Chapter 52 New companions and enemies
Agor’s question to the incompetent scout was ignored completely as the supposed demon stepped out of the doorway. His instincts and experience told him long before identify even got him any further information that this was no demon. It was too late though as the more inexperienced parts of their defensive line already started to let loose their spells. All he could do now was maybe save the person’s life for his own but there was too much unknown.
Steeling his will he looked on as a piercing shot from one of the rangers was easily caught by the person in front of him. ‘Healer?’ he thought as a lightning bolt was dodged by the man with a slight tilt of his head. ‘Level 165? What is he...no...’ Fireballs and icicles clashed into the healer’s armor while the more pointy spells were dodged with minimal movements. ‘A woman...’ he thought as more spells reached the healer.
A sudden explosion of ash followed that left most of them searching for their enemy. “Cease fire!!” Agor shouted, accompanied by others shouting similar things.
“I believe we’ve met before but I assure you. I’ve come in peace.” Agor and some others were already turned around to find the healer behind Pete, holding a dagger to his throat. He looked at her and knew she was smiling. He too smirked behind his dark helmet. ‘Interesting.’ was all he thought as he advanced through the adventurers who were in states of anger, realization and confusion. More than Agor had expected had immediately stopped attacking after she’d stepped out.
‘Can’t believe Inström let loose his lightning though...that old fool is getting senile...’ he thought as he advanced to the tip of the poised adventurers. “So then you’re that defenseless healer girl we met a couple days ago?” he asked and continued, stopping a couple meters before the woman. “Then give me a reason not to cut you apart right now. And don’t think that useless scout will deter me...” he asked, having no intention at all of attacking the woman.
“You already told me two reasons my friend. I’m a healer and I’m defenseless.” the woman answered and played with the dagger in her hand. “Plus you’re in luck. I’m for hire.”
The adventurers stood there tensed before a laugh filled the room. Agor stopped himself after a couple seconds and finished with a chuckle. “Alright alright, come on girl let the man go. We talk. Inström, Jasper!” he said and shouted to the two other leaders before motioning for the healer to follow. He was confident of taking her down, she would certainly take some of the adventurers with her but it didn’t seem to Agor that she had such intentions. ‘Another one that loves the thrill has joined us...’ he thought and smiled.
Ilea took down the dagger and put it into her backpack. ‘Fuck it’s broken...’ she thought and looked at the still burning pack. ‘Should have left it on the stairs.’ the man scrambled to his feet after she let him go and looked at her hatefully. She shot him a radiant smile and followed the man with the spiky armor, not realizing her smile was covered by the helmet. ‘Worse than Arven that guy...where do they find monsters that horny?’ she smiled at the innuendo and started flicking the dagger in her hand. Her backpack was hanging on one side of her back, still burning a little.
‘I think that went pretty well. Didn’t get murdered, showed my ability without giving too much away. I can be incredibly useful to those people and they know it. Now let’s see what I can get out of it...’ she thought and looked towards some of the people cooking. One of the men shied back as he locked eyes with her. Some of the adventurers were whispering while others shrugged and went back to their games or preparations.
“Your backpack is on fire.” the spiky man said. Two others had joined her. She couldn’t see any of their levels but something told her they weren’t as dangerous as Edwin had been.
‘Close enough though...’ she thought as she got off her backpack and patted the fire out with her hand. “I’m aware. I’ll have to ask you to replace it.” she said.
The mage that had attacked her with lightning before wanted to say something at that but the third man stopped him with a gesture. “We’ll replace the backpack of course. So you sent quite the scare through some of the less experienced members of our party, although seeing their level I’m rather disappointed...I’m Jasper. One of the three appointed leaders of this expedition.” the man said and continued.
“Agor.” he motioned to the spiky man who simply nodded towards her. She nodded back with a smile, knowing he was smiling too behind his helmet. It wasn’t just her sphere that had told her that. “And Mr Inström, the third part of our leadership. Now we’re both aware that you likely have some rather interesting stories to tell and presumably some information that could help save us quite a bit of lives and time. I’d prefer not to get that information out of you with unsavory methods but I will if I must.” he finished.
A shiver ran through Ilea at that but compared to the fear of death it was more like excitement. ‘Oh I’d like to see you try old man...’ she thought but kept her smile going. “Perfect, then let’s trade. First thing’s first I have info on the room I just came out of. What do you have?”
“Before we trade we have to make sure you’re no danger to us or any of our adventuring party.” Agor said. “As much as I’d like to fight you I feel we could use another healer...and whatever else you have to offer.” the man said.
“And how would you confirm I’m no danger? My name’s Lilith as I’ve told some of you before. I followed a group of people down here but lost their track inside the great hall. My goal now is to clear out the dungeon and get as much info on it and the people I’ve followed as I can before leaving again. If I can do that with a whole expedition behind me then that is no problem for me.” Ilea said. What she’d said was certainly true, except for the expedition part. She would’ve preferred to be left alone in the dungeon but considering she’d already raided the treasury, there were only two ways left unexplored. And seeing the party hadn’t fallen on their heads, a meeting at some point seemed unavoidable.
