Last High Human 5: What I've Been Through.
My whole body hurts like hell. I woke up with this thought, unexpectedly being tied up in a bed.
The voice of the female soldier came from my left. There's something akin to stress in her voice.
I neither remember getting in this bed... nor doing something worth an arrest.
[Lyshia] “Be grateful I didn't kill you.”
[Rhod] “-... What happened?” She remained quiet a moment.
[Lyshia] “What do you last remember?
[Rhod] “You tasked me with securing the perimeter. I fought a Mantissar but figured it was just a trap.”
[Woman] “You figured?”
[Rhod] “Mantissars aren't smart. They're known for acting on instinct. When I saw the shadow of those on the tower, I figured that something was wrong. Regular Mantissars would have jumped towards the bottle right away when I threw it out, like the first one.”
[Lyshia] “Smart ass. Continue...”
[Rhod] “I remember engaging the fight with the first one and killed it. But I was too tired and exhausted, and after killing the first irregular, I don't remember much. Except for the loss of my equipment. What happened after?”
[Lyshia] “You killed the last Mantikon. Then you came back here and fell asleep on a chair.”
[Rhod] “-...You transported me to the bed?”
[Lyshia] “I had to treat your injuries. “
I don't remember getting injured.
[Lyshia] “Several cuts on your skin, bruises here and there. Most of them were prior to the fight. Also”
[Rhod] “You didn't need to go so far for mere grazes.’
[Lyshia] “Shut up.”
[Lyshia] “You also had three small wounds and a bruise on your back. Two out of the three wounds contained traces of Quetzalcoalt poison. You are one fucking damned lucky asshole for surviving that. “
[Rhod] “I don't”
[Lyshia] “Shut up. Now that we're talking about it.” She took the assassin's bag and showed the dagger to me. “Where did you find this?”
From the way she had been addressing to me, humans must not be appreciated here. I'd better conceal my affiliation.
[Rhod] “I only remembered getting chased by persons clad in black or red robes and somehow got in a fight with one of the red ones. She's the one that stabbed me in the back. “
[Lyshia] “How did you survive?” She looked at me with dubious eyes.
[Rhod] “I suppose my cuirass protected me from the worst. As for my opponent, she is already dead. I took the-”
[Lyshia] “Wait... I may be assuming things. But you did kill her right?”
[Lyshia] “By yourself?”
[Lyshia] “I see. Continue.” Her dubiousness has visibly lessened.
[Rhod] “Yes. After that I don't remember much. I just ended up here.”
[Lyshia] “I see. You have your own circumstances. I don't mind you lying to protect your little secrets. But don't start pretending you killed a Crimson Dagger. “
She untied me while avoiding eye contact.
[Rhod] “Crimson Dagger?”
[Lyshia] “You don't need to pretend. By the way, I'm Lyshia. Corporal Lyshia. I'm officiating as an Apprentice Field Mentor in the 12th gate battalion of the S.Q.A.”
What's this S.Q.A. thing? I got up on my feet and noticed that I was only wearing my pants. Boots and shirts are nowhere to be seen.
[Lyshia] “What about you?”
[Lyshia] “Yes, you. You were wearing an armor with a crest I've never seen before.”
[Rhod] “It's my family's crest.” Lies were piling up. “But nothing remains from it.”
[Lyshia] “I see. Seems like it was important to you. I apologize, but I took the liberty to throw away your clothes and the rest of your armor. I think I can trust you, at least for now. But at the moment, I'll ask you to stay with me. I must raise a Barrier in the passage and go ask for reinforcements. I'll see what to do with you after I talk with my superiors.”
[Rhod] “-...I can't travel like this, right?”
She looked at me, amused.
[Lyshia] “Of course not, you're right. Let me see…”
She crossed her arms on her chest and stared blankly at the ground, thinking something while frowning.
She's not wearing her armor, only her red dress. Her shoulder length brown hairs were tied in a short low ponytail, revealing her long pointy ears. An Elf... What a rare sight.
She wore short boots and a long, wide, red dress with a fire symbol embroidered on the shoulders. Even though she has a white skin, discreet tanlines can be seen on her forearms where she wore her gauntlets. She thin, but not in the bad shape I thought of yesterday. I didn't pay a close attention to her eye color.
Her head reached up to my chin. Since I am 2 meters tall, she must be around 1,80 meters. A rather small size for an Elf. Looking down to look upon people is pretty annoying.
However, under her rough behavior, she appeared to be a caring person. She seems to be 35, maybe 40 years old. Taking an Elf's longevity in count, she must be twice this. Around 80 years old, then?
