Chapter 121 Chambers of the Lost
“Is he going to make it?” Trian asked Ilea who was still healing the demon, the pronoun used giving her more relief than she expected.
‘Maybe I’m more stuck up than I thought… dudes should be able to fuck demons, none of my business… but if I have to travel with that… aw man.’ Ilea thought “Trian am I racist?” she asked in a somewhat worried tone.
“What? Why would you ask that now? I mean you’re healing a demon so I doubt it.” he said when the demon started moving again. A pulse of mind magic flashed through them, images of blood, violence and pain quite prevalent.
“I think he’s fine now. Hey weavy, wake up.” Ilea said and lightly slapped the mind mage, considerate of her higher Strength.
“Have we made it? Made it beyond?” the demon asked, an elation in his voice quite unlike anything they had heard of him before.
“Dunno, we’re definitely in a different place but the metal looks quite similar...” Ilea said, looking to the opening in the room. Her sphere only told her that this structure was bigger than the rhombus they were in before.
“The runes in this room are similar as well...so whatever this is it’s for spacial travel?” he asked, carefully touching some of the runes. “If we could recreate this...”
“Well I hope you sketched down all the runes in the other place...” Ilea said and started walking towards the exit. Stopping, she sighed. “Don’t tell me you want all of these as well...” but of course the man would. If this could be recreated it would mean an advancement in magical travel unprecedented to human kind, at least not the general population. Ilea definitely suspected there to be organizations and countries in Elos hoarding their knowledge. The Taleen alone had something similar to this if her suspicions to what happened to Edwin were true.
‘You’d always have to travel with a tank and a healer...’ she thought. Another somewhat easy job she could make money in should she ever use up her reserves. “I’ll go check it out while you finish the drawing.” she said. The mages didn’t respond to her, completely taken up by the runes in the room, now even more obsessed as they knew what the magic could do. ‘What if it just moves you fifty meters away...’ Ilea thought but quickly dismissed the idea as she came out of the room and into a massive open space, clad in dark gray metal.
The tapping of her steps was the only noise in the complex, the woman looking up and around, lost in an alien facility. ‘Who the hell built this?’ she thought, admiring the architecture and beauty of the whole thing, quite similar to something a modern human from earth would build if all they had was metal. The angles were different as well, this builder preferring diamond and triangle shapes compared to the square ones humans usually built with for efficiency.
Ilea checked out different rooms and halls, finding all sorts of weird machinery and items she didn’t know what to do with. Her identify skill only spat out weird names that helped her just as much as simply looking at the items. She refrained from pushing mana into any of them before Trian and the demon had a look. If anything her expertise with the practice was destructive at best. Perhaps the structure that brought them here would’ve simply exploded if it were her to push in her mana.
‘Maybe healing mana...’ she thought but still didn’t do anything. It would’ve been different had the items looked interesting in the least but they were just more weird forms of metal covered in runes, surely to fulfill some great purpose like making the best smoothies in the galaxy. ‘Maybe...’ she thought and just put everything movable into her necklace, planning to give it to the others as soon as she would go back. “Less walking for everyone...” she murmured to herself while sketching down the layout of her path.
“This place is impressive.” Aki said, Ilea’s buffs coming to life as soon as the voice reached her ears.
“Don’t fucking do that you edgy shit.” she said, releasing the auras again.
“You’re jumpy today, everything alright?”
“Yea, stranded in yet another place I don’t know shit about and this time it’s demons and a weird metal obsessed civilization. I bet we’re underground as well… why wouldn’t we be?” she said, walking to the next room and continuing her pillaging.
“Another place. So it’s true then? You’re not from Elos. I had suspected it. How did you get there then? Are you a secret space mage?” Aki said, making Ilea freeze up.
“Aw I blurted it out. Oh well, I don’t think it matters much at this point. Yea I’m not from Elos.” she said as she spun around a rod of metal marked with runes. “Sadly I’m not some powerful traveler of the realms, just an unlucky student. Or perhaps this all isn’t real and you’re a simulation. Or maybe I’m dreaming, just really really deep.” Ilea commented.
“Or maybe you were supposed to be summoned somewhere else? Or perhaps a demon traded places with you, who knows.” the dagger said. “Do you want to go back?” he asked a while later, two rooms of searching later. They all looked similar, the orange red light coming from the magical lamps covering everything in its hue.
“I don’t know. Maybe? If I can keep my abilities there but I somehow doubt it.” she said.
“Why would you not keep them?”
“I don’t think magic is a thing where I’m from. I didn’t get a class until coming to Elos at least.”
“How does everything work then? Without magic I can’t imagine a functioning world...”
