The Beginning After The End | Chapter 319

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Beginning After The End Manhwa Novel

Chapter 319



 Chapter 319


By the time Boo and I reached the prisoner pens, the field of tree stumps between me and the village was in total chaos .


One of the cages had already been opened, and the released elves were scrambling to get away from the village . Skarn led them along, trying to herd them into a single group so they could teleport away using one of the medallions . Behind them, his golem stomped through a dozen non-mage Alacryan soldiers that had rushed out of the village, crushing them under its hammerlike fists .


On the other side of the battlefield, Kathyln was holding off three mages . Though it seemed like she was successfully keeping them away from the escaping prisoners, she was stuck defending, not able to launch an effective counter attack .


Slipping from Boo’s back and drawing my bow, I carefully manifested three blazing arrows of pure mana onto the string and took aim at the three mages pinning Kathyln down . In my mind, I drew a line from the tip of each arrow to one of the mages, let my breath out slowly, and released the string .


The mana arrows drew bright lines in the dark as they streaked toward their targets . The attack took the enemy by surprise . While I wasn’t able to kill any of them, I was able to grab their attention away from their real foe .


An instant later, a hail of razor sharp shards of ice fell down around the mages, tearing through them as though they were made of paper mache .


There was a dull ache from my core after I’d cast the spell .


I haven’t recovered from the shielding spell I cast on Boo, I realized with frustration .


Still, it had been worth emptying my core for, since the spell had likely saved my bond’s life . The shield spell was something Helen had shown me after my close call in the tunnels, and it was originally meant to protect the caster . Since I was usually in the backlines, I’d played around with the structure of the rather simple spell so that I could cast it on others that needed protection .


Protecting all of Boo’s ginormous body took a bigger toll than I thought, but it was worth it .


A golden gleam drew my eye past the cages, to where Curtis and Grawder held back two Alacryan battle groups . My fingers twitched against the string of my bow out of instinct, but with my body on the cusp of going into backlash, I held myself back .


It’s not like Curtis needed the help .


The once-prince looked like a shining comet riding on top of his bond . He was brandishing two large swords glowing brightly in a golden red blaze, burning every enemy that stood in his way . When several layers of shields appeared over the Alacryan mages that Curtis was after, Grawder skidded to a stop and the two of them unleashed a joint attack of fire and pure concussive mana that shattered the barrier and engulfed all of the mages .


I closed my eyes, but was too late to avoid the sudden flash as the spell exploded, leaving bright white circles imprinted on my sight . An instant later the roar and rush of wind hit me too .


Diving behind Boo, I blinked away tears and waited for the burning circles and ringing in my ears to fade .


One major flaw in having super senses, I thought, sticking a finger in one ear in a fruitless attempt to make the ringing go away .


By the time I looked back, Hornfels had smashed open a second cage and was moving toward a third as his brother prepared to escape with the first group .


I couldn’t see Skarn at the center of a big ring of frightened looking elves, but the purple energy that blossomed upward and out from the center of the group told me he’d activated his medallion .


The static hum of the medallion’s magic caused goose pimples to raise on my arms and the hairs on the back of my neck to stand on end . As before, the dome split apart and the light focused on each of the nearly fifty people standing in a tight circle around it, then they were gone, all of them .


The stone golem, which was still fighting off the group of Alacryan soldiers, crumbled the moment Skarn vanished . Two of them had survived, but they weren’t in any state to fight .


Hornfells and Curtis were working to move the remaining prisoners out into the open where they could be organized into groups, while Kathyln shot spells at anything that moved toward them from the village .


An elven child was crying somewhere… I scanned the crowd until I found her, a tiny thing that couldn’t have been older than five . She was running through the crowd, her dirty little face looking from person to person .


The little girl looked so scared I nearly rushed out to help her, but I stopped when Curtis scooped her up and whispered calming words to her . No one seemed to be claiming her, so he kept the child with him as he and Hornfels organized the elves into separate groups of fifty .


Hornfels was quick with his medallion, and it didn’t take long before a second dome of purple energy had surrounded them . When it broke apart, the beams of light went to only to a select number of the elves, leaving behind some who had crowded into Hornfels’ circle .


A cry went up from those who weren’t taken, but Curtis was shouting to get their attention .


“You there! Here, to me! Come to me!” He held up his medallion and waved it in the air, still clutching the elven child in his other arm .


Nearly a hundred elves had already been rescued, but as I looked at the number remaining in the clearing, I realized there were too many .


It’ll take at least three medallions to take them all…


The far side of the village was still glowing with emerald green light, which flickered and flashed as I watched .


I was supposed to go back to Tessia and Albold to signal when the prisoners had been freed so that they could use their own medallions to teleport away .


