Chapter 74 – Watched
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"Hm, it seems that I can dissolve the lava directly. Not only is it an enhanced version of flame elements, but it fills my flame, metal, and earth elemental storage." Aila said. "It's similar to the earth elements in the forest."

Aila frowned but continued to dissolve the lava that spewed out of the vent, and didn't allow it to gain any further traction.

"Hm? Is that...oh, I see. The heat is stirring up the wind currents, and drawing the wind elements to gather. The missing gem, the lava one, is lit up and growing, while the wind one is getting stronger the longer I stay here. There is only one place that is empty, and that is one I wish I now had. The polar opposite of lava." she smiled a bit, but her gaze returned to the lava again.

It continued to flow in a slow moving river, but she was able to keep ahead of it. The strange thing was that because she was able to keep up with it, it continued to flow. It didn't speed up like it was going to erupt, nor did it slow down like the volcano was running out of power.

The energy and material that continually flowed out was relentlessly absorbed and stored.

Hours passed, Aros emptied, and her people made it to the other side of the wasteland. Two life forms remained behind.

One on top of the mountain, fighting to stay even with the monster she stood upon, while nearby villages and towns watched the smoke continue to rise in the sky, and Imera rumble beneath their feet.

The second was able to witness her efforts using a long spyglass and sitting in the tallest tree at the base of the mountain. That spyglass was a treasure of the Mercenary Union of the capital, as the materials were near impossible to acquire. Precision honed glass was a product that the nearby countries couldn't refine, as they didn't have the craftsmen, nor the sands that contained the material for glass.

After they witnessed the elemental energies colliding, and how the lava stopped at her feet, the scout skidded down the tree and ran as fast as their legs could carry them.

Once in Aros, they jumped onto their horse and raced to the capital.

The Master in the forest, the one who kills beasts beyond their ability, currently restrained the volcano from erupting.

She didn't know what scared her more. The volcano, or the one who stopped it.


* * *


"The scout should be returning soon." The Union Master said quietly while she watched the people go to the second floor balcony for a look at the sky.

"Union Master, our people sent a signal from the gate. Vrit is almost here." The steward said as he looked at a slip given to him by a door guardian.

"At least she's safe. That's something." The Union Master said quietly. "As soon as she arrives, send her to my office." Sier said and walked away. The steward let out a slow breath.

"One of the most powerful elementalists of the kingdom, and she's worried. What kind of trouble did she send Vrit to check on?" The steward went to his counter and waited.  He was not informed of her mission, only that she was sent. A few minutes later, Vrit came in, the exhaustion on her face quite obvious. Though Aros was not weeks away, a hard ride to the capital would take nearly a full day, and completely wear out the horse to the point of death.

"Is she here?!" Vrit asked, her eyes wild. He pointed.

"Go right in. She's..." Vrit ran to the office. "Expecting you." His mouth closed and he became quiet. "It can't be good news."


* * *


"Wait! Say nothing until you close that door!" Sier said firmly. Vrit clamped her mouth closed, and closed the door behind her. Sier looked in the corner, then back to Vrit. "Speak." She heard the young woman take a deep breath and let it out slowly.

"It's a volcano." Vrit said, but Sier frowned.

"That's obvious from the city. Why are you so messed up?" Sier asked.

"She's up on the top, stopping it!" Vrit said anxiously. Sier stood up.

"What! How...I...." She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and sat down. "Explain what you saw. Carefully." Vrit took a few slow breaths to calm herself.

"That person in the forest ran up the side of the mountain after she sent her people away. I witnessed the disturbance through the spyglass. Whatever came out of the top of the mountain, bright raging flames, thick and barely moving, just disappeared. The-the-the..." Vrit closed her eyes, and tried to calm herself, but the image was too strong.

"Calm yourself. Take your time." Sier said, and felt a tremor run through her body. What could she have seen that made her this upset?

"Her body was surrounded by elemental essence! So much essence was channeled that her entire body glowed! When she looked at me, I knew she saw me, even from the top of the mountain! Those eyes! Reddish yellow! The color of lava!" Vrit said, and shivered. She suddenly felt chills go right through her body.

"Reddish yellow? That's the advanced lava element! But did her eyes glow from the center?" Sier said, and seriously wondered if something so simple had scared the young woman.

"No! Her entire eye disappeared! Empty holes filled with lava!" Vrit watched as Sier sat back down heavily.

"What kind of rank is that?" She whispered. "I've seen the king's eyes glow, and been told my own glow when I get angry, but that's only from the center!"

"What are we dealing with, Union Master?" Vrit asked, suddenly oddly calm. She remembered how that person killed stone bears, black panthers, river pythons, and iron tusked boars. She killed the lich in Underground Black, and now stopped a volcano from erupting.

"She has shown flame elements, metal, earth, life, light, dark, and death. Now lava. And you said her skin glowed too?" Sier asked quietly.

"Like a torch. Completely surrounded by the raging elements." Vrit said. Sier rubbed her chin and sighed tiredly.

"I don't think anyone is capable of dealing with her. Even the Assassin's Guild failed, and they used their more advanced members." Sier shivered when she heard Vrit say what was in her heart, and whispered every time someone new dealt with Aila.

"Is she a god?"