Silveria Effect Fate 5: Retreating Skill
Solemnly, we stood around the now-filled pit. With no priests still within the city for all had disappeared, we now conducted this funeral ourselves. Even with all the chaos in the city, we made this time...
I had led our makeshift funeral and even now with it done, we stayed around Alisa, doing our best to comfort her. Yet, Alisa herself seemed far away from us-and it made sense seeing how her family had been butchered in front of her eyes.
All we could do now is watch over her. Such a short amount of time had passed and already so much suffering occurred. If only I had not made that wish. If I had known, would I have made that wish?
Even as I watched her suffering besides me, I knew I could do nothing. What could I possibly say?
Time passed and rain fell around us as if to grieve with us. Or perhaps it mocked us.
Drenched, we moved solemnly away. We didn’t have the time to keep grieving, not with those monsters still out there. Not with what we still did not know. Seeing all those monsters made it certain that we needed to know more about our new world. After all, despite everything, we wanted to survive.
* * *
We marched towards Lucifer’s home, avoiding the monsters we could but tearing violently through many. By the time we reached his home, blood covered our clothes, staining them in various colors from purple to black.
Before us stood a grand mansion, so large that it seemed to have grown since I last saw the residence. Oddly, the only noticeable difference now was that the mansion seemed aged-almost as if from a horror film with roots growing out of the ground, moss covering the sides, and with shattered windows that seemed covered in centuries of dust.
The lawn now stood before us filled with weeds that seemed to crawl along the ground as if reaching for something. Those thorny vines branched out in all directions yet, with a malicious aura, they appeared to creep towards us. Except for that ‘appeared’ was inaccurate, they did not merely appear to creep towards us, they truly did move. Slowly the tendrils lifted off the ground and reached towards us, crawling upon the ground like thorny worms.
"Lucifer, what is up with your home?"
"Don't look at me, Shadow, I didn't have any control over this."
Without looking at the two as they began to bicker, I had a dreadful feeling. Those tendrils just happened to remind of something really odd... Still, I couldn't quite place what it reminded me of.
"Umm... Why is it that I have a horrible feeling about this?"
Yeah, Rook, I think most of us noticed except for Alisa who was still mostly listless and Lilith who in the apparently typical Lilith mindset seemed to be oddly fascinated. Luckily, the tendrils seemed to only go as far as the gate. Unfortunately, we intended to go into the mansion so one way or another we had to deal with these tendrils. So turning to the bickering two, I decided that it would be prudent for us to discuss the plan with Lucifer who lived here.
"Ok, we need to make a plan. There are far too many of these things for us to just charge in without knowing how dangerous they are."
"Yes, I agree, it isn't like I can just throw a fireball at my own home. Actually... Where is Lilith?"
"Sweet Pea is missing too."
As we heard that sound, I shuddered slightly. If I turned around now, it would surely appear. The scene of my horrid feeling would appear. Yet, I had to be sure and so I turned around, slowly as if every fiber of my body struggled to not confirm it. Sure enough, Lilith had been captured by those tendrils and was being gripped by those tendrils.
"Why is Lilith..."
Rook trailed off as if he too realized. What we thought was creepy, Lilith now thought was cute. And with her personality, she would naturally try to grab whatever it was that she found cute. Such was how we found ourselves in this situation with her hanging in the air and being, for a lack of better words, tied up.
Still, despite the situation, it seemed as if Lilith was not in any immediate harm - if anything, Lilith was enjoying it far too much. At least there would be no harm in letting her play with the tendrils for now while we figured out what to do.
"Lucifer, your lawn has just as bad a personality as you."
"I don't even-Don't put this on me!"
"Definitely your fault. They say that pets tend to share the personality of their master, but this definitely proves it."
"Just what kind of image do you have of me?"
I spoke firmly as their argument was of little importance. Lilith was fine for now, but there was no guarantee of her continued safety. I was still worried about the abilities of those tendrils, but it was in our best interests to act quickly. We needed a plan.
"Lucifer, do you have any ideas?"
"We just need an elf with a green tunic and a magic sword to spin around, cutting the lawn, right?"
"Cut it out with the jokes."
"Fine, fine, we should be fine if..."
Lucifer trailed off as he looked at Alisa who stayed uninterested in the world even through all this. He seemed to think for a moment before he continued.
"ilydia, you do have your scythe, which should be good at cutting these weeds, but there are far too many. My fire should be effective, but I would rather not burn down everything. So there is only one thing for us to do..."
Lucifer smiled as made a dramatic pause. Posing as if he was thinking of an amazing idea, he quickly switched to a pose to show he had a brilliant idea.
"We'll have both your scythe and Rook's greatsword do the work for us. We might not have Sweet Pea's threads here, but if you throw your weapons, they should cut everything in their path just fine."
