Chapter 120 Diamonds in the sky
The ranged attacks slowly showed their effect as the monster’s wounds closed slower, more and more burned flesh remaining as it was but the dog certainly wasn’t out of tricks. With a sudden and faster than expected movement, no doubt helped by magic or a skill, the beast turned around, doing a barrel roll with its whole mass. Ilea blinked away as far as she could but was still caught in the cascade of flesh and bone, the impact flinging her downwards and into the salt ground before the mass of the beast followed, its immediate impact preventing her from blinking away.
Teeth and tentacles tried to grind down her defenses as she screamed and punched back, the mana leaving her body before it burned into the monster’s flesh. Her defenses were breached and the impacts rocked through her, the juggernaut armor the only thing preventing her death. Summoning her bladed weapons, she cut through several tentacles and crouched down before she blinked out of her predicament, the skill working again after the beast’s assault was interrupted and she wasn’t in direct contact anymore.
‘Damn that was close...’ she thought, inspecting the blunt damage she had received from the attacks. Were it not for her armor, she wasn’t sure about her survival with that one. ‘That’s what it’s there for though...’ she grinned and punched her armored chest, the veil of ash appearing around her again, healing mana flowing through her. The monster slowly crept upwards and out of the crater it had created with its skill, moving towards Ilea with a frenzy. She didn’t blink away and instead answered with a hard punch of her own, their momentum adding together to shred both the beast’s flesh and Ilea’s arm and shoulder.
The damage healed quickly as the beast continued to push against the woman with its full weight, spikes of bone and sharpened limbs pushed against her defenses as she hit back with all she had. The tactic worked and would kill the beast in time as both the somewhat friendly demon and Trian were bombarding it from a distance, their full attention focused on dealing more damage to their foe.
Ilea’s heels pushed into the salt ground, pressured by the unrelenting attacks. She blinked away right before her veil was broken through again and calmed down, the beast slowing down its assault, not following her immediately but instead breathing hard as it locked eyes with the woman, still standing after all of its attacks. Ilea just smiled below her helmet, every second the monster gave her another second spent with meditation. Every second another strike she would deliver.
Their stare down didn’t last long, Ilea not even sure it counted considering their differing numbers of eyes. Lightning rained from above and into the monster’s exposed back, covered by less and less protective bone. Blood pooled on the ground below, creating a scent of death in the area as Ilea advanced again, tired of waiting. There was no way of telling if the beast had a regenerative ability as well and she didn’t want it to focus on Trian, his healing was substantially worse than her own. Plus it was fun.
Her hit landed right in the somewhat reformed leg of the creature, its body changing to the form of a dog again, although much of its flesh had molten, the transformation hard to watch. Worst of it was the sound as bones moved around inside of the massive monster, increasing Ilea’s wish for its timely demise. The punches continued as more and more of her mana pulsed into the beast, her power near the maximum as she attacked with the highest efficiency, recovering her mana whenever possible with meditation and azarinth reversal, weaving in and out of the monster’s reach and attacks, moving fast and slowing down whenever possible.
It was only a matter of time now until the weakened beast would fall, its attacks coming slower and weaker while Ilea’s increased in both power and quantity. More and more of its flesh was burning, neither of the Hand’s members stopping their attacks for longer than a couple seconds, each alternating in their pauses to stop their foe from resting. Another turning move was executed by the flesh dog, this time much slower and weaker, Ilea simply blinking backwards and in again after it had landed.
Several more minutes of attacking later the monster fell down, the light in its eyes vanishing and a reassuring message popping into Ilea’s mind. The fight was over, her death as close as ever.
‘ding’ ‘Your group has defeated [Abomination of despair – lvl 330]. For defeating an enemy one hundred and twenty levels or more above your, bonus experience is granted.’
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth First Hunter has reached level 211 – 5 Stat points awarded’
‘ding’ ‘Body of Ash reaches 2nd lvl 13’
No further messages appeared, leaving Ilea a little disappointed in the fight and hoping there would be two or three of the dogs next time. Progress was progress and she moved on, dragging the massive corpse of the beast away and checking for any loot that might’ve dropped. It was a scarce thing but with monsters as big as this one there was always hope. A crystal of sorts actually was actually lying next to the corpse and Ilea blinked closer to examine it.
[Mana crystal 50/50 – High Quality]
Storing the thin in her necklace left her at ninety out of her maximum two hundred and fifty carrying capacity. The weapons she still carried were the heaviest even after putting most of them into her new house. She quickly went over the items in her mind, noting the remaining 2350 gold, the Tungsten Key, a bunch of food and many other items. Even after building the house and buying a lot of Keyla’s food her finances were off the charts.
‘Perhaps I should invest in something...’ she thought before she checked through the dozens of other items in her necklace. Truly a marvelous item. ‘Still have those elven corpses...’
