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16+ Language Violence

The Forsaken Race - The Hidden Truth: Chapter 11

by RavenAkuma


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

Chapter 11 - The Zyreans

     

   

More time had passed since Kita entered the Blood Forest. The sun was bright in the sky, but thick branches blocked most of the bright rays out. A faint, chilly breeze whipped through the leaves, which were speckled by oncoming autumn colors. Their humid, earthy aroma was pleasant on the nose.

Thus far, the mission was proving difficult. Not just because Kita was always slowing down and checking over her shoulder, but because she struggled to recognize a solid path through the repetitive, lush greenery. 

She was finally able to see some animals on the way, and she recognized most of them. One she was almost excited to see was the ariet; a deer with a brilliant white pelt, long striped tail, and elaborate spiraling antlers. It fled before Kita could get a closer look, but it helped to soothe her rattled nerves a bit.

After checking behind her again, Kita spoke, "Stud, you said that you were a witch's dog. I don't suppose you've learned something about demons before, have you?"

Stud shook his head. "I was so young, there's no way I'd remember. Did your father-"

"No," Kita quickly interfered. "Er, well, I don't know, but I don't want to think about it. I already learned a lot from the books, so I'll make it work."

"I hope so," Stud replied.

Kita stopped and looked around. There was still no sign of demons. There were no more creatures, save for a few spiders and grubs crawling along the trees.

"I feel like we're walking into a trap," Kita murmured. "Try to be alert. We don't want to be attacked. If not by demons, then by a predator."

Stud sneered, "I think the two go hand-in-hand."

Kita sighed, mumbling, "I'm starting to wish I invested in a cursed sword."

"I'm enchanted," Stud remarked. "But I'd rather not be your primary defense in-"

'Snap!'

That simple sound felt like a gunshot. Kita braced her stance and reached for her dagger, while Stud trembled in her shadow. She could hear ferns rustling as something drew near. She felt the dagger in her hand, but she also felt her foot twitching. She didn't know if her instincts were telling her to run or fight.

Until a large rabbit hopped out of the bush.

Kita groaned, while Stud scared the rabbit off by barking.

"How annoying," Kita muttered.

She looked around again, but not even the rabbit was in sight.

Kita kicked a rock out of the way, then angrily pulled out the map. "This isn't making any sense! How much longer do we-"

"Okay, kick another rock at me and you're dead!"

Kita's stomach churned, and she broke into a nervous sweat. From the direction of the rock, someone stepped out from behind a stump, brushing herself off.

The person -if it even was a person- was monstrous. It was a tall, hulking female. She had gray eyes, and her dark brown hair was tied in a ponytail. She was wearing nearly-black shorts, a matching small infinity scarf, and a mint-green shirt that exposed part of her muscular stomach. More concerningly, she had slitted pupils, furless animalian ears, monochrome skin, and three-toed, talon-like feet.

The woman casually gestured to herself. "Surprise. Happy now?"

Kita blinked hard. "One of them..."

The woman smirked. "Look around, dunce."

Sure enough, she watched two more beasts reveal themselves amid the natural coverings of the forest. One was a man with dark blue hair and light blue eyes, wearing a mauve shirt with one yellow sleeve, and dark gray knee-length pants. The other was a tall and hulking man -confusing her as to how he hid so well before- with wild orange hair and peach-pink eyes. He wore a gray jacket, dark burgundy shirt, and dark pants with yellow detailing. They had the same odd traits as the woman.

The blue-haired man clicked his tongue. "You're pretty far off the beaten path, aren't you, mortal?"

Kita felt even more uneasy when she spotted their weapons. The woman had a gold morning star with a blade at the tip. The blue-haired man had a golden sword on his hip. The tall man had what seemed like a big, golden shotgun on his back.

The female beast stepped closer to Kita. The sight of her pointed teeth, flashing as she talked, made the helpless sylph shudder.

"Don't worry. You may not have seen us, but we've been watching for a while. It's not every day we get a lone wanderer, and when we do, they come with armor instead of a talking snowball."

Stud shuddered, hiding behind Kita.

"Now, are you going to keep standing there with that stupid expression, or are you going to say something?"

"Hey, we've been out here long enough," the blue-haired one remarked. "I say we get rid of her."

