Chapter 65 There is a title though it holds no meaning
‘ding’ ‘Your group has defeated [Ozanion – Ethereal Ice Weaver - lvl 293 / Fortress of Ice – lvl 258]’
‘ding’ ‘You have defeated an enemy one hundred levels or more above your own. Additional experience is granted.’
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth Healer has reached level 193, 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth Healer has reached level 194, 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth Healer has reached level 195, 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth Healer has reached level 196, 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth Healer has reached level 197, 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘ding’ ‘Ash Wielder has reached level 184, 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘ding’ ‘Ash Wielder has reached level 185, 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘ding’ ‘Ash Wielder has reached level 186, 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘ding’ ‘Ash Wielder has reached level 187, 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘ding’ ‘Ash Wielder has reached level 188, 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth Sphere reaches 2nd lvl 18’
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth Reversal reaches lvl 15’
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth Reversal reaches lvl 16’
‘ding’ ‘Shroud of Ash reaches lvl 19’
‘ding’ ‘Shroud of Ash reaches lvl 20’
‘ding’ ‘Shroud of Ash reaches 2nd lvl 1’
‘ding’ ‘Form of Ember reaches 2nd lvl 10’
‘ding’ ‘Wave of Ember reaches lvl 19’
‘ding’ ‘Ashen Wings reaches lvl 7’
‘ding’ ‘Ashen Wings reaches lvl 8’
‘ding’ ‘Eyes of Ash reaches lvl 15’
‘ding’ ‘Body of Ash reaches lvl 14’
‘ding’ ‘Body of Ash reaches lvl 15’
‘ding’ ‘Ashen Warrior reaches lvl 10’
Ilea lay there smiling at the man in front of her and was overwhelmed by the amount of levels and skill advancements she had received. ‘He was only a hundred levels higher...I remember getting much less for the centurion I killed together with Agor...’ her body continued to heal as more and more of the ice on her cracked. As soon as her throat and lungs returned to their former glory she started laughing. A loud and hearty laugh. The rogue behind her was still stabbing the lifeless remains of the elf while the warrior on the ground just smiled below his helmet. Both of them were wearing pitch black armor with wisps of shadow moving on it from time to time.
Ilea couldn’t stop laughing and remembering these people’s name didn’t help in that endeavor. “Sha….haahahahaha..shadow’s...hahahah hand...” her stomach hurt as she turned on her perception of pain again, finishing the process of healing. The mage had landed in the meantime and calmed down the rogue. He too was wearing black armor but with an additional mantle on top.
Ilea slowly calmed down and crawled to the warrior while still chuckling. Her healing mana flowed through him but Ilea couldn’t even feel his legs anymore. She calmed down finally and felt immensely tired suddenly. Completely serious again she looked down on him. “I have to take off your legs before healing them. How’s your pain resistance?”
“High enough. I’m no masochist but welcome a necessary way to level it higher. Go on then.” Ilea removed the man’s helmet, revealing an unremarkable man in his thirties, scars all over his face. She then summoned a dagger and put its handle into the man’s mouth. He bit down and closed his eyes. She couldn’t care less about them knowing about her storage necklace, she was too tired. She punched on the ice around his legs and ripped away some of the armor pieces. Silently she stood up and summoned a great sword.
Her buffs activated and she cut down on the man’s legs, slightly above where they had been frozen. He screamed as blood started to flow. Ilea knelt down and quickly stopped the bleeding on both legs. The rogue had calmed down and looked on with the mage as she did her healing.
Ilea saw that above the house next to them someone else had appeared and looked on in silence. The warrior’s legs slowly rebuilt as he screamed and screamed until the mage lifted his hand. A quick burst of mana impacted the warrior’s head and knocked him out. Ilea meditated while healing and twenty minutes later his legs were good as new. It took longer to heal someone else’s limbs than her own she found.
She sat down on her ass and looked upwards. “Is he dead?” the rogue asked but the mage shook his head. “No, she saved him and us a lot of time to find a healer.” he said.
Ilea saw the rogue was level 203. The three others were too high for her to see. “It’s you who saved me.” she said quietly, looking at the elf’s remains.
