Johar came on a horse, giving a brief glance at Eric before ordering. "fly after us." And with that, he rode off and the soldiers ran in rows after him as they kept an eye on Eric above them. About two hours later they arrived to the main gates of the Castle.The guards standing there were tensed seeing the transformed Eric. Johar just calmly gestured the hybrid to land dowb beside the minister's horse and then they went in.
They were soon walking in the corridors towards the throneroom since Johar was eager to show his queen his success as soon as possible. It was now proved to him that Eric was going to obey any orders from them so he was in their grasp and under complete control. He entered the large room proudly and whispered firmly to the Demon behind him. "Bow down to the queen and show your respect." He also bowed down then stepped forward confidently. "Your highness, The demon is trained and ready. He will do as you please, at your service." The higherups standing there exchanged doubtful looks, uneasy about Karim's son.
Dosia stiffened at his slightly mischievous remark then quickly looked away to hide her embarrassed look, letting out an angry "Hmph!" yet was not able to answer. Once he was gone out of sight, she sighed in relief and glared at her nosy escort before continuing her way towards other parts of the Castle. They needed to start the war soon and she didn't want any chaos again.
"How is my delicious pretty boy?" Speaking of devil, Romeo cooed from a corner before revealing his energetic face. He looked stronger and more powerful that ever and his eyes glowed more than ever. Was it because of the amount of blood he had been drinking recently or...something else? Anyway, the cheerful vampire skipped to Ryuu's side and gave a rough slap to his back. "Hey! Why are you back? Got any naughty plans?" He took the Summoner's arm but his grip was harder than usual like it was more like an interrogation than a friendly chat.
"Hey, that is cool!" Artemis grinned flipping the pages though she knew she was not going to read them herself. That old man would be kind enough to explain them all orally. "You're the best Joseph!"The Ba'al punched his shoulder lightly before rushing out to bother the poor old master.
Eric jumped down from the rafters when he heard the roaring of the monster outside and his wings caught him from falling, keeping him in the air long enough to see the winged monster he was fighting before he flexed them back and swooped under it, away from the creatures snapping teeth. He looked down when he heard Johar’s voice and he took three seconds, staring at the minister before his eyes narrowed and the hybrid turned back towards the monster. He flew above the creature and drove it down into the floor, crushing it’s skull under foot before he stepped off of its bloodied head, his tail lashing and his wings folding as much as they could.
Eric heard the minister approaching him from behind and he turned around to face Johar, his golden eyes still narrowed and his expression one of hate. He didn’t answer right away until Johar told him to answer. “… He didn’t.” Was Eric’s gruff response and he watched the minister step back from him, causing two more monsters for him to fight to appear. But the time he was worn out, half of the room was filled with carnage, and his skin was nearly completely blackened wherever the blood had touched. His breath was coming out in heavy pants and he landed again, his wings closing around his shoulder and his tail no longer lashing.
Trying to catch his breath, Eric looked around and began rubbing at his face, wiping at his eyes to clear his reddened vision. He heard Johar saying something to the soldiers but he didn’t catch what was said and by the time he looked back up, the minister had already left the room. When he was finally, presentable, by the soldier’s terms, he calmly stepped outside of the tower.
The dark red stains having been washed from his dampened hair and the ashy color fading from his skin. He’d been given silver armor to wear and gloves to cover his hands. Another change was that he couldn’t touch anything without cutting into it, almost like his fingers had been replaced with knives. Eric didn’t even give Johar a glance as he walked forwards and stopped, waiting for the soldiers to move to either side of him.
Ryuu turned around when he noticed the servants and maids all bowing and upon seeing Dosia, he too bent at his waist towards her. He waited till he heard her speak before straightening back up and he noted that she wasn’t looking at him. “Perhaps I’ve changed my mind...” He said coolly, folding his good hand behind himself while his other was still in a proper sling. He didn’t say anything else and he stepped forwards to pass her, giving her a respectable distance between them but staying close enough to whisper as he passed
“May I call you by your name now, your highness?” He asked her but continued walking away. Her escorts of course also heard this and they looked towards one another before fixing their eyes on Ryuu as he walked away. The Summoner still had his arrow at his waist but he wasn’t in any continuation to fight with what Sorit did to him. The spot where the vampires had gotten him also itches from time to time, but he would shiver every time he thought about those two, hoping he wouldn’t run into them again.
Joseph smiled at Artemis’ talking and he glanced up at her wondering out loud. They’d been at the academy for almost half a month now and no word had been given on the war. Upon her mention of action, he got up after a few moments and got another book, passing it over to Artemis. It was a book on Archaic Magic: Attack Spells. It was partially written in the dark language and she’d be able to get more help from the Archaic spells master.
A sudden roar shook the windows and with a loud whizz a flying monster appeared behind the broken window and it didn't take long before it broke in. The monster shrieked upon seeing Eric flying in mid air and circled him before attacking him with open jaws and open talons.