"Ha? Are you seriou-You are serious, aren't you?"
"Deadly serious. If I was any more serious, I'd already be d-dangerously serious."
Lucifer glanced at Alisa, but it seemed that she wasn't paying any particular attention to the conversation. It seemed that despite his usual attitude, he still had some sense to attempt tactfulness.
Shadow looked at Lucifer incredulously, but stayed silent. He had nothing to do with this plan except for perhaps...
"So here is the plan. I will throw my scythe and Rook will follow with his greatsword. While we are doing this, Shadow will rescu-retrieve Lilith and Lucifer will take care of anything he can. With that said, Lucifer, open the gates."
Lucifer marched towards the gates and unlocked them with his key before swinging them open. Immediately, I dashed towards the tendrils holding Lilith and swung in a circle, spinning my scythe before throwing it, watching as it quickly cut a path before me. Rook, following me, threw his greatsword like a throwing knife, clearing even more of the path as we both rushed forward to retrieve our weapons before the weeds recovered.
Seemingly disturbed, the tendrils shook before they seemed to glare at us, deeming us as a threat. And indeed, we were threats to those tendrils. I moved quickly as I dodged several tendrils flying at me, spinning in the air as I lept over several, using the spin as I landed to fling myself forward.
Through my brief looks behind me, I watched Rook as he charged forward jumping over several tendrils and tackling his way through some smaller batches. We were doing well so far, yet we had to keep up this pace.
Dark lines flew all around me as I moved to dodge them, each dodge bringing me closer to my goal. Each line came closer than the last and soon, one line flew past my arm, a slight pain forming as a few drops of red hung in the air. Yet, I did not slow down, instead using the pain as a motivation to move faster.
My scythe came closer into view and now the tendrils seemed to have changed their plan, quickly shifting their focus to my scythe. I would not make it in time! And even as I thought those words, I felt a hand on my waist, picking me up with fearsome speed as the hand pulled me back. I felt the strain on my body for a moment as I my body's direction changed abruptly. And even as suddenly, I felt the hand let go.
As I shot towards my scythe, I realized that Rook had thrown me - likely a good decision on his part, but still a painful decision for me. Rapidly, I reached the scythe, grabbing it even as I shot past it, spinning to quickly cut down the weeds in my path before landing on the wall, rotating my body to redistribute the force as I crouched towards the wall before using my body as a spring to fly at the tendrils reaching for me.
With swift movements, I tore the tendrils in my path to shreds before landing on the lawn, ripping apart more tendrils with my landing. From a brief look, it seemed that Lilith had be retrieved, but there were still a majority of those tendrils remaining.
What we had was nowhere near enough for this task. I needed my skills from Silveria. I could remember the movements, but would I be able to recreate those movements with my body? Did I have the dexterity, the strength, and the skill required to recreate those movements?
I closed my eyes for a moment as I concentrated on remembering those movements. The air was still but for those tendrils homing in on me. The ground was firm beneath my feet. I felt my pulse as it beat within me. As my muscles tensed, I began to move.
Rather than seeing those tendrils as I began to move, I sensed them. The vibrations of the air telling me of the coming dangers as I began to act, quickly slashing the first set of tendrils, pulling them into the blade before swinging in the other direction, quickly cutting them apart as the dance began.
The dance I had grown used to from Silveria, now recreated by my own hands led me through the field of tendrils as my scythe spun through the air, forming almost silver arcs as afterimages from my dance, slowly painting the air with an image of a dragon slowly dancing through a field.
Faster and faster I moved, the silver dragon gaining length as I progressed, the field rapidly turning into a trimmed lawn as I flew through it. In a short time, most of the field had been rid of the weeds, but my muscles ached from the strain of recreating those complex movements.
My movements finally slowed as fatigue set in, my body struggling to maintain movements that had been pushing the limits. As I stopped to catch my breath, I watched Rook running around with his blade swinging, quickly cutting down those tendrils. And yet, I had a feeling of unease.
These tendrils had proven to be strong enough to carry a person into the air. Would they truly have been cut down so readily? My instincts told me the answer was no. And perhaps that same instinct caused me to shout even before I could finish forming the thought.
"Rook, get out of the lawn!"
Rook looked only for a moment, confused at first, the confusion quickly changing to worry before he acknowledged. His figure raced out even as the weeds we had cut down sprouted, the field quickly reforming. What we had done was not enough. Weeds were truly the most proper word for what these were. And as weeds, we needed to remove even the roots.
Despite this, I had nothing that I could do against these weeds. My muscles burned with fatigue. My strength waned even as I stood. The scythe felt heavy, surprisingly heavy. Despite this, I refused to fall here. Consciously, my mind pondered what it could do. Unconsciously, my body was already acting.
