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1-38 Ancient One

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Author: EnroItzal Original Source: Scribble Hub

“What is that?” asked Erin in a dubious tone, keeping her voice as low as possible. Her eyes stared fixedly on a small pouch which Aedan took out from his backpack. Going by the pouch’s undulating contour and the faint noises produced from the slightest movement, Erin surmised the contents were some sort of dust.

“I don’t have a name for it yet. Well, essentially, it’s sleeping dust,” Aedan answered without straying his gaze from the road.

Erin gave a quick glimpse to the trio in the back. After making sure none of them heard Aedan, she turned back to face the Dragon-kin in disguise. “You’re going to knock them unconscious with some questionable substance?”

“I made this questionable substance. I know the risk—” Aedan paused. “To some extent,” he added.

Erin ignored Aedan’s deliberate use of “questionable”. “That’s not what I meant. Do you realize what you’re trying to do here?”

“I’m open to other ideas.” Aedan glanced briefly to the three. “I’m sure Selene can keep my secret but for Cal and Freed— Do you think they can keep a secret?”

Erin stammered for a reply.

“Cal will most likely let it slip unintentionally and Freed is going to boast about it. I quite like it here, milady.”

“Do we have to confront it? We could keep playing the fool.” Erin looked around her surroundings. There was nothing but shades and shadows cast by the abundance of trees. “This place ain’t exactly ideal for any confrontation.”

“Quite the contrary actually. This place has a lot of cover. For what I’m about to do or might do, this place offers a lot of concealment.”

“But do we have to knock them out?”

“Like I said, if you have any better ideas, I’m all for it.”

Erin groaned at herself. She glimpsed guiltily at the trio in the wagon. She let out a reluctant sigh. “Would there be any side effects?”

“They’ll be out for a few hours. The exact duration varied individually. As for side effects, there is none as long as I get the dosage right.”

“Have you got the dosage right?”

“I did my damndest.”

Erin narrowed her eyes. Her tails wagged furiously and her ears were twitching.

Although Erin hated the idea, she didn’t have any alternatives. Ultimately, she sighed again in resignation. “Fine. How do you intend to spread this?”

Without a verbal response, Aedan turned around and scattered the dust straight from the pouch itself. The action was done so swiftly and quietly that the trio didn’t even notice Aedan’s movements. In seconds, they were fast asleep in their seats.

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“There, done,” Aedan said and shifted his eyes back to the road.

“And Lyra?” Erin asked.

“I’ll leave her to you.”

“Wh—”

Before Erin could utter her dispute, Lyra had noticed the sitch and came dashing back on her horse.

“What’s the meaning of this!?” she asked in a raised voice.

Aedan shrugged and stopped the wagon. Lyra followed in tandem with her horse. Her eyes glared intensely at the indifferent Dragon-kin in disguise.

Aedan got off the coach first. “Stay here, you two,” he said and trotted down the path they came from, stretching his fingers and neck as he strode.

“Erin, what’s going on?” Lyra tugged on the Fox-kin’s arm.

Erin placed her hand on Lyra’s shoulder. “I’ll explain everything later but right now, just trust me, okay?”

“I trust you. It’s him I don’t trust.” Lyra wrapped her hands around Erin’s.

Erin gave a wry smile. “He’s a bit contemptible and obnoxious but he’s not a bad person.”

“Erin, you can’t be serious.”

“I am serious. I don’t like what he has done but this is the best course of action. You know about it too, don’t you? Something’s stalking us.”

“So it’s not just my imagination…” Lyra muttered. “Something is following us. I thought I was just sleep deprived.”

“Why would you think you’re sleep deprived?”

Lyra stared begrudgingly at Erin. “Thanks to a certain someone.”

Erin pointed at herself. “Me?”

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“Yes, you.” Lyra hopped from her horse and onto the coach. She then leaned forward at Erin. “Ever since you came into my life, my heart has been like a tempest. I’m losing sleep from thinking about you.”

“More like you were losing sleep from our coitus sessions.” Erin retorted in her heart. Saying it out loud would just incurred another series of drama.

“Keep it down, you two,” Aedan reprimanded the two of them. His voice was like a whisper but it reached their ears clearly. “It’s coming.”

