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Published at 2nd of April 2024 01:31:38 PM


Chapter 69

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No one except for Kargon, Aisha, and Aeraza saw Great Sunderer shatter. But every demon present on the battlefield froze momentarily. It wasn’t more than a second. Every warrior of Vethyea would remember it well. Their blades tasted victory at that moment. Hearts pounded with hope as monsters fell. The shifted tide could be heard with roars that hungered to end this battle. It wasn’t lost on Aisha as she slowly stepped towards Aeraza. A stunned stare was adorned on his face. Confidence washed away as the Vethyean hero marched forward.

There were no condescending remarks or witty replies between the fighters. It was like a thousand year old mask was peeled away. The demon king scrambled for a way to fight back. Broken weaponry would do no good. What was once Great Sunderer was no better than a branch. It was tossed aside as the monster leveraged his size. Towering a few heads over the chosen one wasn’t enough to scare her. Armored claws did little when used by an untrained fighter. 

No mercy existed in Aisha as the weak demon king attempted to retaliate. It was so pathetic that she didn’t bother to use her lightning speed. Their difference in strength needed to be ingrained in Aeraza. Even if only for the last minute of his life. A simple side step dodged the claws before they were met with a blade. Valefor cleanly cut through the limbs and blood burst from the wounds. With a slow turn, the demon tried to slam his tail into the hero. She didn’t bother to dodge and simply lopped the appendage off.

“You will never be enough!” Aeraza screeched as Aisha cut his left arm off completely. “There are unknowable threats in this realm because of your kind’s intermingling!”

He crumpled to his knees when the tendons were slashed. Blood poured into a pool on the ground. It splashed across Aisha’s grim face while her enemy flailed wildly. There was no hatred or sorrow in her eyes. Others would believe it was a hero’s drive to save the world. Kargon knew it was the will to finally end the curse hoisted on her shoulders.

Aeraza roared. “I will-”

“Enough!” Aisha screamed and sliced across the demon’s mouth.

Bones cracked under Valefor’s pressure. White specks sprayed the ground as Aeraza’s jaw was torn from his head. The fleshy tongue that carried a lifetime of confidence and insults collapsed within. Moans and whines were all the demon king could muster as he sat in a pile of his failure. Not a shred of joy appeared on the hero’s face. Such violence wasn’t her preference. But it sent a clear message to Aeraza. One that threatened anyone who dared attack Vethyea. There was no mercy here for them.

Aisha held her sword next to the demon’s neck and said, “I told you how this would end.”

Aeraza did not shut his eyes. He refused to. The last memory he wished for was seeing who ended his life. Though there was no way for him to remember the swift attack that beheaded him. As soon as the demon king died, his body began to disintegrate. It wasn’t like when Elmud disappeared in Dawncaster. There were no flakes carried on the wind. The presence of his spirit couldn’t be felt. Rather, every single part of him burned away into nothingness. It didn’t take long for other demons to follow suit. Even those who were healthy began dissipating in the middle of combat. Dead bodies of those who fell earlier no longer demanded space on the land they destroyed.

At first the Vethyeans were hesitant. They continued to attack the disappearing demons. Even when they were all gone, the warriors searched for someone to fight. Adrenaline was at an all time high when a howl sounded from Albert. Makani stood with his hand on the werewolf’s shoulder. Winds picked up and carried through the valley. The sensation was enough to confirm what everyone was sure of. Yet they couldn’t help but wait for the future king of Dawncaster to utter the words.

“Vethyea…” Makani hesitated and cleared his throat. “We are victorious!”

It wouldn’t surprise Kargon if the entire planet shook from the army’s cheer. He wished to cheer with them but only managed to hack out some blood. For some reason that satisfied him. To know that he’d helped to bring about Aeraza’s end. Aisha’s dumb childhood best friend ended up being her trump card. It wouldn’t surprise Kargon if she always knew that would be the case. He wanted to ask her. Talk to her. Spend more time with her. But the fading adrenaline made him aware of what his body went through. Fire still didn’t hurt but the mutilation his arm went through caused enough pain. Tears rolled down his face, mixing with blood and dirt.

A fuzzy silhouette approached and held him in their arms. Even without his vision it was clear who it was. Firm body with a soft touch always meant it was Aisha. She’d hate how ready Kargon was to die in her arms. Especially since a sudden surge of energy passed through him just before he passed out. His eyes shot open as golden energy wrapped around him.

“One more, Avant!” Vofric bellowed with both his hands on the wounded half-elf.

Master Avant was pouring a potion into the dwarf’s mouth as both of them stood over Kargon along with Sariel and Avant. Sweat poured off Vofric’s brow as his usually neatly tied hair loosely hung around his head. Soft smiles began appearing on faces as Kargon began making eye contact with each of them. Wounds closed and bones reformed at a speed that made it worse than usual. But complaining about it would likely anger Vofric and doing so in this moment seemed rather unwise.

