Chapter 44:

Chapter 40: Blade and Souls

The Immortal Witch's Death Wish

(Definitely named after one of my favorite mmorpg games back in the day)Bookmark here

Bookmark here

Lusha lay down in her newly presented room, etching the words for forgiveness into the air with her index. inscription magic could be used for many different things, but it is very rarely used to provoke and guide one's thoughts to a certain time or idea. It is unconventional to use this way, as it is mostly useful for controlling others. It was a type of magic that either set limitations on the body, or laid out instructions for it to follow. While the body may try and resist, it is usually not possible to- depending on the level of inscription. Thus, it was often used for espionage, having others commit murders, and subjugation. Rarely do people use the mental aspect of inscriptions because they can only suggest certain things. The mind was much harder to control than the body, and there was no merit when one could simply just control the body. Bookmark here

That, and no one ever uses it for purposes such as mind-subjugation. It would be much simpler to cast illusions. So, she failed to realize it when she had first accepted the mission. She withdrew the parchment and glared at the words on it. These were not official documents by the adventurers guild. She gathered mana to her eyes, enforcing her vision and seeing the faint traces of aura that lingered around the paper. While these papers usually always had aura emanating off of them. However, this one was slightly different. She noticed it immediately when she was in the hall. These held the same traces of aura as the ones in the painting. In short- her eyes focused on the image, and finally dispelled the properties that the inscription magic had been influencing over her. There was only one word written inside it, one eloquently written "Mission."Bookmark here

Bookmark here

The thing is, with the way these inscriptions worked, each person should have seen their own interpretation of the word since it was just a very brief and simplistic command. Yet when the man debriefed on the mission statements, he reiterated exactly the same story that the guild attendant had said, and exactly what she herself had read. There was a certain detail she was missing about everything. She wasn't quite certain what it was. Any ways, she should be able to verify the rest of her speculations in the coming day. Once they actively search for the bandits and rid them - the true reason of the mission should eventually reveal itself. Or, it may reveal itself of its own accord and there were no bandits to begin with. Either way, this became a matter where she had to exercise patience. Bookmark here

Eventually, she drifted off into her sleep. To her side, the sleeping Rinn curled up beside her snoring like a tiny squirrel or rodent of some sort. Grodd was allocated to his own room, and due to the fact that she was certain Grodd could take care of himself, she insisted that Rinn remain besides her. Rinn was a valuable asset that could not yet die before her buds had bloomed. Not soon after she had fallen asleep only four hours later she was finally back awake. Much to her disdain, she had not gotten the full amount of sleep she had so wished. Instead it was the sleeping girl herself, Rinn, who woke her up. In her frantic confusion there was a loud shouting and yelling that immediately caused Lusha to awake and discharge a shocking amount of energy from her body. The force would have normally pushed anyone around her back in order to protect Rinn from any harm. However such a pulse was instantly nullified when she noticed it was none other than Rinn herself who was the cause of her own peril. Instead, a rush of wind brushed through her hair.Bookmark here

"Alright scaredy cat. What's the big idea?I don't like being disrupted in my sleep."Bookmark here

"S-sorry..."Bookmark here

"Just confused how we ended up here? We're in the village of Rouen. The Ozun estate." Lusha yawned and stretched before sitting up. Bookmark here

"N-no... it was just..." she faded into an uneasy silence and Lusha cocked an eyebrow at her, waiting for her response.Bookmark here

"ehm... n..nevermind." She averted her gaze. Lusha could tell there was something she was not saying. She could easily cast a technique to loosen her tongue, but that would be pointless. Life is already boring as it is. There's no need to use cheats through it all. "Oh fine." ​She yawned one more time and stretched. "Well, I suppose since I'm already awake, It would be pointless to fall back asleep."Bookmark here

Rinn lowered her head, ashamed. "Sorry."Bookmark here

"ah, don't start moping about it..- Oh I know. You've been asleep for 3 days now, how about we play a little game to pass the time."Bookmark here

"A game?" There was a sense of uneasiness once she posed this question. There was just something about the witch's smirk that seemed to always elicit a sense of unease. Lusha placed a hand out. "It's an old game I used to play with my brother."Bookmark here

"Your brother?"Bookmark here

"Mhm. You must know who that is by now, right?"Bookmark here

Rinn recalled the name she brought up and the tension that flared so high that her heart sank to her stomach. "Oh no worries. I was temporarily upset about that before. But you know, some things have been influencing me recently. I can bring these things up without getting irritated. Actually, some of it is quite nostalgic to be honest." She placed her hand out to the child. She stared blankly at the hand. Each of her fingers were sprawled out in front of her face. She nodded to her signifying her to clasp her hand. Rinn complied, but not without hesitation. The moment her hands joined with the witch's, the world around her instantly changed. [Illusion Magic; Lucid Dreams]. Bookmark here

As the world shifted, they were no longer sitting in a bed, but rather in a forest. Rinn looked nervously around. This forest didn't appear to be like anything she'd ever seen before. Flowers that moved from their own stems. Hawks with eyes made of marbles. Rocks that held heartbeats within them. Everything within this area looked as if they were demonic creations, far beyond the imagination of humans. "C'mon. You don't want to get lost."Bookmark here

