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16+ Language Violence

The Forsaken Race - The Hidden Truth: Chapter 41

by RavenAkuma


Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language and violence.

Chapter 41 - No Match

             

            

A draft of cold, humid air swept up the darkened, curved stone staircase. Whatever it touched, it left a layer like dew scented with wine and stone.

Kita seemed annoyed by it, constantly wiping her face, but Leiytning was indifferent. Not only was this similar to the nature of the fortress, but his climate-based resilience had been hardened from several ages of experience.

As they finally reached the bottom of the stairs, it revealed a room that looked half abandoned cellar and half dungeon. Dim light emanated from the short hallway on the opposite wall. The cold stone walls, tall darkened ceilings, and rugged wooden floors gave the area an unwelcoming atmosphere, even without soldiers' presence.

While Kita ran ahead, the demon took a moment to investigate. It was unlike a typical mission in the Aubade Palace, to walk in and out with so little interference.

He thought to himself, Corelia would probably feel some confidence in the security and hidden nature of this dungeon, but she also knows Kita escaped and could report it to us. Is she just counting on us being unwilling to take her back, or Kita being too stupid to memorize the layout of the palace? Had she not just proven me wrong, I would have been inclined to think the latter.

Kita's quiet call interrupted; "Hey, Leiytning! I don't know how to free them! There's no key down here!"

Still alert and hyper-aware of the area, Leiytning proceeded to the hallway. There were three cells on either side -once storage spaces for special casks, now adorned by chains and solid iron bars. A complex rune was blackened into the stone on the back wall, but Leiytning could already tell that it was applied incorrectly and had no real effect.

Kita was inspecting the lock to Seyber's cell. While Zin watched with the stern eyes of a hawk, concerned for the safety of his sister, Seyber refused to even look at her. However, they both perked up after realizing that Leiytning was with her.

There was an array of cuts and bruises between the captive demons, and their shackled wrists were blistering from the tight grip of the iron. Their bruises were dark gray, likely a result of the black blood underneath, and a particularly nasty one ran across Zin's left cheek and eye. Seyber's injuries were concentrated along her arms and neck. A raw cut ran across her cheek, and as she shifted, she winced from what had to be painful stomach and chest injuries.

Zin's defensive glare turned into a relieved grin. "Thank afterworld! Good to see you, Leiyt, unlike others here with us..."

Kita looked down and fidgeted, as if trying to hide her guilt.

"Let's not discuss this now," Leiytning said firmly. "Mortal, go back to the room and keep watch for any guards. And if you try anything, you're losing a leg."

Kita nodded, then left quietly. Meanwhile, Leiytning used one claw and a pin from his hair to start picking the lock.

Seyber whispered, "Why are you letting her follow you? She betrayed us."

"I am aware. However, she was insistent and more than ready to cause trouble. If she's going to be a pain regardless, we may as well put her to use."

Seyber was about to retort, but then the lock let out an audible 'click.'

Zin sneered, "That's the easy part. These chains are among her new tricks."

Leiytning inspected the shackles binding Seyber's wrists. They seemed normal at first, with a chain about three feet long attaching them to the back wall. However, as the faint light hit them, it revealed an opaque, shimmering violet layer. There was no keyhole in sight.

"Confirmed, vanishing lock," said Leiytning. "Druitt mentioned that Corelia seemed to be doing some business with elves, involving magic artifacts. He never clarified which specific tribe, but these are a popular tool among all of them."

"With the failed magic ward on the wall too, that would make sense..." Seyber sighed heavily, "I don't like this direction. Magic is one of the few things giving us an advantage."

"Focus on what's happening now," Leiytning said calmly. "Move back."

Seyber obeyed, but she could only move a couple of feet away before the chain was pulled taut.

Leiytning grabbed the chain, paused for a moment, then jerked it back hard. Around the chain's base, a spiderweb of cracks burst onto the wall. After another hard pull, his eye flashing black, he managed to break it from the wall entirely. Right above where it was, a strange sigil glowed and dissipated quickly.

