All of them are walking towards the long cave that leads to the bigger caves where the Efreet are hiding. There is tension in the air as everyone keeps their silence, staring blankly in front of them. Each of them having an inner monologue that keeps them sane in the task to come.
As soon as they reach the cave, the heavy aura starts to leak out sending shivers to most of them.
“I-is this really okay Cleamon?” Cecily asks nervously.
Amara silently nods in agreement.
“Yes it’s fine, well as long as you keep yourselves safe and don’t rush in blindly” Cleamon says with a smile.
“Why does that aura feel so disgusting?” Amara follows up.
“It feels like all the happiness is draining from me”
“I’m not completely sure…” Cleamon confesses.
“My first thought was that they were cursed with a powerful spell, powerful enough to erase their personalities and use them to conquer the city. Last time we were here we looked for hints to this and it appears that they were there at the time of the downfall”
Cleamon explains what he saw and what their deductions were at that time, it takes him 15 minutes. During the talk, the rest clearly calms down a bit as they get used to the aura.
“Metztli follow me for a minute” Cleamon says after his explanation.
“Is something wrong?” she asks curiously.
“No, just that I’d like for you to search for the power source of the room we found. There must be an item hidden somewhere that provided energy to that room for all this time. Just locate it and when you’re done come back to us” Cleamon asks.
“Do I have to?” Metztli asks.
“No of course not, but it would help us greatly”
“I really don’t feel well leaving you behind with those things, are you really able to fight them?”
“Don’t worry I took precautions when preparing for today, I’ve created a few new spells that should help in dangerous situations. I was also able to uncover some nice potions while reading some books from the king’s private collection” Cleamon says putting his arm around her.
“Okay” she shyly whispers with her head down.
Feeling reassured she almost silently runs off towards the city and soon vanishes behind the walls.
“Where is she going?” Lilia asks.
“I’m having her investigate something I didn’t get a chance to do last time” he quickly explains.
Without further inquiry all of them stand back up and prepare mentally.
Cleamon leads the way into the cave with Lilia on his side.
‘The aura seems much more manageable, this time around I barely feel threatened by it’ Cleamon thinks.
They take their time going forward to let everyone get used to the aura as it gets more intense the closer they get. With every 10 meters or so they take a small break and every time Cleamon has to reassure everyone that this really is possible.
“Look, the aura is just a spell. It’s not their actual strength. The aura comes from something other than them. If we get rid of that curse, we also get rid of this aura” Cleamon says sighing.
‘I wonder if this magic is actually Mental magic interfering with our perception’ Cleamon thinks after witnessing the near breakdown of his friends.
Unbeknownst to the others he starts casting a spell of his own, a mental interference spell that controls the general morale of people surrounding him. It’s the same spell he taught Cecily, but in a much stronger form.
Slowly the negative aura fades away and relieves the others.
“What happened?” Cecily says confused. The others look equally surprised at the sudden change in the atmosphere.
“The curse is nothing more than a Mental spell” Cleamon says.
“It seems like the magician that put the spell on them wanted it to look like they are much stronger than they actually are. Not that they aren’t strong, just not as strong as they appear to be. The spell probable made many of the guards lose their spirit when facing them, making it much easier to infiltrate” Cleamon explains.
They seem relieved at this news, but amazed that something so simple can have so much influence on others. Especially Cecily is taken back by this development.
‘If I train my Mental magic, can I really make it as strong as that? Cleamon seems to have negated it so easy though’
She’s lost in thought.
“Cecily don’t think about it too much, the spell I’m using is very limited in range and as soon as you are more than 3 meters away from me the effect stops. You’ll still feel the effect of that spell when you’re fighting it later. Just be aware of the effect on you and it should be a lot less effective” Cleamon says patting Cecily on the back.
It doesn’t have much of an effect on her thinking process. During the six months of training she’s been adamant on learning new Mental magic besides just sending messages over a short range. However the process of learning Mental magic was a lot harder than she expected it to be. Even with all the potions and borrowing the time training room, she only managed to extend her range to 50 meters.
She has been frustrated with herself at her lack of progress, however her Light magic has been improved massively. Her combat skills have also improved so much it’s not even comparable to what it was before.
She wasn’t the only one having troubles using one of the more obscure magic out there. Even Lilia, who was soaring past Cecily in combat ability magic, couldn’t get the hang of new affinities. As such Cleamon had spent many days thinking up a solution, but ended up with nothing.
The only way to improve a lot is by actual fights, your magic and mana can be great, but if you are useless and incompetent in combat it will all for naught. This is why he came up with the idea of letting them fight the Efreet, although he wanted to do it himself during the six months of training.
‘For the upcoming adventure they will need to get experience in killing, starting with monsters as they are easier to kill while rectifying the reason mentally. Slowly we should move to more human-like existences, although just randomly killing creatures is not really a good idea’ Cleamon thought.
During his past life he had killed many creatures and humans, even races that are considered more intelligent to humans ended up biting the dust at the end of his sword. However these were all killed during war time or in self defense. Since he was an explorer and treasure hunter, he often met shady people in the business that either tried to con him or join to kill him at the end of it.
Regrettably he lost friends in this way as well, hardening him to the point where killing was no longer an issue. Even torture was a thing he had to dabble in, although the past Lilia knew of his actions, she still stood by him and kept supporting him through the years.
In the end only two of his close friends remained; Lila and Gredus. Although he’d met Gredus during an adventure during his 30’s, they remained together afterwards.
Cleamon’s thoughts spun out of control remembering too much of his past and was quickly jolted back to the present by Lilia.
“Is everything alright?” she asks with a concerned look.
“Yes fine, I just had a few thoughts crawling around” he says with a painful smile.
“Let’s move and do this!” Homian says unable to read the mood. He’s been psyching himself up since the start and got his composure back after Cleamon had used the Mental interference spell.
Although he was unable to read the mood, he lifted it with his brash outcry. As if ordered, all of them stood up and continued on.
Light at the end of the tunnel was coming closer and closer. Cleamon had send out a Light ball to the end of the tunnel and lighting up the cave. During his previous scouting, he’d tried that out but it didn’t seem to disturb the sleeping Efreet.
Eventually it led them to a massive cave, big enough to put a city in.
What Cleamon didn’t expect was that there was only one of the Efreet. The other was not visible.
“It looks like the other one has been moving around, you can see the tracks leading over there” Danmi says stating the obvious.
‘This is a blessing for us though, my plan was to lure one away, but in this case I can just go over there and keep it from coming here’ Cleamon thinks.
“Remember our plan, prepare your potions and make sure you don’t hesitate. I will be in contact with all of you so please stay within 50 meters range if possible. As Cleamon explained, the aura is fake, but the strength will still be high, don’t underestimate them” Cecily says in a soft but stern voice.
The rest of them nod in unison.
Cleamon releases his Mental spell.
“Good luck, I’ll be holding up the other one in the mean time. I’ll be keeping an eye out until you defeat this one and then lure the other one here. I will know if anything happens, I’ll do my best to not interfere, but I will jump in if I deem it too dangerous” he states.
Lilia jumps at him and kisses Cleamon, sticking in her tongue.
For a moment the rose tinted world was ignored by the rest.
“Good luck” Cleamon says again and he activates his Void Form and moves quickly, following the other Efreet.