"One miniute." Johar called out from down there at the entrance. Although his face didn't show it, he was surprised by seeing the sudden transformation in Eric. Was it Karim's doing or it was just the process of the hybrid turning into a full demon? If he was as strong as he looked, then it was time for him to be introduced to the queen. With this deadly weapon in their hands, the Light's victory was absolute but still Karim was bothering the minister. He was quite sure the demon would not leave them alone even if they win. He would probably demand something in return of the weapon he had given them.
Johar was worried, yet he trusted his queen. She was not a wise immortal for nothing.
Once Eric was done with the monster, Johar motioned him to stand in front of him. "..." Johar stared at his new features before asking firmly. "Did Karim visit you again? Answer me." He was relieved when the answer was no so he continued on with the training, sending two monsters. Then three, then four...He wanted to push Eric's limits and study his abilities. He didn't stop until the hybrid was tired. "Make him look presentable. We are going back." Johar ordered the soldiers before leaving the room.
The castle seemed peaceful and normal, the threatening atmosphere was gone but still the guards standing at the gates seemed tense and alarmed. Yet when they saw Ryuu, they let him in since they didn't have any orders about the Summoner. The corridors were being cleaned by maids and servants. The first one he saw was Abantes who seemed to be searching for his little servant, afraid that he might have scared him away while he was in his crazed state. "Ah, Ryuu." He greeted the Summoner with a smile. "I thought you are gone like the other guests. I am sorry for the...incovinece." He seemed a bit embarrassed. "Though the reason is still a mystery to us." He was about to turn away before Weasel ran up his leg and he grinned, petting the weasel and whispering apologises to the fluffy creature as walking away.
"Damn it. Even more cleaning?" N.V nagged from a corner, scrubbing stains of blood from the little fights the Dark had in the recent days. The servants and maids suddenly stood and bowed at the approaching group of Dosia and her escort. She was checking on the Castle herself to make sure everything was back to normal.
"..." She stood when she saw Ryuu and of course remembered the kiss he forced on her. Immediately she looked away, refusing to look in his eyes and blush like a silly girl again. "...We thought you have used the opportunity to go back to your country. What is the meaning of this?"
Studying was like a torture for Artemis but she kept up with Joseph, not wanting to be useless. They were given a room in the academy dorm. Nobody bothered them there and Artemis felt like a total stranger and out of place. She didn't let the feeling get to her and focused on finding the worthy spells.
"Hey Joseph. I have brought you a drink....that lady gave it...Coffin? Cough...Coffee?" She frowned at the odd bitter smelling liquid in the cup and set it on desk for the former prince. She sighed and sat on the edge of the sudden desk. "Days have passed...I wonder what we've missed?" The Ba'al mumbled and stretched. "I'm itching for some real action~"
Eric stumbled back as he was shoved into the basement and he glared towards the door as it was shut, hearing the lock slide into place. Gritting his teeth, he glanced around the open room and began pacing, limping. All he could do was rest, but that wasn’t all he was going to do. As the days continued on, with every injury, cut, scrape, or bruise he got, there was another flinch or twitch of anger.
It was growing, building and with every day he failed to fly, he was dragged back down to the basement and locked away. But suddenly, a night after Johar had lost his patience again with Eric before he was taken down to the basement, something changed. The morning after, as the soldiers were opening the door to get him, a force slammed into the door from the other side, forcing it closed again and Eric’s voice snapped through the door.
“What is it?”
“Step back from the door, It’s time for your training!” One of the soldiers responded and there was a groan in the wood as the force on it was relented. Eric stepped back and turned away from the door, pacing a few steps away before he turned back to look at the soldiers. There was a few differences in his appearance that were well noticed. His wings seemed slightly larger and they didn’t fold neatly on his back anymore, instead being held half opened around his shoulders. Another change was his skin, wherever blood had been splattered, his skin had darkened and turned ashy. Some of it was fading back to a normal skin color but most of it was dark from what had happened the night before. And the last noticeable difference was a tail, waving and flicking behind him.
Once the door was opened and soldiers stepped into the basement, Eric paused before suddenly turning on them and racing past them, using his speed to get by before running back up the stairs. As soon as he made it to the top of the tower, his wide wings opened and he jumped up, fluttering and flapping before swooping up into the far rafters of the room and glaring down towards the soldiers as they entered. They didn’t see him at first and some checked the window he’d broken the first night, but then one spotted his tail hanging down and flicking. He watched them point at him and talk to one another before a soldier left the room, probably to go inform Johar that he’d managed to fly.
Ryuu sighed a little with relief when he heard that the group had mostly escaped, but at N.V’s last statement, the Summoner glanced back at the two servants. “Are you two going to flee?” He asked and when they looked at one another, he smiled slightly and shook his head. “I’m not leaving. If I did then I’d be proving all of your fruitless rumors right about me. I’m going to stay here.” He looked back towards the castle, his decision to wait till the madness had faded in the dark before trying to go back to the castle. For now he’d wanted to find a safe place to wait and he took the steed from N.V, thanking him with a sincere look before turning away and heading off into the city. It would be a few days before he stood in front of the castle again but Ryuu was prepared this time. He made sure Weasel stayed back to wait for him, just so the little servant wouldn’t get hurt.
