~ Chapter 29: The final countdown (Part 2) ~
[Kleo’s point of view]
“NO! Where are they?! Where are they?!” shouted the man as he grabbed his crystal with both hands.
It appeared as though he had lost track of the two adventurers inside the dungeon. They certainly didn’t die, they just vanished from within the tunnels, or maybe they just found that he was tracking them and somehow managed to avoid his spell?
Inside my cage, I could only show a mocking smile. If it was indeed Alkelios who was inside the Dungeon, then this man was definitely underestimating him. He was the one and only human with an ability through which he could borrow the power of his dragon friends. I was one of them, but so was my sister, a knight, and Kataryna, who already achieved her Breakthrough. There was also the power borrowed from my grandfather, but what was amazing and simply mind blowing about this ability of his was the fact that he didn’t steal this power from us, he copied it.
In other words, the stronger we became, the stronger he became.
The only thing I could worry about was the fact that this man before me could hold a similar ability as him, after all, he was able to bring me here against my will.
“This is strange… I can’t locate them. It’s like the Dungeon swallowed them up!” he spoke in a clear tone of anger.
I said nothing.
Eventually, he grew tired of searching after them and moved away from the crystal. There was no point in trying to locate them if they found a way around his spell, but this in itself meant that they were more or less aware of the fact that they were being watched. Since I had no idea how exactly that spell of his worked, I didn’t know what were the possible ways of interfering or dispelling it altogether.
“And we’re here!” I heard Alkelios’ voice coming all the way from outside of this room.
“It can’t be…” the man looked worried and thought about what to do next.
His gaze moved towards me and then back to his desk. Walking over there, he put on a ‘Purse’ ring and absorbed the entire lab. He proceeded to do the same with everything else in here, paying special attention to his papers written in some foreign language. He left nothing behind to be traced back to him. I stood there as his sole witness.
“Hmph!” he turned around and walked towards the exit.
A mage staff appeared in his left hand.
What’s he up to? I wondered.
“Detonate.” he said before he left.
A chill ran down my spine. The shackles around my wrists began to glow in a strong violet light, and strange characters appeared on them. They changed every second, counting down to something.
“No… What is this?” I said surprised and tried hard to get out of my chains.
I didn’t know what it was, but it was scary. The Magic Energy that gathered in them was no joke, so I tried desperately to set myself free.
“Ugh! I can’t… I can’t get them off…” I said struggling and struggling until my wrists began to bleed.
I heard steps next to me, and I stopped for a moment to look back. There, in front of me stood Iolaus. His sword was drawn.
“Thraherkleyoseya…” he said as he looked in my eyes.
Fear rushed through my whole body as I understood why he was here… why any Paladin would stand before a chained Necromancer with his sword drawn.
“No please…” I squirmed back away from him and closed my eyes.
[Iolaus’ point of view]
This absurd monster was out of his mind with him calling out for help from the Dungeon, but who was I say otherwise? Compared to him, I was weak. I could do nothing to stop him, but then again, no dragon ever tried something as crazy as this before, at least as far as I knew off.
This dragon did say that he gained his absurd strength by living in the Seculiar Forest, which was renowned for the terrible dangers hidden within it, but I found it to be rather absurd. No one could survive on their own in that place! One of my seniors tried to challenge it before, but he failed miserably. He had a power level of 146, yet he returned without a hand and a terrible scar across his face. Even his own wife didn’t recognize him. It cost him everything, yet this unawakened fellow claimed to have lived there?
Maybe… his strength could claim truth to his words, but something inside me didn’t believe him.
“We’re almost at the end of this tunnel… ” I said as I walked behind him.
“Yeah. Wait one moment.” we both stopped, and he closed his eyes. “[Kitty Eyes]!” he called out to one of his spells.
His pupils turned from normal ones to those of a beastkin. They were slit horizontally.
I had no idea what he was trying to do, but I waited patiently. Maybe it was some sort of scouting ability of his? If that was so, I never heard of a spell with such a weird name before.
A few moments later, his eyes returned to normal.
“Here’s the plan. You stay quiet, and I’ll try to distract black-hooded fellow who kidnapped Kleo. While I pull him out of there, you will sneak past him and free Kleo.” he told me.
“Why should I trust you, and why would you trust me with Thraherkleyoseya’s life?” I asked him while looking into his eyes.
“Well…” he looked away from me.
“What if I want to… kill her?” I asked him, but those words weighed heavily on my soul.
After what this unawakened dragon told me earlier today, I couldn’t feel the same desire of killing my former lover. His words turned all of my morals upside down, but it wasn’t the logic of those words themselves as much as the strength and confidence he put behind them. Maybe I was a failure as a Paladin?
