The Sword Saint's Second Life As a Fox Girl - 4-60 Sortie
Erin’s Sixth Sense was silent as the golden radiance caused by the Sacred Purge spell but her guts as a seasoned combatant were telling her to run. The Sacred Purge spell was of no threat or harm to her but she wasn’t fully convinced by what her Innate Skill was apprising her of
Erin stared into the distance and used Warp. She teleported herself as far as she could, the further the better. When she reappeared around a mile away outside of the Sacred Purge spell’s range, she was assailed by an acute headache and strong fatigue. She dropped to her knees, panting.
Even from a mile away, the intensity of the spell’s effect was as clear as day. The radiance from afar was akin to a beacon of shining hope. Godly men and women would no doubt immediately fall to their knees and begin their prayers. Erin was on her knees but not due to reverence.
“Deranged fanatics…” Erin cursed under her breath. She already had a terrible opinion of the Ruvan paladins and the Venerers but her encounter with them had plummeted her opinion of them even further. They were uninterested in the sentiment of others except for the ones that would reinforce their current beliefs.
[Experience gained +10% – Level Progression: 10%]
The attestation of the Wraiths’ death resounded in her head. Judging by the magnitude of that spell, she doubted any of the Wraiths could have survived. While she was saddened that she had potentially lost a lavish amount of experience, she was reassured that the threat of the vault was no more, as far as she could tell. Even if there still were, the Ruvans were there. She decided to leave whatever was left up to their discretion.
Erin had briefly appraised them back when was still inside the cage. She saw none of them possessed Spirit Magic, so she didn’t need to worry about any of them discovering the vault, not that she was certain there was anything in the vault that would entice them.
Now that she was relatively far away from the troublesome factors, Erin allowed herself a respite. She plopped down on the ground and assuaged her fatigue and headache. There were still some Exalted Spirits lingering around her, latching onto her like a strong stench. She cast Spirit Mend using the Exalted Spirits and the effects were immediate and profound. It felt like weights were lifted off his head and his body was released from some heavy chains. She felt completely refreshed as if she had just woken up from a good night’s sleep.
She straightened her robes, tied up her hair into a ponytail, and gave her tails a cursory brushing. She gathered her composure and stared in the direction of the city. She could see ropes of smoke trailing off of each borough. She could see movements even from afar, indicating the astir and hectic state of the streets.
Erin wasted not a moment longer in this ruined forsaken place. She clad herself in lighting and dashed towards the city at full speed with Fleet Foot.
“Demoids are running rampant all over the city,” Olivia said the moment she walked into Aedan’s workshop.
Flasks of liquids of varying colours were boiling in front of him on a wire gauze above a burner. His quilt scratched to a halt on the paper he was scribbling away. He looked up from his scattered notes with an indifferent gaze. “In what way?” he asked.
“What do you mean ‘in what way’, milord?”
“Demoids have been running rampant all over the city for a while now.”
“Yes but this time, they are rampaging in broad daylight. They are not being furtive about it, the absolute opposite in fact. The reports even claimed that some of these Demoids were… delirious.”
“Completely unhinged, milord. They were all incapable of speech and reasoning. They were just attacking whatever or whoever fell into their sight. Aside from the Demoids themselves, nothing and no one was safe from their frenzy.”
Aedan dropped his quilt and rose from his seat. “It would seem the exodus of the Covenant is finished. They are cutting off their loose ends— no, they are burying the loose ends.” He turned off the burners and compiled the notes into a single stack. “What of the Aeryons?”
“Most of them are in the Grove, milord. The ones that are still out in the city are our sentries. And of course, Lady Erynthea and Amyra are without as you already know, which begs the other grave news”
Aedan’s gaze narrowed. “Something happened with Erin’s meeting with the Guild Master?”
“The meeting was compromised.”
“Compromised? What happened?”
“The city guards in the Viceroy’s pouch had orders to apprehend Lady Erynthea. They raided the brothel but Lady Erynthea and the others managed to escape. However, they were still cornered by a Demoid at the withered Grove. Rigetta and Amyra escaped but… Lady Erynthea was captured by the Demoid. Rigetta has returned to the guild. Amyra is currently taking refuge in one of our safe houses. The rampage of the Demoids started sometime after this. It’s strange, milord. They already had Lady Erynthea but the Covenant still let the Demoids run rampant. They— milord?”
Aedan’s face was calm but his heartbeat was picking up and his gaze had none of the usual flippant tenors. “Is she safe?” he asked in a low voice.
“I don’t know, milord, but I’m sure she’ll be fine. She is tenacious and unrelenting. She’s a Divine Apostle.”
“If the Covenant had completed their exodus, they would have no reason to keep Erin alive.”
“I understand, milord, but this is Lady Erynthea we’re speaking of. Lady Luck favours her. Besides, the Spirits are still calm around here, so it means she is still alive.”
“For now, Olivia. Lady Luck does favour her but Lady Luck is also known to be whimsical and fickle. I won’t count on her favour to last.”
“I know, milord… I know. What are your orders…, Your Grace? Everyone’s awaiting your guidance.”
“My orders will be the same as always. We stay out of sight and be oblique with our actions and movements as always.”
“You wish for us to keep hiding?”
“What else can these people do? Enlighten me, Olivia. What can they do? How many of them are fighters out there? How many of them have even held a sword before? I can guarantee you that none of them had even seen bloodshed before.”
