For Better or Worse - part 7

For Better or Worse

When Tom married his wife, he truly believed the love they shared would pull them through any problems that may come their way, but what happens when you discover the one you married was not even human?

~o~O~o~

Written by Nuuan
Copyright © 2017 by Nuuan

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the Author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

~o~O~o~

Chapter 38

Luckily for Tessa her new character had retained the woodland skills of her original character giving her the ability to hide from the many groups of demons and other dark forces out searching for her. She took her time striving to make as little noise as possible while listening closely for any groups out to recapture her. She barely made 6 miles through the forest by the time darkness engulfed the forest.

Earlier she had thought about finding a clearing large enough to spread her wings and take flight, which would have really eaten up the miles she needed to travel to get back to the forces of light. Although after spotting a Griffin and its rider through the dense foliage of the trees above her, Tessa decided that flying, at least until she was further away from the enemy fortress, was a bad idea. It would be too easy to spot her in the air, even if she hugged the tree tops. No, her best bet was to stick to the densest parts of the forest, covering her tracks and remaining as quiet as possible and hide when a patrol came near.

While her night vision rivaled that of any nocturnal creature, Tessa was tired and hungry and knew without resting she would become prone to mistakes. Climbing a tree proved much easier in her new form with the claws she now had, although she had to be very careful not to damage the tree bark, leaving evidence of her ascent into the trees. Discovering some type of bird’s nest that held three eggs that were over twice the size of a chicken’s eggs, Tessa stopped long enough to use one of her finger claws to poke a small hole in one end of an egg. Placing her mouth over this hole she tipped her head back and used her finger claw to poke another hole in the opposite end of the egg before sucking out the contents. She did this with each egg before carefully placing them back in the nest, the small holes almost imperceptible in the large eggs without picking them up and examining them. Having something in her stomach she continued to climb up into the upper foliage, finally stopping at a place where two limbs came off the tree trunk close together where she couldn’t be spotted from the air or from below. Tessa climbed into the tree forks and slipped into a light sleep.

~o~O~o~

For three days Tessa had been able to avoid the patrols and searchers out looking for her. Feeling almost glad at the changes the spell had done to her as her new demonic body could do things her old half human half elf body could never have done. One of which was the food her new body could gain nourishment from. Tessa could now eat things that would have made both human and elf deathly ill if not killed them. The other was how she could change the color of her wings and skin which she had changed to match the ruddy brown-gray of the bark of the trees around her making it that much harder to spot her.

Unable to see any pattern to the griffins that searched from overhead Tessa stuck to the thickest parts of the forest, avoiding clearings and any areas that the trees thinned enough to give an overhead view of the ground under the trees. Although the twisted path she wove through the forest led to her to still being less than fifty miles away from her captor’s citadel.

Still too close to attempt flying especially since she had no idea when the next griffin might appear Tessa stayed under the canopy of trees. Slowing her down even further was the fact that she was beginning to catch up to many of the searchers that had passed by her in their rush to find her, which forced her to stop and hide or sometimes backtrack and work her way around the searchers.

By noon of the third day Tessa found herself entering a part of the forest that held much older growth trees. The trees while not as numerous were much larger many rivaling the size of the trees in the ancient redwood forest of Washington state. Although that is where the similarity stopped as these trees looked more like giant oak trees rather than the evergreen sequoias found in the Pacific Northwest. The dense upper canopy of leaves high above blocked so much sunlight that the forest floor seemed to be shrouded in a perpetual twilight and the dense undergrowth that impeded her movement had all but disappeared. While she could now move faster on the ground, she had also lost the cover the undergrowth had provided.

Realizing that the distances between the giant tree trunks were close to the same distances she had grown used to flying between and around in the caverns below Afallach, Tessa used her claws to begin climbing up the side of one of the massive tree trunks. Over one hundred feet above the forest floor Tessa stepped out on a large limb, her raptor like feet making it easy to walk out along the tree limb as she scanned the forest floor for any of her would be captors, seeing the coast was clear she spread her wings and hopped off the tree limb.

