Chapter 41 Trash compactor
The group of four blinked or flew towards the other side before landing in the entrance to the next hallway. Upon landing Ilea asked Edwin how many more trap rooms she should expect.
“I don’t know. Sorry...” he said. And that was that. They continued with Ilea leading the way.
Ten minutes of walking later, they came up on an entrance. Looking inside, the same walls were made with the same white stone. Nothing else seemed to be out of the ordinary. The room was around fifty by fifty meters while being nearly twenty meters high. The only thing other than some runes and magic lights in the room was a door on the other end and a pedestal in the middle of the room.
“Peculiar...” Edwin mumbled. “Go and try to activate the pedestal. We’ll support you from the doorway if necessary.” he said. Ilea nodded and walked inside the room.
“Go Ilea!” Felicia shouted, a big smile on her face. “Don’t get stabbed again!”
‘Well that’s encouraging...’ Ilea thought but smiled nonetheless as she put her hand on the pedestal and let some mana seep inside. ‘Whatcha got for me this time dwarves?’
Some runes lit up and a rumble could be heard near the doorway. Edwin seemed to have activated some buffs and dragged the other two behind while jumping back himself. A fraction of a second later, the doorway was closed by stone. From this distance Ilea couldn’t tell that the doorway had ever existed.
“A room for myself then hmm?” looked to the noise on her right and wasn’t surprised to see a sword guardian exiting from another opening in the wall that closed and vanished as fast as it had opened.
‘Oh hello there my friend...’ she smiled at the sword guardian before her.
[Taleen Guardian – lvl ??]
“You’re quite perfect for some testing...” she said and looked back towards where she had entered the room. She hoped Edwin wouldn’t break through immediately. With his somewhat cautious approach towards the traps so far she assumed though that she had some time at least.
And the risk of being found out was worth it to her to see how much she’d changed. Ilea walked towards the sword guardian that was unfolding its torso. Her Azarinth Sphere was becoming a constant companion after Edwin’s suggestion. State of Azarinth activated at full power, increasing her speed, strength and resilience just like her senses of smell, her hearing and her sight.
This alone was still covered by her mana regeneration. The blue runes shone from the holes in her more and more battered armor, at least her boots were still fine. Ilea took a deep breath and let it out again.
She looked down on herself as lines of firey dark red color formed on her body. She let her backpack fall to the ground and threw the mace a couple meters away. ‘Form of Ember…’ she thought as the mace clanged on the stone floor.
A dark yellow and red glow intertwined with blue runes on her body as the healer changed into a fighting stance, her blue eyes focusing on her adversary.
Her resiliance, speed and dexterity more than doubled again from their level before activating State of Azarinth. She also felt how her passive Ashen skills sharpened her senses even further.
A mist of ash formed around her, slightly obscuring the warrior beneath. “Shroud of Ash...” she whispered. A warm feeling spread through her, comfortable in the ash’s embrace.
“Ash surge...” she said out loud just when the guardian sped up to attack her. It seemed weird to her how slowly the machine was moving compared to when she faced one of them for the first time. ‘I really have grown...’ she thought and smiled just when a mist of ash and ember surged outwards from her, shrouding the space in heated cinders.
Her vision was perfectly fine though, combined with her sphere the enemy stood before her as if it stood in the hot summer sun. A blade cut through the ashen mist, missing Ilea by a couple centimeters. Another blade and then another joined the assault as her senses went into overdrive. Dodging with the smallest margin, Ilea made her way slightly backwards before she stopped.
The human and the machine engaged in a dance of blades as one sought to kill and the other sought only to avoid the reaper. At least at first. Twenty seconds later, an opening was seen by the woman and a punch enhanced with both Destruction and Wave of Ember rocked through the dwarven creation.
It recoiled for the fraction of a second before moving in again. With each passing second, Ilea could comprehend the pattern better and better. The time between her attacks shrunk down with each attack she delivered until finally her attacks and dodges reached an even amount.
