Chapter 123 Horde mode?
“Are you alright?” Ilea asked the man, her own health topped off again by her superior self healing spell. Her friend would take a while longer to recover but it didn’t seem like the elder was about to attack them again, focused on the controls he had been working on before the fight. The being of lightning would likely prevent Trian’s ranged attacks and Ilea wasn’t sure she could overwhelm even a weakened elder in the midst of his summons, his control of them simply too adept.
“I’m… fine.” Trian murmured, touching his armor that was cut through near his right shoulder and chest. The man stood up a minute later, Ilea restoring her mana through meditation.
“What should we do? Any idea what that blue thing is?” she asked the man.
“That, is a lightning elemental.” Aki responded. “And I suggest you two don’t go near it again. How the hell did a human get his hands on one of them?”
“The fact that its lightning directly counters Trian means there might be more elementals in his repertoire.” Ilea commented, Trian replacing his damaged chest piece with another one, red and white instead of the Shadow’s black.
“Possible, we’re not gonna be able to approach him like this.” Trian said. None of the enemy monsters had attacked them from a distance in this pause.
“Let me try something… maybe he’s too preoccupied.” she said and summoned her bow, the string coming back to her ear with an explosive arrow before she let go. The spear traveled at a high speed and right towards the center of the group before a blast of lightning cut its flight short, the explosion rocking the ground. “Well that was a waste...” she said and looked around.
“Check for the demon, maybe he can do something with his mind magic.” she said.
“You think he actually survived?” Trian asked when another set of massive beams of orange red light flowed into the middle of the room. The beams collided together and created a blinding flash, both Ilea and Trian holding their arms in front of their faces. Trian’s retinas were actually damaged, nothing a quick heal couldn’t solve.
“Well I think he finished whatever he wanted to do here.” Ilea commented as Trian rubbed his eyes.
“Why?” he asked but the answer was rather clear when he looked around, blinking back tears from the newly healed eyes. The elder was gone and with him all of his summoned monsters, leaving the room nearly as quiet as it had been before. Something bothered Ilea as she looked around.
“Do you hear that?” she asked, straining her ears and looking to the other side of the massive hall. Her wings came to life as she ascended to get a better view of the distance. “Oh man, here we go again...” she said, Trian floating towards her as he looked at the scene before them. Dozens of doorways were situated around the hallway, many of which now occupying running demons coming into the hall, many of which already fighting with each other.
Adam blinked a couple times before he went down on one knee, breathing hard. Looking around many of his summoned companions hadn’t made it through the teleportation, the stench of burned flesh filled the room and would last even after he dissipated them. A waste of resources to be sure. The man looked at the lightning elemental, the being not in the least bothered by the ordeal they had just went through, the process feeling like being burned alive for hours.
His transformation had lasted through all of it, giving him the resilience needed for the travel. The man silently cursed the builders of this place and continued onwards, the surviving beasts following behind. Adam had many more ready to be summoned but still the two survivors of the Hand had been more than just annoying. Luckily he could counter the noble’s magic quite proficiently.
“I’m getting old...” he said and looked up, wincing as he touched his side where the woman had punched him, the flesh already healed completely. A small smile still managed to get on his lips, partially glad the Hand wasn’t completely out of competent and reckless fighters and partially because he didn’t have to kill them in the end. He was too proud to admit that it would’ve been a difficult task even for him. The two would have a hard time surviving the coming waves of demons anyway, the opening of the portals all around these cursed lands would’ve attracted hundreds if not more of the creatures, all of them led into the hall he had been in moments ago.
Truly a marvelous magic, something quite unimaginable to him just weeks ago. The crude demons he had thought to be the perpetrators of his misery just another toy for the real enemy to play with. He shook his head, he knew nothing as of yet but it wouldn’t stay that way. He would find her and refused to accept any other thought.
Ilea and Trian were resting in one of the side rooms of the hall, both nearly spent on mana and stamina, the woman looking up at the metal ceiling when a thump resounded, the door denting a little. She was unconcerned, seeing through the wall with her Sphere, knowing that two demons on the verge of killing each other were the reason for the commotion.
“This is pretty good experience.” she commented to the mage who was lying on the floor next to her, scrolling through the skill and level notifications she had gotten from the four hours of fighting just now.
“Yea but we didn’t catch the elder and who knows what he’ll unleash on Elos...” he said.
“True, didn’t seem to me like his goal was the destruction of the Hand or humanity but that might’ve been an act...” Ilea said, her legs dangling from the metal crate she was sitting on.
“You will have to get to the central control panel he used.” Aki commented.
“Yea we do, no other reference point to work with really. Gonna take ages to clean out the hall...” Ilea answered, getting up seeing her mana was full.
