Chapter One Hundred and Forty Six – 146
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Revenants swarmed them and the steel wall shook. After Okar's exclamation, the Guilders and Felix's team all returned to the fight. They took turns, resting and casting in waves, trying to whittle down the enemies, while Lilian kept using a Mana regeneration Skill on Yvette whenever she had the strength. The defensive specialist was starting to pale beneath her war paint.
Felix stared down the Larval Ravager. Vivid, blue-green eyes shifted and settled on its tube-like body, nauseating bubbles that expanded and popped before blinking open in another spot. Yet that constant mutability didn't dampen the sharpened intent Felix sensed. As if the creature were malevolently laughing at them. At him.
Once I would have considered that thought crazy. Felix clenched his jaw. R.I.P. my sense of normalcy.
It was, all things considered, a disgusting monster. Felix had found that the Maw's influence tended to bring about some nasty mutations, but this one was particularly gross. The sight of its glistening, mucusy hide and writhing tentacles sent pangs of disgust and derision through him. With a start however, Felix realized that deeper emotions welled up around his own. Like smoke from a dissolving corpse, those feelings floated upward on strange winds. Somewhere deep within him, something else was doing some thinking.
"What're we gonna do?" Evie asked, landing nearby. "There's too many!"
"Yvette?" Harn queried, looking to the tall defensive specialist. The woman's arms were trembling as Revenants pounded against her barrier. Her form shimmered with a spiralling purple vapor; Lilian's efforts at boosting her Mana regeneration. Felix wasn't sure if others could see the vapor or not, though.
"I'm--" she grunted as a particularly hard blow rocked a portion of the wall. "I can't---"
"You have to, Yvette!" Okar seethed. "You do hold on, or we die here."
Harn frowned at the two of them and fished something out of his pack. It was a fist-sized glass bottle filled with a blue potion. He tossed it to Okar. "Have her take this. It'll give a little more time."
The big man caught it and eyed the potion for a long second, before uncorking it and tipping it down Yvette's throat. The woman choked a little, but she kept it down.
What an asshole, Felix thought. The derision wafting around his Mind focused on Okar and fed him images of the bearded Guilder getting punched in the mouth. Would serve him right--NO. Felix buckled down, flexing his Will and Bastion, and the emotions cut off.
Despite that, the Maw was still able to beckon to him. As the others returned to the offensive, and hoping he wouldn't regret it, Felix sent his consciousness down into his Bastion. He landed on the immaculate grass of his inner bailey and stood directly atop the Maw's living tomb. Words, just barely above the sound of the wind, drifted up to him.
"Kill it and devour its Spirit, Felix Nevarre," it insisted. "It is an insult to all that We are."
"I'll get right on that," Felix shot back, disgusted with himself. What else had he expected?
"It is part of me," the monster whispered through the earth. "You sense this. But it is not me. It is other."
"Uh-huh," Felix eyed the sky, worried at what was happening in the real world. "How does this help me?"
"I'm telling you, you bastard halfwit--!" The Maw's voice trembled with bottled emotion, but it cut itself off. "It's like me. And it's like you. It hungers. That which it eats makes it stronger."
A sudden yowling pierced his ears, and Felix threw himself outward and opened his physical eyes. The Revenants screamed, their bloodlust driven to new heights as they rushed their fortification. The metal wall started to buckle in places, groaning as if in sympathetic agony. There had to be two hundred Revenants in the shattered courtyard of the ruined keep, and the majority of them were all but blocking their way to the sub-core beast. Yet more surprising that the increasing numbers was that only a tiny portion of that was attacking their position. The wall shuddered and groaned, but at any one time Felix could only sense thirty or forty enemies raging against them.
Why? Why not drown us in-- Felix paused, looking above the wall. Where'd the Ravager go?
Felix took a startled step back before jumping up and standing atop a crackling cloud of Mana. From his new vantage, he could see the Ravager had not fled, but had dropped to the ground to feed. Using its mouth tentacles, it shoveled corpses into it's fanged orifice as quickly as it could. Each swipe sent three or for bodies into it's gullet, and it's entire length continuously...undulated.
Grimacing at the sight, Felix turned and saw a figure through the thinning crowd. His Eye identified the man as Chathm Elwick, and Felix could sense that he was on the higher end of Journeyman Tier. Likely because of that, the man was still alive. Barely.
"Uh, man overboard," Felix shouted while pointing, not entirely sure how to phrase it. "Your Captain Elwick is about a hundred yards that way. He's alive!"
Okar looked up at him in shock, then traded looks with Yvette. Without speaking, the both of them began moving in the direction Felix pointed. Along with the steel wall.