“You have gained much more experience than we have. So the damage dealt by you in the prior fight must have been substantial. Do not undersell yourself child.” the mage said. Instead of a helmet he wore a strange mask. Ilea found she couldn’t see below with her sphere.
“Child...” she said the word out loud. “..in some ways I guess I am. Let’s leave then, I know a place that might be a little safer. It’s somewhere in the city, maybe we’ll find survivors there.” Ilea said and got up. She was too tired to notice no objections came from the others. Not even when she simply grabbed the unconscious warrior and walked onwards to the sewer entrance she had remembered taking with Lily.
The shadow’s hand followed her quietly as if it were the most normal thing in the world until they came up on the stairs to the sewers. Ilea didn’t notice anything weird and simply walked in. “Can one of you find people down here? I can only spot them when I’m close.” Ilea asked and the mage motioned to the rogue.
The small woman took the lead and the group walked on until fifteen minutes later the rogue stopped in front of a wall. “Teleportation?” Ilea asked and looked at the mage whom she assumed to be the leader of the squad.
“Only me and her.” he said to which Ilea used her right fist to smash through the stone wall. One punch was enough to make a big enough hole for them to move through and the group went on. The mage took the lead then and Ilea let him, their reputation would help smite any misunderstandings should they actually find someone.
“Next room, six people. They’re nervous. Two mages I think.” Ilea said and the mage nodded before entering. The others followed and saw how he deflected an arrow and an ice projectile before taking a rock spike directly to the chest.
“Stop attacking!” someone shouted and no more projectiles followed. Whispers of “Shadow’s hand.” went through the room as the group advanced.
Ilea talked to one of the men before the mage introduced their group. “Is Roland alive?” she asked and the man just looked at her confused. “Roland, berserker uses two axes.” the man finally opened his eyes wide.
“Yes...yes he’s here, not on shift. You know him?”
“He’s the reason I’m here. I’m a friend, he’s behind?” she asked and the man nodded.
“Yes but we have to check you first let me...” she had already blinked behind and looked around the room. There were nearly forty people in the small space and it reeked. ‘Shit piss and blood.’ she thought and spat on the ground.
“Roland where are you, it’s Ilea.” she said into the room, only some coughs and frightened shouts at her sudden appearance were the answer.
“Dad it’s her! It’s Ilea!” a bundle of clothes suddenly ran out of a corner, waking up the two people next to her.
“Lily...” Ilea said and smiled the brightest smile she had shown since the Praetorian encounter. ‘It wasn’t for nothing...’ she thought and knelt down to embrace the girl.
“Ilea you’re suffocating me...” the girl said after a couple seconds and Ilea let her go, looking at the dirty face and ragged clothes.
“I’m sorry, it’s just...” tears formed in her eyes and Ilea couldn’t stop herself from crying at the sight of this innocent girl, caught up in this completely ridiculous mess. ‘Elves murdered everyone...how is this even real...what the hell..’ she thought and wiped away the tears.
“Well look at that...can’t blame you for crying at my beautiful sight.” Roland said and smirked at her. His right arm was missing and had been sloppily bandaged. Ilea repressed her urge to punch the man and got up to heal his arm.
“This is going to hurt. I need you to bite on this.” she said, summoning another dagger. His eyes went wide as he looked at the weapon.
“Ilea when did you get a..a.aaAAAHHHHH” she stopped again and shoved the weapon in his mouth.
“I said this is going to hurt. Bite down.” he listened this time and bit down until the arm was as good as new. It went a little better than healing the warrior. Maybe it had to do with his higher level or the sheer mass of the guys legs.
“Ilea how did you find us and why are you here? What happened...where did you?” she stopped him and made the dagger vanish again before making him follow.
“We need to talk, alone.” her icy eyes met his and he nodded.
“Lily we’ll be back soon, wait here.” Roland said to the girl who didn’t look like she planned on listening.
“Lily, please round up all the injured people and I’ll heal them after. Can you do that?” Ilea asked seriously and the girl nodded, a new purpose filling her eyes.
The two walked silently out of the room where they found the guards talking to the mage. The rogue tried to wake up the warrior while the ranger stood silently in a corner.
“The shadow’s hand...what are they? Don’t tell me you joined them..with that armor and all...what’s your level by the way, I can’t see it anymore..not that that surprises me.” Roland asked on but Ilea went into the only empty corner in the room and turned to face him.