“Well Lilith...then you may join us. All the artifacts we find go to the Forkspears. The more we find the more we’re paid. Contribution is taken into account of course and any information you could provide will be seen as just that. My condition is that you only enter a room when we tell you to and otherwise stay back. You’ll be guarded by me personally.” Jasper said at which point the other two looked at him.
“Do you not agree?” he asked them but didn’t get an answer. “Is that alright for you?” he asked Ilea.
“Sure. Some demands though before we start trading. If there are more than ten guardians in a room you let me go in alone. I assume the lives and time you might lose are more important to you than the experience?” she said. Agor chuckled at her demand.
“To me yes, some of the others will disagree though but I’ll convince them if they get too loud.” Jasper answered. “So what did you have in mind for the information. I’d rather be done with this quickly so we can move on.” he said.
“Is that seriously all you’re gonna check? You just believe her story?” Inström said, his voice still calm though.
Jasper looked at the man “I said I’ll be guarding her. Do you not trust me to take care of a level 165 healer?” he asked.
Inström shrugged to that. “I just think we should get some more information out of her before we start offering her anything.” a small spark formed on his fingertips at that but Jasper gestured for him to stop.
“Oh, some lightning resistance? That seems like a good idea. For the info on the room I just came from I want free service of the cooks you’ve brought, free food, free service of the smiths and some of your lightning spells.” she said, finishing while pointing towards Inström.
“Are you mad, I’m not gonna share my knowledge with you. Who do you think you are?” the man said in a calm and calculated way.
“What?” Ilea said.
“I think she means you blast her with it...” Agor said and chuckled.
Inström looked at him confused and then opened his eyes widely. “Oh for f…. sake...well you convinced me, she’s no danger to us...if anything she’s a danger to herself. Alright I’ll gladly use some of my lightning on you, it’s gonna be painful though I assure you.”
“I doubt that...” Ilea said and thought she might’ve just given away a bit too much information as Jasper’s eyebrows lifted up a little at her statement. Agor didn’t seem to have a reaction under his helmet.
“That’s a deal then. Agor alright?” he looked at the man who just shrugged “Tell us about the room then.” Jasper finished.
The adventurers watched on as the healer that had survived the attacks of over ten of their own followed their leaders to the map placed on a table in the middle of the room. Her greenish armor was a little singed and her backpack seemed rather unusable. People looked up from their games, cooking pots and from their conversations to see what was going to happen. Apparently a deal was struck with the proclaimed demon.
Some of the people started going closer to the table to listen in on the conversation while others with sharper senses let in their friends and companions on the discussed content. “….massive crater and parts of what I assume were a centurion...are you familiar with them?” the healer asked to which all three leaders nodded.
“Heard of them, never seen one. Agor?” Jasper said.
“Yea, got one a couple years ago. Took me damn near my life to take the fucker down.” he looked upwards reminiscing. “Our healer died as well to the machine...they’re smart. So you’re saying the people you’re following took one down?” Agor said.
“Maybe...could be longer ago too for all I know.” Ilea shrugged. ‘He took one down...had a team as well though. Is he stronger than Edwin? Edwin seemed to be protecting the others though. Using their spells was the safest method but I wouldn’t put it past him to take on a centurion...hell even two at the same time.’ she thought and explained the traps and rooms that led towards the armory.
“A taleen armory...the gear in there is certainly worth a fortune to both collectors and adventurers. Your gear is from there as well?” Inström asked.
She handed him the dagger. “Ye, my previous gear got fucked by some of the traps. The dwarves liked fire apparently.” she said while Inström looked at the dagger and then handed it to Jasper.
“High quality gear hmm….and you said there were hundreds of weapons and armors?” Jasper asked. Some of the adventurers listening in gasped at that and more and more joined them near the table.
“Yes, you’ll need people who can fly though to get down there.” she said. The scout had seen her wings already so it wasn’t worth trying to cover that up anymore.
“We have plenty for that. Depending on the walls we could build stairs as well. Getting all that safely out of the dungeon is gonna be annoying though. Bjorn will have to organize that though.” Jasper said while thoughtfully touching his beard. “Can you go into details on the traps?” he asked and Ilea provided.
“We’ll be able to deal with that then, gonna take a while though. I’ll start sending some people then. Agor please go with them and confirm her information. Be careful.” the man just walked away from the table upon Jasper’s request while gesturing to some others that followed him immediately.
“I’ll get some food then.” Ilea said and walked to the cooks. Nobody stopped her. “Can I get like six plates. Whatever you have.” the cook looked at her a bit perplexed before looking towards the table. Jasper nodded towards him and he hurriedly got to work. Ilea walked to another table and got a chair there before moving back to Jasper and sitting down.
A lot of the adventurers were watching her. “What?” she asked as she removed her helmet and placed it on the ground.
The first plate arrived then and she started eating. “What do you wanna know next? I went into two more doors before.”