"Whoa! What're you doin'?" Evie shouted as she was bashed with the rear end of the wall before she could begin to keep pace. Vess and the other Apprentice Tiers had made similar recoveries, all of whom turned to look in confusion at the two Journeymen.
"That one said the captain is alive!" Okar said, pointing at Felix but refusing to stop. Revenants roared beyond the wall, scraping against the side as they pivoted. "We aim to see he remains so!"
"We need ta press the attack, Guilder!" Harn shouted as he kept pace. "The farther away we move the more ground we gotta reclaim! And she doesn't look like she's got a lotta juice left!"
It was true of course. Yvette was blowing hard, like a winded horse. Still, she gritted her teeth anyway, moving the wall toward their fallen captain.
"You either follow, or you die, Kastos," Okar sneered and pushed all the harder on Yvette's wall.
After a moment, Harn growled in frustration and helped them, pushing the fortification that much faster. Felix joined them soon after, hoping the speed would make some difference.
The Revenants, far from fighting their progress, snapped at them but shifted away. In mere seconds they had come to the Guilder's broken form, and with a visibly tiring effort of Will, Yvette reshaped the wall around them all. The wall shrank, the same height, but smaller diameter as she sacrificed size for thickness.
Their captain's body, now on the far side of the space, was bent and broken in several places, and the meat of his shoulder and thighs were absolutely torn apart. If Felix's Eye hadn't stated he'd had about five percent of his Health remaining, he would have assumed the man a corpse.
"Noctis wept," Vess said, coming to a stop. "How is he still living?"
"It's his Obviated Body," Alister stated, his thin chest heaving. "I heard it keeps someone alive, negating the attack that would have ended them."
"That's incredible," Felix muttered.
"Incredibly expensive, and a one trick pony," Atar said quietly. "Only works once per advancement Tier."
Okar slid to his knees and pulled a ruby red flask from his hip pouch. Everyone noticed as the thick, ambient Mana of the Domain was suddenly drawn toward the revealed flask as if its contents were sucking power from the atmosphere. Felix recognized the phenomenon, having seen it with Vess' Rare Essence Draughts. With a deft, practiced motion Okar tipped Elwick's head back, popped the cork, and tilted the contents down his throat.
Precious seconds ticked by as the Revenants renewed their assualt on their position. Felix had hoped their sudden disinterest would stick, though he knew it had been too good to be true. Distracted by the resumed attacks, Felix turned back to see Elwick's legs visibly mending, the reddened meat of his quadriceps weaving back together like the worst sort of crochet.
"Easy El, easy," Okar helped the man back to his feet slowly, as the impacts quickened all around them.
Felix cast his senses out again, not reaching terribly far, but enough to notice that their reprieve was absolutely over. Five were battering at their wall now, but another twenty were loping toward them from the main horde. Beyond them, deprived of his eyes, Felix could only sense a...vicious malevolence radiating from the Ravager.
"More incoming," he warned them.
"Lilian! Again!" Yvette ordered, and the diminutive noble cast her Mana regen Skill once again. The Skill stuttered and flickered out though, before ever truly manifesting. "Lilian!"
The girl was ragged, her Mana stores on empty. Felix could tell that even without using his Eye. She'd been boosting everyone or debuffing the enemies the entire fight. Still, Yvette grabbed her and shook her hard enough that Felix could hear her teeth rattle.
"That's enough!" Alister shouted, his rapier drawn and pointed at the tall guilder. "Put her down, Yvette!"
"You overstep, Iron Rank," Yvette warned, but she let the girl go.
Felix had already started to ignore them as the bickering sharpened, and utilizing Cloudstep he ascended above the wall carefully. With the fortifications so close after the reshaping, he risked getting attacked by a jumping Revenant, but he did it anyway. Just high enough to get his eye-line cleared, enough to see what that bastard Ravager was doing.
It was...eating. Still. In fact, it had begun eating some of the Revenants too.
That's fantastic! If it turns on them, then we just
Felix activated his Eye, just to double check its stats again.
Name: Larval Ravager
Type: Primordial-Spawn
Level: 64
HP: ????/????
SP: ????/????
MP: ????/????
Lore: Born of the Maw's blood and one of the subcores of the Domain, this abomination is clearly feeding on the corpses of the Domain's monsters. Its purpose is unknown, but it gains power from its consumption.
Strength: Extremely resilient to physical and magical damage.
Weakness: Unknown
Hadn't it been level 62 before?
The blue box still hovered before Felix's eyes when the image flickered.
