Paragon Of Destruction 100 Running

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Arran followed Snowcloud out of the inn, and in short order, they had left the city behind.

"How long can you run before you get tired?" she asked him.

"As long as I need to," Arran said. Although he had never tested the limits of his endurance, he knew that even running at a sprint for hours did not leave him noticeably tired.

"Then follow me," she said. In an instant, she dashed off along the road, her moonlit silhouette almost disappearing in the distance before Arran could even respond.

Immediately, he followed, sprinting after her. He caught up a few moments later, then slowed his pace to match hers as he ran beside her.

"Why are we in such a hurry?" he asked.

Although he did not know the reason, he would have been a fool not to understand that she was fleeing something. And anything that was cause enough for her to flee would certainly be a danger to him.

"I will tell you when—" she began.

"No," Arran said, unable to fully keep the anger from his voice. "You're going to tell me now. I've had enough of running around like a headless chicken, without the slightest idea of what's going on. You either tell me why we're running right now, or I'm heading back to the city."

Only when he said the words did he realize that he actually meant them. He was sick of getting into dangerous situations while only barely knowing what was happening. If he was to place himself in danger, he would only do so knowingly. And if that meant he would have to return to the city to find some other novice to join, then so be it.

There was a moment of silence from Snowcloud, but then, she spoke. "Alright."

Despite his insistence, Arran was surprised at the response. As far as he knew, she hadn't wanted a recruit with her in the first place, so his threat to leave could barely be considered a threat at all. Yet somehow, it had worked.

"So what's going on?" he asked.

"The Sixth Valley has chosen a new leader," Snowcloud said, "Elder Fang."

"They've replaced the Patriarch?" Arran asked with a start.

"Not exactly," she said. "Elder Fang is only a temporary leader, chosen to maintain order as the Valley prepares to select a new Patriarch."

"So your grandfather, is he…"

"No," she replied. "Not yet, at least. He is… unwell. But Elder Fang has asked me to remain in the Valley, to help bolster support for the new Patriarch when he is selected."

"And you're afraid he will try to seize power for himself, and use you?"

"Elder Fang? He has neither the spine nor the brain for that. The problem lies with the factions. With the selection of a new Patriarch so close, the support of the old Patriarch's closest family is crucial for all the contenders. And I am the only close family Grandfather has left."

"What about your parents?" Arran asked, realizing that although he knew she was the Patriarch's granddaughter, he had heard nothing of her parents.


Snowcloud was silent for some moments. When she finally spoke, there was a slight tremble in her voice. "My mother disappeared beyond the border about two years after Grandfather fell ill. My father left to find her, but he never returned."

"Then…" Arran began to speak, but the words died in his mouth. There was no need to tell Snowcloud how suspicious it all sounded — she was certainly aware of that.

"Things will be dangerous for me, within the Valley," she continued. "Until now, I have managed to remain neutral, but if any faction suspects that I might support one of their rivals…"

She did not need to finish the sentence for Arran to understand the danger. If her support really was that important to the factions, then so was keeping their rivals from gaining it.

At once, he realized that traveling with her would be more dangerous than any other option he could have chosen, and the irony of it nearly caused him to burst into laughter. After spending weeks carefully trying to choose the safest path, he had instead stumbled upon the most dangerous one.

"Do you still wish to travel with me?" she asked.

Arran did not answer immediately. If he wanted to remain safe — insofar as that was possible — his best choice would be to turn around right now. Yet this time, if he chose to go ahead, he would do so while knowing the dangers that lay ahead.

"I'll come along," he said finally.

Although he wasn't sure the choice was the right one, at least he would be able to face the threats ahead with open eyes.

"Alright," she replied. "I will answer any other questions you have once we're safely outside the Valley."

This time, Arran did not object. Even if there were many things he still wanted to ask, he had to admit that this was hardly the right moment to ask them.

They kept running through the night, and then the day that followed, not pausing for even a moment. If Elder Fang wanted to keep Snowcloud inside the Valley, then he would likely send word to the soldiers at the border, and their best chance to get away was to be gone before then.

By the end of the day, Arran began to feel tired. Even if his body was able to bear the physical exertion of running without pause, the lack of sleep was clouding his mind, and several times he felt himself on the verge of nodding off even as he ran.

"Take this," Snowcloud said, tossing him a small flask. "It will help you stay awake."

Arran opened the flask and swallowed its contents. Immediately, his face twisted in disgust. The liquid was beyond foul, so bitter it made him gag in revulsion.

"What the h.e.l.l was that?!" he blurted out, fearful that the liquid would make its way back up his throat, forcing him to taste it a second time.

"Yellow flax extract and rockbean grounds," she replied. "The taste is slightly unpleasant, but it should keep you awake."

Although the taste was far beyond unpleasant, Arran soon discovered that she hadn't been lying about the liquid's effects. His weariness disappeared almost instantly, being replaced by a feeling of boundless energy — along with a throbbing headache and a feeling in his chest that made him fear his heart could explode at any moment.

Yet even if the liquid's effects were unpleasant, it did its job in keeping Arran awake, and he did not feel the slightest bit tired as they ran through another sleepless night.

They reached the western border of the Valley by the end of the second day, and Arran was unsurprised to see that it resembled the Valley's eastern border.

Here, too, stood a large camp filled with soldiers, protecting fortifications that seemed like they could withstand even a hundred armies.

They had stopped running when they neared the camp, knowing that it would draw unwanted attention, but they did not waste any time in heading to the gates.

At the gates, they found a group of soldiers, led by a weary-looking black-robed man. As they approached, the man gave them an examining look.

"Best wait until tomorrow before you cross," he said. "The descent isn't safe in the dark."

"We'll be going now," Snowcloud said.

The man hesitated, then shrugged. "Suit yourself," he said, then waved them through.

They pa.s.sed unhindered, but even as they did, Arran had trouble controlling his nerves. At any moment, he thought, word from Elder Fang could arrive, and the soldiers would come after them.

Yet despite his fears, nothing happened, until they finally pa.s.sed out of sight of the fortifications and the many soldiers manning them.

They glanced at each other, looks of relief on both their faces. Then, without saying a word, both of them began to run once more.

By the time the light of dawn began to appear, they had made it to the foot of the mountains. Somehow, they had managed to avoid any serious injuries — although Arran had fallen several times, he had not plunged into a ravine as he feared, instead merely sustaining some cuts and bruises.

"Now what?" Arran asked with a look at the road ahead of them.

"Now, we leave the road," Snowcloud replied. "And we run until we can't run anymore."

Arran yawned. "Do you have any more of that…" He nearly gagged just remembering the liquid's taste.

"As much as you need," she said, handing him a flask.

Arran opened the flask, then steeled his will and downed the liquid inside in a single swig. Half of it came up again immediately, and he was forced to swallow it a second time.

"Let's go," he said.

Paragon Of Destruction 100 Running

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Paragon Of Destruction 100 Running summary

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