William knew that professional climbers could hold onto only the tiniest protrusions with just their fingertips, and do many other amazing feats. Not that he thought there were any professional climbers in this world- at the very least, they would be climbing to reach something specific and obtain it. Though, there might be a few talented hobbyists. Regardless, William wasn’t trained to climb, and he found it rather difficult. Unlike climbing trees where a climber could grab onto branches or push off of opposing sides, there wasn’t anything like that for climbing rock faces. Instead, it was just one surface. Even with small handholds and footholds that went an inch or two into the rock, it was difficult to get used to.
Perhaps if he hadn’t been practicing over a large drop that went down hundreds of feet- though not straight down- it might have been easier to get used to. As it was, he had to be very careful not to mess up. After all, a fall like that could kill him. At least… it could kill normal humans. William had to wonder if it could kill him. Humans survived some falls of impressive heights, though not usually onto rocky terrain. His body was much tougher, but he wasn’t sure if that would help enough. He could likely still sustain a concussion from his brain rattling around inside his skull, or enough of them to kill him… either way, he wasn’t going to try it.
Getting to the first outcropping took a bit longer than perhaps it would have for Lorelei alone, but it happened without incident. William thought he could have perhaps jumped the few dozen feet required, but that was considering flat terrain with ample room to get a running start. Even without that, it might have been possible, but with such consequences for overshooting or undershooting, he wouldn’t want to attempt it. At least, he would practice that kind of thing first.
Lorelei looked around. “From here, we’ll head up at an angle. We should be able to get to the top of the ridge, and walk along that for a while. You wait here while I figure out the path. If I fall somehow…” Lorelei shrugged, “Catch me or something.”
“We have rope.” William had no doubt he could catch her in normal circumstances, but once she was out of arm’s reach… well, that was much more difficult. Not that he expected her to fall anyway, but the rope was a security measure. William made sure his footing was secure and slowly let out the rope. Lorelei was more practiced, and she took her time to create new handholds and footholds as she moved along, so it was quite unlikely for her to actually fall. It was no problem for her to hold on and use magic at the same time. Even so, she tried to work with the way the rock face went, to avoid having to flatten or significantly change any area. They hadn’t yet seen any magical beasts, but using too much magic could draw their attention.
Unfortunately, that was also true of merely being in the area. Lorelei continued to create a good route, but that took time. She was halfway to the top of the ridge within fifteen minutes, but then a cry rang out in the sky. William hadn’t seen one before, and he didn’t recognize the cry, but when he turned toward the sound he could immediately tell it was a roc- akin to a giant eagle.
Lorelei was still climbing, and thus not in a good place to do much of anything. Though William had no doubt she could use magic, she wouldn’t be able to turn to look in the right direction easily. She also wouldn’t be able to maneuver in that position. The roc was heading directly toward them, so there was no chance that it hadn’t already noticed them. It was still far away, and though William’s eyes weren’t spectacular at that distance, he had no doubt the roc could see them, if eagle eyes meant anything. That meant they would have to fight- or he would have to.
William quickly considered the spells in his head. He could use a lightning bolt- that would have enough range, but he would have to shoot it past Lorelei and she wasn’t in the most stable position. He supposed he could have it curve away, but the thunder could still cause problems, including a reasonable chance of attracting other magical beasts in the area. A fireball couldn’t easily reach the eagle where it was, and if it was closer it could attack Lorelei and the shockwave might be a problem. William could create a sheet of fire, but that was also not easy enough to do at range. If he had no other options, he could still try any of those, but he had something he thought would be better first. Something with decent range and no shockwaves or sound. If that failed, he would have to quickly do something else, but he would try it.
“Chris. We’re going to do that new spell we’ve been practicing.” Chris quickly glowed in acknowledgement. William started chanting. He would be gathering a large amount of mana, but that wouldn’t cause any more disturbance than the combat would anyway, so it couldn’t be helped. As the mana gathered, it turned into light around Chris, and flowed into him. However, instead of glowing, Chris actually turned dark- and the area around him grew dim. William held Chris out in front of him, looking down the length. Normally, such a gesture was meaningless as magic could fire in basically any direction from a wizard or staff. However, in this case it was necessary. He continued to chant, gathering more magic as the roc approached. Then, William shifted Chris slightly, every so slightly changing his orientation, until he found the perfect spot. Then there was a screech of pain from the roc… and it turned away. William frowned. As it turned to fly away, he knew he wouldn’t be able to cast another spell at it… but it also didn’t seem like it was immediately going to return. He kept watch on it just to make sure, until it disappeared behind the next peak over.