Joseph rolled his eyes at Artemis’ clenched fists and he motioned for her to follow. They looked back at the posting to see where the academy was and headed off towards it. There were a few people who recognized Joseph and a few who mistook him for Rapha Tacitus, but It wasn’t hard for him to communicate with them. After a bit of back and forth, it was agreed that the two would stay and learn, in the meantime, alchemy was explained to Artemis and the studies to stop the war were started.
Bird was not going to give up. She didn't care if he was tired, she didn't care if it was impossible to teach flying over a night. She just knew that her master wanted him fly and she she was not going to disappoint him again. With each failure she became more and more impatient. To the degree that she even threw him down instead of dropping. At last Eric refused to get up and the monster dove down to land beside him. She was about to make him stand when she noticed his swollen ankle and frowned. He was worn out and injured. Bird huffed and flew up again, sitting down in her nest.
"We are done for today." And with that, the guards waiting behind the door came in and dragged Eric down to the basement. On their way, Johar stopped the group and glared at Eric. After seconds of staring, the minister grabbed on Eric's horn and tilt his head up, growling in his face.
"You better learn flying fast, piece of trash." Shoving him in the basement, Johar gave the last threatening glare.
And then he shut the door and locked it firmly.
The city seemed much more normal than the castle even though some howls and screeches could be heard here and there and the citizens rathered not to come put of their safe houses. It seemed like the survivors hadn't waited for Ryuu and had already taken off to their own destination since most of them were guests. Searching for them looked hopeless before Weasel climbed up Ryuu's leg again and sat on his shoulder sniffing on his neck. After that, N.V and Cat also came as bringing a horse along. N.V looked annoyed as he didn't like the current situation at all. "That Chamlek girl told me to get you a horse before she and her loud dad escaped the Capital." He explained as Weasel was settling down on Ryuu's head. "So, bye bye. Never come back again."
Artemis read those lines, her eyebrows rising up as she understood what it really meant. Though it was strange they had made learning magic a thing. However, the little Ba'al didn't know much about ancient magic but she knew it was very helpful against the creatures she faced in this world. "Hey, can we check it out?" She asked Joseph eagerly, already accepted that he was in charge since he was way more wiser than her. "I bet we can find something good there to help us kick the Light ass..or even better, kick that asshole's was!" She clenched her fists, mentioning Eric. "I have never seen an academy before." She innocently added as another convincing reason.
Gritting his teeth as his wings were yanked on, Eric continued to try to stay in the air as Bird resorted to dropping him again. He was able to glide and steer himself, flapping his wings to stay up right, and help himself land, but he couldn’t stay flying. He always ended up landing or crashing to the floor again, and again, and again. And having Bird pulling at his wings and pinching the muscles under his shoulders wasn’t helping. It was taking hours and by the time the sun set, all Bird had managed to do was wear the hybrid out again. He wouldn’t be able to learn to fly over night, even with the constant training, pressure, and threats if he didn’t.
That wasn’t how things worked.
Because of how tired he was, Eric started making little mistakes again and he finally landed to hard, rolling his ankle that he landed on and giving a howl of pain. He rolled into the landing to avoid hurting himself even more but the minor damage had already been done. He’d heal and soon be able to stand again, but in the moment he didn’t even move to get back up. Eric just stayed where he’d landed, sitting up and holding his hurt leg, hissing and spitting quietly. This was going to take a lot longer than the Light would like.
Ryuu had a quick pace as he walked through the corridors, looking for the exit and maybe a way to quicken his travel, but at the same time he thought he knew where he was going, he heard steps rushing up behind him. Just as he turned around, he yelped as the furry dog had already pounced on him, tackling him over and barking at him. He squinted at the dog for a moment before getting an idea.
“Hey, do you know where the entrance is?” He asked the jumping dog, and getting a few excited barks in response, he stood back up, “I’m sure you do, go on. Show me where the entrance is.” He said encouragingly. This was a shot in the dark but if the dog was who the summoner thought he was, than it was bound to work. He watched the door waving his talk and give another barking response before spinning around and bounding off in a specific direction. It took all of Ryuu’s speed not to lose the little dog. After a few twists and turned, Ryuu slowed as they stepped out into a familiar hall and he spotted the main entrance to the castle at the end of it.
Behind him was the Throne room and he nearly jumped for joy. Running over to the door he stepped past the dog and opened the doors, running out into the front of the castle. There was nothing for him there but he had to find the rest of the survivors, perhaps find a way back to the castle after everything had calmed down. With a glance back, Ryuu turned away and took off, heading into the city to find the group and a way out.
Joseph glanced over at Artemis’ question and he recognized the name on the paper. He looked towards Artemis to explain it but then stopped for a moment, thinking. It was a lot harder to explain when he couldn’t talk. Remembering something else he rifled through the bag till he found what he was looking for and he pulled out a letter, scanned it over and pointed to a few lines for her to read.
“[i ... The new Academy is going well, there are plenty of young minds ready to learn. It’s a shame it wasn’t built closer, but the ancient arts were never welcomed west of the ridge. There is an accelerated course of study I think you’d fair well in, the alchemy order was something you always had a keen eye for...]”
