After the ground shook, a giant beast burst through the ground, swallowing the unfortunate Rikeas in its path. Again, with a low trill, it moved its bladed tentacles and started massacring the leftover Rikeas. After confirming the annihilation, it revealed its body, covered in spikes jutting out from its thick calloused skin.
Opening its mouth sealed by three large spiraled teeth, it revealed its throat lined with layers of serrated teeth. Moving its body from the ground, it showcased its horrid body surrounded by legs similar to a centipede, but unlike a centipede, its legs surrounded its cylindrical body without a pattern in sight.
Then, it started sucking on the dead bodies of the Rikeas, leaving nothing but blood dripping on the ground as it sumptuously munched on its prey.
[[Ahehehe.]] The Faeries giggled.
[Go on! Go on!]
[We’ll give you!]
[A head start!]
Shouted the Faeries in-between us and the Devourer
“Garfin!” I shouted as the three Dwarf chiefs led the Dwarfs through the passage.
[What is it?!] He replied, obviously shaken by the Devourer. [We have no time to dawdle! We must escape, now!]
“It’s impossible!” I said. “That thing is obviously faster than us! With that kind of body, it can easily devour us if we grouped ourselves into one!”
Although the situation was dire, Garfin responded without a hint of panic. [Then do you have any ideas?!]
“You said that there’s lava further down the Chasm, right?!” Nervously, I replied in the midst of the noise emitted by the countless boots hitting the ground. “Is there any other way we could reach that place?! I don’t think that thing can swim in lava unharmed!”
[Impossible!] He answered, quickly. [The quickest path is through this chasm itself. We have to go through that beast if we wanted to!]
“But what do we do?! Luring that to the surface won’t save us either!” I replied. “Worst case, the Tribe falls prey to that Devourer!”
[We might be able to eliminate that thing if we received help from the spirits contracted by the Elves!]
“Again! We can’t outrun that thing!” I refuted. “Our best bet is to divide ourselves and hope that some of us survives and get help from the Tribe!”
[I agree with her Garfin!] Dresbon intruded. [We’ll divide ourselves into two groups, and each will take a separate path to the upper ground!]
[This is no time to argue Garfin!] Arkand said. [Her suggestion is the best we have right now! We just have to hope we see each other again!]
[[Dwarfs!]] Dresbon and Arkand commanded.
[On the first chamber above, split into two groups! Each would be led by two Chiefs! I and Arkand would lead one group, while Garfin and Amelia will lead the other!]
[[Yes!]] The Dwarfs responded
[Now move and pass the message to those at the front!] Arkand added.
“Wait!” I interrupted. “Arkand and Dresbon would each lead the group of Dwarfs, while I and Garfin go to the stash left by my Grandfather!”
“It’s not that!” I cut off. “There’s a high spirit there, right?! There’s a possibility that it’d help me since Grandfather contracted that spirit. If we’re lucky enough, we could at least delay that thing for the two groups to reach the ground!”
[Yo-] Wide-eyed, Dresbon muttered.
“This! Is! Not! The! Time!” Angrily, I shouted. “Of course I’m afraid! But someone else is waiting for me up there! I won’t go down that easily!”
[Amelia…] Garfin muttered.
[It’s decided!] Arkand said.
[For a human like you…] Dresbon muttered before turning his back and waved his hand. [Be sure to meet us after this, I’ll treat you to some drink.]
“Ahahaha.” I chuckled wearing a wry smile. “I’m not old enough to drink...”
Soon enough, the Dwarfs, along with Arkand and Dresbon, vanished into the passage.
With only two of us left, [Amelia… You’re young.] Garfin said. [It’s fine, I’ll persuade the spirit myself. Go follow Arkand and Dresbon.] Then he started walking towards the passage a short distance away from the post.
“I’m sorry Garfin, but I won’t act like your Granddaughter this time,” I said as I followed Garfin from behind while the Devourer raged from the distance. “Although short, my time with the Tribe is precious to me.”
Again, I cut him off. “Just like you said, I’m like Grandfather,” Smiling, I continued. “Stubborn.”
[…] Silently he ran to the passage while I tagged along.
Taking a look before we entered the passage, the trio were dancing around, discussing something between them like innocent children out to play in the woods.
They’re too lax…
With Garfin at the lead holding a new torch in hand, I followed behind holding my rapier, cautious of the beasts running around.
[Amelia, we might encounter a Gidra here.]
[It’s head, it’s lower body is covered in rock-hard scales so piercing it with your strength would be hard.]
“How tall is it?”
[Around 13 feet.]