Rinn immediately ran up besides her as she walked down the morbid and rigid terrain. Even the skies constantly trembled as giant abominations soared through them. "W-where is this place?"Bookmark here

Lusha looked back. "Don't worry so much. This is just an illusion so nothing here can truly harm you. But if you gotta know... this is a place in the Eastern Continent. Gonkuri." She extended her hand to Rinn and she willfully grabbed it before they took off to the skies. Now seeing this place from an aerial view, she could see exactly how vast and unusual it was. A hawk about the size of 4 full grown men flew towards them with it's beak curled upwards like a rhino horn, and maddening red eyes. Lusha moved out of the way with little effort, pulling Rinn with her. "Why is it so infested by wraiths? And I've never seen ones like this before..."Bookmark here

"Hahahaa. Let's land there." She pointed to a clearing, where the grass showed red. They both descended and a sense of quietness overtook the atmosphere around them. "There's not an abundance of wraiths really. There's just an abundance of mana."Bookmark here

"What do you mean?"Bookmark here

"Well that's what wraiths are aren't they?"Bookmark here

"I'm not understanding."Bookmark here

"Well, you see..." she thought of the best way to state this. ​Bookmark here

"I thought they were creatures... born as the result of death." Rinn said. She recalled all the tales they would tell her when she was younger. How ghosts, fiends and kobolds would spawn after large amounts of war, rot, and decay. The negative emotions were said to spawn creatures of the nastiest origin. Bookmark here

"As a result of death?" Lusha blinked twice, perplexed by how much the stories have changed. "No... nothing like that. It's the result of too much Mana."Bookmark here

She casted another illusion with her index and a small little figurine of a tiger appeared. "See- every living thing requires mana to survive. If you run out of mana, or you are low on mana, you eventually die." Rinn listened intently. "But you see... like all things, over-indulgence can cause negative consequences." The imagery she was showing depicted the tiger walking to a stream to drink. As it continued to lap up the water, it refused to stop. With no consideration to the other life-forms or to itself, it continued to drink from the stream. As the stream got smaller and smaller, the tiger only got larger and larger.​ The body began contorting in a morbid fashion. The size was irregular. The creature was entirely irrational, attacking flies with the same force as it would the trees around it. Bookmark here

​"Do you see what I mean now? In abundance, it causes the deterioration of the mind, rationality, and even the distortion of the body"Bookmark here

Rinn raised a hand as if to ask a question. "Then... why is it that you have such large amounts and aren't going crazy?"Bookmark here

Lusha laughed. "Is that right? Am I not already pretty crazy?" She continued to laugh brazenly. Bookmark here

Rinn was not going to even take a chance at answering that question. Jest or not. "Well, I'll ask you another question. When you're a child, more often than not, your max mana capacity is very low. However, say you become a great magician like Merlin. Why is it that, with your mana so exponentially rising- that you do not become disfigured?"Bookmark here

She thought about this for a second before giving her reply. "Ehm... is it because..." whatever answer she was thinking slowly faded back to nothingness. She felt that it would be embarrassing if she provided the wrong answer. "Growth." Lusha finally replied. Bookmark here

A wry taste filled her mouth. She was just about to say that. Bookmark here

"Unlike this tiger over here, I did not consume mana like an insane and ravenous beast. I had to build up my limit first. Just as one can eat and die from overeating, one can eat and eventually become a shape that allows for more consumption. Your mana capacity works in the same type of way." That much was true. Her mana changed to something much more highly condensed. Bookmark here

Rinn nodded, but Lusha could tell she was still confused. "Long ago, I met a sage from the Eastern continent. This was actually his home, Gonkuri. In its original form, it was a peaceful little oasis, far from all conflict or war. He was a strange man who wanted to find out how he could bring back the dead. Because of such an endeavor, he trapped all of the souls here. And... well as you can see... it didn't quite work as he had expected. This is the aftermath of what fumbling around with magic without the first idea of what you're doing produces. Eventually, the energy those souls have do not return to their resting place. Instead it marinates the surroundings in an abundance of mana, giving rise to plants, creatures, and all sorts of horrific concepts."Bookmark here

"So... are you ready to play the game?"Bookmark here

Rinn nervously gulped. "Oh there's no need to be afraid. So long as you're in this world, you won't be taking damage. This is- afterall, only in your mind. You'll have to subjugate many of these beasts in combat." Bookmark here

“Now. Two things to keep in mind. Just because this is in your head, does not mean you won't feel pain from it. But you won't be facing something full force quite yet.: She snapped her finger and the red grass from underneath morphed. various vine like creatures began to erupt from the ground. Lusha quickly hopped out of the way and conjured up a sword as well. It appeared as if everything being summoned in this world appeared as if it was from thin air. Bookmark here

With one quick motion she was already flying out of the clearing. The sword landed below and etched itself onto the ground near Rinn. Bookmark here

