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16+ Language Violence

The Forsaken Race - The Hidden Truth: Chapter 43

by RavenAkuma


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

Chapter 43 - Another Game

                  

                   

Even though it felt like ten days had passed, if not many more, Kita couldn't tell for certain.

Just as the twins had implied, she was trapped in a cage at the bottom of the so-called 'Oculus Cavern.' The space was small, a mere cut-out in the wall of the cavern, with not even a designated place to sit. There was no way to see the sky or sunlight, so without a clock, it was impossible to keep track of time. Outside the vertical steel bars, a thick layer of fog obscured the area, and several pointed stones poked out of the weathered ground. The cold, humid air made the stone surroundings even more uncomfortable.

Worst of all, every now and again, she could hear terrible noises. Deep scratching, like stone grinding against glass, as well as deep growls that vibrated the stone. Not like a standard forest beast, as it was heavily distorted and fuzzy. Sometimes, it would get to the point where she could see the fog churning as something ran through it. Heavy shadows would dance against its white canvas, and sometimes, she could swear she saw eyes piercing through.

But nothing ever came to her in full. As well as the constant isolation, lack of sleep, and having no sense or control of her surroundings, that proved more of a challenge to Kita's sanity than she could've ever expected.

Especially since, the longer she stared, the more she could see even more unnatural things. Silhouettes would corner her vision, and sometimes, there were even glimpses of the bloody claws and black eyes of the other beast she had come to fear. These flashes were so temporary and vague that she was almost certain they were fake, unlike the noises which she could brush off as whatever 'Echo' was supposed to be. However, the doubt was persistent, and it had become the biggest obstacle to her stability.

The only saving grace was the regular check-ins from the demons. Usually one of the warriors, with the rare manifestation of Seyber or Timbur. One check was in the morning and one was at night -supposedly. They didn't last long, but it was better than pure nothingness.

She also couldn't tell if any of their opinions had changed. Jem and Zin seemed annoyed and very standoffish. Seyber was uncharacteristically quiet and always eager to leave. Scorch was the most neutral force; he wasn't as fazed by the region, heard out her story, and even snuck her a small blanket. He wasn't extremely friendly about it, but was far from hostile. Meanwhile, Timbur would turn hostile for little to no reason. Instead of getting upset, Kita would laugh off the situation due to the stark contrast between those two brothers.

After a long time lying toward the back of her cell, Kita sighed, "It could be worse."

She glanced outside, but nothing was different. Predictable, but unexpectedly annoying.

"At least 'Echo' is keeping his distance..." Kita sighed, "I hope they'll let me out soon. They wouldn't forget about me, right? No, that's ridiculous. Unless..."

Kita continued to ponder madly in silence, exchanging questions in her own mind.

Until she heard an unusual noise in the distance.

She bit her tongue and listened. Though she would hear several random noises throughout the long hours, this noise was louder. It was like a distorted chortle, lighter than the growls and grunts she normally picked up.

"Hello?" Kita called. "Is there a person out there?"

Silence.

Kita got up and approached the bars. She tried to get a better look at the area, checking from every angle she could manage, but she saw nothing. Eventually, though, she heard more of the strange noises.

"Please don't be a beast," Kita mumbled. "Please don't be a beast..."

In her head, flashes of the tower incident passed her by; she could still see the pitch-black eye, the flexing claws, and the gleam of the dagger as it nearly struck her right in the face. She could smell the blood, hear the whimpers of pain, and feel the horrible dark aura.

Worse yet, she could remember all the warnings. She didn't know why, but it all came crashing back down, paralyzing her with dread and mental cacophony.

Thankfully, with the sound of a very faint 'thud,' she was drawn back to reality. She didn't remember moving, yet found herself flattened against the back of the cave.

"Are you this much of a coward?"

Kita flinched, almost screaming. When she came to her senses, she saw Leiytning beside the cell, carelessly sharpening his claws with his silver ritual-style dagger. The sight of either made Kita uneasy, but she managed to hide it.

"Just you..." Kita gulped. "Sorry, I-I kept hearing strange noises, and I thought y-" She bit her tongue, hesitating. "I thought something was after me."

Leiytning sheathed the dagger. "And what would that be?"

Kita took this moment to think. She wondered if confronting the issue head-on would prove fruitful. After all, she knew there was more to it, but she didn't want to tamper with any dangerous, unpredictable forces.

When she didn't respond, Leiytning continued, "For the record, this is usually my retreat, so you're the anomaly here."

"S-Sorry..." Kita cleared her throat. "Well, I've already heard rumors that even the fortress will get vermin from time to time."

"Nothing dares to enter this area," Leiytning responded. "In that regard, you're safe."

"And Echo?" Asked Kita. "Something that could provide a bit of 'bloodshed'?"

"In large part, that was said to satisfy Thundur and Timbur, and to ensure this stay would be miserable for you."

