Ducking, I swung the rapier and dismembered the Rikea’s arm. Not giving it time to squeal, I kicked it on its chest, powered by reinforcement, creating a crisp sound of its ribs snapping. Unable to stand the kick, it fell down dragging a fellow Rikea at its back. Then I tucked the shard in-between my fingers.
Grabbing the dismembered arm in mid-air, I threw it at a Rikea with an opened mouth. Just in time before it spat its acid covered minerals, the arm stuck itself in its throat, scraping it with the talons in the process. Vehemently, it tried to swallow it, before it thought of spitting it out along with the acid from its sac.
Jumping to dodge the tail swung at me, I drew my dagger from my right then threw it aiming for the Rikea’s thigh. Successfully, it forced the Rikea to halt and fall on its knee. Soon enough, the Rikea flew momentarily and rolled on the ground after a Dwarf smashed it with his hammer.
“Thanks,” I muttered before moving to the next.
About every 20 seconds, Garfin, with his free hand, threw shards that continuously stunned the Rikeas, giving us time to take them down easily.
In a contest of speed, the Rikeas were slow, enabling me to dodge with ease. In-between the Rikeas, I moved while slashing at their thighs, felling them to their knees while another Dwarf finishes them off. Twisting to my left, I swung the rapier after I dodged a claw swipe from a Rikea, slashing at its open side, then kicked it to worsen up the status of its wound.
Really, slashing at the limb muscles never fails no matter what the beast is. Cutting through the soft bulging parts on its limbs, I thought.
Moving to the next, the Rikeas suddenly halted, not from the shards thrown by Garfin, but because of a long yet low continuous growling sound. Then they bobbed their heads in confusion and panic.
Suddenly, Garfin shouted an order. [Re-group! We’re getting out of here!]
Moving past the Rikeas that forced themselves to stand with their damaged thighs, they crawled in desperation while continuously emitting a short squeaking sound.
[Move! Quick!] Garfin bellowed yet again.
Following his lead, we moved towards the passage. Leaving the Rikeas behind, I moved the ball of light into the passage lacking in Dasbalites. After a while of traveling into the passage, he ordered me to cut-off the magic, which I obeyed.
[We’ll go through here.] Garfin said pointing at a hole leading to a passage half-filled with water, ushering with the resin torch he brought out as we moved. [That beast won’t be able to follow us there, now go.]
While the squeals of the Rikeas reverberated, we moved into the hole and dropped into the water-filled passage.
“What beast was that?” I asked, moving through the cold and wet passage, we emitted swishing sounds in every step we took.
[Gidra, an intermediate earth drake.] Garfin answered in a serious tone. [It seems they really have moved, but for the Gidras to move up here…]
“Would the other Dwarfs be fine handling a Gidra?”
[As long as there’s many of them, there won’t be a problem, but I’ll bet they avoided the Gidras. They use earth magic whenever they’re cornered, sometimes resulting in a collapse. So taking them down must be done quickly.]
“Quite a problematic beast.”
[Chief.] A Dwarf muttered.
[I know,] He answered, [Kill the lights.] Immediately, the light from the torches went out as they dipped them into the water, returning us into utter darkness.
For some reason, I can see the shape of the surroundings slightly, but it’s not as clear when I have my horn manifested…
“What do we do?” I asked.
[We’ll wait quietly.]
From the distance, three twinkling dots moved as if it were playing around.
[Ahehehe.] The giggle echoed through the passage. [Where could they be?]
[Where could that be?] Another one said.
Then the third followed. [Hide. Seek. Here we go!]
Then the dots vanished as they moved upwards.
[Devy! Come on! Come on!] The dot shouted while the other two giggled.
Followed by the shout, a rumbling sound rocked the surroundings accompanied by a long low-pitched trill. Subsequently, something large emerged from the water in the distance, creating waves that soon reached our location.
Damn that beast, we have to dry ourselves again!
While I angrily thought of the problem it’s going to cause us, the beast moved its finger-less limbs, clinging to the sides, crushing rocks that plopped into the water.
We waited for about 10 minutes after the beast left before we spoke.
