Chapter 4: Slumbering Ancients
The sounds of bones snapping and cracking grew louder and more frequent. Whatever it was that’s hiding in the shadows, it was definitely getting closer.
The pure terror and horror of the unknown that I was experiencing, I thought it couldn’t get any worse. But it did.
A familiar yet also unfamiliar feeling flooded the atmosphere. It was a thick and concentrated bloodlust, feeling almost choking. However as unskilled and inexperienced as I was, the bloodlust still felt… somehow different from what I had felt from Valtan before.
“Hey… Uhhhh.. Valtan, this bloodlust… isn’t coming from you right?”
Struggling to force the words out of my mouth, I asked as my voice quivered with every syllable uttered.
“No, it isn’t. This bloodlust is on whole different plane of existence compared to mine. Primal in nature, it’s almost as if the essence of its hatred was drawn from the very bowels of the earth. I don’t think we can fight this. We need to run! Now!”
As soon as he had said it, he had already made a one-eighty and started running back towards they way we had came from. Trusting in Valtan’s quick-wits, I too started running towards the entrance.
Unfortunately, we were too slow.
“Oh you’re already leaving? Why won’t you stay and have a chat?”
A gruff and dark voice boomed out from within the darkness. Almost immediately, a overwhelming sense of dread consumed our bodies, siphoning the strength from our arms and legs.
With every step it took, the bloodlust it emanated pulsated and strengthened, causing the ground to tremble and shake in discordant harmony. Immobilised by the heavy pressure of the atmosphere, we could no longer run.
With a shaky voice, Valtan shot a question into the darkness of the chamber while readying his axe, preparing himself for an aggressive reply.
“W-who is this?”
“Very well, I shall tell you who I am. In fact, I’ll even one up you by showing you who I am.”
As swiftly as he had said it, four blue arms that were as thick as tree trunks emerged from the tenebrosity as it strolled into the tiny light that illuminated the cave. What appeared next was a beautiful azure blue body. It would’ve looked absolutely stunning, if not for the full grey splotches that were dotted across various parts of its toned, muscular body.
However, that was just the beginning of the nightmare, the calm before the storm.
Air leaked out of my lungs involuntarily at the sight of the face of this monstrosity, leaving me breathless. However it wasn’t the only thing leaking from my body as I could also feel something wet and moist coalesce around my groin as fear gnawed into the deepest depths of my body.
Oh god! What in the world is this thing?! I know dragons and giants exist but what in the world is this heinous being?
Following its body, a pale blue face made itself apparent from the darkness. Scars strewn all over his face, carefully navigating around his crooked nose and crimson red eyes. Topping off his gruesome features was nothing that looked more terrifying that the sole eye that was fixated at the centre of his forehead. It glanced around edgily, as if having a will of its own.
That’s definitely not a human! In fact, with those four plump arms of his, I probably shouldn’t have thought he was a human in the first place!
“Greetings mere mortals, I am called Asclepius. Or at least that is what it should be in this… primitive language that you speak.”
Saying that, he lifted an index finger from one of his hands and brought it to his chin, immersing himself in deep thought. At the same time, the bloodcurdling killing intent relented for a fraction of a second, as his thoughts became distracted. But it didn’t last for long as the tremendous pressure returned as swiftly as it had left, leaving us with almost no room to adjust.
Valtan and I let out a cry, being unable to react to the sudden surge in killing intent.
“Well that’s enough of that! Without any further ado, how about I cordially invite you into my humble abode?”
He exclaimed that as he twisted his face into a disgusting grin. Vile, foul and malicious in nature, I could imagine the pure unadulterated thoughts that formed in his mind.
With and enthusiastic clap, he suddenly appeared to my side.
What? How did he do that? That can’t be teleportation right? After all, that’s impossible for humans!
He drew his face closer to my body and slowly lifted one of his many fingers, gently stroking my cheek. I tried my hardest to resist but his killing intent was just too strong. I couldn’t shake off his finger. His face was close enough that I could feel his heavy and laboured breaths.
“Oh my! What do we have here today? I barely get any visitors ever since I moved here. And as my very first visitors, I have a youngling and… an elf?”
As Asclepius turned to size up Valtan, he curved his eyebrows and drew a straight line with his lips, forming a puzzled expression.
I choked on those words.
Elves?! Weren’t they almost wiped out in the last Great War between the Empire and the elves? And how is Valtan an elf? He lacks all the distinguishing features of one!
My vision ping-ponged between the two of them, hoping to uncover more details. But when faced with such a revelation, Valtan could only force a wry smile on his face as he tried to cover up the befuddlement that laid within him.
