Chapter 115 Tournament
“So I presume you’ve all read through the tactics sheets.” Claire asked into the group. Eve looked like she hadn’t slept for the past week, Trian looked like a whole group of stylists had worked on his perfect look and Kyrian was avoiding Ilea’s looks though more out of embarrassment than anything else. Ilea looked at the others and back to Claire, freezing as the woman stared into her eyes.
“Hey don’t look at me like that, I’m sure the others haven’t read it either… Claire it was fifty pages of boring formations…” not only Kyrian was avoiding her gaze at that point, abandoned by her friends as if she had never existed.
“Well that’s what I expected. As soon as there are no direct monsters or money involved you slack. Well that’s why we met so early. We’re gonna go through it all together. I hope you have your notebooks with you.” Claire said as Ilea sighed, looking up at the fake sun in Eregar’s Haven.
‘Save me Helios...’ her eyes teared up as she looked into the light.
The next nine hours were not the most fun Ilea had ever had but she did see the necessity and after so much lounging around it wasn’t hard to concentrate for a while either. Eve got more and more enthusiastic as the day went on, not a hard thing to do with her starting level of a literal zombie. Well not literal but close to. It made the whole thing a little more enjoyable and Ilea at least showed some initiative just for her team mates.
Kyrian became more comfortable again as the day went on as well. At one point after the session he even came up to her to apologize for not showing up and for his behavior. He needed some time to think about things and she didn’t fault him, likely a lot of things swirling around in his head, her things being two of them.
“The tournament starts tomorrow so you better sleep enough beforehand and be prepared. This is our ticket to better missions so it should be in everyone’s interest. Don’t disappoint me.” Claire had said at the end of her nine hour monologue, a truly impressive feat. Ilea was surprised she hadn’t gotten a Speech Resistance but when weren’t charisma based characters overpowered?
Kyrian visited her that night though only to share her bed to sleep. She was quite fine with it and enjoyed talking to the man, feeling closer to him than anybody else she had met so far in Elos. Roland was nice but he did have a family waiting for him. Kyrian just somehow felt as out of place as Ilea knew she was. She was pretty sure about her theory of him imprisoned in a mine for most of his life. The two slept rather late, a little excited about the coming days. They would come face to face with high level teams that had worked together for decades if not longer. Ilea wasn’t quite as convinced as Claire when it came to their success but they certainly wouldn’t fail for a lack of trying.
Ilea woke up an hour after she fell asleep, silently getting out of bed before she blinked down onto her balcony, summoning Aki and a cup of hot coffee. Her necklace really was a blessing. “Good morning.”
“Morning. How long did you sleep?” the dagger asked as she put the sheath onto her leather armor.
“Not longer than two hours I think.”
“That can’t be healthy.” Aki commented but both of them knew the woman didn’t need more. At least until she would fall into a coma for a decade. So far it had worked out and she didn’t feel tired.
“You mean like a thousand year meditation session mr blade?” Ilea asked, watching the sun rise as she sipped her coffee. It was tea really but at this point the taste was close enough to what she remembered from earth that it hardly made a difference.
“I like the house I must say...” the dagger said, likely enjoying the view as much as she did, if not more considering the past hundreds of years of his existence.
“You think we’re gonna get far in the tournament?”
“Not really. You all are impulsive, undisciplined. You and sparky are the only ones who can take more than just a little beating so it will likely be you two standing as the last ones and as much as you have grown, I doubt you can stand against five people at your level.”
Ilea was quiet for a while, enjoying the icy breeze flowing through her hair. “You watch me.” she said after a while.
Kyrian woke to a bountiful breakfast waiting for him in the dining room. Ilea had been eating and reading for the past two hours until he got up. Aki was lying next to her with an opened book next to him. He was helping with getting through the collection of books they had found with Albert, the barrier mage inexplicably obsessed with teleporting and the nature of existence. At least if you judged the man on his choice of literature.
‘Does that make me the same?’ Ilea though as she rubbed her eyes, looking up at Kyrian starting to eat opposite her.
“What do you think of levels and skills, the way we get stronger through killing and training?” she asked, sitting back and sipping another coffeetea.
He looked up and then down again, putting together a sandwich Ilea was less than intrigued by. “It is how it is. Questioning it will likely only lead to madness.”
“Yea, some of those people at least sound mad...” Ilea said, making the books on the table vanish.
“Is that an heirloom or something by the way?” Kyrian asked, nodding towards Aki.
“Yes, my great grandfather gifted it to my great grandmother. She thought it was so pathetic it’s become a bit of a gag to gift it to the least favorite child.”