Level: 65
Shit shit shit shit.
Felix dismissed his Cloudstep and dropped. He spun and immediately grabbed Harn.
"Something's wrong," he said quietly, pointing in the direction of the Larval Ravager. "It's getting stronger. The Ravager. That's why it's letting us sit here, why it let us move this far out."
"What?" Harn asked.
"It ate what the Revenants brought back, and now it's eating the Revenants too!" Felix included Evie, Vess, and Atar who had come closer to him to hear. "The corpses are making it stronger somehow, it's already jumped up three levels. You saw what the Spawn's Lore said: they get stronger by consuming. This thing is just a big, scaled up version of that. How long before we can't fight it at all?"
Harn made a clucking noise from within his helmet and shouted over his shoulder. "Twin's teeth. Okar, Yvette! Hope yer captain is healed up, cuz we gotta make our move. Now."
"I agree."
Neither Felix nor Harn sensed the attack before it landed. The impact threw them both to the ground as a dark, granite spear slammed into Harn's side. The Onslaught's axes went flying from his grip as he landed face first on the uneven courtyard stonework, while Felix was tossed into the Steel Fortification by a wave of force.
Felix's vision swam, and sounds started to echo unpleasantly.
Status Condition: Concussion (Minor)
"Bastards!" Several Evie's shouted. Felix was pretty sure she was moving toward Harn. The man was bleeding from the earthen spike that had been driven into his side, he could see. "What're you doing!"
"You think we're fools?" Okar growled. "You think we don't know why you're here? What you've done?"
Elwick stood and spat out a mouthful of blood, looking far healthier than before. He was a tall man, easily matching Yvette, but lean where Okar was thick. He wore enchanted robes buckled with steel plated leather Felix noted, though he couldn't read the enchantment while it remained on the man. His face was handsome and symmetrical, perhaps too much so, and his shock of sandy brown hair hung low over his forehead. He frowned imperiously at them.
"Harn Kastos, you and yours have perpetrated violence upon an ally of the Guild. Murder, to be specific. For that you shall be detained and held on trial in the Eyrie," Elwick intoned, perhaps going serious but landing near feverish and urgent. He held up his hands and cracked his knuckles. A vein pulsed in his forehead, and sweat covered his brow. "However, you are trespassing within the Domain. And by order of Elder Teine, that sentence supersedes the former. You must either leave or die."
"You think we're goin' anywhere?" Evie snarled. "You think you can make us?"
"We are trapped here, just as you," Vess added calmly, but she held her silver spear tightly. "If we try to leave this barricade, we will die."
Okar rolled his neck and grinned maliciously. "Then die."
Without a word, the barrel-chested earth mage shot forward, dark, granite-like armor flowing over his body as he reached for the closest target. Vess' eyes widened, but the Journeyman Tier adventurer was fast and she was on the back-foot.
Still disoriented, Unfettered Volition threw him forward and he cocked his fist back to hit the bastard.
Atar was faster.
An explosion of fire bloomed beneath Okar's leading foot, pushing the limb out of true and sending Okar down in a tangle of limbs and cracking boulders.
"Atar? You betray us?" Elwick said, aghast. His eyes were bloodshot despite his healing, and that sweat was getting worse. "You betray your Elder?"
"This is wrong! What are you doing, Captain?" Atar's face was flush and his outstretched hand shook, but his fiery crown sat steady atop his head.
"You don't understand, boy," snarled Okar, and Felix felt a strange twinge from the man. A rapid, ill-tuned refrain. "You step aside, or else you'll share in their fate."
"Listen to Okar," Elwick said, his hard face not giving an inch despite his reddening complexion. "We don't want to kill you too."
"Madness," Alister muttered. "What has Teine done to you?"
"Oathbound," Harn said as he stood up, his hand clenched at his wound. Felix could see the metal of his armor flowing over it and pressing into his skin. "They've been bound to kill."
Atar and Alister both looked at their captain, Yvette, and Okar who had climbed to his feet. Atar grit his teeth. "Is that true? Did the Elder compel you to kill?"
"Only those who entered without permission," Yvette said, her high voice reedy with strain. The Revenants had increased their attacks and it was draining her Mana fast. She fumbled a blue potion to her lips and gasped. "Those stupid enough to dare."
Okar grinned cruelly at them all. "And those stupid enough to defy us."
"Idiots! We'll die if we don't work together!" Atar shouted, but it was too late. In a burst of motion, Elwick and Okar rush at the injured Harn. They knew if Harn fell, the rest of them wouldn't last a minute.
