Chapter 18 – Escape
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“I-I’m sorry, It’s all because of me that—” says Amara, her face covered in tears, “I should have never hired you.”

The party finds themselves trapped in the pit that the orcs use to keep prisoners. Before they were thrown in, the orcs had stripped them of their clothes and weapons, leaving them trapped in the pit wearing nothing but their underwear.

“That’s not your burden to carry. We knew that the orcs had a chief,” Eliza murmurs while falling back against the dirt walls of the pit. “I didn’t realize that he was that much of a monster.”

“Indeed, we made the right decision not to fight it.” Moans Adria before falling down next to Eliza, “We’ll get to live a little longer at least.”

“Are you all giving up that easily? We’re still alive, and now there’s six of us,” Ivan says as he gestures to the ragged woman in the corner. “Well, Amara, is she your mother?”

Looking carefully at the blond woman who wears nothing but a threadbare gown, Amara shakes her head. This woman’s hair is much too short, and she’s ten years too young. Amara questions the woman anyways, “What is your name?”

“My name is Alli . . .”

“I’m Amara; how did you end up here?”

“My husband and I were walking along the road headed west,” Alli says before putting her head in her hands. “We were sick of life in Aren, so we decided to head to the town of Rissel for a change of pace. While we did have some adventurers guiding us, a group of orcs jumped us, and they… were all killed. The orcs took us alive, My husband and I, that is.”

Amara mutters, “Your Husband….”

Alli confirms with a nod, tears filling her eyes.

“Was anyone else here in this pit?”


“What about… bodies? Did they bring in any bodies from other raids?”

Alli shakes her head. “The adventurers that we traveled with were the only ones.”

“Did the orcs say anything about a fight? It would have been near the southern road.” Amara stammers before she feels a familiar touch on her shoulder.

“Amara,” Eliza says in a stern voice, “Perhaps you should let her rest.”

“It’s okay,” Alli shakes her head again. “I did hear just one thing. An orc mentioned that a patrol didn’t return from the south.”

“Then…” Amara suddenly lightens her expression and says, “There’s a chance my mother’s alive! All we have to do now is escape.”

“How?” Eliza challenges, “We have no weapons, no armor, not even clothes! We can barely even reach the wooden bars, let alone break them.”

“I have a plan. We’re going to try to cast magic and burn the bars.” Amara smiles

“Magic! None of us know any magic.” Eliza mouths, “Were you a mage the whole time?”

“No, definitely not. I only know bits and pieces, but I did memorize the magic circles that were used in our inn’s stove, as well as a few others.”

“But even then, what do you know about actually activating it? It’s not so simple as to draw a circle and call it good.”

“I know that,” Amara says. “It might be crude, but we have to try something. Do you have a better plan?”

Eliza shakes her head. “Mmmm, it’s better than nothing. How can we help?”

“We need space to draw the circle. We don’t have proper materials, so we’ll need to clear a larger space about two meters in diameter.” Amara says before grabbing a stick from the ground.

It takes a little time, but the group manages to clear away and flatten a space for the circle. Amara then gets to work at drawing the circle out with the stick. She runs the stick along, tracing intricate circles and letters into the ground. The stick drops to the ground, and Amara stands with her hands on her hips.

“Now, we need a medium. Anything that can conduct mana will work, but we don’t have much choice. Please lend me your blood.” Amara does a bow “we need to paint over this circle with it.”

The adventurers look at each other, and before long, Ivan speaks, “Are you sure this will work? That’s a lot of blood.”

“It doesn’t all need to be from the same person; we just need a thin layer. With all six of us, it should be fine.”

Nodding, the adventurers pass around a sharp stick. They each take it and slice opens their hands with it. With their freshly drawn blood, they crouch down and work at painting the circle. When it comes time for Amara to offer hers, she holds the stick to her hands, shaking. Come on, just do it, Amara. You’ll never become a knight if you can’t even do this! With a sharp exhale, she pierces her skin with the stick as though it were a needle.

It doesn’t take long for the six people to fully paint in the magic circle.

Eliza asks, “Alright, is this good?”

“Yes, now stand back.” Amara warns, ”The last step is to catalyze the circle.”

“What does that mean?”

“We need to do something to activate it. Usually, it’s a certain phrase word or chant, but other times it’s a certain material.”

“Magic is a lot of work.” Ivan sighs

Actually, most of the time, mages use chants since they’re a lot easier; however, magic circles seem to be more powerful and complex.”

Jofre speaks, “So, ‘ow are we going to do to catalyze it or whatever?”

“That’s the problem; I don’t know.” Amara looks at the ground. “I figured that if we can just find a way to trigger it, everything will be fine. If only we had a mana core.”

“Is that all we need?” Eliza’s eyes go wide

“Yeah, mana cores are the only method I know.”

“Then that’s simple; consider it done!” Eliza gives a smile. “Adria, help me out here.”