"P-P-Please don't," Kita stammered. "My name is Kita, and I-"

The woman stomped her foot near Kita, which made the ground shake like an earthquake. Kita bit her tongue and dropped the map in fear. As the woman leaned closer, with a taunting smile to show off her fangs, Kita felt her heart racing with fear.

"We don't give a damn about your name."

Kita gulped, shuddering.

The tall man spoke with his gravelly voice, "Where's the reinforcement?"

On the spot, Kita failed to retrieve anything from her racing thoughts. She could barely remember what these people were, what she was doing here, or even who she was supposed to be in this conflict. She could only hear her heart pounding in her chest, her lungs straining to suck in air. She barely managed to remember that she needed something from them.

"I have not come to harm you, I swear! I've come to help you!"

Silence filled the air, and the demons exchanged many confused glances. Kita suspected them to be thinking, but just a second later, all three of them burst out laughing.

"I mean it!" Kita insisted. "I-I've recently done a lot of research on the Zyreans, and I've become fascinated by your tribe. You seem so strong, and the fact that-"

"Oh, really?" The orange-haired man asked sarcastically.

"Yes, it's true!" Kita remarked. "Immortality and such powerful magic really are a threat to be feared, and I'd like to see more. And maybe, in turn, you could teach me some things about-"

The blue-haired man snickered, "Jem, Scorch, is this not like a pig admiring a slaughterhouse?"

"And some of our traits are impressive," the tall man -Scorch, apparently- said carelessly. "But your obnoxious kind always finds a way to copy or match it, so I don't get what you're gawking at. Besides, agelessness is foreign to you? Have you not met those stupid royals you worship, or the cocky scumbags you have as lieutenants?"

"Enough of this," the woman -Jem- spat. "Tell us why you're here, now."

"B-Because..." Kita's panicked mind failed to find another excuse.

Jem growled, "You have exactly two seconds to give us an answer."

Startled, Kita sputtered, "Th-There are so many reasons, I don't know where to begin. You see I'm looking to distance myself from Corelia so I can get help with something, and I figured that since your territory was the closest, I-"

"What?" Jem retorted. "Forsake your own tribe, then frolic onto our land and ask to stay? As if that makes a lick of sense. A child could come up with a better story."

"And the child would have better manners!" The blue-haired man remarked. "It's rude enough to trespass, but then you started yelling and kicking things! I liked that rock where it was, thank you very much!"

"Zin, bad timing," Jem muttered.

Scorch sneered, "Let's get to the point. Just because you're not an iron-clad soldier, don't expect special treatment. We don't listen to mortals, especially not sylphs, and even more especially Aubade Sylphs. For you, crossing that stream is just begging for trouble, if not a death sentence."

Kita gulped. "But-"

"Enough," Jem hissed. "Let's get rid of her."

Kita didn't need to hear anything else. In a blind panic, she turned and ran as fast as her legs would carry her.

This time, she only wanted to get far away; whether she was on a mission or not, she wanted nothing more to do with these terrifying creatures. Not at the moment.

"Kita, wait for me!" Stud yipped.

Kita felt her sides splitting as she struggled to find the energy left within her. She could hear Stud's light steps behind her, but a series of more menacing sounds proved that she was being followed.

'BLAM!'

A flash of light and dirt flew up in from of her, just where she was about to step. Kita yelped and stumbled backward, her ears ringing so bad that they hurt.

"Damn, that was so close!"

Kita heard Scorch's voice and noticed him standing nearby. He had his shotgun in hand; as he cocked it, the barrel spewed out smoke, and some runes on the side flashed with light. His slit-pupils were thin and his fangs bore a smirk; he was clearly enjoying this.

"What a waste of flesh, even by sylph standards," he taunted.

Seeing him take aim, Kita dashed off without thinking. Another loud gunshot, and the shockwave from behind, indicated that the demon missed her by just inches.

Kita didn't stop there; relief flooded her mind as the red stream came into view, the opposite bank indescribably inviting. She hurled the bag across the water, picked up Stud, and leaped from stone to stone.

As she felt firm land beneath her, Kita's body shut down. She collapsed, paralyzed and gasping for air.

However, when she heard a loud cocking sound, she forced herself to look back.

Scorch was on the other side of the red stream. His gun was aimed and ready to fire, and the other two had just caught up to him.