Felix once again threw himself forward, but his aim was still slightly off, his concussion blurring his sense of space. Instead he was hammered in the side by a metallic bar, one that sent him careening into Alister and Atar. All three of them went down in a pile. Groaning, Felix looked up to see Yvette still standing in the same space and grinning with bloody teeth.
"Try again, little boy," she taunted. "Shaping my wall takes Will, not Mana. And I can do this until you die."
Three razor sharp spikes punched from the wall to their right. Felix sent out a Stone Shaping, lifting a crude block of rock out of the ground to block it.
The spikes cut right through it.
A beam of force erupted beneath the leading edge of the spikes, and with an excruciatingly loud groan they bent upward and missed them by inches. Felix looked at Alister, his arm outstretched and panting.
"Thanks," Felix managed, before rolling off the pile. "Evie! Vess! Some help?"
"Already on it!" Evie said, sailing over his head. "You three help Harn!"
Yvette screamed in frustration.
"You absolute...bitch," Lilian grated out, but as she raised her hand to cast, she swayed and her eyes rolled back. She dropped to the ground, unconscious.
"Dabney! Cacoon!" Alister shouted, and the big man immediately hunched over Lilian and activated a dome of stone. The noble looked at Evie whip her chain about and several spears streaked toward the Journeyman defensive specialist. "They're not gonna be enough to handle Yvette!"
"Then go help them!" Felix shouted, but had to roll to his left to avoid an explosive fissure in the ground. He looked up to see Okar focused on him and Atar. That was fine with him. "Atar, let's give Harn time to kick your Captain's ass."
"This is dumb! Argh, fine!" Atar conjured a grip of Sparkbolts and sent them flying at the charging Journeyman. The fiery projectiles burst harmlessly against Okar's dark granite armor, his Journeyman Skill shrugging off their impacts without breaking his stride. The man's face, framed by a roman style helm of rock, was split by a sadistic grin.
"I'm gonna enjoy breaking you boys," he sneered.
Influence of the Wisp!
Wrack and Ruin!
Stone Shaping!
The Enthrall didn't land, and his acid scored his armor but carreened wildly once it hit. The Stone Shaped rocks he thrust upward disrupted the man's footing, but for barely a moment; Okar stomped his own feet and sent out a pulse of dusty-brown Mana that smoothed the ground again.
Shit! Maybe I--
"Spirit Immolation!" Atar cried, and his body burst into living flame. It wasn't just covered in it; the teen became fire.
Holy damn. Felix took a step back from Atar, glancing between him and the oncoming Journeyman.
"Strength Ignition!"
The fire became flesh once more, but now Atar absolutely glowed with orange Mana vapor. His body gave it off like a tiny sun. With a burst of speed Felix had never seen from the man, Atar hiked his robes up and ran directly at Okar. Quick as a blink, Atar drew a series of quick sigils in mid-air and dropped into a slide, falling under the man's guard and jabbing out with his open palms as he passed. The sigils attached to Okar's legs, etching into his armor before sending a thrust of concentrated fire Mana blasting forward from the man's knees.
Like a misaligned hobby rocket, Okar's feet swept from beneath him, the man barely having time to brace as his face was jackhammered into the earth.
Felix didn't let him recover, hitting the man with a concentrated Reign of Vellus, something that still was hard for him to accomplish accurately. He pressed, hard, dumping Mana into the Skill to just keep the man down. Okar fought it, trying to rise, pitting his Strength and Endurance against Felix's Intelligence and Willpower.
Were it an effort to crush him, Felix would have been outclassed by the Journeyman defensive Skill, but it wasn't; the man only wanted to move, and that boiled down to stats. And Felix had those in spades.
"Burn me, how're you holding him down?" Atar asked, looking at Felix in confusion as lightning ceaselessly crawled across Okar's body. "Nevermind! We have to restrain him til Harn finishes with Elwick, then Onslaught can take care of him. I've got nothing that can get through that armor or his resistances."
"That's right!" Okar shouted, his face straining against the ground. "Cower like always, Atar! It's all your good for, you worthless pile of--!"
Reign of Vellus!
With a thunderclap, a pillar of lighting seemed to launch Okar straight up into the air. The man reached nearly fifty feet before he began arcing downwards, well beyond the wall. Directly into the Revenant horde.
"Screw him," Felix grated, his head aching from the Mana use. "He was trying to use earth Mana to sneak attack us."
Atar looked down, noticing for the first time a series of sharpened spikes that had pushed up from the broken flagstones.
Status Condition: Concussion (Minor) has expired.
"Great," Felix said, stretching his shoulders. "Let's go."