Orphan At The Edge Of The World Chapter 62Unexpectedly, the leader looked at Orison and said in Old Northlander, "I will not speak the unclean tongue but you may. Hearing a filthy, slant ear blooded Highlander speak in our words sickens me."
Pushing the anger down Orison said, "If I heal your wolf, will you withhold your attack and let me hear about who crossed your border?"
The leader said, "I will stay my hand while you heal my wolf kin. When you are done you'll have my ear. Nothing more do I promise."
Orison thought to himself, "If I didn't need time to heal myself and an excuse to do it in front of you, I wouldn't p*ss on you to put out a fire."
The young mage pulled out two flasks and said, "One is for stamina and one is for healing. Your kin will need both. I will take half in front of you so that you'll know they're safe. Is this acceptable?"
Orison was already drinking while the leader said, "Do what you need and be quick. The night grows thin."
As Orison turned to the beast, it's two companions protectively flanking and ready to harm at his approach, the young mage reminded the leader that healing isn't possible for him to administer if he's being torn apart while trying to do it. Reluctantly, the Forgotten leader issued a sharp order that drew unwilling but obedient whines from the two wolves. They laid down but watched Orison with menace in their eyes.
With a little slight of hand, the young mage switched out the flask of 'Best He' for a watered down version that had a flashy magical healing kick and little else. The flask of triple threat magic restoration was replaces by a dregs vigor potion. After pouring them into two of the three bowls he carried for travel, he used a stick on the ground to push them towards the injured wolf. Stepping back, he let the wolf decide what it wanted to do as he focused on getting a decent reserve back and seal up the cracks in his mangled innards.
The shock was wearing off and Orison felt like he might have passed out and died shortly after if it had taken much more time to sneak in his healing. The mask was the only saving grace from his enemy realizing that the time bought to heal his wolf was letting Orison return to a decent fighting state. A sinking feeling in Orison's gut told him that this man wasn't interested in getting the right person, the Forgotten leader just wanted an excuse to step out of his border to kill.
Knowing that bloodshed was just around the corner, Orison wondered why the Forgotten leader was being so patient. Sure, having another dire wolf in the fight would be a good thing for the leader but something felt off. Then it dawned on the young mage. If they fought as it was, there would be heavy casualties. Orison had no doubt that the man thought he would win but who would want to lose their men in a fight if there was a better option.
Looking back at Gan, the young mage's fear was confirmed. The scout wasn't looking at the enemies in front of them, he was looking nervously behind them, into the inky darkness of the shadowed ridge trail. Things were looking like they were about to go from bleak to hopeless. Orison had brought these men here for a glimpse of a brighter day and instead showed them a gate to the Abyss. Magic, conduit, items from his space, Orison had nothing in his arsenal that was going to be able to ensure a purely positive outcome. Survival itself was in question, at least the way they were at that moment.
Orison turned to Freki and said under his breath, "If I did everything I could to allow you and your men to walk away from this, would you consider it a fair gesture in exchange for the road? You and your men, I admire the spirit of your pack and want you as ally to my clan."
Freki laughed darkly, "We're here because of you. Don't you think we already expect you to do everything you can to allow us to walk away from this?"
Orison said, "There is a difference between everything as I am and everything I 'could'. The first is bloody and dangerous with little chance of a hopeful outcome. The second is still bloody and dangerous but my time here will be done. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
Before the alpha could respond, the Forgotten leader looked at them with narrowed eyes as a new arrival stepped out of the shadows to whisper something to the aboriginal Northlander.
The leader laughed and said, "I owe you my ear, Highlander."
In a swift motion, the man hacked off his left ear and threw it at Orison. "This will not be as fun as chasing down a herd of Highland sheep nearly four years ago but it will spark fire in the blood just the same."
He and his men chuckled and looked as if they were reliving a fond memory. One even went so far as to brag about the woman he raped before gutting her. The leader brought them back to focus with the order to make new stories on this day as he smiled wickedly, blood trickling down the left side of his head where an ear used to be.
Something deep within Orison's soul flared at the leader's comment. Releasing his suppressed potential to ensure their retreat at the cost of his remaining time was no longer enough. Having the pack as allies no longer mattered. The safety of his companions became a dim but present sentiment. This man and at least two of his followers were with the people who had turned Orison into an orphan and peaceful or safe solutions were not going to give the young mage what he suddenly wanted more than anything else in the world at that moment.
Within a state of furious instinct, as the first volley of arrows flew from front and behind rained down on the vastly outnumbered group, Orison summoned the Danann Key to him. There was nothing to be unlocked here but himself and he did. Two thirds of the crystal ring evaporated in molten sparks. One of the three large eternium crystal fingers whined and cracked. Orison wrested the kinetic shield into a barrier whose empowering model was drawn with a faint and sparse presence of crystal dust in the air as eldritch whispers flitted past his subconscious.
