The stars did not change much, and therefore, his knowledge guided him true and well. Soon, he found himself on the edge of the tree-line belonging to the Forest. The trees, however, did change. Feeling confident, he strode into the Forest. There was a place he needed to find.
Walking up to a pine, he closed his eyes and reminisced. He gently lay his hands on the bark, searching. Pushing aside some dirt and weathered remains, he sought for the markings he knew that he had carved…no, he shook his head, smiling sadly to himself. Not him. He had never been here. The memories were not his, but another’s. Memories that belonged to those before him.
But nevertheless, he found the markings. It made him happy, somewhat. He knew where he was, then.
Chasing this particular sign had meaning. After he had left and sealed away their secret hideout so that his Master may have his eternal slumber in peace, he had realized that in his haste, he had forgotten to bring any supplies or traveling gear. Additionally, he had no idea how to survive in the outside world, having never been outside. It had hit him later on that the memories and experiences accumulated over time, now belonged to him. He had not known it, but he knew where he was going. He only realized it when he had seen the trees.
Digging slowly into the base between the roots of the pine tree, he slowly uncovered a package, bundled in cloth. One of his Order had passed here, a long time ago, and had buried this in case he ever found the need for emergency supplies. He had never used it. Now, they were going to be put to good use.
Unraveling the bundle, he extracted the survival materials he knew he would find inside. The emergency rations were long gone, but the flint and tinder were still usable.
Taking everything he knew he would need, he got up to go, only to see burning smoke rise beyond the trees.
Was it the people his Master had seen in his final days of scrying? He did not know. He thought it over, and decided to see what was causing the smoke.
The Blacksmith looked on in dismay as their combined relentless assault failed to make Seimei budge from his position; exactly what the Summoner had predicted.
The spell shield that the Summoner had summoned proved to be too strong. The Pyromancer’s flames were redirected by it or simply absorbed, fueling the shield even more. Trees around the clearing were burnt to ashes or were still burning, but nothing reached the Summoner.
He did not understand. How was a spell shield managing that? Magic acted like the rest of the laws of the world, and was simply a form of energy that those who could tune into could manipulate, obeying its own specific laws. However, unlike most forms of energy, magic refused to simply be created from other forms. You could create fire out of magic, but you simply could not create magic out of fire. That was one of the laws.
Likewise, he had never heard of spells that were already casted being simply taken over. It did not make sense.
The Summoner laughed. “I notice your confused look, Masamune,” he said.
Lina paused in her untiring tirade of fireballs. She shot a questioning look at him, demanding answers. He shrugged visibly; he did not understand what was happening himself.
Bending close to her ear, he whispered, “We’ll have to try a different tactic, Lina. I doubt he’s physically as strong as I am, and that’s how we’ll strike. I will charge right to him, where his spell shield will be of no use. Distract him for me.”
She nodded, and lobbed another fireball at the Summoner. The Blacksmith braced himself, and then began running towards the Summoner.
The Summoner showed a quick grin of amusement, before another wave of his arms summoned ethereal chains, binding his movements.
“How silly, old friend, you’d think I wouldn’t know how to protect myself from harm?”
The Blacksmith struggled in vain against the chains. They only tightened more.
“Seimei! You need to wake up and come to your senses! The Hellbourne will only use you, and then toss you away once they are done with exploiting what you can offer!”
The Summoner’s eyes narrowed, then he pointed at the Blacksmith. “Do you see those chains? When a Hellbourne is summoned, he is angry, he is full of rage, and he demands blood. I invented this spell to control them. I have never failed in bringing a daemon to its knees, to kowtow and grovel before me.”
A dragon made of pure fire erupted underneath the place where the Summoner was sitting. The Summoner didn’t bat an eyelash, and immediately the dragon dissipated. The Pyromancer looked on in horror.
“Do you see my might now? The Hellbourne showed me many things. I will learn many more, especially on how we can get back home. The Hellbourne have been around for a long, long time, Masamune. They know things we can only dream of.”
The Blacksmith struggled against the chains even more, trying to reach his hammers.
A Blazing Strike flew at the Summoner, only to be deflected by the spell shield. The Pyromancer dropped her hands with defeat. The Blacksmith looked at her, and knew. She was out of magic.
Meanwhile, the Summoner idly watched, shaking his head. “You do not understand that which you command. Masamune, even though you are not as learned in the arcane arts, you’ve never questioned yourself? Why the weapons you forge are of the most prized quality? Something that no one of this age has ever seen nor created?”
The Summoner reached a hand out to the Blacksmith, palm up. “I just want to take us home, Masamune. You, me, and Sachi. We’ll find Sachi somehow. The Hellbourne will do it for us.”
“I don’t even know who Sachi is!” the Blacksmith shouted in anger, “Seimei, you’ve gone mad! The Hellbourne promise you everything you want, but when the times comes, they will only betray you! Why do you think we lost so many men in that final battle against the Horde? The Hellbourne betrayed us! And they will do so again, until we are no more!”
The Summoner closed his eyes with sadness. The Blacksmith could see it. His friend truly believed in what he was saying.
A last flaming dragon erupted out of the ground, only to disappear instantly again. The Pyromancer fell to the ground, exhausted. The Blacksmith could see it in her eyes; they had lost their fiery glow. She was now truly devoid of mana.
More chains erupted out of nowhere, binding to her limbs.
The Blacksmith glared at the Summoner. “What are you doing?!”
The Summoner had in his hand a dagger. “She is another soul,” he explained, “and I promised the Hellbourne souls in exchange for the pact. There’s no sense in wasting this one.”
The chains lifted her up, so that the Summoner had an easy cutting angle from his sitting position.
She could not turn her head, but he could hear her soft voice. “Masamune…”
“I’m sorry, Masamune. I know how you feel. But it has to be done. We need to go home.”
“SEIMEI!” the anguished cry echoed throughout the Forest as the dagger plunged down.
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