Chapter 20: A Storm of Lightning
An icy hand gripped my heart each time I let an arrow go. I wanted to apologize, I wanted to beg for forgiveness for ending their lives. It was I who was putting an end to them here as I selfishly try to save my own.
[Lucid, they’re already dead. They died weeks ago…]
As I spoke I shot another arrow at an oncoming wave of undead, their faces screaming as they clumsily ran towards us. As the horde ran to us I saw a pair of undead children be mercilessly trampled over as they failed to keep up. Only to get up and limp forward.
My arrow exploded once more, causing the putrid smell to cover us again coating me in another layer of mud and rotting flesh.
There are no breaks here. We have to keep moving yet my thoughts kept switching to the two kids I had just killed.
Why now! I cursed.
What happened to the attitude I had in the forest!? Why can’t I suppress this! I don’t have time I need focus, I can’t have these thoughts right now! Each time my arrow flew I felt my soul be sucked out of me.
It was no use to try and control it as I did in the Tole Forest. I could not think of what could have changed to cause strong emotions to stir within me once again.
Eugene was also carrying a pained face as he had to personally cut down every undead adult and child.
We continued to run following the map Eurval and his MAGI continually updated for us as we ran through the fog. There was no pausing to pick a route. One stop would be the end of us, we would be smothered by hordes wishing to deny our living breath.
“RAAAAA” An undead spotted me up head screaming at the top of its lungs with a twisted jaw to alert the others. Like rabid animals, they ran at me with only pure hate painted in their dead eyes.
I locked my eyes onto him as we ran towards each other. Of course, my arrow arrived first. The young undead man stood no chance against the weak arrow.
Without even time to think or say a prayer, I ran past with another arrow in hand aimed at the larger group that had listened to the undead’s call.
Once again Eugene and I were covered in bits of undead. I wiped the grime from only my eyes ignoring the awful taste that had entered my mouth a long time ago.
[Two more miles to go Lucid.]
I nodded my head at Eurval’s calm guidance. A familiar voice seemed to calm my own fears as I followed Eurvals instructions.
I took the chance at the undead’s fear of the loud sound to take out another group. However, with that sound, I could already feel my reaction speed slow. My knees creaked and hip began to ache too. I ignored the pain.
The increasing pain was nothing, the thousands here would be glad to have this chance to live!
I looked back to check on Eugene, he still looked fine. I turned my head forward and once again continued the sprint.
“Be careful Lucid their starting to lunge at us! Don’t get caught!” Eugene yelled out to me as he killed an undead that got too close to us.
That warning came too late, with my sluggish reactions a fat undead jumped at me.
A dagger attached to a chain of blue mana pierced its head then retracted back pulling the large undead back as the dagger dislodged itself. I breathed a sigh of relief knowing Eugene had covered me. My senses were getting much worse I hadn’t even noticed it approach from my flank.
“Eugene I think my vision is going…” I had mistaken it for built-up sludge in my eyes.
“It’s okay! Just keep moving! I’ll keep covering just keep making a path!” Eugene continued to strike down the undead that got close to us.
I picked up my pace ducking and dodging where I could with the help of Rainer’s movement spell assisting my speed to avoid the death dives.
“GRUAAHH” More and more began to dive at our feet and waist at an attempt to slow us down.
As fast as my inflamed fingers could shoot I tried my best to make a path for Eugene and I. Although stronger than me, his ability in dealing with groups this large was next to nothing.
I shot three arrows one further than the next to make space for our next few steps creating a firey path. The resulting shockwave knocking down the ones not immediately killed.
“Fuck get off me!” I tripped. Eating a face full of stagnant foul blood. I looked down to see the torso of an undead use its arms to slow me.
I kicked to try and shake off the undead that had grabbed my foot as I continued to crawl forward on my elbows.
With a final kick, I managed to rip its arm off. I stumbled back up to my feet. Silvery mana covered me once again as I got up and dashed forward. Eugene kept close behind slashing and whipping undead apart.
[One more mile Lucid.]
One!? We’re too slow! My bones were aching bad and my head felt light as my aged heart and lungs failed to keep up.
“I can see it Lucid!” Eugene yelled out as he decapitated a tall one while I prepared the next path for us.
I could see the portal sitting on the plateau in the distance as I ran forward nocking a wind arrow. It was just a little up ahead down this small slope. I focused my view as we approached the ridge to enter the final stretch downhill.
I used the powerful vortex following my wind arrows to open a clear path forward to rid of the undead at the edge of the slope. The fragile undead stood no chance as their bodied practically disintegrated to the rush of wind.
Finally, Eugene and I arrived at the ridge for the final stretch down.
My heart dropped.
A massive cluster of undead seemed to have been waiting there at the base of the plateau. There must have been at least ten or twenty thousand undead waiting.
“Dammit!” They were probably left from chasing others who had passed through. Of course! I should have known.
One after the other heads began to turn towards Eugene and I their groans turning into yells and shrieks. In unison, they all began to run up the slope to where we stood. Their angered cries reverberated the air as a tidal wave of undead began a mad dash towards Eugene and me.
I could feel the anger in their very being be transmitted in their yells. Their groans and wailings filled with injustice. A cry towards their Gods for killing them so suddenly. I could understand it. I would be much the same.