“You hesitated now. That’s why I’m certain you won’t. Besides, I wished for her not to get harmed and for us to rescue her safely. You certainly won’t kill her and if you try to… you will die. I guarantee this.” he told me with such a strength and confidence in his words that simply bewildered me.
How can any dragon put so much faith and trust in an unknown future? I wondered.
“We’re here… Let’s go.” he ordered.
I nodded and unsheathed my sword.
He moved ahead of me and turned left. I went right and hid inside the shadows of the labyrinth. There, I found a Skeleton Warrior. I stopped and gulped, raising my sword up. The monster looked at me and rattled his bones. It didn’t attack, which was odd.
“And we’re here!” shouted Alkelios.
I heard him, but I feared that if I were to attack this skeleton or be attacked by it, then the one inside that room would have certainly noticed me.
I pray to Lumenya, the goddess of Light, and Lumenos, her husband that what he said about the Dungeon being our temporary ally is true… Then again, what was that dragon’s name? By the gods, I will die following a man whose name I couldn’t even remember! I thought in my mind while I stared into the dark, empty holes of the dragon skeleton before me.
Surprisingly, it didn’t move. He didn’t attack me.
While a bit bewildered by this fact, I noticed the hooded man leaving the room. I knew that was my cue, so I ignored the monster here and rushed inside. It didn’t give chase after me.
There, I found Thraherkleyoseya… Her wrists were bleeding from her struggles to break free from her shackles, which looked enchanted for that matter.
How much did she struggle to end up like this? I thought and a chill rand down my spine.
The blood kept flowing from her wounds and for now, she didn’t seem to be aware of me, but the more I looked at her, the more I saw a woman, a former lover, trying to break free of her chains and not so much a fierce necromancer who had to be put down.
I stopped in front of her cage, and it was then when she noticed me.
Looking up at me, tears ran down her cheeks. She was frightened.
I thought necromancers are heartless monsters… Darkness corrupts them… So why… why are you crying? I asked myself as I felt my heart waver.
“Thraherkleyoseya…” I called out to her, but I stopped.
What am I going to say? No… whatever that dragon said to me is a lie! I have to kill her here! In the name of my gods… I have to kill her… I have to kill this… this… I thought and gripped the hilt of my sword.
“No please…” she squirmed back until she touched the wall.
With her hands up and closing her eyes, she trembled and tried to protect herself from me.
Blood flowed down her wrists, her skin was cut and ripped apart from her attempts to free herself. Tears were rushing down her cheeks, and her whole body was trembling.
While in front of such a woman, I held my sword in my hand ready to kill her.
“Please… please don’t hurt me, Iolaus…” she whimpered.
My heart froze in that instant.
My own hand trembled as I opened the gate.
“Please…” she begged me.
My gods demands the death of all necromancers… They demand me to slay you… to kill you, Thraherkleyoseya, for justice, for peace, for… love… I thought and then raised my sword up. Love? I thought again. I remembered that dragon’s words. I remembered what he said about what it means to love. I remembered my own words. No! I shook my head and clenched my jaws and fists. My whole body was tense and trembling, but not out of fear but from indecision. If she didn’t have this power… then I would have kept loving her… I still do… the old her, but… I stopped and grabbed my face, struggling with my thoughts.
“I can’t use magic… These chains will kill me anyway… If I’m to die… then at least I’ll die by your hands…” Thraherkleyoseya said something unthinkable.
Lowering her hands and crying rivers, she looked up at me with an expression that sent countless spears of guilt and pain in my chest. It appeared as though she was at wit’s end. She saw no escape. Her only chance, the unawakened dragon… wasn’t there.
Instead, I was here, the man who betrayed her… the man who loved her…
“Thraherkleyoseya…” I said and raised my sword up.
She closed her eyes and waited. The runes on her cuffs were changing faster. Now was the moment of truth… my final choice. She was right here before me, defenseless, easy to kill.
I can’t betray my gods… The gods of Light! The… I stopped and then I remembered… the god of Darkness Nocturnia. The gods… the stories… No, why am I thinking of such? I shook my head, but the memory returned, the story of two ancient lovers Lumenos is the husband of Nocturnia as well… She is his second wife, but while the Temple of Light views her as an impostor, a thief, a liar, Lumenos isn’t. How can a god of Light share his love both with a goddess of Light and one of Darkness… unless… I remembered what the unawakened dragon told me again about love, about what it meant to truly love someone…
“AARGH!” I shouted at the top of my lungs and swung down my sword.
My decision was made, but through it… I wondered if I betrayed my gods?
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