Maneuvering around the massive trees in the forest reminded Tessa of playing tag with Lily in the caverns. A game that had honed the small girl’s maneuverability so well that she easily dodged the tree limbs as she slipped between the massive tree trunks. Soaring in and around the obstacles gave her such a feeling of freedom that she could easily forget she was actually playing a computer game and that she was being hunting in that game. The fact that she was being hunting came suddenly back to her when an arrow cut through the thin skin of her left wing causing her to reflexively fold that wing while in flight. Tumbling down in an unintentional barrel roll caused the arrows that follow to miss high above her as she lost altitude before recovering her flight. Seeing the direction the arrows had come from Tessa twisted her flight around the nearest tree, reaching out with both hands and feet to dig her claws into the tree gripping the tree tightly as she stopped herself in mid flight, placing the massive bulk of the tree trunk between her and whoever had attacked her. Spreading her left wing she looked for the damage the arrow had caused. Luckily it had gone through the thin skin membrane between the bones of her wing. She could see where the arrow had pierced her wing, although her regeneration had already closed the hole it tore in the membrane and it was healing very fast.

From the direction the attack had come from Tessa heard someone shouting, “I hit her! She went behind that tree as she was going down. Come on let’s go find the body so we claim the reward!”

She had lost most of the altitude she originally had before the attack leaving her only forty feet above the forest floor and well within any short range attacks the two men she saw coming around the tree may have and within a deadly accurate range for the one carrying the composite bow. Using the claws on her hands and feet Tessa moved to the left around the massive tree trunk as she heard her attackers walking around the tree to her right trying to keep the tree between her and her attackers. Tessa continued to slowly move around the tree, planning on using the massive tree as a shield as she flew off to the south gaining altitude and using her flight speed to lose to two would be killers before turning back toward the west.

“She’s on the side of the tree!” Tessa glanced to her left to see a yet unknown third member of the small group. Glancing back to the two to her right, Tessa let go of the tree falling backwards. Half the distance to the ground she spread her wings letting the energy of her short fall help to increase her forward momentum. Focusing on the one that carried the bow, knowing he was her greatest threat, Tessa charged him with all the speed her wings could muster. He was just knocking an arrow when she swung her legs forward bringing her large raptor-like clawed feet up in front of her.

Tessa’s right foot caught the composite bow, snapping it like a twig in her powerful talons, while her left foot caught him in the chest and neck ripping open the leather armor that covered his chest as the two large rear talons dug deeply into his chest, cutting through flesh like butter and snapping bones as her front three smaller talons cut deeply into his neck and shoulder. Tessa dug her claws in with all her strength as she let her momentum drive the attacker backwards to the ground. Releasing her grip and tucking herself into a roll as the momentum drove her head first over his body. After coming to a stop Tessa stood and turned to face the other attacker.

“What the fuck!” The other attacker, wearing chain mail under a steel breastplate, holding a longsword in each hand, swore as he looked down at the unmoving body of his friend.

Looking up at Tessa, “Bitch you’re going to pay for that!” He took two steps then Tessa heard a sound from behind him that sounded like something striking his back. Her attacker stiffened and dropped the swords held in his hands before falling face forward to the ground allowing Tessa to see three arrows sticking out of his back bearing the unmistakable white fletching of the western elves.

Looking past the now dead attacker Tessa spotted the mottled brown leather armor of several elven bowmen stepping out of hiding and walking toward her. Furthermore she recognized the two in the lead. “Ta’mor! Talura!” Tessa smiled at the two players that ran twin elves of the opposite sex.

All the elves bows snapped up, arrows aimed at Tessa. “How do you know of us demon?” Ta’mor, the male of the twins all but spat toward Tessa.

Tessa hadn’t even thought about it when she said their names, it was her other character ‘Grayson’ that they knew, not this new character that she now played. Tessa knew she only had moments before those arrow were loosed into her with unerring accuracy. Thinking quickly she answered, “Grayson told me of you, his description of the two elf twins and their feats of heroism against the darkness will one day become legendary.”

“Tell us where Grayson is!” Ta’mor demanded.

“I, I can’t.”

“You can’t or won’t demon?” Ta’mor queried.

“Wait brother,” the female twin let her bow down off target. Holding the bow and the knocked arrow in one hand she placed her now free hand on his shoulder as she looked back toward Tessa, “Do you know where our friend is?” Tessa nodded. “Are you under a spell or geas that won’t allow you to tell us his location?”

“Yes,” Tessa nodded, having written many parts of the game code she knew the game coding would stop if she had tried to tell them anything.

Ta’mor lowered his bow, “If you can’t tell us where he is, you will lead us to him.”

Talura put her hand back on her brother’s shoulder, “Ta’mor, rescuing Grayson is a quest for another time. We must take the shiny back to our territory.”

