– PLAINS, QUARIA REGION –
The grassy plains welcomed Hielgans arrival after he had left the rocky mountainous region.
His first destination was southeast towards the second royal capital of Morland, the kingdom of Quaria.
This was a large city located on the southern part of the continent, the historical texts state that Quaria was named after the deity of strife and mischief Quara, and legend has it that it was Quara that deceived Lazuriel the first Emperors brother into defection.
Under the influence of Quara, Lazuriels actions brought about the First Rebellion commonly known as The Great War. The war was fought on several battlefields including the planes Hielgan was walking on, many mortals lost their lives during that time.
After walking for a few hours Hielgan found a river brimming with fresh water, he took his empty goatskin and drew some water.
”That covers the water. ” He muttered.
It had been three days since he left his home, and now he had run out of food, the water was crystal clear, but with not a single fish in sight. His last option was to hunt for a bigger animal. He looked around the area and saw several animal tracks, none of them seemed to have been recent and most of them had been stepped over by other animal tracks.
”That one looks familiar… ” After walking for a few minutes, Hielgan came upon large animal tracks, which were in the form of a large hoof-like shape, which was divided in the middle with an oval bump in the center, and similar prints trailed further ahead. ”Prey. ”
Hielgan followed the tracks as he recalled how his father had always warned him about the many beasts in the wild, especially those that they never encountered personally. However, out of the many creatures out there, the dangerous ones relied solely on their brawn, but the lethal ones used tricks to manipulate their prey as well as predators.
As he drew closer he could feel the beasts aura in the air, it appeared to have been riled up within the area.
”Don let it charge you! ” A man roared at the top of his voice.
Hielgan knew the voice was shouting at someone else, but the raised landscape hid the people involved. However, he quickly surmised that it may be a hunting party, and wondered if they were hunting the same beast as he was.
”Cut off its exits! Don let it find an opening! ” Another order from the man boomed from afar.
In his excitement, Hielgan quickly ran up the hill to see what was going on, and to his shock, he saw the large beast hulking over the individuals, and from his perspective, it looked like three children trying to tackle a very large adult.
Hielgan came up to the edge of the hill and below him was a large four-legged beast with massive blunt horns with tips like morningstars arrayed at the top of its snout.
Thats a Boldemoth!
The Boldemoth was one of the more rare and dangerous beasts that could be encountered in the wild. The creature had a hide as tough as iron, and horns hard as steel centered at the top of its maw which the beasts used like weapons when paired with their charging skills.
The Boldemoth were highly territorial beasts and were known to put holes in the sides of mountains when they fought one another. Their stampedes were rumored to be unstoppable and could turn cities into ruins, fortunately, the Boldemoth was a very solitary species and came together only during mating seasons.
”Rocky, paralyze it! Paralyze it from the back! ”
The man barked his orders once more, this time he sounded slightly panicked as his gaze was locked in Hielgans direction.
For a moment Hielgan thought he had been noticed, however, he quickly noted that one of the hunters in their group was standing behind the Boldemoth right below the hill.
The hooded figure quickly raised their arms with a staff in one hand and began to chant.
”Stems of the earth… Power of the spirits…Stems of the earth. ”
The hunter recited the same words over and over again until she completed the incantation.
”[Druid Arts – Paralysis Hedge]! ”
A magic circle immediately appeared on the ground beneath the Boldemoth, then suddenly large vines the size of tree branches shot out from the magic circle and wrapped themselves around the abdomen and the hind legs of the Boldemoth keeping it from moving any further.
”Thats the way to do it, ” Hielgan blurted. ”Now for the finishing blow! ”
The beast had been subdued and all that was left was someone to land the final blow and put it down for good. For a second Hielgan thought of drawing his sword and then jumping down to slay the creature, but Grimvyern had grown silent and could not be used in battle.
His hand rested on the new hilt on his back, it was an old steel sword that he had used to practice with back at home. Hielgan hesitated as he feared for the swords durability.
Hielgans reluctance was rewarded as the loud man quickly charged the beast with sword and shield in hand.
When he looked closer he noticed that the loud man was larger than he assumed earlier, the man held a longsword in his right hand and a shield in the other which Hielgan found troublesome and stated it was Nothing but haughty weight.
”I will end it with this one! ” The loud man roared at the top of his lungs.
