Chapter 9: The Beginning – Safety & Monsters (1)
It was a tense walk. Everyone was keeping their eyes peeled looking for danger and anything useful, while still trying to ignore the chaos all around them. The flesh and blood was at least fresh enough that the smell hadn’t started to assault them.
Being the first to break the silence, “This is…. This is terrible… How did everything crumble like this so quickly? How could this have happened? Are the gods really capable of this?” Kaden asked knowing there was no answer (at least none that anyone around him could give him).
“I’m surprised too. It’s incredible what kind of power and control it must have taken to have had this happen in an instant. What’s more terrifying is that we don’t even know if this has happened all over the world or not. If this isn’t limited to an isolated area… Well let’s just cross that bridge when we get to it” Daichi was trying to be encouraging, but mostly once he realized how much pressure he was likely putting on everyone without meaning too he just stopped.
“Should we just take anything from anywhere” Ava pointed out.
“I don’t think I can just take anybodies random items…It’s not right…” Hannah voiced out her discomfort at the idea of stealing from people who they knew up until recently.
“Eh… If you don’t feel comfortable then don’t do it, I think if we see something useful on the way we should pick it up. I will anyways, even so, we should definitely have a destination in mind. Otherwise we’ll just end up wandering around for the rest of the night” Daichi spoke up. “If that’s the case, we should head for my house” Ava replied to him with confidence in her voice.
“Your house!? You’re bringing me home to your house? I’ll get to see your room??” Kaden didn’t miss a beat before yelling out almost out of reflex before letting the words and situation sink in and dampening his excitement almost immediately.
“My great-great-grandparents ran a smithy so we have a few very high grade weapons that have been passed on to each generation. They’re all stored in a mana-infused ring. Finding the ring(s) might not be so easy but it would kill two birds with one stone” Ava proclaimed proudly.
Everyone stopped walking to stare at Ava at that moment. Mana rings have had void mages create a special link. Some people believe that the rings have their own inter dimensional spaces inside of the ring, but in reality they’re just linked to safe spaces. They’re mini portals to uninhabited high realms. Although they all have limited reach which limits the “Space” inside of them.
Each one only has about a 10×10 meter space. Although it’s rare for people to manage to get their hands one of those rings, since the level of void magic required is astronomical to create one. People who can use void magic and comprehend it enough to create practical items are few and far in-between. It’s one of the rarest elements to have insight in.
Kaden voiced everyone’s thoughts before anyone got a chance to comment. “That’s incredible. If we can get the ring, that solves the “backpack” problem. Plus the weapons… Okay! That’s definitely what we should try first!” With their spirits lifted they started to walk a little faster now that they had a destination in mind with Ava leading the way. Walking over the ruble and around the debris made for detour after detour though, and it wasn’t an easy walk.
“I wonder what we’re going to find at her place. If we can really find the ring, and if there’s more than one this could be an incredible find! Although, I wonder if everyone else is worried about their family? Could that have been a reason Ava volunteered to go to her home first? Otherwise she could have just said nothing and headed over there by herself and kept anything that she found, she would’ve been the only one to think to look there… Maybe I’m over thinking things.” Daichi was deep in thought as always as he questioned the motives of his current companions. They only knew they arrived when Ava stopped walking. Most of everything looked pretty similar in the residential district and was in ruins like everything had passed, if it weren’t for Ava they wouldn’t have had an inkling of where they were.
“Are we here?” Daichi was the one to voice out their thoughts, as everyone else was wondering whether everything was okay with Ava.
Ava was just standing still not saying anything. Daichi was wondering how long he would have to wait before Kaden elbowed him in the side and whispered “Give her a moment man… Her entire family is probably dead now.”
Glancing over at him while ignoring the stinging in my side, he replied in contemplation “Do you have any family around?”
Not taking his eyes off Ava or even changing his expression, Kaden whispered back “No… Our parents died when we were younger. We were allowed to keep our home and live there since we were already 12 and 13. People in the town helped us out but still minded their own business for the most part. It’s not like our parents had much in the first place. It’s just been Hannah and me”
“Hmm… No wonder this guy has been keeping it together so well. He’s probably already experienced a greater hardship than this already. If he’s a loner like me… Then maybe none of these people matter to him either” Daichi thought as he was getting a little antsy about the time they were wasting “How much longer?” Daichi whispered to Kaden.