Seyber looked down at her shackles. The violet sheen started to dissipate, while a keyhole morphed into the metal. As Leiytning started working on the lock, using the same method, Seyber noticed one of his hands shaking slightly, with blackened fingertips.

As soon as the shackles dropped off, Seyber clasped his hand. Her icy eyes, back-angled ears, and deep frown were pouring worry.

"Leiyt, that can't be good for you. Be more careful; you really shouldn't use that power unless it's critical."

"You're getting as paranoid as your sister," Leiytning muttered, pulling his hand away. Thankfully, it was already looked normal again.

Seyber huffed with irritation, one ear twitching.

In the cell across from them, Zin smirked. "Why so upset, Seyber? Is someone yanking your chain?"

Leiytning ignored him and helped Seyber to her feet. "How severe are your injuries?"

Seyber winced, hugging her stomach. "Extremely sore, but I don't think it's serious."

"Thundur can confirm once we get back. In the meantime, be careful. No overwhelming stunts, and leave any confrontations to me. Zin, the same goes for you."

Leiytning repeated the process of busting the cell door open with Zin, but this time, under Seyber's fretful watch, he begrudgingly used his spear to pry the chain's base from the wall. Even though it took longer, it was still possible as nothing was built very well in this spontaneous dungeon.

As soon as Zin was free, he spoke in a very quiet tone, "Hold on. The mortal's still with us, and it's her fault we're in this mess."

"That may be," said Leiytning. "However, as I said, she's determined to follow us. Without direction, she may just sound an alarm and draw unwanted attention. Especially since she's also a target."

"She could be leading us into a trap," Zin argued.

"Firstly, I strongly doubt she would be a good enough liar and actress to pull a 'trap' off. Secondly, her story was shady, but she showed no signs of deception. If anything, she had a genuine interest in redeeming herself, particularly for Seyber. It's no excuse for her actions, but it means less risk. Which reminds me..." His tone became more stern. "Tell me what drew Corelia to take you. I don't trust the sylph for obvious reasons, and Timbur shared no details."

Seyber hesitated for a long moment, but then sighed, "Corelia was ready to kill. Timbur was pinned. The mortal made a deal that she would return to Sybilius without a fight, as long as they let him go. They didn't take it, so she compromised by telling them to take me and Zin. She must've assumed they'd at least keep us alive."

"Slow down," Zin hissed. "Let's not paint her as some innocent helper when she's the reason sylphs were there in the first place."

"Of course, but she-"

"That's enough," Leiytning intervened.

"What are we doing with her?" Zin interrogated.

"To be decided."

Zin groaned, "For the love of gods, why can't you answer questions like a normal person?"

With a cold glare, Leiytning pointed to the door of the cell. Seyber was quick to leave, while Zin slinked behind her.

He grumbled, "Don't you just love how he's so open with us? Our leader -and brother- never keeps any secrets from us."

"Complain when we get back to the fortress," Leiytning said flatly.

As they returned to the first room, the stairs still silent and empty, Kita seemed relieved -to some of the demons' surprise.

Kita managed an awkward half-smile. "I'm glad you're both okay."

Save for an annoyed glare, Zin ignored her. "Leiyt, what's the escape plan?"

"With you three, many of my normal routes are out of the question," Leiytning muttered.

"Us three?" Zin repeated. "So we are taking this maggot? Seriously?!"

Leiytning smacked him. "Quiet, before you attract attention. This shouldn't be too difficult. Since Corelia knows I usually aim for high ground, most guard activity is concentrated around the outer walls, towers, and rooftop area. The least guarded region should -ironically- be somewhere around the main entrance. Now, we can use the tunnel system to get as far as the throne room. There may be a bit of trouble from guards at the gate, but they're manageable."

Zin shuddered. "You mean the narrow, derelict, and creepy paths in the walls that even the sylphs themselves don't use?"

