Chapter 106 Cleanup Crew
The team watched on as Ilea threw around corpses of animals and humans before she got something out of the pile. A shivering human, its eyes locking with Ilea’s under her black helmet. The woman removed it to not scare the child any further. No status showed when she identified the kid and she moved her hand get the hair out of its face.
“They must’ve not smelled it under there.” Eve commented.
“She, it’s a she.” Ilea said as Trian walked up to them with a flask of water and cloth he used to wordlessly clean the child’s face from the blood and grime. Ilea thought her to be around six or seven years old, black hair and black eyes.
“Can you make her sleep?” Ilea asked to nobody in particular. Eve walked up to them and started humming a slow and quiet tune, making the girl sleep in less than fifteen seconds.
“We should’ve at least tried to ask some questions.” Trian said.
“You insensitive asshole.” Eve said and punched the man. He let the punch hit and looked at the woman afterwards.
“I’m quite aware of her mental state. But our survival is more important than this random child we found. Perhaps some of what she could’ve shared would...” Ilea interrupted the two.
“Shut the hell up, she’s sleeping.” she said with an icy tone before walking upstairs and out of the building, bringing the girl to one of the nearby houses and putting her in one of the beds before tucking her in. “We’ll be back.” she said and blinked back to the others. The whole thing had taken her less than three minutes and the others were still waiting for her, now in silence.
“Let’s go.” Ilea simply said and continued further down into the underground complex. The room where Eve’s first clone had vanished was now empty, with a staircase leading further down. Ilea walked a couple meters in front of the others in case of traps. Sure enough she saw spikes and hidden crossbows in the walls of the staircase. She simply punched into the stone with her bare hands to rip out the weapons, tossing them to the ground, not stopping in the process.
At last they came into a round hall with runes pained in blood on the ground. There were corpses here as well, one of them being worked on in that moment. A pale man in his thirties turned around to look at Ilea, his eyes blood red and his body cut in dozens of places.
“Aaaaaah, more have arrived. Come in come in, you are ready for the feast. All my children, come and join your father!” he said, in a completely normal tone which to Ilea was somehow even more unnerving.
[Mage – lvl 202]
‘See, that’s why I didn’t chose the weird cult class...’ she thought and looked at the man.
“You will die.” she said and prepared to blink towards him. Blood swirled around him but fell down to the ground a moment later. Ilea looked on confused when Eve’s head poked out from behind the man. A dagger was stabbed deep into his neck. He convulsed and closed and opened his mouth as blood came out of it. Eve got another dagger and held the man’s head. Black veins formed around the first dagger’s wound as he tried to reach her with his arms. The blood on the ground slowly levitated again when Eve stabbed him with the second dagger, one, two and three times. His blood joined the pool on the ground as with a last stab and cut his head came loose. His body hit the ground when Eve tossed the head to the side, bending down to collect her second dagger. Her eyes quickly locked with Ilea’s when she looked up.
‘ding’ ‘Your group has defeated [John Gilligan – Follower of Blood lvl 202 / Beast Summoner lvl 192]
Nobody said a word as they spread out in the room to investigate. Claire started painting runes on the ground and walls as Eve walked up to Ilea. “Where’s the girl?” she asked and Ilea looked at her again before telling her which house she had put the girl in. Perhaps Eve was even angrier than her. Ilea hadn’t seen her vanish in the room. She had leveled some of her skills to the second stage just as most of their group had in the past months. One of them allowed her to blend into her surroundings. Not quite invisible but combined with the rest of her skills she was Very hard to make out. That hadn’t exactly worked against the Death Spirits but against the blood mage in this cellar it had worked wonders.
“There’s a hidden shelf here. Claire, wanna check for runes?” Ilea said, looking at the wall before her. The woman stopped her drawing and walked up to her.
“Are you using blood for your runes now?” Ilea asked and Claire checked the wall before checking her pack.
“I’m sure they would’ve liked to be used for that one last time.” she said and activated her magic, the compartment in the wall springing open. Ilea saw the needles flying out and shoved herself between them an Claire, all of it harmlessly blocked by her veil. She picked them up and looked closely.
“Coated in something.” she said and Claire grabbed the needle out of her hand.
“Thank you, but don’t even think about it.” she tossed the needles back to the ground before inspecting the shelf. There was gold in it, three books and some letters. Claire took all of it and handed them out to the group who was now waiting in the middle of the room. “Read through it and then we discuss the contents.” she said and continued to draw runes on the walls and the ground.