But nearly fifty of the elves would be stranded if I didn’t help Curtis and Kathyln…


Then Elder Rinia’s warning rang in my mind: “When the time comes, Ellie, you must choose the mission . ”


Is this what she was talking about? But my mission is to save the elves—even Commander Virion said so himself .


Confident in Tessia’s ability to handle the retainer, though still somewhat fearful about the other part of Rinia’s warning, I sprinted out from the cover of the trees toward where Curtis and Kathyln were struggling to organize the last of the panicked elves .


“—can’t leave us here, please—”


“—has already gone with the others, I have to find her—”


“—seen my sister? She was just here—”


Nearly overwhelmed by the low rumble of voices, I withdrew my beast will, and, when the blanket-like smothering sensation hit me this time, it was almost a blessing .


Kathyln was waving me over to her, and I began to weave my way between the elves . The first to notice Boo behind me screamed and scattered, but they quickly realized he didn’t pose a threat to them .


Kathyln had already realized the problem . “Ellie, I’m glad you’re still here . We need you to activate one of the medallions, otherwise—”


Her mouth snapped shut as a blade of pale, toxic mana lanced from the shadows, and Kathyln only barely conjured a wall of ice to deflect it .


My heart thumped painfully as a jolt of terror went through me . Bilal was suddenly standing not five feet from us, his arms again enveloped in the pale green blades of mana, his face twisted in desperation and loathing, his focus entirely on Kathyln .


Does that mean—


Before I could even complete the thought, the field around us came to life with glowing emerald vines as dozens, if not hundreds, burst from the ground . Some snaked around Bilal’s arms and legs while others formed a barrier between him and the elves, who were screaming and scurrying away from him .


Tessia’s clear and sharp voice, like a bolt of lightning, boomed across the battlefield . “Curtis, go! Now!”


Behind me, Curtis had started to set down the child, clearly planning to throw himself at the retainer, but he froze at Tessia’s command . After only a heartbeat’s hesitation, he raised his medallion, and the purple dome engulfed him and the nearest elves in light, and then they were gone .


Bilal’s blades cut and tore at the vines as he fought to break free . “Just because I can’t kill the elf witch doesn’t mean I have to let the rest of you live,” he growled, his words bubbling up from him as if his lungs were full of poison .


But Tessia was already there, and her vines were protecting us . I had to trust her to deal with him, because all around us the crowd of elves were scattering so that we wouldn’t be able to teleport them all at once .


Kathyln was erecting additional barriers of ice to shield the closest prisoners, just in case he turned his attacks on them instead .


“Here!” I shouted, running away from where the retainer struggled . “Here, to me! Quickly!”


It took time, too much time, but the elves were desperate to flee, and they’d seen that we could teleport them away if they actually listened, so eventually they began to flock back to me as I moved farther away from the battle .


I had bent over to help up an older elf who had fallen down in the rush to escape the retainer, when, behind me, Boo roared with pain and anger, and something ghostly and green flicked past me . The toxic blade only barely missed the old man before hissing into the ground .


The old man moaned as I pulled him clumsily up . I almost stumbled over my own feet trying to maneuver myself with the elderly elf while also preparing myself for whatever was coming behind me, but two other elves grabbed him by the arms and helped to drag him back .


A long gash in Boo’s flank released a slow trickle of blood . Behind him, Bilal was being lifted from the ground by a huge vine . The vine flicked him away so the retainer tumbled doll-like through the air before smashing into and through one of the nearby houses .


“Ellie!”


My head snapped around to where Tessia’s form blurred from vine to vine toward the house where Bilal had vanished .


“Help Albold!”


My eyes searched the gloomy clearing until I caught sight of Albold, who was limping badly, his hand pressed to his side .


I reached out and grabbed one of the closest elves . She was young, with honey-blonde hair and a steely expression . “Help gather them into groups of fifty!” When she looked at me with apparent confusion, I grabbed her arm . “Group them up, now! Go!”


With that I darted across the field, reaching Albold just as he stumbled and would have fallen to the ground .


Albold had several long cuts across his chest and stomach, and the skin around them had turned a sickly green color . He tried to speak, but only managed to cough up a mouthful of blood .


Wordlessly, I pulled the thin elven soldier’s arm around my neck and heaved . While I wasn’t able to recover much of my mana, with the help of the adrenaline of battle, I was able to drag him to his feet .


In the distance, twenty-foot-tall vines were battering the house where Bilal was, knocking the structure down on his greasy head .


With the retainer out of the way, at least for the moment, Kathyln had reorganized her group, while the elven girl I’d set to rounding up the others had done her best .


“Ellie, can you get that group?” Kathyln asked, her tone half fearful, half just tired .