"Zin, I swear to gods," Leiytning growled. "If you don't grow a pair, shut up, and get moving, I may leave you here another night."

Zin put both hands up and made for the stairs. "Say no more."

With Kita forced to stay in front of Leiytning, where she couldn't sneak away, Seyber lingered next to the leader as they proceeded up the darkened stairs.

The dark and eerie silence, and lingering irritation, was enough to lure out the darkest thoughts. But for Leiytning, something else was among them. A dark, malevolent voice straight out of oblivion; an unwanted presence like a parasite.

"Are you sure you can handle this, old friend? Or will you need my help again?"

Leiytning thought bitterly, I think you have 'helped' quite enough in this situation, now stay out of it.

"Such a pitiful game. You decide to use my gift, only to condemn me. You are more of a hypocrite than the very queen you're so desperate to kill..."

Thankfully, the voice grew quieter, until it had completely vanished. In its place, he could hear Thundur trying to reach him.

Beyond whatever that was, I'm picking up something unusual. What's going on?

Leiytning paused to think for a moment, then responded to his sister. As he explained everything, he didn't get very far.

That goddamn traitor, thinking we'll take her back so easily! Obnoxious, self-entitled brat; if it weren't for the four masters' command, she'd be dead! Bring her back, but make sure Zin and Seyber are okay, and don't give that sylph any chance to cross us again. And don't let her put you in danger. You're a high-profile target with a very volatile pawn.

I am more than equipped to handle this, now stop worrying.

Heh, with you, that'll be the day. Just be careful...

                 

\\\

               

After a long time in the dark tunnel system or crawlspace, whatever it was supposed to be, Kita was glad to see a sliver of light ahead of them. She was sick of being unable to see and choking on dust or mold particles.

Still holding onto Seyber's hand, since she couldn't see like they could, she crept forward to get a better look. It was an indent in the wall of stacked stone bricks, with two smooth ivory slabs blocking the way. The light came through a hardly-visible crack between them, like a fine hair of gold cutting through the darkness.

Leiytning very carefully forced it open, the ivory stone sliding to the side. Kita was narrowly able to catch a glimpse of the area outside.

This system exit was hidden as part of a stone portrait, chiseled out of a high-hanging ivory slab on the wall. Below was the throne room and foyer, but there was no one in sight. The torchlight coming under the front gates indicated guards outside, but that was to be expected.

With a suspicious look, Leiytning was the first to leave, dropping down without a sound. He stuck to the shadows as he searched the room.

Despite that reaction, Kita stepped to the edge of the space. Intimidated by the long drop, she held her breath and shut her eyes, then dropped herself over. As soon as she landed, a stinging pain shot through her ankles and legs, and she couldn't help stumbling.

The other two demons leaped down after her, with Zin managing to push the exit closed as he fell. Leiytning wound up close to them, but still had a wary demeanor.

Zin whispered, "What's up, Leiyt?"

"Move fast," Leiytning responded. "I don't know if-"

"Stop!"

Kita's heart dropped when she heard that voice.

Stepping out from behind the thrones, Princess Maia stood strong. She didn't seem that threatening, with a sense of innocence in her uncertain blue eyes, but the gleaming silver longsword in her hand was a stark contrast. So was her mostly silver armor, similar to her mother's.

Leiytning's ear twitched. "I knew something was wrong."

Maia spoke with a timid voice, "I don't want to fight, but if you don't comply, I'll have to. Just hear me, royal-to-royal, and maybe we can come to some sort of agreement. One that won't require any bloody battles. You may revel in death, but I don't."

Leiytning sneered, "Don't pretend you're so innocent, princess."

Maia seemed irritated, but still managed to sound calm. "We can drop this right now. The prisoners were oblivious, but I know you aren't. Give me answers, then I'll let you leave without alerting my mother."

Seyber seemed uneasy. "Leiyt?"