“No I did not join them. I went to Dawntree and joined an expedition, many died. I got some gear and a storage necklace out of it. The elves attacked outside of Dawntree so I rushed here in the hopes to find you. Roland I’m sorry.” she finished and Ilea looked on as he processed all she’d said until with the last bit his eyes lost their life.
He lightly punched her chest as his lips quivered a little. “None…?” he asked and she shook her head lightly. The man’s shoulders sank as Ilea removed her helmet and hugged him. Her wings sprouted and wrapped around Roland as he mourned the loss of his family.
Some of her own tears joined his as they stood there. The shadow’s hand ignored them completely and the survivors who looked at her looked away quite quickly again seeing her stare.
Five minutes later the man had calmed down a little and Ilea helped him sit down and lean on the wall. “Mage.” the man looked at her. “I assume the breach has been closed already?” he nodded and just then one of the survivors returned, a level 80 mage.
“Ranger. Can you look after him?” she looked at the person shrouded in shadows and received a light nod in return. With her sphere she could make out that it was a woman. Likely all members of this group have experienced loss and that one was a quiet one. Ilea liked the woman immediately when she had landed on the house next to the group.
“Roland, I’ll be back soon with Lily. We will talk about the next steps then.” she just said it to him knowing he didn’t hear her at all. Should he recover the ranger would at least know his daughter’s name.
Ilea saw behind her how the ranger knelt down next to Roland and removed a flask from her pack. “Mage, what’s your name?” Ilea asked the man. The guards literally recoiled at her questions while the mage didn’t react.
“In our order it is considered offensive to ask for names, they are offered. Mage is perfectly fine but you may address me as Sulivhaan if you must.” he said.
“Sulivhaan then. The injured are being woken up as we speak. I’ll heal them after. Why did you come to this city?” she asked and the surviving adventurers were looking at each other as if they were seeing their first eclipse happening.
Ilea blinked to the room before the one they were standing in and the mage appeared nearly immediately after. “Be careful, though it is a small amount of mana there are many who can detect it.” he said but didn’t seem to be scolding her.
“Our purpose here is with the order. So it shall stay. Yet I feel you are not inquiring about the depths of our plans.” he waited for her to nod. “Good, it is never good to assume, though one may be right nearly at all times.” he said but Ilea didn’t feel like the statement was arrogant, he was merely stating a fact.
“We are here to investigate the elves and their recent movements. To kill ones who are acting alone or in small groups. The one you were fighting was especially dangerous. You would have died if we hadn’t intervened.” he finished.
“Yes I would have.” she said yet there was no feeling of gratefulness, only a dull acceptance of the fact.
“What do you know of the elf then and how did you start to fight?” the mage asked.
“I came from Dawntree, the city is under siege. I don’t know how many of them are there but at least three followed me initially. They fought each other for the right to hunt me...at least that’s what I assume. I then came to Salia in the hopes to find someone. I found their house and burned it down when the elf appeared. I don’t think he tracked me, more that he came to the closest city in the hopes of finding me.”
“Dawntree is new but it was to be expected. They won’t break through without heavy losses so we shall focus on other places. Salia is lost though and so are at least Venea, Wolf Fort and Stormbreach. Though many were luckily saved by a quick intervention.” Sulivhaan said.
“Do you know about Riverwatch?” Ilea asked the man.
“As far as I know no attack has happened there but my information is a couple days old at best.”
‘Will go there then after we’re done here.’ She thought and stayed silent.
“Do you have information on the elves’ abilities?” the man asked and Ilea mentioned all the spells she had seen either shot at Dawntree before she left or afterwards at her or between the elves.
“That will help a little. What will you do then? I cannot deny that your assistance and previous fight with the elf helped us achieve victory without casualties. The levels gained by the others are thanks to you. Otherwise we would’ve lost promising recruits again.”
“Recruits? They’re over level 200.” Ilea said
“The order only accepts recruits at level 200. If you wished to join though I’d be able to give in a recommendation. It would be an honor to have a warrior like yourself in our order.” he said.
“I’ll think about it. Didn’t really plan to join any cults today though. Where were you stationed again?”
“Ravenhall.” came the short answer.
