Chapter 434: Aburth
It became quiet again after the awkward incident with the royal invader. Fin had a long talk with her parents, but everything returned to normalcy afterward. Fin refused to talk about the details, but the group from Minas Mar had returned to their shut-in lifestyle of binge-watching the evaluation broadcasts.
“Urgh, walking across half a continent…We finally arrived. Lets hope we can get a ship here.”
On the screen was one of the three favorites, that were now closing in on Aburth. They had also found hints pointing to Tyrybhz and aimed for the great capital and harbor city. After the siege of Akhaz was cut off, this group came into the focus of attention.
They had easily overcome the Blood Sun thanks to the talent of one of their members. She had an overwhelming barrier talent. She could simply shield the group against the Blood Sun and the attention of the beasts.
The interest in them was high since they became close to Hannigans former party, who had been split in the cave system close to Aburth. It was the closest to two parties meeting since the valuation began.
Strong candidates being strong against ordinary natives was no big deal. Once two teams clashed, this was what people were looking forward to. Because of this, these two groups were closely watched by the audience.
Mina and the others had also switched because Seth was currently safe.
While the people of Chrona watched the group close in on the city of Aburth, something else was happening in the caves close by. Far off from the eyes of the empire.
Sitting in the darkness, only slightly lit by the dim light of a small campfire, she tended to her wounds. Her leg was hurt, maybe even broken. Their healer was one of the first that was split from the group. It was unsure whether he was even alive.
Not knowing healing magic, herself, she was forced to use a splint a paper talisman with imbued healing magic to treat her leg. Just how did she end up like that?
Everything was going so well. They started in a big city and managed to hide from the hordes within. Their wizard even found documents pertaining to the ruins they were likely looking for. They were old legends of the old Primerian Kingdom, that existed before the Tyrybhz Empire.
According to their records, there was once a grand capital. Residing there was the King of Primerian who had a contract with a Dragon, which ensured the prosperity of his realm. However, at some point in time, the records did not state when or why the King provoked the dragons wrath.
The King, the capital, and a big part of the northern Tyrybhz continent were destroyed in the battle with the dragon- Everything sunk to the bottom of the sea only leaving some ruins of the capital at the coast.
They had hit the jackpot with all the information needed for the quest. And then? It all started with that useless Hannigan not coming back from a simple reconnaissance mission. They tried for a day to get to the harbor in hopes of finding a ship.
When they finally saw the ocean, they only faced the tragedy that all ships for sea travel were either gone or needed a huge crew to be operated. They left the city because they didnt want to stay there for the blood sun.
They traveled northwest, aiming for a strait they would be able to fly across on their pets. They didnt expect all the monsters from the city to suddenly flock to them, hunting them on a grand scale.
Driven deeper into the cave they wanted to hide in, they were further split apart. She stared into the darkness past the light of her fire and thought of what to do. Finding her comrades would have to come first.
“Guruur” the gryphon at her side suddenly lifted its head as if it had detected something.
“Did you hear something, Betelgooze?” she asked, stroking its feathery neck. It was thanks to her mount, that she managed to survive so far. Suddenly an energy ray shot out from the darkness. She evaded but the attack destroyed the recorder golem at her side.
“kekeke, what a vigilant beast you have there. However, I dont know whether this means you are lucky or unlucky.” a voice spoke in the darkness.
A man stepped into the shine of her little fire. She had not noticed this guy at all, despite him being so close. He wore a mix of black leather and chainmail. Her heart fell when she saw a bundle of severed heads hanging from his belt.
I took her a moment, but they were the heads of her team members! How was that possible? When they died here, they should just be transported back to the empire. This guy having their severed heads meant that he had a method to truly kill them.
“The others had the fortune of dying without noticing me. Now you will want to struggle and find that its useless. How cruel.” the man lamented. His eyes gleamed behind a smooth, porcelain mask.
Something was blocking her appraisal of the man, but her instincts told her, that he was several times stronger than her. She had no chance in a battle against him. Instinctively she made a step back, behind Betelgooze.
“Dont think of running. You are not fast enough,” he commented as if reading her thoughts.
“You like to talk. Are you sure you ended them before they could notice?” she commented to buy some time to get her thoughts back in order.
“Keke, maybe. But you will never know.” he stepped forward ready to attack
“The empire wont overlook this!”
“haha! The empire doesnt know a thing. And once I kill you with this blade-” he stopped talking
“Is that how you managed to kill them?” a light flashed in her eyes.
“Hmph, you dont need to know that.”
Hearing the change of tone assured her.
“Betelgooze, Earthquake!” she suddenly shouted and took off down the cave tunnel.
But it was too late. The gryphon stood in his way, sounding an ear-shattering scream that cast Earthquake. The cave around them crumbled, as the man followed through the rain of rubble.
“You crazy bitch!” he cursed as he ran after her.
She had already called Betelgooze back as the cave collapsed behind her. Although she could not see even a meter in front of her, she kept running and stumbling along the wall until-
There was no more going forward. She ran straight into a wall.
However, she was lucky, and the narrow cave end did not collapse. She was trapped in a small pocket of air and darkness. But at least safe for now.
The rubble in front of her broke apart and a battered man emerged from the dust cloud. Not safe at all! Betelgooze immediately appeared behind her and her brain raced.
“No more running.”
The man could only watch as the gryphon beside her, raised his beak and let it smash down on the womans crown. She and her mount turned into particles of light. It was the sign that she had returned to the Chrona.
“Crazy bitch!” the killer cursed. She actually committed suicide to escape.
Laboriously the man carved his way back out through the rubble. On the other side, a shadowy figure already waited for him.
“I- No, she was just more… better than I expected.”
“… I talked, yeah…”
“Then we have to hurry. Chrona is not stupid, they might suspect something when she made it back.”
The two returned to their group.
“What happened with you two. You cut their head off again! And they are ruined… I told you to stop that shit!” a woman in a robe barked at him.
“That not important now. The last one got away. We have to quicken the plan. How are the decoys doing?”
“Quicken the plan..? The decoys are doing fine. They are on their way to Aburth.” she answered the shadowy figure.
“Good. Lets make them go to Aburth and travel to Tyrybhz. In the meantime, we will go and wipe out the other teams.”
“Are you sure about that? This wasnt the plan Spatia gave us.” the killer asked.
“It also wasnt the plan to let one get away. And whos fault was that?”
“lets contact them to get the locations of the other teams. If I remember correctly there is only one out of our reach.”
“Good, lets finish this quest as soon as possible.”
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