The spell had not worked with merely intent. If it had, then things would have been different. Yet, what if I were to begin recreating my movements and focus my intent not on recreating the movements, but instead...
I steadied my hand as I prepared a skill that would weed out these troublesome enemies. As if in watching myself act in slow motion, I pulled my scythe backwards, upwards. And I swung, slashing diagonally downwards in order to form a circle with the blade. And I swung, slashing as if to form an infinity symbol with the blade. Yet, my intent was not to recreate the movements. My intent was instead activation.
My mouth opened as I shouted the words, using the words to voice my intent. Using my words to voice that activation. Would it work? A small part of me wanted to pull back and say it was silly. A part of me wanted to try even though it would surely fail just to prove it was not possible. A part of me wanted. Despite everything, a part of me... trusted that it would work.
As if to confirm my thoughts, I felt a sudden chill, as if even the thermal energy was being drained. And time seemed to slow for a moment as if building up before my surroundings became a blur.
Moments later, I looked at the dirt beneath my feet as my surroundings came back into focus. Sounds of falling objects came from behind me and I slowly recovered. Finally, as the thudding sounds came to a halt, I managed to turn around, the majority of the weeds twitching across the lawn before shuddering into stillness.
I had managed to use that skill - not merely recreating the movements, but even recreating the speed and finesse that were simply not possible for me. If this was the case, why did spells not work this way? Was it simply that spells did not exist? No, there had to be something we were missing, but what?
I looked at Lucifer as my name was spoken, that call breaking me out of my thoughts.
"How did you manage to use a skill?"
Of course, everyone would want to know. And yet, would /everyone/ want to know?
"I started to recreate the movement of the skill, but instead of focusing on that, I placed my intent on activating the skill and my targets."
"I see, so instead of placing your intent on using the skill, you focused on the activation."
Lucifer seemed unusually somber for a moment, before he aimed his palm at the ground and spoke.
I looked at the ground, almost expecting to see that flower of ice, but there was nothing. Was his focus wrong? Or perhaps spells were different from skills? Either way, he seemed both disappointed and relieved. Relieved? No, that couldn't be it. I must have made a mistake.
"It seems that magic won't work this eay. Even if this is not working now, at least we know we can use skills."
"Then let us clean up the last of these. We can practice with using skills."
The group moved on those words, quickly tearing into the remaining weeds. After several minutes, the weeds were finally removed, piles of plant corpses filling the yard.
They quickly moved to the main door with Shadow voicing his complaints.
"Those weeds just wouldn't stay down. We kill one and more popped up."
"That would be why they are weeds. If I had my spells, we could have wiped them all out easily."
"Lucifer, you have the key?"
I spoke while looking at the looming door before us. We all were somewhat apprehensive about entering. While the outside had little change, the inside was still unknown and I saw no obvious keyhole.
Smirking, Lucifer placed his right hand in front of him spread out in a commanding pose as he shouted.
Shadow's words were quickly interrupted as the doors swung open, revealing a long hallway leading to an obviously grand room with massive, borgeuos stairs.
"I was just joking, but that works."
"More importantly, look at that."
Looking at what Lilith pointed at, we saw a row of butlers on either side of the hallway, all bowing and eerily similar in appearance and mannerism.
Past them, a figure stood on those large stairs.
"Welcome to my home, Brother."
The haughty Karen slowly stepped down the stairs, her lengthy dress flowing behind her as she moved with cruel precision, the small multi-colored jewels on the dress forming vine patterns making a shimmering sound as they moved subtly with every step. Her blonde hair was lengthy, reaching to her mid-back. Small strands of crimson highlights could be seen on the right side, the swaying made obvious by the vivid contrast even as small red drops fell, hitting her ivory dress, causing red flowers to bloom upon the vines.
"I welcome you to my home."
"Where is Father?"
Karen merely smiled as she approached, playing her ear, or rather with a small jewel earring that adorned her ear. As she approached, I began to recognize her appearance. Elizabeth Bathory. A famous villain who gained fame for slaughtering countless virgins and bathing in their blood in order to maintain her youth. While it was true that many of the tales about her have been exaggerated, partially due to unknowns, she was considered among the original vampires in many tales.
Yet, for Karen to take that form was unusual. We knew the rules of change and though I did not know her well, she had forced herself into my life. With that familiarity, she did not seem to be someone whose ideal would be Elizabeth nor should she have had anyone who would desire her to become as such.
"How do you have the appearance of the Elizabeth Bathory of vampire legend?"
"Oh? You don't know? Hahaha. Well, let me tell you then. It is actually rather simple. I desired it."
"Seeing everyone around me change? Seeing Father gain his appearance from when he was young? It got me thinking. If everyone around me was changing, why was I alone left unchanged? And so I thought, why did they change? And after a few bones here and a few nails there, I found it."