Ten minutes later Claire told them to move a floor up and continued to draw there. Now using one of Kyrian’s created spikes to scratch the runes.
“The letters are from two different noble families, both of them from Lys. Apparently they were asking for some experiments to be performed here. Quite a normal practice if I might add, though these were rather gruesome.” he finished and made the letters vanish.
“This book is about rituals for summoning, blood magic generally using corpses and life energy to create some sort of abominations.” Ilea commented on her book while flipping through it. She threw it to Trian who looked through as well and then made it vanish.
“What did you get Kyrian?” Ilea asked, the man still concentrated on reading.
“I think it’s a diary.” he said after a couple seconds.
“You think? Is it a different language or can’t you read?” Trian asked.
“I’m n… not very good at it yet.” he answered which made Trian chuckle a little. Ilea was next to him the next instant as her fully powered fist hit his side, making the noble fly and crash into the wall of the room.
“Don’t worry about it, you’ll get there soon enough. Can I see?” Ilea said to Kyrian, smiling under his helmet as the man looked at the noble now inhabiting the wall before handing her the book.
Trian coughed from the side before peeling himself out of the stone. “Guess I deserved that one. You really have gotten stronger. Want to bout?” he asked, a big grin on his face.
“Later sparky, later.” Ilea said as she started to read out loud.
“Day forty seven. The village elders have finally agreed to the deal. It seems the gold was too tempting to reject. Dorothy even asked if we could do more experiments for more gold. I’m glad that woman is part of the elders. Truly a visionary like myself...”
“Day one hundred and three. I have gained another twelve levels and my skills are skyrocketing. Two of the experiments have been complete successes, I have to push on. Get more people. Maybe the villagers in this small part of the world won’t be missed. Who would care about such a small place anyway… soon enough I’ll be too strong to stop...”
“Too strong to stop, the guy wasn’t even at two hundred.” Ilea commented as she closed the book and handed it to Claire who stopped scratching. “Please read through so we can find out who is responsible. I’m sure you’re the most… thorough of us.” Claire nodded and put the book on the ground, continuing to carve runes.
“Well we don’t know at what level he started. Blood mages, necromancers, witches and similar classes can advance quite quickly when they have enough resources to sacrifice and work on.” Trian explained as he dusted himself off. “What are you even doing Claire?” he asked and looked around the room “Ah, I understand. Well I’ll go out, the stench in here is disgusting. Get me when you’re done.” he said and walked out.
Ilea went to grab the diary again and opened it before walking to Kyrian and grabbing the man on his spiked armor before sitting down on the half destroyed staircase. “Alright, read to me. I’ll explain the words you don’t know.”
“Ilea I don’t think...” the man started but she put a finger on his helmet.
“It’s alright, I just want to help. Tell me if you really feel uncomfortable with it and I’ll stop.” she said and looked at him. The metal and curse mage equipped in full plate armor that was bloodied in parts looked away before focusing on the book before him.
“D...day f… fifty?” Ilea nodded and he continued.
They emerged out of the stone building half an hour later when Claire was done with everything. Ilea led them to the building where Eve and the girl would be waiting and also found Trian inside, sitting in a chair in the corner of the room, his helmet off while Eve was sitting next to the bed. The young girl was still asleep, even snoring rather loudly.
Claire sat down on the table in the living room and started reading the diary, taking notes here and there. Ilea blinked outside and to the roof of the building, removing her helmet and breathing in the cool air. She closed her eyes and thought about what she had seen inside that stone building. It would haunt her for quite some time she was sure. She summoned some of Keyla’s food but found it bland and tasteless, leaving it on the roof next to her.
Trian found her a couple minutes later and teleported next to her. He looked at her and then towards the sky. “You know a bout is usually quite helpful in these situations.” he said and Ilea turned to the side, groaning.
“Leave me alone lightning mage.” she said and looked at the snow covered roof before her.
“So you do have a storage item… I definitely had my suspicions.” her eyes opened up a little wider but she couldn’t bring herself to care too much at him finding out.
“No I don’t.”
“Ilea the food is steaming. As much as you like food I doubt you’re a cook that good.” he grabbed the food and smelled it. “This is amazing. You don’t want it?” he asked and started eating without waiting for even a second.
“It’s poisoned.” Ilea said.
“No it’s not. I wondered why you only had that small pack with you when I assumed you would need three times that in food. I get that you kept it hidden though. Now that I know there’s really no reason for the others not to know either.” Ilea didn’t comment on any of that.