For a moment I felt a surge of anxiety at the thought of being left in charge of over forty elven lives, but Tessia was still here, she had the retainer under control, and most of the other Alacryan soldiers were dead .


“Yeah, I got these, get those people out of here!”


Purple energy bloomed from her medallion, growing up and over the heads of the elves then spreading out into a dome that covered all of them .


Then the shadows shifted in the middle of the group, and suddenly Bilal was there, standing tall over most of the elves . His entire body was cocooned in a thick layer of his mana, but even as I watched, the mana flowed over his body and formed into the long blades clinging to his hands .


With Albold’s arm still slung over my shoulder, there was nothing I could do but watch in horror as the growing blades closed over each other like scissors, aimed perfectly at the back of Kathyln’s neck .


The medallion’s magic had already split into individual beams, and Kathyln and the elves were spotlighted against the darkness . The elves closest had realized Bilal was there, but seemed frozen in terror . Kathyln was entirely focused on the medallion…


All at once, Kathyln and the elves vanished . The retainer’s blades cut harmlessly through the lingering beams of light, then the clearing was dark again .


“You still have your medallion?” I asked Albold, my voice barely a whisper . “Can you use it?”


He shook his head tiredly, but kept his feet when I pulled out from under his weight .


“I had to—”


“Doesn’t matter,” I snapped, pressing my own medallion into his hands .


If only Curtis and Kathyln hadn’t been carrying the extras…


The retainer had paused for a moment to look around him, his expression growing more frustrated by the second .


“Hey, tall and ugly!” I shouted, trying to keep my voice from trembling .


Bilal’s dark eyes cast a wary glance at Tessia, who was fast approaching, before his gaze drifted toward me in curiosity .


“Bad day, huh?” I asked, stepping away from Albold and putting myself between the remaining elves and the retainer .


He scoffed, his attention back on Albold and the group of elves . Jagged shards of pale green mana manifested around the retainer’s raised hands as he prepared to kill all of us .


Damn it! Just a bit more time .


Without thinking, I forced out a laugh . It came out squeaky and unnatural but it did the trick . Bilal’s eyes were back on me .


“You know, out of the two of you, I think your brother was the one that got the looks,” I croaked .


Bilal’s eyes narrowed, his glowing hand lowering in hesitation . “You’ve met Bivran, yet you’re still alive?”


I nodded . “I can’t say the same for him, unfortunately . ”


Mustering up the remainder of my dwindling courage, I rested my hand on Boo and took out Bivran’s dimension ring .


Behind me, a flash of violet lit up the night, and all the tension went out of my body . We’d done it . The last of the elves were safe .


“You know, out of the two of you, I think your brother was the one that got the looks,” I croaked .


Bilal’s eyes narrowed, his glowing hand lowering in hesitation . “You’ve met Bivran, yet you’re still alive?”


I nodded . “I can’t say the same for him, unfortunately . ”


Mustering up the remainder of my dwindling courage, I rested my hand on Boo and took out Bivran’s dimension ring .


Behind me, a flash of violet lit up the night, and all the tension went out of my body . We’d done it . The last of the elves were safe .


The retainer’s eyes went wide at the sight of the jet black ring, and he lunged toward me . Boo jumped forward to intercept him, but it was Tessia’s swordstaff that blocked his attack .


Her bright emerald green energy pushed back his sickly mana as the swordstaff flashed faster than I could follow .


Bilal’s swords were just as fast, though, and his ability to redirect his mana to attack or defend at need made it difficult for Tessia to wound him . Still, the retainer’s black robes were stained dark with blood in a dozen different places, and it was clear she had the upper hand now that Bilal wasn’t running away .


Tessia, on the other hand, seemed nearly unhurt . Her face was determined, her gaze locked on her target, and Bilal’s blades never touched her .


I wanted to help, but wasn’t sure how . My mana was only somewhat restored, enough for a few arrows maybe, but I couldn’t see how that would make a difference .


Then I had an idea .


I don’t need much mana, just enough to form the arrow…


“If you don’t believe me…” I readied the shield-arrow I had used on Boo and aimed it at Bilal . “I’ll just have to show you . ”


The retainer’s dark eyes sharpened as I fired the arrow right at him . Bilal, not taking any chances, twisted away from Tessia .


The golden arrow passed by where he had been and hit Tessia high in the stomach, spreading the golden glow over her body . She jerked to a stop, gazing down at the spell in surprise .


A smirk crept up on the retainer’s thin lips as he quickly took advantage of Tessia’s opening . Bilal flashed toward her and sunk one of his pale green blades into Tessia’s side and the other into her leg .


“I knew Dicathians were ill-trained, but to shoot one of your own—” Bilal’s eyes bulged as Tessia’s swordstaff burst out of his back .