“…” Silently, I thought. I can’t fly, you know? But then again, there’s that method…
Thinking of a method to reach 13 feet, I rummaged through my pouch.
With a shard in hand, Here it is. I thought I hope it works... I thought, fitting it in-between my fingers.
Remembering something, Ah, I forgot to give the Dwarfs my sack... I thought as I realized the sack hanging on my waist filled with Dasbalites. Never mind, it’s not that many anyways.
Just like Garfin anticipated, a gallop filled the chamber, followed by the figure of a Gidra. Upon sensing us, it let out a loud roar.
[I’ll distract it.] Then Garfin moved to the side, luring the Gidra to the wall.
Noticing Garfin, the Gidra started rushing to his direction, leaving claw marks on the ground. Not long after that, the Gidra reached Garfin, but it was met with a loud crash.
[Now!] Shouted Garfin underneath the extended wall he manifested to cushion the Gidra’s charge.
Activating reinforcement through my bracelet, I sprinted towards the Gidra. About 3 feet away from its body, I poured mana into the shard in my hand, manifesting a barrier. Jumping on the barrier I made into a foothold, I made my way up its body. Just in time, the Gidra removed its head embedded in the wall, approaching the blade of my rapier. With another foothold to support my body, I thrust the rapier into the back of its head. Piercing through its scales, I activated the magic circle in the crystal. With a crackling sound, a burnt smell followed after the Gidra fell, toasted by the lightning the rapier emitted.
Finally, I was able to use it properly…
The Gidra, falling to its knees, leaned on the wall extended by Garfin. As I took out the rapier, I went down through its back. “What a waste...” I muttered, thinking of the possibilities I could do with its scales.
Resuming our run, the ground started to rattle.
Increasing our pace, we ran for about another 5 minutes before a sealed door with two stone statues at its side appeared.
“How do I open it?”
[Those Golems at the side would recognize you,] He answered. [Probably.]
“… Those sure are intricate Golems.”
[It’s not surprising for a high spirit.]
With legs bent backward, an armor made of stone that looked like it came from an ancient civilization, and a dog head, the statues moved their crossed halberds to their sides, inviting us through the stone door that started moving to the sides.
While the sound of rock grinding against rock continued, the gap between the door widened. “It’s good that it doesn’t need anything else like a secret word or such,” I muttered with a chuckle.
Without any issues, we were able to enter the sealed area. Looking around the chamber, I shouted “Spirit of the earth! Please listen!”
Contrary to that, Garfin was silent. […]
“What wrong Garfin?” I asked.
[I can no longer feel the spirit…] He answered.
Then a giggling voice echoed through the chamber. [Oh, what do we have here.]
[Run!] Garfin shouted.
[I’m afraid no one’s leaving.] The voiced giggled once again through the darkness.
In short intervals, a heavy stomping sound emerged from the stone door.
“What?” Wide-eyed, I muttered.
The statues guarding the chamber from the outside started to enter. Once both of them were inside, the door started to close.
Garfin, painted with rage said. [Damned Fairy.]
[Hairy Dwarf.] The voice replied before revealing itself.
“Who are you?” Glaring, I asked.
[I’m Randolf’s friend.] She smiled before landing above a chest. [I’ve been waiting for you Amelia. I was tasked by Randolf to guard this place.] She smiled, taking her seat, swaying her small legs covered by a short leaf-like skirt.
“Lies,” I replied.
[Oh, that’s the truth though?] She said as she combed her blonde hair. [Rand-]
[Liar!] Garfin shouted.
[Shut up, Dwarf.] The Fairy glared. [I’m not talking to you.]
After she said her piece, a statue swung its halberd on Garfin.
“Garfin!” I shouted, after the halberd’s blade cracked the floor.
Thankfully, he replied. [I’m fine!]
[Dwarf, let’s make a deal.] The Fairy said. [If you keep silent, I’ll halt the Devourer’s advance.]
[Whether you believe me or not, it’s your choice] She smiled mischievously. [I wonder, would you forsake the Dwarfs because you refused to believe me?]
[…] Quietly, Garfin gripped the torch and his hammer, gritting his teeth in frustration.
[Doot. Doot. Looks like the Dwarf chose wisely.]
Regardless, Garfin stayed silent. […]
We have no other choice…
“Tell me,” I asked, grasping my rapier, ready to move at any time. “How did such a Fairy meet my Grandfather? And your name, you haven’t told me yet.”
[Oh, calling me such a Fairy even though you wouldn’t be who you are if not for me.] Frowning she said. [Shouldn’t you show a little more respect? After all, I birthed who you are now. Lastly, my name is not important to you.]
