Amethyst let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding as she appeared beside the man, the entire fight ending in a moment as her sword flashed between them.
The feeling was… strange. She had stabbed things in the past, but to see her sword sliding into the side of another human felt… odd to her. The enchanted nature of her sword caused it to glide between his bottom ribs, she could feel only the slightest resistance as the tip of her sword contacted his collarbone before it punched through the other side.
Everything seemed to slow down as she looked up at the man, finally getting a good look at him as he looked down at her in shock. She watched as his dark eyes scanned down to her now blood covered hands that gripped tightly around the handle of the sword pressed against his side, the entire blade buried into his body.
She could see the look of recognition on his face as his mind filled in the blanks, the life in his eyes dulling as he tried to take a staggering step away from her, his two broad axes falling to the ground as his arms twitched. She could feel a slight vibration in her hands as he tried to take a breath, his entire body convulsing with the attempt.
She was stunned as the man's legs gave out, his entire body weight dragging her sword down to the ground with him.
She stood over the dying man, her eyes locked with his as he slowly closed them as if fighting off falling asleep, his skin paling as his muscles relaxed…
She had expected a lot of things when taking this request, heard a lot of stories of people dying, even accepting that she herself could have easily died while doing it but two things will forever stick with her after this. The first being at how painfully long a few seconds could be as you watch someone die, those few moments stretching on for what felt like minutes as the life drains from their body. The second being the ever-wise words of her sister whom everyone assumes is insane, “killing people is easy.”
Amethyst had truly over complicated it in her mind when she attacked this man. Given the nature of her training she had forgotten exactly how, just as her sister said, “squishy” people are.
There was the minor hiccup of not using her magic at the start of the fight, an oversight that nearly killed her, but once she finally put her mind to it, Hecatolite had been the only person who was right in the end. Ending another life was such a simple task she barely believed the man was dead as she watched the unmoving corpse at her feet.
Had it not been for the terminal behind her announcing it she likely would have stabbed him a second time just to be sure, but there was no questioning it. This man, this human being, was dead because of her.
Her mind raced as she looked at the overly muscular man before her. This man before her could very easily have had a family, a life…
And? Hecatolite’s uncaring voice pierced her mind, ripping her attention from the corpse at her feet as she flooded Amethyst with a strange emotion… apathy. This guy looks like he was an asshole. Probably admired himself in the mirror and said things like “dude”, and “bro” a lot. World’s probably better off without him. Oh, we should give him a chance to be useful and toss him into the woods and see what comes to eat him. Maybe a mountain lion, or a wyvern… these are the “dragon” mountains, right? Are their lion dragons? Would they taste like lion or dragon… we should find this dragon lion and eat it… for science… would that be rude to Fiordy?
“Hecatolite….” Amethyst's voice came out barely a whisper. “Shut up.”
Amethyst stood there looking at the man, her mind processing what had happened for longer than probably healthy before, with a slight grunt, she pulled her sword free from his body. Once free she flicked her wrist sending it into her storage, the blood on the blade being left to fall to the ground. She turned to see all three of her companions standing behind her, none of them had wanted to bother her while she possessed.
“Are we done here?” she asked bluntly, Ethan replying with a nod.
She walked past them briskly, each of them noticing the wet streaks on her face outlined by the colorful glow of her markings.
Mira cleared her throat, “Amethyst… you may want to…. Suppress your mana?”
Amethyst stopped, her entire body shuttering as she did. “I… I don’t want to, Mira.” She sighed as she finally relaxed, the mana around her swirling before it rushed out in every direction. She could feel the world around her, the trees, the dirt, the air, everything so full of life. So energetic… so different now. Her mind focused on the cave behind her, even now with the bodies in it, the cave brimmed with tiny signatures of mana that reacted to her. “it’s all… pointless, isn’t it? All of this. Fighting, killing, for what? A few gold coins.” She spun calling forth a handful of coins from her storage before launching them into the cave mouth. “WHY!” Her yell caused the world around her to warp slightly as if reality itself tried to escape her scream.
For the first time the three of them witnessed the power of the All-faiths saint, the sister of the Devour, the twin soul… Amethyst Lapidary. A young woman who sat with her head in gauntleted hands as the world bent around her.
Ooo good donation to the ferryman, those guys going to get first class to the next life.
