100 Chapter 100 Assassins and Cookies
After almost seven hours of sleep, Joseph woke around 2 in the morning, fully rested. Everyone was ready to leave, so everyone was heading to their wagons. Stella was hurrying behind Joseph, on their way to their wagon, when she suddenly pushed him down to the ground.
Rolling to see what was going on, he spied the silhouette of a man on the roof of one of the carriages, holding a crossbow. As there was a click of a bolt releasing, Joseph circulated his mana faster than he had ever done before, casting DETONATE on it. The arrow head went wide as the blast went off. Raising his arm, he knew he couldn't do that again.
Stella stood over him, as half a dozen clicks heralded a swarm of arrows. She knocked them away as fast as they came, but one sneaked through, embedding itself in his arm, wedged between the two bones in his forearm.
The pain was excruciating! It was worse than when Sylva had killed him. The area immediately around the wound started turning black. Stephan was there, casting CURE WOUNDS, but this thing was poisoning his very mana. It was dark and disgusting. The pain took his breath away. Even Stephan's CURE POISON didn't stop it.
Joseph rolled to his knees, holding his arm out. It had to be some kind of demonic curse, similar to the corruption from Cthulhu-Skeet.
"Stella, cut it off! It's killing me!"
She swiped with her blade, and his arm fell off. Somehow, his arm being cut off, hurt less then the arrow had. The arm on the ground continued to turn black. Breathing hard, as he held his amputated stump, he stared at the appendage on the ground. There was only one spell he knew that might work, but he had to believe in it, for it to work.
It wasn't his arm, laying there in the spreading pool of blood, it was a hunk of meat. It was food. It was food. It was food. Then…PURIFY FOOD.
His mana was still abused from his forced DETONATE, so forcing the spell on something that would never normally be food, increased the strain to a point that he vomited off to the side, but he managed to hold onto the spell. The spreading blackness and the arrow were destroyed.
With a trembling hand, he picked up his arm, and held it up to his stump.
"Now, Stephan," he barely managed to whisper.
Stephan was pale as he cast MAJOR HEAL. His nose promptly started to bleed and he passed out.
Joseph held his arm, covered in blood, panting, as he examined the baseball sized scar in the middle of his forearm. Wiggling his fingers, his relief caught him off-guard. The sound of bodies hitting the ground, and shouts in the dark faded from his ears as he passed out next to Stephan.
When he woke up, he was in his carriage. Stella had her forehead on his, and sighed when he opened his eyes.
"You smell like cookies," he whispered, and she smiled. "Are there any left?"
"No, silly, you're imagining things. You don't have a fever, and you're awake…"
They both glanced down to his arm, to see that the sleeve is still missing. It disappeared with the arrow and cursed flesh. It looked horrible, and his hand was very stiff. Hopefully a couple more heals would fix that.
"There were twenty-seven assassins around town. I think there were three different groups. One caused a diversion in the east, near the barbarians, one attacked your father, and nine came to attack you. They were using some kind of repeating crossbow none of us had ever seen.
"You need better armor. I'm not sure what you did to that first arrow, but if you hadn't blocked that second one, and it had hit you in the chest, especially your heart…" Her heart got soft as tears collected in the corners of her eyes.
Joseph reached up and touched her cheek with his unhurt arm.
"Hey, we made it. We lived through one more attack. We'll keep getting stronger. Soon we'll be so powerful, no one can touch us. We won't have to fear them anymore. Also, everyone that's going with us, will have signed papers that will keep us safe from them attacking us."
She nodded and wiped the unshed tears away. Joseph sighed.
"That was demonic magic. Some type of ridiculously fatal curse. I'm glad they chose to use it on me and not dad. Stella, do you think that when the demon worshipers attacked the world tree, they are still trying to finish us off so we can't stop them?"
"What do you mean, Master Joseph?" she asked confused.
"Well, when I was the first Joseph, I was riding to the few to warn them that my mother had been captured by demon worshipers who were forcing my father to do things for them. One of those things was to sneak pure demon blood into your forest in order to pour it on the world tree. I don't remember what else they were up to; I was just wondering if they might still be around trying to stop us from restoring the tree."
"That's what you were doing in the forest?" she cried in horror.
"Of course, what did you think I was doing?"
"I thought you were trying to sneak into the forest, like all the other humans who wouldn't listen had done."
"Oh! No wonder you killed me like you had!"
"I feel horrible! What if I was the reason all of this happened?!"
"Stella, you are not the person who killed the first Joseph. You are Stella. Just because you have Sylva's memories, does not make you Sylva."
"That makes so much more sense why they were so sure cursing me was the right thing to do. The tree would have known it was my fault, and the only way for me to right my wrong was if I came back to right it in this lifetime…"
She looked up at Joseph, and he watched as she blinked several times.
"Are you sure there's no more cookies?" he asked.