Whereas there had previously been a powerful force pushing the temperature downwards, now this huge bolt, a car size block, really, of burning, incandescent metal ripped downwards, railing against the cold and holding it back. Such was the proximity to the Yeti that its eyes could only widen, and a few dozen bulbs rushed forward to block.
But the bolt punched through, and even as it was cooling, it still remained a very large, very dense chunk of metal.
It was so large that it pretty much was the same size across as the Yeti’s body, and smashed it into the wall of the tower, which trembled. Then, both the bolt and the Yeti began to fall.
Unfortunately, from the way the Yeti was blinking, it was not dead, but Randidly couldn’t really care. As he felt his mana wither and still inside of him, cut off by the after effects of using Inspire, he only felt profoundly tired. It was time to go home. He turned back towards Shal, who was standing next to the portal, and felt a pang in his chest.
To Randidly, home was Donnyton. But it was not yet time to return there. There was more to do here, on this world, for Shal.
Teliph shook his head. “What was that strange thing?”
“A diversion.” Shal said coolly. He waited until Randidly walked over and then beckoned to them all. “Grab each other’s hands. It is the only way for us all to cross at once. Do not be shy. Come, it is time to break out of here.”
As the alarm began to sound, Helen looked sharply up. “Holy fucking shit. They actually are doing it.”
“Do not speak so quickly. Perhaps it is just another training exercise.” Divveltian said wryly, but he was standing too, from the first time since they had come here a few days ago, his expression a mixture of wonder and worry.
The male spear attendant walked out of their small bedding area, yawning, scratching his ass. Helen restrained the part of her that wanted to rip him to pieces, and settled on a scathing glare. That seemed to get the message across, because the fool jumped up, and then ran back into his sleeping quarters, quickly putting on his armor.
An explosion sounded from the prison portal area, and there were shouts, in addition to the ringing alarm. Divveltian’s face fell.
“They seem… a bit more spirited than I would have expected. We must go.” He ran and leapt off the roof on which they were staying. Helen waved her hand and gathered all of their things into her interspatial ring, revealing a partially dressed male spear attendant, and then leapt after him. A split second later, the other spear attendant followed, mostly out of necessity, Helen suspected.
The coward didn’t want to be left behind.
They raced along the ground towards the high walls. Luckily, most of the guards were distracted by what was happening within the fortification, and didn’t notice their approach and ascent. They quickly knocked the nearby guards out, careful to inflict no lasting harm. It wouldn’t do to earn the ire of the First Spear of Tomkat.
Well, at least anymore than they already would by doing this, Helen thought, with a gleeful little smile on her face. Then they waited, as the commotion slowly made its way towards their position by the gate. Only a minute later, Shal ripped around the corner, followed by the Ghosthound, and 2 men and a woman. They all had grim faces, and the Ghosthound’s spear was covered in blood.
As soon as they appeared, Divveltian gestured wildly, and Helen and the male spear attendant began to heave on the wheels of the gate, slowly opening it. After a few moments of exertion, they stopped, because all they needed were those few inches. The escapees ran forward, their speed filling Helen with a sense of awe. She couldn’t help but notice how the Ghosthound had somehow seemed to become more… dense. That was the only word that she could think of to describe it. He seemed…. not more compact, but more self contained and controlled.
But there was a strange volatile energy to his movements she didn’t remember. And to be honest… it made her eyes linger, and something primal in the back of her mind have a very certain kind of hunger.
Still, now wasn’t the time, and she tore her eyes away from the lines of his lean muscle to scan the sky. Which was convenient, for she saw a middle aged man appear, looking down at them all as if he were regarding ants.
“Impudent.” The word echoed out, and it seemed as if the sky had suddenly filled with thousands of glistening spears, pointing down towards them, hanging over them like a death sentence. But as soon as that image appeared, there was a snort, and that image was battered by the image of the apparition of death standing over them all, cloaked and stooped. Then that figure turned and gazed at the middle aged man, its bony face locked into a crazed grin.
Shal sailed upwards, shooting to meet the middle aged man, while the rest continued to rush towards the gate.