"It worked, alright," Kita murmured. "But what does it mean?"

Leiytning didn't immediately respond. After a moment, he stepped away from the bars, facing the fog. After he whistled, she heard the same eerie, distorted chortle. Then, not long after, the fog churned as something large approached.

Before long, a large beast crept between two of the pointed stones. It kept its head low, as if wary of the new presence. Its almost feline body shape didn't match the slightly pointed snout on its head, nor its pointed dark gray ears. Its tail was long and moved like a whip behind it. Most unusually, it had a pelt of what seemed like blackened glass shards, and its white eyes were almost glowing. Its jagged, glassy claws scraped the ground as it walked, creating the distinct grinding sound Kita recognized.

Something about this creature, from its towering size to its many choices of weapons, immediately put Kita in a state of fear and dread. She was frozen in place as her heart pounded in her chest, and her breaths became almost stagnant.

She managed to stammer, "Wh-What..."

"Echo," Leiytning said flatly. "Consider him an old friend of mine."

"'Friend'?" Kita repeated.

"Much like us, his kind became a target, but by far more than the Aubades. They were hunted to near extinction, and now Echo is the last of his species, the Black Oculus. It's long been my job to ensure his survival. Others find it futile, even dangerous to keep him around. Half of my siblings would have killed him long ago. However, as with many misunderstood creatures in this world, he holds more significance than a mere pet or intimidation tactic."

Kita tried to look closer at the beast, but it stepped further away, to where the fog almost hid it.

Leiytning continued, "He's intelligent enough to recognize people, and he understands multiple languages, specific types of magic, battle strategies for specific scenarios, and the most responsible methods to hunt. Though apparently, that's something only I can figure out."

Just barely calming down, Kita took one step closer to the bars. Echo immediately lowered himself and stepped closer, as if defensive. She quickly froze again.

"Why don't the others like him?" Asked Kita.

She noticed an atypical look in Leiytning's sunken eye, which she didn't know how to interpret -almost like he was trying to read her.

"Echo is a beast. He came from notorious creatures that actually could be seen as a threat. Oculi may be smart, but at their roots, they are aggressive hunters. They have to kill to survive, whether it means sustenance or self-defense. They evolved from monsters of both real and spiritual varieties, and they retain dark magic. Even though these traits are more common than people realize, none of them are commonly viewed as good ones."

Prompted by one slight gesture, Echo stepped closer, stopping behind the leader and keeping his head low. It was almost mimicking a bow.

"But as you can see, not one of those traits is the sum of a being. They may have a slight effect, but as long as someone has enough headspace to act above basic instinct, it should be minor -if not entirely cosmetic. Similar to a demon's roots having nothing to do with how the vast majority of us go about living. Having fangs, claws, and a lack of common mortal anatomy is not nearly as influential as, per se, a violent war and personal attacks. Just as evil is rarely bound in blood, but something that develops through exterior corruption, grim rhetoric, and evil actions."

Though Kita had vague ideas of this already, that final summation hit her hard. For once, she didn't just feel wrong in her prior assumptions about the demons, but guilty.

"Leiytning..." Kita hesitated. "For a moment, when I first found Seyber in the dungeon, I heard her say something to Corelia. She said that there was a time when you were trying to de-escalate the war with the Aubades, in defiance of your last leader."

Leiytning seemed much less fond of the thought. "In a time where we had a kingdom, an army, and weapons and magic that were enough to make legends. Thundur and I are the only 'legend' we have left, and as you well know, it's not a positive one. Remember what I told you, when you were alone that night in the Blood Forest. Yes, it was exaggerated to intimidate you, but there is truth to the statement..." His tone turned much darker. "We have nothing left, and as long as Corelia is alive -quite possibly as long as the Erxina line continues, we have no choice."

Kita searched his words for the malice and hatred she remembered when hearing about this war's history. However, there was little if any. Just a blatant truth that was as cold as the words it was made from. She knew there had to be another way; she knew there had to be more. But now was not the time to search it out. Now was the time for her to regain the trust she had severed.

Kita sighed, "I'm sorry for everything. Not just what happened with Corelia, but for being so much trouble, and causing so much conflict between you. Instead of genuinely trying to prove myself and earn my place, I was stubborn, and I viewed you all as just a means to an end. Sometimes worse, because of what Corelia was telling me."

With another gesture, Echo headed back into the foggy cavern.

"And moving forward?" Leiytning spoke.

"I'll try to do better," Kita said firmly. "I'll find a way to help you, even."

Another voice spoke, "Here's to hoping that's not a load of gloom shit."

Kita noticed Thundur approaching from the right, clearly annoyed by the situation.

The spirit-walker sighed, "Ten days are up."

Kita laughed nervously, "It's hard to keep track. Well, I'll be happy to get out of here. Is there anything I should be doing, once I'm back on the beach?"

