Chapter 3: Liliana
Liliana von Bergman lay on the dusty ground and stared blankly at the bats dancing in the air.
As a student of Offa Universitys archaeology department in the Blackwater Province, she would definitely have danced excitedly in this hall if she had come here in a more dignified manner.
It was difficult to imagine how much missing documentary information could be excavated from a well-preserved relic from the Kos dynasty. If she could reveal the discoveries here to the academic world, she might even be guaranteed a spot as an associate professor in the universitys archaeology department.
However, her mentality was completely different having been brought into the ruins to be stockpiled as food by the Subdemons.
Two Subdemons with abnormally long limbs and huge heads were chewing on meat (she tried her best not to think about what meat it was) in large mouthfuls as they smacked their lips while chatting about what to do with her next.
“So when can we start eating this woman”
“Is eating all thats on your mind Theres only one left. There will be none left once we finish her. We still have to stay here for some time.”
“Then, it shouldnt be a problem to try a few mouthfuls as long as its not fatal, right”
“Are you an idiot The first bite will always be dedicated to the Lady of Starvation, Camilla. Can it still be used as a sacrifice after being bitten by you”
“We cant keep a living person by our side, right What if we encounter some danger and dont have the time to pay attention to her, allowing her to escape Wouldnt that leak our arrangements here”
“Yes... That makes sense. Then, turn her into rations like before. Having a living person by our side is indeed a latent risk. Draw the runes for the ritual first.”
The conversation between the Subdemons threw Liliana into despair.
She was under a paralysis spell. Even if she wanted to beg for mercy, she would be tongue-tied and unable to speak. In this situation, she couldnt do anything other than silently pray to the Seven Holy Spirits for a miracle to happen.
One of the Subdemons appeared in Lilianas line of sight. Its skin seemed to be covered in mold, and there were signs of rot and festering everywhere. It opened its mouth that covered half its face and extended its long forked tongue to lick her cheek.
“Dont be afraid, dont be afraid... Your soul will soon reach the Moon Realm and reunite with your friends. There, you can ask them if they suffered before they died and compare notes.”
The Subdemon held a ceremonial serrated dagger and pointed at the bones on the ground while speaking in a teasing manner.
They were her companions who came exploring this ruin with her. Not long after they stepped into this ruin, they were attacked and killed by these two Subdemons.
Daddy, Mommy... Help me...
Looking at the dagger that was gradually approaching her, Liliana closed her eyes in despair.
Tap, tap, tap...
It was also at this moment that light but very clear footsteps sounded from the corridor outside the front door.
The hall immediately fell silent.
Liliana opened her eyes in confusion. At this moment, the dagger-wielding Subdemon was half-kneeling beside her, exchanging looks with the Subdemon who was drawing something on the ground with a piece of charcoal.
It placed its slender fingers beside its orifice that could hardly be called a mouth and made a shushing motion. Then, it gently stabbed the dagger back into its belt and slowly pulled out a short sword smeared with green venom.
As for the other Subdemon, it gently placed the charcoal pencil on the ground and incanted something softly. A ball of flames quickly gathered on its palm and quickly turned into a spinning fireball.
The footsteps approached. The two Subdemons stared at the corner extending out the door and held their breaths.
Liliana tried her best to make some noise to alert the person outside, but unfortunately, the effects of the paralysis spell were still obvious. She couldnt even move a finger.
With the sound of footsteps approaching the corner of the door, the casting Subdemon raised his hand, and the spinning fireball in his hand quickly shot out.
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An intense flare flashed, and the massive explosion seemed to shake the entire hall.
The sliver of hope that Liliana had for escape was extinguished.
The two Subdemons looked at the surging flames outside the door and relaxed slightly.
This was the end of common sense that had shaped Lilianas 16 living years. From her point of view, what happened next could only be described as unbelievable.
Without any warning, a silver-white nexus appeared under the feet of the two Subdemons. A powerful whirlwind instantly swept up the dust in the room and threw the two Subdemons into the air.
It was also the moment they floated in the air that two sharp ice thorns extended diagonally from the originally empty ground, accurately piercing through the two airborne Subdemons.
All of this happened so suddenly that Liliana only realized what had happened when the two Subdemon corpses began to turn into black salt crystals and dissipate.