She looked up at Lusha in panic. “You should probably be focusing below you. If you don’t fight, it’s gonna hurt.”Bookmark here

She shakily picked up the blade. Just as she did so, several of the vines began to rise from the ground. A strike came out like a whip right at her, though somehow, she actually blocked it.- much to her surprise. Bookmark here

The sound of metal clanging against the vines rang throughout and her blade shook all the way to her arm. As the blowback sent the blade over her head, she noticed blood began to splatter from the blade. The opposite end of the vine landed hard upon the ground. Bookmark here

“Bleeding plants…?”Bookmark here

Whatever thought she had, was instantly interrupted. Neither the plant, nor her own mind would give her the time to process it. The vine struck her hard from her left, sending her tiny frame tumbling 12 feet back. Each part of her body struck the ground as she tumbled. Bookmark here

Just as she had explained earlier, the pain shot through her shoulder and her jaw. The rest of her body, though having sustained damage, was mainly numb to the fact that it happened. Regardless, the evidence was still there, she was moving much too too slow to stabilize. Everything seemed to move very slowly, yet much faster than her own body could match.Bookmark here

The vine lashed out again, sending her flying a separate direction. She was flying way too much to even restabilize. The creature had taken control of the match early on, and now there was no opening to turn the tides. Bookmark here

“Now might be a good time to tell you. Do you know why even fighters release their aura in a fight? Despite not knowing too much magic?”Bookmark here

She was attempting to try to hear her, but her head was too focused on the craziness before her.Bookmark here

“It’s because it will boost your abilities. Your concentration, your awareness, and durability… to an extent. But it is better than no armor.”Bookmark here

As she attempted to defend from the vines, she noticed blood begin to smack against her back. The creature had struck her with the same limb that it had cut open earlier, dousing her with blood. Bookmark here

This made her landing a lot less impactful as the slickness of the blood caused her to slide across the field instead of rolling. This was the perfect chance she had at the moment, she can’t possibly wait any further. This pain was nothing compared to much of the pain she had experienced throughout her life.Bookmark here

“That’s right… I can do it…. Just swallow the pain…. Hold it in. Like always.”Bookmark here

As she was sliding across the grass, she gripped tightly onto the sword and stabbed it into the ground. She slid through the grass only for 4 feet more before holding herself up over the ground. Bookmark here

Already the vines came back at her. She closed her eyes, recalling the feeling she had familiarized herself with earlier. “Cmon. C’mon. I have enough time…” There was an odd feeling of calmness as she realized that there was truly nothing at risk within this fight. The only thing at risk is her not improving. Bookmark here

Holding the sword in front of her, she finally opened her eyes. A small radius of aura had encompassed her body. With her sword in front of her, she quickly brought it down upon the vine before retreating back while the others headed straight for her.Bookmark here

Oddly enough, her body was not aching anymore. This was a feeling similar to adrenaline. She had felt it several times before. This time the vines appeared as if they were traveling fairly slowly, yet she was now moving faster than she was before. Bookmark here

She quickly sliced the next tendril that had reached out to her. There was a different feeling she was now overcome with. It was not the same fear that she had felt before. No, this one was more-so along the lines of excitement. Bookmark here

“There you go. No worries. You won’t pass out this time. That’s because you’re not actually expending energy. After-all this is only an illusion. So in this case, over-exert your mana as much as you can. Keep fighting that creature until you find out how to kill it.”Bookmark here

She dodged the next wave of attacks. Just then instead of going after the young girl with individual tendrils, they all began to tie loop around each other, creating one giant rope-like appendage. As it came crashing down upon, she withdrew her sword in order to cut through it. The sword made contact and then-Bookmark here

Her eyes burst open as she found herself staring at Lusha. They were still on the bed, just with the fingers of one hand touching. Bookmark here

“W-what happened?” Bookmark here

“You lost.”Bookmark here

“I- lost?” She was certain that the blade had connected with the vines just then. Bookmark here

“Yeah. But you failed to realize what it was doing. The creature reinforced itself after realizing, and connected various vines together to overpower your weak sword capabilities. I suppose you should be lucky that it was only a baby.”Bookmark here

“Eehhhh?? But.. bu-t..” Bookmark here

Lusha giggled, holding back the urge to laugh. “You did pretty good though for your first fight. Though you should restrain from trying that in real practice just yet.”Bookmark here

She further elaborated. “With the way you utilize all your mana like that, you’d pass out just like last time the moment you release your aura.”Bookmark here

“Oh… I see.”Bookmark here

“But like I said, not bad.”Bookmark here

“Now… It's going to be morning soon. I did pack you lunch. You must be hungry after not eating for three days.” Bookmark here

She realized her hunger the moment Lusha had pointed it out. Her stomach growled as if a wraith was going to emerge from it.Bookmark here

“Better hurry. It took all I could to try and wrench some of that food away from the green goblin.”Bookmark here

Somewhere in the other room, a hall away, a goblin had sneezed. He continued to snore without a care, full, fed, and contempt.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.