[Fairies huh.] Garfin muttered. [Amelia, please give us some light, it’ll take time to dry the resin.]
“Sure,” I answered and poured mana into the shard stuck between my fingers.
[[Thanks.]] The Dwarfs said.
“Garfin, what do you mean by Fairies?” I asked, looking at the bothered expression painted on Garfin’s face. “I have yet to meet any Fairies, so I don’t know anything about them. But the fact that I can understand their speech means they’re a race too, right?”
Unexpectedly, a different Dwarf answered. [Yes, they’re a race too.]
[But Fairies should never be trusted.] Another one added.
Moving my sight towards the Dwarfs that answered, “What do you mean?” I asked, the Dwarfs sharing the same bothered expression like Garfin.
[You haven’t heard it from the history of the Elves yet?] Garfin asked.
“Unfortunately, no.” I shook my head. “I’ve been busy lately so I haven’t asked Kanna for a continuation.”
[Hrmm…] Garfin grunted. [Anyway, I’ll explain on the way. Let’s move.] Then Garfin moved towards the passage where the Fairies passed through.
Oh, here it comes. I thought as I felt the backlash of the reinforcement. I guess it’s fine, the pain is not that bothersome anymore anyway…
[Fairies,] Garfin muttered. [They’re the most hated race by Sylvar.]
Placing my hands on the side of the passage as I moved for support, I said. “Please continue.”
[You see,] He continued. [Fairies is a race composed mostly of females. They all look innocent, cute, and charming. Their wings are also marveled as an intricate form of art.]
[But never get fooled by their appearance.] Another Dwarf muttered.
[Yes,] Garfin added. [Never get fooled by their appearance.] He repeated as he looked through the giant passage the beast passed through. [You’ll never know if they’re telling the truth or are they telling lies. They’re the masters of deceit.]
I moved the ball of light into the passage and lit up the surroundings.
“That beast sure is huge...” I muttered as I observed the size of the vertical passage at a size enough to fit the lodge back at the Tribe.
[And they called it Devy,] Garfin added. [It must’ve been the reason why the other beasts are running around, but the fact we didn’t see it closely, nor the sound was familiar, I can’t guess what beast it is.]
[C-chief.] A Dwarf answered, visibly shaken. [I think I’ve heard that sound before, but I’m not sure…]
[Talk.] Garfin ordered.
[You know those small black things underneath the citadel?] He asked. [The one with a large mouth, sharp teeth, soft body, and has tentacles as limbs?]
[No,] Garfin shook his head.
[Since the Fairies called it Devy,] The Dwarf continued. [I guess it’s those Devourers, but I’m not sure since I didn’t see it myself…]
[Wait,] Another Dwarf answered. [Those weak beasts? They can’t even fight for themselves.]
[Yes, those. They’re utterly weak at the start, but I’ve seen one powerful enough to eat a drake.]
[Then the Fairies fed them?] One Dwarf suggested.
[[…]] Silently, they all thought.
[It wouldn’t be strange for the Fairies.] Garfin muttered and the Dwarfs agreed by nodding. [In any case, let’s move.]
“But to where?” I asked. “I don’t see any path other than diving in that dark water.”
There are no Dasbalites underneath it, that’s for sure…
Without responding, Garfin placed his hand on the side of the passage and closed his eyes. After a minute, he opened his eyes and spoke. [We won’t be diving, the weapons will only weigh us down.]
Then he continued. [Above us, there are passages. We’ll take the one nearest to our right.]
“You mean we’re going to climb?”
Puzzled, I asked. “But how? The surface of the walls here is smooth. I don’t think it’ll be easy. Especially that it’s now wet due to that Devy.”
[Not to worry,] He answered with a grin. Placing his hand on the right side of the passage, he spoke after taking out a ring made of crystal thread, encrusted with a shard. [You’ll see.]
Gradually, steps made of stone jutted from the side leading to the passage he indicated.
“Isn’t it bad to use earth magic here?” I asked.
[Don’t worry, that huge beast passed here, right? The fact that the walls didn’t collapse meant that it’s thick and powerful enough on its own.]