The letter didn’t contain much more about the school but it did get the point across. It was a school of magic, ancient magic, the same kind that was used in Muerte. They could probably find help there.
Bird was not amused. What she saw as him just landing safely not flying perfectly as Johar wanted him to. She dove down and landed smoothly beside him, staring at his wings. She then reached our and touched the muscles which the wings were attached to and frowned as she felt them weak and useless unlike any other flying beast. "Not yet. Do it again." And she grabbed him by wings to take him up in the nest once again to do it all over again and again until his muscles were strong enough to hold his weight. It was indeed taking hours but Bird was not going to disappoint her master once again so she out pressure on Eric and ddin' t let him rest until he could keep himself in air for minutes at least.
The corridors were less intimidating with the sunshine brightening up the atmosphere and the corners. Yet it was all silent still and it could be felt that eyes were on Ryuu. Soon rushed light steps echoed in place, approaching Ryuu fast. A large brown furry beast ran into the Summoner and tackled him down with a leap. The dog barked into Ryuu's face victorious but then wagged his tail in a friendly way like it was all a chasing game for him. The shifted Abantes then stepped aside and barked again, staring at the golden arrow with a hanging tongue and excited eyes. Oh, that would be a perfect object for a fetching game. Abantes ran around Ryuu and barked, jumping to reach the shiny thing.
Artemis was quite comforted with the Light and happy atmosphere this village had unlike Light or Deloriak lands. it was peaceful and away from any war, which was why troubled ones immigrated here. Artemis was a new face for them but nobody reacted much because they were used to seeing new neighbours every week. The Ba'al watched the goods and food put in rows for sale. Some people stared at her armor but she didn't notice and took her time, smelling the fruits she had never seen before back in Muerte. She also picked some necessary material for their journey but just shoved them in Joseph's hands since she didn't have any money, especially this world' s money. While she was watching stuff with wonder in her eyes, a man came in the shop and after greeting the owner, he nailed a paper on the wall where everyone could see then left. Artemis curiously walked to it and read the paper, tilting her head in confusion. "Hey Joseph..." She called him over and pointed at the Chimera painting. "What is an...aca...academy?"
[b Chimera Academy Of Arts Now Accepting Young Scholars]
"And what the hell is a Scholar? Is it dangerous?"
Eric felt his heart leap into his throat as he was let go of and caught again by Bird. This time his wing’s did snap shut bracing himself to fall even though he wasn’t. Bird’s words weren’t all too encouraging to him, but not really having a choice he tried to do as she asked. He opened his wings and fluttered them, beginning to flap them to get his body up right and support himself. It seemed to be working with him finding the balance between how wide he needed to open his wings and how much he needed to move them. He was doing well and then he felt Bird let go of him. But he didn’t fall. He flapped his wings again, expecting to plummet down to the ground but he wasn’t.
One, two… five, six, seven.
The Hybrid’s feet touched the floor as he landed, stumbling but catching himself so he didn’t trip and fall. He’d managed to stay in the air for seven seconds before he’d dropped too close to the floor and had to land. It was looking like he really could fly, if he kept working on it, but as of now, his wings just weren’t strong enough to keep him flying for very long.
Ryuu looked up as Dosia stared down at him wide eyed. He could see the blush spreading across her face before he noticed her eyes narrow and she lifted a hand over him. He knew what was going to happen the moment he saw her glaring but that didn’t stop him from flinching as she slapped him hard enough to make him look away. He let go of her as she struck him and his good hand cupped his face, his eyes squeezed shut from the sting.
“Oow…” He groaned around his arrow and he looked up as the Queen’s weight disappeared from on top of him and her guardian’s growling grew louder and more threatening. The Summoner looked towards the doorway to see Dosia sitting on the werewolf’s shoulders before having him step back into her chamber with the door closing and locking shut with a loud click.
Well it could have gone a lot worse.
Sitting up, Ryuu rubbed his stinging cheek and he slowly pushed himself to his feet, looking towards her doorway before turning back to the corridor to leave. There was nothing more for him to do here, now he just had to find a way to leave and maybe return once everything had calmed down.
Joseph nodded to Artemis’ eagerness and he led the way down the sandy shore towards the village. As they neared the sand gave way to rocks and soon solid stone was underneath their feet with the crashing of the waves seeming further off than before. They were still right next to the sea but the shoreline was no longer beach and warm sand. The village was a active with being that were neither Light nor Dark mostly humans of different magical arts and a few other races, but not many others. Joseph sighed heavily as they reached the village and he gestured for Artemis to wait.
He then glanced around, like he was looking for someone and he took a few steps away from her, glancing back and forth while people passed then without giving a second glance. The young man’s shoulders slumped as he apparently didn’t see who he was looking for and he turned back to Artemis. He pointed towards a longhouse that was a little ways away from where they were and made a motion for them to go to it. There would be traveling supplies and other amenities that may help them.
