Chapter 14:

The Musing Witch and Her Army

Face of Eternity : The Star and the Rose

Indena and Yamin decided to sit in completely different parts of the house. Yamin went upstairs to go check out the private study. And Indena was hovering around the kitchen doing small tasks to make sure the house was secure.

I would have honestly preferred that Yamin and Indena worked out their differences and made nice, but asking them to be friendly was like telling oil and water to mix, a highly combustible oil, that is.

I decided to play outside to avoid the stress. Marek was around the corner working on fixing both the cars up, so if I needed him, I’d just scream.

While lost in my punches and kicks to the wind to imaginary bad guys, something blue landed on one of the old seats in front of the window. It was a spirit blue bird. We hadn’t seen those since the Reaper fight, which was a day ago I, suppose.

“Hello little bird.” I smiled. “Do you wanna’ play with me?”

The bird excitedly chirped, then hopped around on the edge of the seat. With a swift leap, he landed in front of me and used his wing to point away from the house.

This behaviour made it seem like he wanted to show me something. Did I trust him? I wasn’t sure.

I’d left the door open a crack, just in case anyone needed to hear me yell.

“Hey, Indena?”

I called out to her, but she didn’t reply.


She didn’t respond either.

I stood up and turned around the corner to where Marek had been working on the car, but it looked like he was taking it for a test drive and was gone.

Now that it seemed like I was alone, I made my way to the door to go get someone else. But the bird flew up in front of me and hovered in the air.

“Do you not want me going inside?”


My animal whispering powers seemed to translate that as a yes. I guess it wasn’t just snakes I could understand, but birds too. Aren’t reptiles and birds related anyways?

The spirit blue flew past my head, then dove onto the cobblestone path. He was waiting for me to catch up.

I followed the spirit blue to wherever he wanted me to go.

He took me down the cobblestone path, eventually diverging into the more forestry looking area.

The bird suddenly wasn’t alone, there were at least fifteen others fluttering around and landing in trees.

I noticed we were coming dangerously close to a monster on the map. I was ready to turn back and go get help, but one of the spirit blue nose-dived into it and blew it up. No drops from the monster, unfortunately.

They were protecting me. This spirit blue really wanted me to see something important.

Well walking this strange path, we came upon a bird laying in the grass. My bio scanners were reading that he was a blue jay, and he’d died very recently. He looked exactly like a spirit blue, but not like a ghost.

Many of the other spirit blues landed around him and formed a circle. They all got real close, then one dipped his beak into the body of the blue jay and pulled out the spirit of the bird.


“Chirp chirp!”

They whistled and chirped their little hearts out, making marry with their newfound companion to join the dead.

So, these spirit animals were the spirits of dead wildlife? I was under the impression that animals didn’t have spirits. Wait, no, that wasn’t completely accurate. They did have spirits, but they didn’t make mana, like humans. They had to get energy from other sources.

In Elysium, the big moon that acted as a sun actually produced mana and transported it to the surface. Those caves I mentioned before were responsible for transporting that life energy here.

Speaking of which…

While trying to follow the first spirit blue, I ended up going near that mana cave that Indena and I first saw when we were here.

“We went all the way out here?” The map confirmed it was the same spot. “Wow.” They always say the return trip is faster, and they weren’t kidding.

The little bird kept chirping to get my attention, even doing a cute little dance on the branch he’d landed on. He was a really active little guy, wasn’t he?

He flew right into the cave. That wasn’t a good idea! There were tons of monsters in there. Birds don’t really have advantage in a cave like this. Then again, these were spirit animals we were talking about here. Who knows what crazy stuff they can do?

“Wait, little bird!” I chased him right to the entrance, but didn’t go in any further. I didn’t need to though, I saw why he’d brought me here.

There was a young woman laying up against a mana crystal, coveting the glow radiating off of it. Her soft face made it look like she was enjoying herself. Her head turned to me and her tired, purple eyes slowly lifted open in surprise.

Her words breathed out slowly. “You brought the little one?”


“Hmm…I see.”

She could understand that bird?

The woman had to push herself away from the mana crystal, slowly stretching out her body like she’d just woken from a long nap. She was wearing this cloak that looked like it was made of dried out feathers and leaves. They were so soft that they hardly made a sound when they shuffled around as she walked.

