The walk to the base of the Mowai Halii didn’t take long. Or, to be more exact, we didn’t walk the entire way. After roughly ten minutes, we arrived at a small clearing within the woods, where the sister known as Carmine began casting magic. Her familiar appeared, a little impish boy with only a single eye.
As Carmine channeled the magic, the imp began drawing a pattern on the ground by dragging one of its legs almost limply behind itself. Like this, it formed a circle in the dirt, within which a glowing red and black portal appeared. As one, all of us walked through the portal and entered within the dark underground complex of the demonic sect.
In truth, we had already been directly over the facility, and the portal merely sent us downwards. When we arrived, we appeared within a room lit only by the portal we had come through. As the portal disappeared, however, red torches began to light up along the walls.
Once more, we began walking. We were now moving towards the audience chamber where the Sect Master waited. While walking, I scanned the base with my World Sight, counting the number of people present.
According to Nyx’s memories, there should be thirty members remaining within the Mowai Halii. Everyone’s identities are kept secret from one another unless they are part of groups like the Sisters, and only the master is aware of them all. But… I can only detect a total of ten people within this base, counting us.
I was reluctant to leave members of this sect alive after I was done here, after reading through Nyx’s mind. However, if I couldn’t find them, there was little that I could personally do about it as Clover. Perhaps if I was able to invade the sect master’s mind like I did Nyx, but that was easier said than done. I had only been able to capture her so easily because she had left her mind vulnerable invading my own.
Deep down, I resolved myself to buy the fourth tier of ki after this. I had learned from the others how ninjas operate in Kione, so I wasn’t really worried on that front, but… so far, the only thing which had been purchased at the fourth tier was magic. It was just so much more expensive because I had to buy so many different types of magic.
When we arrived within the audience chamber, I saw the sect master sitting on his chair, a succubus familiar standing next to him. Oddly, this succubus looked different from the others that I had seen so far before. Accalia, is this a variant..?
Sorry, but no. The Sect Master of this Demonic Sect is a fourth tier mage. He’s been siphoning away some of the power from the ritual in order to evolve his own familiar. Otherwise, they would have been done with this weeks ago.
Right as I start thinking about the fourth tier, I meet one with my own eyes… Does a fourth tier succubus possess any special abilities I should be aware of?
Nothing that is a true threat to you. Their primary focus lies with debuffing magic by sapping the strength from their victims, while their charm becomes a secondary ability in the fourth tier. As long as you recognize that she is the biggest danger in the room, I doubt you will come to any harm.
“Is this the sacrifice that you have brought me?” The aged voice spoke beneath the hood. I scanned him with my world sight, and discovered that he was a face unfamiliar to me. A man looking to be near the end of his life with wrinkled skin and white hair, his eyes cloudy. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone told me that he was only being kept alive by a spell he created with his familiar. In one hand, he held a gnarled staff with a polished skull at its tip.
“Yes, master.” Sister Iris spoke, and the sisters all knelt together. Well, all but Nyx.
“Nyx.” Iris hissed out, as if trying to get her attention. A moment later, the still-standing sister fell to the ground like a puppet with her strings cut, causing the rest of the sisters to gasp in astonishment.
“Now, let’s see if I can still remember how to do this.” I spoke for the first time since leaving Lydia. A yellow sphere condensed within my hand, which I fiercely gripped. Throughout the room, hazy waves seemed to ripple randomly through the air, the space temporarily thrown into chaos.
“What is the meaning of this?!” The aged man said, his staff striking the ground. His familiar moved to step in front of him, wings extending behind her back. One of those wings touched a ripple in the air, and the succubus cried out in pain as her flesh was torn.
“Sisters!” Carmine shouted, entering a battle ready stance. They each pulled a long whip from within their sleeves, uncoiling them. But, my eyes were still on the succubus.
My posture lowered, left leg extending forward as my hands came in front of my chest. Golden armor appeared along my skin, and lightning crackled within my palms. This was how ninjas fought in Kione, merging with their familiars, and channeling their ki into their spells.
The lightning bolt spell that I had saved within Val became a blade, which I threw directly at the succubus. Dodging would mean that it hits her summoner, so obviously she had to do her best to block. As her hands came forward, and she summoned a ball of darkness, I turned my attention towards the four sisters.
I knew from Nyx’s memories that none of them were particularly combat oriented, as they were sent in for espionage and seduction. Their track record had only been perfect because they always made sure not to engage in a fight. Now that a fight was upon them, and one of their members already removed, they were at a distinct disadvantage.