Twenty five fully powered attacks were needed until with the final one, the Guardian faltered, it’s blades and legs uselessly clattering to the ground before the healer. She breathed out, balling her hands into fists again before moving into her initial stance.
Two doors opened this time, her enemies doubling. Ilea stood there, looking at the sword guardians approaching her while unfolding their torsos. She opened one of her fists and gestured for them to come. And so they did.
The adventurer danced skillfully between the twelve blades, a mist of ash following the blue and fiery glow that came from her form. The sound of air being slashed and powerful punches hitting metal filled the room with noise, music in the ears of the dancing warrior.
With two enemies it took longer for her to find openings and she started using her blink ability sparingly in between. The enemies still fell to her assault, their lifeless bodies of cold metal falling to the ground before four guardians entered from unseen chambers in the walls.
Ilea continued on, dodging and fighting but four guardians at once proved too much for her senses. When clustered together more than twenty blades came at her at once until finally one of them hit their mark. Ilea blinked away, blood dripping from the cut on her shoulder.
She looked at it and grinned, the shallow wound closing before her eyes in seconds. ‘Guess I don’t have to be THAT careful anymore...’ she thought, thanking her new defensive skills that changed a previously fatal attack into a mere kitchen accident.
The fight dragged on for another five minutes, her enemies slowly losing numbers as her power only grew. The last one fell to her knee hitting the creature from below. She breathed out and went back into a stance.
‘ding’ ‘You have defeated [Taleen Guardian] x 7’
‘bing’ ‘You have defeated an enemy a hundred levels or more above your own. Additional Experience is granted.’
‘bing’ ‘Azarinth Healer has reached level 111. 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘bing’ ‘Azarinth Healer has reached level 112. 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘bing’ ‘Azarinth Healer has reached level 113. 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘bing’ ‘Azarinth Healer has reached level 114. 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘bing’ ‘Azarinth Healer has reached level 115. 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘bing’ ‘Azarinth Healer has reached level 116. 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘bing’ ‘Ash Wielder has reached level 106. 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘bing’ ‘Ash Wielder has reached level 107. 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘bing’ ‘Ash Wielder has reached level 108. 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘bing’ ‘Ash Wielder has reached level 109. 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘bing’ ‘Ash Wielder has reached level 110. 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘bing’ ‘Ash Wielder has reached level 111. 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘ding’ ‘Shroud of Ash reaches lvl 2’
‘ding’ ‘Ash Surge reaches lvl 3’
‘ding’ ‘Wave of Ember reaches lvl 3’
‘ding’ ‘Eyes of Ash reaches lvl 2’
‘ding’ ‘Body of Ash reaches lvl 2
‘No new skills to chose from at least...’ Ilea thought as she relaxed her stance. She had mixed feelings about that. Azarinth healer only gave her skills incredibly rarely while Fire Enhancer just covered her in skills. ‘I’d rather have rare but good skills though...’ she shelved that thought for now and looked at the wreckage before her.
‘He won’t believe that I killed them with the classes and skills he thinks I have...’ her thought was interrupted by a familiar noise as spears shot out from the ground upwards. Two things surprised Ilea as it happened. One, time didn’t slow down which meant the spear that was currently moving upwards to pierce her wouldn’t take more than 75% of her life force.
Two, she saw the spears moving upwards and was able to move her body slightly to dodge them. Not quite fast enough though as the spear below her scratched her leg. The word scratch was key here as the spears that previously punched through her skin, muscle and bone now didn’t even manage to completely get through her skin.
“You’re repeating yourself dwarves...” she said out loud, moving to dodge the spear that would inevitably try to pierce her from between the other spikes. Using the same tactic as before, she simply started punching the spears, bending them out of shape much faster than previously.
After damaging ten of the spears something different happened though. ‘Where’s the fire?’ she thought as the walls started to rumble. Contrary to the expected firestorm the walls on each side of the room started to slowly close in on her.