[Lyshia] “You may not like the idea.” She said with a bothered look..
[Rhod] “And that is?”
[Lyshia] “Since we don't have any spare clothing or armor, we'll have to retrieve what we can from the corpses outside.’
Disgust was apparent through her voice.
[Rhod] “Am I allowed to wield weapons?”
[Lyshia] “Allowed...? Are you asking me for permission?”
[Rhod] “I am a trespasser, you have suspicions on me. Since you are the only authority here, this is the only option left.”
She started laughing.
[Lyshia] “Hahaha, yes! What a well-educated human! ‘asking permission from the authority’! Hahaha! It's been so long since I last heard something so dumb. Thanks for the laugh! Alright, let me answer you with another question: how are you supposed to fight if you are unarmed?”
Now that I've rested, I could kill them barehanded. But let's leave it at that for now...
[Rhod]“Erm... You're right.”
She do seem to care in a weird way...
[Lyshia] “Rhod, was it? Once again, I am Lyshia. Nice to meet you!”
[Rhod] “Same here.”
[Lyshia] “Well well. About weapons, we have a few things in stock. If nothing fits your taste, you know where to search. But for now, let's go down.”
Lyshia walked right to the stairs and climbed down, followed by me. I noticed that all monster and soldier corpses had disappeared from the "bedroom" and ground floor. The tables had also been destroyed. But blood stains still remain.
When we entered the room where I met Lyshia, I was welcomed by the smell of grilled meat. The youngster was here too, just outside next to the door. He is cooking it seems: so apparently, he started a fire and held the Mantissar's feet right above it with iron spears. What a weird way to misuse weapons.
This view makes me want to smile. It's... funny?
[Rhod] “What happened to the food supply? Or cookware?”
[Lyshia] “Destroyed in the fight.”
Seeing us approach, the kid joined us at the door.
[Clever] “You- you are back?”
The kid somehow got a bit pale.
[Rhod] “Yes. How are you kid?”
[Clever] “I'm…” He looked at Lyshia, and she smiled to him. “I'm fine. We had a minor restoration scroll so I'm all better now. And stop calling me kid, I'm 17.”
Lyshia brought plates and forks from inside.
[Lyshia] “His name is Newt. He's a Dragonkin.”
[Newt] “A Magul Wyvern more precisely!”
[Lyshia] "And he's the knight apprentice I'm in charge of."
... A Magul what...? Apprentice...? Mmh... Well now that I take a better look at the kid, he do has small horns on the side of his head and scale like patterns on his neck.
[Newt] "Nice to meet you. Loyd, was it?"
[Rhod] "I am Rhod. Nice to meet you too."
Newt laughed, embarrassed.
[Newt] "Ha... Haha... Sorry. Say say, where did you came from?"
Bad move, kid. Bad move.
[Lyshia] "He said he doesn't remember much. Let him off the hook from your curiosity."
She sent him a cold stare. I'm sure of it now. There was something going on between them.
[Newt] "Want some Mantikon's feet? They taste great when grilled!"
[Rhod] "Why not."
Newt went back to the fire.
[Rhod] "I may sound ignorant Lyshia, but what's a Mantikon?"
[Lyshia] "... Like I thought... You're not from around here, right?"
[Rhod] "Maybe. A lot of things are familiar. But some are totally strange to me."
[Lyshia] "I see. Rhod I won't meddle in your affairs. But just one friendly advice, never ever display your fighting abilities at their best if you can avoid doing so. In fact, avoid fighting at all. You're not acting like a human. Humans... Are different..."
[Rhod] "Different? In what way?"
She looked at me, an indescribable look in her eyes.
[Lyshia] "Rhod. You are a human. And humans... They aren't hated but, they are cowards, bad at everything and near idiotic. They are one of the few races despised and looked down upon by everyone. It's common knowledge."
Humans are idiots and cowards...?
[Newt] "Heeeeere!" Newt handed me a grilled Mantissar's foot that was cooling next to the fire. "My treat!"
[Rhod] "Thanks Newt."
[Lyshia] "Newt, leave us alone for a moment." Lyshia ordered the teenager in a slow voice.
[Newt] "Ah, yes, corporal."
He returned to his cooking.
[Lyshia] "First thing I have to do Rhod, is to apologize. I treated you with scorn, out of habit. But I only act this way towards people who can't fight. Even non-human. That's not because of my education, but because of what I am, a half-Elf. My father was a forest Elv, and my mother an Amazon. You know how Amazons are. I don't even know what are Amazons. Like her, I can't stand whoever runs away from a fight or can't even stand up for themselves. I'm good with you being different. But anyone else will question your very existence."
