As they travelled away from Phanapis, Shanta kept one eye on their surroundings and one eye on Caprica. The caution was likely noticed by Caprica, but she would also understand why. While the followers of the nameless God had known her for a few months, Shanta knew both them and her for only a few days.
The group did actually travel west until entering Nospor, just so they could be out of Ruclua as quickly as possible. The trip took more than half a week, though it could have been done in a single day if everyone in the group was a cultivator. However, normal people simply couldn’t travel at such a fast pace, especially not when they had to bring provisions with them. Terrain that didn’t seem difficult to Shanta was much harder, especially with the climb in elevation. Part of the delay was also caused by being restricted to roads, which meant taking more circuitous routes.
After they crossed the border into Nospor, Shanta was almost willing to believe that they had gotten away unnoticed. More likely, Barrett had drawn so much attention that none had been paid to them. He was good at that, even when he didn’t intend to. Shanta just hoped he knew his own limits. As long as he didn’t get careless and reserved enough stamina, he could run away and nobody would be able to catch him. Unless there were masters they didn’t know about in Phanapis, but it wasn’t likely that they would be involved. Phanapis wasn’t such a large city that the city guard would have any masters, and if they did they wouldn’t likely just leave the city undefended. The Church of Ristos had some masters, but they hadn’t heard anything about them passing through the area.
Upon reaching the main road in Nospor, they turned north. Stredo was their eventual destination… or at least, a safe stopping point along the way. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t reach there without trouble. Shanta picked up on the danger a moment before Caprica acted, which was a surprise to Shanta, since Caprica was only third tier. However, it seemed to be she was feeling for something particular that Shanta was not.
Caprica turned, her hand outstretched. Motes of darkness flung out of her hands towards seemingly nothing- but of course, that likely just meant invisible people. Indeed, as the darkness flew out it latched onto certain points in space, and one revealed a woman clutching her eyes. It seemed that the motes of darkness weren’t entirely harmless. “Run! I’ll hold them off here!”
“You heard her!” Shanta gestured, “With me!” The only place to run to was an outcropping of rock nearby. The non-cultivators with them wouldn’t be safe there, but at least they would be out of easy reach. As she moved, Shanta reached into her bag and pulled out a red powder which she poured into her mouth. She watched both ahead and behind the group, her eyes twitching as the powder flowed into her system. Behind the motes of darkness, she could now see outlines of figures, not quite as red-orange as she had expected. Up ahead, there were no signs of life until the outcropping. Shanta moved ahead and circled around it once to make sure, blowing a powder into the air. The group did not all run the same speed, but with the help of those who could move faster everyone soon reached the far side of the rock outcropping. “Stay here. Also, don’t cross this line if you use magic.” Shanta blew one last gust of powder from her palm, then returned towards Caprica. The rock outcropping also provided another benefit… nobody could watch Caprica. There were many among them who knew about her past, but the rest might not take it well immediately.
Tendrils of darkness circled around the middle aged woman, twining in an incomprehensible pattern. As they moved, they blocked various bits of magic- curses unseen except by magical senses. Besides the figure whose eyes were damaged, two more had also become visible. They likewise had tendrils of darkness, but instead of defending they reached out to attack Caprica. Shanta wondered if these were members of the Grasping Hand that Barrett had previously run into trouble with or just more necromancers. As Shanta returned, Caprica noticed her and shouted, “What are you doing? Run! This is my problem to deal with!”
Shanta looked around at the various necromancers, seeing them merely as colors. There was a noticeable drop in the body temperature of those who summoned the tendrils of darkness, making them more of a green and sometimes blue than red-orange. “Don’t be ridiculous. Do you think they will stop pursuit when you die? If you truly want to redeem yourself, you have to stay alive.” Shanta pulled out a small vial, dipping a needle into it before immediately throwing it. Her hands flicked, launching a needle at each of the half-dozen enemies. Two of those who were still invisible managed to dodge, though one got caught in the arm. All of those with tendrils of darkness blocked with them. Shanta carefully sealed the vial and returned it into her magic bag.
“Look out!” Caprica called out, unnecessarily. Shanta cultivated energy and magic, so it was easy enough to see the hidden spells. She dodged the squirming magic while at the same time moving closer to the two who had dodged her needles before.
Tiny little packets dropped out of each of her sleeves into her hands, and she flicked them towards the two necromancers. One of them dodged the packet… and the other dodged the needle returning from behind them.
Caprica was slowly being forced back, but she was just barely managing to protect herself from three opponents. Her own tendrils of darkness latched onto theirs, ripping them apart. Nothing stopped them from being recreated, but some of the magic was lost. However, the same was done to her as well, and she had to keep retreating to prevent her body from being within easy reach of a sneaky attack. While a moment of contact wouldn’t kill her, she didn’t want her life force absorbed at all if she could help it. Unfortunately, she wouldn’t likely be able to outlast three people… no, she certainly couldn’t… but then she noticed what was happening to the three she was fighting.
It had been slow at first, tiny veins of nothing appearing in one tendril, slowly working its way to the necromancers themselves… and then the tiny veins moved from them up each and every tendril of darkness. The veins really were nothing- but what caused them Caprica wasn’t sure. The only thing she was sure about was that the tendrils quickly lost most of their substance, and she had an opening to attack. A pair of tendrils wrapped around each of her opponents, and they moved their own to tear hers away… but their tendrils continued to disintegrate with little effect. Caprica felt the life force of the three necromancers going into her. It was exhilarating… but she shook the thought away. That wasn’t her life anymore. She only did this now out of necessity. As the three slumped to the ground, she turned to deal with the remaining necromancers, who would likely be more cautious… but they were all on the ground, basically uninjured but lifeless. That was something she could sense. Shanta stood in place calmly, unsurprised at the results. “What… what was that?”
“Poison,” Shanta stated matter of factly.
“Well, clearly… but what about with these three?” Caprica waved to the three she had been fighting.
“Poison doesn’t affect things made out of pure magic and life force!”
Shanta took a small dose of some powders, closing her bloodshot eyes. “You’re right. It’s not poison. It just so happens that there are things like poison that affect magic and life force directly.”
“… that sounds even more terrifying than necromancy.”
“Only if you carelessly touch it with magic tied to you. If it just touched your skin or even your bloodstream, it wouldn’t do much of anything.” Shanta sighed, “I hope these fellows have quite a bit of money on them… that stuff is expensive and hard to make.”