173 Chapter 170 Hunt Them All Down
Joseph stood, looking over the pit of dead below him, as Stella finished off the last of the worshippers at this site. It sickened his stomach to see so many who had died at the hands of these demons. Turning to the few survivors who were left, he waved his hand.
"Are we ready to head to the next place?" asked Stella, stepping up beside him.
"It's been two months, and we're still finding more spots. Where do you think they're all coming from? It didn't take us this long the last time we did this," complained Joseph.
He was tired of jumping around and killing. Tired of seeing people being used as things to torment and torture. Tired of seeing death.
"They're following this demi-god Nikmesh, right? Why don't we figure out where his main place is, and destroy it? Then maybe they'll stop popping up everywhere."
"That's the one place that won't show up on my minimap. I'm afraid I'm going to have to read one of their minds to find it, and that can have…consequences."
"Want me to do it?" she asked, glancing down distastefully at the pit.
"No, if you go mad, I would have to cast CURE MADNESS on you, and I'm certain I won't go mad. Joe is up here, watching out for me," he said, tapping his head.
"You said you didn't want to leave a single possessed wagon driver in the entire realm, so that's going to take a while to hunt them all down."
Joseph sighed and turned to look back over the destroyed camp. "We've traveled across all three kingdoms, searched over hundreds of miles, and there are still dozens of spots to investigate."
"Then we better get going. Every time we stop like this, more of them get started."
Stella already had her swords out, diving for the possessed individuals, that Joseph pulled the demons out of and made them solid enough for her to slice up and kill. The demons were getting smarter, setting traps and killing people faster, without taking as much time to torture them.
After dealing with the surviving prisoners and destroying the arena, Joseph realized that the mana that had been accumulating within the arena, was being sucked out of it before he could completely destroy it.
"Stella, we may have a problem," he said, going back through his memories of the past two months. His heart dropped into his stomach as he realized each time he destroyed the arenas, it released the stored up mana. How could he have not realized that yet?
"What's the matter?" she asked, looking around for a trap she may have missed. She had gotten pretty good at destroying them over the past couple of months.
Joseph began to cast a spell, to determine where the mana was going, and was able to pinpoint a location. The problem was that, as he watched his minimap, for the location to appear, three more arena locations also showed up.
"They've been using my destruction to their advantage," he said, bitterly.
"What?" she asked incredulously.
"Every time I destroy one of their arena's, all of the death mana they've managed to store up in it, is released. They've been using it to create new ones and to power something at a location I've just discovered."
"Wait, is that why we haven't been able to get ahead of this?"
Joseph ignored her question for a moment, deep in thought, trying to figure out a solution. If he stopped destroying the arenas there was no way to keep the demons from returning to their activities after he left. He could try and steal the mana before he destroyed the arena, but it was corrupted from the evil ceremonies. What if he tried purifying the site, before he destroyed it?
"I have an idea, let's go," he said, teleporting them before she could respond.
Five wagons later, they were over another camp. Stella waited to attack while Joseph studied the arena, without looking at the madness inducing scribbles.
There were only three demons here, far fewer then they had been finding, so maybe they were making some progress after all. The only prisoner they had here, was a young man, who was in the process of being cut open.
The demons, once removed from their hosts, and solidified, found themselves entrapped in runic circles. Joseph healed the man and sent him away, before using magic to move the demons out of the arena. Ignoring the curses and screams they threw at him, he stood in front of one, and studied it.
Its skin was a dark grey, that bled to a sickly yellow around the squashed nose and oversized lips. Horns jutted out around its face, and along its head, like a weird hairstyle.
With a deep breath, he steadied himself before meeting the demon's eyes.
Joseph screamed in agony as the thoughts of the demon before him, rushed into his head, overwhelming him. A figure, in his mind's eye rose up before him, amused.
Joe responded immediately, cutting off the spell, and casting CURE MADNESS.
The demon before him chuckled, and the other two paused in their verbal assaults to watch in curiosity. Stella was beside him immediately, holding him to her as he shook. It took him several more minutes to gain control of himself, and a couple more spells to hide the evidence of his momentary lapse in bodily functions, before Joseph was able to climb to his feet.
Holding his staff tightly, he walked over to the scribbles on the ground and purposefully marked through them, erasing them. The demons began their tirades, and he pointed his staff at them, without looking at them.
Their cries and screams cut off almost immediately as they turned to a pile of dust.
"Joseph?" Stella stepped towards him as he held up his arms to the arena.
(YOU DON'T KNOW THIS SPELL, HOW ARE YOU DOING THIS?)
(FOR CASTING A NEW SPELL, YOU HAVE EARNED 1 LIFE POINT.)
The mana that the arena contained, stored for use by the followers of the evil god, Nikmesh, flowed out of it, into him, where he converted it back to life mana and released it all around him. Plants that had been stunted from all the activity around them, began to grow and thrive. Stella watched uncertainly as trees grew and flowers bloomed.
When all of the mana was out of the arena, it began to crumple all on its own. No mana remained to keep it together. The surrounding area abounded with mana, making it a high mana area.
"Are you okay?" she asked, softly.
"Nikmesh is amused by my antics, and told me he looked forward to handing my skull over to his superior, Nurkong," said Joseph, his back still to her.
"Then let's go kill him," she growled, stepping up next to him.
"No, not yet," he said, turning to look at her. His eyes had bled to pure black, and tiny specks of light flickered in them.
"I have to remove all of these arenas, so that he doesn't have a source of power fueling him, when I do kill him. But I know how to do that now."
"Joseph, your eyes," said Stella, stepping back.
"It's only a side affect from being in contact with that demon's mind. They'll go back to normal soon. I learned a new spell from that demon."
"Alright," she said, "then let's destroy the arenas and kill him."
Holding out his hand, she took it firmly, and smiled at him. He smiled back, relieved at her faith in him.