The two took heed and readied their weapons. Erin prepared herself to appraise whatever was about to emerge from the shadows. Although she had two swords, she was only using the saber. The reason was simply because she felt more at home single wielding than dual wielding.

Lyra nocked her arrow and aimed at the gloomy road that seemed to embody the word “ominous”.

After a few restless moments, the entity finally made an appearance as it strode out of the leaves and bushes it was concealing itself in. Chills crept into the hearts of Lyra and Erin but a groan came from Aedan.

“What in god’s name is that?” Erin blurted out.

It bore the appearance of a wolf with strange long limbs but it wasn’t composed of flesh. Simply put, the entity was an amalgamation of black smoke with deep crimson glow for eyes. It crawled slowly and steadily towards Erin and the group as its eyes stayed on the Fox-kin.

At the sight of it, Lyra almost released the arrow but Erin was quick to move and allayed her dread. Without a word, Erin moved in front of her even though she herself wasn’t doing much better in allaying her own terror.

The entity with a wolf’s silhouette did not even bother with Aedan who was standing in between. It was so fixated on Erin that it even made Erin herself begin to writhe in disquietude.

Aedan cleared his throat, reeling the entity’s attention to him. “For what reasons you prowled behind our path, ancient one?”

“Ancient one? Does Aedan know this entity?”

The entity spared Aedan only a brief glance. “I have no quarrel with you, Outcast.”

Erin was surprised that the entity could speak in the common tongue but more than that, she was intrigued that Aedan seemed to know what the entity was and also the moniker the entity had used to address Aedan.

“You know who I am?” Aedan asked in a low voice after a brief pause on his part.

It growled. “I’m merely uninterested in many things but I was never ignorant,” it responded in a solemn tone as it took small steps towards the wagon.

“Disregarding that, my question still stands. For what reasons have you followed us?”

The entity did not answer his question straight away. It bounced its glance between Aedan and Erin.

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“Is it something you are unable to say?”

The entity chuckled vainly. “I am curious, Outcast.”

“Of the Fae?”

“Of you.”

Aedan canted his head in question. “Okay… I’m honored?”

“So full of yourself,” the ancient one scoffed in disdain. “I’m curious that you aren’t aware or perhaps you’re simply avoiding the obvious. Or perhaps your years of seclusion from your kin has dulled your senses.”

“Perhaps but then again, even if that’s the case, what’s it to you?” Aedan’s indifferent gaze turned into a glare.

The entity growled in discontentment. “If your senses were still as sharp as it were, you would have realized.”

Although the entity was being evasive with the pronouns, it was obvious to Aedan that the entity was referring to Erin. “What about the Fae?”

“You truly have not realized?”

“Just answer the damn question, you relic.”

It grunted. “That Fae is no true Fae. She is a whim of fate. She is an outworlder.”

Aedan widened his eyes and cocked his head to Erin. He appraised her but no matter where he looked, there was no such indication that she was what the relic entity claimed to be.

“You have lost your touch, Outcast.” It laughed complacently. “You rely too much on the System.”

Aedan turned his head slowly back to the entity. “It has been very convenient, so far.”

“Nevertheless, you do realize what this entails, do you not, Outcast?”

Aedan locked his gaze with the entity’s. “I do but I also know her. She’s a good person.”

The entity groaned. “Your mind has been tainted by your time spent with these mortals. Have you forgotten, Outcast?”

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“I’m sure I have forgotten many things. However, I would say good riddance.”

The entity growled louder than before. “Foolish! You are truly foolish! Many of her predecessors have started off benevolent but pray tell, how many have stayed that way?”

After a short contemplation, Aedan answered, “not many. A few? I don’t remember.”

“And what makes you think she will be any different.”

“Because I’m here. Honestly, I would like to say I don’t care but… since my family have taken quite a liking to her, I will make sure that she will not succumb to her powers.”

The entity snarled. “The words of an Outcast meant nothing.”

“If you truly do see me as an Outcast, we won’t’ be having this conversation.”

“You have become insolent, Outcast.”

“Doesn’t matter. You will not harm her.” Aedan declared and released the concealment spell, Twilight Veil off of himself, revealing his original appearance.

