13 A Goddess Never Abandons Her Believers
"Wow, what a pretty light!", Ashley's eyes lit in delight as she saw a tiny wisp of sparks only a few feet away from her. She had noticed it from the corner of her eye when she was watching her mom fight the scary monster with sister Floira but when she turned to take a closer look, she was spellbound by how beautiful it was.
She had never seen something like it before, the wisp of light kept flashing and shifting into a rainbow of colours. She glanced at the twins who were distracted by the fight ahead and hesitantly began to move towards the light.
A small part of her kept screaming that this was dangerous and strange but for some reason her feet kept moving forward almost like she was possessed.
Meanwhile, Elise was carefully studying the viperion who was baring its fangs menacingly at her, Floira had hit it over the head with her great sword causing the beast to become momentarily disoriented. It was now very wary of the two tiny insects in front of it and was not attacking recklessly.
Elise slowly cycled mana through her circuit and her body began to scream in pain, her physical enhancements came at a cost and it placed a great deal of stress on her body. Black wings sprouted from her back and she flew up towards the mouth of the beast with blade in hand.
"She really is beautiful," Elena sighed wistfully to herself.
Elise's appearance was akin to a fallen angel, a fair, slender lady with otherworldly grace and charm, her violet eyes shone with casual seduction with black raven- like wings making her look like a celestial visiting the mortal plane.
Elena sang a quiet song as she scouted for any living creatures in the immediate area, having not found any she casually turned to check on Ashley. To her shock and horror Ashley had wandered a bit further off from the group and towards a small light.
"Ashley get away from that thing!" Elena shouted.
Servia and Luxia were instantly alerted and quickly glanced around and found Ashley was no longer near them. They quickly sprinted towards her with Elena cursing and running frantically as well. Her siren song could not detect living creatures without a physical body and Ashley was walking straight towards a spatial wisp.
These were an extremely rare magic beast with a fragile body consisting of light, luckily they did not harm travellers but all who touched them were randomly transported within a ten-kilometer radius.
Elise was distracted by the shout and could not help but look over to see what had happened.
The giant tail immediately slammed into her and she was sent flying into the murky water below the creature. The viperion hissed smugly and raised its crocodile head to lunge at Floira on the shore. It was a fearsome creature and Floira could not help but shudder when stared at by those ancient predatory eyes.
"Where is Ashley!", a ferocious roar sounded from the water below the monster.
A dark black line slashed upwards from the depths of the water and cut straight through the beast. It froze almost in an expression of shock and fear as both the left and right side of the monster's body was split in two.
Elise crawled out of the mud like a demon from hell, her dress and armour were now stained and muddy. Her wings were tattered, and feathers began to drop from the tip of the wings, perhaps the most terrifying was her left eye which was now completely black.
Ashley was only one meter away from the light when she heard Elena's shout which snapped her out of her trance immediately and she began to back away. Servia was the quicker of the two twins and quickly reached out her arms to grab Ashley when the wisp darted forward and touched Ashley on the forehead.
There was a bright flash of light and they both disappeared.
Servia's arms closed around empty air and she gasped in shock and horror, she turned to Elise who was staring at the spot her daughter had vanished from.
There was no expression on her face which made it all the more terrifying, her eyes seemed empty and soulless and the black tendrils on her feet began to lose control and spread around the area she was standing on.
"My lady this is no time to panic, the wisp can't have teleported her far away. We need to split up and look for her quickly before something happens," Mary kept a level head and tried to calm down her lady.
"Good we need to find her, or I will burn and slaughter every damn monster in this whole forest," Elise replied.
There was no emotion in her voice as if she was simply stating a matter of fact and the Valkyries knew if she lost control there really might be endless bloodshed in the forest.
She unfurled her wings and shoot up above the canopy into the skies above the forest to scan the entire area. The rest of the team looked at Floira who split them up into groups and they all set off on a rescues mission to save their little duchess.
"Where am I?" Ashley groggily spoke.
She woke up with a pounding headache and shaky hands, her vision was blurry, and she could not see her surroundings.
"Mommy? Big sisters?"
There was no reply from anyone, so she began to panic, she immediately started to rub her eyes and gasped in shock at the scenery before her. She was in a small circular clearing with a single beam of sunlight shining on her face with a ring of toadstools at her feet and vines were beginning to crawl up her legs.
She hurriedly stood up and shook them frantically to throw the vines off, Ashley began to breathe heavily and start to hyperventilate.
Was she abandoned? Where was everyone?
Her memory was foggy and all she could recall was her mom fighting a huge monster and a strange ball of light.A crashing sound came from the trees beside the clearing and Ashley started moving urgently in the opposite direction.
"Wild pigs are straight ahead, turn left instead," a strange voice echoed in her head.
"Hello?" Ashley called out cautiously but there was no reply, the voice was feminine but sounded rough and hoarse like it had not been used for awhile.Ashley was not sure she could trust the voice but not having any other plan she decided to turn left.
"Goblin nest within ten meters, turn to the right through the bushes"
Ashley continued to trust the voice and walked further and further away from the clearing, she did not know what the reason was but there was a sense of warmth and comfort coming from the voice guiding her.
"Viperion eggs to your left make sure to avoid them"
"Man eating plants to the right be careful"
"You're too small to fight those griffins"
The voice was becoming less and less hoarse as it talked to her and began to sound like a mature older lady. Ashley had been walking for roughly twenty minutes and was now feeling quite tired.
"Almost there sweetheart, two minutes more and you can rest in the cave up ahead", the voice steadily encouraged her.
Ashley summoned the last bit of strength in her legs and dashed into the cave in front of her, it was more like a small hole as it was only roughly four feet deep and had only enough space to only fit a small child. Ashley curled up into a ball and placed a couple branches at the entrance to hopefully disguise the opening.
"Thank you big sis" Ashley was not sure who the voice was but she felt extremely grateful. A clean bell – like laughter sounded around her and a gentle hand playfully patted her head. The goddess sighed to herself, she was no longer strong enough to influence the mortal world with her body, she was one of the stronger old gods but yet all she had the power to do was to whisper words to her believers.
She left the child in the safe cave and looked for the lady who made the shrine with her, she spotted the lady not too far away frantically looking left and right through the treetops.
"Your daughter is in the cave two hundred meters to the left", a voice suddenly echoed in her ears putting her immediately on guard.
"Who are you?" she demanded, Elise was more cautious than Ashley as she had experienced far too many attacks of hypnosis and mind manipulation on the battlefield.
"I am the goddess of the hunt and the sorry excused failure of a protector," the voice stated in a self mocking tone
"But why would an old god help us?" Elise asked quite puzzled.
"I am unable give my believers blessings or miracles but how can a goddess not protect her flock", the voice replied.
Elise stayed silently, if she was being truthful, she was not a believer of the goddess of the hunt but now seemed hardly the time to tell her that the shrine was built to simply play along with Ashley.
(Inside the cave)
"Ouch!" Ashley exclaimed
Something hard poked Ashley in the back and she turned around uncomfortably to see what it was. To her surprise it was a large black egg that seemed warm to touch, curiously she held it in her hands and a small kicking movement could be felt from inside the egg.