[Rhod] "That sounds bad for me. What am I supposed to do if humans are supposed to be, let's say, 'worthless' ? I only know how to fight. I've never done anything else but this."
[Lyshia] "You can't do anything else? Really?"
[Rhod] "Nothing that I know or remember about."
[Lyshia] "That could be a problem. "
[Rhod] "Maybe... " Newt approached us. What if we pretend that he is a half-breed?
[Lyshia] "I told you to leave us Newt. What are you trying to do by spying on our conversation?"
Lyshia put her hands on her hips, angry. She looked disappointed.
[Rhod] "Can we listen to what he has to say?"
Lyshia gave me a scornful eye.
[Rhod] "He may have a useful idea, who knows."
[Lyshia] "I don't mind." She turned over to Newt. "But never disobey me ever again or you'll have to find another mentor."
[Newt] "O... Ok, well... What if Rhod pretends to be a half-breed, that could work "
[Lyshia] "And what are we gonna do about identity inspection? They can verify if he really is a half-breed."
[Newt] "Yes but no. The thing is, the half-breed inspection is different from the "pure" breed inspection. It only reveals the main trait, which will be human. He can pretend to be half-bred while not beeing so, and no one would find out. Also..."
They both looked at me weirdly.
[Lyshia] "I know what you mean. A half- Amazon is it?"
[Newt] "Yes. That would explain a lot of things. And he just looks like the real thing."
[Rhod] "Mmh... I don't mind playing pretend about that. But there are too much risks if we get caught."
I have to say... They don't know me and yet, they trust me and are even taking risks for my sake. I can't let them go to such lengths without sparing them with any resulting punishments.
[Rhod] "If Newt's idea is good for you Lyshia, we can go with it. And if they find out about me, just say you didn't know. I'll say that I tricked you. You don't need to go down with me when you are trying to help. I thank you for that. I'm grateful to both of you."
Newt peaked at Lyshia while she scratched her head.
I asked, troubled. Lyshia sent me an embarrassed look.
[Lyshia] "Nothing, silly boy. I'm just weak to compassion."
[Rhod] "...I see. I don't. Then let's end the talk here. What's the plan now?"
[Lyshia] "I am storing energy to raise the barrier. Once it's up and working, we'll leave. However, while you were out I inspected the barrier's seal to see if I could find why it stopped working. The barrier was sabotaged by someone: the Energy Shard used to fuel the whole damn thing was removed. I found it on the ground a few meters away, empty.
[Rhod] "How long before it is ready?"
"A few more minutes. The base is half a day away on foot from here. The barrier should be able hold out a whole day if things go as expected."
Newt slowly moved away from us, looking towards the wall circling around the forest burning with fires.
[Rhod] "Now that I think about it, how long did I sleep?
[Lyshia] "Five hours I think. We should reach the base by nightfall."
[Rhod] "I see. Anything I should know before we go?
[Lyshia] "Just follow your common sense."
Newt suddenly called out:
[Newt] "LYSHIA! MONSTERS!"
Lyshia and I moved away from the tower, to take a better look at what the horned kid is pointing at.
Weird clouds of black fog are hovering at the wall's root, sometimes disappearing into the ground before reappearing again.
[Rhod] "What is this?" I asked. "I never saw anything like that before."
[Lyshia] "Dammit Rhod, those are Dead Raisers! To the tower!"
Just their name sucks. We started running toward the tower.
[Lyshia] "We must leave now. Newt, take the reports and the badge."
[Newt] "Understood, Corporal."
Newt ran to the back of the ground floor.
[Lyshia] "Rhod, go take whatever weapons and armor you can find."
[Rhod] "On my way Corporal."
I ran to the first floor's room and retrieved the Crimson Dagger's bag and checked if the king's ring is still there. I then attached it on the back of my waist and went down the stairs, and got through the ground floor before reaching the outside, where Newt is already waiting and looking in the wall's direction. The fogs are still doing the same thing but this time, decaying bodies can be seen partially covered by the fog.
So that is the Dead Raiser's ability...
I turned my back on them and ran to the amassed corpses of the soldiers, trying to take whatever I could use.
"From the books of the old library, we know that High Humans mastered a superior form of magic. But even the great scriptures, found in the quarantine zone, are void to any precision or explanation. Our goal... YOUR goal... is to study magic and someday, uncover the way to use it like the High Humans, that scourge, was able to use it." Quoted from Master Rahl's speech, at Amby's opening ceremony.
Elv = name of male elves.
Elf = name of female elves.