Under that cloak, I noticed she had a simple purple nightgown on, and dark purple stockings. Her boots went all the way up to her knees, and they were a little dirty too.

While she approached, I could smell the scent of pine tree in the air. It was a comforting smell.

“Is that bird yours?” I asked.

“He is neither mine, nor am I his. We belong to the World.”

What a cryptic way of speaking…something about her seemed off, but not totally in a bad way.

She had something on her back, something like a pointy green backpack or something? She reached back and started fiddling with it until it covered the top of her head. Then I realized it was a witch hat.

A small charm resembling a peace symbol dangled down from the pointy part. She had a few other charms around the rim of her hat, but that one stood out as particularly interesting. The rest were all broken bits of crystal or rabbit feet.

“Are you a witch?”

“Does that scare you?” She had a slightly monotone voice, it was a bit intimidating.

If she wasn’t going to boil me in a stew, I guess she wouldn't be so bad. She gave me an oddly comforting feeling, like there was goodness in her. Was there such a thing as a good witch?

“I guess I'm not scared.” I answered her question.

There was an awkward silence from her.

“What do you smell?” She asked.

What did I smell? If that was important, this conversation was going to be very strange.

“I smell pine tree.” I took another sniff. My nose didn’t actually detect pine in here, it was something that it couldn’t discern. “What is that smell?”

She put down her hat to cover her face up, it was big enough that even tilting it down slightly would cover down to her chin.

“You have found favour with the spirits, Little One of Hyem. How strange.”

Hyem? Who the heck was that?

“Wait a minute…”

She completely ignored me and started to speak out a request.

“Little One, I require your help.” She lifted up her hat slightly. “A great evil has come to these lands. It must be destroyed.”

She must have been talking about the Reaper. She was a little late on that one.

I shook my head. “No, the Reaper’s gone.”

“The Reaper is not my target. And you are wrong on both accounts.”

She started walking right past me while whispering something as silent as a breath.

“You mean, the Reaper is still around?” I asked.

“For who can kill death?” She continued walking. “This evil is far worse than that though. Follow me. We must hurry before it manifests.”

I didn’t have much choice, did I? She hadn’t even given her name yet.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Melpomene.” She answered. “I know you are Yalda. No need to introduce yourself.”

Given how she knew so much about me already, I bet she’d been watching us for a while. Her voice sounded vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t place why.

“What’s this evil?” I asked, catching up to her. If something really bad was around, I might have been able to help out.

“She is the root of all darkness. The mother of sin. The tempter of saints. Her wickedness is so vain, she would devour her own kin to gain power.”

What an awful sounding woman. Indena wasn’t that bad.

Wait, why did I think about Indena just then? It definitely couldn’t have been her.

Yamin was out of the running too, since she was super nice. And Marek was a guy, so it couldn’t have been him. It must have been someone else we didn’t know about.

“Who is this evil woman we’re looking for?”

“She will likely be swarmed with snakes, teeth sharp as nails, and blood dripping from her eyes. Where she walks, life will wither.”

“Yeah, I have no idea who that is.” I shook my head.

Melpomene reassured me that I was fortunate to not know this person. “A blessing from the spirits,” as she claimed.

We went in search of her for a while. Melpomene was having a really hard time tracking down where this person was. Based on what my map was showing, we’d just gone in a big circle, with the center point being the house we were staying at.

“That house?” Melpomene lowered her hat, looking like she was considering what to do. “Perhaps she is there.”

“There’s only two other girls there, and both don’t look anything like the person you described.”

“She may be disguised. We must hurry.”


Melpomene pretty much convinced herself that someone was hiding there. So we started sprinting to the house.

“So, you said the Reaper is still out there?” I asked as we ran.

“Not now, Little One. We’ll deal with that soon.”

A spirit blue flew over our heads and landed on Melpomene’s shoulder. It started chirping like crazy and using its wing to point in the direction of the house.

“Yes, I thought as much,” she said. “The wicked one has been found.”

I was really worried where this was going to go. Whoever her target was, we were going to definitely have some trouble to sort through.

When we got to the front door, Melpomene stopped and stared at the door frame with the old dried blood.

“This seal would never keep out evil. It was done improperly.”