“What are you lost in thought for? The demon is slain, rejoice.” Trian said as he landed next to her.
“What are you a priest? Know what a mana crystal is?” she asked the man.
“Found one? They’re pretty rare. Usually rich individuals use them to power unnecessary enchantments. They break after they empty but fetch a nice price.” he finished when the demon horde approached, the mind weaver at the front of it.
“Would you… claim this prize?” the demon asked in their minds.
“The corpse? Do with it what you like.” Ilea said and shrugged towards Trian who nodded back.
“Not a necromancer so these bones are useless to me.” he said. A moment later the demons including the mind weaver fell over the corpse like a starved swarm of piranhas, cutting and slashing through the monstrosity with a fervor Ilea had seldom seen, it did remind her of the time at the shitty fast food place however.
“Aaah burgers.” she said, smiling at the bloodbath before her. ‘Guess it looks like that where they’re made.’ she thought, looking around the area. “We’ll go and check out what that thing was looking for or guarding. Join us when you’re done.” she said towards the demon, feeling an affirmative pulse of his mind magic a moment later. Trian followed as she flew upwards, checking around the area.
‘There’s nothing here...’ she thought, seeing the craters likely created by the monster’s defensive measures against invaders to its territory. Trian moved past her and towards the ground between some of the dents in the salt. “You found something?” she asked and followed, landing next to the man on the hard salt rock.
“There’s something below… see anything with your skill?” Trian said, his voice a little excited.
“What is it? This doesn’t seem like you...” Ilea asked.
“The magical pulse… it’s well… indescribable.” he answered, Ilea rolling her eyes.
‘Nerd...’ she thought, summoning her obsidian gauntlets and lifting them high. A loud boom echoed through the salt plains when her fists landed on the rock, creating cracks while sending big chunks outwards. Ilea continued to pound the ground for ten minutes, Trian standing to the side and ignoring the ridiculousness of the situation when Ilea finally exclaimed loudly with a cheer.
“I can see something!” Trian moved closer immediately, shielding himself from the flying rocks with his hands, some of it striking his helmet and making him flinch.
“What is it? Describe it to me...” he said, moving even closer to Ilea, digging like a madwoman.
“It’s like the start of a diamond, or some other geometrical form… I don’t remember. Can’t look past it sadly...” she finished. A couple minutes later the two stood inside a new crater and looked at the shiny gray metal before them. The exposed side of the structure below.
“This doesn’t look like salt.” Ilea said.
“Or anything those monsters could create… are they still eating?” Trian looked towards the direction of the other group while Ilea inched her hand closer to the metal before the man appeared next to her and grabbed it.
“Don’t touch it.”
“Why? Because YOU want to touch it?” Ilea asked.
“Precisely.” Trian said while removing one of his gauntlets before putting his hand on the metal. Mana flowed inside and his eyes opened wide a second later.
“It’s… responding… is it a creatu” the man was interrupted by a loud cracking noise from below, both Ilea and Trian teleporting upwards and flying even higher as the noise got louder and louder. Cracks upon cracks first only sounded out but soon were visible all around the ground below them. A rhythmic sound soon took over, loud bangs resounding every other second before the salt rock below them fell downwards and into the spinning metal shredder they had apparently unleashed.
“Yea sure, let’s touch it.” Ilea couldn’t help herself, because she would’ve done the exact same thing which in turn would annoy Trian even more. Disappointing her with his response, the man just watched the scene below them with wide eyes. A minute later the spinning stopped and the massive shiny rhombus shaped object floated inside the massive hole it had created. The thing was at least forty meters high and twenty broad.
“Well that was fucking cool.” Ilea said as she started floating towards it.
“Wait don’t go closer!” Trian shouted “Don’t offend it!”
“Offend a fucking geometrical object… what is this? Evangelion?” Ilea asked and got closer before she touched the object as well. Even after pushing some of her mana inside with reversal, the object didn’t move. “I think we’re safe here...” she said and floated downwards, seeing the opening in the metal.
Trian floated downwards a little more hesitant than her but joined the woman right next to the entrance in the shape of a triangle. “Whatever they are they like their shapes...” she said and got inside, landing on the metal floor as her wings dissipated into flakes of ash. She prepared for a response but nothing happened. There was a magical light of sorts casting the corridor before them in a dim orange red light.
Walking onwards, the corridor opened up to the right before going back towards the middle, the two intruders looking around with wide eyes when they reached the open core of the structure. The shell must have been five or more meters thick but most of its size was in the room they were standing in now, the walls purely metal and absolutely covered in runes neither of them had ever seen. Some of them lit up here and then, likely the reason the object didn’t simply fall down.
“What the hell is this...” Trian asked and Ilea didn’t have a good answer to it and she was running low on jokes.
“It’s beautiful...” she said after a while, floating into the open space with the help of her wings. Touching the runes did nothing. “If only Claire was here...” she commented. “Aki anything?”