“I’ll tell you all about it someday… let’s go back, I hope they’re done by now.” Ilea said, checking her surroundings and finding nothing but old metal and herself. ‘No traps, no enemies… what is this place?’ she thought and returned the way she had come from.
The mages took another twenty minutes after her return to finish documenting all the runes. Ilea convinced them to inspect the items she had found while actually exploring the place they had found themselves in, instead of the suggested study session in the same room the demon had suggested. She did hold the items in her necklace so there was a certain leverage she had over the others.
“Come on just activate it.” Ilea said after the two mages had looked over a runed rod she had handed them. Trian seemed to be losing his patience as well, not as interested in studying the runes of a likely more mundane tool compared to the teleportation device. He grabbed the rod from the demon who was floating next to them and pushed his mana into the item. The top started glowing immediately and produced heat.
“What the hell is that?” he asked and handed it to the demon.
“Smithing tool maybe?” Aki suggested as the demon put the glowing end on his arm.
“AAAAaahH” the obvious result didn’t surprise Ilea as she just walked over, took the rod from the demon and made it vanish before she healed his wound without any words. The thing at least didn’t look embarrassed but she certainly hoped it felt that way.
The exploration continued as the mages tried out different items left behind by whomever had built or used the place. Most of it looked similar and without Ilea’s sketches she doubted finding the teleportation room again would be a simple task. Some of the halls were massive, the detail in the metalwork very impressive. All of it had the same flair and was built with the same kind of metal, no other materials could be find anywhere, except for the lamps brimming with a dark orange.
Ilea could see into the walls but found nothing but metal. There were small mechanical details inside the lamps but dismantling one revealed a mana crystal and apparently nothing substantial otherwise according to Trian. It was a lamp after all. There hadn’t been a notice regarding a dungeon when they had come here, scratching that possibility.
“Are you sure?” Trian asked and the demon affirmed via his mind magic They were standing in front of a round form, comparable to a big table. Runes were carved into it and the demon had apparently found the control panel for whatever it may be.
“Well activate it, we’ve been walking around for hours, I want something to happen. Even if it’s a trap.” Ilea said. The others had tried all the things they had found so far. While the items were impressive and possibly ground breaking for the respective branches of society they’d be used in, nothing helped them find out more about the place or how to get out. Ilea hoped they weren’t trapped in the facility forever.
Trian just walked next to the mind weaver and used his magic to activate the runes. He winced and Ilea blinked next to him and healed while he continued to push electric mana inside. The runes on the table lit up with the same orange red Ilea already hated before a holographic map formed over the table.
“Oh wow that’s cool, a hologram. Hold it Trian, let’s draw that down.” Ilea said, summoning her notebook and moving her leg closer to his to keep the connection for her healing spell.
“It… hurts...” the man said through grinding teeth.
“Perfect, you can level your Pain Tolerance. Now I’m jealous, this is actually useful to you.” Ilea said in a dry tone. “Trust me the second stage is worth it.” she finished and started drawing.
“You h… have the second s… stage?” Trian made big eyes, partially because of the pain flowing through him. Ilea didn’t respond and just kept merrily sketching, glad the man didn’t stop until she was done.
“Alright, I tried to make it as 2D as possible. Here’s the first floor, here’s the second and here’s the third.” Ilea said as Trian released his connection to the table. “I think we’re supposed to be here...” she pointed to a dot she had painted that had been blinking when the map was still holographic.
“2D? Holographic? Are you secretly interested in rune magic?” Trian asked, wringing his hands where the runes had injured him.
“It’s more light magic I think. I learned about some things from this crazy old teacher in our village.” she answered. ‘It’s nice that these guys weren’t that keen on security… seeing how some dumb fuck noble can just access the maps. Might be a fake map or lacking secrets but still…’ she thought. Seeing how the mind weaver couldn’t activate the map then perhaps the ones who built this didn’t see a threat of anybody ever seeing it. The demon could use the smaller tools as they just ran on mana and not elemental energy like Trian had used.
“Light magic… well that seems pretty advanced, never came across anything like it. Then again your own class isn’t standard either… where should we go then? There’s several bigger rooms but it’s hard to say how big the whole facility is.” the man finished.
“Well we haven’t come across anything so far so I doubt there are traps or enemies. Of course there could be some waiting but if I’m at the front I’ll be find from nearly all surprise attacks that would take me out immediately.” Ilea said. Trian understood and nodded, looking to the demon and then to Ilea.
“He can climb your back?” she asked, laughing as his expression turned sour.
“It’s safer, he’d die if I get engulfed in flame or something.” she argued and watched Trian nod in resignation.