"Doubtful, this one likes to lie," Leiytning muttered.

"You have my word, and it's quite easy..." Maia took a deep breath. "Tell us why you decided to keep Kita, and what you know about her illness."

Kita felt sick as she was reminded of her role in this -not just her quick decision to sell out Seyber and Zin, but the fact that Corelia's brutal interrogation was done partially on her behalf. It made her stomach feel like it was inverting on itself, pushing hot bile into her throat.

A guilt-laden thought burned through her mind, I would rather put up with another year of hell than let anyone be tortured on my account. That can't happen again.

Leiytning looked unamused. "I have no idea what the hell is wrong with this sylph, I'm mainly just keeping her to piss off your useless queen."

"You won't tell me the truth, will you?" Maia interrogated.

"How interesting to hear that from your type."

"I was only trying to end things easily..."

The princess gripped her silver sword tighter, then descended the stairs.

"Is there any way we can help with this?" Seyber asked quickly.

Leiytning responded with authority, "No. Take out the guards at the gate, then retreat to the forest. Meet up with Thundur and let her treat you -and do not come back here."

Seyber and Zin both seemed hesitant, but they left the room through the looming front gates. Meanwhile, Kita lingered behind the leader; she doubted she could help the fight, but she could at least keep an eye out for reinforcement. That, and she didn't want to risk facing Timbur or Thundur without Leiytning to keep them in check.

Leiytning had already drawn his jagged spear, a snap of sparks and bolts making the shaft extend.

"I was hoping to fight Timbur over anyone," Maia muttered. "Although, I suppose fighting his worshiped 'master' will put a good dent in him too. You..." She suddenly whipped out a dagger. "Vile snake!"

Maia hurled the dagger, but in one swift movement, Leiytning caught the smaller blade between two fingers, tossing it aside.

Maia raised her sword. "Will you speak or fight?"

"The sword would be less painful than listening to you talk," Leiytning muttered.

Without warning, Maia braced her blade and charged.

As soon as her blade came close, Leiytning practically vanished. From behind her, he slammed the blunt end of his spear into her knee and kicked her down. She narrowly rolled aside in time to avoid being stabbed, the blade missing her by a hair.

Rather than back down, Maia lunged right back, beginning a brutal parry. She was swift and graceful, more evasive and dodge-oriented than her mother, but Leiytning was clearly not employing his full force as he seamlessly blocked each hit. As she aimed low, a swift punch stunned her. Maia narrowly managed to squirm away before she was cut.

However, while Maia futilely attempted to recover, Leiytning shot forward in the time it took to blink. She blocked his weapon in a panic, but he kicked her hard in the gut. She keeled over, where an elbow strike forced her to the marble ground with a cringe-worthy 'slam.'

As she lay futilely on her front, the spear came down. Even though she avoided a more dangerous hit, the blade still tore through her arm as she rolled away. Between the plates of armor on her shoulder and bicep, crimson blood spewed out.

"I won't..." Maia stood while gripping her arm in pain. "Stop!"

"That's your own mistake," Leiytning said tauntingly. To their confusion, he lowered his spear.

Maia charged with deadly speed, and Leiytning easily dodged the attack. He unsheathed his dull silver dagger in the process, and as Maia braced to swing again, he twisted her arm so the sword was aimed at the ground. One stomp not only forced it from her grasp, but trapped it deep in the marble.

Before she could get away, he lashed the dagger, resembling a mere flash of silver. It sunk into her collar, chipping the armor and breaking through the bone.

Maia screamed with pain as she staggered back, her left arm paralyzed. Still, with no mercy, Leiytning delivered a kick so hard that her knee snapped like a branch. She collapsed, eyes welling with tears as she forced herself to crawl away.

On the sidelines, even though Kita was awestruck by this display of royal strength, she couldn't help feeling nauseated, revolted, and horrified.

Kita shuddered. "I'm mad at them, but this is still hard to watch..."