“I think… I’m good, Vofric,” Kargon said as he caught his breath. “Aisha’s face has a deep cut. Might wanna heal that.”

“I’ll be fine,” Aisha said softly. “Head wounds just bleed a lot.”

“That doesn’t make me feel any better.”

Vofric shifted one of his hands and tapped Aisha’s shoulder. Healing both fighters was no issue now that the battle was over.

“There will be scarring for both of you,” he explained. “And I will need multiple appointments to heal that arm, Kargon.”

The monk looked at him quizzically. “I won’t lose it.”

Sariel snorted. “Would you prefer that over a momentary loss of function?”

“No! I just… I thought it was done for.”

Aisha snickered. Even with all the blood on her face and stress on her shoulders, she could make such a sound.

“Were you ready to lose it just for me?” she asked sweetly.

Kargon was dumbfounded to see the woman he loved express herself so innocently after the ordeal she went through. Even he was having trouble grounding himself after fighting Elmud and Atlas. Though he couldn’t deny it was getting easier as he spent time around his friends.

“It was the only plan I could think of. Couldn’t have done it without Master Avant’s staff,” he replied.

The master was playfully tussling Avant’s head and said, “I promised to get you back to Aisha. There was no limit on how many times I would accommodate the request.”

“You have a peculiar delivery system,” Sariel said.

Avant chirped and nodded.

“Taze and the staff might be odd choices but they were perfectly suited to my protege,” the master replied and turned to Kargon. “Aren’t I correct?”

His student chuckled and nodded. As the pain subsided it was more and more awkward to stay caressed in Aisha’s arms. They shared an awkward knowing look as Vofric’s mana ran dry and he pulled himself up. Without effort, Aisha rose to her feet and assisted Kargon in doing the same. Flashes of pain trickled in his right arm as wind touched the healing burns. He had a hunch it would take a lot longer than Vofric implied for the limb to heal. But there was no denying he preferred that option to the alternative.

Aisha began to walk away from the group but Vofric stopped her. A glance passed between them before the dwarf tilted his head towards the others. Reddened cheeks appeared on the swordswoman’s face. Vofric rolled his eyes and huffed.

“After all you’ve done, this preamble is unnecessary,” he said and nudged his young companion.

With slow steps, Aisha walked back and outstretched her right hand. The group stared at it but no one moved. It was clear what she was waiting for. When Kargon hesitated, Sariel slapped his back. The strength used was more than most would assume was playful. It forced the monk to stumble forward and catch himself in his lover’s hand.

“Does your monastery teach this kind of behavior?” Vofric chided Master Avant.

“Is it not common in such places?” Sariel asked.

The Owlkinn groaned. “Some monasteries do not support overt displays of affection but the Sanctuary of Spiritual Combustion has no such beliefs. My pupil is simply, excuse my language, romantically challenged.”

Sariel and Vofric smirked at each other before the latter replied, “We’re well aware.”

It took everything for Kargon not to react as his face grew redder. A matching hue covered Aisha’s face. Instead, they looked towards the battlefield and stepped forward. Avant walked on his master’s right, providing much needed support with his lack of balance. Next to the owlbear was his namesake. On Aisha’s side was Vofric along with Sariel who rested a hand on the dwarf’s shoulder. It took less than a second for members of the Vethyean army to notice the heroes’ party and their elder ally stepping into view.

Cheers erupted from hundreds of soldiers. Howls and roars sounded from myriad familiars. The loudest was Albert, who clapped like a madman while slowly transforming back to human form. Even Makani didn’t try to remain cordial as he hollered happily at the sight of his friends. Freckle made eye contact, at least as much was possible, with Sariel and they both smiled wide. A hyperactive yip from Spike was reciprocated by Avant as he hopped in place. With his size, it shook the ground nearby and almost knocked Kargon over. Vofric looked over the crowd and found various captains and commanders gathered together. It seemed they were already planning next steps. Freckle noticed him and nodded firmly. Neither necessarily smiled but the gesture was well received.

“We lost many allies,” Vofric said softly. “I pray they find peace in the next life. Hopefully their families are taken care of.”

“With connections like ours it will be possible to find them and make sure of it,” Sariel responded.

Avant growled and grumbled softly while nudging head lightly against Kargon’s wounded arm. He ignored the pain to comfort his familiar and said, “We’ll help as many animals as we can. I’ll make sure of it.”

“Your lives grow ever busier,” Master Avant pointed out.

“That’s how it is for adventurers. One quest ends and we look for new ones.” Aisha replied.

Kargon stared at the crowd a little longer. Taking in the carnage around them made it clear why they felt such relief for the battle to be over. Similar faces were worn by his friends. Their quest may have been successful but everyone knew there was much work ahead. Even so, smiles were worn by each hero picked by Aisha. Serenity washed over them as the sun approached the horizon and moonlight showered Vethyea. Kargon clenched his right fist and winced. This was no dream or waking nightmare. It was over thanks to his best friend drawing a sword from stone.





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