Yamin said the same thing. I guess that explains why the demons were able to break in, and probably why the Reaper originally got into this house too.

In a sudden burst of energy, Melpomene kicked open the door and stood there with her hat down. It looked pretty cool, but then I realized that she’d just broken into our temporary home.

She looked every which way, but there was no one in the living room, not until Indena came rushing in from the kitchen.

Fire adorned her and she looked ready to fight.

“Wait! Everyone just…!” Nobody was listening to me.

Indena jumped at Melpomene and attacked her, sending both of them out the front door. Melpomene easily deflected all of Indena’s attacks without even breaking a sweat. A blue aura radiated out of her palms, it looked like Indena’s fire was getting put out whenever it connected with Melpomene.

“Wha…” Indena must have realized her attacks weren’t doing much, so she jumped back to get some distance. “Shrimp, you alright?”

“Yeah.” I nodded. “Melpomene isn’t a bad person. She’s here to find an evil women.”

“You little brat!” Indena growled. “Why’d you take her back to me then?!”

Fire was spitting out of her mouth like one of those oni demons...I had to clear this up quickly.

“No!” I shook my head and hands in denial. “Not you, someone else!”

“This is not the one.” Melpomene uttered.

Indena gave her a look from head to toe. Her angry glare didn’t go away.

“You’re a witch.”

Melpomene finally lifted up her hat slightly, revealing glowing purple eyes to Indena. Then she nodded before letting it fall back down again.

I figured she was a witch too with that hat. Her nature theme was interesting, but something about her was even more terrifying. She was literally putting out Indena’s fire. I didn’t even know someone could nullify magic like that.

“We don’t have any evil person here, witch. So get out of here before I get a big wooden stake and burn you on it.” Indena said.

“Had your heart matched your attitude, I may have killed you in place of the Evil One.”

“Why you…!”

If Indena wasn’t mad before, she was incensed now. But, did Melpomene just say Indena had a good heart?

“What’s going on out here?!” Yamin announced at the door. Marek was right next to her.

Marek suddenly shoved Yamin! A huge gash opened up on his shoulder! Blood was bursting out of him like a fountain!

What just happened?!

Had Marek not done that, Yamin’s head would have…oh my God.

-Human beings a—? i>-Danger.---Fi–s…-

-First Commandment Protocol failed to activate-

I saw behind him that a blue hawk had swooped into the house, but when did he do that? I didn’t even see him go inside and attack them!

“Impressive.” Melpomene said. “How did you manage to protect her from that attack?”

So Yamin was her target. It was hard to believe, especially since Yamin didn’t have an ounce of evil in her.

Indena leapt at Melpomene and tried again to attack her, but the witch evaded easily.

A blur of blue swiped across my vision. The next thing I knew, Indena was pinned by the hands to a tree. Two spirit birds with long beaks were like arrows in her palms.

Melpomene had her hands raised, as if she’d willed the bird to do so. Her hat was still down too.

“Ahhh!” Indena screamed in pain. “Yalda, get out of here!” She was trying to get her hands unpinned, but the birds were fighting against her.

-Melpomene Tagged; Foe-

-Human beings are in danger of mortal harm. Activating First Commandment Protocol-

My focus tightened on the witch. My environmental awareness increased and my body’s movements became precision quality enhanced.

I stuck up one leg and twisted around on my other. The foot I’d raised hit the ground and I bolted into the house to grab Yamin and Marek.

A single tug on her arm brought Yamin to her feet, then I grabbed Marek’s shoulder and ran for the garage. All of this happened in a mere two seconds.

The door to the garage was locked so I yanked it off its handles and brought everyone inside. Then we all entered the recently fixed car, me taking the driver’s seat, and those two in the back.

“Wait, you can’t drive!” Marek said, holding a cloth over his wound to stunt the bleeding.

“Watch me.” I said, starting the car and prepping the mirrors. I didn’t have the key, so I remotely started the engine with my hacking abilities.

I calculated if the car would be able to breach through the garage door. The steel on the front bumper should be able to take the heavy plaster door with ease.

“The garage door is down!” Marek yelled out. “What are you going to do?!”

“Ram it.”

I went full throttle and burst through the garage door! Plaster and wood splintered all over the place, but the car took less damage than I anticipated. That was optimal.