"Sit quietly and prove you're not going to betray us again," Thundur retorted. "That's the best you can do."

"I guess that works," Kita mumbled.

Thundur turned to her brother, crossing her arms. "And why did I just see the oculus walking around?"

"Why is it walking?" Leiytning repeated. "Because it's alive and has legs, I don't know what to tell you."

Kita restrained a laugh, whereas Thundur looked even more annoyed, one ear twitching.

"You know it's not supposed to be out!" She snapped. "We have a deal, remember? Let the mortal out, then throw that beast in its cage."

"Harpy," Leiytning muttered.

In a flash of dark mist, a key stone appeared in his hand. As it fitted into a small divet at the center of a rune outside the cell, the bars turned black, then completely vanished. Kita stepped out and stretched a bit.

"Alright, follow me," Thundur said carelessly. "And try not to talk too much."

Kita looked uneasy, but scurried to keep up with her. She looked back once, but Leiytning was already gone, likely busy with the second task.

Despite the warning to stay quiet, Kita had to ask, "What happened while I was away? Also, do you know if Stud is still here?"

"Your rat has made no appearances, and if it does, it's as good as dead. Also, didn't I tell you to be quiet?"

Kita sighed, thinking to herself, Stud probably returned to Mao and Yuna, which was the best path for him. Right now, it stings to see Thundur so mad at me. She was helping me out for a while there, and her favor would be invaluable going forward. How do I...

It clicked, and Kita gasped, "I know! How about another game? I know you like them."

"Are you joking?" Thundur retorted. "You're in that cell because of the first 'game' you pulled."

"I know," Kita insisted. "I'm really, really sorry about that, and if everything following didn't teach me a lesson, that awful stay in the cell did. I'm talking about a genuine deal, with no ulterior motives at all. You can follow me the whole way -get multiple people to follow me, even Leiytning. That should help, right?"

Thundur's eye narrowed. "What kind of 'game'?"

"Alright..." Kita stopped to think. "Give me a mission. The task can't just be anything, though. I have to prove myself, so make it hard. Not impossible, of course, but a challenge that will prove myself to you."

"Interesting enough..." Thundur shrugged her shoulders. "As much as I'd love to simply throw you into the middle of an orc raid, I believe I already have a perfect task in mind for you."

"Name your price," Kita agreed.

There was a small glint in Thundur's empty amber eye. Kita could tell she was amused, but whether that was good or bad for her, she couldn't tell yet.

"Okay," Thundur murmured. "I'll tell you the details later."

"Why not now?" Asked Kita.

"I want to see your reaction. But consider this game on."

Kita tried not to overthink it, refocusing on the path. She didn't even realize that the Hex Den was straight ahead of them. She was quick to follow Thundur through the den, then the entrance tunnel.

At the Dead Beach, the bright sands nearly blinded her, even obscuring the dark water, ramshackle cabin, and gray stone cliffs. The fragrant ocean breeze was so familiar by now that it was almost comforting.

Then, Kita saw a surprise. It wasn't just sand that she was stepping in and being blinded by. There were thin piles of snow speckled about the beach, and parts of the dark water's shoreline were frozen over. The air was cold enough to make her shiver, and the sky was riddled with dark gray clouds.

"It's cold out here," Kita murmured.

"Yes, that happens in winter," Thundur said cynically. "What, is even the weather backward in Sybilius?"

"N-No, but..." Kita looked around in shock. "It's already winter? Have I been here that long?"

"It's still transitionary, now enough gawking. We leave in about half an hour. Be ready."

Kita nodded. "Okay. See you then."

With a confident expression, Thundur retreated back through the fortress entrance. Kita took her time walking to the shack, a worried expression crossing her face.

As she reached the door and stepped inside, the rough feel of the wood and stale air immediately brought her back. Even though Stud was absent, she had the urge to speak.

"I am nervous about what she has planned, but I can't go back to Sybilius. While I do miss the sylphs I really care about, it won't be the same. Everything has been corrupted in that place. Besides, I can't leave the demons like this. I want to help them."

Her fists clenched.

"Both leaders have things I can look at fondly, and things I wish I could purge from my memory. Corelia's pure callousness, and admission that she'll kill even the least threatening Zyreans to get through this, isn't something I can overlook. Leiytning is a far cry from kind or charming like she is, but at least he was honest. For the most part..."

Kita took a deep breath and lay down by the window, taking in the calm environment. The wind whistling through the cracked glass, the scent of the wood and saltwater, and the crash of ocean waves against not just the shore, but the thin sheets of ice.

"I guess I'll just keep trying, and hope for the best."

              

               

\\\

                

                   

In half an hour's time, the mission had begun, but Kita was already feeling uneasy.

