Author's note: I will be changing my upload schedule temporarily from two chapters a day to one chapter a day. This is happening because I am a student and finals are right around the corner. I can't afford to spend the 3-4 hours a day making these chapters. This hopefully won't affect the quality of the chapters I upload. My finals should end in two weeks, but I plan to get back to my regular upload schedule before that. My main assignment is a 8-13 page English essay (A subject which I am ironically bad at). On top of that, I have to revise another essay to professional standards. Once I'm done with those two essays, I can return back to my normal upload schedule. I guess I'll be done by the end of this week. Thank you for your patience. Back to the story...
Doevm sat against a tree as he stared at the Manticore hanging off the spiked boulder. Its tail hung limp and the green acid was still dripping off its tail. 'I guess I should store the acid away for later, but how will I do that? I can take the tail off, but it looks to be leaking. If I put it in my spacial ring I could store all the poison, but I can't put it away without destroying my bag and everything in it by accident. I could take the tail off directly and put it in my spacial ring, but I don't want the others to know I have one. They might try to steal it from me.' He stood up and downed half the contents of his water pouch. 'I hope this much water is enough to dilute the acid. If it isn't enough, the acid will go right through my pouch.'
He staggered on wobbly legs to the manticore's tail and held his water pouch under it. It dripped several times, turning the water a deeper shade of green. He sighed and squeezed the last drops of the poison out. No matter how diluted the poison was, it would still eat at the pouch. The only way to temporarily stop it from leaking out was to throw it in a spacial ring. Doevm put the water pouch deep in his bag where his spacial ring was stored. Now that no one could see, the pouch disappeared. He sighed, thinking about what a wasted opportunity it was.
"Doevm, why did you take the poison?" Frey asked as he leaned on his nearly broken Bloodwood spear. "Isn't it dangerous to carry it around?"
"It's very dangerous," Doevm said. "Only if you have never handled poison before." He picked up his own spear. The metal point was still sharp and in one piece, but the Bloodwood staff was barely held together.
"I guess we should get some other spears," Frey chuckled. "Maybe we can request some." Wade limped towards them, helped by several members of squad six.
"I broke my leg," Wade said. "Sorry we couldn't come help sooner." He smiled at the Manticore, "But I'm a little happy. We were all weak, but we came together. There were some deaths, but we have grown stronger. Squad six, we're retreating immediately! Help Hopi, Frey, and Doevm if they need it. The rest pick up the remains of our fallen brotheren. They deserve a proper burial." He limped over to the Manticore and cut off one of its legs. "This will be our proof of victory against impossible odds. A Manticore is a legendary beast. It's not every day one is killed."
As Wade made his speech, Doevm took his and Frey's spear and held them against the Manticore. The blood from its jaws moved into the blood, which turned a darker color of red. The spears' Bloodwood restored itself to its original shape. Doevm gave Frey his spear back, who examined it. "So this is the special property Kilot mentioned. I like it."
Doevm took note of which of the squad members were drooling over the sight of their spears' powers. If the spear went missing overnight, he would torture and question those people first. The squad had a silent march back to base. Despite their victory, the terror still loomed over their hearts. For most, this was the first time seeing someone die and their first close call with death. Their weapons were buried so deep into the Manticore that no one could retrieve them. Doevm replayed the battle in his head.
'Something was wrong with that. Judging by its poor control over its acid, it was just a juvenile Manticore. It shouldn't have been that aggressive. It went for the leader, Wade, first. That signifies it had intelligence and had experience with human squads. After taking out the leader, it went straight after the weak. Two other things bothered me. Right before the battle started, Hopi came back. While I trust him, his behavior has been erratic. His hatred of humans could have made him do something rash. He was even reluctant to fight. I'll have to keep an eye on him.'
'Finally there's the last discrepancy: My voice during the battle.'
\t'No,' Somewhere in Doevm's state of half-consciousness, a voice came into existence. His ragged breathing stabilized. He bit down on his lip. Each claw swipe slowed down by a fraction of a second.
\tThe Lich laughed, 'What a pitiful attempt at resi-,'
\t'No!' The voice boomed again. Doevm tightened his grip. His life essence thickened.
