We have been travelling for two hours in the deeper parts of the forest. We had expected to leave the deep parts of the forest after an hour's worth of travelling but it seems to have stretched out for eternity.
The more we walked the more concerned we had become. A quick trip through this forest wasn't supposed to be an issue, but it's lowering the morale of everyone. Low morales while travelling with me will cause them to lose trust in me, leading to them leaving. This is something I can't do, for my own reasons.
From the carriage behind the young woman, who gave me the potion, popped her head out.
"Hey… Mr Assassin? How far are we from leaving this forest?"
I slowed down my horse and lined myself up beside her carriage.
"To be honest with you…" I leaned over to her and whispered to her ear. "We should have left it an hour ago."
She got startled but quickly calmed down to respond. In a quiet soft tone, she answered back to me.
"So what happened?"
"I don't want anyone to panic, but we ended up walking into a different domain. It was made by powerful magic, so I didn't notice it. I only realised after I concentrated on the flow of mana around me."
"Woah, sounds like something hard to manage." She stopped talking for a moment and looked around at the forest. "Is there a way out?"
"Yes." Truth be told, I'm not confident with that answer. However, I have an idea that could either work or fail terribly.
"Care to tell?" She stared into my eyes without blinking once.
Looking away I replied, "Kill the one who trapped us in here."
"That's it? I expected something more like hocus pocus magical tricks. Jokes aside, is that really it? How do we know who trapped us in here?"
I let out a little laugh. She is rather humorous in her own way. I would feel bad if they were to find out I failed to keep them all safe and let them walk into a trap.
"We will find out when we meet them. Wouldn't be as fun if we knew everything from the start would it?" I don't like sounding overconfident, however, I don't want to cause unnecessary fear.
She seemed unsatisfied with my answer but she let out a sigh and went back inside the carriage. I hope she doesn't tell everyone else what I told her, that would cause too much fear.
I sped up my horse a little to get back in front of all the carriages. The incessant journey through the deep forest within an unknown domain carries on.
It has been another few hours and we got nowhere. Nothing came out to us, nothing changed. The never-ending loop carried on for hours. Many of the refugees have become agitated. Travelling now won't be an option for a while.
I started to tell all the carriages to stop as I rode past each one from the front to the end of the convoy. There was no point pushing forwards, nothing was going to change. We might as well set up a camp for tonight.
Most were satisfied that we finally got some rest from pointlessly travelling. Everyone got their tents ready and prepared some food. In the meantime, I had some rest in my tent.
Loud screams woke me up. I don't know how long I was able to sleep, however, all I know is that it wasn't enough. I rushed myself up and dashed out of the tent to see what was going on.
The dark made it difficult to see, I tried taking a better look but without getting close it would be impossible to see a single thing. I ran into the chaos, not sure what to expect but it wasn't fun. Everyone kept running into me, but I couldn't figure out what they were running from.
Quickly I grabbed one of the refugees who bumped into me. With the hope that I could get some answers from them.
"What's going on? Why is everyone panicking?"
"There's. I ran. Here. They. Terrified." Words were coming out but they made no sense. I released them and they dashed off.
Not sure what I can do unless I find out what is happening. From what it seems finding out using the refugees will be harder than finding out myself.
I ran further into where the screams were coming from. As I approached, there started to be more and more webs hanging around. It became harder to go through. Soon enough I began getting covered in cobwebs. I tried to reach out for my daggers but my arms couldn't reach for them. This is bad, very bad. I allowed myself to fall into this because I wanted to try to help the refugees.
I tried getting out of the dense webs but nothing would work, as I was wobbling around in the webs I felt something crawling around on my back. I turned my head around and saw a large spider crawling over onto my shoulder. It was putting webs around my body, it was getting tighter each time it circulated around me.
The tighter it got the less I could breathe. My sight became blurred and my head was waving around. Soon enough all I saw was darkness.
A bright light appeared in my eyes. I was able to breathe again. I took a moment to calm myself down, sort out my breathing. I still wasn't able to move around my body, the webs were still tight around me. I might have passed out from the spider biting me without realising it, might be since I was already in enough pain not to realise it.
Either way, I have to find a way to get out or I will end up as a meal for spiderlings, or at best, the spider Queen's lunch. Which in its own way would be quite the honour. Despite that, I would rather live though. I was able to move my head around and loosen up the webs around it. There wasn't much to look at, webs all around me, I could even taste its musty and acrid webs.
It was rather hard but you could hear things crawling around outside the web cocoon. My body was trembling, I haven't felt this scared in a while. The fear of the unknown and fear of being powerless have always been the most terrifying for me, and here I am, dealing with both.
Since I would prefer not to get eaten, I don't know if this would work, but If possible I could attempt to get out using the shadow realm. I attempted to open the entrance to the shadow realm, however, despite my efforts, it wouldn't open. My arms had no way to move, nothing could be done. All there is to do is to wait and hope for the best.
Time went on and on, the sounds of crawling spiders seemed to have stopped. Not too sure how long it has been since I was brought here, but I have managed to loosen up the webs around me by wiggling around. I poked out some holes so I could see what was going on outside. It was pitch black. No light could be seen anywhere. I shouldn't have expected anything else considering it's a bunch of spiders.