Bird calmly told him his mistakes and are him do the moves over and over until he had perfected them theoretically. But now it was time to put them into test. The monster found it easy to just him fall but it didn't work last time and just tired him out without getting any results. Bird didn't to disappoint Johar again so she let go of his side's only to catch him by arms. "Go on, support your own weight." She encouraged him, staring indifferently at him like it Didn't matter he would succeed or not. "I'm holding you." She felt the need to reassure him by give his hands a slight squeeze.
"...!" Dosia' s eyes widened once she felt his lips on hers, pushing further. She was way too shocked and surprised to notice Ryuu getting the arrow out of her mouth. Her crazed eyes were now more clueless and lost as she stared at him, hard to tell if she was really listening before she blinked several times, like just now she was being sated of her surroundings. There were no signs of madness in her expression anymore. She was more confused and a bit nervous that she was in that position and helpless, this close to a potential enemy who had just regained his weapon. Even though his words were promising, Dosia couldn't trust him easily. She had a faint redness on her cheeks as a quick reaction to her very first and not volunteered kiss, even of it was for other purposes; To get back the arrow for example. Soon, the embarrassment turned into anger for being treated like a common girl and for losing herself so simply under the heavy presnece of the great Dark being. Maybe he didn't mind or even care to use his odd methods towards a lady and more importantly a queen but she still had her pride even if it was not the time.
The very second second slap she gave Ryuu since they met. Without a word, she turned into a white owl and flew to Sorit who was ready to attack any minute. She sat
on his shoulder to calm down, then gestured towards her chambers. They would keep staying in there and lock up themselves since Dosia could feel her string of sanity being cut again.
It was an uncommon sight for someone from Muerete. The weird smelling sea seemed so peaceful yet powerful. Artemis took her time staring with admiration inner eyes, almost forgetting all of her trouble before Joseph brought her back into reality by gasping at the manor. The Ba'al looked up, it was up there and strangely there was no fog surrounding it. The All Demon had his ways of messing around. Fortunately he didn't know of the passage and Artemis felt smart and victorious. While Joseph was worried, she would give anything to see Karim's face when he found out his 'mouse' was not in the cage anymore. Joseph then showed her a village not so far. They could make it.
"Let's go then!" She seemed eager to go to the village and possibly prepare for their journey there.
Eric was given a few moments before he was told to open his wings, with a heavy breath he straightened and did as he was told. His wings opened and he shifted as Bird adjusted them and showed him how he was supposed to fly. All the movements, while standing still, seemed fairly simple, but it was a whole nother step when he was actually expected to fly. He flinched as he felt Bird pick him up again, but this time she didn’t move to drop him or throw him off of the nest. She instead opened her own wings and took flight, carrying him. He wanted to immediately snap his wings closed as he felt them in mid air, but he was told to go through the motions again. With only the slightest hesitation, Eric opened his wings and followed Bird’s example, going through the moves just fine but still making little mistakes here and there that would have made him crash back to the floor had he been flying by himself.
Ryuu was panting as he slowed and saw that he wasn’t being chased anymore. Instead the dark seemed to be retreating, he just hoped that he’d led them far enough away that the others could escape. Tightening his grip on the deterrent, he walked slowly towards her room in the corridor, only to stop short when he saw it open slowly. He swallowed at the twisted smile on her face and he could see his arrow in her hands. “I’m not here to tease you.” He said in an even but loud voice. It wasn’t going to be hard to be heard in this quiet, but the thought, [i be louder than your aggressor], came to mind. The summoner bit his tongue when she laughed and he held his ground as she walked closer. He only lost his nerve when she disappeared and now in the doorway sat Sorit, his bright eyes watching and his silhouette waiting. The werewolf knew what was happening and he wouldn’t act out of turn unless his queen needed him too.
“Dosia! Please! I’m not here to fight!” Ryuu called out, looking around since he didn’t know about her shapeshifting. “I don’t want to test you or challenge you! I just want to-!” His words were cut off as she tackled him and he saw she had his arrow between her teeth. She’d shoved him down onto his back, but he still had the sword in hand, giving him two options that were both risky. With a clenched jaw and narrowed eyes, he lifted the sword and threw it away from them as far as he could, he then grabbed her shoulder with his good arm and kissed her, pushing so his arrow was between both of their teeth. He got the arrow between his own and he broke the kiss in that moment, but he didn’t let go of Dosia yet. “You know I’m not wise.” He whispered to her, his voice a hiss around the arrow, “You know I seek attention in the wrong ways and every step I’ve given to the Light nation has been a mistake. But you should also know that I wish to change that and redeem myself, by any means necessary.”
By now, Sorit was growling again and had stood up in the doorway, fur bristling and fangs bared. He’d seen Ryuu throw the sword of Light away and suddenly pull his queen closer, which in his mind was an act worth that made Ryuu worthless enough to kill. Not just maul or cripple. His shadowy silhouette took a step out of the doorway but he didn’t attack yet, Dosia was still too close to the Summoner for him to attack.
Joseph had been studying over a few letters, having found a sactual to put anything he thought was important into it. Mainly just some silver coins and a dagger, but hearing Artemis’ shouts and running feet made him tuck the letters into the bag too and he ran down the stairs to meet her. When she explained what she’d found and showed him in the cellar, his eyes lit up since he knew exactly where the passage should led too. Motioning for her to come, he led the long winding way down, the sound of waves getting louder and a cool breeze becoming stronger. Soon they could see light and Joseph ran forwards stepping out of the tunnel and onto sandy rocks, the wide shore in front of them and water as far as they could see.