He growled, "If you're smart, you'll stay on that side of the stream. That rule applies to the..." He nodded toward Stud. "Whatever that is, too."

Kita couldn't even reply. She was still trying to catch her breath, and she feared the wrong words would make him pull the trigger.

Thankfully, though, the demon lowered his gun and retreated. The other two followed, with the blue-haired man making a mocking face on the way. Seconds later, it was like nothing happened. No one else was present, and the only sound was rushing water.

Kita sighed heavily. It was obvious from the start that this task would be difficult, but now it seemed impossible. The mysterious man who had spoken to her last night now seemed right; the demons didn't care about her story.

"This is going to be difficult, Stud."

After receiving no response, Kita glanced at the small dog. He remained silent and stared at her with a bleak expression.

Kita looked disappointed. "You can't talk unless we're on the other side of the stream, huh?"

Stud pawed his ear, as if to say he could still hear.

"We have a lot of work to do," Kita murmured. "Where do I begin?"

Trying to calm down, she retrieved the bag and started walking away from the stream. Stud followed closely.

Kita continued, "They're so much scarier when you're staring them in the face. In hindsight, that was a horrible attempt; I should've made a story beforehand. I guess, despite the books, I was expecting them to be much easier to trick. Like animals."

Not much later, Kita was able to find another hollow a bit further down the stream. It was next to a large pool of crimson water, which the stream led from. Once she formed a very small space, enclosed by stones, logs, and a short ledge in the earth, she made another fire pit. Using another match, she brought back the precious fire, then sat back and watched the soothing orange flames. She was almost entranced, thinking deeply.

Kita was struggling to think of anything beyond the terror of the chase when she noticed the shadows dancing in front of her. She thought she was seeing things again, but then realized that the environment really was dark. When she glanced up, the sky was nearing sunset once again.

Kita flinched. "How long has it been?"

Appropriate for noticing the time, Kita also realized that the adrenaline had worn off, and she was now exhausted. Her muscles felt strained and hard to move, and she just wanted to sleep.

Kita sneered, muttering, "Let's see how this goes. Stud, try to keep an ear out for trouble."

With that, she pulled the bag closer and laid her head on it. The environment was still unnerving, the bed of earth was uncomfortable, the memory of the chase was terrifying, and the thought of the mysterious man was downright traumatizing. Still, she found solace in the warmth of the fire.

"How many times am I going to try this?" Kita murmured. "Before I give up, or before they land a shot? How long will it take to convince them to tell me what I need to hear? How would I even relay the problem?"

She turned on her back to stare through the branches, at the dun sky.

"This whole thing seems like madness. Demons, a secret war, and I was completely oblivious until I forced an answer. I wonder what else is hidden."

     

     

\\\\\

    

     

'tmp-tmp-tmp...'

The sound of footsteps hardly penetrated the massive cavern. Though there was no direct source of light, and the enclosed area was unaffected by day or night, it was somehow bright enough to see through. The cavern's tall walls made it feel inescapable. The many stones protruding from the ground made it difficult to navigate, and the fog not only contributed to that dizzying problem, but also made the air heavy, cold, and moist. A smell like fresh rain against worn stone filled the entire area.

Amid the fog, which stirred whenever something moved through it, one avid searcher paused to get a better look.

The searcher was a Zyrean, of course, and a quite infamous one in the small tribe's ranks. With a bit of a smaller frame, he had light gray skin, and his eyes were a pale seafoam green. His very dark, desaturated green hair was cut jaggedly and fell just above his shoulders. He wore a dark gray shirt, black knee-length pants, and a vibrant red vest with black lining. A black bandolier-style belt ran across his chest. Two overlapping brown belts at his waist sporting a sheathed machete and a small pouch. In his hand, he held a rolled-up piece of worn paper.

"Dammit," he muttered. "Every time I actually need to find him..."

The demon continued running until he finally picked up a noise, his animalian ear twitching as he did. After pursuing it for just a short walk, he found his target. Between the angle and amount of fog, the demon couldn't see as clearly as he liked. Just the other man's outline, leaning against one of the boulders, and the smoke coming from a lit cigar.

"Timbur," the man said in a blunt, monotonous voice.

The smaller demon -Timbur- nodded. "Sorry to bother you this late. You know, you shouldn't be smoking, or Thundur will be mad."

"Only if she finds out," the man muttered. "What does the Blood Forest look like?"