Jasper walked away to get a chair as well and joined her soon after. Most of the adventurers were still standing nearby, looking at the scene as if it were an interesting documentary. Ilea certainly looked less threatening with her black hair and blue eyes out instead of the greenish horned full plate helmet.
“The door there then.” Jasper said and pointed towards the first door to the right, where the treasury had been.
‘Well maybe it somehow survived the acid...not like there’s anything left to get though.’ she thought and started explaining the trap rooms and their intricacies. “Sadly in the hall beyond were a full six centurions.” she said. ‘Should I ask to help them clear the centurions out? Doesn’t seem wise to show all my cards and I don’t feel like they’ll advance into there any time soon.’ she though.
“Six of them you say...that might be a problem. We’ll see though. What do you want for that piece of information?” he asked her.
“Your mages, same as with the lightning guy, an hour or so each? And I want to have two potions, I assume that guy over there is an Alchemist or something?” she asked.
“An hour from all of them is too much time lost, I give you an hour with five of them...the rest you can freely ask or pay if you feel like it. Two potions in addition to that is fine. Nothing special though...not that he makes anything special.” Jasper answered.
“The third door then.” he said.
“That one was cleared by the people I’m following...at least I assume. Traps are destroyed and there’s a massive dead monster in one of the rooms.” she mapped out the place and finished with the teleportation room.
“This info I give you for two things.” she said and held up two fingers “A favor from you and...the second thing I’ll explain after you followed me inside there.” she motioned to the door they had just talked about.
“You want me to follow you in there alone? I’m rather confident in myself but don’t think I trust you this far. The favor you get, albeit a small one.” Jasper answered.
“You take that spiky guy with you then, how does that sound?” she asked to which he nodded. Ilea smiled at the man and continued eating, reaching her fourth plate.
Jeremy looked on as the woman stuffed herself with the sixth plate already. She apparently had been here for a while and had provided information to the expedition in exchange for some things, one of them weirdly being food. Agor had returned a while ago and was discussing with Jasper and Mr. Inström. The information the healer had provided seemed to be quite accurate in nature.
“You wanna talk to her?” Rin asked from the side. The two had started talking more and more, both of them seemingly didn’t know a lot of people down there and didn’t mind each other’s company.
“Kinda. The three seemed to have gotten what they wanted but I’m sure she has more...” he said and looked the woman over.
“Yea, mr obvious over here. We don’t care though, we’re here for the artifacts and everyone has their own motives. Hers don’t really matter as long as she doesn’t fall in our backs which would be a ridiculously stupid decision.”
“Oh I know that, although I’m sure she could wreak some havoc...” he said and started walking towards the healer.
“What are you….” Rin said and started following after sighing.
“Mind if I join you...Lilith right?” Jeremy said and motioned to the chair Jasper had so nicely left behind. Lilith shrugged while finishing her last plate of food. “I’m Jeremy. So you’ve been here alone for a while?”
“Yea, are you looking to trade information as well or what do I owe the honor Mr. Jeremy?” Lilith asked, having finished her meal she looked at the man with her blue piercing eyes. “Where is that new backpack?” the woman asked absentmindedly after she had stopped the eye contact.
“Maybe, I’m not sure what I could offer you though. Are you looking for a replacement backpack for the one we burned up?” he asked while looking at the pack that was placed behind the woman.
“I’m supposed to get one, yes...ah there you go.” she said as she received a new pack from one of the workers that was brought along the adventure. “Thank you, it looks beautiful.” she said and looked the backpack over before moving her things from one pack to the other. Jeremy didn’t make out anything interesting between the food and canteen that she moved.
‘Does she not map out the dungeon? Maybe she has a skill for that...or maybe...’ he thought and looked for any jewelery she might be wearing but he couldn’t make out anything. Even if, it didn’t mean she had a device with a storage enchantment. Someone alone in a dungeon that could withstand the combined attack of ten adventurers her level might just be the one person to have one though.
“So I’m a bit of a history fanatic Miss Lilith and I’d be quite happy to somehow get any historical knowledge, documents or artifacts that you might or might not have found in this dungeon. There is little known about the Taleen and I’m pretty sure it’s been a while since someone even discovered a great hall.” he said.
“Just Lilith is fine really. I might have one or the other thing for you then. Can you read their runes?” she asked him and looked at the man. Rin had started leaning on the table in the meantime but hadn’t engaged in their conversation yet.
“I’ve dabbled in them but can’t say I understand more than the very basics. It’s not like we have a lot of writing remaining other than the runes you see on the walls here and there. Although I’m sure some people have more, the college of magic however does not. Why do you ask?” he asked but she only nodded thoughtfully.
“So you teach at the college in Dawntree?” Lilith said suddenly to which he nodded. “Interesting, I’ll come back to you about your inquiry then Jeremy. Nice to make your acquaintance.” she said and got up to join Jasper and Agor who were walking back to her.
“I feel like she’s got something juicy Rin...” Jeremy said after Lilith had left.