Journey to the Elf — Part 1
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
“It appears that we are not the only ones who have taken to the skies,” said Lefi, as she gazed at the horizon.
We had been flying all day. It would only be a few more hours before we reached the village.
“I don’t see anyone yet,” I said. “Then again, my eyes aren’t as good as yours. Is it just one guy, or are there more?”
“I believe it to be a unit. There are several of them, flying in what is likely a formation.”
Guessing they’re probably soldiers?
“Are they demons?”
“I cannot say for certain, but it is likely. Few non-demon races possess wings.”
Unfortunately, them being demons didn’t clarify much of anything at all, as there were demons on both sides of the equation.
“Then we should probably stay on guard.”
I grabbed Enne, who had been sleeping inside my inventory, and hoisted her over my shoulder.
“Are we there?” she asked, sleepily.
“Almost, but not yet. It seems like we’ve got company, and we’re not sure if they’re hostile yet, so I grabbed you just in case. You good to go?”
We approached the group while remaining vigilant. Though we were flying in the same direction, we far outpaced them. It didn’t take long for me to begin to make them out.
There were a total of four, and while they weren’t crystal clear just yet, I was able to come to the conclusion that they were likely demons, based on their horns and tails. They were dressed from head to toe in armour, fully geared up and ready to hop into combat at a moment’s notice.
They realized that they weren’t alone after we gained on them a bit more, at which point all four of them spun around and drew the weapons mounted on their backs. Their motions were fluid and disciplined enough for me to immediately conclude that they were rather skilled.
“Rir, shrink down and hide somewhere. If a fight breaks out, try to see if you can catch them off guard.”
After watching him vanish, Lefi and I approached the group.
“Halt, demons! Why are you headed towards the elven lands!?” The man with the fanciest gear shouted as soon as we were close enough to be within reasonable earshot.
I took a moment to analyze them, noting that their stats were in line with their well-trained movements. Their numbers proved that they were good enough to be considered true elites. Their species was guardian devil, and their class was kingsguard. Probably Phynar’s guys then. Since, you know, you kinda need a king to be a kingsguard. And he’s the only king in the Demon Realm.
With that said, I chose not to let my guard down immediately. There was still a chance that they would be hostile. But at the very least, I’m not going to off them without trying to talk it out first.
Seeing me relax, Lefi did the same.
“You’re Phynar’s guys, right?” I asked. “He’s the one that asked me to go. Something about taking care of a dragon that got its dumb ass turned into an undead.”
“And why should we think you’re telling us the truth?”
“You shouldn’t. It’s not like we know each oth—actually, I think I might have something. One sec.”
I popped open my inventory and grabbed a pair of envelopes. One was marked with the Allysian king’s seal, and the other, Phynar’s. They’d given me the documents in the case that I ever needed to identify myself. Was not actually expecting these to come in handy.
The leader’s eyes opened wide as he saw them.
“One of these is from the Allysian king, and the other is from yours. Good enough?”
“Yes, certainly.” He breathed a sigh of relief as he took off his helmet and did a bit of a midair bow. “Please excuse our behaviour. We were on guard given the… extenuating circumstances, and there was no guarantee you were really here to help. We weren’t aware you were one of His Majesty’s friends.”
“Don’t sweat it. Not like I don’t get wh—”
Crisis Detection kicked in right as Lefi shouted a warning.
It was an attack. And not from the demons. Its source was much further away.
“Get down! Now!”
I grabbed the two in front of me and threw them as far away as I could. Likewise, Lefi did the same with the other two, sending them cannonballing through the air to a spot of relative safety.
“W-what is the mea—”
The commander shouted at us in confusion, but I was too preoccupied with retreating to pay him any mind. Once Lefi and I had gotten enough distance, I grabbed her, pulled her into my arms, and turned my back to the incoming ray of light.
I didn’t actually see the attack itself, but I did feel the heat that accompanied it. The deafening roar burst my eardrums as the force of it just passing by sent me flying. My newfound lack of functional ears threw me for a momentary loop. I wasn’t able to balance myself in midair, but fortunately, Lefi had that covered and kept us stable.