“But how did you know where should we pass through?”
[It's a racial ability.] He answered. [We live with the earth and forge with the fire, enabling us to feel the surrounding earth while fire lets us know the right temperature for forging.]
[But we can’t use any other element other than earth and fire.]
“That’s not so convenient after all.”
One person at a time, we scaled the steps and arrived at the passage, maintaining our only source of light until the resin torches were dry.
“Isn’t this, a slide?” I asked looking at the smooth surface of the slide before us. “And isn’t this a thin blanket of ice?” I gulped.
Uwaah… I’ve had enough cold stuff for today...
[Yes, it is. It’ll be colder further down, but it’ll be faster through here.] Garfin answered. [But you’ll go down last since there might be stalactites hanging above the slide. We’ll use the shields to break them just in case.]
Courageously, a Dwarf jumped into the naturally made slide with his axe and shield blocking his front along with the torch. [Down I go!] Then he vanished with his fluttering robe, followed by the sound of rocks breaking apart.
Before my turn, [Here,] Garfin gave me a pick. [Use that in case you sped too much. Be careful though, your arms might break if you don’t do it properly.]
“Don’t worry, I can handle myself,” I answered with a smile.
[Well then, I’ll see you down there.] Then he vanished into the slide.
Quietly, I manifested my horn. “No one would see anyway. Better use it just in case.” Then slowly my sight lit up on its own. “This is really convenient.”
Before I slid down, I detached the rapier and the dagger from my waist, placed it inside the sack containing the Dasbalites, and placed the sack at the front, holding the pick with my right.
Gradually, my speed picked up as I slid further, producing a skidding sound. Soon, the blanket of ice thickened, the slide became wider.
Nervously, I thought. I hope I don’t veer off…
With a fork in the path, I buried the pick on my right to divert my direction towards the right passage where there are obvious skid marks on the ice. Supported by reinforcement, I held the pick’s handle as my weight burdened my arm, forcing the pick to scrape off the ice as I veered towards the right.
This would probably hurt later...
Suddenly, a voice giggled.
Moving my head, I looked for the source of the voice, but my time was short, as the end of the slide appeared before my eyes. Luckily, I was able to hide my horn before I emerged from the hole. Immediately, I observed the surroundings, looking for the presence of the Dwarfs.
Whew… I thought as I saw them gathering in one place. Were those Faeries?
[Come now,] Garfin called.
Steadily, I stood on the frozen spring and made my way slowly to the group. As we gathered, we again moved with Garfin on the lead, with a new set of resin torches.
“Garfin, why does Sylvar hate the Fairies?” I asked for the continuation of the story, exhalin a visible breath.
[Hrmm…] He grunted. [He knew that the Elves were deceived by the Fairies into joining the racial war, but he didn’t have the authority to voice himself. That led him to make his fellow Elves realize by making connections, but he was too late, the Fairies already had ties with the Elders.]
“You just said that the Fairies were a deceitful race, right? Haven’t the Elders in Avalon realized that?”
[According to him, the Elders thought that they were using the Fairies instead.]
[To Sylvar, there are benefits in joining the Fairies, but it changed after he saw a part of the truth.]
“What did he see?”
[He saw a Fairy leaking information to the Beastmen and the Humans.]
“… That’s quite a problem.” I said. Leaking information to a human huh. I wonder from which kingdom were those?
[Because of that, some Elves were captured, never to return.]
Irritated by their lack of insight, I asked. “We’re the Elders blind?”
[Apparently, the Elders has a plan, but Sylvar never knew anything about it. So he decided to use the connection he made and created a group of Elves to set out of Avalon to look for a place where they can peacefully preserve their race.]
“Then what about the Dwarfs? You’ve met Fairies too, right?”
[Yes, but we hate them.] He answered. [We hate those bugs who don't care for our craft. They just wanted to sow conflict while waiting on the sides, watching the others burn.]
“...” Quietly, I thought. So I should never trust Fairies huh...
[But mind you, sometimes they tell some truth to lure people into their plans. You could use that to your advantage, but knowing what is true and what is not requires some skill to discern.]
“Got it,” I replied.