Timbur took a more respectful stance. "It was the same sylph you described. Gray dress, purple hair, and a small white creature. She crossed the stream, but I was sidetracked by some larger-than-normal vermin, so I passed the surveillance mission to the others. They kept an eye on her for a long time before confronting her..." He held up the paper. "We even got a souvenir."

The man extended one hand, and Timbur gave the paper to him. A slight gesture, afterward, prompted him to continue.

"She was a liar," Timbur explained. "The others say it was obvious enough from the rambling she was doing with herself and her creature, but then it became even more obvious after the horrible story she gave when confronted. If this is coming from the three morons, then it must be pretty bad."

"Yes, it is."

"Something else was off. According to Jem, who actually has a good eye for this, the sylph had no urge to defend herself. Even in split-second places where a soldier would manifest some training, she didn't. Her creature is also cursed and started talking on our side of the stream, but she had an unusually extreme reaction to basic witch magic. Combine both those points, and-"

"She's not a soldier," the man muttered. "I am not surprised, but it's better to confirm."

"That leads to another question. If she's not a soldier, then why is she here? I know you picked up some hints, yesterday, but even they don't make sense."

"I also made it very clear what would happen if she crossed. With Aubades, on the rare occasion we run into a bystander, we only have to bear our fangs to make them scatter like roaches. Yet she still had the nerve to enter our territory and lie directly to us."

Timbur sneered, grumbling, "Damn sylphs. You put it best. 'If there was a god worth anything, they would wipe these vile people off the face of the map.'"

"Word for word."

"And we should be able to; that wench on the throne is the problem, and I don't even know how. You're one of the most feared demon leaders to ever be crowned, yet you are somehow kept in a stalemate because of a mortal woman..." He crushed a rock underfoot, huffing, "I swear to gods, Corelia has to lose her head before I die."

Ignoring this, the man asked, "What happened to the sylph?"

Timbur sneered, "Following your orders, she's still alive -unfortunately. They ran her back across the stream, then I checked before coming here. She's camping near the pool."

"Interesting," the man murmured. "Then she plans on returning, despite all of this."

"Obnoxious, narcissistic little twirp," Timbur growled. "Who does she think she is?"

"Obnoxious, she may be. However, it's not every day we get a sylph acting like this. I think it's clear that something is making her do this, yet the odds of it being Corelia are only growing slimmer. This is not a pattern she would be intent on following."

"With or without Corelia, why should we care?"

"For one, it means the risk factor decreases dramatically. Now, if she comes back, continue to restrain yourselves. We won't kill her yet, but questions are in order. Depending on how she answers, she may be useable."

Timbur sighed, "Alright. If she comes back, we'll interrogate her, but we won't attack."

"You only need to focus on the second part."

"Why?"

The man put out his cigar. "Because I'll be the one talking, next time."


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Mon Feb 26, 2024 5:02 pm
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keeperofgaming wrote a review...



OOOOOOOOH Getting spicy.

First Impressions:
Kita should have told the truth. I feel like if she said that she had a strange connection to the symbol of their tribe, then they would have been more curious. Though I also quite like their analogy of the pig admiring the slaughterhouse.

Characters:
Ooh boy this is gonna be long

Kita- Her behavior is interesting and I like how she tried interacting first instead of just fleeing. She also attempted full diplomacy and wanted to get their interest. I feel like that behavior is the only reason the three dunces didn't disobey orders and simply kill her. Her bravery and intellect cements her character pretty well.

The Three Dunces- They are quite funny, given the analogy and uncaringness. Their hostility really cemented how the demons feel about Sylphs, giving us a look into them. I also like how they were partially indecisive about whether or not to attack.

The Man- He is interesting.

... okay. Not as long as I thought.

Overall:
Good job, the story was very well made.




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Fri Jan 26, 2024 2:57 am
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dragonight9 wrote a review...



Hi Raven, finally got around to reading more of your story.

As I'm reading through:

I like how you described the leaves. Up until this point I imagined the forest was all dead black trees. This combined with the animals really made the forest feel a lot more alive than before.

I don't think you needed to add the 'on the way' line here: "She was finally able to see some animals, on the way, and she recognized most of them."

I love how casually the demons revealed themselves. It simultaneously made me freeze in terror and want to burst out laughing. The descriptions of their casual clothing also gave me a non-threatening impression... until one of them offhandedly mentioned killing Kita.