“Ravenhall, of course...my first reaction is a joke about how edgy that is but with all those people dying...it just doesn’t seem funny anymore...” she said in a quiet tone.
“Interesting. Are you perhaps from a distant land?” the man asked and Ilea locked eyes with him.
“Yes...and children stories warned us from sharing too much with dark mages shrouded in shadows. Not that I keep anything to myself.” she shrugged.
“Yet I am no dark mage, merely interested in geography. Though perhaps you are from a different realm altogether, there our librarian would certainly be interested. Another reason for you to visit at least.”
“Again, I’ll visit. Why do you care so much anyway? And why did you chose to follow me here, it could’ve been a trap.” she asked.
“You do not seem to be yourself at the moment or perhaps this is truly who you are? There was no reason for you to intervene. Of course you had been fighting before but I had expected you to run away after we showed up, yet you did not. You used your storage device in front of us so casually it seemed not foolish yet curious to me. Those are the reasons we have followed you here. You gave us your trust as a courtesy, the reasons for which do not matter. It is a gesture seldom rewarded and I am glad I did so today.”
The man then sighed. “To answer your first question...I see something in you. Something that many young ones have. Most of them do not reach the level of power you already have and perish long before. Too many like me….” he suddenly stopped “I have said too much already but I will explain shall you chose to visit. Do not give up.”
Ilea was confused when the man walked back to the others and stood there for a minute. ‘Another realm? So there’s someone interested in that. I’m not sure what he meant but maybe there’s someone there who knows why I’m here…another place to visit then. What did he mean by not giving up?’ she shrugged and walked back to heal the injured. On her way she saw that Roland had regained some of his color and was talking to...well at the ranger. She nodded sometimes but stayed silent.
Only around ten people had injuries that hadn’t healed on their own in the time they had been down there and Ilea quickly and quietly took care of them, ignoring all questions and thanks. “What’s your level Ilea?” Lily asked when she was done.
“I’m 197 dear.” she said and rubbed the girl’s head “Don’t ask people that though, they can get angry sometimes.”
“Why?” came the inevitable question.
“Because it gives people a certain power over you if they know your level. And people want to take advantage of you Lily. Not all of them, but many.” she smiled and thought of Alice and Edwin.
“So I should never tell them?” Lily asked.
“That you will have to decide for yourself.”
“You just told me...but maybe that was a mistake.” the girl looked at her mischievously. Ilea was glad the girl had a nice moment like that. The inevitable tragic would come sooner or later. It was not her place to share it with her though, that was Roland’s alone.
“Maybe it was little one. Maybe it was. Not the first time I made mistakes.” The girl nodded attentively before Ilea walked back to Sulivhaan, Lily did follow her this time and hid behind her looking at the mage.
“Ilea he’s scary.”
“Then you better not tell him his level and prepare your weapon...do you have it still?” Ilea asked.
Suddenly a black dagger appeared from below the girl’s clothes, angled at the mage. A moment later the girl hid behind Ilea again.
“You have to chose your opponents wisely, sometimes retreat or diplomacy is the way to victory or survival.” the mage supplied unexpectedly. Ilea felt like the man was smiling behind his mask but she couldn’t be sure.
“OH, I never thanked you Ilea! Thank you for the dagger, I LOVE it!!”
“It’s alright it’s alright. I’m glad you like the weapon. Don’t forget to thank the man for his counsel, did you listen to what he said?” Ilea asked while smirking.
“Yes, one has to chose one’s opponents wisely. And sometimes running away is better.”
“Smart one that one.” one of the survivors commented.
“What have you planned for the people here Sulivhaan?” Ilea asked then, turning the conversation towards a more serious topic again.
“They are their own masters.” was his simple reply.
‘So he does not intend to help them or care for them.’ Ilea thought and nodded.
“What about you then?” she asked.
“There are many possibilities. Though as you mentioned there were three elves following you...” she smiled at that and nodded.
“I’ll play bait. As long as you let me play a little before you intervene.” she said, her smile widening.
“You could die child. You will if you do not take this seriously. And do not let your thoughts of vengeance get in your way.” the man told her.
“Let me worry about my own life old man.” she said and walked to Roland, the smile leaving her eyes. ‘If I die I die.’ she though ‘Maybe I can take one or two of the fuckers with me.’