“What if there’s more coming? Maybe he opened up something for them to come in?” Trian asked which made sense to Ilea.
“Let’s chose a corridor and clean it out. We’ll find the source at some point.” she said, finishing the last of her notifications and splitting up her stat points into Endurance and Wisdom.
‘ding’ ‘You have defeated [Darkush – Bone Whirlwind – lvl 205]’
‘ding’ ‘You have defeated [Sanioth – Thrasher – lvl 189]’
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth First Hunter has reached level 212 – 5 Stat points awarded’
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth First Hunter has reached level 213 – 5 Stat points awarded’
‘ding’ ‘Inheritor of Eternal Ash has reached level 206 – 5 Stat points awarded’
‘ding’ ‘Inheritor of Eternal Ash has reached level 207 – 5 Stat points awarded’
‘ding’ ‘Inheritor of Eternal Ash has reached level 208 – 5 Stat points awarded’
‘ding’ ‘Body of the First Hunter reaches 2nd lvl 17’
‘ding’ ‘Hunter’s Sight reaches 2nd lvl 1’
Passive: Hunter’s Sight – 2nd lvl 1
Your eyes are unmatched and so is your nose. Perceive the smallest irregularities in your surroundings to find clues about your prey’s whereabouts.
2nd stage: Through experience you can feel your prey’s general state of distress.
Category: Body Enhancement
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth Reversal reaches 2nd lvl 6’
‘ding’ ‘Veil of Ash reaches 2nd lvl 13’
‘ding’ ‘Ash Creation reaches 2nd lvl 7’
‘ding’ ‘Wave of Ember reaches 2nd lvl 4’
‘ding’ ‘Ashen Wings reaches 2nd lvl 7’
‘ding’ ‘Ashen Warrior reaches 2nd lvl 8’
‘ding’ ‘Heavy Archery reaches lvl 2’
‘ding’ ‘Heavy Archery reaches lvl 3’
As much as Ilea was pissed the elder had gotten away, the trap he supposedly left behind was doing a good job of soothing her feelings. More levels to take him down as soon as he would be found and a way for her to vent and improve on her abilities. For now the two blinked out of the room and made their way to one of the doorways where demons were still occasionally joining the big hall. Most of them ignored the two and simply dashed to the middle, coming back to their senses and joining the massive brawl that was held nearby. Other weaker demons ran away but found themselves rather lost after just a quick run. They were in an unknown environment after all.
Ilea kept a lookout for their demon companion but was unable to find even a single of the sentient variations. The hall behind them was splattered with guts and pieces of burnt demon, a testament to their skill. “We’re not trapped in here with you...” Ilea said, smashing her fist into a demon’s skull, its brain painting the nearby metal wall. “...you’re trapped in here with us!” she shouted and blinked to the next running monstrosity coming their way, a ray of lightning entering the beast, its skin cracking before it quite literally exploded.
“That’s a cool line.” Trian said and smiled below his helmet.
“Yea, most people say the comic is better but I rather liked the film.” Ilea explained, following her team mate into the next room where a couple demons were already fighting.
“Now these references make more sense...” her dagger said but didn’t comment any further, immersed in the action and gore his bearer produced.
“That’s it?” Ilea asked the man next to her. “Wanna fuck with it?” her fist landed in a demon’s face that had just appeared.
“Seems like the only way to close it...” Trian said, lightning crackling and shooting into some specific runes in the room before them. Red light flashed before the energy subsided, the two standing amidst blood and gore in the now quiet room, the mana vanishing that had previously powered the runes.
“Aaaalright, next ones coming up.” Ilea said and smashed her fists together, her gauntlets creating a metallic sound.
“Yea, let’s go.” Trian added as lightning crackled around him, infected by her enthusiasm. The two ran out back through the carnage they had created and out again into the big hall. The group of demons hadn’t gotten smaller in the time they were away but they continued to ignore it, running towards the next door where demons still came out.
“That should be the last one right? They’re really not that scary when you get used to their mugs.” Ilea commented, throwing the last killed demon’s corpse into the deactivated teleportation room. “No mind mages weirdly.” she said, shaking her arms to get off a part of the blood covering her armor. She created some ash and tried to scrub it clean but found her control of the material a little lacking, setting her new goal with the material to be a self cleaning one.
“The one we found was very slow. Most of the other demons are faster.” Trian argued.
“Might be the case.” Ilea said, dropping the ash around her. “Let’s find out what that control panel can do then Sparky...” she commented and lightly punched his shoulder as she walked past the man, through the guts of the monsters trying to find a way out of these barren lands. At least they died knowing something else than salt, although Ilea wasn’t sure she’d prefer metal in the end.