She watched closer. Leiytning glared down at the princess with contempt, spinning the bloody dagger in hand. For a moment, Kita thought Sybilius would actually lose its only heir.

However, she noticed a gleam in the shadows.

Kita quickly called, "Look out!"

Before she could even finish, someone new charged into the battle. However, Leiytning blocked the quick attack, then stepped away. Now Atara was standing between him and Maia.

Atara glanced back. "How bad?"

Maia was gritting her teeth as she wheezed, "I can get through this. I was trying to make him talk, but..."

Leiytning sighed, "And here we almost rid this cursed world of another Erxina. Such a pity to stop it, Atara."

Atara's brown eyes landed on a minor cut to Leiytning's arm -the only injury he had sustained in this grizzly ordeal.

"I don't understand," she murmured as she glanced at Maia's sword. "The enchantments should have burned him. They should've done something."

"So that was supposed to be your 'secret weapon'..." Leiytning let out a menacing chuckle. "Mortals attempting magic. Now you know why it's a joke to us."

"Shut up!" Atara snapped. "Just because we can't make it out of thin air, we're not helpless!"

Leiytning wasn't even listening anymore. "I think I've made my point without waiting for others of your ilk to show up. Kita, considering your own status in this place, I wouldn't recommend you stay here."

Struggling to comprehend everything, Kita stammered, "R-Right."

She followed Leiytning toward the gates, but they didn't get very far before Atara snapped.

"It's not fair! You have nothing! We outnumber you by the hundreds, our weaponry and armor are more advanced, and yet you still slither away every time! You..." She clenched her fists. "You, vile miscreation from hell, tell me what you know about this mess!"

Leiytning stopped in his tracks. "The only thing I know about this mess is that you've already failed. What a surprise."

Kita took a few paces back, afraid that something might happen.

She was right; Atara growled angrily, then charged with her blade aimed out. Leiytning made no move, though. He hadn't even turned to face her.

Kita finally cried, "Leiytning, watch out!"

As Atara closed in, she squeezed her eyes shut, unable to watch.

Not much later, she heard a cry of pain. Close behind, there was the grotesque sound of skin tearing, muscle splitting, and blood splattering. There was also the 'clang' of metal falling to the ground. A heavy iron-like tang filled the air; Kita felt her bile rising, while her body wouldn't stop shaking. Hesitantly, she turned and opened her eyes.

The sight made her both relieved and stunned.

Atara was paralyzed, but she wasn't wounded. Maia, on the other hand, was in front of her. The spear ran deep into her stomach, right in the crack between her chest and stomach plates. Crimson blood gushed out, pooling around where she stood.

Atara could only gape in horror. "M-Maia..."

Without a trace of emotion, Leiytning spoke to Kita, "Let this be an example of Corelia's henchmen. Absolute idiots who get high off their own undeserved power, think they're invincible because of some purple-tinted tights, and act with no patience or restraint. Clueless to the outside world, demonkind, and the complex systems of magic and spirituality, even though they'll claim to be experts. All they really have are destructive impulses and some orders from their queen. Blind followers and unthinking pawns."

He tore the spear out, one spin flicking off all the blood. Maia instantly fell, her body limp, while her breaths grew wheezy and faint.

"Don't be like them," Leiytning said warily, proceeding through the gates.

Atara went into a frenzy as she tried to stop Maia's intense bleeding. Kita took only one glance back at the struggling sylphs.

"Maia, why would you do that?" Atara interrogated. "I'm the lieutenant, you're the princess. It's my job to protect you!"

Maia's voice was weak. "Atara, you're just my cousin by blood. By heart, though, you're my sister. You and Shira, you..."

Kita bit her lip and hurried away.

Outside, the guards on either side of the front gate seemed unconscious, probably from whatever attack Seyber and Zin pulled. It took a moment to catch up to Leiytning, and when she did, she couldn't help asking an obvious question.

"Was that a lethal attack you pulled, back there?"