”[Flame-Stride]! ” The loud mans body was quickly enveloped in a coat of flames, Hielgan knew the technique and recalled how It allowed the user to add fire damage to his attacks and damage all attackers.
Thats a risky skill to use in this situation. Hielgan thought to himself as he analyzed the hunt.
”[Pillar of Might]! ” The loud man followed up with a shield skill, which was far from his specialty, and Hielgan had no clue what the skill did for the user but he knew it was all defensive.
Is he afraid that the Boldemoth will retaliate? As Hielgan pondered, the man exclaimed again.
”[Wielders Edge]! ”
The mans sword gave off a shimmer, Hielgan was aware of this skill since he too was capable of using it, but this was the first time he saw someone with a longsword use it.
The skill increased the blades sharpness allowing for faster and much more deadly strikes.
To his surprise, the man had activated three techniques consecutively, that sort of skill required great talent and practice.
The loud man came down on the Boldemoth with great intensity sending a blast-back of dirt clouds in all directions as if a great flying beast was beating its wings. Hielgan watched with great excitement as he clenched his trembling hand on the greatswords hilt, the rush of blood in his body was exuberating.
I wonder how it makes you feel… Hielgan pondered with a mild grin as he recalled a few times he sparred with his late father, it was always his favorite time of the day.
”AAARGH!! ” The loud man cried out before jumping away from the cloud of dirt.
”Shaemus! ” The lady in the back called out to him as she ran towards him.
The loud mans name was Shaemus, it sounded like an exotic name to Hielgan, but that was of little concern to him. Shaemus was covered with bruises and his steel armor had been slightly bent and burned, Hielgan knew that the effects of his [Flame-Stride] skill had caused the burns, but the bruises must have come from something else.
The shield Shaemus was carrying had been bent beyond repair so he tossed it to the side, but Hielgan noticed that Shaemus sword was nowhere to be found.
”Fallback Sarai! ” He called out.
His response was too late, Sarai was already by his side, she too wore a cloak but her hood lay on her back.
”What happened? ” She asked while drawing a magic symbol in the air with her staff.
”[Home of Vitality – Healing Dome] ” A large transparent dome bigger than Hielgans cabin at home appeared in thin air and covered the two individuals.
Hielgan noted the bruises on Shaemus body vanished in seconds, this explains why Shaemus had been careless when attacking the Boldemoth, he was relying on Sarais healing to restore him to full vitality.
Shaemus stood up straight as though nothing had happened, the burns and bruises had faded away but the soot from the fire remained on his armor. Shaemus looked towards the beast as the dust from his previous attack cleared, the Boldemoth finally broke the binds from the spell and roared furiously.
The beast turned to face Rocky, the hunter that was standing in Hielgans direction right beneath the hill.
”No Rocky! Look out! ” Shaemus called out.
Shaemus tried to run to his comrade, but he stumbled and fell back down on his knees, his health might have been restored, but it would take a while longer for his stamina to fully recuperate.
Abilities and spells to restore stamina were available to many warriors since that was the only thing a healing spell could not restore. Sarai stood behind him still holding the spell.
What is she doing? Hasn he recovered already? Hielgan wondered.
The Boldemoth roared again and then lowered its horn, Hielgan then saw the missing longsword etched onto the beasts horn.
What are they, amateurs? Their formation has fallen apart and their attacker has lost his weapon. Hielgan lamented.
The Boldemoth charged the lone hunter, the ground beneath them rumbled as though a tremor had hit staggering everyone within its radius including the hunter who fell to her knees paralyzed with fear.
Everyone braced themselves, including Shaemus and Sarai even though they were far from the point of impact.
A loud thumping sound permeated through the air around everyone, Shaemus and Sarai looked away having known the result of what happened to their comrade, Rocky.
Sarais heart sank and she fell to her knees as the healing dome collapsed on itself, Shaemus clenched his teeth in dismay then turned away.
”We need to go before the monster turns and attacks us too! ” Shaemus holstered Sarai over his shoulder and made a run for it. ”It won follow us uphill. ”
Tears seemed to spill from Sarais eyes as her gaze was still fixated on where the Boldemoth had crashed, Shaemus kept on running without looking back, he would have run faster, but the feeling of leaving a comrade behind was overwhelming him.
A young mans voice suddenly boomed from where the beast had crashed, Sarai was already looking towards it. Shaemus stopped and turned in response to the voice and they both saw the Boldemoth struggling to move forward.
