Paragon of Destruction - Chapter 58

Published at 12th of August 2019 08:29:05 PM

Chapter 58

The raw Essence of the Realm Opening Pills flooded Arran's body like a river of fire, pain filling every fiber of his being . Yet although his face twisted in agony, there was a near-maniacal grin, too .

Finally, he would be free again .

He stood in front of the door, waiting for the raw Essence to build up inside his body . Finally, when he thought there was enough, he unleashed it at the door .

The burst of power hit the door with a thunderous crash, but to his surprise, it held up against the attack, although there was now a large crack in the door .

Essence coursing through his veins like fire, Arran had no patience to spare . Again he attacked, then again . He battered the door with raw Essence, attacking it relentlessly, his mind only focused on escaping .

Finally, after a dozen attacks, the cracked door held no longer . Yet another blast of raw Essence hit it, and this time, the Essence ripped straight through it, shattering the door in its hinges .

Arran took a moment to savor the achievement, even as his body was racked with pain . At last, he was free .

He stepped through the hole in the ruined door, cautious despite his eagerness to escape, and found himself surrounded by darkness . With a thought, he created an orb of Fire to illuminate his surroundings . Now, he could see that he was in a vast hallway, dozens of doors like the one he had just broken through on either side .

On one end of the hallway was a large wooden door, reinforced with steel bars . On the other, there was only darkness .

After a moment's thought, he headed toward the wooden door at the end of the hallway, as it seemed the most likely exit .

He found the door unlocked, and when he opened it he saw a narrow spiral staircase behind it, hewn from stone and uncomfortably steep . Impatient to leave, he was about to head up, but then, he shook his head .

Behind each of the doors in the hallway behind him, there would be another cell like the one that had held him . If there were people inside, perhaps they could tell him where he was, or even help him escape .

He turned back at once, heading to the nearest door in the hallway . Up close, he saw that it was barred with two thick iron beams, both fastened in place with large locks .

Arran easily destroyed the locks with two blasts of raw Essence, then removed the bars . It was clear that the doors were made to keep people in, not out .

Cautious despite the pain urging him on, he stepped into the cell, using an orb of Fire to light his way .

At once, he could see that the cell was identical to his own — large and circular, with the floor, walls, and ceiling all made from the same smooth stone . The only difference was that in this cell, the walls bore deep scars from what must have been hundreds of powerful magic attacks .

When Arran turned his attention to the interior of the cell, he saw that a body lay at its center . Emaciated and unmoving, it was the body of a man, clad in a simple gray robe . Arran approached the body with some caution, until he was sure that the man was as dead as he seemed . From the look of it, the man must have starved to death .

Arran hurriedly left the cell, then moved to the next one . Again, he found an emaciated body, this one belonging to a woman . She, too, seemed to have been left to starve .

A feeling of nausea cut through the pain caused by the Essence inside Arran's body . Not because of the corpses — by now, he had seen enough death to have become numb to it — but because he realized how horrible their deaths must have been, locked in a dark cell without food, slowly waiting to die .

To Arran's mind, this was far crueler than mere murder . He understood having to kill, but he could not understand locking someone up only to leave them to die this miserably .

He shook his head in revulsion, he moved on to the next door . Perhaps someone was still alive in one of these cells, and if so, Arran would not let them die — not like this, at least .

Once more he found a cell that was identical to the other ones, and once more he found a man's emaciated body inside . He was about to leave when suddenly, a whisper sounded .

"Food… Give…"

Arran hurried over to the man, and only when he approached him did he see that there was some slight movement in the haggard body before him .

He took out some food and set it down in front of the man . With a sudden burst of energy, the man reached out to grab it, and he began tearing into it with the fury of a starving animal .

"Where are we?" Arran asked, but no answer came . Presented with food, the famished man seemed to have forgotten that Arran was even there .

He put down some more food next to the man — fruit, meat, and some bread — then left to open the other doors .

Behind the fourth door, he found another corpse, and he quickly moved on . He now understood that most of the prisoners in the cells would not be alive, and he found himself wondering just what kind of prison this was .

When he reached the fifth cell, however, he was only barely able to dodge a blast of Wind Essence that came soaring at him the moment he opened the door .

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He was about to retaliate, but then, he recognized the man in front of him .


Arran had thought the man dead, but here he was . Though he was even gaunter than Arran remembered him, with sunken eyes and deathly pale skin, he was still very much alive .

Recognizing Arran, Windsong dropped his hands, surprise clear on his face . "They caught you, too?" he began . "But there are no guards with you… why are you here?"

"It's a long story," Arran said . "Where are we?"

"You don't know?" Windsong frowned . "We're in an Academy prison . But—"

"There's no time to explain," Arran interrupted him . "I'm escaping as soon as I can . Are you well enough to fight?"

Windsong nodded, although he seemed overwhelmed by the sudden events . "I can, but…" He hesitated, then asked, "Do you have any food?"

Arran handed Windsong some food, as well as a sword and an armored coat from the Herald's treasures . Although he had not forgotten about Windsong's betrayal, this wasn't the time for revenge . Plus, from the look of the man, he had already suffered for his actions .

"Eat quickly and prepare yourself," Arran said . "When I return, we will leave . "

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Before Windsong could respond, Arran had already left the cell . He immediately shot a nervous look toward the wooden door, but was relieved to see that the hallway was still empty .

He knew that if anyone had sensed his use of Essence, guards could arrive at any moment . Yet he needed all the help he could get, and besides, he would not leave others to slowly starve in the cells .

For a moment, he gritted his teeth, suppressing a scream . The pain of the Realm Opening Pills was still growing stronger, and he found it increasingly difficult to stay focused .

Fighting through the pain, he moved to the next door, forcing himself to stay conscious . Even if he felt like he had been doused in oil and set alight, he could not allow the agony to gain hold of him .

Quickly, he concentrated on breaking the locks on the door in front of him, trying to distract himself from the pain .

He spent the next half hour opening the dozens of doors in the hallway, and although he found emaciated corpses in most of them, over a dozen prisoners in the cells were still alive .

Of the prisoners who survived, most were like the first man - driven to near-madness by hunger and isolation, barely even able to speak .

These, he left behind . They were of no use to them, and he could not take them with him . Instead, he left them food and weapons . If they were to escape, they would have to do it by themselves .

There were only six who were coherent, but even they were in worse shape than Windsong . Without bothering to ask them questions, Arran gave them food, then told them to gather in Windsong's cell .

Finally, after Arran finished opening the last of the cells, he took a few moments to calm his mind . Although the pain had stopped worsening, it raged like a storm within him, threatening to drown out his thoughts .

As he stepped out of the empty cell a short while later, he looked at the darkness at the far end of the hallway .

For a second he hesitated, but then, he headed toward it . If there were any enemies there, they would have already come for him . And if there were more prisoners, freeing them might increase his chances of escaping .