I’m guessing even Valtan doesn’t know it either then.
“Hmmm… but maybe you still are a human considering this elf scent is rather… weak. But I guess that matters not now when both are equally as powerless against the great me.”
Retracting his slender fingers from my face, he turned his back to face us as he continued.
“So may I enquire why mere mortal such as yourselves have intruded into my domain?”
“W-we uhhhhh… came to investigate about that bear w-who has been s-stealing our supplies.”
Overcome with great fear, I jerked my chin towards the carcass of the bear while the same fear impounding me hinged on my stuttering words.
“Oh! That beast? Disturbing my peaceful thousand year slumber is one thing, but I guess the one thing I can commend it for was maybe doing a decent job at getting me food and playthings to keep me entertained. But even then they were still rather lacking, especially in regards to their physical prowess. Get this! Hahahaha! Can you believe that they had wet themselves the moment they saw me? Can you imagine the look of desperation on their faces? Hahahaha……”
He laughed raucously in my face, causing drops of saliva and spit to splatter over it as he mocked those who had dared face off against him.
Unfortunately enough, I can totally sympathize with them… Even living in this cruel world for eighteen years did little to prepare me for your hideousness! Have you seen yourself in a mirror?
“Though I have to admit, it did bring a man called Zennir recently. I must say he did fight very bravely, never once losing hope. So much so that I actually bothered to ask for his name! However, ultimately he was still a disappointment… But me being the kind person I am, I still decided to reward him for his valiant efforts, you know? I Slowly ripped him apart limb by limb, delighting at how long his spirit will last before he finally bleeds to death. Ohhhhhh! His deafening screams of pain still tickle me to this day! Ehehehe…”
What kind of monster is he!
His words utterly disgusted me. Thinking back on our conversation with Lennair, oh how worried he was for his son. He was a good father, and yet to think that such a thing had happened to his beloved son, I wonder how heart wrenching it’d be for him if he caught wind of this! More than that, no one in this world should be exposed to that kind of torture in the first place!
Something new burned in my heart.
Was it more fear?
I don’t know, but it burnt stronger and more ardently by the second. Intense emotions now flowed through my veins, invigorating my body once more. Rage and anger welled up in my fist as I clenched them, while an animalistic snarl slowly crawled up my throat.
This bastard! How dare he do this kind of thing and get away with –
However, Valtan had already beaten me to it.
“Arghhhhh!!! Die you evil bastard!”
Letting out a cry, Valtan’s body made spasmodic movements as he slowly overcame the intense bloodlust pinning him down through sheer willpower alone.
His body complexion flickered and alternated between a lustrous tone of silver and one of pure white, illustrating just how much concentration he needed to even attempt this odd-defying act.
Observing this scene in anticipation, excitement and amusement lit up in Asclepius’ eyes.
“Oh my oh my, you dare go against your fate? I’m sure with your level of skill you should know what fights are unwinnable for you, no? There’s no way you can win against the great me!”
Asclepius walked over to Valtan leisurely and with swagger. Every stride he took was one without any care or concern in the world. It was like as if he never thought of Valtan as anything to be reckoned with in the first place!
I thought to myself, while making a proud smirk.
Valtan shouldn’t be underestimated as an opponent y’know?
Contrary to Asclepius’ earlier actions that lagged, his next action was instead, one of blistering pace. He lifted his fingers in the shape of a flick towards Valtan’s exposed forehead and in the blink of an eye, Valtan’s figure had disappeared from my very eyes.
Accompanied by a loud thud and an “oof”, I squinted my eyes towards the direction of the sound, only to find the body of Valtan embedded inches deep into the wall.
His body laid within the cracks, bare and lifeless. Movement was nowhere to be found within his usual energetic body.
Did Valtan … die? It was just a single hit, you know?
Seeing that Valtan has been dealt with, Asclepius turned to face me.
The fiery determination of wanting to put Asclepius in his place suddenly extinguished inside me. I could only stare back at the fiend as his face contorted into an evil and malicious grin, as if thinking of the most gruesome way to kill me like he did with Zennair.
An abruptly ear-piercing warcry broke the tense atmosphere. Scrambling my eyes and ears, I saw the figure of Valtan looming over the towering Asclepius. In the middle of his jump, he lugged old Marcy overhead as he prepared to land a devastating strike on the exposed back of Asclepius.
Yes! Valtan, you’re alive!
I cheered silently for Valtan in my heart, hoping that his attack would strike true.
Written by: Emelia-Tan
Edited by: Schwarz13 and Mega14343
Proofread by: Yakult