“Hey demon, how fast can you run… or float?” Trian asked. The speed they had traveled together before was less than thrilling, at least to the two mercenaries.
“I’m fast humans.” he said.
“Show me black eyes...” Ilea said, gesturing for the demon to start. The mind weaver turned around and sped through the corridor they had come from, Ilea looking to Trian a couple seconds later.
The man avoided her gaze and just gulped. “Alright… alright I’ll hold him. Do you have some clothes at least, he’s covered in blood…” Ilea smiled at his answer and summed some dwarven clothes she still had left.
“You’re wearing armor, it’s not like he touches you. Not that even that should bother you.” Ilea said, basking in his discomfort.
“Well it does.” Trian said as he walked to the returning demon, throwing the clothes at him. “Get those on, ask her if you need help. I’ll carry you.” he finished and walked into the corridor, waiting for the two to finish. The demon looked to the man and then at the bundle of clothes in his clawed hands. Finally he looked up to Ilea.
“How can you look like a puppy with those terrifying features?” she said and smirked, walking towards the demon and taking the clothes, explaining the concept to him. It took a while to get them on without damaging them badly, too many claws and bones.
“There you go. You look much more sophisticated now but I think a cloak or something would be better. Maybe a big coat.” looking up at the demon’s face she furrowed her brow. “Maybe a full plate helmet as well.” she smiled brightly at the man and summoned her helmet again. She had some dwarven helmets left but didn’t want to give him anything yet, not like anybody here cared about the demon. She thought about the existence of racism in Elos and decided that should the demon get out with them, he would get a helmet from her. Otherwise it would be killed in mere days. If it decided to not attack them after they get out. In that case she would destroy the guy’s face.
Trian grudgingly got the demon on his back, both of them visibly uncomfortable. ‘Proud powerful men.’ Ilea thought and smiled brightly under her helmet. “Let’s go then.” she said and started running.
The first big hall was empty as the hallways and rooms had been before, the sheer scale of it an indicator of how big this whole facility truly was. Ilea slowed down as she looked up, feeling small in the presence of this old and truly awesome architecture, their steps the only sound in the vicinity. Ilea wasn’t sure anymore if she was prepared to meet whoever built this place, especially not if they were hostile.
“What the hell have we found here… demon, do you think we’re still in the same realm?” Trian asked his backpack, time having resolved the discomfort of their arrangement.
“I do not know human… the Lost… they surprise me again. In my years I haven’t seen something like this…” the demon commented, still sitting on Trian’s back. The clothes made the humanoid look less like the monster they’d found him as. The constant mind magic coming from him just for the sake of communication was getting more and more normal as well, just a buzz in the back of their minds by that point. Ilea glanced over to the demon, quite glad they had a mind mage with them in this unexplored place, an asset that could save their lives, or kill them in an opportune moment.
“The Lost… do you know anything about them? Why aren’t they here?” Trian asked as they continued to walk through the hall. The demon looked over and then back to the front.
“They were before… we have found artifacts of them all over the great emptiness but none could activate anything until now… until you.” the demon explained in an elated tone.
“I’m sure we’re not the only ones… have you never met one of them? Are they even something you could meet?” Ilea asked, thinking of perhaps something otherworldly that couldn’t be perceived with the human senses.
“It is told… there were meetings, sightings. Not for many hundreds of years but we are certain they are a people of some kind. You are the first ones to activate something that I know of. The chance of course exists that there were others… that there are others. You spoke of something that came here, perhaps that something can manipulate the artifacts as well.” the demon answered.
“Speaking of...” Trian said and pointed to one of the faraway walls where a massive alignment of metal shapes had started moving at a more and more rapid pace until finally a pulse of orange red energy formed from the wall behind them, shooting into the alignment and away into the dark void that opened up behind it. Ilea couldn’t imagine the energy required for a beam that big, she was pretty sure it wasn’t just light.
“Well either that is something that happens periodically or somehow in reaction to our intrusion or someone else is fucking with things...” Ilea commented.
“Let’s find out, can you tell where that beam went?” Trian asked and motioned for the demon to get on his back again. Ilea opened her notebook and looked through the sketches, finding the place that was most likely the destination of the light beam should it simply have continued onwards in a straight line.
“Yea, another big hall. Seems like it’s the middle of the middle floor. At least of what we saw in that map, might not have been a complete one.” she said and activated her buffs, her wings spreading.
“We have a goal then. Hold on demon and I swear if you try anything stupid you’re fried meat.” Ilea said and could see the demon gulp with her Sphere. At least he knew he was outclassed. Perhaps he had found some respect for them with the successful activation of the artifacts, or fear.