As she crash-landed on the opposite side of the portal, she cursed under her breath. Now she was in the Blood Forest, its greenery ravaged by the late autumn-early winter season, and her head was sore from the impact on its earth. Wet leaves stuck to her all over.

On top of that, it was obvious that Thundur was trying to get under her skin. The group she got stuck with consisted of the three demons who hated her most. Thundur herself, as well as Timbur and Zin.

"Why would this idiot be useful to us?" Timbur ranted.

Kita glared up at Timbur. Though she still feared his threats, she was starting to get used to them, just enough to talk back. Only a little bit, of course.

Kita groaned, "Why do you have to remark on everything I do?"

Timbur grabbed her by the collar, growling, "Why don't you quit sniveling and prove me wrong, pipsqueak? If you can even manage that."

"And try not to get anyone kidnapped this time," Zin said bitterly.

Kita very narrowly held in the words she so desperately wanted to retort with, thinking them strongly in her head.

Who are you calling pipsqueak?! I'm taller than you, tiny!

From behind, Thundur nudged her. "Ready?"

Kita nodded. "Tell me what I'm doing."

With a cocksure smirk. Thundur explained, "The sylphs have been sending a lot of patrols and scouts into this forest lately, which isn't a typical pattern. Corelia wants you back, and you may claim she's an enemy now, but you could probably reverse that with enough work."

"I don't want to," Kita argued. "Corelia lied to me, tortured two good people, and to top it off, I have some unexplainable madness that leaves me terrified and seeing shadows every time I go back to Sybilius!"

"Let's test that," Thundur said tauntingly. "If you're so convinced that you belong with us, then I'm sure you wouldn't mind handling tonight's patrol, would you?"

Kita flinched. "What? Me, fighting sylph warriors? That's impossible, look at me!"

"You said it had to be difficult. Get rid of the group of sergeants in any way you like. Hell, you don't even have to get rid of them; we'll clear them out if you fail. The trick is that you must confront the head, usually a commander. Tricky, but not impossible, especially when they'll be busy trying to talk you into coming back. I don't want you to play nice, I want you to harm him. Take lethal measures if you want."

Kita felt her blood turn to ice, infesting her skin with goosebumps.

"Harming a commander? 'Lethal measures if wanted.' I wasn't used to violence even before all of this; I understand it a little more now, but still..." She cringed and sighed, "This is hard."

"So hard that you'll back out?" Thundur interrogated. "Hmph. Predictable."

Kita blurted out, "No!"

"Don't waste our time," Thundur said sternly. "Are you going to choke?"

"I..." She hesitated. "I-I'll do it."

She pulled her silver dagger from her boot. Thundur had returned it to her, as well as some of her other things, before they left.

"I'll make it work. Somehow..."

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Fri May 24, 2024 3:11 am
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keeperofgaming wrote a review...



When I smiled:

That was a cool discussion about the ocul. Echo seems like a generally interesting creature.I am really interested to learn more about it. I also like that while Kita was originally scared, as her understanding grew, so did her care and admiration of the creature very similar to the Zyreans. Also, Leiytning's passion about the creature was so kind and shows his true nature. A kind and caring person.

I also like that. The multiple of the Demons are still somewhat friendly, but also cautious like Scorch giving a blanket while the others are still stand offish. Some are even threatening and Seyber, still feeling uncomfortable, but still wanting to be friendly. It shows that the demons do someone actually care for her instead of seeing her as just another sylph despite how much they want to.

And I like how Thunder made a game and accepted Kita's challenge, showing she also wants to keep her around as well. As her want to make sure that her family will not be in danger. It shows a very deep aspect of her character and how she's grown throughout the series. I also like that. She made it to fully test that Kita's dedication to the Zyreans while simultaneously helping her cut off from the Sylphs.

A Line to Remember:

Kita very narrowly held in the words she so desperately wanted to retort with, instead thinking them strongly in her head.

Who are you calling pipsqueak?! I'm taller than you, tiny!


This shows just how comfortable she is with the demons while simultaneously understanding she needs to gain back their trust. It shows a deep maturation of her character while simultaneously giving us a glimpse into how guilty she is about the whole situation.

A New Lesson:

Couldn't find anything good job.

The Catalyst's Growth:

This is going to be kind of short since I already covered most of it in the previous sections.

Kita's growth throughout the series is culminating all into one point her further understanding of the zyreans and the sylphs, while simultaneously building her character, her skills and her want to defend others and bring Justice. This shows how her character is growing in several ways. And how she's learning how to tolerate a new family. Someone that she would literally die for she is put in many situations and it's all culminating to this next event. Good job.

Overall:

I cannot wait for the next part.




RavenAkuma says...


Welcome back! I'm happy to hear you enjoyed the oculus, and all the impressions from the demons! Thanks once again for your great reviews, much appreciated! :D




Half the work that is done in this world is to make things appear what they are not.
— Elias Root Beadle