\t'I was too focused on the battle to even think, but that one word, no, came out of my mind. I'm happy I was able to resist the temptation. I grew as a result. Something about how I said it bothers me. I got emotionally invested into the battle and made a risky decision. That's not a choice a Lich would take. That's a choice a human would take. My lust for battle is affecting my head just like my inner Lich. If I'm going to continue in this war, I need to suppress both of them.'
\tBecause the squad slowed their pace for the injured, the trip back took twice as long. Wade made them keep to formation, but he didn't need to tell them to remain vigilant. The psychological scars made them jump at shadows. Weaponless and hopeless, they returned to the base. When the guards saw their sorry state, they immediately called for healers, however it was unnecessary. Only four, Doevm, Frey, Hopi, and Wade were actually injured. The rest of the squad was covered in blood when the Manticore killed three soldiers in a single swipe. Blood had stained their armor.
\tThe injured could walk, but the healers insisted on carrying them on stretchers. After an elevator ride and a quarter mile walk across a shaky wooden bridge, they arrived at the medical wing. It was the only building in the camp that had solid walls and a roof. Proper beds with white sheets were efficiently lined up on each side of the room surrounded by light blue curtains. Since it had only been two days since the war started, the beds had yet to be covered in stains. Doevm was gently laid down in bed. The other injured members of squad six were put in other beds far away from his and hidden behind curtains.
"I need help over here." Ashtehar appeared from behind a set of curtains. "My patient needs to be sedated." As he looked around for help, he spotted Doevm. "Doevm, what happened to you?" His eyes went wide as he asked. "To be reduced to such a state. Didn't you just leave yesterday?"
"Yes, but we were attacked by a Manticore." Doevm responded out of boredom.
"That's horrible. I didn't think your squad, with its current strength, could handle a creature like that. How many survived?"
"All but three," Doevm shrugged. "Some of us acted as bait while the others set up a trap and killed it."
"You killed it?" Ashtehar's massive frame took a step out of the curtains. His brown robe had red spots on it. Under his shoes was a fresh coat of dirt. Before their conversatioin could continue, a healer showed up and handed Ashtehar some sedative. The war monk apoligized and disappeared once again behind the curtains. After a few minutes, a familiar white robed healer walked to Doevm's side.
\t"I guess you've had a day." Oliver joked as he closed the curtains. "Well, most of us aren't having a good time. Ashtehar even had to go out of the medical wing for a day or two. He only returned this morning." He took off Doevm's armor, shirt, and pants. "You got cut you up really good. What happened to your squad?" He took a deep breath and rolled up his sleeves. His disfigured hands hovered over each cut, and a white light shone. He looked at his patient, hoping Doevm wasn't staring at his deformed arms.
No matter how much Oliver wanted to hide himself, he couldn't heal through his robe. People had already called him a freak and requested a different healer. Each visit brought Oliver's self-esteem lower. Doevm, however, wasn't looking at his arms at all, nor was he responding to the question asked of him. "Doevm, are you listening?"
\t'Damn it.' Doevm thought. His eyes were glued to the magic circles, absorbing their every detail into his long-term memory. The Lich's hands held his head in place and his eyelids open wide. 'No, not like this.' He tried to replicate his resistance from the battle with the Manticore, but his voice felt so weak.
\t'You let your guard down,' The Lich laughed. 'Now learn from it. Notice the shape of the magic circle, how fast your wounds close. Is this new flesh being regenerated at accelerated speed or being created? Think of all your questions so you can answer them yourself.'
\t'Let go of me.'
\t'I already have,' the Lich said. It moved in front of him and held its skeletal hands up. 'You are free to look away whenever you want, but you won't. No matter how much you want to pretend, you're still a Lich down to your bones. You may have resisted me back there, but that doesn't change anything. You were once so bored that you even invented a new type of magic. Do you remember how happy you were to have something to do? After you learn how to heal, you will be complete. Learn his magic as you have done with every other magic in the world.'
\t"All done," Oliver said as he rolled his sleeves down. "Please don't tell anyone about what I look like." He bowed and exited through the curtains. Doevm put on his clothes and headed out of the medical wing. He didn't head out to the barracks, but to someplace the mages would never sense him.