Morland: Blood and Sweat

Arise, Arts of the Dragon II

– PLAINS, QUARIA REGION –

That evening Shameus and Rocky went out to gather wood, leaving Hielgan and Sarai alone at the camp.

The two sat down across the small campfire as they roasted the meat from the dead Boldemoth, Sarai prayed for the roasted meal before taking a deep bite from one of the large pieces of meat.

Hielgan could tell she had not eaten in a while, the feeling was mutual as he too took an abrasive bite into the once formidable beast.

”So you pray for all your food? ” Hielgan started the conversation after swallowing his mouthful.

Sarai took a moment before responding as she carefully chewed on the sinewy meat.

”Yes, ” She responded. ”As an Acolyte of the Arch-Priestess, it is only right to give my thanks to Iziria. ”

”You still pray to Iziria? ”

Sarai seemed taken aback by Hielgans query, but she understood what most mortals on the continent had heard about their elvish deity.

”Yes, we still pray to her. ”

Sarais vague response was followed by a still silence, Hielgan had learned little from their chat and Sarai had been careful not to speak too much about herself.

Fortunately, Hielgan had known this from the start and refrained from asking any personal questions, especially those about her race. However, to those well versed in the Learning Texts, it would have been easy for them to discern between mortals and half-mortals, and could easily tell that Sarai and her party were elves.

”So you came from the western part of the continent? ”

”On the outskirts of Sigul to be precise, ” Hielgan replied. ”My grandfather settled there after retiring. ”

”Aren there a lot of bandits in the mountains? ”

True.

Sigul was notorious for carelessly accepting all sorts of mortals regardless of their background, which unfortunately led to increased crime rates.

The bandits would create secret bases in the mountains then ambush travelers, and horde tons of loot in those secret locations.

This perpetual habit eventually led to the formation of the Mercenary and Hunter guilds which became common in Sigul, and when Lacolgan, Hielgans grandfather fled to Sigul, he made a reasonable fortune through the guilds by clearing out bandit hideouts and hunting dangerous monsters.

He later used the money he had made to buy the house and farm on the outskirts of Sigul.

”My grandfather and father cleared most of them out during their time. ”

”He must have been very strong, ” Sarai commented.

”Yes, yes he was. ”

Lacolgan had been far too overwhelming for the naive bandits, after all, he had served as a first-era general in Moriandias Royal Army under the Emperors younger brother, Lazuriel.

This was so until after the great war, Lazuriels defeat scattered the factions gathered under him including Lacolgan and his clan, and after being exiled from the holy city, he fled to Sigul.

Thats as far as I know, perhaps this journal of his will give me more insight into the life that he led.

The sound of crunching grass and breaking twigs caught Hielgans attention and a newly familiar scent filled his nostrils.

They are here.

Shaemus appeared silently from behind the trees carrying a large bundle of wood which he placed on the ground, Rocky followed behind him carrying herself a sized bundle which she struggled to hold steady.

”We are back! ” Rocky announced while balancing the wood on her head.

Her shy gaze suddenly glued itself on Hielgan, she could feel a strange attraction to him even though they had just met, Hielgan raised his hand out at Rocky who seemed to only get lost in thought further.

”Hey watch out! ”

Hielgans warning came a second too late, Rocky stumbled into the pile of wood Shaemus had dropped and veered into Hielgans direction.

She fell to the ground with a light thump half-buried by the wood she had been carrying.

”Need help? ”

Hielgan extended his hand towards Rocky who took it and got up to her feet. She quickly pulled her hood over her head as her cheeks turned red.

”Thank you. ”

The group gathered all the scattered wood and piled it back together, vague conversations continued for most of the evening till late that night.

When the time to sleep came, Shaemus insisted on taking the first watch of the night, Hielgan accepted with little protest since he knew that Shaemus did not trust him and if he could feel better watching them, so be it.

Hielgan did not mind him at all, it was the most probable reaction.

After wrapping Grimvyern with animal skin Hielgan placed the sleeping greatsword beneath his pillow, then he took the ordinary steel greatsword he had taken from his former cabin and placed it under his arm before he slept.

That night at the hour of the wolf Hielgan suddenly woke from his sleep, a strange presence had stirred his senses and forced him to wake up.

To avoid alerting the enemy, Hielgan opened his eyes and peered around without moving his body.

Something is lurking in the dark… I can feel it.

Before Hielgan had gone to sleep, he had activated one of his special abilities that remained active even as he slept, the ability lasted for several hours and did not require him to activate it again.

[Presence-Reminder] Active.

Passive ability [Presence-Reminder] can feel a new presence in my vicinity. Hielgan pondered to himself.

Hielgan then concentrated on the newly found presence and immediately pinpointed its location.

Southeast.

The passive ability [Presence-Reminder] allowed Hielgan to mark three things possessing aura within his surroundings that included people or objects and treat them as presences, these presences would either be considered friend or foe depending on how he chose to treat them.

Once marked Presence-Reminder would keep track of the presences marked and alert Hielgan of any new presences that came within the abilitys radius.

With significant training, Hielgan would be able to increase the number of marked presences and be able to tell apart new ones without even marking them.

Only one.

At that moment Hielgan felt the presence of a creature seeping with malicious intent.

Sarai and Rocky were still fast asleep and neither of them could sense anything, they were both relying on Shaemus to alert them of any danger.

At this point, Hielgan felt that Shaemus should have felt this malicious aura by now, even without the help of an ability like [Presence-Reminder] whatever was emitting this aura was intent on attacking and such intent could not be hidden so easily.

”Don you feel it… Shaemus? ” Hielgan paused his thoughts as he analyzed every presence in his vicinity.

”Shaemus? ” Rocky rose from her slumber and murmured Shaemus name drowsily. ”Where are you going? ”

Going? Hielgan wanted to ask Rocky what she meant, but the young elf had immediately fallen asleep again.

Did she mean? Surprised by the revelation Hielgan paused for a second to quickly process what was really going on.

Sarai, Rocky, and Shaemus had already been marked by his ability and were regarded as friendlies, the alert at midnight had warned Hielgan of a new presence in his vicinity and that presence had not moved in the last few minutes, on the other hand, Shaemus presence was moving away from the camp.

Where we being watched this whole time? Hielgan questioned his own judgment. How annoying!

Hielgan sprung from his laying posture, grabbed his greatsword from the ground then scoured the area where he had sensed the malicious presence. A large black crow fluttered its wings in a nearby tree, in the same direction as he had sensed the evil presence.

I See you!

Hielgan pulled back his arm with his greatsword in hand then tightened the grip on the sword before yelling out.

”[Sever – Wind Lashes]! ”

The sword gave a light blue glow then Hielgan quickly swung it three times in the crows direction, each swing launched a wave of pressurized wind blades towards the crow. The first wave sliced the branch from the tree and as the bird fluttered in the air, it was struck by the second incoming wind blade.

A puff of black smoke signaled the birds demise.

”A familiar? ” Sarai who had woken up stated in surprise.

Familiars were uncommon with most adventurers, and it took master-level spellcasters to summon and maintain familiars, especially at long distances.

”Someone captured Shaemus, I need to catch up to them before I lose them, ” Hielgan explained.

”Go on ahead, we will catch up, ” Sarai assured him.

Hielgan nodded in agreement and quickly swept up his gear including Grimvyern, then bolted towards Shaemus in the direction his [Presence-Reminder] had shown him.

”[Edge of Motion]! ”

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