The middle aged man chuckled. “Heh, your image is as formidable as promised, Shal of the Spear Phantom Style. But as you are not yet an Adept- “
A strand of music filled the air, strangely beautiful and melancholy, like a lost child. Beside her, Divveltian flexed his fingers. The middle aged man was smashed to the side with a grunt, knocking him out of the sky and towards the ground.
Although the blow was unexpected, he managed to regain his footing, so he landed softly on the ground, rather than crashing into it. He gazed at Divveltian with a complicated expression. “You… That is not a style that belongs to the Spearman School. Sir Adept, who- grkk!”
Once more, the middle aged man was interrupted as a spear pierced through his body. He looked on, aghast, at the apparition of death that stood mockingly before him, grinning. Shal floated downward, his arms crossed.
The middle aged man’s face tightened. “If you were an Adept this whole time, why would you allow yourself to be imprisoned-”
“I had my reasons.” Shal said coolly. Behind him, the Ghosthound and the other escapees passed through the gate and continued running. Divveltian gave Helen a meaningful glance, and she grabbed the male spear attendant and leaped after them
Shal regarded the man in front of him carefully. He was still the First Spear of Tomkat, a very experienced Adept. If he truly wanted to turn this into a fight…
But from the tightly controlled fury in the man’s eyes, he was still willing to back down from all of this. Inwardly, Shal felt some of his own fury begin to disperse.
“We will leave now. Do not follow us.” Shal said calmly, and the fury in that man’s eyes sparked.
“But who will pay the debt that is owed for the lives of my men?” The First Spear said, spitting out the words. “Two adepts are powerful, in tandem, but if you think I cannot-”
“In 6 months, if I yet live, I will return.” Shal said calmly. “At that time, you may hold my life in your hands a week for every guard that has died.”
The First Spear seemed to wilt, closing his eyes. True, this was a proud man, but this was also a man that had a deep, abiding loyalty for those beneath him. Tomkat was a proud town, a polished, strong town. Shal and his student had done much to unravel that strength. It would be difficult to recover from.
Still, the temptation of having another Adept beneath him was too much. The First Spear nodded. Which was for the best. For as Shal turned and began to lope away, the dizziness started, his vision swimming. He gritted his teeth and made it through the gate. He had heard the rumors, sure, but it was quite another thing entirely to feel the effects of Aether Starvation. It made Shal wonder whether he would be recovered in time to exact revenge, if he ever had the chance to do so.
Divveltian fell in beside him, giving him a knowing glance. Shal grinned as best he could. “You finally have seen the path? Congratulations on becoming an Adept. If I had known, I wouldn’t have barged onto your boat-”
“I wasn’t.” Divveltian said calmly. “Not until that student of yours produced that strange… energy. It helped me see my image more clearly than anything I have ever encountered.”
Shal fell into brooding silence for the rest of their run, even as they passed the others, and gathered into a larger group. They continued running for several hours, until they were at a small clearing halfway between Tomkat and Qtal. They likely would not be disturbed here.
So, shoulders heaving, Shal walked up to Randidly. “Why did you kill the guard?”
His disciple’s face tightened, and he just shrugged helplessly. Shal chopped down with his hand, faster than his disciple could react to, shattering the fool’s collarbone. To his credit, Randidly didn’t make a sound, and barely trembled from the blow, simply enduring it passively. Which somehow made the punishment unsatisfying.
The rest of the group stood around, looking at the ground. The new spear attendant and the female one seemed to be having a gaze standoff, as they attempted to determine their relative status underneath Randidly. As Shal struggled to control his anger, he tried to clarify his issue.
“As we exited the prison. There was a guard. You killed him.” Shal kept his voice low, and even.
In his disciple’s eyes, he saw the whole story, the flash of bitterness, then the anger, then the smooth resignation. When his disciple answered, his voice was low and casual in a way that made Shal sick. “…Yes. If he didn’t raise the alarm. It would be easier to escape. It was necessary.”
“It was necessary…?” Shal said slowly, savoring every syllable. In that moment, he didn’t see his disciple. He saw an image far in the past, years after Shal and his brother had giggled and whispered about the Spear with the Poisonous Fangs Style, his brother, his spear wet with blood, standing defiantly over that young girl’s body, Lucrecia standing next to him.
It was necessary.
“You don’t understand the value of a life,” Shal said coldly, advancing towards his disciple, fury pumping through his veins like blood.