Hidden potential boiled to the surface and though Orison could not see it, all under the protection of his barrier witnessed the sandy blond of the young mage's hair fade to a luminescent mythril, the edges of his ears drew to a finer point. Under the metamorphosis empowered by the Danann Key, Orison revealed to those present what the fate of the lost tribe of half elves truly was.
Through the singing whispers and sparks of ghostly blue nestling into the cells of his body, infiltrating and claiming his inner space, the young mage realized that the blood of his ancestors was not of this world. They were not the harmonious and nature loving creatures of fantasy but the alien minded and capricious creatures of old lore. What the Danann Key had unlocked within him was not half of what they are but a small fraction. With the dim and nearly illusionary vessel he possessed in comparison to that legacy, unlocking any more of the mysteries inside him would not only be suicidal but impossible. He would need a great deal more 'fertilizer' to sacrifice to the key than he currently had.
Internally he had mocked the old obsidian elf architect for the man's assessment of being able to possibly touch the feet of of the ancient elves' achievement if Orison gave his all. With what he felt now, if anything, that was an understatement. The elves of this world were only pale, world shaped echoes of that race's glory and the Highlanders may be their true b*****d legacy here but the low dimensional vessels of that race's wistful dalliances could only carry a fragile seed of their potential. It was a seed that the greedy world had let flourish for a small time before reaping and devouring it.
Under the heady influence of that alien race's equally damned and divine bloodline, Orison's rage and hatred transformed into an ethereal song of cosmic destruction in his veins. Dire wolves and warriors were swarming around the blue dome, eating away its sprinkle of eternium invested power as two semi-sentient earth elementals with glowing azure eyes and a flicker of blue flame in their chests stormed out of the barrier. The transformed golems sprang forth to bring calamity upon those who would dare to raise their sharp toys at their creator.
The sub-mind coolly reflected that the legends of the ancient elves' ambivalence was likely a misunderstanding of the discipline they exercised to keep their strong emotional impulses from self destructive behavior. It calmly watched as the sacrament of the world sizzled like butter in a hot pan on the spiritual spectrum. For a fraction of a second, it split it's attention from maintaining the model of the overcharged golem under it's control to send a spike of logic driven imperative through the red cloud of rage to remember the bowl of fat with traces of sacrament within it. Orison called the bowl of regenerative fat out of his space and liberally smeared it on his face and neck before tossing it at Rithus.
"Anoint yourselves, break the shackles of this world, rend their flesh and souls with me!" the young mage said, lost to the insanity of blood-lust as he dashed out of the barrier to physically intercept a bolt of crimson streaked black energy cast by an enemy shaman.
Like a fanatic in the throws of religious ecstasy, Rithus scraped the bowl and started smearing as the Marshlander rushed out of the circle with supernatural speed, a dark fog beginning to roil out from his pours. With anxiety and a growing fear for the safety of his 'Little Boss', Gan took a modest dollop and smeared it on his head before rubbing the rest around his hands. With the pitiful amount remaining, the youngest of the pack, caught up in the excitement, came over and sniffed at the bowl before eating the little that was left. In the nick of time, Freki pointed the agitated wolf the opposite direction before he let go and called the rest of the pack to join him.
On one side or the empty standing barrier, archers and warriors coming back from a raid elsewhere were desperately attempting to strafe around fang and claw. On the other, raging fire, darting shadow and living stone were carpeting the surprised and slightly panicking Forgotten. Seeing the situation completely spiral out of control, the leader shouted for a cease of hostility and a talk of peace but Orison was beyond caring. Of all the people here, the leader, the braggart rapist and and his chuckling companion were going to die or Orison was going to die trying to kill them.
On the fourth casting of fireball, three melee fighters with ax and shield closed in on him, covered in a glassy shimmer of magical energy. Orison jumped up, abandoning the casting to pop an unstable and sloppy levitation he had far from gotten the hang of but gave him the lift he needed none the less. Switching gears, he cast a violet fireball down instead, laughing as their skin cooked in the short burst of radiation. An arrow took the young mage under his left shoulder blade, piercing beyond the protection of his mask. The pain and sudden limitation of movement caused him to lose concentration and he fell back down, breaking the arrow shaft and driving the head into the bottom of his lung.
The Danann Key blazed to life, driving the arrowhead out and half repairing the wound, leaving potion and enchanted equipment to do the rest. Distracted by trying to follow where the willful orb was disappearing to, Orison failed to note that one of the severely 'sun-burnt' men was cognitive enough to swing their ax. Reflexively, Orison raised his left arm to block it, losing his left hand from the mid forearm down. The bloom of shock sobered up Orison's fevered rage but made him lose sight of the key's path.