Walking out onto the beach, Joseph looked back up the ridge and silently gasped as he could see the manor up near the top. It wasn’t that far from the shore and there was no sign of fog anywhere, but when they were up there, they couldn’t see anything around them or even walk away from the manor. Karim mustn’t have known about the passage either, but it was still so strange to have been able to just walk out of his illusion like that. Joseph gritted his teeth, wondering what would happen when the All Demon came back to find they were both gone, but he shook that thought away. Looking towards Artemis, he pointed up the shoreline in the direction they should go. There was a village that way and the sun by this point was over head, having risen high in the sky.
Bird noticed his wound already healed but didn't wonder much about it since she was only ordered to teach him how to fly. She waited patiently until he was once more on his legs though not in the best way. Again, that didn't matter. "Open your wings." She stood next to him and spread our her own wings, slowly showing him the flapping movement. He couldn't learn it by force so she just had to do it the hard way. Bird adjusted his wings in the correct position and then stepped away to see if he had learnt the first step. At first she is thought flying would be in his instincts but when all her efforts ended up fruitless, Bird had realised it wasn't in him. After demonstrating some of the moves in the nest, she grabbed him by his sides this time and flew, carrying him with her. "Now do the moves." She told him, not letting him go this time.
The tempted trolls were on Ryuu's tail, pushing each other out of way to reach the Light user sooner. As he made his way towards the chambers of queen, the trolls and other Dark who were chasing the Summoner hesitated and slowed down, whimpering and retreating. Ryuu was soon left alone in the main corridor and everything seemed oddly calm and fine. The door slowly opened and revealed Dosia's figure. Her eyes were back to normal but still she had the twisted smile on. In her hand was the golden arrow of Ryuu. "Look, Sorit. Our ungrateful guest came back to get on his knees and beg for mercy~" She twirled the object in her hand and stepped closer. "And he is holding a wonderful toy~ You want to tease me with It? How cute~" She laughed and stepped closer with confidence, her eyes glued to his. "Oh, I'm going to enjoyyyy playing with you!" Suddenly she disappeared in shadows, well turned into a spider. The spider ran up the wall and climbed on ceiling to get right above Ryuu's head. She then let herself fall and changed into her human form in mid air, tackling the Summoner down as holding the arrow between her teeth.
Artemis catiously climbed into the tunnel and sniffed the air. She blinked as smelling salt. The sound of waves were familiar though but they didn't have salty seas back in Muerte. Whatever it was at the end of the passage, could be a way to escape the manor so she got out and ran upstairs while shouting in excitement. "JOSEPH! OVER HERE! I FOUND A PASSAGE IN THE CELLAR!" Maybe Joseph knew better where it actually led them to.
Eric was getting back to his feet when Johar’s bellowing voice made him freeze and he looked up as the minister’s shadow casted over him. His eyes were wide and for once he looked a little nervous. He hissed out a breath quietly as he was yanked up to his feet and dragged over to the nearest wall, his head still forced down so he couldn’t see where they were going. The next thing he was was black as his head was slammed against the stone wall and pain shot through his forehead.
“No.. I mean yes! You were... I tried but- It wasn’t-!” He began when the minister demanded he answered, but his answer was cut off as he was slammed back into the wall again and his vision began to turn read, blood beginning to smear on the wall and drip into his eyes. He held his hands out, trying to brace himself as his head was slammed into the wall again and again. At the last question, he was too stunned to talk and only gave a low groan. That sound was also cut off and he gasped at the taste of blood in his mouth, his vision too dark and too red to really see anything. His knees were weakened and he dropped down to the floor when Johar let go of him, kicking his side hard before the minister left the room.
His head was spinning but slowly the gash healed closed on his forehead, only leaving the blood to dry. He felt another pinch in his shoulders and back as something picked him up but he was still too woozy to fight back or realize what was going on. When he was set back down, he shifted and blinked dully, his vision returning to normal as the blood dripped from his eyes. His wound was nothing more than a faint scar now but his skin was still stained with his own blood and he began rubbed at his face, wiping his mouth and shaking his head.
“I… Can.” He replied to Bird slowly and he tried to stand up, wavering before losing his balance and falling back down. “I can..” He repeated blankly, and gritted his teeth, discomfort crossing his expression. He tried again and this time managed to stay standing, having to bend over slightly as his breathing was still slowing and his senses were returning.
Ryuu trailed with the rest of the group, running to a room that N.V soon explained to be Negomin’s. “Negomin?” He asked quietly, but his concerned tone was ignored as Liz’s father moved forwards to break down the wall. A rumble behind them made a few of the survivors jump and Ryuu looked back, biting his lower lip with nerves. “Wait… There’s something I have to go get.” He muttered aloud and quickly walked back to the door, noticing the locks were on the outside of the door. “Get down to the canal and as far from the castle as you can go, I’ll try to meet up with you after I take care of something.” He said and before any could protest, he slammed the door closed and locked it from the outside.