”Are you leaving without your friend?! ” The voice asked them.
”What… what is happening? ” Shaemus queried surprised by the phenomena. ”Who could this be? ”
Hielgans voice could be heard from behind the great rock beast, the Boldemoth had been stopped in its tracks. Now after getting their attention, they had finally stopped running, and Hielgan could now focus on getting the large beast off his back.
In that split second during its charge, Hielgan had jumped between the hunter and the beast with his back facing the Boldemoths large horns. The feat had taken most of his strength and a chunk of his vitality had also been sacrificed, but he had managed to save the hunter.
If I hadn timed my jump right, who knows what would have happened to the both of us… Hielgan pondered with the beasts horns still glued to his back.
The weight of the Boldemoth was starting to overwhelm him, and its breath only made things worse.
”Hold on… ”
Hielgan pulled his feet from the ground before wrapping his arms around the hunter and then jumped to the side, the Boldemoth staggered backward as its breath spewed from its nostrils.
”[Edge of Motion] ”
Using a skill Hielgan enhanced his movement abilities then rushed towards Shaemus and Sarai, he stopped right in front of the two and then placed the unconscious Rocky at their feet.
”Shes still alive, ” Hielgan stated.
Sarai immediately crouched down and embraced Rocky, but Shaemus stood in a defensive posture still wary of the young stranger.
Hielgan ignored him and before his skill effects could run out, he rushed back to the Boldemoth which had been stunned for a moment and was unable to attack them.
”Looks like [Scale-Shock] is still in effect. ” Hielgan pulled the steel greatsword from its strap strung on his back with a mild clink as though the sword had tapped against a metal surface.
”I will never get used to that feeling… ” Hielgan remarked.
The beast regained its stand and when it saw the sword in Hielgans hands it gave a furious growl and stomped on the ground, its eyes were red and its skin battered and burnt from the recent fray.
”Even if you could have hit me harder, ” Hielgan spoke to the beast. ”You still wouldn have killed me. ”
Hielgan lunged at the beast and drove his greatsword through the side of its neck and straight through its shoulders to its heart. The beasts death was swift, Hielgan did not want it to suffer any more than it already had.
As it lay on the ground Hielgan commended how bravely the beast had fought the hunters, but in the end, the mortals had prevailed.
As he recalled the brief event, Shaemus and Sarai walked towards Hielgan.
Rocky walked with them.
Sarai held Rockys hand as Shaemus trailed a few steps behind them, he had a look of regret on his face. It was hard for Hielgan to understand such a feeling since he had never turned from a battle before, he would rather die than take the cowards way out.
Far be it from him to judge another mortals tactics, Hielgan decided it would be best not to get involved with the group.
”I hope you don mind if I take a piece of the meat from the- ”
”Wait! ” The loud voice startled Hielgan.
Shaemus took a step forward, Hielgan felt a slight hint of aggression in his demeanor but noted that Shaemus aura had no malicious intent in it. Thats when he noticed Shaemus signaling him to Sarai.
”My lady would like to speak with you. ” He said.
Sarai nudged Rocky towards Hielgan, the young hunter removed her hood and revealed her long silky red hair that descended to her shoulders, her shallow green eyes seemed to glow as she blinked.
The sight took Hielgan by surprise, it was not unusual to encounter a female hunter, but her appearance seemed all too familiar to him. He too had red hair and deep blue eyes, the only difference he saw was her ears.
”You are an elf? ” Hielgan spurted.
”Umm yes, I wanted to… ” Rocky stammered. ”I wanted to thank you… for saving my life. ”
Hielgan had only read about elves and never really seen one, even in Sigul a port town where various races would congregate.
”Aren you a long way from home? ” Hielgan remarked.
The records of the half-mortals state that the elves hail from a trio of islands located to the northeast of Morland, but their presence on the main continent is far from illegal, just uncommon.
”My lady no- ”
To his surprise Rocky bowed her head to Hielgan, Shaemus seemed to be against it as he tried to stop her, but Sarai glared at him as she bowed deeply.
”As you wish. ”
Shaemus reluctantly bowed at Hielgan in respect, this was a first for him and he had no way of reacting to the situation. Hielgan was flattered at their honorable gesture which left him feeling a serene sense of pride.
For a second he felt like a true dragon lord.
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