“We can go in now, and I could hear you whispering.” Ava’s cold voice rang out and without looking back stepped into the rubble and began looking around telling us in which direction we could start the search. We literally looked everywhere, including under every god damn rock. I was beginning to think the level of efficiency here was going to be a bother, especially after Hannah asked whether we should burn the bodies of the people we found as some sort of token of respect. Luckily Ava vetoed it immediately stating that we should hurry, our time was best spend on the living. Which I couldn’t agree with more. It wasn’t until I was out of energy and out of good will to continue the search that Ava rang out “Here!”.
They all stopped what they were doing and walked over trying not to rekindle that spark of enthusiasm too quickly. Ava was pointing at a large piece of wall laying flat on the ground. “Based on the structure around here, beneath this wall is where the entrance to the cellar was. If it’s still there and if we can get in, then there’s a good chance we’ll be able to find the ring inside.”
“How are we supposed to move that?” Hannah spoke up with some disbelief showing in her expression. She wasn’t the only one. It was hard enough moving the one wall for a few inches at the school before and this was just as heavy but flat on the ground.
Looking at everyone and their concerned gazes Daichi stepped in “Okay. If the three of us try and lift it up and get it to a certain height, Hannah can then move and slide something high and sturdy enough underneath it. We’ll have enough leeway to open the cellar door and go in, one of us can stay outside in case we manage to go in, just in case something knocks the wall down.”
“Eh It’s as good a plan as any I guess.” Kaden voiced up ready to get to work. Even though no one was disagreeing, they all seemed a little reluctant to go with the plan. The fear of getting stuck in a cellar with no way out was terrifying to them.
“I have an alternative…” Ava looked at everyone showing the first signs of discomfort Daichi had seen her make since she first got out from underneath Kaden’s awkwardness at the school. Everyone was now staring at her and waiting for her to continue “I have a skill. It’s a skill taught to everyone in the family. The “melt” skill using for smithing.” Ava reluctantly admitted.
“Whooooaaaa!!!” “Ehh!?” Both Kaden and Hannah looked at her like they’d seen a ghost or something. Even Daichi looked at her with a little surprise showing in his expression. It must be known that due to the peace and lessening mana in the world, skills have become extremely valuable and very rare.
The number of people with skills and the ability to teach them are very limited. To be in possession of a skill was like being in possession of a holy sword!
Skills and abilities had always been hard to master due to the innate knowledge one had to attain, but at some point someone created the functionality of Skill Books and Ability Runes. These tools allowed someone who had attained a deeper understanding of an element or the universe to inscribe their skill or ability down. Others could then use these items to have this knowledge stamped onto their consciousness. While they didn’t gain any of the knowledge themselves, they did unconsciously gain the knowledge to trigger the skill or ability with limited power. This had become the beginning of a new trend of technology that had allowed many talented individuals to pass on their abilities to others.
Daichi voiced what everyone was thinking. Before making the situation uncomfortable and wanting to stop Kaden before he began endlessly praising Ava and then getting sidetracked and leering at her openly. Daichi followed up with “What can your skill do?” thinking it must be what the others were probably thinking as well, and if not he still wanted to know.
Ava held pride in her voice “My skill can do exactly what it sounds like. I can melt just about anything. Although of course my melt skill is low leveled, but for those at the very top it can melt anything.” Looking satisfied by the reactions of everyone she let out what looked like a small self-satisfied grin and turned around and stepped in front of the wall.
Raising her right arm over the wall her hand started to glow and she calmly said the word “Melt” before the wall started doing just that. Magically the wall began melted from the area her hand was pointed at until it just globbed off and by the time the entire thing was pushed back most of it was gone and it was surrounding a metal cellar door on the ground. “Let’s give it a second while it cools off, I think some of it got on top of the door so it’ll probably be too hot to open it right now” Ava flipped her hair back with that same hand and just walked to the side and sat down on the a stone acting as if what she’d just done hadn’t just blown their minds.
“That…. Is so incredible! Can you teach me that skill!? That was soooo cool!” Kaden getting over his shock began his endless compliments as expected and even Hannah was joining in. Daichi guessed the allure of a skill cannot be underestimated.
“No wonder she didn’t mention this before.” he thought watching the others.
“I guess waiting for a few minutes wouldn’t be so bad. This skill could come in very handy as well.” Feeling upbeat with this new development this feeling of cheer didn’t last long.
Daichi noticed something move as a few pebbles tumbled down behind Ava. “Eh?” Daichi said the word out loud