Behind him, a few trolls growled with their instinct homing them onto the summoner, the Light weapon still in hand. “You want this?” He called mockingly and the Dark snorted towards him. “Than come and get it.” He challenged and with a flash of the weapon, he was gone. His plan wasn’t really a plan at all. Ryuu just needed to get back to Dosia’s chambers and get his arrow, then he’d escape himself and try to figure out what to do next.
The skittering bugs and rats were just an annoyance but one rat raced passed a burnt out lantern that suddenly relit. The light of the lantern revealed many other things in the cellar. A rusted pair of shears, two oars on a rack, a frame covered by a sheet, a spool of tightly spun sting, and the rigid limestone walls that made up the cellar. But there was also something else. An iron ring was bolted into the wall to the left of the lantern and it seemed out of place. When she inspected it and tried pulling at it, there was a creek from behind the wall and the section pulled back, revealing a passage. The small of sea salt and cool wind wafted up through the passage and the distant sound of crashing waves echoed.
It was taking too long and it was obvious that Eric was not going to make it. It was like testing Johar's patience which was not a wide decision at all. When he desperately shouted at the monster to come on, he had just pulled the last straw and soon after some more of his pitiful struggles to reach the flying beast, Johar's booming yell made the monster retreat.
In a second or less, Johar was at Eric's side. His breathing was loud and excited, his eyes wide and his expression radiating nothing but rage. With a growl, the minister grabbed on Eric's horn and jerked him to the nearest wall, slamming his head against it.
"[b You, you little piece of shit! You think it is funny? Didn't I clearly order you to learn flying?!ANSWER ME!]" He yanked him back and again slammed his forehead against the stone wall, making it shiver slightly. "[b How dare you make a mess and not follow my orders?! You pathetic scum!]" Bang!
"[b And just when I forgave your foolish attempt of escape!]" Bang!
"[b You are nothing without me! Shove this in your little head!]" Bang!
"[b You owe your worthless life to me and my queen!]" Bang!
"[b AM I CLEAR?!]" Bang!Bang!Bang!Bang! The wall was stained with Eric's blood when Johar finally let go of his horn and gave one last kick to his side before leaving the place and shouting out for Bird.
Minutes later Bird entered and flew above Eric's head. There was a fresh scar on her face but she more looked ashamed of herself than scared or angry. She had disappointed Johar and that was the last thing she wanted as long as she was alive. Her taking grabbed on his wings and she lifted him up again but carried him back to her room this time. She set him down in her nest.
"Stand. Can you?" Bird stared at his wound.
N.V frowned in annoyance, not liking to be ordered around by a stranger. But he knew it was not the good time to remind Ryuu he was not the cacador's master. He hesitated before mumbling out a "Fine fine." then gestured the group to follow him and quickly turned into a narrower corridor towards Negomin's room. The place still smelt of dragon so he was hoping the Dark would avoid it on instinct. Some suspicious shadows lingered around but didn't seem interested in them. The Light magic of Ryuu had alerted them and some aggressive ones were following their presence. The survivors had to run some of the way to avoid the beasts after them. Once N.V saw the door, he ran for it and other followed the pace. Fortunately the door was not locked and the kid easily pushed it open. The room was as adorable as ever and N.V headed to the shelf of dolls and started dropping them down out of the way. "Negomin hid an old passage here to the Castle treasury. She even felt protective of them. From there we get out through the canal." He explained briefly as pulling out the bricks one by one. Weasel turned back to his animal form and was the first to run in the passage, sniffing around.
"Dammit. We can't wait here all the day!" Liz's father growled and pushed pushed N.V away, raising up his axe and making a huge hole. N.V whispered a curse but he Didn't hear.
Artemis first went down straight to the cellar since it seemed more helpful. The cellar needed some cleaning and Artemis coughed from the dust and the stench there before going in and looking around in the dark place. She noticed some barrels and opened them, jumping away from the rats and bugs running out of it.
Eric didn’t look towards the door when Bird did, he was halfly dosing when Johar walked in and he slowly opened his eyes, looking over towards the minister. He’d given up trying to get the dried blood off of himself so it was clear he’d been the cause of the ‘unfortunate incident.’ When he was spoken, he got up obediently and followed after Johar. Returning to the training room, he stopped and stared up towards the monster. When he was given another time limit, the hybrid curled his lips into a snarl and he braced himself, waiting for the monster to leap for him. When it did, he jumped back and just as quickly pounce forwards, trying to grab for it’s furry body and cut it down to the bone. The monster snapped back at him with one of its heads before the webbed wings opened and it shook him off, flying back up to grasp onto the ceiling.
With a silent snarl on his lips, Eric pushed himself back up and he ran to be under the monster, trying to get it to jump back down so he could reach it. He still hadn’t learned how to fly so there was no way he could reach it and kill it if it didn’t come down. He noticed the monster turn all three of its heads towards Johar and he realized he was taking too long. What the minister could do, or even would do to him was unclear since he no longer had Juno to use against him, but he wasn’t too eager to find out. Opening his own wings, Eric began to back up, flapping them and he jumped for the beast, fluttering and landing nimbly before turning and jumping up again. He wasn’t even getting close to flying still and he landed below the monster finally shouting in agitation.