He looked at her, then at the blade and then started eating the abomination he had created. “I’m not sure what to believe anymore from you Ilea...”
“So you’re learning, good.” she said and chuckled ‘Better than me at least...’ she thought. At least she was virtually indestructible at this point so any slip-ups caused by her trusting nature would be smoothed out by her recovery and resilience. As long as nobody else was drawn into it.
The two left another hour later, flying over the snowy mountains near Ravenhall. The sky was clear that day and they reached a city in celebration. ‘This might be a bit much...’ Ilea thought as she saw the masses of people packed in the streets. Compared to an ordinary busy day in a big city, this felt more like a tourist trap.
“Let’s get to Viscera as soon as possible...” she said to her companion flying next to her. The tournament would start on midday, which meant they had quite a bit of time left. Sadly Viscera was in a similar state as the city outside. Apparently they had let in more than the usual amount of peddlers. Additionally the people Ilea saw with a level over two hundred was higher than at any previous point in time.
The two made their way down to Eregar’s Haven where the tournament would be held and where they would meet up with the team. Even here there were more people than ever before. ‘Out of what holes have all these high level people crawled out of?...’ Ilea wondered as she saw the massive fields prepared for fights, ready with barriers and cover, elemental resources and stands for people to watch.
Of course only full members of the Hand were allowed down in the Haven but considering they were team 34 it was only logical to assume there to be at least close to two hundred people at their level. With the destruction someone like Trian could lay down, a considerably big arena was only to be expected. ‘It’s gonna be hard to close in on people with that much space...’ she thought as the elevator came to a stop at the base of the Haven.
“Quite busy...” Kyrian commented and stepped off the platform, starting to fly towards their destination.
“Yes it is...” Ilea said, her wings spreading before she followed him. If anything she hadn’t seen so many people fly in one place until today.
Eve was surprisingly not the last one to arrive. Considering how much she had anticipated the tournament it wasn’t much of a surprise. Still Ilea hadn’t expected it. Claire was already half an hour into her explanations, planning and going through profiles of people they might face. It really was a waste of time. There were too many unknowns and the match ups wouldn’t be announced until the first one started.
Ilea leveled her metaphorical speech resistance another two levels until finally they made their way towards the main stage of the tournament. A massive structure of stone and metal, certainly a showing of power from the Hand. Questionable since everyone here was already part of the organization but perhaps they wanted to retain the members.
Their group made their way to a couple seats on the side and back of the seating space as Ilea checked out the people around them. A lot of them were showing off some strange looking armor, trinkets and even auras and spells casually floating around them. She didn’t quite get the whole thing, the tournament seemingly a bigger thing to the members than she had expected.
‘Can’t wait to trash some of those snobby looking faces...’ she thought and smiled before she sat down. In the next couple minutes the crowd settled down and found their seats. There were five seats on the stage, two of them empty. One of them occupied the man who had evaluated Ilea when she had joined. Not William. The name didn’t come to her mind at the moment. The other two seats were occupied by a man and a woman, neither of which Ilea had seen before.
The woman got up as soon as the last of the members found their seats, walking to the lectern.
“Hello. Elder Strand will now speak to you.” she said and went back to her chair, sitting down to a rustling of whispers. Ilea made out more than just a single conversation around her. The woman was an elder as well. The name Quil fell a couple times, apparently it was quite a spectacle to see her.
‘Not one for words then...’ she thought and was a little confused as to why the woman had spoke at all. The man who had helped evaluate her got up and continued where the woman had left off.
“Thank you elder Quil. It is an honor to talk to all of you on this day. Many of you I have evaluated myself over the years. To see you form experienced teams ready for every challenge makes me proud to be a member of this Guild. Let’s not pretend that you are here for sentimental speeches and start this. First fight will be team six versus team nine. Good luck, to all of you.” the man finished and walked back to his seat.
The last man still sitting on his chair looked a little confused at elder Strand but focused quickly and got up as well.
“Welcome, members of the Hand. To this prestigious tournament...” this last elder definitely didn’t quite share the same antipathy for long speeches as the others. Ilea zoned out after the first couple sentences, unsure if anybody else was even listening anymore.
“He’s not like the others...” Kyrian commented from the side in a whisper. Other people were talking as well, obviously not listening to the man still talking twenty minutes later.
“Why make this political?” Kyrian continued, seemingly genuinely interested.
“Because that’s what he is. That man might be dangerous for this whole organization. The other elders don’t seem to care, two of them didn’t even bother to show up…” Trian commented.
