That screech!"

"Quiet!" Scorch snapped. "Spiders are nasty anyway!"

Kita sheathed her sword. Forget reading. This is entertainment at its finest.

Griffon creeped out of his hiding place, but raced away before anyone could ask him anything.

The other three, considering this much being done, headed off as they continued to mock Scorch for his reaction to such a tiny beast. Sure, it was still ten times bigger than any common thing in Sybilius, but out here, spiders were only concerning when they surpassed three feet. Kumodins, the worst, ranged anywhere from ten to fifteen. Despite having confronted some before, Kita still shuddered at the thought.

Kita spaced out again as they returned to the dark chamber, and into the mountain terrain beyond. After a few minutes trekking through these stone hills, they came across the portal in the ground, ultimately returning to the Dead Beach.

The four of them continued through the entrance tunnel, then stopped once inside the Hex Den. Despite looking normal with its rusty stone walls and brewing table, there was nobody else here, and it was suspiciously quiet. Nobody was immediately concerned, though.

Zin took a deep breath. "Ah, that was actually fun. Maybe I'll lead some more spiders into the cavern, just to see that more often."

Scorch smirked deviously. "You know, it would be just as easy to find some snakes. Maybe I'll save one for your bed, too."

Zin shuddered. "Don't you dare."

Jem looked around, but felt a strange feeling. Finally, she began to see that she didn't like how quiet the place was, nor did she like how nobody was present.

"Am I the only one who thinks this is strange?" She remarked. "It's just after midday. We should've found someone else in here. It's quiet, and there's no notes or anything."

"Now that you mention it, yeah," Scorch agreed. "According to Timbur, we should've met Seyber here by now. Where are the others?"

Zin shrugged his shoulders. "You're both too worried. Think about it; some surprise mission appears, Seyber and Timbur are already doing their own thing, so then Leiytning decides he'll handle it himself, then Thundur gets anxious and has to make sure he doesn't die. So here we are with an empty-"

Suddenly, he was cut off by a terrified scream.

Kita gasped, while the other demons looked equally shocked, ears pricked.

"That doesn't sound like a simple mission," said Jem.

Scorch looked concerned. "That sounds like Seyber."

Jem shifted to wolf form. "Well? Come on!" She started running off.

The rest of the group didn't hesitate to follow, rushing toward the source of the sound. Judging from the previous scream, it was beyond the lush forest, meaning it had to be somewhere along the River Of Shadows; the dark river than ran throughout the fortress.

It didn't take long for them to get there, stopping where the lush trees met the bank of black, grainy sand, with a river full of eerie blackish water just beyond. As they searched the shore, Seyber could be seen kneeled next to something further down the way.

Scorch called, "Seyber! What the hell is wrong?"

Nobody got much further when they saw what Seyber was so worried about.

It was Thundur, and she was unconscious.


Submitted: September 15, 2019

© Copyright 2021 Raven Akuma. All rights reserved.


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