“Get Down Here!” He yelled at it, knowing he’d passed the given time limit and the monster turned towards him, lunging for him again and swooping over him as he fell back to avoid it’s snapping teeth. It wasn’t going to stay still and let him cut at it and since he still hadn’t figured out how to fly, there was very little he could do to combat the monster.
Ryuu stopped short when the candles blew out and he felt someone bump into him but he didn’t budge forwards. Seeing the candles light near the two witches, he frowned slightly at N.V’s small groan and he heard one of the survivors whisper. “What should we do?”
“Just wait. I’m working on it.” He muttered back and the other twin frowned.
“They didn’t bring us any gifts.” He pointed out and Ryuu began to draw a little faster, not saying anything in response.
“I don’t think they even brought a cake.” the other replied and Ryuu could feel the group behind him, inching back.
“Wait for it…” He urged quietly and when the two twins moved to take a step forwards, he brought his good hand up fast and closed it into a fist as a summoner’s circle spun around it. He yanked his hand back with a flash of light magic and the sword of light he held blinded the two dark twins. “Go back the other way!” Ryuu shouted and the group stampede back they way they’d come, not looking back to see if the twins would follow or not. The light magic from the sword had lit up the castle halls, making distant dark’s shriek and the night outside seem just as bright as the day. They’d ran back out of the corridor and slowed as the light faded behind them. Ryuu turned back sharply, looking into the hall they’d just left to make sure they weren’t being followed and he sighed heavily. He sent his summon back just to make sure no dark coming from that way would be able to get to them and he looked towards N.V.
“You know the castle better than any of us here.” He began, walking towards the servant and stopped with a respectable distance between them. “Show us how we get out of here.” He said firmly, noticing behind him from a window that the east was starting to brighten.
Joseph glanced back at Artemis as she said they should keep trying and he followed her back into the manor. He picked up the key-ring and began to take keys off of it. He then began to write what each went to and set them down below their labels. There was one to the front door, the kitchen, the dining room, the study , the upstairs landing, the two upstairs bedrooms, the cellar. Seven keys altogether. He’d already walked through the manor but nothing had stood out to him as useful. Maybe Artemis would see something he hadn’t. He picked up the keys for the kitchen, dining room, and cellar, handing them to her while taking the keys for the upstairs landing and the two bedrooms, leaving the key to the front door and the key to the study. They could search through the manor again but he wasn’t sure to hopeful that they’d find anything useful.
Bird continued her gruesome eating until a little of the body was left. She flew back in her nest and started cleaning her feathers. The sun shone into the room and lit it up but it wasn't a lovely sight at all. The smell of flesh and blood was heavy and the quietness of the tower was odd and intimidating. After a while the Bird rose up her head in alert and landed down, staring the door. Minutes later the door was pushed open and Johar stepped in the room. News had reached him about the unfortunate incident but his face didn't show any regret or sorrow. He just glanced at the remained bones and flesh, muttering in disgust. "Clean this mess up." His eyes then landed on Eric. "You. Come here." He led the Hybrid back into the training room where a triple head monster with two pairs of bat wings was crawling around and hissing on the ceiling.
"Finish it off in two minutes." He ordered before stepping back. Immediately the monster screeched and leapt at Eric from above, its jaws snapping.
"Who are you?" The man asked with a frown. "Your face is somehow familiar to me-"
"We don't have time, Pa." Liz jumped in and tried to push on her father's arm to get him moving. He narrowed his eyes at the Summoner before turning away and looking at the corridor. "This place has turned into a mad house all of sudden. I couldn't even find the stable. Must be some kind of freakin' Dark arts." He growled and walked after Ryuu. Weasel walked beside Ryuu before he suddenly froze and shrunk into his true form, sniffing around and standing alerted. Suddenly he freaked out and ran back toward Ryuu, running in a circle until he became a boy again. "D-don't go any near, the twins-!" But then it was too late and suddenly the candles went out, leaving them in darkness. Only Cat's eyes reflected a bit of Light and was glowing. The survivors were all quiet and scared but the ones who were from Deloriak's castle were even more nervous since they knew what was coming.
"Hey, look. They all have come to our birthday party~" A happy male voice said.
"Oh, boy. What have they brought us as gifts?" Another male answered with similar excitement.
The end of corridor shone and revealed a pair of identical twin brothers in witch robes, a twisted grin on their faces and their pitch black eyes glowing mischivously.
"Oh, great the witch twins." N.V mumbled in annoyance and others gulped.
"So? Where is our birthday party song?" One of the witches pouted and folded his arms.
Artemis picked up the note and read it before her expression fell then followed Joseph. She stared at the thick endless fog in disblief and hopelessness before she frowned and shook her head stubbornly. "No. We can't just stay here until Karim comes to us himself. There must be a way. Do you, Do you have any weapons in this manor?" She looked around. "Come on. We should keep on trying. He can't control everything!"
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