Heavy footsteps sounded from the opposite direction of the explosion. She turned her eyeballs and looked over.
Then, she saw the person.
A man who seemed to have walked out of a legend emitted an aura of ice and blood.
His face had signs of the elements, and his expression was a little gloomy. His grayish-white hair was disheveled, and his eyes flickered with silver light due to the abundant magic. His cheeks were slightly sunken, and his beard was more like a stubble. His skin was as pale as if it was covered in a layer of frost.
He wore pitch-black bone armor, and the armors shape was distorting and twisting like fire. Sharp bone spurs extended from his wrists and elbows as if they were growing on that persons body. The entire armorbreathed as if it were alive. Countless runes and totems were carved on the armor, and they alternated with ice-blue and blood-red light. These light beams finally converged on a fist-sized black crystal in the center of the bone armor.
He held a staff made of pure frost in his hand, and a blood-red orb was embedded at the tip. Fire, lightning, and frost lingered around the blood-colored orb-they were three powerful spells that had been incanted but hadnt been activated. Just looking at the magic power contained in them seemingly froze her soul.
The person first looked around before slowly walking to a spot three steps away from Liliana.
“Are the two... the only ones” the person stared into her eyes and asked.
His voice was low and hoarse, carrying an indescribable authority.
Perhaps it was because she was too shocked, but Liliana didnt understand what the other party meant for a moment. She only asked in a daze, “What two”
After speaking, Liliana realized that she could speak normally. At some point, the paralysis spell she had been under had been dispelled.
“Are they the only two Subdemons here”
The person repeated his question.
“Theres... theres only the two of them!” Liliana hurriedly replied.
The person looked around the hall again and said to her, “Ive already dispelled the paralysis spell on you. Try and see if you can stand up on your own.”
Liliana moved her limbs that were almost numb and tried to stand up, but she couldnt muster any strength.
Before she could speak, a green light flashed, and Liliana felt her limbs slowly begin to recover their strength.
“Thank... Thank you...”
The person only waved his hand and walked closer to ask.
“There are some things I need to confirm first. What day and age is it”
“T-Twilight Moon 24, or 25 Ive been under the paralysis spell for the past few days, so Im not sure how many days have passed.”
“No, Im asking what year it is.”
This question made Lilianas heart palpitate, and she wondered if this person was a heretical mage who had lived here in seclusion for so long that he had lost track of time.
Yes, this was the only possibility. Otherwise, how could such a powerful mage be willing to lower himself into living in such a remote ruin
The more Liliana thought about it, the more certain she became. Then, she couldnt help but be struck by fear.
She had heard that heretical mages couldnt use the magic power of the Astral World because they had betrayed the Astral Laws. Therefore, they extracted and tortured the souls of others, using the pain and despair of their souls as fuel for their spells.
Looking at the other partys eyes that emitted silver light due to the abundance of magic, Liliana lowered her head and avoided his gaze. She stared at her boots and answered hesitantly,
“Platinum Calendar, 1886...”
Perhaps it was her imagination, but Liliana seemed to hear the mage gasp. But when she looked up again, the person still had the same gloomy expression.
“Is there a problem”
“Lets not talk about this first... Do you know where those two Subdemons come from”
Liliana replied, “Im not sure... They only attacked us after my archeological team entered this ruin, but a few days ago, when we were still in the Grief Mountains, the teams scouts mentioned that something was following us, but we thought it was a beast like a Direwolf...”
With that said, her voice became softer and softer.
The man suspected to be a heretical mage nodded thoughtfully after hearing her description.
“I roughly get it. Sorry, I need to know. Is anyone else on your archaeological team still alive”
This question made Lilianas heart sink as memories of the attack on her team surfaced in her mind.
“I hear something upstairs.”
“Where did they come from”
“Will, protect the lady and leave first!”
“By the Holy Spirit, that was a Lv. 3 spell!”
“They can see us. Light the torches!”
“Lily, save me... Its eating me...”
Everyones voice in the archeological team seemed to echo in her ears. Liliana bit her lip and took a long time to squeeze out two words.
The emotions she had temporarily suppressed from fear and shock erupted. She covered her face with her hands, and tears kept streaming through her fingers.
“Theyre all dead... They were all eaten...”
After a long time, when she was done venting her emotions, the person placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Lets go. Lets solve the problem at its root first.”