“Why dangerous?” Kyrian asked but the elder finally came to an end, motioning to the first arena next to the assembly of people. Most of them got up and flew or teleported to the seats on the other side. Twelve people remained on the soon to be battlefield, the two teams mentioned by Strand. Ilea checked them all out but other than their levels being above two hundred, they didn’t look much different from any adventurers she had seen before.
None of them were wearing anything black so she had reason to believe they weren’t using their best gear at least. People weren’t supposed to die in this tournament after all. Some people were actually selling food out of their storage items, something Ilea didn’t quite thought possible. ‘Guess there are merchant opportunists even here… among the elite...’ she smiled and mused if they had more gold than even her. ‘They must have… if you even use this to sell things...’
A loud explosion and fireworks above the arena signaled the start of the fight. Immediately different elements were thrown at each other and people started vanishing and reappearing. The fight reminded Ilea of their training sessions, similar abilities and tactics being used in the fight. She did have to admit after five minutes that the teamwork was something else. Ilea’s team would need quite a while to reach that level of understanding with each other.
She sat back and enjoyed the show, even buying some food from the people selling, their eyes lighting up at another customer. ‘Yea I doubt we can beat them if it’s not about killing...’ she thought after a while, at least about the two teams currently engaged. A sudden feeling of wrongness spread through her body as she dropped the snacks in her hands, standing up and activating her buffs.
Many of the people around her had similar reactions as she felt the mana flare throughout many of them. “What is this..” Trian asked to nobody in particular, sparks forming around him.
“Something’s coming...” a mage said.
“Eve are you alright?” Ilea asked, using her healing to soothe the obvious headache plaguing her friend. The woman just looked up at her with fearful eyes.
“We have to...we have to get away...” she uttered when runes lit up all around the area and beyond.
“I knew those were a bad sign...” Claire said “Come we need to...” people were talking over each other until a voice of authority broke through. Ilea looked towards the female elder who had spoken but a few words at the start of the tournament.
“Everyone, destroy those runes!” she said in a calm voice, two black axes appearing in her hands before she vanished, appearing next to a circle of runes on the field, smashing the ground with both of them. An explosion rattled through the runes, making the gathered magic vanish. People picked up quickly but the circles were too numerous.
“What are those?!” Ilea asked as she too appeared next to a circle and smashed into the ground. People on the stands had started fighting each other as well which made her even more confused. She certainly wasn’t the only one looking around in confusion but one thing she knew, the runes had to be destroyed.
She appeared in front of the next circle, in it a creature had started forming, still only halfway to something recognizable. ‘They’re summoning something...’ she thought, destroying the runes below. The creature didn’t vanish but instead a tentacle like limb shot out at her, Ilea dodging to the right in the last moment. The arm moved around at her, making her dodge again, this time backwards.
‘What the hell...’ she thought, the sound of fighting and magics appearing all around her, joined by screams and growls. Blinking backwards to avoid another attack from the abomination before her that slowly shuffled forwards on its tentacle like limbs below the mass of flesh and eyes that formed its body.
[Demon – lvl 192]
‘That explains it… why here though...’ she thought, trying to find her team in the mess of fighting. An explosion ripped into the earth next to her, making her lift her arm to block. The juggernaut armor appeared around her as a veil of ash came into existence. A tentacle impacted her chest but Ilea stood her ground, grabbing the limb and pumping destructive mana into it.
‘ding’ ‘You have been poisoned by Demonic Essence -25 hp/s -25 mana/s for the next five minutes’
‘Aw fuck.. of course it’s poisonous… or was it venomous?’ she thought and appeared next to the demon, truly a disgusting looking thing. A punch of her sent the creature skidding before it caught itself with its tentacles. Ilea jumped backwards, her wings spreading when another monster impacted the ground where she had stood, earth exploding outwards. This one was more shaped like a humanoid, other than its right arm with looked more like a massive bone mace. Flying up, Ilea noticed that there were more and more of the demons coming from magical circles around the Haven.
Explosions rattled through the area as she tried to find her team but there was too much going on for her to notice any of them. More than six shields similar to Claire’s could be seen as she quickly ascended. ‘Ah great...’ she thought as a flying demon came up to her from the side. Ilea dodged the teeth that basically formed the creature’s whole head and held onto its wings, flying back towards the ground with the monster held in front of her. It tried to get to her with its spiked limbs but only managed to scratch at her armor, its tries ended when all of Ilea’s speed and weight smashed its light body into the ground.
‘No time to rest...’ she thought as a two meter tall demon looking like a bull with fins and an exposed rib cage ran up to her.