"Are you going to turn on us and fret about saving her now?" Leiytning asked flatly.

"No, I just..." Kita sighed, "Things like this aren't normal for me."

Leiytning still seemed suspicious, but explained, "The lethality of a wound largely depends on how it's treated. Sadly, with reinforcement like that, she'll probably survive. However, she'll be too injured to return to the battlefield, so we won't have to put up with her nonsense."

Kita nodded, but in her mind, the scene of the battle was still playing over and over again. She was both stunned and scared by it all; she saw great power, but also great resentment. Both with the potential to be directed at her.

Deep inside, though, part of her was more sorrowful than amazed. Sybilius, once her home, was stained by the memory of a bloody story and her own misery. Even Corelia, someone she had truly looked up, changed so drastically to a villainess in a matter of moments. The demons at least fought with honor and honesty, in a world so opposed to their survival. Maybe some sylphs had valid personal reasons, but too many only showed callous hate and a desire akin to 'getting rid of the witnesses.'

However, Kita still vividly remembered the grizzly killing and malicious aura that had no explanation.

She thought to herself, I've picked my poison. I have to trust the demons, and while they've proven themselves in a lot of ways, there's still something very wrong with them...

Kita's violet eyes landed on Leiytning.

And I don't know the reason, but I do know the source.

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Wed May 15, 2024 2:35 pm
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keeperofgaming wrote a review...



When I smiled:

That was epic. Leiytning managed to get in there, managed to Save Seyber and Zin, then they all got out of there alive, without many injuries. That was just awesome and managing to save. Everyone was awesome as well.

And goodness Maia seems cool. I find it really interesting that she actually seems to want peace. Even more than Corelia seemed to. I hope that she continues with this path and then maybe gets to actually have peace between the two.

And poor Atara, she is really manipulated and it's quite clear to see that. I really hope she becomes better in the future and learns the truth of the situation. I agree with what Leiytning says, that they are unthinking pawns in this game. But I still hope that she and the others become more than just pawns.

And gosh dang it Zin, he really has a warped sense of what happened that day and really wants to not admit that Kita could have been correct in what she did. Like sure, her calling Corelia in the first place was not a good idea, but her actions after that would have been the best actions.

And I like how Seybers just so kind. Her understanding that Kita was in a hard place and also understanding what Kita's plan was after probably thinking over quite a lot. I like how she tried to empathize and even defended Kita, and then even held her hand to make sure she wouldn't get lost. You could really tell how close they are despite what happened.

A Line to Remember:

The demons at least fought with honor and honesty, in a world so opposed to their survival. Maybe some sylphs had valid personal reasons, but too many only showed callous hate and a desire akin to 'getting rid of the witnesses.'

However, Kita still vividly remembered the grizzly killing and malicious aura that had no explanation.


This is one of the best lines to show the situation as it shows that Kita is considering both sides and considering the cruelty of the sylphs, while also understanding that the demons have their own dark secrets that could warrant such fear.

Her understanding between each side just shows a maturity throughout the series that she is beginning to gain plus her increasing strength and loyalties is very interesting to watch.

A New Lesson:

Couldn't find anything good job.

The Catalyst's Growth:

Kita has been growing so much through this entire series. She started out as a cowardly person, who would hide when things got tough, and now she is willing to take on a literal Queen to help the people she cares for.

I really like how her character has gradually gone better and better and better and how corellia refuses to admit that that maybe because of her own actions that's people turn out that way. Instead, reasoning that it has to be the demon's trickery, just to help herself rationalize her actions.

The dynamic between Corelia and Kita is so interesting and I hope we see more of it.

Overall:

Well done, can't wait to read more.




RavenAkuma says...


Welcome back! It sounds like everyone was sending the right signals, which is just what I was hoping for (it becomes trickier for me with longer chapters like this). Thanks for taking the time to read and review this one! :D




A snowball in the face is surely the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship.
— Markus Zusak, The Book Thief