His disbelieving gaze sank down in confusion, only to widen with realization . Although the two blades had managed to pierce through my barrier, they couldn’t pierce through Tessia’s aura as well .


Bilal’s weapons faded away as the last of his mana leaked from his pierced mana core, and he stumbled to his knees . One skeletal hand was pressed against the wound in his chest, trying uselessly to stop the blood, but it ran freely from the wound and pooled darkly on the ground .


“The Vritra chose m-me,” he gasped, frothy blood staining his lips . “I will be a god among…”


Slowly, he slumped to the ground, his face sinking into the pool of blood beneath him .


Several vines crawled up from the blood and wrapped themselves around the body . The retainer started to sink as the vines pulled him into the ground .


His hands and legs disappeared under the churned dirt, then most of his torso, and finally his face . The last I saw of him were his dead, staring eyes, then he was gone .


The emerald vines faded as Tessia released her beast will . Instead of basking in her defeat of the retainer—a feat only my brother had accomplished until now—Tessia seemed to shrink .


Even from the back, she looked lonely, her shoulders drooping as she let out a deep breath before turning around .


“We should hurry back, Ell—”


Tessia’s eyes went wide just as a strong hand pressed down on my shoulder .


“The two of you have gotten a lot stronger,” said a cool, strangely familiar voice .


A cold, heavy weight suddenly seemed to push down on me and even without my beast will active, everything that happened next seemed like it was in slow motion .


Boo lunged at the man behind me, only to be encased in a prison of black spikes that manifested faster than I could even blink .


My bond let out a thunderous roar as he started banging his paws at the shadowy spikes, but he couldn’t even dent them .


Tessia started to move, but stopped as the hand on my shoulder crept toward my throat while the other ripped off the phoenix wyrm pendant around my neck .


I was scared . Even while facing Bivran and Bilal, I hadn’t felt like this…like no matter what I did, it wouldn’t matter . Without that pendant, he could easily kill me, and I couldn’t lift a finger to fight back .


“E-Elijah,” Tessia stammered, her face pale in horror .


The mention of that name sent a sharp chill down my spine . I could feel my breath shortening as I tried to wrap my head around what was happening . Memories of Tessia explaining Arthur’s last battle before he and Sylvie were killed flooded back to me .


Elijah was the one that killed my brother . He was standing right behind me, but I could barely stay conscious, let alone seek vengeance .


“I would want you, of all people, to call me Nico,” the man said coolly .


“Fine…Nico . ” Tessia raised a placating hand . “Your fight is with me, right? Just release Ellie . ”


“You slipped away from me last time, Cecilia . I won’t take any chances this time . ”


“Ce…cilia?” Ignoring my screaming body, I looked back . It really was Elijah, the boy who used to live with us in Xyrus, except he wasn’t wearing glasses and had dark bags under his eyes behind locks of messy black hair . So who was Cecilia?


Tessia stepped closer, one hand still gripped around the handle of her swordstaff . “Elij—Nico…you’re not making any sense . ”


Elijah let out a sigh as his grip around my neck tightened .


I clawed helplessly at his hand while trying to tell Tessia to run, but my words came out in gagged coughs .


“Drop your weapon and put these on . ” Elijah tossed a pair of thick metal cuffs to Tessia . Each one had a large gem embedded in the middle and was etched with runes that I’d never seen before .


Tessia’s hardened gaze fell into a look of defeat . “And you’ll let Ellie go?”


“You’d try to kill yourself again if I didn’t, right?” Elijah chortled . His grip around my neck loosened, and I wanted to scream out to Tessia not to do it, but the look in her eyes told me everything .


Tessia smiled sadly at me as she dropped her swordstaff and locked the metal wristbands around her forearms . “Hopefully, with this, your brother will forgive me . ”


Elijah released his iron grip on my neck and pushed me aside . I tumbled on the ground, my body shaking all over as Boo’s growls turned into whimpers .


I could only watch as Elijah grabbed hold of Tessia by the cuffs . He plucked the medallion hanging from her neck and studied it for a moment before tossing it on the ground in front of me, along with the life-saving pendant he had taken from me . “I got what I wanted . Consider this as one last favor…for Grey . ”


My trembling hands gripped the two invaluable artifacts, looking from it to the dark boy who used to be my brother’s closest friend .


With a flick of his wrist, he released Boo .


My bond immediately rushed to me, picked me up by the back of my shirt, and dragged me away . I could only watch helplessly as Tessia and Elijah disappeared from sight, Elder Rinia’s haunting words pressing on my mind like a branding iron .


“The cost of those elves’ lives may be more than Virion cares to pay . ”


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