Chapter 55 Welcome to the Internet
At least one of the scouts that had been sent into the dungeon was confirmed dead. Apparently a trapped hallway followed the door and they had spend hours to just dismantle the different killing devices. A massive elevator followed after, bringing whoever chose to use it downwards for over five hundred meters, into the dungeons.
No massive surprises were reported by the scout, sword guardians all over the place though. “Well what are we waiting for then?” Ilea asked into the group and made her way towards the door.
“Lilith I know we agreed on the ten guardians thing but if the layout of the place is that complicated it's not practical.” Jasper told her and walked next to her. “We'll pay you differently for that part of the information, for now we all go down there and clear it. You get as many as you destroy.” he said.
“I feel cheated but do see how it doesn't make sense to wait for me. Let the faster one win then.” she said and ran towards the door.
“Agor, keep a lookout for her. Please do let her kill the guardians, she's a headache as it is I don't want her to become even more annoying.” Jasper said to Agor who nodded to the man.
“They're about my level so I'll let her do the killing...if we encounter more centurions though...” he followed the excited healer towards the dungeons, getting stares from many of the adventurers around.
Ilea reached the elevator in no time and stepped on the pressure plate to activate it. The design was quite similar to the one she’d used before, although this one seemed a little less cared for. The chains she could see even showed some rust. Agor landed on the elevator after it had descended ten meters.
“You don’t feel like waiting, do you?” he said and looked at her.
“Lorcan, so you’re my babysitter then. Well just keep far enough away and don’t interfere when I’m destroying the guardians. Compared to you they’re actually pretty decent for my experience.” she answered, cracking her neck in preparation.
“Referring to sword guardians at level 200 as pretty decent for your experience. You truly are a battle maniac...” she could tell he was smiling below his helmet.
“Well so are you. So don’t give me that judgmental tone Lorcan. And hey, we might find one or the other centurion down there as well...” the man seemed to tense up a little at the uses of his name which Ilea noticed immediately. “Don’t worry, I won’t use it when others are around. Same as you’re not using mine...” she told him just as the elevator slowed down to a stop.
‘Smoother than some elevators on earth...these dwarves really were remarkable. I mean the machines are decades ahead of whatever the military had chosen to make public so far. I’m sure they’re hiding away some gurren lagann type shit somewhere though...’ she thought as the two heavily armored adventurers exited the elevator.
Another scout was crouched in the room next door, her eyes glowing in an eerie red. “Hey, can you point us to the biggest clusters of enemies around here?” Ilea asked, stopping next to the woman.
The red glow vanished as she looked at Ilea. She was a level 149 rogue, at least that was what identify had told the healer. “They’re everywhere, you’ll find them easy enough. This way I generally see more of them though.” the woman pointed and Ilea nodded.
“Thanks, let’s go clear out this prison then. Agor?” the man nodded and gestured for her to go.
“I’ll follow the trail.” he said and smirked under his helmet. The scout looked at them and shook her head.
“Fucking lunatics...” she whispered, knowing full well that both of them might’ve heard her.
Bumping her fists together, Ilea exploded into a run. Soon after she activated her buffs. The dungeon’s hallways were much smaller than anything she’d encountered in the great hall before. There was barely enough space to fit a single sword guardian, let alone a party of adventurers.
‘They’re gonna have a bad time...’ she thought as she encountered her first enemy. Dodging the blades it was second nature by now to face a single sword guardian. Using her blinking ability to strategically position herself, she used the tight corridors to her advantage.
Her quickly increasing power overwhelmed the guardian though she was cut several times in the fight until the machine fell before her unrelenting assault. Small cuts closed quickly as she started to run again, ignoring the messages she’d received from destroying a single guardian.
In the next half hour Ilea cleared out a number or random corridors and rooms that held single or up to three guardians inside. ‘There certainly are a lot of them here...’ she thought as she dodged a dozen swords from two guardians in the current room. The possibility of destroying guardians to level up and the looming expedition behind her, ready to steal her experience made her a little more reckless than usual.
There were some cracks in the wall where a guardian’s blade had sent her after she had to block one of it’s hits. Her armor combined with the shroud of ash negated most of the damage but the force was still there. ‘Man I’m already out of mana...’ she thought as she started to meditate in the now empty room, besides the dented metal on the ground.
Agor caught up to her a minute later. “Meditating eh, well the close quarters helps them as much as they help you...destroyed over twenty already. Level...” she stopped him there with a quick open palm towards him.