Ta’mor turned to his twin sister and in a low voice, “We used the confusion of this event to get in and find Grayson. If the event shiny can lead us to him then I say we use her to do that, to hell with the event. I mean come on sis, it has a surname so it has to be a NPC demon.”

Following the event’s plot and to give Ta’mor something to think about as NPCs would not answer to slang like ‘shiny’ in the game Tessa stated, “My name is Isca DePrisao, not ‘shiny’ and I have information that I must give to your leaders.”

“I know why you pushed us forward of the others, but we never expected to find the shiny either,” Talura argued. “For the good of our side we must take it back. Once the event is over the geas over it should be lifted and it can tell is where Grayson is.”

“Your right,” Ta’mor sighed then spun around to the others, “Bring the horses, we ride back to camp with the prize!”

~o~O~o~

The hours passed on the back of the horse where Tessa sat behind Talura. As the sun began to set the group of elven rangers made camp. After dismounting the horse Ta’mor came to Tessa carrying a manacle attached to a long chain. “Hold out your leg demon,” he demanded. Seeing that he meant to lock it around her ankle Tessa took a step back.

“It’s either this or I clip your wings!” holding out the manacle toward Tessa.

While she knew that with her demon regeneration her wings would eventually grow back, the pain involved in removing them would be much greater than the discomfort of wearing the manacle. Holding her foot forward toward the elf Tessa allowed him to lock the manacle in place around her ankle. Locking the opposite end of the long chain around a tree root, Ta’mor began unsaddling his horse.

Curling up against the tree she was chained to Tessa tried to go to sleep. Her plans were interrupted with Talura came over with a bowl of food.

“We dare not build a fire this far within Dark forces territory,” Talura spoke as she handed Tessa the wooden bowl filled with dried fruits and couple of hard biscuits.

Tessa nodded as she took the bowl, “I would slit my own throat before I would allow them to take me back there.”

“This I don’t understand,” Talura sat down beside Tessa. “You have two names, that makes you special among your kind.”

“They are not my kind,” Tessa spat. Seeing the curious look Talura gave her Tessa continued, “They, they were going to make me a pleasure slave.”

“But you’re named…” Talura trailed off realizing for them to do something like that to a demon that held both a first and last name, or as what players commonly shortened and called ‘named’ creatures, she had to have done something very bad. “It was a punishment?”

Without a way of explaining without telling them who she was Tessa just nodded. Anticipating Talura’s next question Tessa volunteered, “I fight for the light.”

Talura’s eyes widened at Tessa’s revelation. Converting from good to evil while not common was easy, so easy in fact that the players on their side had to be careful of the choices they made. But from evil to good was a different story, few players even tried but then they chose the dark side for a reason and stayed there. Talura thought to herself, ‘This demon can’t be telling the truth, can she?’

Taking the empty bowl Tessa handed back to her Talura stood up, “We best get some sleep, Ta’mor will have us riding at first light.” Putting the bowl away Talura spread out her bedroll near the demon in case the demon tried anything during the night.

~o~O~o~

Tessa awoke to the yells of, “ORCS!” screamed out by the rangers on sentry. Jumping up from where she lay against the tree trunk Tessa swiveled her head back and forth looking through the darkness for the attack. Fortunately for Tessa her race could see quite well in the darkness although she had several rather large problems. First the elves while having better vision at night than humans as their eyes picked up heat signatures in the darkness. Which lead into the second problem, in the game Orcs had been designed as cold blooded similar to how reptiles were gave off almost no body heat for the elves night vision to see. And the final problem, the only person who could see well enough to do anything had a twenty foot length of elven chain attached to her ankle.

Several of the rangers were already fighting multiple Orcs including Talura. Spotting another charging toward Talura’s flank Tessa allowed her wings to unfold but did not spread them out and leaped toward the Orc coming at Talura. Landing behind Talura, Tessa used her wings to sweep the Charging Orc’s arms to his sides while she jumped up digging the claws of her hands into his shoulders giving her a purchase so she could bring the much larger claws of her feet up to the Orc’s belly. Digging her feet through the creature’s heavy leather armor shredding it as her legs pumped up and down the creature’s abdomen eviscerating it as her large claws raked again and again at it until it fell over on its side.

Pushing herself away from the dead Orc, Tessa noticed the hilt of a weapon sticking out of Talura’s pack. Reaching for the weapons as she continued the roll, Tessa pulled what she would have said due to its shape was a dagger from the pack, although it was closer to the length of a short sword than a dagger with its elongated spear tip like blade over eighteen inches long. Tessa could feel the magic pulsing in the weapon as he came up on her knees beside Talura, thrusting the small magical sword under the ribcage into the heart and lungs of the Orc Talura was fighting. Giving the blade a sharp twist, she pulled it from the Orc’s body as it began to fall.