‘So he does deem himself the least trustworthy, or he at least knows that I trust him the least.’ she sighed and turned towards the man. “Alright, let’s have that bout but be warned, I’m angry.”
He kept quiet and continued to eat her food before he threw the empty bowl down into the woods. His helmet appeared and lightning wings spread while red sparks crackled around him. “What makes you think I’m not?”
The wall of ash was burst through by a strike of red lightning as Ilea blinked towards the man who quickly teleported away. Her fist broke through the tree that had been standing behind the man as a flash of lightning advanced on her. Another blink and she was gone again, creating and spreading ash around as best as she could. Without a limitation to their training ground the mage simply ran further away to not be caught in the mist of black.
Ilea was definitely much faster and hit harder than before. He knew that as well and was on the defensive through most of the bout. Some attacks still connected but Ilea definitely found it simpler to catch the elusive man. He would try to teleport away earlier, relying on his movement much more than his attacks. Trian focused on his draining spells more than his lightning ones but Ilea had improved too much for him to completely evade her as would’ve been possible before her class evolution.
She appeared at the same time as him and grabbed his arm, signaling the end of the bout which at this point was more a game of catch than anything. His lightning cursed through her as she smashed her other fist into his chest, distributing destructive mana into the man. Her punch was about as effective as it had been before, simply because of his added enchanted armor that she had only faced at the earlier training session the same day, which had been more about team fighting than one versus one.
She didn’t stop and her self healing combined with defense would overwhelm the man in time so he lifted his arms and stopped his attacks. Ilea calmed down and threw the man at the next best tree, which he hit hard.
“That actually was helpful, thanks.” she said as he got up and dusted himself off.
“You’re quite a bit stronger. Good fight.” he said and she nodded, walking back to the village with him joining her side. They had fought for around twenty minutes but a big chunk of the forest was showing small fires and destroyed trees. Ash was covering big parts of the ground, interspersed with snow. Ilea was surprised the man could hold on for so long. ‘If it weren’t for my defense against his draining and lightning...’
“Those hits would have broken my rib cage without the armor. Did you get a Strength enhancement?”
“One of my body enhancement skills now also enhances Strength.” Ilea explained and he nodded.
“Figured. So you can use those gauntlets now?”
Ilea summoned them and lifted them up slowly. “Yes, but I’m much slower with the weight.” Trian looked towards her and kept walking. They were silent until they reached the village again and entered the house. Kyrian was sitting on the ground in the living room with closed eyes. Claire had a bunch of notes on some paper next to the diary, already nearly done with the whole book. Granted it wasn’t huge but Ilea was a much slower reader, even with her enhanced senses.
“She’s awake.” Ilea noticed and looked at the closed door of the room Eve was in with the girl. The two were talking but Ilea decided not to listen too closely. With her skills she could’ve made out the conversation through the wooden door. She sat down on the ground next to Kyrian and summoned two of Keyla’s meals, handing one of them to the man next to her.
“You…?” he said but then just nodded and took the bowl. Claire looked towards them and smiled but continued to scribble on her notes. None of them were wearing their helmets, something Ilea quite enjoyed. The team of Sulivhaan had never taken theirs off but perhaps that was simply because Ilea had been there. She didn’t know how they interacted when nobody was around.
“I was wondering.” she started. “The guy Eve murdered. I didn’t get a single level up even though he was as high as me. Granted his second class wasn’t at two hundred yet...”
“It slows down a lot after two hundred. You ever fought any elves?” Trian asked and smiled when she nodded. “Well didn’t you ever wonder how they weren’t a much higher level than what they are?”
“I don’t think those are the strongest elves out there.” she answered.
“Oh I’m sure they’re not, as are we not the strongest humans. Still with decades ahead wouldn’t you think they’d be much higher compared to you for example? You’re what? Twenty? Thirty?” Trian commented as he leaned on a nearby wall.
“Don’t assume a woman’s age.” she said but found herself agreeing with the man. ‘So it just slows down a lot after two hundred. Weird.” she thought but continued eating, satisfied with the explanation. The village house was dark and cold, only a small flame burned over some runes Claire had placed on the table to make reading a simpler task. She stopped writing and sat back in the chair around ten minutes later, her armored skirt producing a metallic rustling at the movement.
Eve joined them a moment later, closing the door quietly behind her.
“How is she?” Kyrian asked and Eve made a wavy motion with her hand.
“As well as she could be considering the circumstances. Claire how does it look?” Eve looked towards the woman with cold eyes.
“It looks like we will have more than just money to collect in that village.”