“Why? Why do people do this… I feel so…”
Empty? Amethyst, you’re blaming yourself for something you couldn’t change. Amethyst felt something through her bond with her sister, a clarity she never felt before as she spoke in her mind. if you did not kill that guy, Fiori would have, if she hadn’t, someone eventually would have. Just as you decided to become an adventurer, to take this request, and to fight him. His decisions led him to die at your hands. But in the end of the day none of that matters does it?
Amethyst went to reply but was quickly interrupted.
No, it doesn’t. What matters is a whole lot of things happened to lead two separate people to this clearing, in which they battled, and the strong won. There is no reason behind all of it. No answer that will fix it. To exist is chaos, and chaos is to exist. Amethyst, on average a person makes roughly 35000 decisions each day, some of them life changing, most of them not, but they are still decisions that person makes. That man made the wrong ones. That’s no one's fault but his own.
Amethyst sat for a moment, her sister's words sinking into her mind as she looked up to the clear night sky. “It was so different… fighting a person. To see him as an enemy, a thing to kill. Animals are so easy; you just have to know how they are going to attack. With their claws or fangs, they are so simple in comparison. They are so different from us… than me, it's really easy to see them as just… obstacles, I guess. But a person… he looked just like everyone else. Anyone off the street at home. He could have been anyone but now…”
Now he is food for the world. That's it, all we are, Amethyst, people are just really smart food. I can’t tell you what will make this better because in truth nothing will. It's just like dad said, there is no joy in fighting. It’s a waste of time, resources, and most importantly life. A soul sent to the ferryman is a life lost, a life unlived, so many thoughts unspoken. Amethyst there is no joy in killing. Only solace in the fact you survived.
Amethyst did not reply as she stood, needlessly patting the dirt off her knees as she finally reasserted her mana suppression. Her three companions who followed her silently as they made their way back to their own camp, the fight replaying in her mind as she walked, her mistakes were as clear as day as she remembered the blade coming towards her face.
“I… I was about to die.” She muttered as they crossed the tree line into their own camp.
“It was close, that's for sure.” Fiori came up behind her and patted her shoulder. “But you didn’t. What I don’t get is why it took you so long to use your magic. You do know how rare a sword wielding space mage is, right?”
Amethyst nodded as she plopped down on the same rock she sat on before, “that’s the problem. I never had to use space magic in a fight before. Mom and dad taught me how to fight with a sword, but in terms of magic my training was… lax I guess. There aren’t a lot of spacemancer’s running around as adventurers.”
Mira chuckled as she passed, “Amethyst, there are no spacemancers.” She shook her head as she made the distinction clear for everyone present. “A “mancer” is an old term for someone who uses their magic to fight. I am technically a geomancer. I can count on one hand the number of space mages I have ever met and they always worked for some nobility or merchants.”
“It makes sense to me,” Ethan said sitting beside her, “magic swordsmen are, at their base, just sword fighters. Given the difference in magic from person to person it's difficult to “teach” someone how to use it in a fight. Take me and Sir Alistair for example, fundamentally we are the same, but I could never use magic like he does while fighting. My mana pool is way too small to coat my whole body like he does so instead, I use smaller bursts of mana to empower specific parts of my body. That and my affinity for wind magic means his fighting style would be a bad fit for me anyway.” He shook his head thinking of the hellish training at the hands of the laughing giant, “that’s why training someone to be a magic swordsman is really just teaching them swordplay and they have to fill in the gaps with their own magic type. I got lucky; I have a relatively common specialty so I have a lot of references I can pull techniques from. You however… well let’s just say “spacemancers” are things of legend, you’re going to need a lot of trial to find a style for you.”
Amethyst sighed; she had tried before to practice using her magic while fighting but space magic is… finicky. It’s a very delicate process that requires a lot of mental calculations. It took her months of practice and a dozen broken fingers to be able to confidently move her sword from one hand to another. The truth is just teleporting herself the few feet earlier had been risky, if it wasn’t for the massive amount of mana she released to map the area beforehand, she could have easily caused more damage than good.
The only other full blown space mage she had met, Jarvis, had a special locked room in the castle with a magic circle carved into it that he spent a year memorizing so he could travel back to it any time he needed. He could travel back to the queen only because of her own magic creating a mental link to him, allowing him to “safely” teleport back to her side.
That being said, Fiori was not wrong. She was not just a rare type of fighter; she was the only space mage with a sword in the world. If she could find a way to confidently use her magic while fighting, she would be a truly formidable person.
Ethan sighed, patting his legs as he stood. “You’re not going to find anything out tonight. You should try to get some rest, Amethyst. I’ll take the first watch tonight; you all try to get some sleep.”