Although it was distant, Aedan could hear the faint gasp of awe coming from Lyra upon witnessing his true form, minus the Dragon features.

A whirl of magic surged around the entity. “Foolish of you, Outcast. Disappointing. This is indeed disappointing.”

“Foolish or not, disappointing or not, I won’t let you harm her.”

“You intend to stop me, Outcast!?” Right after it finished its sentence, the entity roared with it all of its might.

Aedan instantly conjured up a translucent wall of barrier to defend against the force of that single roar. The invisible barrier cracked against the might of the entity’s voice but it managed to pull through.

“Prepare to flee at any moment,” Aedan whispered under his breath, knowing Erin would definitely pick up his mutterrings.

Erin nodded subtly. She relayed his words to Lyra.

Javelins formed of the entity’s own very essence flew towards Erin but none made it past the translucent wall Aedan conjured up. The entity then gathered up the surrounding Spirit particles into an orb in front of its mouth. When it roared, the air rippled and it fired off the orb.

Aedan stood his ground and conjured up more and more of the translucent wall as the orb broke through one after another like plain glass. The orb eventually died out when it broke through the twelfth plane of the translucent wall.

Erin tried to appraise the Magic Arts used but as she had expected, everything came up null.

“You are defying me for the sake of that girl?” The entity shouted with fury blazing in its eyes.

Even with that volume, the trio in the wagon remained unconscious.

“Aye,” Aedan responded dryly. “I’m defying you for the sake of a friend.”

“A friend?” The entity scoffed. “An Outcast like you has a friend? I never took you for a jester.”

“And I never took you for a cold-blooded murderer.”

Despite not having an actual face, it was obvious the entity’s brows were twitching in annoyance. “Me, a murderer?”

“This is what you will be if you kill this girl now. Whatever you think she would likely do, it hasn’t happened yet. Killing her now will make you nothing more than a cold-blooded murderer. Besides, I know you don’t really want to kill her. If you had truly wished for that, you wouldn’t have hesitated so much.”

The entity snorted condescendingly. “What do you know about us, Outcast? Taking the life of a mortal without valid grounds is considered a huge infamy for our kind. Unlike you mortals, we value lives of all kinds.”

“That would be very convincing if it wasn’t for all of your attempts just now.”

The entity stayed silent.

“Did I hit the mark?”

The entity dispel its threatening aura. “Outcast. You are aware of the consequences. You are aware that you would be treated as an accessory should the Outworlder fall into darkness. So, I ask this of you, do you still vouch for her?”

“Aye, I vouch for her,” Aedan answered without a pause.

The entity didn’t respond immediately. It stood as still as a statue, gazing scrutinizingly at Erin who was prepared to act at any second.

“What say you, ancient one?”

The entity made a sound akin to one clicking their tongue. “Very well. The girl lives but you will remain true to your words, Outcast or bear the wrath of my brethren.”

Without waiting for Aedan’s reply, the entity vanished into the trees.

Aedan let out a huge heave of relief before reapplying Twilight Veil onto himself, reverting his appearance back to that of a Dwarrow’s.

“What the hell was that all about?” Lyra asked as soon as Aedan strode back to the wagon.

The Dragon-kin looked to Erin but the Fox-kin looked away.

Lyra cast her gaze down at Aedan. “I deserve to know.”

“Sure you do,” Aedan said with a shrug. “You should ask your partner instead. She knows. I’m sure you’ll trust her words more than you do mine.” With that said, Aedan got back onboard the coach seat.

Lyra stared at Erin in disbelief. “You knew about this? You knew about his secret?”

“N-not all… but I-I knew—” Erin stammered.

“Do you or do you not know about this?” Lyra put herself right in front of Erin’s face.

“I do.”

“Since when and for how long?”

Before Erin could answer, Aedan cut in boorishly. “Okay okay. You can play twenty questions with each other later. Right now, we have to move.”

Although Lyra was desperate for answers, she wasn’t without her senses. As far as they knew, they weren’t in the clear yet. Lyra hopped back on to her horse with much reluctance.

After making sure they have their belongings and supplies with them, they departed for the village once again but with a heavier air than the already strained mood.


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