“Already!? Eugene…” I looked towards him for help as my chest lurched forward. I felt my steps slow. My arms became skin and bones and my fingers with barely any semblance of fine control.
[Lucid! You’re close! GET UP!]
I could hear Eurval’s voice shake my head to rouse me, but I was too tired. My legs simply continued to run since it was what they had been doing with the assistance of Rainer’s movement spell.
My aim shook as I pointed my arrow towards the faster wave of undead that had arrived first. Mostly young men and woman many still wearing casual clothes some even pajamas all stained now with marsh and human grime.
I managed to cast and shoot a wind arrow taking a good chunk of this wave and a little bit of the main group of undead behind, but it made no difference. The massive wave refilled the slice I had cut out.
Quickly my vision turned into a giant blur and my breath became more ragged as my lungs searched for air that it couldn’t get into my blood fast enough. I could only see the faint blue light from Eugene’s mana chains as he tried his best to hold off the encroaching horde.
I felt a pang of harsh guilt. Guilt that I failed to help the first friend I made in this horrible world. It hurt, I wanted see my other friends from Earth again, to hear Eugene ask me once more to become his lab rat, to experience what other amazing things magic can do in this world. I wanted to live on!
My legs were barely moving. I could hear Eugene grunt and yell out as he reached the end of his ability to fully cover me. I could see his chained daggers zipping in and out around me constantly changing directions to shield me from the undead.
Eugene was going all out trying hard to keep us alive for a second longer, no, another breath longer. This was the tenacity Eugene had, I wanted to laugh only realizing the connection now.
Even with my poor vision, I could see Eugene’s face was bloodied and cut, his cadet uniform torn, as he continued fighting the undead off without slowing down for a second.
Might as goddamn well! A fit of anger filled me from deep within creating a moment of clarity once again.
Instantly I cast Rainer’s spread shot from memory pouring every single drop of mana I had left within it. I then placed my own fire arrow to complete the spell.
Didn’t he say it was in multiples of twos? An idea sparked.
I made a quick adjustment to my arrows and threw my wind arrow spell into the mix as well. Immediately after a silvery arrow appeared in my clumsy grip barely with the strength to nock it I weakened my bowstring and pulled it back. Maybe Eugene can make it if I can’t!
“Lucid keep holding on!” Eugene called out as undead after undead began latching onto his body tearing at him beginning to pile on top.
Even in that state, he tells me to hold on.
A massive wave of pain originating from within me began to spread out. I fell to my knees, but before it fully arrived I let go shooting it directly above.
As my vision faded out I could see a beautiful silver arc leave my bow splitting into 2 then 4 then 6 then 8, until they became an uncountable stream of thousands of needles reflecting in the sky. Once they reached their peak they slowed and became a bright white turning into bolts of thin lighting striking down all the undead around us.
Although, each bolt was weak one was more than enough to kill a single undead many getting hit with multiple strikes as they spread all around us.
Deep drowsiness washed over me as I fell on my back onto the cold mud.
[Lucid! You can do it your close! Get up! You can’t rest here yet!]
A real panic filled Eurval’s voice in my head, it could sense my vital signs plummeting. I really did all I could up to this point to survive in this world. If I die here then I died here doing my damned best. I’ll take these dead with me too and let their souls finally rest with mine.
“Go on give it to him, and say thank you.” A young boy and girl shyly walked to me clothed in simple white robes.
Awoken a wave of pain crashed into me from the overreach causing me to convulse every now and then. The pain was just as bad if not worse that the first and second time it happened.
As I shook the two slowly neared me as I lay in the mud. I was sure my awful twitching face was a scare to them. I probably looked like one of the undead by now!
As their faces got closer I realized the two looked familiar, but I couldn’t put my finger on who I was reminded of though.
I tried to move my head and see the face of the soft voice talking but it was
obscured by a blinding light.
I need to get up!
I was suddenly reminded of the curse I was under and that I need to get out of here.
As I strained myself to try and sit up I must have freighted the he two cute kids as causing them to toss a white flower onto my chest then run back to the source of the voice.
Uhh thanks for the flower? Is this my grave?
I guess I did die. I was half expecting this and half hoping I wouldn’t, but I was semi prepared so it didn’t come to as a shock. In fact a sense of relief came to me realizing all my responsibilities no longer mattered.
“Fine take me, but I can’t walk so you guys are going to have to carry me.”
“ Your not dead, you just need rest.” The faceless voice spoke out again.
Wasn’t it cloudy? I asked myself as I felt warm rays of sun hit me.
“What about Eugene?”
“He is fine too. Actually, he’s the one who got you out of that dungeon floor.”
“Come, we have to go now say bye.” The two kids waved their little hands at me as they slowly disappeared with the faceless voice.
“Wait what about the flower? Is it some extremely rare lustrating material?” My voice was filled with expectation.
“Pfft, nope. It really is just a flower, I picked on my way here. A small gift. It is really pretty don’t you think?”
I couldn’t move my head enough to see the flower on my chest, so I took the voice’s word for it. I wanted to click my tongue in disappointment, but stayed silent.
Just as the three disappeared I felt a revitalizing warmth suddenly fill me as I drifted to sleep. Not even the awful smell that returned could stop this bed of mud from being comfortable in this moment.
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