Dee frowned at her floating psionic blades in displeasure. She had been trying to spar with Ngaire with just the telekinetically controlled weapons, but the results had been mixed. The surprise factor of making the weapons suddenly appear and slash at the enemy was very useful, though it had also become obvious that the more power she put in to the blades, the easier it was for someone with sharp senses to detect them before they even materialized. Ngaire had not been able to sense them, but one of the Meilin warriors nearby had been able to sense them when Dee used more power. Moirai of course felt them, but that was a given.
That was still within Dee’s expectations. Even if psionic power was really hard to detect while dormant, like when she had performed missions as an assassin, a gathering of power before an attack was easier to detect for everyone. That’s partially how Dee detected spells aimed at her. She could see the gathering power and identify the attack before it even fully materialized. She could also see the flow of mana in the caster, but that was another matter and a seemingly rare talent.
On the other hand, what had surprised Dee was the difficulty of using the floating weapons to actually fight someone. While the presence of a body was often a hindrance, it was also a benefit. A physical body gave the attacks weight and momentum that the disembodied and invisible hands lacked. When a combatant locked weapons with their enemy, they didn’t use just the muscles in their hands to push the weapon, they used their whole body. The same held true for all movements a fighter could make. When someone swung their weapon, they used their whole body not only to give more power, but also to give speed and minute control.
Dee could somewhat compensate by making the invisible hand holding the weapon more powerful, but that had the usual downside of reduced control. At best of times, that method was a poor substitute. On the other hand, she could cause problems to her enemies with her telekinesis. A powerful warrior could use their ki to push back her telekinetic power, but that required conscious effort. If she surprised her enemy by suddenly tripping them, they would have no time to react, allowing herself to go for the kill.
In conclusion, it seemed like her telekinetic power was best used to support and supplement her own martial abilities instead of replacing them. That suited Dee just fine. She quite enjoyed the visceral feeling of physical combat. Besides, she had already covered for her previous weakness of lacking ranged psionic abilities with the exploding weapons. Anything beyond that was just a bonus. And none of this changed her ability to channel her holy power through the invisible hands.
Dee’s thoughts were interrupted, by yelling near the gates of the Four Winds territory. She couldn’t quite make out what the yelling was about, but her other senses gave her answers that her ears did not. A large group of Dagon and Meilin had rushed through the gates from the outside, and the flow of power in their bodies hinted at both fatigue from extended combat and injuries.
Knowing the lack of proper healers among the Four Winds, Dee rushed towards the wounded people. She had sensed a lot of injured people, but the reality was worse than she had thought. Hundreds of injured people, some of them lightly while some were on their last breath. Some seemed to have the standard injuries one could get while fighting beasts, while some seemed to be poisoned.
‘Croestia, switch to full stamina buffing. I think we’ll be here for a while. If it seems necessary, feel free to switch to relieving mental fatigue without my command.’ Dee instructed silently. She might have nigh bottomless stores of holy power for healing, but she still got tired both physically and mentally.
The Four Winds had only few lower ranked holy power users. Most skilled priests and clerics would stay with the Holy Orders, and the group had no access to paladin training. Nor was there much in the way of desire. The Radiant Sun had done little to help the four races in their troubled times before they made the Four Winds alliance, and the alliance members had long memories. In fairness, the Radiant Sun had done little to help, because the four races had not sought help from the order due to their troubles being intrinsic to their race, and thus not something that the paladins and templars could easily solve. Resentment was rarely rational though.
No matter the reason, Dee found herself as the most proficient healer available. Help requests had been sent to the local temples, but when Dee inquired about it, the ranking Meilin scout said that the Four Winds were not the only people who had been attacked and the temples were swamped with requests for aid. Dee had the other healers and people capable of first aid performing triage, while she herself focused on healing the most injured. While the Four Winds lacked healers, they didn’t lack healing potions and elixirs, which were capable of keeping many of the injured alive until Dee got to them.
Dee might have been rather average as far as healing talent went, at least compared to her other abilities, but she was still much better than no healing or just a potion. She also had the benefit of was stores of holy power to draw on. While the amount of power used mattered less when it came to healing, it did compensate a little. She wasn’t doing a perfect job of patching the wounded to their optimal condition, but they would live. And she was very good at combating any poison they were inflicted with.
“How bad is it?” Moirai asked Ngaire as the three guardians and Ngaire gathered to get a read on the situation. Ngaire had been interviewing the people involved and their scouts, while the other two guardians had gone to save as many of the Four Winds people outside the city as possible, before returning to share their gathered information.
“For us? So-so. It would be much worse if Dee wasn’t here to heal the injured. We have hundreds of injured already at the temporary infirmary near the gates. According to the reports, the other communities are faring much worse. This area has always been light on healers, as we only have minor temples and a small Radiant Sun outpost. Their presence is almost negligible.” Ngaire replied, recalling the details.