“AHHHH!” Yamin and Marek both screamed at the top of their lungs.

Indena was the last one I needed to save. She’d managed to get herself unpinned from the tree, but the witch was between her and us.

I sent out a signal to the other car parked next to the house. It turned on and full throttled right into the witch.

“Oh my God!” Yamin screamed, motioning her hands in a figure eight formation around her head and chest.

Our car stopped right up next to Indena, and she got into the left side passenger seat. Then we drove off into the forest to get some distance from the witch. No doubt she’d survive getting hit by that car, I could still feel her aura was only getting stronger by the second.

“Ayo, what’s this all about?!” Indena pointed to me. “Where’d she learn to drive?”

“She just started acting like this all of a sudden!” Yamin replied.

Marek was bleeding out. We had to get that under control.

“Yamin, stabilize Marek’s wound. I’ll instruct you on the procedure.” I said.

Yamin described what she was seeing on Marek’s shoulder, albeit vaguely. It sounded like he had a fractured clavicle and was hemorrhaging blood. She then described all the materials around the car, even reached back into the trunk to gather up some things.

“Er…Um…what am I supposed to do with duct tape and wooden boards?”

I specified exactly how to break up the thin wooden boards, adding in some cloth and duct tape to create a sling, then Indena used her fire magic to cauterize it, and we pampered the wound with the sling. It was sloppy, but it would hold until I could perform healing magic.

As soon as he was out of danger, the next person who sustained damage was Indena. She had holes in her hands about 2 cm in diameter.

That would be a tricky patch up. The shafts of her middle metacarpal bones were dust. For right now, we had to stop the bleeding. Then healing magic could repair the damage.

Unfortunately, because she doesn’t have the ability to burn herself, we couldn’t burn the wound shut.

“Indena, apply pressure to the wound and seal it up with tape.”

“When did you become a doctor?” She remarked. “Fine, hand me that.”

I would have preferred she didn’t do it on her own, but her stubbornness was not to be contended with.

The ground had largely been bumpy and full of uneven paths. That made driving difficult, so we were slow.

“Yalda, there’s a road just a little north.” Marek noted.

I fact checked that on my map, he was right.

We finally made it to more stable ground on the smoothed, concrete road. The immediate difference was jarring.

“I was wondering when we’d hit a road.” Indena said. “Why’d someone have a car out in the forest if not, you know?”

“I’m just glad that part worked out.” Yamin retorted, glad the road wasn’t bumpy anymore.

“Yeah, whatever.”

Suddenly I felt a spike of mana radiate through the air. It was so powerful that I shivered.

Everything started to shake like there was an earthquake. I looked into the side mirror to see something big stampeding this way, leaving a trail of destruction and dust in its wake.

“Yamin, identify what’s chasing us!”

“Um…” She turned around to see through the back window. “It looks like a cow, but with rock skin and a big horn on its head! It’s huge!”

I tried to search my database for whatever that might have been…match found.

“A rhinoceros.” I announced.

“A what?” Yamin asked.

None of the others seemed to know what that was either. Irrelevant.

The rhinoceros was hot on our trail, charging across the road quickly. The smooth terrain offered it little resistance against it to catch up.

I drove off course into the forest again. Using my map I was able to plot a safe path for our car, while also taking into account the rhinoceros’s single minded stampede. All it was doing was following us, not taking the safest route.

To both our fortune and misfortune, the rhino charged through trees and rocks to reach us. It was getting slowed down, but not enough for this to have been optimal, since we also had to take a more careful route.

I noticed now that the rhino was not actually a physical being, but rather a construct formed through mana manipulation. This matched the MO of Melpomene, seeing as she summoned spiritual birds before. I had to assume she’d bring forth other beasts to impede our progress soon.

As predicted, once we hit a large clearing in the forest, dozens of massive hawks swooped down and pelted the car with razor sharp beaks.

The steel of the car wasn’t strong enough to prevent piercing, but the whole hawk couldn’t get in past their beaks. At least, I assumed until a hawk dematerialized and reformed inside the car in the form of a raccoon.

“Ahhh!” Yamin screamed.

