In the previous chapter… Hostile camps noticed a magical abnormality as Violet was unleashing a powerful spell in the ore mine. Slade’s party was about to witness the abnormality from the front seats.
A few moments before the ripples of mana surged from Violet...
Butterflies of light fluttered from the glowing floor. The ground cracked open, as blooming vines and flowers climbed the bodies of the fallen gnolls and beholders.
Beads of light appeared over the corpses and slowly descended.
“Behold, the wonders of Earth Magic!” Violet spread her arms.
The sigils scattered in particles of light, swept by a raging wind.
Oi, are you for real?! Slade thought.
The beads of light entered the dead bodies. Large flowers swallowed them, hiding the gory sight of the mending organs and flesh.
Everything went as planned, until Violet writhed in pain.
“Ah… Aaahhh… Guaaaaaaah!” Violet screamed.
Hm? Is that part of the spell? Slade wondered.
“Violet?!” Lorely rushed to her.
Pah! Her bracelets broke into pieces.
The spectators fell on their back, blown by a shockwave. The harpy hag crawled back on her feet.
Ugh… What’s going on? Slade lifted his head after several dizzying, tumbling rolls.
Violet convulsed while screaming, unhinging her jaw. Her face split open in a shower of blood and tears.
Her body floated in the air, as if invisible limbs toyed with her. It twisted her slender limbs, tearing her skin and wringing her blood.
Lorely held onto her, aghast.
A bluish membrane covered the harpy's body, repelling the assault of the flooding mana.
[Skill: True Sight activated.]
Overlapping with his vision of the physical world, Slade saw sinister shapes sticking out from Violet’s mouth and torn skin. They wrapped around her like a tornado.
A strange vortex swirled around Violet, shredding her body.
The flowers bloomed in the rubbles of the battlefield, revealing the resurrected beholders and gnolls.
Everyone got up, confused by the situation.
“Help!” Lorely yelled.
Slade, Griscent, Metiva, Shaki and Milia rushed to Violet.
Milia’s hand recoiled in pain when she tried to touch the floating woman.
“Recommending distancing for low level or warrior type heroes,” Griscent said.
“Slade, please save her!” she asked.
The slime jumped right onto Violet, defying the tempest of mana.
Not only was he unharmed, he could absorb mana without drinking any fluid, quickly filling him to max capacity.
He activated the healing skills to patch up Violet’s terrifying wounds.
The helpless rooks nursed their raving sovereign while Griscent analyzed the broken magic bracelets, but her state only worsened with time.
It was only thanks to Slade that Violet could hang onto her life. He was stuck in a loop of drinking blood and regenerating her tearing flesh. Absorbing her mana seemed to relieve her, but his efforts were like drinking the water from a sinking ship and pissing it back into the sea.
Half a night passed since Violet’s seizures started. The gnolls, beholders and troglodytes were led by Shaki and Milia to get food and sleeping places.
“So what is your First Aid skill saying?” Lorely asked.
“The tip of her limb keeps getting twisted no matter how much I heal. Her internal organs are in an awful shape too. They keep degrading at a fast rate around something that I can’t heal…”
“Mana center failure. Mana pool losing human shape,” Griscent said.
“So you can’t treat it… When you rejuvenated her appearance, we hoped it would restore her insides too,” Lorely said.
“Did I... do something wrong?” Slade asked.
“Of course not! You’re doing your best,” Lorely said.
But his efforts didn’t matter to him. Only Violet’s life did.
Fuck this! Everyone treated her as a limitless warlock. She can revive the dead, so how could she end up in this state?
Not finding any solution, his mind turned against him.
If I killed the beholders, would she still have suffered from a magic backlash?
Shaki, Milia and Metiva came back with food for everyone.
Strangely, the gnolls and beholders easily left their grudges behind and celebrated, thanks to Slade’s mediator title and Milia’s abilities as a party hostess.
The warm mood was a delightful sight. Slade wished Violet to recover and laugh with her subjects.
The girls approached with food.
“Lorely, isn’t it high time to spit out what you know about her?” Shaki asked.
The harpy nodded, carefully choosing her words as if she was handling a delicate secret.
“Violet was born from an experiment to infuse a mana vortex into a sovereign, permanently granting her unlimited mana.”
Nobody reacted much to her embarrassment. They had no clue about mana vortices. Only Griscent was nodding.
“It was successful at first. She was a wild and unrestrained warlock. Her young self would implode and revive heaps of corpses at a snap of fingers…” Lorely said.
They glanced at the gnoll witches, brought back by the miraculous Resurrection spell.
“But her magic became unstable as she grew older. She could faint on the battlefield for no reason, fail a spell, or hurt her own allies. Ultimately, she was cast away and had to wear sealing bracelets,” Lorely said.
“Why did she do something so dumb?” Milia asked, tilting her head in confusion.
The gnolls hugged their precious revived partners and mourned the ones who couldn’t come back.
“The last time wasn’t that harsh. But it appears that her control worsened a lot over ten years…” Lorely said.
“I am grateful. She is… a good person,” Metiva said.
She prayed for the floating figure that looked less and less human.
Shaki sighed, disapproving of Violet’s risky actions.
“That’s a lot of mana though. Even I can feel the pressure deep in my body,” Milia said.
More precisely, Milia’s mana center could sense the overwhelming surge of mana swirling around Violet, despite her low attunement with external mana.