Eliza climbs on top of Adria’s shoulders and reaches over the pit’s edge, grabbing tightly onto a large object. She shouts down at Adria. “Ok, step back; this is pretty heavy.” In response, Adria steps back, and the corpse of an orc appears above the pit in a second.

“This is pretty gross, but well, I have to do it.” Justifies Eliza. She then closes her eyes and pinches her nose. Gagging visibly, Eliza reaches her hands into the orc’s head through the cut on its nape. After a bunch of wet squishing sounds, she finally pulls her hand out with a small red orb. “I did it!”

The mana core shimmers with a dull light in the darkness of the pit. Eliza tosses it to Amara, who then walks over to the magic circle. Amara places the core in the center of the blood inscription, readying a stick as a torch. A few flashes pulsate through the circle, and a dark red light fills the pit. The glow grows ever stronger as a wave of light rushes across the blood filling every inch of the inscription. The mana core in the center sputters to life, and a few flickers of flame spark out from it.

Staring at the flickering core, the adventurers can’t help but give a triumphant smile—“Crack A single fissure runs down, bisecting the mana core. The core unleashes a blinding flash at the adventurers.

“N-no,” Amara says after readjusting her eyes. Several parts of the blood circle have evaporated into the air, forming a gagging iron-tasting mist. The mana core in the center is broken into many small fragments.

Lunella flys above the orc encampment, looking for Amara and the others. Staring down at all the torches and flames dotting the encampment, she can’t help but grip her fists tight. Where are you! What’s wrong with this encampment? It’s probably bigger than the town—

Before Lunella can finish her thought, a bright light appears in the area near the center of the camp, burning her eyes. Flapping her wings quickly, she manages to keep control of her flight. Still, the light is so bright that she loses her vision for a while. That was them, wasn’t it?

As her vision returns, Lunella takes note of the origin of the light and flies toward it. As she flys low to the ground, she sees a mesh of thin logs on the ground resembling the cell she had just escaped from. A slight frown appears on her face as she thinks to herself, Looks like you had it rough too, huh?

Landing heavy-footed on the ground next to the pit, Lunella dips her head down between the bars and shouts, “Humans! Are you in there?”

The darkness makes it difficult to see, but Lunella can make out several figures. Amara falls backward to the ground, visibly shaken after hearing the familiar voice. Eliza steps up and replies, “Yeah, we’re in here; there’s six of us.”

“Is Amara there?”

Amara clings onto Eliza’s arm and gives a frail nod. She speaks out in a trembling voice. “I-I’m here, Lunella. Y-You’re here for revenge, aren’t you?” Amara’s fist clenches tightly as she raises her head. “I won’t resist, just please, spare the others. Don’t let my stupidity result in their lives being lost. I’m the target of your revenge, not them.”

“You really do just see me as a monster, don’t you?” Lunella lets out a sigh, “But we don’t have time to argue. I’m getting you all out of here.”

“You’re not here for revenge?”

“Why would I be?”

“B-because I—”

“You hurt me; you really did. I trusted you, even though I know that I shouldn’t have. You got me thrown in jail, where a psycho tortured me. Do you know how painful it is to sleep with a knife stabbed into your leg?”

“T-then why aren’t you going to take your revenge.”

“And how would your suffering make things better? I said I was your friend, and I meant it.” Lunella nods while responding, “I came here to save you. I’m sure things between us will never be the same. Even then, I still can’t help but care for you. I’m an idiot, aren’t I?”

“B-but,” Amara falls to the ground, bawling, “I-I don’t deserve to be saved.”

“Deserve? Stars, this world is so unfair I’m not sure that word has any meaning.”

Lunella takes out her platinum-shaded sword and, with a single swing, cuts open the cage. Catching the wooden bars in her other hand, she slides part of the mesh off to the side and jumps in. Suddenly the adventurers go pale when they finally see the black wings and horns attached to Lunella

“D-d-demon!” Eliza screams, and the adventurers all group up together. Alli lets out a shriek.

“So much for sneaking out of here.” Lunella looks at the group and puts a hand to her head, and snaps at the group, “Can’t this wait? You can try to kill me later. We have to get out now! Come here, I’ll lift you out of the pit, I’m quite strong—”

A horn bellows from outside the pit, so Lunella jumps out, and witnesses crowds of orcs pour in, surrounding the whole group.

Several quakes are heard from a large building, and then massive barn doors swing open, nearly breaking free from their hinges. The massive orc chief totters out of his residence with a snarl on his face.

“Two times! You, humans, woke me up two times in one night. Forget it, live sacrifices aren’t worth it—” His bellowing voice breaks as soon as he sets his sights on Lunella. “A demon. Why are you here.”

Lunella notices that her hands are shaking. Still, she clenches them onto her sword and yells back. “That’s right, I’m a demon, and I’m here to free these humans, so I suggest you surrender!”

“Hooooh, a real challenger!” The orc chief stomps in place with a twisted smile on his face, “Hahahaha, It’s been far too long, and the challenger is a demon!”