"She could barely remember what these people were, what she was doing her, or..." slight typo when spelling 'her' I think you meant 'here'

How very strange that the demons let Kita go. I very much doubt Kita could outrun them, much less dodge a shotgun. Plus, they left her alone after she crossed the river. Seems like they were trying to scare her away rather than kill her.

I loved Kita's reflection on her lack of preparation before crossing the river. Very realistic.

I don't know why you had Kita sneer before laying down to sleep. Was that your way of saying she was kicking herself?

"Though there was no direct source of light, and the enclosed area was unaffected by day or night, it was somehow illuminated enough to see through."
This felt like a long sentence. I would suggest putting a period after 'night'.

Very interesting atmosphere you created for the meeting. I also like how modern if felt with the mention of the cigar.

Ah, I thought they let her go on purpose. Very interesting. It makes me wonder how the Zyrean view the Sylphs. On one hand they're vermin but on the other hand they would let a civilian Sylph escape?

It is pretty obvious who this man at the end is and I am very excited to see how their interaction plays out.

Overall thoughts:

The first attempt at entering the dark forest and she meets some demons. Not sure if that's good or bad luck for her at the moment but I certainly wasn't expecting to see such key characters so soon.

The descriptions of the demons was not what I was expecting and it makes me want to know more about their culture.

Last thoughts:

I love the pacing of the story so far. You built up the background slowly and in depth but also kept things interesting. Now we're more into the action filled part of the story but you still made sure to describe things thoughly.

Great job! I am so excited to see what happens next!




RavenAkuma says...


Welcome back! Typo noted, as well as the run-on sentences. I didn't realize those were so common in the story so I'm glad you're pointing those out. Anyway, thanks for reading and reviewing! :)



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Thu Jan 18, 2024 8:12 am
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Liminality wrote a review...



Hi Raven! Lim here with a short review!

General Impressions

This chapter left me feeling curious about the demons’ plans. How would Kita be ‘useful’ to them? The one thing that comes to mind if maybe they’ll try to trade her information in exchange for her sabotaging the Aubade Sylphs.
I was kind of excited when she saw the three demons. They seem to be the three from the prologue, given their weapons of choice and general appearance? I also looked up what an infinity scarf was, and it looks like quite a cosy item of clothing for a demon to have on.

Plot

I like that Kita runs into resistance at this point. At first I wondered why the info from Corelia’s books didn’t clue her in enough to plan for the demons to be this way, rather than like animals, but I guess they must have been pretty vague. It’s also hard to perform under pressure! I’m keen to see how she deals with this new challenge and to see her develop as a character.

Characters

I found it believable that Kita was scared of the demons, since they were all armed, said threatening things and then one of them shot his weapon at her. As the reader though, I didn’t feel like they came across as very intimidating characters. Maybe it’s the colourful outfits or how they all converse with Kita for a fairly long time. Like in the prologue, they come across as being someone else’s minions who are just able to bully Kita since she isn’t prepared for combat. At times, they even seem a bit comical like in:

The woman casually gestured to herself. "Surprise. Happy now?"

That might be intentional though, since it looks like they’re not the most powerful demons in the hierarchy.

According to Jem, who actually has a good eye for this, the sylph had no urge to defend herself. Even in split-second places where a soldier would manifest some training, she didn't.

I liked this tidbit in Timbur’s dialogue. It goes to show that Jem at least is more capable.

I do also like that the two demons in the end of the chapter are planning to do something about Kita. It shows that they mean serious business, and also makes me curious about the demons' intentions in general.

Setting

Something else I liked in this chapter was the setting description in the beginning. The way you established the change in weather and how the sky looked helped me imagine the scene. The glimpse we got of the ariet was also cool and adds a sense of wonder to the setting.

Overall

This chapter seems to be setting up something more intense to happen later on. I wonder if Kita will ever be tempted to betray the Aubade Sylphs, since it’s not like most of them have been kind to her and the demons may be good at manipulating people in general. Or maybe she has some other challenge in store for her.

Hope this helps!
-Lim




RavenAkuma says...


Welcome back! Glad you enjoyed, thanks for reading and reviewing! :)




Chickens are honestly little dinosaurs. And they know it.
— ChieRynn