Chapter 23: Those Who Tangle With the Witch of Despair
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I've been writing all day on my day off. I will probably release some more chapters by tonight, but on that note... for those of you who are truly enjoying the book so far please do show some support. Rate/favorite 

 

 

She walked back to the tent and sat by the fire atop one of the logs. Rinn lay right next to her completely asleep, while Vein remained unconscious opposite of her. She stretched and yawned before cozying up to the flames and chewing on whatever little dried meat they had left. Pretty soon the others should be returning from their hunt. Hopefully they managed to catch some things.  

Of course, they ended up returning much sooner than anticipated. The group presented themselves before her while panting. “Are you okay?! IS Everything Alright?!”. Giren was the first one to arrive at the spot. They found Lusha with her face stocked up with a bunch of food.

“Hm? Mhgrf vryfhngs Okeu” 

 

“Chew your damn food first!”

 

She swallowed the meat she was eating and threw the stick into the fire. Shortly after, the other 2 arrived. Horas had a deer slung over his shoulder and dropped the creature a couple feet from the camp. “What was that loud bang just earlier. Were you in a fight?”

“Ah no, not at all.” She smiled and waved them over. “I just had to let off some steam earlier is all.”

“L-let off some steam?” the shockwave from that blast could be felt even as far away as they were. To call that merely letting off steam was a huge slap in the face to those who’s attacks could only do a fragment of the damage.

Lusha beckoned them over and she began to skin the rest of the deer. Over the course of ten minutes, the deer was fully shaved and a nice spit roast was made by Horas and Silverstar. “So how was the hunt, hm?”

Silverstar cursed. “Tch. We could have gotten more if it weren’t for your blowing off steam earlier.” he paused and narrowed his eyes. “What happened to your hand?”

“Hm? Oh this?” Lusha had forgotten she had taken a hit from the young man, but it seemed to have healed entirely after he left. There was now just blood remaining where the wound was. Perhaps it just slowed her accelerated healing. Either way, she’d look forward to facing the duo again. 

 

“Sorry, I injured myself with that blast earlier. You know, I was feeling pretty saddened, but ya know… as of the moment, I’m feeling great.” her smile seemed genuine. Without the constant ties of her past weighing her down she could enjoy the nature and things around her, such as this food.

Venison was a favorite of hers years back, during much simpler times. It kind of took her back a bit. The rest of them began cutting everything up and eating chunks of the meet with a nice drink of ale. 

Come to think of it, she had never had Ale before, or any alcoholic beverage. They seemed to really be enjoying the taste of it. “... may I try some of that?” she nodded looking towards the small barrel they had with them. To think they dedicated an entire barrel to just alcohol instead of more provisions. 

“Absolutely not. You’re still not of age to even drink.” Giren seemed as if he was serious for a second, but quickly remembered the capabilities of this girl. It would be a mistake to chastise her. He promptly poured a cup and handed it to her. 

She hesitantly looked at the bubbly substance. It smelled weird. She couldn’t understand why so many people became consumed by this thing. Well, at the very least it can’t kill her. She took the drink down to its entirety. 

With one quick gulp she breathed an air of relief “Aaahh” Just like everyone else had been doing when they drank. Perhaps it added to the experience. Then the taste hit her. It was disgusting! She immediately began trying to spit out the horrid amounts left on tongue. She’d probably have sooner drank poison. “Ack. How can you all enjoy that terrible taste?” 

The group erupted in laughter, having seen the exact reaction they were hoping for. “Don’t worry, it's an acquired taste. It grows on you. Children shouldn’t engage in adult activity you know.” At that point the tone of the room changed.

Lusha laughed a bit. “I’m older than you think you know. Compared to me, you are all children.”

“Eh? The alcohol’s got to her already. It is her first after all.” They still weren’t catching on to the seriousness in her tone.

“I guess you’re right. Children should not get mixed in with the activities of adults.” She looked over at the young girl, Rinn. Before walking over to her and placing a hand on her head. “You know…. This young girl touched me earlier.”

Their expressions instantly changed. Silverstar was in the middle of drinking his mug before stopping it at his lips. “What a-”

Lusha put two fingers to her lips. “Shh… I’m still talking.” By this point they could all sense the impending danger that they were in for. “Judging by your reactions you were all aware of it. Her ability, I mean.”

At this point, the trio were all standing up. Judging by their positions and the way formation they took, they were prepared to use the same tactics as earlier. “Don’t bother. Even if you use that tactic, I can simply destroy the area with the same spell I used earlier.”

The group hesitated before realizing she truly meant it. She sat down with one leg over the other as her palm held her chin. “Did you guys know that she carries the burdens of all of the loss and negativity that another person carries on within them?”

The group looked nervously. The way they stood was akin to a student being scolded by their teacher. “Look. She has an ability that is important for the betterment of others. It is her duty. There are many that require her help so.. S-o  it would be selfish to keep a power like that to themselves.”

“Ah, you disappoint me Giren. Important duty to uphold. For the betterment of others. Selfish to keep a power like that to herself? I’m truly disappointed in you. If others need help, they merely should help themselves. To push the burden of those needing help on a young girl as if it is her fault all ailments begat, then that is truly… truly selfish. Do you not have a shred of empathy or guilt?  She is a child.” 

 

Suddenly she came to a realization upon asking that question.

“Oh… of course not. Could it be that you…. no , all of you..” She recalled when she first arrived. Rinn was already sullen and quiet, keeping to herself in her depressed way. “You all… used her ability as well didn’t you.”