Yamin and Marek were fighting it off. Two more raccoons entered the back trunk. Then one more pierced through the window and got in. I counted four spirit raccoons.

“Crap!” Indena began wrestling with the one in front of us.

I could keep driving with the map, even though the raccoon obscured my vision. My head predicted any obstacle based on the terrain and what entities were on the map.

With luck, Indena managed to defeat the raccoon by tossing it out the window. The others did the same with the other three. They took on some severe scratch wounds, but they’d live for now.

Meanwhile the rhino was still chasing us, and the hawks kept coming down like arrows. The hawks started to land on the hood of the car, pulling it off and pecking at the engine.

I lifted up my body and charged my mana cannon, then shot each of them with a beam from my crystal heart.


They kept coming though, and they did a little more damage each time.

We wouldn’t last long at this rate.

The car was starting to slow down, and the rhino was catching up.

“I got an idea!” Indena stretched her body out the window and lit a fire in her hand.

The fire burned away the tape, then formed into a ball of flame that she tossed behind the car.

“What did you just do…”


An explosion blasted behind us. We only felt the shockwave, but there was a huge crater in the ground.

“Did you attack the rock cow?” Yamin asked.

“Nah. I blew a hole in the ground and got the thing stuck in it.” She smirked, trying to rebind her wounded hand.

Her attack bought us mere moments to get distance. At this point we’d traveled a few kilometers, and I could see signs of civilization on the horizon.

“What is that city?” I commented on the tall buildings.

“Heck if I know.” Indena said.

Marek spoke up, saying “That looks like Urnan. That tall building there is the church of saint Kensington.”

“Goddamn human geographer, ain’t you?” Indena glared at him.

I marked that city as our destination using a waypoint, then sent out a distress signal to them with our predicted geographic location where we’d break down. I didn’t know if they had radio, wifi, or any other form of primitive communication, so I sent out something in every type of wireless communication I knew of.

My distress signal was received, and someone on the other end tried to contact us through radio.

“This is Cpt. Anderson of the Urnan guard. Who am I speaking to?”

“My name is Yalda Asamo. We are currently being pursued by a hostile witch using mana created constructs.”

“Who the hell’s she talking too?” Indena commented.

The car had a radio built into it, so I broadcast the chatter there.

“Asamo…eh? Is this some kind of joke? You sound like a little girl.”

“That information is irrelevant. Mayday code 29901. There is a tier 5 hostile in hot pursuit.”

“Sir, we shouldn’t ignore this. She knows a high priority code.”

“You wanna’ be the one to tell command why we answered a prank call from a little girl?”

If this wasn’t going to go anywhere, I already had others trying to contact me. They weren’t official authorities, however. Responding to them would be far more difficult.

“So let me get this straight. You’re saying a tier 5 witch is chasing after you in the forest 3 kilometers away to the east?”

“Affirmative, Cpt. Anderson.”

“If you know the mayday code 29901, what is your authorization number?”

“My serial number is 282-475-249.”

“Copy…wait, did you say 282?”

“Affirmative.” I replied.

The radio was quiet for a moment, then I heard some chatter on the other end.

“God almighty…that’s an…roger that. We’re contacting church officials. Inquisitors are inbound to your location.”

“What’s up with that?” Indena questioned. “Why’d 282 change this guy’s mind?”

I wasn’t sure either. I figured since all these codes here matched up with The Hive’s emergency procedures, that I definitely held high priority in some official capacity.

“Inquisitors…” Yamin clawed at her seat. “Why’d they have to send those…?”

Indena looked back at Yamin, watching her distress. “You don’t like them either? Don’t you guys like watching sinners get tortured by inquisitors?”

“No. Inquisitors are ruthless, only sent out to cause pain.”

“Huh. I guess we finally agree on something.”

The rhino had fully recovered and managed to catch up with us. Our car was starting to stall, just as I predicted.

Finally we were coming to a stop, and I ordered everyone to leap out of the car as quickly as they could and get out of the way.


We all dove out of the car, then the rhino plowed into it and sent it flying. A giant bird, much bigger than the hawks, flew into it and blew it up.

“Christ!” Indena shouted as shrapnel rained down on us.

Everyone was pelted with tiny bits of metal, but nothing fatal from what I could see.

Mario Nakano 64
Taylor J
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