133 Chapter 131 TIME SKIP
After the week of grounding and rest, they were ready to continue tracking down what the demons were up to. While Joseph wasn't happy about the delay with the elven forest, he certainly didn't like the demons running around freely.
For the hosts to be able to manifest as full demons, they must have been possessed for years, likely decades. They would certainly be some of the higher-level demon worshipers, or the demons would have already won.
Taking all of that into account, it seemed like following them now, and possibly taking out more of their higher-ups before they hid again, would mean fewer interruptions once he started fixing the elven forest barrier.
Joseph teleported them back to the site of the demon ritual. The area was still magically consecrated. It looked like the worshipers had come back to try and desecrate the area again, but couldn't stand the area's new aura.
Joseph wished he knew how to duplicate that. He was reasonably certain the area only became hallowed with the help of the magic beast king and his strong feelings at the time. There probably wasn't a way to duplicate it just yet, but it frustrated him.
Starting to trace the direction the mana was flowing, he noticed that Stella was looking at him oddly.
"Master Joseph, you've been looking in that direction for a while now. Is it…?"
"It's heading straight to the center of one of the circles we saw before, when we were in low orbit. It was one of the most isolated that didn't overlap as much. I can't imagine the demons are trying to maintain the world, so it seems they are trying to stop whatever is at the center.
"We're going to have to walk if we want to sneak up on them. When we jumped back, they had some kind of alarm spell we set off, so they know whatever stopped the ritual before, has returned. I can teleport farther than I can detect the spells, so if I keep doing it, we will jump right into the middle of them after giving them full warning."
"I would prefer to avoid that, if possible, Master Joseph."
Fortunately, he was right. The demon worshipers they ran into, weren't able to fully become demons. The first group was four. Joseph managed to disable the alarm by unraveling the magic that it was made up of. It took him a few minutes to figure out, as he had never done it before, but if he had simply cut it, that would have tipped them off just as much as setting it off would have.
Without knowing how well it was monitored, he didn't have a choice. Once it was disabled, Stella was able to take out all four of them, quickly and silently, with knives through the eyes or in their throats. They used the buddy system when they went to use the bathroom, so she merely took out two at a time. Joseph was impressed.
The next group had four and the one after that was six. Neither gave them any problems. The fourth camp had four alarm spells, and he couldn't unravel them all. Stella was still able to take two out when they headed for the bathroom, but then there was a shift change, and six more showed up.
One of them went to recast the alarm spell and detected him unraveling the remaining two. That's when it got messy.
Running at one of the remaining four, Stella jumped and stabbed him in the stomach, disemboweling him, before spinning and kicking a second who tried to swing his sword at her. He fell back against the third, giving her time to face the last of the original group. She dodged under his sword, stabbing him in rapid succession in his belly, then his chest, then his throat, before ducking under the blow of the second as he swung at her, causing him to hit the guy she had just stabbed, knocking him back against the wall, where he gasped and clawed at his neck.
Joseph abandoned the alarm spell and started rapid firing MAGMA MISSILE at the new six, so she could finish the last two without worrying about the new comers. He managed to get them pinned down behind some large boulders that sizzled and hissed as the magma dripped down them.
Spinning in the air to dodge the thrown daggers from the third guard, she threw her daggers back at him, then landed, jerked them out of his falling body, and spun around to dodge the next blow of the second guy. He snarled at her, and began swinging wildly, so she spun on her heel, knocking his feet out from under him. He landed heavily on his back, sending his sword flying, where she jumped on him, driving her dagger into one of his eyes.
The MAGMA MISSILE was slowly damaging the hiding guards, but Joseph knew that they would have other spells that they were probably preparing to cast, so he had Joe cast REVERSE MISSILES on both him and Stella.
One of them had tried to circle around behind Joseph, but Stella spotted him, choosing to run through his barrage to make it before he succeeded in striking down Joseph. Joseph stopped his barrage, so as not to hit her, and the remaining seven jumped up with crossbows, thinking he had run out of spells.
The bolts reversed when they got close to him, returning to the ones that shot them, and killed five of them. The remaining two fell back down, hurt, but he wasn't sure how bad. The wounds had started to turn black, so obviously they had cursed themselves.
Stella disappeared as she jumped behind the man, and stabbed him in the back. There was silence in the room, as he gasped in surprise before falling to his knees and then forward, dead.
Pulling a rag out of her purse, she wiped her blades down, before returning them to her purse, and dropping the filthy rag on the ground. Joseph walked with her, as they came around the debris, that the last two were hiding behind.
One was just finishing casting WATER. A three-foot icicle flew at Joseph, rebounded, and traveled straight through the guys heart. He died with a look of surprise on his face. The last guy stood and ran. A quickly thrown dagger caught him in the back.
"I learned LEND VITALITY and MINOR HEALING while I was grounded, but I sure am glad I didn't need to use them. I guess they know we are coming."
"Yes, they do Joseph." She gave him the most blood-thirsty smile, he had ever seen on her face. "Now the real hunting begins."
True to her words they picked up the pace. Only three days, and roughly 100 worshipers later, they arrived at the mountain.
(OOH I BET THERE IS GONNA BE A BOSS FIGHT.)
(EXTRA POINTS IF IT LOOKS COOL.)
(JUST A LITTLE MOOD MAKING.)
The mountain was surrounded by a permanent fog of corruption. Joseph could feel it oozing on his skin and Stella kept patting herself as if to confirm something wasn't actually touching her.
They managed to avoid the alarms and sentries. Both of them knew it was going too well. The demon worshipers had existed for a thousand years and weren't this stupid. When they finally got to oversee the cavern at the heart of the mountain, they saw a dragon.
Only its head still had beautiful red scales. The rest of its body was full of oozing sores, underneath the scales that had turned black. A grotesque shadowy figure was trying to overlay the dragon, and had reached up to its head. The dragon could only flinch in its sleep.
They were trying to possess a dragon!
The chanting of the group beneath the dragon stopped as one. Hundreds of clothed figures fell to the floor, dissolving into puddles. The head of the worshipers turned his face around, without turning his body, and stared at them. Before either of them could react, they were trapped in a dome.
Only the creepy glow of the head priest was there, for them to see by. He started screaming in a terrible, screechy voice.
"YOU WERE CAUGHT IN OUR TRAP. HERE, WHERE ALL OF THE MAGIC HAS THE FEEL OF THE BLESSED LANDS, DID YOU THINK WE COULDN'T FEEL YOUR DISGUSTING MAGIC? YOU MAY HAVE HIDDEN FROM OUR SENTRIES ONCE, OR TWICE, BUT WE KNEW YOU WOULD COME FOR THE DRAGON, AND WE WAITED FOR YOU. OUR GOD GRANTED US THIS POWER FOR THE SACRIFICE OF A THOUSAND SOULS. THE POWER OF TIME. YOU ARE TRAPPED HERE, AWAY FROM YOUR MANA FOREVER. ETERNITY WILL PASS. NEVER WILL YOU BE FREED. WE HAVE W…"
He stopped abruptly, as Stella's daggers appeared in his forehead and chest.
"Joseph. What do we do? Even if my battery is full I don't…"
Joseph walked over to her, and gave her a hug. She looked really scared.
"Stella. I make magic. Even if we are outside time, it hasn't changed, it just isn't as much as normal. Trust me."
After the barest of moments, she nodded solemnly.