Reaching the hall again, Ilea stopped Trian after approaching the group of fighting demons, feeling both a throb in her head and seeing something weird with her Hunter’s Sight. “I think we found the mind weavers… if there are more than the one we know. Up your defenses, I don’t want to carry you again.” she said and didn’t get a response, seeing his head slightly dip downwards in embarrassment.
From the closer proximity Ilea could make out that some of the demons were twitching, going back and forth while others were fighting each other and then suddenly turn and fall on another one, their minds likely divided either by mind weavers or some other influence. “There’s more than one of them, otherwise they’d just let the demons take care of each other until there was only a group large enough left to be controlled. What do you think?” Trian asked.
“Yea, let’s hunt the weavers then. If they attack us we kill them.” she said, knowing that there was a possibility to convince them to join but having more than one of them would put the balance of power into their favor, not something Ilea wanted to happen in a place like this. She could deal with one or two of them but a combined effort might even knock her out, meaning the death of both of them.
“Let’s get to it then, glad you’re reasonable.” Trian said, already questioning their team up with one of the demons in the first place. The two stayed close together and ran around the perimeter, the enemy too occupied with each other to notice the two, until it was too late. The first of the mind weavers was located by Ilea’s Sphere, the demon lightly camouflaged and lying on the ground between a metal beam protruding outwards. Ilea grabbed the demon and was immediately assaulted by mind magic. Slamming the demon into the ground stopped its attack immediately. No clothes and the different level compared to their demon made her sure it wasn’t him. Another slam and punch to the skull ended its life in a gory mess, the woman as deadly to them as a mind mage was to a regular adventurer.
They got four more before they reached the corpse of the first one again. “He’s not here. Clean up the horde?” Trian asked and Ilea nodded. The hall was high enough for them to simply fly up and hide somewhere in the metal architecture to protect themselves and rest should the fight exhaust them too much. Knowing the monsters better and better meant to Ilea and Trian the beasts were merely levels to their classes and skills, the two springing into action a moment later, smiling at the coming demise of the demons.
The horde was bigger than the one they had encountered in the wild where the mind weaver had shown up at first. Compared to the first encounter there were many injured ones here. The two mercenaries tried to attack the stragglers and groups at the edge of the fighting area to not immediately attract the whole horde to them which mostly worked well, Ilea’s fighting wasn’t flashy or loud in the first place and Trian simply focused on closer fighting and his draining abilities. He definitely got injured more often, twice even severely but with his healing abilities and Ilea nearby neither of the injuries were a close call.
Ilea herself was getting better and better at dealing with the different variations of demons, finding more and more similarities between some of them. Of course each one looked different, the bones and claws in different places but in the end they had similar classes which made their behavior and attacks somewhat predictable. A stomp landed and then four more until the demon’s skull cracked into gore, the woman looking around for her next victim, neither the smell nor guts an issue to her anymore, only registering it to warn her of the slippery ground, a smile reaching her face as she blamed the demons for not putting up Freshly Cleaned signs.
On the contrary Ilea reveled in her skills, her strength and the rush of adrenaline and power that flowed through her while she appeared and disappeared, her fists destroying tissue and bone while she dodged enemy attacks with the smallest possible movements of her body, the claws and teeth scratching on her Veil or armor before she delivered her destructive magical payload or used her gauntlets to cut and mangle.
She became an ashen horror in the midst of the eldritch creatures, spreading the material to blind and distract while she moved in it like a fish through water, showing the creatures that not all humans would react the same way to their horrifying grimaces and high level.
“You’re positively nuts.” Trian said, looking over at the woman who was breathing heavily and looking up at the faraway ceiling. Around them were splattered corpses of demons, some parts still moving. The stench was mostly of blood but in a day or two it would become something different altogether.
“I enjoyed this, you’re getting better Ilea.” Aki commented, the woman looking down again, her meditation helping her regain the spent resources.
“Trian don’t act like this is only my doing. You paused what, twice?” she asked and tried again to clean herself with the ash. It worked a little better but mostly just smeared the blood over the still clean parts of her armor, her veil the only reason there even were any clean spots.
“Yea, and you did once… in the middle of the field. You’re taking unnecessary risks.” the man commented but Ilea just shrugged.
“I trust you Trian and come on. It’s not like these guys are strategic geniuses attacking in formation when they see one of us slow down...” she said and tapped one of the corpses with her boot.
“Still.” the man said and looked away. “I don’t want to find your corpse in the midst of this mess.” he whispered but Ilea heard and blinked next to him, punching his arm lightly.
“I’ll be careful ok? I’m damn near indestructible at this point.” she tried to reassure him.
“No one is.” he simply said and walked away.