Chapter 76

Chapter 76


 

Those words hit me.

They hit me hard.

Like the fist of a god, those... They were beyond me.

Words that I think I'll probably carry on with me for some time yet to come.

In that moment, thoughts swirling and hazed to limits I can neither recreate or accurately describe: what she said to me then solidified into something. Something real.

Selfish, worthless, morally ambiguous: I had been given a chance to do something good in this life just like my last, but this time I hadn't wasted it. Those descriptions of myself, those quiet little titles I'd adopted as a matter of reality: I'd beaten them.

Even if it was only a tiny victory. Even if it was only temporary: Staring at Miss Paladin's smiling face, hearing those words- that proved beyond any doubts in my mind that I had finally done something worthwhile.

I'd saved someone.

At the start of this, I remembered setting out for some undefined goal in my new life, and this was the closest I think I'd come to reaching it.

I felt pride, peace, perfection-

Then, the moment was over.

Reality came crashing back down, with a bitter vengeance:


 

"ATTACK! WE'RE UNDER ATTACK! THE SANCTUARY HAS BEEN BREACHED!"

 Someone shouted.

"A BEAST IS IN THE SANCTUARY! THE DEFENSES ARE BROKEN: TO ARMS! TO ARMS!"

 

There are only a couple certainties that I can clearly remember in the chaos that unfolded in those following moments.

"KILL THE MONSTER!"

 

People with swords, with spears, with bows, with staffs: They rushed out of the buildings with screams and shouts as lights and torches blustered and exploded to life, and animals kicked and screeched in panic. It was all a blur from there.

"A BOUNTY FOR ITS HEAD!"

 

Fear grabbed me in that pandemonium, my panic rising quicker than any hope for rational-thought as the sounds of magic casting through the air matched the whistle of shafts and fletching.

"Flee!" Miss Paladin shouted at me with harsh tone. Her grateful smile was long gone, replaced again by that fierce warrior disposition. "Escape before they kill you!" Too much was happening at once, it was all I could do just to stare at her in confusion.

So I guess that left it to her own initiative.

Without warning, she picked me up and gave me a heavy throw before I could even think of resisting. A throw that put me airborne, soaring overtop heads and armor, weapons at torches. My landing was painful, but not nearly so painful as the shots of fire, arrows and mana whizzing past my panicked slithering.

"A BASILISK! THERE IS A BASILISK IN THE SANCTUARY!"

 

I was hit.

By magic, arrows, several thrown axes and at least one sword: All of which frightened me, but none of which were lucky enough to leave lasting harm, as I spewed magics to cover my wounds or blast away the ruthless attacks. [Heal] and [Leviathan Breath] and [Heal] again, mana spent without the slightest reserve, my head and body ducking, dodging, weaving, hissing in a blind panic as more and more attacks flew my way.

Before I even knew it, I was out of the human-territory and back into a dungeon tunnel. The shouts and hollers were still hot in pursuit as I dived down, safety abandoned as I went about picking the first turns I could to [Earth Sculpt] into the bedrock and escape.