“W-we were only taking on our mission.”

They were visibly sweating. It was quite clear knowledge to all of them that she could easily destroy all of them in maybe 10 seconds at most. “So tell me, who is the client who requested for this mission?”

“Even if you kill him, it will not solve anything. There will always be another client. So long as her mother continues to put in these requests, then these missions will continue.” This time Horas spoke.

“I see…. Then I’ll just… have to kill the mother as well won’t I?”

“Won’t you fail your mission by doing this? Just please let things pass.” 

“I will not.”

“You guys have committed a grave offense, so I’ll have to make sure you pay a handsome price for it. But don’t worry, I will not be killing you.”

The group visibly released tension a bit. “You know, I’m quite sure if this girl will wake up or not. When she touched me she had been close to dying. In fact, if it wasn’t for me placing her into an induced sleep, she probably would have died from the sheer pain and agony.” There was a crazy smile on her face. It was as if she was reliving the experience and taking delight in it.

No, that wasn’t quite right. She was foreseeing a different experience. One that was soon going to happen soon that she of course would take delight in. 

“When you guys live your lives, you amass heavy negative emotions. All the pains, the ailments, and sadness. Those build up, but thankfully because it is over time, you can carry on with your lives.”

Her eyes trailed to the young girl sound asleep. “That can’t be said for her though. When she takes the pain of everyone, she never has years for it to amass, she takes them all at that very instant, and walks around with the pain as if it is her first time encountering it. She did that over and over for the four of you. She did that for her clients. For soldiers. Political leaders. I can only begin to think of the multitudes of people who would hire a client like this.”

She scooted over to where Vein had been sleeping and placed a hand on her head. “When she touched me however, she had felt enough pain to die on the spot. Surely when she first saw me, she was thinking such heaviness could not be amassed in one lifetime. And of course she was right.”

“What are you saying?”

“Hey, Horas. Did you know that manipulation magic can be used on more than just items and your own body?”

They weren’t sure what she was getting at, but that was fine. “Manipulation Magic [Grotesque Visage]. It can also be used on the bodies of others. So long as you have prolonged contact.”

Vein began contorting and shouting out loud with some vehement screams. Everyone could only watch, wideyed. “You’re not humans. You guys are all monsters. So I thought it fit to give you a form resembling it.”

Blotches of skin began to bubble from all over Vein’s body. His eyes shot open and grew huge, bigger than one could even know. The sound of multiple bones breaking and rearranging could be heard. His arms shrunk while his head and jaw grew and grew. The legs contorted to make odd octopus like limbs. Vein’s eyes wandered everywhere, trying to grasp some sense of what is occurring. But eventually, they just rolled to the back of their heads.

Everyone’s breath caught in their throat. “So let’s play a game. You guys attempt to escape this same fate if you can.”

They immediately broke into a run. This was not something you can begin to fight. “What the hell!! YOU SAID YOU’D LET US LIVE!!”

“You should learn to never trust one of the four great witches. I said I may perhaps let you all live.” Lusha took flight, aiming for the group immediately as they began to run. Where they thought they could go? Was kind of odd. 

They hadn’t realized it yet, but it's because they were only feeling fear at the moment. It would only until Lusha stopped chasing them and disappeared from their line of sight that they realized. They were all panting heavily. That's when they realized. This place… was not the same place they were at before.

It was entirely different actually. The place was entirely dark, yet they could see each other, and themselves. There was no single source of light from the room. And nothing else after that… it was just pure black in every direction. No grass, no roads. They could go up, or down, or left or right. Even the sense of direction and balance were completely gone. 

Lusha’s voice bellowed out in laughter. “You guys are dumber than I had thought, hm? There is nowhere you can go. I haven’t used this technique in such a long time. Spatial Magic [Safe-Haven]. Back in the day, I used this place to store my many experiments.”

They stood by listening to every word she was saying as if it were playing in their heads.

“In this world, you cannot hunger, starve, or sleep. This world will not allow it. So...enjoy yourselves for as long as you’d like. The beasts here would surely love to eat as well.” She picked up Lusha, and did a quick whistle. “Enjoy, everyone.”

Everything was quiet once the witch left. But moments later, their hearts began to sink. Unfamiliar noises began to fill the room. The sound of moans and groans, slivering hands and feet, and the sound of screams. 

Moments later, their causes came into view. Giant grotesque amalgamations progressed towards them.  There were those with tentacles, multiple eyes, giant sharp teeth, or multiple people fused into one. The vision was frightening. These creatures were giant, towering over 30 feet tall. Some crawled on the ground towards them. Just based off of the shadows alone, there was way too many for them to count.

They attempted to utilize the blinding light from Horas’ skill to slow down their opponents but it did not work. Light didn’t exist here. 

“Shit...what is that crazy girl. What in the world is this technique..-t -this is too much man.”

“Fuck fuck fuck fuck!” Though they were disturbed by the creature, they had to get into formation. They’ll have to kill as much of them as possible while they find their way out of this place. 

Horas’ blade began vibrating and he launched the first offensive, slicing down one of the monster's tentacles. The blade instantly broke upon hitting the tentacle. With a single whip of its tentacle, the creature had sent Horas flying. Since there was no ceiling, there was not exactly a gauge of how high that man had flown. But he was barely visible. When he fell back down 40 seconds later, he was without a doubt deceased.

The creatures then converged on Horas and began to feast on him. “Ah…. I see.” He was looking at death. There was never a chance out of this, or of surviving this. They were here for only one thing, and that was to utterly die.

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