My hands came above my head as I stood tall once again, lightning crackling between them. This time, I was allowing the magic of the spell to run rampant, striking at everything nearby. Perhaps not as energy efficient as a directed spell, but I had mana to spare. Each time one of them was struck, they let out a cry of pain.
As they began to recoil back, I turned my attention to the succubus. She was panting for breath, one hand showing burns, but she had survived the attack. When my gaze fell back upon them, the old man began speaking. “I see… so it has come to this.”
“Lord of the abyss, king of that which shuns the light…” The wall behind the man began to rumble as he chanted, but I had no inclination to let him finish.
I pulled one fist back as I took a punching stance, this time layering and condensing the ki over a single knuckle. “Sorry, old man, but I learned a long time ago not to allow those kinds of cliches.”
The bead of ki I was condensing seemed to take on a tangible form after inserting half of my energy into it. That is… half of my Keeper ki, which was roughly fifty times my normal amount. When I threw my fist forward, it caught that bead. The ki wrapped around my hand and then fired straight ahead.
A ripple of air spread out around the line that was drawn from the blast. It seemed similar to breaking the sound barrier, but with a shaking blackness within the ripple. Before the man could react, the energy had formed into a beam, piercing directly through the succubus’s stomach and continuing through his own heart.
Behind the sect master, a fist-shaped hole appeared within the wall of the room, through which blood began to pour. I watched the succubus breaking apart into blue lights as the man died, and turned my attention to the four sisters. Well… three sisters. One had tried to make a run for it, only for her body to be crushed by the disorderly space I had created.
“Val, you can deal with them. I’m going to clean up.” I said as I walked towards the door, using my ki to forcefully stabilize a path. Of course, once I was through, I made sure to destabilize space once again.
Lydia sat at her desk within the room, waiting for her teacher to come inside. Beneath the desk, her legs kicked back and forth happily as she thought about the promise that Mister Kyr had made to her. It didn’t really make sense how she knew that she could trust him, when her own father had already left, but she did. She knew that he would keep his word, that he would not only return safely from his hunt, but also bring her something for her shop.
Something about being around Mister Kyr just seemed to make her happy. As if he were an old friend that she was meeting again. I wonder if he’s just trained his charm to be really high? She thought inwardly. They had already learned about the meanings of the basic stats, but charm was one that was incredibly difficult to raise.
Outside of advanced classes, only six known classes allowed one to raise that mysterious stat. People with high charm always seemed more friendly and trustworthy, so it’s possible that that was the cause. But Lydia didn’t feel like that was the case.
“Where is she?” Lydia muttered to herself, looking towards the door. Their teacher was always so prompt to begin classes, but she was now running late.
Just as Lydia began to worry over that, she felt a subtle pressure releasing from her chest, as if she had let out a heavy breath she didn’t know she was holding. A burden seemed to lift from her, and for some reason a smile crept over her lips.
As she was thinking about that, the door opened, and a man in a black jacket stepped into the room. “Apologies, everyone.” He addressed the class, who quickly recognized him as the principal of the school. “Nyx Amari had to go home for the evening. Since it’s… difficult to find a substitute teacher on such short notice, I’ll be filling in for the day.”
Lydia’s smile dipped back down as she worried about her teacher. She had seemed just fine when she came into class. Lydia hoped that the Mowai Halii hadn’t gotten to her as well.
Please try to refrain from leaving me in destabilized areas like that again, father. Leowynn pleaded with me after finishing up with the sisters. At the same time, I had tracked down the last of the members of the cult within the hideout itself.
What’s the matter? I asked curiously. You should have been able to stabilize it yourself, right?
…Sadly, I have yet to perfect that technique. I’ll study it when we get back home later. For now, I had to simply wait for space to restore itself enough for me to pass through. Otherwise, I would have been here sooner.
Alright, sorry about that. I offered her an earnest apology while preparing a spell to teleport the two of us back to the forest. Any thoughts on what we should do with the rest of the cultists?
Their plan was foiled, their ritual materials destroyed, and their master killed. For those that remain, I expect that they will go into hiding. Any believe truly brave enough to step up after all of this should either be applauded or pitied. Perhaps both.
Let’s go with both. I said with a nod of my head, casting the spell that I had just finished preparing. A moment later, the two of us were back within the forest, though I did not immediately start walking towards town. If they do act up, I’d say that I’ve ‘programmed’ Clover with enough of a grudge to hunt them down by now.