“Grab your bow!” Tessa ordered Talura before using the small sword to sever the chain locked to her ankle. Standing as Talura grabbed her bow and quiver, Tessa got behind Talura. Wrapping her arms under the elf’s arms, Tessa got a good grip on her before spreading her wings and lifting the two up out of the battle. Landing her and Talura on a large tree limb sixty feet above the battle. “You have high ground now!”

“But I can’t see…” Talura began to say as Tessa muttered something then covered her eyes with her hand. When Tessa removed her hand Talura could see as easily as if it were broad daylight.

Stepping off the tree limb Tessa used her wings to control her fall back into the battle, landing with both feet on the shoulders of another Orc driving the creature to its knees. Tearing the metal helm from the Orc’s head Tessa drove the small sword down through the top of its skull. Spotting two elf rangers standing back to back that were surrounded by orcs, Tessa pounced off the shoulders of the one she had just killed, landing beside one of the five orcs the small sword already in motion plunging it deep into the side of the orc under the creature’s arm where there was no armor to protect it. Letting go of the sword as she ducked under the swing of the heavy battle-axe the one on her left wielded.

In anticipation of the return swing of the battle-axe Tessa twisted around looking up at the Orc to see an elf’s longsword being pulled away after piercing the Orc’s neck. Seeing this Orc was no longer a problem Tessa spun toward the one she had fell to retrieve the sword she had been using only to be forced to dodge further away from her goal to avoid being impaled by the one handed axe of yet another Orc. Tessa dodged blow after blow of the smaller axe when the Orc’s attack suddenly stopped and it fell backwards to the ground, an arrow shaft sticking out of its left eye.

Scrambling over Tessa retrieved her sword, pulling it from the dead orc’s body just as a bright light caused her to blink several times as her eyes readjusted to the light. Since the light did not fade away Tessa knew one of the elves must have cast some type of light spell. The effect of the bright light illuminating the area immediately changed the fight. The elves unable to see much further than arm’s length were forced to defend with swords only and while their swordsmanship was great, they still lacked the reach of the larger Orcs. Although with the light many of the elves had been able to drops their swords and use their bows. While the elves skill with the sword was good, their skill with the bow was legendary turning the battle into a slaughter. Even those Orcs that tried to flee were cut down as arrows found their mark in their backs as they ran.

Overlooking the scene Ta’mor saw Tessa standing there holding the ‘Evil-bane’ his sister had brought with them. A weapon forged with such purity and magic that the mere touch of one causes blistering pain to anyone of evil alignment. “How can you hold the evil bane? Does it not cause pain to be held?”

Having found her way down out of the tree Talura walked up beside her brother, “Did you not hear the elder when he gave me the weapon brother?” Talura chuckled, “He told us that the sword would find its owner in one that it would never be offered. It seems the old weapon’s smith is not as crazy as he sometimes sounds.”

“Looking around at the other rangers,” Ta’mor began barking orders to pack up, “I want this place behind us in ten minutes! Others have surely heard the sounds of the battle and or saw the light.”

“Remove that shackle from her leg,” Talura glared at her brother.

“While you may think her holding that weapon means something, don’t trust her.”

“That was not a request. Remove it or I will and since you have the key I will destroy your precious lock doing it.”

Once the manacle was removed Talura motioned for Tessa to follow her, “You ride with me.” As she saddled and packed her gear onto her horse, Talura pulled out a belt and scabbard from her pack. Tossing it to Tessa, “This belongs to you now.”

As everyone gathered on horseback Ta’mor announced, “We ride through as fast as we can back to our territory.”

~o~O~o~

“Old job or not,” Becky interrupted Tessa as she played, “It’s getting close to eleven at night and we all need our sleep. So I think it’s time you logged out of that game dear.”

Tessa nodded while quietly logging out of the game, allowing the game’s AI to take over her character for her.

As she watched the young girl shut down the laptop Becky smiled, “The graphics of that game are really something. It felt more like I was watching a movie or TV.”

Turning to Becky, “I never thought about it but your TV has wireless. I could have cast the game over to it so it would have been easier to watch.”

“Maybe next time,’ Becky grinned. “Now it’s time for you to get ready for bed.”



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