“Nonsense,” I replied. “I chose this myself.”
[Really?] She asked. [Even though everything seemed too perfect?]
“...” Quietly, I listened.
[Why do you think your Grandfather started visiting the Tribe when you were born?]
“Coincidence.” Quickly, I answered.
[Then what about the necklace Randolf gave you when you were ambushed? Why was he sure that you’d be targeted?]
“He’s a King, he has connections.”
[Really? Then why were you ambushed towards Libet and not anywhere else? Why not during the travel to Niveria? To Brent? To Academia? Why are all the others were an easy pass compared to the one towards Libet?]
“He has competent people with him.”
[Even though the assassins knew the number of knights and soldiers you brought?]
[Wrong.] She answered. [It’s because I tricked the humans to prove my trustworthiness to Randolf, then when it came to Libet, I dropped the mask, I told Libet of the path you’d be taking and the composition of the knights and soldiers.] She giggled. [Oh, that Randolf, it was so hard to gain his trust without Celestia noticing. But he believed too much in peace with the races that he blinded himself.] She laughed.
[About the trade being dropped after his death, doesn’t it sound weird?] She asked leaning forward. [What do you think?]
[Oh, what a scary look.] She giggled. [The answer is to make you feel responsible for everyone’s death, responsible to continue what he started, to take over his dream and to know the real reason behind the trade severance.]
“Impossible, such plan cannot be executed perfectly.”
[Oh, it is possible with a few mishaps. With Sophia’s Mirror that is, but then again, we can’t use it anymore for another century.]
“What are you after?” Rage building inside me, I asked.
[Isn’t that obvious?] She replied. [To break you, again and again, then with your will, stand again as a proud princess you are. After that, become a newborn divine after meeting Celestia. Make you look for the stash that for some unknown reason, was hidden in this chamber.]
[Impossible,] Garfin muttered. [We felt the spirit of the earth here.]
[Oh, I’ll forgive you for that, but there won’t be a next.] She pointed at Garfin. [Haven’t you asked? Why was it placed somewhere the Elves would less likely to visit?]
Realizing the truth, [You!] Garfin replied.
[Doot! Doot! Correct!] She answered. [If the Elves saw the fake spirit we made, it would’ve been easily found out.] Then she smiled. [But since you spoke. Snap! Devy will move again!] With a snap of her little fingers, the rumbling of the earth restarted.
[Stop!] Garfin bellowed.
[I said quiet!] With a loud stomp, the statue tried to crush Garfin.
Fortunately, he was able to dodge, but the incoming halberd closed on him. Unconsciously, I overloaded the shard and produced barriers over barriers, protecting Garfin.
Even after countless barriers shattered like glass, Garfin was hit. On the bright side, the barrier reduced the force and redirected the blade a bit, making it a non-lethal hit. But sadly, he lied on the floor unconscious along with the torch.
[That will do it.]
I tried approaching Garfin, but a blade of a halberd suddenly block my path.
[Nope. I won’t let you wake up that noisy Dwarf.]
“You monster!” I bellowed, gripping my rapier till it started shaking.
[Oh, come on.] She said. [All that 14-year plan just to reach this day. Can’t I have a congratulatory gift instead of that despising rage of yours?]
“I’ll never believe you!”
[Not enough yet? Then what about the preparations made when you became chief? Why was it so detailed? How did Randolf predict that?]
“Everything you’ve said are lies!”
[Then what about this?] She said, taking out a ring. [You remember, right? It’ll be sad if you don’t...]
Recognizing the ring. “T-that!”
That one’s from the paintings at the palace! There was even a replica...
[Oh, seems like I’ve got your attention.] She giggled.
“Why do you have Grandmother’s ring!?”
[Have you forgotten?] She smiled. [How did it go again? Oh, right. ’Your Grandmother is traveling the world with the butterflies.’ You probably thought she was dead with those lines, right?]
“...” Silently, I thought. That’s not possible, Grandmother went missing a long time ago…
[You do realize, right? Where could your Grandmother be? Why did he trust a fairy like me? Is he really dead? Or maybe he’s somewhere out there, with your Grandmother, the missing Queen.]
“You… What are you after!?”
[Ever wondered what a Devourer might become if it consumed a divine being? Normally, a Devourer isn’t powerful enough to eat one, but for a newborn like you, it’s possible. Other than that, what could be better if you could pull a trick on Celestia? Isn’t it exciting?]
“Is that everything?!” Unable to take it any longer, I sprinted towards the Fairy, drawing my rapier.