“Nah, doesn’t ring a bell either.” the dagger responded.
“I’m not the worst at runes either, just don’t have the class for it. Maybe I can figure something out. I think we should stay here for a while and try to learn more about this thing. Otherwise who knows how long we’re stuck in that salt desert again...” Trian suggested and Ilea agreed wholeheartedly.
“Yea, that sounds great. You try to figure something out, I’ll go hunting and exploring a bit.” she said.
“Are you sure? That monster looked to be quite close to killing you...” the man commented, looking at a rune and sketching it down.
“Exactly that’s why I want to go.” Ilea answered and went back to the doorway, flying out and upwards to be greeted by the mind weaver.
“A marvelous find. If only my kind didn’t lack the skills to use it.” the demon said right into her mind.
“So you know how to use it?” Ilea asked. “Then come on down.” she smiled below her helmet, this place was getting dreadfully boring. Caves at least had vegetation and sometimes water in them.
“This rune here is speculated to be drawing energy. This one as well, while these four expel it in some way.” the mind weaver explained to Trian who was intently listening and writing down all he could get out of the demon. Ilea was sitting near the entrance, her armored legs dangling below. She was eating a celebratory meal from Keyla, their find completely warranting the waste of food.
‘I can still eat demons… doubt they’ll compare to even Drakes… ew.’ she thought as she looked at the beautifully crafted meal before her. A combination of sushi and desert. Both spicy and sweet but somehow the woman had made it work. ‘Maybe she just has the skills and whatever shit she dishes together will be delicious...’ the thought was interrupted by the crackling of lightning.
“There was a reaction, definitely.” Trian said, shaking his arm.
“There was but it’s not the right energy of course...” the demon said, its voice shaking in Ilea’s mind.
‘Is it excited or what?’ she thought, continuing her meal.
The two mages continued to try things out and Ilea had to heal Trian occasionally because whatever they did to the runes was apparently quite dangerous, enough perhaps to kill a weaker adventurer even. She absently noted that the mind weaver hadn’t brought its platoon of horrors down into the structure with it. ‘Now’s the time to kill it...’ she thought but only smirked, her helmet put away for easier eating. The demon didn’t seem like much of a threat to her anymore, perhaps it managed to knock out Trian with a surprise attack but even he should be able to resist if he was prepared.
Again she was glad to have leveled all those resistances. Her veil had become a nearly constant partner as well, always at the ready and even activated in unknown places. Hours passed but Ilea didn’t feel like going out just in case something did progress down here. The two mages had gotten continuously more nervous and excited, learning more about the runes with their testing.
“You think that will work?” Trian asked and the demon nearly shook before answering.
“Yes… YES I’m SuRE of IT… TrY!” it had gotten back into shouting a while ago but Trian didn’t seem to mind. Ilea just tanked through it, reading a book from Albert’s collection.
‘I hope the others are fine...’ she thought. ‘The demons would probably be stopped by the Hand but that massive thing in the end.’ She wasn’t sure about it. ‘Though the elder flying into it might’ve actually done it, who knows.’
“Ilea we need you here!” Trian shouted and she made her book vanish, getting up and flying towards the two crazed scholars, neither looking the part. “Hug on tight and heal me, can you shroud us in ash or something?” the man asked and Ilea went behind him, their armors touching as she wrapped her arms around the man’s chest in something akin to the Heimlich maneuver before her healing started. “You too demon, I don’t think this works if you’re far away or turned to dust.” Trian said, obviously closer to the creature now that they had worked together.
‘Sharing hobbies is a good way to make friends...’ Ilea thought as her wings came to life and wrapped around the two men before her. Right when she considered the demon to be Trian’s friend, it was a man in her book. The implications otherwise would not be nice to think about. Ash came to life around them, building crude walls that might protect them from whatever was to come.
“Are you ready?” Trian asked, healing mana flowing through all of them before lightning crackled and struck four distinctive points in the structure. The feedback was as quick as lightning, energy flowing through them at a constant pulse, only increasing in power as Trian upped his output. Ilea’s healing fought against the damage but if nothing happened soon she wasn’t so sure the demon would make it, the two humans were still mostly fine, herself not bothered by the damage in the least.
“Come on, MORE!” Trian shouted, a massive pulse of red lightning leaving him as the first demons burst into the room, breaking through the mind weaver’s control to be part of the event that might bring them somewhere else. Ilea saw the first of them enter the energy field and bursting into flame when light filled her eyes. Dozens of colors floated in front of her before they vanished, replaced by dull gray metal making her question the thing she had just seen.
Before her she found two damaged individuals, blinking between them and healing both. The demon that made it inside the field didn’t quite come out as well as the two she was healing, the torched and smoking corpse filling the room with its stench. Trian started coughing a minute later as Ilea took in the surroundings. One thing was for sure, they weren’t in the same place anymore.