|Author: TypeAxiom||Original Source: Scribble Hub|
That night, the whole advance team along with Fleur and Anne feasted on the flesh of the mana beast stag. True to its name, the flesh of the stag was rich in raw mana. Normally, raw mana was useless, but when it was trapped in the flesh like it was now, it became a potent food.
Whether it was for healing a tired body, to recover mana after casting exhausting magic, or to help fight off an ongoing illness by boosting the body’s strength, mana beast flesh was a miracle food. The stronger the beast, the more potent the effect.
The only downside was that over time, the mana disappeared if not consumed, so the flesh will eventually degrade into just normal meat. Also, despite its powerful short-term effect, it didn’t seem to have any long term effects. That didn’t stop some people from believing that eating mana beast flesh will make someone a better fighter or mage, however.
As Camilla predicted, donating the flesh to the advance team vastly improved opinions that the clerics had of Camilla and Kagriss. Most humans will never even set eyes on a mana beast in their lives, let alone eat one. Thus, the opportunity to have a taste of one’s flesh was simply that attractive.
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The value of the meat was raised even higher when taking into account the argument that Arvel had with Pavlor over casting large-scale magic in the stag’s vicinity. Everyone present had felt the power of the lightning spell as well, so when Camilla produced the antler that she had already cut off, as well as the dapple pelt, the clerics were even more impressed. The stag stood more than twice as tall as any man present, and the antlers were naturally just as impressively large.
People were shallow creatures, only paying attention to what was on the surface, as well as having rather short term memories. Most people were like that, including Camilla herself—sometimes.
Even though Camilla and Kagriss were both undead, the clerics no longer seemed to care despite being loyal members of the Church.
Half of that was due to Camilla and Kagriss’s outward appearance. According to Arvel, Kagriss was the most popular among the clerics thanks to her figure and demeanor, but Camilla wasn’t unpopular, since she and the acolytes reminded the clerics of their daughters.
Camilla wanted to protest being lumped in with Fleur and Anne, but…whatever, as long as the clerics weren’t scared of her anymore, it didn’t really matter that much. She didn’t care at all…
Another factor was their clearly non-hostile actions, having helped them capture the objective of the whole mission. In a way, it was thanks to their help that they’re now able to go home.
Combined with the gift of the meat, gratitude toward them came in spades, and no matter how much Pavlor tried to convince them otherwise, first impressions were much more effective than words in the short run.
Perhaps in the long run the clerics will rethink their opinions, but for now, Pavlor’s social status and deranged ravings about the dangers of associating with undead only alienated him.
Seeing how Pavlor sat alone away from everyone else, having isolated himself, Arvel burst out laughing even as he shoved another chunk of venison steak into his mouth. Camilla almost closed his mouth for him before the food fell out or he choked, but decided to not put her hand anywhere near that mouth.
“Look at him!”
“What about him?” she asked. “By the way, when did you arrange the healing for Fleur to take place? You suggested Descent earlier, but does it still work now that we know what we know?” She was talking about the undead mana was actually holy mana and vice versa in Orlog.
Arvel stopped laughing at the mention of Fleur. He nodded as he set down his knife on his plate. “As I said before, the mana in the crystal is normal, so the seeds in Fleur are normal as well…or at least as normal as anything related to this can be. Not to mention the blasted place is constantly agitating the mana, trying to get the seeds in Fleur to complete the transformation…”
He clenched his hand. “I’m reasonably certain that it’ll work, but just in case, let’s just have Pavlor cast the highest level spell we can get him to.”
“Highest? But that’s advanced magic. Neither of us are high mages, so how will we make sure he doesn’t do anything?” she asked, worried. Based on how much Pavlor disliked her, she wouldn’t put it past him to mess up Fleur’s treatment just to spite her.
The reason she was fine with Descent of the Heavenly Feathers was that it was a spell that even she knew how to cast when she was a normal templar. That meant if someone cast it in front of her, she could tell if it was done correctly or not. However, advanced magic was a bit out of her league.
Arvel cackled then. “Hahaha! You haven’t changed at all! You’re still helpless with advanced magic, aren’t you? You think I’m like you? Even if I can’t cast the magic, I can still recognize the spell structure!”
“Shut up! I’m not addicted to magic as you are! Keep dreaming! You’ll never become an archpriest!”
“Haha! I don’t want to hear that from a battle maniac that can’t do anything other than reinforcement and imbued spells!”
“Yes I can!” Gods, talking with Arvel was infuriating. With Arvel’s laughter echoing in her ears, Camilla stood up and stomped off, leaving the idiot priest behind to his food. If she never saw him again…okay, she’ll be sad, but probably not that sad.
Compared to Arvel, Kagriss’s company was much more enjoyable. Where was she?
Looking around the little camp dotted with campfires and sleeping bags, Camilla found Kagriss seated with Fleur and Anne, towering over them like a mother protecting her children as Fleur talked to the other priests. Straining her ears, she could hear them talking about what the Amaranthine Point outpost was like.
It was mostly Anne scaring the clerics with horror stories about how bad the life was there and Fleur playing along, but having been there, Camilla knew it wasn’t true. Except for the food, being stationed at Amaranthine Point wasn’t that bad, so she had no idea how the outposts got that reputation.
Now she knew. It was people like Anne having fun, and the rumor wheel took the gossip and ran with it, causing the outposts to seem like the outpost it was reputed to be.