[Ahahaha.] She laughed as she took flight. [Are you not curious? What if a Devourer becomes a divine being under our control? We could stop the racial war!]
“Nonsense!” Making a barrier as a platform, I jumped, slashing at the Fairy.
[Oh, the racial war can be stopped, that is if we reduced every race’s numbers to the bare minimum.] She giggled. [Tricking people to start a war is bound to get boring, so I thought, what if we stopped it instead?]
“By massacring millions?! You’re mad!” Creating another barrier, I delivered another strike.
[Aren’t you mad yourself?] She said, flipping through the air, dodging my strikes. [Doing what the Gods failed to do, isn’t that madness?]
“The Gods were selfish!” I said, landing on another barrier, then jumping towards the Fairy again.
[But we are sure, our God wasn’t.] Again, she dodged by doing acrobatic movements in the air.
Immediately making a platform, I changed my direction to dodge the halberd swung by the statue.
[Okay, enough with the games.] The chamber rumbled. [Devy!] Answering her call, a trill resounded. Slowly, the rumbling of the chamber increased. [It’s time to finish the trick of the century!]
[[We’re coming!]] The trio Fairies’ voice resounded, followed by the ceiling breaking apart, revealing the horrid mouth of the Devourer, preparing to consume me.
Ready to trade my life, I readied myself to at least delay the Devourer for the others to reach the upper ground, but contrary to my expectations, a hole appeared in mid-air, transferring the body of the Devourer to who knows where.
[Trick of the Century?] A voice asked after the rumbling suddenly halted. [That’s quite a trick for it to fail at the last moment.]
Unknowingly, my necklace glowed. “Celes?” I asked, recognizing the voice.
[[Devy!]] The Fairies called.
“Oh, you want to see that pet of yours?” Celes asked as her body formed from the light emitted by my necklace. “Here, have a look.”
As she gestured to her right, the surroundings were covered by a thick mist, revealing a different scene after it receded. Floating in the air, [Thank you for this gift Celestia.] A deep voice resounded.
Surrounded by thick clouds in every direction, we observed the Devourer falling from the sky, desperately struggling like a worm. Nearing the water surface, a serpent shot out of the water, tearing it to pieces. Not enough for the serpent, it dived back down to the ocean, cleaning the remains above the ocean's surface.
“How is it? Wasn’t it a better Devourer than yours?”
Speechless, […] The Fairies shivered in fear.
[Celestia.] The deep voice replied while its endless body revealed itself in parts, looping on top of the water surface. [Don’t compare me to that measly Devourer. This one hasn’t even reached the level of the ancients yet.]
“Of course, I’m trying to make a joke, Gandr.”
[You still call me Gandr huh.]
“Then Jormugandr, is this fine now?”
[You’re just like always. I’d be happy if you deliver me gifts now and then.]
“I’ll try.” She replied.
No matter how long we stayed, the tail of Jormugandr never appeared.
“We’re returning.” With those words, the mist covered our surroundings yet again, returning us to the previous chamber.
“Now, where were we?” Tilting her head as if nothing happened. “Oh, yes, I have to punish Titania for breaking an unwritten rule. Or maybe the whole Fairy race? Hmm...”
[D-don’t!] The Fairy suddenly responded. [I-it was my plan! I only asked for her Majesty’s cooperation! Me! Punish me and the three Fairies here! Our life is enough!]
“Is that so? Even though Titania allowed the use of Sophia’s mirror and the Sash of Invisibility to go over my network?” She said smiling. “Even though I’ve repeated countless times to never force my kin to develop their horn? And yet here you are begging me to spare your race?”
[Y-you had a hand in it!]
“Oh yes, that’s because of your meddling that there’s no longer a possibility for Amelia to live other than developing her horn. You know this right? Titania’s clairvoyance coupled with Sophia’s Mirror.”
“Haah...”She exhaled a sigh. “It’s a good thing I modified the necklace to confirm all this, but I never thought Titania would be careless. She never thought that Sophia’s Mirror cannot accurately predict the actions of the divine beings.”
“Anyway, I’ll visit Titania after I cool off.” After her words, the Fairy’s right arm inflated and blew off.
[AAAAHH!] The Fairy cried. Immediately after, her right armed pieced back itself.
“What limb should I practice restoring next?” Tilting her head, Celes playfully spoke. “Oh, the three Fairies too.” Then she turned to the three remaining Fairies before her, repeating the same limb destruction and restoration.
“...” Silently, I observed Celes torture the Fairies, barely killing them then restoring their body repeatedly. One time, there were two black objects floating in the air, sucking the Fairies, stretching them into thin strands along with the dust and debris littered in the chamber.