“Don’t spoil me, I’ll get to the messages later.” she exclaimed and bit on some dried meat she got from one of her pockets. The backpack she had left upstairs in the great hall where the expedition resided. She would’ve likely slowed down a little if she had known that the group was still discussing tactics and team compositions as she was meditating.
And so the half hour of fighting turned into one and then two. The dungeons were vast and filled to the brim with sword guardians. None of them came close to hurting Ilea more than superficially. “I need a quick break and some food.” she said to Agor who had come into the room she’d cleared most recently.
“Yea, it’s fucking boring down here.” the man said and closed the book he was holding.
“You read? Did you at least sketch down the layout while you were walking behind me.” she asked, while chewing on her last piece of dried meat.
“I do, shocking I know. It sure would make you more interesting if you chose to learn your letters. I did map out the rough layout, here it is.” he flipped to the first couple pages of the book and showed her.
“Let’s go back then, this meat isn’t satisfying and there are professional cooks up there with free food.” she said and regretted her choice not to use the necklace to store some of their food. It would’ve likely been a risk to let Agor know though so she sucked up her disappointment.
They ran back in just twenty minutes and in the last stretch encountered a group of adventurers from the expedition. ‘They haven’t come far yet.’ she thought.
“Why don’t they go through faster? You and Jasper alone could cleave through the guardians with ease.” she asked Agor as they entered the elevator room. Several adventurers perked up at their entrance.
“Even you would be gutted quite quickly were it not for your set of skills. Most adventurers aren’t as mobile and self regenerative as you are.” he said and continued as they stepped on the elevator that had conveniently been down in the dungeons already. “Additionally it’s a worthless risk to take. For the expedition, all its members and subsequently Jasper it’s more beneficial not to lose too many people and have a lot of them come out stronger. The Forkspears aren’t the only ones with that interest. Maybe after this he’ll finally be able to open the stupid school he’s been talking about...”
“He wants to open a school?” she asked.
“Yea, sword master and all. Wants to give his knowledge to worthy students.”
“Nice sentiment I guess. Doesn’t he have enough money to just build a school?”
“You need more than just gold to build a prominent school in Dawntree, even if you’re at his level of strength and fame. There’s bigger fish out there and quite a few of them reside in Dawntree. Having a sword master train random pupils might be a thorn in their eyes. Or a boon if enough powerful adventurers and noble families support him.” Agor explained.
“Politics man...he just wants to build a school.” she said and shook her head, the horns accidentally scratching on the walls that were rushing past them. The two reached the great hall’s entrance soon after and got some food from the cooks. Ilea noticed that the cook that had handed her the poisoned food was there as well.
“I...I apo...apologize, ma’am.” he stuttered out as she stood before him. She removed her helmet and smiled at him.
“Don’t sweat it and call me Lilith.” she said as she dunked her new bowl into the broth. Joining Agor on a nearby table, they started eating.
“You’re way too nice to people Il...Lilith. The man quite possibly knew about the poison.” he said as he ate, looking around to check if anybody heard his near slip up.
“Maybe, but again it’s just politics. That might also be a reason for me to become more powerful. To be able to somewhat avoid that stuff and just be nice to someone that might have tried to kill me. No reason to be paranoid all the time if you’re the least killable thing in the room.” she waved off his coming answer and continued.
“I’m aware that won’t work all the time and if people work together I may still be killed no matter how powerful. It still gives a lot of leeway for me to do whatever the fuck I want though. You see how most of this expedition group looks at me...you’d need to pay them quite a bit to try and murder me.”
Agor nodded at that. “You’re not wrong and if it’s a carefree lifestyle you’re looking for you’ll probably get it like this. People with power tend to gain attention though and attention means problems.”
“I’m aware of that Agor. It’s happened before and I’m not even the strongest on this table. I’ll still give people the benefit of the doubt though. The ones that spit on it will learn not to mess with me while the people I consider friends will find me next to them in battle.” she said and got up to get more broth. The cook seemed more relaxed now and already handed her a bowl.
“I tried it myself, Lilith.” he said and she nodded and took the bowl.
The food wasn’t poisoned, which made Ilea quite happy. At least one person to prove her point, even though there were and will be many more to disappoint her. She knew that for a fact. ‘It’s interesting how personal power changes up everything...’ she thought and ate in silence for a while.
“Hey Agor, you got a skill in the third tier?” she asked between bites of bread, using it to clean out the bowl in her hand. “I’ve been wondering for a while. Got a bunch at 2nd 20 and nothing is happening.”
“That is quite personal information that most people wouldn’t share Lilith.” he shook his head and smiled. Ilea took in the sight as it was a rare thing to see the man without his helmet.
‘Fuck am I falling for him?’ she thought but smiled back.