As she made her way over to them, Kagriss looked up and spotted her. “Ah, Camilla.” Eyes turned to stare at her.
Camilla motioned for her to remain sitting as Kagriss was about to stand up. Circling around the campfire, she came up behind Kagriss, acting like she hadn’t heard everything as she attempted to join the conversation. “What are you talking about?”
“How terrible Amaranthine Point is. Also, we’re interrogating Kagriss,” Anne said. “Right?”
Kagriss nodded earnestly. “Yes. However, I’ve coughed up pretty much everything I know. Nothing ever happens there, and what does happen is shut in within the heart of the city in the fortress where I’m not allowed to go unless called. I haven’t been called yet,” she admitted.
A city of the undead does seem to be a dreadfully boring place.
However, the descriptions of the various undead impressed the clerics. Outside of undead hotspots like larger desecrated zones, higher undeads were rare. Undead wearing armor was even less seen, so skeleton knights in full plate were practically myths to the clerics.
Fleur also told the clerics about how brave Anne had been during the battle with the chimera undead. The description of the monsters earned them a few glances of skepticism from the clerics, though.
In return, the clerics told them about the battles that occurred during the hunt for Orlog. Initially, casualties were low, but over time Orlog adapted, forcing them to adapt as well until it became a sort of arms race involving tactics until it finally ended that day. However, most of the work was done by Pavlor, so there wasn’t much to talk about.
Finally, as the night deepened and the boost of energy from the meat wore off, most of the clerics went to bed with their bellies full. Only a few night owls stayed up, including Arvel, Pavlor, and everyone from Camilla’s group.
It was time for Pavlor to heal Fleur. Technically, only Pavlor, Fleur, and Arvel had to be present, but Anne refused to leave Fleur’s side. Both Camilla and Kagriss wanted to be there in case something went wrong. Nothing should go wrong with Arvel watching, but it didn’t hurt to be careful.
Plus, it was an important moment where Fleur would finally be free of the blade hanging over her for the past few weeks, threatening to turn her into a monster like Orlog if she let her guard down. Fleur was impressive in her own way for being able to remain her happy, cheerful self while under that stress, even if she had Anne to help her cope.
Fortunately, the process itself was simple for the receiver of the spell. Fleur simply needed to stand in front Pavlor and stay still while the archpriest casted his spell.
All the burden was on Pavlor.
As the moonlight shone down through the trees, dappling the ground silver and granting the ceremony an appropriate ambience, Fleur stood before the archpriest with her head bowed.
Anne stood by Camilla and Kagriss, shifting back and forth, yet afraid to say something in case she disturbed Pavlor…although as an archpriest, if he’s interrupted simply by someone talking, he should probably be stripped of his position at the Church.
In the meantime, Arvel stood on the side between Fleur and Pavlor, looking almost like he was a mediator.
With an uncharacteristic solemness without a hint of spite or reluctance, his face a visage of tranquility and concentration, Pavlor began to cast his magic. The mana in his hands took form, creating a small ball that grew a gentle brightness—much gentler than the bold brilliance of a lower level spell like Cleansing Light.
Surprisingly, Camilla did not feel threatened despite the powerful mana manifesting from Pavlor’s body and gathering in his hands. Kagriss was completely calm as well. Although the name of the spell was unknown to Camilla, she could tell that it was truly something completely dedicated to blessing and healing. Attack wasn’t even a consideration, and if a normal lesser undead walked into the light, they’d probably pass away slowly and painlessly rather than being purified with brute force as with lower tier or offensive magic.
On the other hand, the gentleness did not detract at all from the power of the spell.
After a timeless moment, Pavlor extended his hands and the ball of light with it. The ball slowly slipped out of his hands, casting a gentle glow over the people that stood gathered around it. It approached Fleur, who still had her eyes closed, silently, and the only indication that Fleur knew that the ball was nearing was a small twitch in her eyes as the light grew brighter.
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As if she wasn’t even there, the ball slipped inside her, and for a moment nothing happened. Then, a soft glow expanded from Fleur as the spell filled her entire body, slowly and gently wiping out the seeds of darkness within her. Camilla witnessed the heavenly light grow and consume the darkness that winked out as the light touched them.
Fleur threw her head back, stretching out her arms as if bathing in sunlight on this moonlit night, but the warmth came from within her. There was something about the spell that was simply transcendent. Only when the last specks of light faded from Fleur’s body did Camilla realize that the spell was over, and that Pavlor had already disappeared, headed to sleep without a word to anyone.
It was the same for everyone else as well. Breaking from her daze, Anne suddenly ran forward and barreled straight into Fleur, nearly knocking both of them over.
Camilla looked away to give the two girls some privacy in their intimate moment and turned to Kagriss to find her staring back. “How was it?” she asked.
“I love it,” Kagriss whispered, her eyes twinkling. “But at the same time, I lament not being able to cast something like that. Even I can feel the warmth from that spell.”
“I’m sure that somewhere out there, there’s an equally beautiful spell that you can cast as well. I’ll help you find it.” Camilla stood up on her tiptoes and kissed Kagriss on her lips.
And of course, Arvel was left alone, irrelevant after his job was done and everyone else in their own world.
It’s actually exhausting to write when family is screaming at each other and things are being slammed around. I kept losing my train of thought, just randomly blanking out in that hostile atmosphere, so apologies if the writing is a bit dull.
On a side note, We’re the next chapter is the end of the volume/superarc/act. After that chapter, I’m taking a one week break and then continuing.