No matter what she did, she’ll keep the Fairies barely living, then she’ll start restoring their deformed bodies. It did not take long before the chamber filled with nothing by darkness to be filled with the pained cries of the Fairies.
“It’s time to visit Titania,” Celes muttered. “Amelia, I’ll leave this Fairy here for you to judge.”
[Uhhh…] The broken Fairy muttered.
“For the other three, killing them isn’t enough so I’ll seal them, never to see the light again.” Just like she said, the trio Fairy was grabbed by a dark hand and was dragged into an unknown place. “Well, then. I’ll see you later Amelia.”
After Celes vanished, the last Fairy’s body glowed, healing its wounds.
[Uhhh…] The Fairy muttered, delirious.
I pointed the tip of my rapier at the Fairy on the ground. “Stand.” Coldly, I ordered. “If you could defeat me or kill me, you can freely run away. So stand.”
Again, the Fairy glowed in white.
[Y-you… Promise?] She said, slowly recovering herself, a probable effect that Celes had left behind.
“...” Quietly, I waited for the Fairy to recover while I took one shard after the other from my pouch. While the Fairy took her time to recover, I approached Garfin and chanted.
O’ ruler of light I beseech you,
Cover mine hands with light
Warm light the sun’s might
Wound fasten, hands light
Placing my glowing hands over Garfin, I healed him with an intermediate level light magic. As expected, Garfin’s breathing started to normalize.
It’s good that I have an affinity in light…
Moving the unconscious Garfin beside the Chest, I started rummaging through his pouch. Not able to wait any longer, I filled the shards with mana from the rapier and threw them below the statues. Followed by a series of explosions, the statues fell apart.
I’ve removed the nuisance.
“Are you not done yet?” I asked, revealing my horn as the light from the torch withered.
[I’m ready.] The Fairy grinned.
“Your name, what is it?” I asked.
[Talya.] She replied.
With a hint of desperation and madness, she shouted. [Y-you’ll regret your decision!]
“I’ll make you regret you lived.” With a head start, I immediately closed in on Talya, delivering my left fist to her body.
[GAAH!] She flew into the air, but she managed to fix her posture with the help of her wings.
“Where’s your vigor?” I asked. “Is that everything you’re willing to bet to live? Pathetic.”
Without replying, she kept on silently muttering a chant. [Manifest, Whirlwind!]
Backing away, [Know what you are using!] I threw a crystal into the whirlwind. Before it exploded, I moved towards Garfin and the chest, manifesting several layers of a barrier. After a loud explosion, another part of the chamber fell apart, filling the room with the chamber’s wreckage.
After the thin smoke subsided, Talya was unharmed. It seemed she was able to create a barrier on time.
Revealing a grin, [T-thanks!] she flew into the hole.
Unfortunately for her, I sealed the hole with earthen spikes.
The mana I stored in the crystal threads is now depleted. I’ll have to rely on my own pool now.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
[Tch! T-take this!] Unceremoniously, three Fireballs appeared, but their size was only half the original.
Moving in, I dodged one fireball and blocked the other two with a barrier.
[Not yet!] She then summoned earthen spikes, but the manifestation was slow and I was able to outrun it.
“If you keep using those chant-less magic, you will never win!”
Again, making a foothold of the barrier, I jumped to reach Talya. Twisting her body, she dodged with her small body. [You won’t hit me as long as I maintain this height.]
Before I fell, I produced three wind balls while I’m close to Talya, effectively hitting her unaware. While falling to the ground, I created another barrier and jumped to deliver a flying kick.
While she rolled on the floor, I approached her limp body.
“Grandfather trusted you,” I said as I picked her by her arm. After dropping the rapier, I used my free hand to grab one of her wings and forcefully tore it out.
[AAAH!] She cried in agony.
“You toyed with our lives.” Then I grabbed her second wing and again, tore it apart.
In pain, she arched her body, with the whites of her eyes taking over.
[Y-you’re… A monster…] She cried in tears.
“If I am, what are you?” I then drew the dagger from my waist.
“Did you show Grandfather mercy? What about the lives that were lost due to your petty trick? Would they come back from the dead if showed you mercy? They’re dead. Never to return. Burned to ashes. But don’t worry.” I smiled.
“I will let you live.” Then I dismembered her arm with the dagger. “Until I find a Devourer myself.”
“You’re not supposed to die until I feed you to those pet of yours.” Then I started to chant the magic for heal and closed the wound on her bleeding arm.