‘Oh we’re going the garbage disposal route now?’ she thought as the spears close to the wall went back into the roof and floor. The stone reached her half a minute later, bending some of the damaged spears aside as it closed in on her. Ilea walked through the dense forest of metal spikes until the met the very center of the room.
‘I don’t know if I can take the pressure...’ she thought about how easily the wall had bent the spear for which she needed several punches at least.
Reaching the center of the room, Ilea started to stomp into the ground. Cracks appeared as Destruction and Wave of Ember slowly dug into the white stone. ‘They used something more resilient here...or maybe enchantments?’ she thought as her impact was more subdued than in other rooms before where she had for example hit the stone the turrets were attached to.
That was also before she had her Ash Wielder class and related skills. The walls closed in just when she had managed to make a hole big enough for herself to fit in. “At least give it a shot Ilea...” she smiled and took some of the stone dust created from her digging before rubbing it in her hands.
She stretched and held out her hands to both sides. The stone touched her and she pushed back. A loud metal groaning sound could be heard as the walls were stopped by the healer. Flesh pushed against stone and metal as the human struggled against the dwarven trap.
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!” she shouted, cracks forming around her hands. The red glow of ember mixed with blue illuminated parts of the thin space that remained of the once spacious room. All the lamps had been shattered when the spears searched the way towards the intruder.
A loud sound of something like a spring coming loose found itself into Ilea’s ears. The pressure lessened a little before increasing ten fold. Ilea immediately dropped herself to the ground, even blinking in the last moment to avoid the walls quicker.
The air pressure produced by the two walls smashing into each other nearly blew out Ilea’s eardrums even with all her defensive capabilities. Trapped in the small space below the walls, she simply waited. “You got me now walls...but I swear, after I kill that Basilisk I’ll be back for the end boss!!!” she shouted and laughed.
Five minutes later the machinery behind the walls came to life again and the stone parted. It made sense for the dwarves not to completely remove the way further in. What if the walls suddenly bugged out. Lots of digging would be necessary. At least that was what Ilea thought as she slowly got up again.
‘Will they do it again though?’ she thought, as she looked around the room. A couple disks of green metal lay on the ground in a line towards one of the exit doors. ‘Poor guardians...’ she thought and moved out from her safe spot.
She deactivated all her Ash Wielder skills and walked back to the place where the entrance should’ve been. The pedestal had been obliterated as well so there was nothing else to do in the room but get out at either of the exits.
Ilea started punching the wall until cracks formed. Without her Ashen skills it took a little longer to dig into the resilient stone. She also shouted in the hopes that the others would hear her. Not too far fetched with their likely enhanced senses.
When she managed to dig nearly a meter into the wall, a splash of boiling water hit her right in the face. “Fuck!” she exclaimed and started healing it immediately. “Should’ve seen that one coming...” she said, already hearing the cheer from Felicia on the other side.
It took Aliana another five minutes to melt a hole big enough to get through through the wall. Ilea stopped them from exiting though and entered the hallway the group had come from.
“Explain.” Edwin simply said. And so she did. She mentioned a bunch of ranged guardians attacking her when she was inside and then the spikes and finally the walls moving in. ‘No way would anybody be able to identify the disks of metal as sword guardians at this point.’ she thought.
With the story being mostly the truth, Edwin didn’t spot the lie either. At least he didn’t say anything. ‘So he’s not a walking lie detector at least...’ Ilea thought, a little relieved. It didn’t seem too far fetched for there to be an actual lie detection skill out there.
“Good job on surviving then. This one might’ve killed even me...it’s not easy to cut a hole into rock with two thin swords...” he said and then gestured to Aliana. “Please just flood and melt the whole place. Try to focus on a straight pathway to the other side where we can crawl through.