I slowly began to cut the cocoon, I didn't want to make any rash movements as it could wake them up. There were multiple spiders scattered around the cave. It was hard to spot each one of them, those which I was able to spot were close to me so I could sense their mana flow.
I slowly climbed out and sneaked into the shadow realm. This way I will be able to travel without being noticed. I managed to travel far enough to get out of the shadow realm and be safe. Being too long within it will exhaust my mana, which would be terrible if I was still inside.
Soon enough I managed to find the exit to the cave, I was relieved to be finally out of the cave. Now I need to get back as quickly as possible to the rest of the refugees. I tried looking around for some kind of trail which the spiders took when bringing me here, luckily there was one faint trail leading out into the forest. I'm not certain this is the exact trail but it's all I have to go off of.
There was smoke in the sky, so I began to race through the forest towards it. When I arrived, I was relieved to see that it was the refugee camp. However, something didn't seem right. I looked around and it looked like some were missing somewhere. Most people didn't want to look at me, let alone speak to me.
"How many are missing and do you know where they are?" I tried asking around, but it was pointless, tears were flowing out of their eyes.
I had failed to protect them.
However, I can still fix this. I don't know how many are missing, but It's safe to say they will be in the cave. Unless something else attacked them while I was gone. Damnit. I should have known that they were going to be more taken away with me, how could I be this careless.
I rushed back towards the cave. This time I was prepared. I knew who my enemy was so now I can be more aware. The only thing I have yet to figure out is how they will fight, this is my first time encountering spiders like this.
Finally arriving at the cave entrance, I prepared myself a torch. I will be able to see what's happening around me.
I wandered deeper and deeper into the cave. Walls were covered in dense cobwebs, the floor was damp, one wrong step would cause me to slip. The deeper I went, the denser the webs got. You could see bones laying around.
There was a large spacious area within the cave. I crept in as quietly as I could in case there was something here. Sure enough, spiders were crawling around. I noticed a ripped open cocoon, along with three others that were still intact. This must have been the area I was in earlier.
I entered the shadow realm and approached the cocoons. I sneaked out of the shadow realm and grabbed the cocoons into it. I quickly pulled them across the shadow realm till it was a safe distance to not get noticed. I carried all 3 out of the cave, I grabbed my dagger and cut their cocoons open. They were indeed part of the refugees. I took a break for a few minutes, hoping that the other 3 would wake up.
After a short wait, one of them woke up.
"Hey, you alright?" I asked them while they were looking around.
"Y-yeah, I'm I'm ok…" she replied confused.
"Do you remember anything that happened?" I wanted to get some information from her, however, asking too many questions won't do her any good. If she knows nothing I will just have to go in and search for anyone else in case there are more areas like that in the cave.
She looked at me, no reply. No point trying. Will take longer than going to find anyone else myself.
"Here, take this canteen. Help out the other two when they wake up. I'm going to try to see if there's anyone else in the cave." She nodded in reply and I faded into the cave's shadows.
I left my torch at the entrance to the large cave area since I didn't have any hands to grab it while carrying the guys in the cocoons. Luckily it was still there and burning, which makes things easier when you can see them.
Quickly I grabbed the torch and snuck into where all the spiders were resting. Since I don't feel like having to sneak around constantly, It will be easier to just take them out silently.
Pulling my daggers out, I began to approach the spiders. When they were within my reach I quickly began forcing my daggers into the cephalothorax. One by one they slowly began to awaken, however, I was quicker. I managed to take out all five in the room. Now that this was done. I could be more free walking around here.
I moved the pile of dead spiders over to the corner and set them on fire. This will give some light to this area and I won't have to waste my torch. I began heading deeper into the cave to search for any other refugees in there. I want to get everyone out safely so that I don't tarnish the trust I have with them.
Going from one tunnel to another, all this wandering around felt useless. I couldn't find anything. It felt like being in a maze. Each tunnel seemed the same. Once again in an endless loop.
Since what I was doing wasn't working, I decided to sit down and try to use the mana to find where the refugees are. My range was fairly limited, however, I was able to concentrate thanks to the tranquillity of the cave.
Elves are known for high amounts of mana, even those who don't know how to use magic, still consist of mana within them. Finding them shouldn't be an issue because the density of the mana would stand out more. I can assume the spiders would also have some sort of mana within them too, so I will be able to at least find some directions towards them.
This is the most effort I have put into using pure mana in a while. Since we are unable to see pure mana, we usually use it to form something that we can see. Using pure mana is very straining on the body.
Finally, I found a large amount of mana. A room, filled with mana, I lost the sense of my mana due to the overpowering amounts. I jumped up from the ground and headed in that direction. I soon arrived at a spacious area within the cave, double the one I was inside last time. The place was covered in webs and cocoons. At the centre sat a large, thick spider. Surrounded by its underlings carrying around cocoons to what could potentially be the Spider Queen.
I froze. My body refused to move any further. I began to shiver. The Spider Queen's aura alone was overpowering. My body wanted to go back, but I couldn't. I can't betray the trust of the refugees anymore that I already have.