"Desire. So I filled myself with desire. Every child knows of the urban legends. Hanako of the Toilet, the man under the bed, the slit mouth woman, the vampire Cain. So I thought of the most beautiful lady besides myself. Someone who would suit me, who was not only beautiful, but also had power that I could desire. And what lady does not wish for immortal youth? And among those, who but Elizabeth Bathory had such a beautiful talent? Then I just needed to desire all our servants to become virgins so that I could enjoy them."
I gasped-no, we all gasped. If what she said was true, then it was possible to change not only ourselves, but others. The highest desire would take precedence. Or was there something else? I silently pondered for a moment. Karen's words hinted that even if they weren't virgins before, her desire could make them virgin. This meant that desire could heal even old wounds. Intent-a sort of desire-also had an effect as it was how we could use skills and pull out our weapons. Yet, we could not use spells even with strong intent. And despite her strong intent and desire, Sarah could not heal her family wounds. As I pondered, a thought occured to me.
"When did you make these changes?"
"Last night, a few hours after that eclipse."
"Within your mansion?"
"Of course. It was mine by that time."
Could it be? I had to test it, but how...
"Karen, maybe you didn't remember, but there was a legendary figure who was even more beautiful and powerful than Elizabeth Bathory."
"Oh? Pray tell."
"Think about it, you specifically chose the vampire legend for Elizabeth Bathory. This means that you do not necessarily need to become the original person, nor do you need to become an actual person. Titiana, the queen of fairies. Fairies were known to have the ability to become amazingly beautiful and she was strong enough to rule over the fairies."
"For being such a worthless worm, you sure have a good idea."
Karen closed her eyes, concentrating, the air around her shimmering for a moment before stopping.
"What? I can't change?"
As I thought. Very likely the conditions for changing your appearance was similar to that within the game. There were several conditions to change. First, you had to be within a territory of your dominion, generally your home. Second, you could only freely change your appearance the day you made your character. Third, past your first day, you needed the "Generic Potion" that made your character into a generic character, which would allow you to change your appearance once.
This meant that now that we had passed the first day, we would not be able to freely change our appearances. However, this could mean that the potion was craftable so long as we managed to gather the ingredients. There was a fourth condition, but it only applied to hired NPCs. Likely Karen had made use of this condition to change her servants who, despite being people, were effectively the same as hired NPCs. This meant that Karen was currently the master of this location.
Looking over, it seemed Lucifer had similar thoughts as mine. As the direct heir, Lucifer should have become the master before Karen. If Karen had become the master, then there were only a few possible reasons. One in particular that filled us with a sense of dread. The liquid falling from Karen's hair was as a clock's pendulum, dripping with a steady rhythm.
"Sister... Where is Father?"
Karen simply smiled as she continued to approach, once again playing with the jewel earring adorning her ear. A slight shiver ran down my back as her voiceless answer revealed more than I needed to know. Soon, she was close enough that we could see the jewels clearly. Small jewels was both the right term and not quite right. They were small black jewels indeed, but one could see figures within, moving.
Some figures were still human in appearance, seeming to panic, desperately trying to escape. An almost imperceptable pounding could be heard from some of the jewels. Others were wispy and seemed to barely exist, filling the jewels with pained expressions. The jewel on her ear was a wispy one and I understood without a doubt. Karen had murdered her father. Having defeated the master, Karen had forcibly become the master herself. With the change in the world, she had become even less inhibited.
I tensed my legs as I prepared. I would not say anything, simply act. We were in enemy territory and we had too little information. It was unnatural that she had managed to capture and defeat so many that her entire dress was adorned and we knew little about what powers she had except that she had taken on the form of the vampire Elizabeth Bathory.
The difficulty would be attempting to do this without a weapon. If the skills were linked to the weapon, then this would be especially difficult to do without holding the weapon. Still, I had to try and so I slowly began to move even as I spoke.
"Sweep and Flow"
Even as I spoke those words, I quickly spun around as I moved into position, concentrating with all my might, simulating the feeling of my scythe within my mind. The weight, the texture, the scent, and everything else became vivid in my mind so much so that I could feel my scythe in my hands.
And my body moved, quickly spinning as I scooped up the group with incredible speed before dashing forward with them, immediately chaining into another skill.
"Charge of the Cyclone Reaper"
Immediately, my body moved, spinning as I charged, the skill working to move my body for me, it would not be a pleasant trip for any of us, but this would be the fastest way to escape. Though this would not have worked within the game, things were different here.
Minutes later, we were back at my place. Unlocking the door, I stumbled in before collapsing. If this had been within the game, I would have long exhausted my energy points. Here, I had pushed my body to the limit in order to get us here. Even as my mind faded, I heard the retching noises outside. It seemed that my friends were in fairly poor shape. And then everything faded to black.