Once the attack had passed, I turned around to look upon its aftereffects, a massive wave of destruction. The forest beneath us had been eaten right through. Its verdant greenery had been reduced to nothing but stone and dirt, much of which was obscured by a massive cloud of dust. Likewise, the air was also now home to something that didn’t belong. Entire trees had been flung into the sky.
I created a barrier of wind to protect us from the debris and shouted into the forest.
“Rir! Are you okay!?”
I couldn’t see him, but a healthy-sounding bark signalled that he too had managed to dodge.
“Whew…” I took a deep breath. “Was that a breath attack just now?”
“Indeed. It was a dragon’s roar, the ultimate technique employed by members of my race,” said Lefi. “Though it has retained the ability to use it as a corpse, I doubt that it is capable of firing such an attack in rapid succession.”
The last time I saw a dragon’s breath attack was when Lefi had used her’s to demonstrate. This particular attack had been flashier and even caused much more widespread destruction, but not because she was weaker. If anything, it seemed like it was due to a lack of focus, like the dragon was unable to concentrate its ability and aim only where it wanted. Evidence of its lack of output could be seen in all the debris left in the roar’s wake. Lefi’s roar had been the embodiment of destruction. Her attack had destroyed every last speck of dust in the area that it had deleted.
With that said, the roar’s relative strength didn’t particularly matter when members of the races were involved. They would die either way if hit head on.
Based on our inability to see the dragon, I concluded that the attack wasn’t actually aimed at us. It was a random stray shot that happened to wind up heading in our direction. Honestly, that’s worse. I’d rather not die due to some silly accident. Not again.
“I am certain of it now,” said Lefi with a frown. “The dragon that has been raised is but a youngling. Its roar is but a shadow of what an ancient dragon is capable of.”
“Figured,” I said. “Don’t you just love it when your bad premonitions come true?”
I was glad that we wouldn’t have to square off against a once ancient dragon, but that wasn’t to say I was particularly happy. There was much to be said about the poor dragonling’s fate.
“…And I believe it is time you release me,” said Lefi. “There is no need for you to hold me any longer.”
“Huh? Oh, uh… whoops. My bad.”
Only then did I realize that I was still hugging her.
“It pleases me to see your attempts to protect me,” said Lefi, after being released. “But it is as times like these that you would do best to prioritize your own safety. I wish not to see you harmed for my sake.”
“Sorry, it was a spur of the moment thing,” I flashed a bit of an embarrassed smile. “I acted before I even started to think.”
Her expression softened into a bit of a teasing smile as she booped me on the nose with a finger.
“To be protected by you is something I do not detest. You are the only fool in this world that would ever attempt such an unreasonable action.”
“That’s just what husbands do.”
“It is, so I will refrain from pestering you of the dangers. Just know that I say this not to discourage you. I still wish to see you as my protector, and it would disappoint me greatly if you were to stop.”
“Alright, how about this then? Next time we find a harmless monster that can’t really do much to either of us, I’ll protect you all you want.”
“A brilliant idea indeed. I shall be looking forward to it.”
I was about to continue joking around, but stopped as I felt a wave of exasperation flow into me from the sword slung over my shoulder.
“Still flirting? Hurry up. And finish.”
Only after hearing her telepathically complain did I realize that this was certainly not the time to be messing around. The demons we’d flung had returned. They were watching us in a manner reminiscent of the way an invested housewife would watch a corny soap opera. Their gazes were warm, approving even, but also somewhat judgemental.
“H-Hey guys… you all okay?” I said, after clearing my throat.
“Yes, we are,” said the commander. “Thank you for saving our lives. We’ll do whatever we can to repay this debt once we reach the village.”
All four bowed in sync. Discipline.jpg.
“Eh, don’t worry about it. I didn’t do it because I wanted you guys to owe us,” I said. “Anyway, I’d say that the dragon’s probably nearby, seeing as how it nearly fried us just now, so let’s stop derping around and get a move on.”
“That… would certainly be a good idea, yes. Let’s hurry.”
The way he looked at me practically screamed that he desperately wanted to say something along the lines of “You two were the only ones derping around…,” but held back to be polite. Yeah, I’m just going to ignore that and keep flying.
It took us less than ten minutes of travel to find ourselves a rather odd sight. Nell was there, riding a large wolf with a certain half-rotten dragon hot on her heels.