“How many dead?” The Jun guardian asked concerned. Like Moirai, she had also been a rather recent arrival to the sub-community and Moirai had spent a fairly small amount of time with her, mostly because they were both busy and fairly disinterested in getting friendly. Moirai knew her name was Xiaolian, and that she was a rank eight ice mage, but that was about it.
“Fourteen dead so far. I don’t expect that number to go up too much, Dee is doing a pretty good job preventing that, but I have no idea how many are suffering permanent injuries.” Ngaire replied gravely.
“Dee did mention that healing was not her forte. She will most likely be unable to affect full restoration of limbs or something similar. We’ll have to get a platinum ranked priest for that from the temples. When we have the chance that is.” Moirai said, replying to the unsaid question of the two other guardians.
“I’m more interested in what happened.” The Anshar guardian suddenly said in a gravelly voice, his almost metallic looking black skin was still splattered with blood. Not his own blood. “That might become very important in preventing further damage.”
The Anshar was one of the magical warriors so typical to their race. They rarely used ki, but their power over fire and naturally strong bodies compensated for that. The man’s name was something unpronounceable, and Moirai always thought of him as just the Anshar guardian. It was difficult to tell the difference between Anshar anyway. The beings were halfway to elementals, and their appearance kept changing.
The other two guardians had been too busy running around saving people to really find out what had happened. They only knew of several packs of beasts attacking anyone outside the walls.
“A stampede of some kind.” Ngaire replied. “All our mining, farming and logging teams outside the city were attacked. Thousands of beasts of various ranks. We have no idea why they attacked, but they all seemed to be coming from the north.”
“They seemed crazed somehow. Starving maybe?” The Anshar guardian observed.
“That, and maybe running away from something.” Moirai suggested.
“Let’s hope not. We don’t want whatever they were running away from to get here.” Xiaolian said rather emphatically. The three of them were strong enough to face almost anything at the lesser circles of Day city, but that didn’t mean they could perfectly protect those under them. And there was always the possibility of running into something they couldn’t deal with. Just because such things were rare, didn’t mean they didn’t exist.
“Be that as it may, we have to prepare for the worst. Have everyone prepare their gear, so they can be ready for battle on a moment’s notice.” Moirai was quiet for a moment. “Also gather anything important for transport, just in case we need to evacuate through the teleportation gate.”
“Wouldn’t you be able to create a portal out of here?” Ngaire asked a little confused.
“Assuming I’m not too busy in battle you mean? Unlike the teleportation gates, my portals have a maximum range, and the further away I make the other end, the harder it becomes to keep it open for long periods of time. I can just about take us to the wall separating us from the next circle, but that’s about my limit. The walls interfere with unauthorized portals. I can get through, but not with all of us and our supplies.” Moirai replied.
The creators of Pantheon had been cognizant of the possibility of the circles or even Night and Day cities waging war on each other, and had taken steps to hinder the movement of large amount of troops. You could move a lot of people through the official portal gates, but in the case of an invasion, those portals could be closed. The heaven reaching walls between circles interfered with other portals and teleportation. The great wilderness also made it impossible to move large armies between Day and Night cities.
It had taken three days for Dee to do everything she could for all the injured people and she had spent the next twelve hours sleeping off her fatigue. Weirdly no further attacks had occurred in that time. The constant readiness had frayed everyone’s nerves, and a weird mood had taken hold of the Four Winds community. To alleviate the mood, the leaders of the sub-community had taken to organizing feasts and get-togethers to relieve stress. Calling them celebrations would’ve been wrong considering the circumstances, but those involved tried their best to have fun regardless, as they knew the necessity of letting loose so they would not be adversely affected by the stress.
Mina had dragged Dee out of her hiding place so that they could both relax with some good food and good company. Well, good in Mina’s opinion, as Dee found the food worse than Mina’s cooking and the company borderline tedious, though that was affected by her fairly bad mood. Dee was thoroughly regretting accepting Mina’s invitation, and not really because of the food or the company. At least not the company of the people surrounding them.
In fact, the reason for Dee’s black mood was Mina herself. In the last months Dee had noticed her feelings about Mina changing to something special. She felt good whenever the Jun girl was around her, and it seemed like the room seemed to become a little brighter every time Mina walked in. She also missed Mina when she was gone. To top off the whole thing, she had these strange urges and her body itched in the weirdest ways when Mina was close to her.
Dee wasn’t stupid. While she herself had never had any romantic feelings towards others before, she could recognize the “symptoms” as she called them. She also quite correctly connected her urges and itches to lust. She so dense as to not to put one and one together, and while she had little experience with romance and lust, she was aware of the mechanics at least. While she wasn’t all that confused about feeling this way about another female, and a member of another species at that, she also felt there was something she was missing. Like there was…something else…
And that something else was not just the dark feelings she was having right at this moment, although they might be related. The reasons for the dark feelings was Mina’s whispered admiring comments about a certain Dagon man sitting about ten mel from them currently. It seemed that Mina had realized her budding womanhood earlier than Dee, and had started developing a rather major crush on that particular Dagon man whose name Dee had chosen to ignore for her own sanity.