“I’m concerned by how dangerous the situation is. Is she going to blow up and kill us?” Shaki asked.
“Nobody knows for sure. That’s part of the reasons they sent us to this remote location, far from our faction,” Lorely said.
“Good grief, that’s why the summoning cost was so cheap.” Milia smacked her forehead with her palm.
“Hmm… The school of Water Magic specializes in dispelling and countering mages. Some spells can even inflict damage to the mana center by disrupting the mana pool during a spellcast. Something like this could happen to us if her mana pool exploded near us,” Metiva said.
“Metiva, do you have techniques to help her?” Shaki asked.
“Unfortunately, we’re only taught to disrupt spellcasters, not to help them recover. I might worsen her state if I carelessly interacted with her. We could research but it might take years until we find ways.”
“Sealing bracelet analysis complete. Immediate repair failed. Metals and crystals required for repair,” Griscent said.
The Evil Eye approached the group with broken fragments of bracelets in a pouch and a written list of materials.
“Thank you Griscent. Having another good mage is a big help,” Lorely said.
“We already have crystals back at home. Let’s dig the ores right here and process them at my place,” Milia said while reading the list.
”You should take Violet back to the crystal mine, since there is nothing here. Maybe you can even find spare seals in her room,” Shaki said.
“In case she explodes… It was nice to meet you Lorely.” Milia made a salute.
“Don’t talk as if we were already dead!” Lorely cried.
“Don’t worry, I’ll meet up at Krisnan with our new tentacle buddy and the material to repair the seals,” Milia chuckled.
“Let’s enjoy the food before your departure,” Metiva said.
Only the slime and the Evil Eye remained at Violet’s side.
“Master, shall we take a break to eat the food they brought?” Griscent asked.
“No, I’m staying here.”
Griscent sighed and left to fetch a pan. When it came back, its tentacles brought bite-sized chunks to Slade.
“This is the perfect opportunity to strike down your sovereign and enslave everyone. Shall we proceed?”
[Alchemical synthesis learned: Roasted Boar meat.]
Griscent gave Slade an unfathomable stare.
“This won’t be as funny to you, but someone tampered with her seals to induce a Water Magic disruption. Your sovereign was likely betrayed.”
“Seriously? Could it be Shaki or Milia?”
“Maybe… Who knows? It might be another sovereign’s scheme. You should choose carefully who we are siding with,” Griscent said.
“So… You were not joking?”
“Forgive my presumption, but I am very pessimistic about your current sovereign’s future.”
“I’m sparing no effort to save her right now. I couldn’t care less about what the future holds. If you don’t wish to help me, then just go away.”
“You can’t save her in the long term. The mana vortex is returning to its original form, ripping her physical body as her mana center is failing. In the first place, her existence makes no sense.”
“What exactly is a mana vortex?” Slade asked.
“It is a phenomenon that gathers mana. It can be summoned in Dungeon towns to double a single person’s mana pool for a week… Violet’s experiment makes as much sense as trying to put a tornado into a box. This couldn’t possibly work, right?” Griscent said.
“I see... we should ask Lorely how they infused it into Violet,” Slade said.
“Hmm… Right, she said ‘infuse’… That term is often associated with spirits,” Griscent said.
“Spirits? Like Crown?” Slade glanced at the giant earth spirit.
“Yes, I would describe them as the mana powered crystallizations of concepts, wills or mindsets. Though they can look like living beings, they are much more special. All miracle ruled by an intent, without the lead of a physical brain, relates to spirits,” Griscent said.
It pointed at the Gnoll King’s artifacts.
“Take that buckler, for instance. It was infused with the spirit to protect one’s tribe. This gave birth to a defensive mana-powered phenomenon. To be more precise, it was the weapon art ‘Tribe Guardian’ that saved you from my ‘Integral Convergence’ attack,” Griscent said.
“So… She’s like a magic item? Can we disenchant her or something?” Slade asked.
“Taking such radical actions might finish her off. But this is something I can approve.”
Slade was already irritated by Violet's unfair situation. He ran out of patience for Griscent’s subtext and dark humor.
Instead of discouraging someone who’s trying his best, how about you fuck off? Slade thought.
“Why are you so fixated on her? Can’t you bet on a winning horse rather than an old beat up sick one?” Griscent asked.
“Please, open your-”
Slade spat back a piece of meat at Griscent.
“I’m full. You can leave now,” Slade said.
“Ha! Fite me, bitch!”
The Evil Eye opened its eyelid wide, glaring at Slade with a purple flash to unleash a skill.
“Wait, that’s illegal-”
Darkness swallowed the world. He fell on an invisible floor, facing a single creature -Griscent-.
“What’s happening?!” Slade shouted.
“That’s my personal skill: Prison of Illusions. We’re in an isolated dream, cut from the real world. Don’t worry, Slade. I am only doing what’s best for the both of us,” it said.
A system window popped up.
‘Until both parties aligned towards a single vision’… In other words, I can give up my ideals to Griscent, huh? NEVER!
Yep, there's a last ordeal before the festivities with Gnollbros. I rendered the harpy pawn in priority so that you guys sees what they actually look like for the first time.
Next chapter is going to be smut but a bit short because I have IRL stuff to do this week end :(.
Thank you for reading!
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See you Tuesday 18:00 UTC for the next chapter!