Before the burnt man could make a second swing, a silver longsword took him through the neck. Gan appeared in front of the young mage as a flash of silvery green light manifested a mountain lion that dove to maul another of the burnt assailants. With the momentary full cover, Orison grabbed his severed hand, cast a presto to clean it and his wound then stuck it in best alignment possible after swiping the grizzly end over the excess glob of fat on his forehead.
While casting a healing to ensure his hand would stay on, Orison surveyed the field to note that the supercharged golem on his left had killed the wolf but was so badly damaged it was going to fall apart any moment. Rithus was darting through the outer tree line, stalking archers and the pack on the other side of the dome were in various states of injury, save the youngest who only showed signs of a few newly healed wounds. The other golem under Orison's control wasn't overly damaged but neither was the remaining dire wolf.
Seeing two warriors closing in to give the dire wolf some backup, Orison commanded it to hug the wolf once the two warriors were in range and explode the rest of it's eternium dust fueled existence at them. The other, he sent at the leader and his two men who showed signs of preparing to flee. In a dual explosion that rocked their side of the battlefield, bits of rock shrapnel and a disrupting shockwave shot outward from where the golems once stood.
The two men in front of the leader, blocked with metal ribbed wood shields that stopped the flying stone chips at the expense of the bones in their arms and less protected legs as the shockwave knocked all three off their feet. At the same time, the golem to Orison's right shot pieces of itself directly into the wolf it flung itself on like a tripped claymore while peppering the two warriors with organ jarring shotgun blasts of shockwave bolstered shrapnel.
Weak and dizzy from blood loss, Orison took stock of his body's condition to find that it was riddled with partially healed injuries and ravaged by a significantly weakened curse that was manifesting itself as some kind of disease, eating at his lifeforce directly. With the will of the world waiting on the other side of the flimsy remaining sacrament, Orison took one of his 'silver bullet' potion along with the rest of the triple threat magic restoration potion left in his flask. With some minor difficulty, the young mage stood into a mundane flying arrow that ripped through a small chunk of his right shoulder muscle, close to his neck.
The archer responsible lost his head to Rithus, whose chameleon like skin rippled due to the rush of a kill before the Marshlander blended into his surroundings and moved on. Gan was giving all he had and it was only barely enough to keep the two warriors flanking him from putting him down, small trickles of blood oozing from grazes that breached his leather armor. The Mountain cat that Gan brought out was chasing down the exhausted shaman responsible for the life eating curse that was originally meant to parasitize the barrier and grant the shaman more magic.
The young mage put up a strong front, letting his spirit blaze from his eyes and shouted, "Forgotten who remain, abandon your leader and his two guards. Return home and send a man of peace to speak with the Bastet named Droya. There is no need for more death. My anger is sated and all that remains is claiming blood for the lives of my family that were killed by him, disrespected as livestock. IF YOU BRING WAR TO MY CLAN AGAIN, MY WRATH WILL BE LEGENDARY AND YOUR PEOPLE WILL BECOME MYTH!"
The young mage bombarded the two Guards and their leader who was scrambling to stand and run with three fireballs in a row, dropping his reserve to fumes. Orison was little more than a paper tiger after that but his point had been made. The leader was still alive, weakly crawling and screaming from the burns.
Orison straddled the leader, using the weight of his own body to pin the Forgotten chief face down, using vicious retribution to cover shaky legs that were barely capable of walking. For show, Orison dug into the man's back with bare hands, using the wounds of crisp skin as entrance, until he could finally reach in and pull the Forgotten leader's heart out. With one last beating squirt, the young mage severed the arteries and finished yanking it free.
With what little strength his enchantments and potion dregs restored, Orison walked the heart to Freki. Wishing he could drink another stamina and healing potion but knowing that it would only make him sick and possibly cause other types of potentially fatal problems, Orison handed the heart to the alpha. The alpha hesitated for a moment before taking the heart and chewing a bite out of it before handing the rest to his right hand. There were plenty of other dead men to take hearts from but this gesture had meaning. The pack was an ally.
Orison took out the small few potions that lacked the faint boundary item feeling and handed them all to the alpha as well, explaining what they were. The cure poison and disease potions would be life saving for the more mundane members of the alpha's mercenary guild and the two healing potions were useful in the moment. One werewolf would be able to get over the hump and survive because of it. Using the last tiny trickle, Orison cleaned an ankle and foot with presto before sticking them together. Getting the remaining small glob of fat that still had a little magic to it from the side of Rithus' neck, the young mage smeared the wound line.
With only seconds left before the wrath of the world would descend, a lush emerald 'soap bubble' of energy surrounded Orison, Rithus and Gan. They could hear the faint sound of Morrel's voice willing them good fortune on their journey and carrying the hopes and love of a father to his son. A sudden feeling of free fall came over them but Orison didn't witness or feel anything else. From sheer exhaustion of body, mind, spirit and magic, the young mage had fainted yet again.