“Milord, I was just—”
“I know you want us Aeryons to return to our former glory but we are decades away from that. We might even never return to that summit. Olivia, I won’t hold it against you if you choose to return to the mountains or your clan. But if you’re going to stay, don’t whine if disappointment is all that you got. I’m not the Dragon God, never have been and never will be. I’m sorry.”
“…I understand, milord. So, we are just going to sit around and wait for the chaos to drown the city.”
Aedan chuckled. “Of course not. I only ask of you and the rest to be furtive. I didn’t forbid you from taking action.”
Stupefaction overtook Olivia for a moment but she immediately seized her mind and composure back under her control. “I’m honoured to be in your service, milord— no, Your Grace.”
Aedan sighed with a wry smile. “You can just call me Aedan, Olivia.”
“Not without the right title, Your Grace.”
“Well, whatever. Come on,” Aedan said and strode out of the room.
Olivia marched right behind him. “Where are we going, Your Grace?”
“To the herbal breweries. After this conundrum is over, the city will be in dire need of remedial supplies. We best start stockpiling them now. Tell everyone in the Grove to get working at once.”
“Right away, Your Grace.” Olivia nodded and was about to scurry off but Aedan stopped her.
“Another thing, Olivia. Inform the smithies of my imminent arrival.”
Olivia broke into a smile. “With pleasure, Your Grace.” She then instantly disappeared from his sight using Fleet Foot, leaving behind a black scuff mark on the carpeted floor.
Just as Aedan arrived at the centre hall of the manor, Nivia, Lyra, Siv, Aera, and Lilian were stalking towards him from the opposite hallway. The five ladies were all bearing solemn gazes and grave expressions, but not one of them had a tinge of despair on their faces and they were all fully geared and equipped.
Aera was also fully clothed in protective and combat-ready garments. She was no longer in clergy robes but a tunic and trousers made of fabric infused with magic. Her solemn look crumbled when she met Aedan’s gaze, reminding her of the night she spent with him and Erin. It was her first time and it was a threesome. Ever since then, she found it hard to meet Aedan and Erin’s gaze.
“Aedan,” Lyra gave a fleeting greeting.
“Ladies, I know,” Aedan said. “Judging by your faces, I assume you all have most likely heard the news and the circumstances surrounding Erin.”
“We have,” Siv affirmed with a nod.
“Good, then this shall smoothen the conversation,” Lyra retorted with a smile that didn’t reach her eyes. “We have already made our choice. You are not stopping us. We will be leaving the Grove and go searching for Erin.”
“Even with all the Demoids running amok?”
“Precisely the reason that we need to be out there instead of here.”
Aedan sighed and looked each of the girls in the eyes. He stopped at Lilian’s.
“I’m with them, darling,” Lilian said with a gentle smile.
“Do any of you even know where Erin was taken?”
“That’s why we’re here talking to you,” Nivia said with her arms crossed. “You know where she is, don’t you?”
Aedan raised an eyebrow. “What makes you think that?”
“You know this valley. You have to know where they will keep her.”
“I knew this valley, Nivia. Past tense. A lot has changed. I don’t even recognise most of the mountains and hills anymore.”
“But you have to know something. Even if a lot has changed, some must have stayed the same. One of these old places might be used to hold Erin captive.”
“I know a lot of places that they could be potentially using to hold Erin captive but there’s… more than twenty of them. Do you think it’s wise to visit all of these possible places one by one?”
“Then what can we do to track down Erin?” Siv asked.
“Simple, we can just ask.”
“I was just thinking the same thing, Aedan,” Lilian said with a titter.
“Wait, you said ‘we’. You’re coming with us?”
“Of course, my dear Nivia. Do you think I would sit around and do nothing when my mistress has gone missing?”
“I’m not your ‘dear Nivia’, you lizard,” Nivia hissed.
“You’re coming with us, truly?” Siv inquired.
“Will you be fine?” Lyra questioned. “I know of your… regression. You’re not even half as strong as you once were.”
“You are correct but I can assure all of you here that I can give each of you a good beating with my current strength. If you doubt me, I’m more than happy to give a demonstration right here and now.”
“We don’t doubt you, Master Aedan,” said Siv.
“Splendid, then. Now, will you all be a dear and wait for me by the portal? I just need to go and grab a few gears and tools from the smithy.”
“We can come with you,” Lyra proposed.
“As you wish,” Aedan said with a shrug and made his way to the smithy in a haste.
The smithy was within the compound of the manor grounds, so the trip took only a short minute. Once there, a set of armour and weapons awaited his presence, fully donned on a displaying rack of his bodily proportions. The armour set resembled that of a knight’s but with foreign artistry and a near-otherworldly motif. The armour was black with a deep red sheen.
“Whoa,” Lyra gasped in awe as she laid her eyes on the armour. “I have never seen anything like this…”
All the other girls were also in awe of the armour.
“Crimson Steel?” Lilian surmised as she peered at the armour with great interest.
“Yes, it is,” Aedan said and he began donning the armour with the help of the three blacksmiths who were all Dwarrows and brothers.
“That’s the prized metal of an Augur tribe,” Siv muttered.
Nivia frowned. “Crimson Steel cannot be bought easily even if you offered the Augurs hundreds of gold. Where did you get your hands on such steel? Please don’t tell me you—”
“I didn’t acquire them through force. In fact, it wasn’t mine. It was Erin’s.”
“Apparently, she got them as a courting gift from an Augur named Cynric.”
“And you had it forged into your armour. How cruel of you, Aedan.”
“All is fair in love and war, my dear Nivia.” Aedan pulled on a strap and clasped it against the shoulder plate. “There, done. Now, shall we go rescue our mutual lover?”