“I don’t, no. I heard of people that do though, Jasper might be one of them. I’ve been on 2nd 20 on many skills myself but have no idea what the requirements for higher tiers might be. I assume it’s either many skills at that level, doing something specific with a skill or simply a higher level. No idea...” he finished.
“Eh, guess I’ll get there eventually. Maybe I’ll ask Jasper about it. What about a third class, I heard it’s possible.”
“Same there but what I heard was that a third class gives less bonuses than the first two. The source might not be too reliable though.” he answered.
“So you don’t know shit even though you’re one of the highest leveled adventurers I’ve ever met...fucking hell you guys need the internet.” she sighed and motioned for another bowl which swiftly arrived.
“That information is highly guarded Lilith. The people that actually reach those levels and tiers might share the knowledge, sure. They’re so few and far in between though that it’s probably hard to confirm it and it would quickly fade into mere rumors. The internet though? What are you talking about?”
‘First guy to actually ask about an earth reference I’ve made...’ she thought.
“It’s from a book I once read. Like a network for sharing information. Everybody could access it and learn of the whole world’s knowledge with ease.”
“So like a library holding all knowledge? Who would put the knowledge there and control it though?” he asked, more interested than Ilea had expected.
“Everyone can put knowledge there. There were more trusted places than others though and one would have to be careful not to believe lies.”
“Man, people would do that? Just go to this Internet and tell lies?” he asked and continued “Well if it’s not really controlled how could you be sure. Libraries share knowledge too and people do as well, it’s not that different.” Agor said.
“It would be instant though...a new dungeon gets discovered and people miles away would know at the same time.” Ilea countered, trying to defend one of the most important inventions in the past century on earth.
“I’m sure there’s magic for that but I can see how that would change an ordinary person’s life...if truly all could access this network of information. What book was that? I’m intrigued.”
“I’m afraid I don’t have it anymore. Or never really had it to be honest. It was owned by a traveler I met near Riverwatch. Could ride in his chart for a couple days.” It didn’t seem to Ilea that he believed the lie but he didn’t press the issue.
“So back down? Can’t wait to actually find something interesting to fight...” the man said and Ilea nodded. Getting up the two walked back to the elevator. “You already destroyed eighty or so guardians, sure you don’t want to know your level and invest the stat points?” the man teased her as they drove down the elevator.
“I’ll check it after the next run okay? What about you? The guardians aren’t much higher than you sure but you could still level from killing them, not bothered that I get to destroy them all?” she smirked but he only shrugged.
“The difference between level 99 to 101 is pretty big but 199 to 201 is even more so. You’ll find it quite annoying to level up after 200 and it’s not easy to find, let alone kill anything with a much higher level than that.”
“I already know where I can find something like that...although I don’t think I’m ready for that yet. Didn’t really notice the difference between before 100 and after though, you sure about that?” she answered.
“Quite, yes. How did you not notice? It’s like you’ve been fighting guardians since level 100...” he said and she kept quiet. “Are you kidding me?” Ilea didn’t answer him but instead posed another question.
“I don’t get it, so you say there’s not a lot of enemies out there at a higher level than 200? Are you sure? Elos is quite vast you know...”
“Well there certainly are a lot of them out there but not close enough and safe enough for most people to reach. This dungeon is actually quite the exception at how close it is to a city.” he said.
“There are people like you and Jasper though...ready to take on higher leveled foes.” she said.
“Yes but this again is where information gets scarce or very expensive. It’s not like someone who finds and manages to kill very high level beings would just share that knowledge for free. Lower leveled adventurers wouldn’t just stumble upon it either or might even just die discovering it. So maybe there are a lot out there, sure but you’ll either have to pay a lot to get that information or you’ll have to find it for yourself.” he finished as they reached the bottom of the stairs.
The scout they had greeted before was quite surprisingly not at her post but rather lying next to a nearby wall in her own blood. Ilea blinked to the woman but found her quite dead already. A big wound showed on her chest. “Centurion?” Ilea asked. It seemed a spear or sword had punched through the woman, exiting on her back.
“Maybe, let’s go find it then.” Agor seemed less enthusiastic and more angry at the prospect, red fire gathering around him.
“May you rest in peace.” Ilea whispered and closed the woman’s eyes before following behind Agor who had already left the room. ‘They shouldn’t have come here...’ she thought as she reached Agor checking on five corpses in a nearby room. There was no sign of an enemy. Agor got up from his crouching position over one of the dead adventurers before both of them turned towards a noise in the distance.
“Let’s go.” he said as his great sword punched through the wall to save time.