In fact, Mina had started developing those feeling almost six months ago, just that she had only recently fully come to terms with them. Now she was seeking her friend for advice, as countless other girls had done over the eons, totally oblivious how her friend was affected by the discussion. Yet again something countless girls had not realized over the eons. A young woman in love can become rather self-centered when she thinks only her own feelings should matter at that very moment.
“What do you think I should do?” Mina asked Dee, emotionally slightly unstable. She sort of knew what she had to do, but was seeking her friends approval for strength of conviction.
Dee gritted her teeth before replying. “To me the answer is obvious. Nothing will happen unless you make the first move. You should go and talk to him.”
“But what if he says no? What if he doesn’t like me?” Mina asked, almost tearful.
“I have trouble seeing how someone wouldn’t like you, but in that remote case you’d at least know. You’d have gone to the battle and suffered an honorable defeat. Then you wouldn’t have to wonder and could begin to find someone better.” Dee replied, her poker face almost faltering.
“I don’t want someone better, I want him! But I see your point. Wish me luck!” Mina fought her final mental struggles with herself, before taking off.
As Mina turned away, Dee’s poker face finally cracked to a dark look. There seemed to be a quiet voice inside her, screaming “Mine! Mine! No one shall take away what is MINE!” Which she chose to ignore, as Dee knew it was her darker desires coming to the surface. An almost bloodlust-type of feeling was roiling inside her.
“Well now, I’m not sure if you just gave great advice, or you were just being a horrible friend.” The voice of Moirai came from behind Dee. Dee had sensed her approach, and prevented any of her feelings from leaking out.
“The two are not mutually exclusive.” Dee didn’t quite manage to keep the bitterness from her voice.
“Indeed. Normally I’d say that was the correct advice to give. Nothing will happen, without the bravery to take the first step. A step you haven’t taken I might add. Don’t think I haven’t noticed your own feelings.” Moirai commented, not entirely sure it was her place to meddle
“Well now, there’s a slight difference. I would only be going to my own heartbreak, as evidenced by the current situation.” Dee shot back.
“As she is doing at this very moment. Don’t tell me you didn’t notice?” Moirai asked with a raised eyebrow.
Dee shot an incredulous look at Moirai. Translation: Don’t be stupid, of course I noticed.
Unlike the blind admiration with which Mina had looked at the Dagon man, Dee had actually observed him. The man was clearly in love with a Dagon woman, and seemed to have a penchant for the more robust and lusher women of his own race, instead of the slimmer and more graceful Jun. She also noted that he seemed honorable enough to not take advantage of Mina’s emotions just for a bit of fun. In essence, Dee had knowingly sent Mina to get rejected.
“There’s a difference. They are not friends. And her quest is not entirely hopeless, just unlikely. I’m aware Mina doesn’t swing my way. She’s made that fairly clear, although unintentionally. Even if she did, she would likely not see me as a potential target for such feelings.” Dee waved at herself, referring to her fur covered body and kitsune face.
Despite having a body that seemed desirable for many men and women, she was clearly ‘the other’. It would take a certain type of person to see behind that. Moirai felt a little bad for Dee. Dee had no ‘her own kind’. With her mixed heritage, she would always be ‘the other’ to everyone. Inter-racial couplings were not rare, but always more likely when the two races were very much alike in appearance. Elves and humans often got along. Same thing with those two and werebeast type beastmen that looked mostly human. Couplings between that type and demi-humans who looked more like humanoid shaped beasts were much more rare, and Dee was a rather extreme example on the more beastly end of the spectrum. She was also a demon, something that many frowned upon.
Dee continued. “Besides, the advice still stands on its own merit. Nothing will happen until she takes the first step. She will get rejected, and then she will find someone else. She will try again, and might get rejected again. That’s the only way she will grow, and learn to deal with the rejection. Nothing will happen if she simply pines after in futility.”
“Big words for someone so inexperienced.” Moirai commented, not really admonishing. She knew Dee was smart enough even without personal experience.
Dee didn’t even dignify the comment with a response.
As they had both known would happen, Mina returned with tears in her eyes, clearly having been rejected, although the man had let her down gently it seemed. Dee and Moirai both gave her a sympathetic hug. Dee tried to suppress the almost gleeful feeling inside her. ‘It feels more like greed than love.’ She mused to herself, not entirely sure if that feeling was correct.
As the trio started towards their own little pity party at Mina’s house, Dee suddenly looked sharply towards the sky. The sky was filled with a heavy cloud cover, but that didn’t hide the large amount of flying beasts from her eyes. She also had a feeling of pressure coming from the north. Something was coming. Many somethings.
“Master, it might be a good idea to raise an alarm. We’re about to get company soon.” Dee said.
Moirai looked at her sharply, but didn’t hesitate even for a second before complying.