Ilea nodded to his comment and went to the side so Aliana could get to work. “I wish I could’ve seen it!” Felicia said, hugging Ilea. This time though her strength didn’t seem as impressive to Ilea anymore. She smiled at that and hugged the woman back. “Glad to be alive.” she said and didn’t miss the quick unreadable glance Edwin gave her at that.
It took Aliana the good part of two hours with some pauses in between to cook and eat to finish the path through the room. “Couldn’t any hallway do that here?” Felicia suddenly asked while looking around her in a concerned manner.
Edwin calmed her down though “That’s a very slight possibility. Though there has to be a way to determine that an intruder is inside. For this room it was the pedestal and the destroyed guardians. So just make sure not to damage anything in the normal hallways and we should be fine.” he answered. Felicia still looked a bit worriedly at the walls, albeit less so.
“There are also metal constructions behind the walls around seven meters in. I can’t see anything similar with my perception around here.” Ilea supplied to which Edwin nodded. She had perceived the metal beforehand but the trap room walls were full with machinery anyway. Now knowing what to look for though, Ilea was sure she could identify a moving wall trap if they came across another one.
“Let’s move on then.” Edwin said and the group crawled their way to the other side where Aliana started to melt through the door. The walls didn’t move again but Ilea approved of Edwin’s cautious approach, although all four of them seemed a little giddy at the waiting time.
Finally breaking through, another hallway greeted the group. Ilea took the lead and walked inside. The walls slowly grew wider the further they walked. There was a slight downwards slope until finally they came into what Ilea could only describe as a park.
The walls seemed slightly artificial but they were much less even than the rooms in the great hall before. The walls looked more like a cave, although still the white stone covered all of it. At the top of the cave was what made the second biggest difference, a massive crystal growing downwards for nearly twenty meters. It gave off a bright light that illuminated the massive cave they were in.
“Finally not green anymore...” Aliana mumbled and Ilea could only agree. Being in caves all the time had an effect on her, but the continuously monotonous artificial light was the worst of it.
“Well there is SOME green remaining.” Ilea commented, motioning to the biggest difference the cave made. It was covered in different plants. In the middle of it all was a small lake that was around fifty meters long and thirty meters wide.
“Ilea please explore the place, we’ll watch from here.” Edwin said but seemed a little relaxed at the sight. “There shouldn’t be any traps but I want to be sure.” he finished but she was already walking around, welcoming the different sight that brought new smells, colors and most importantly a peaceful atmosphere with it.
At first she simply walked around aimlessly but then started to methodically check the plants, the lake and the walls. The whole thing took nearly an hour and Edwin had to hold back Felicia five times from running towards the lake. The water was shallow and Ilea cautiously walked inside, finding nothing artificial about it even fifteen meters into the ground below.
“I think we’re fine here. Just don’t eat or drink anything.” Ilea said as she waved to the others. To the right of the lake from the group’s perspective was a wonderfully crafted archway, stone stairs leading up to it.
“Who feels like sparring?” Edwin said while cracking his neck and smiling.
“Fuck sparring, swimming!” Felicia shouted as she half ran, half hobbled towards the pond while undressing.
Edwin looked towards Aliana who was already in the process of building a fireplace with some rocks and melting down one of the trees to get some wood to burn. “Don’t look at me Edwin, I don’t know this wood and I HAVE to taste meat grilled on top of it.”
He simply sighed and looked at his last hope in the form of a healer that was biting into a big fruit she had removed from a tree nearby. She just shrugged at him and chewed happily.
“Poisoned?” he asked and put his hand to his face as Felicia fell down into the dirt trying to remove her pants.
Blue glowing runes appeared on Ilea’s body as she took another bite and smiled a toothy smile towards him. “Yep! In my defense, they looked like Mangos.”
‘What the hell are Mangos?’ he thought and sat down on the ground, looking up to the light crystal. ‘There’s one here, I’m sure of it. We’ll get you soon...’ he looked towards the familiar archway with a determined look on his face.