Chapter 139 Flying in the Dark
Ilea appeared before them and crushed a head, the bone and flesh exploding like a watermelon shot by a ballista, her arms covered by the black obsidian gauntlets as she breathed out and turned. A sea of claws was before her, Ilea blinking upwards as ten demons struggled against each other in the small space to get to the human, shredded through a moment later by a multitude of metal spikes, organs and brains destroyed before Ilea landed, her fists reaching the demons still standing.
In her Sphere, she saw that the whole way up to the end of her range was full of the beasts. So far not a single one of them had been over level eighty, their bodies completely destroyed by the more and more seasoned warrior. Dodging the savage claw attacks and answering open maws with a fist let the warrior wade through her opponents like a tornado, leaving none of them intact while Kyrian advanced from behind, cleaning up the still living monsters and sending spikes towards both Ilea and into the mass of flesh trying to find the intruders to their newfound hunting grounds, the projectiles flying past her as she moved slightly in the last moments, even deflecting some of his spikes into the enemy line.
In the end the ones advancing weren't the demons themselves but Ilea and Kyrian as they massacred the opposition, leaving behind a tunnel filled with bleeding and destroyed corpses, the walls partially covered in red, only visible by the slight blue and red shine leaving Ilea's helmet when she turned.
“That's all of them for now. No mind weaver.” she said, walking back.
“No mind weaver, I agree.” Kyrian said as the bodies around them started moving slightly, the noise of metal piercing flesh resounded before pieces of metal flew back towards the metal mage, forming back into the spheres that continued to circle him afterwards.
“Ilea, about that night...” he started but she appeared before him and laid a finger on his helmet.
“We'll talk about it after Ravenhall, alright.” she said with a smile and he nodded meekly.
“We can move on!” Ilea shouted towards the others. “Trian will like this...” she said and smiled, seeing the carnage around her with her Sphere of perception.
'ding' 'Your group has defeated [Demon – lvl 74]'
'ding' 'Your group has defeated [Demon – lvl 62]'
The list went on and on, each demon listed as Ilea skipped through the messages. Not a single level up to any of her skills or classes. Considering the ease of the fight it would take a couple more of those to gain more experience in her skills. At least it didn't seem like a complete waste, she would level eventually, even from enemies at such a lower level compared to herself. They would still manage to hurt her if they got lucky, the fight in Morhill had proven that. A part of her wanted to rush back up again and just invade the city with her teammates but considering Sulivhaan had planned it all through she would follow his lead, apparently it was too dangerous even for them to just move in and let their firepower speak for itself.
Guerrilla tactics, chaos from within and all that. At least she would be able to fight the beasts in the city itself soon enough, as soon as the actual assault started. A small group like them would likely be ignored for the bigger threat coming from outside, even if they were discovered earlier. That was the hope at least. Otherwise they would at least take some of the enemy's resources off of the walls. With Ilea and Kyrian at the front, their own mind weaver would stay secluded and demon versus demon was the most cost effective way for them to go about the city retaking.
She would have to talk to Kyrian, maybe she'd go on a couple dates with him if that was even a concept here. Definitely no marriage, Ilea wasn't going to bind herself and settle down after getting wings.
“Oh my fuck, what is this...” Trian exclaimed, taking to the air as he floated half a meter in the corridor to avoid all the corpses. “Why again am I here with you?”
“I recommended you.” Ilea lied. “Come now, I'll let you know when I see more of them. Weavy! Follow behind and don't eat any of them, we don't have the time!” she shouted and heard the monsters advance from behind. It was certainly a risk to take the mind weaver with them but Ilea trusted him more than most of the members of the Hand she had met so far. Demons seemed a bit more straightforward, less time for politics and less castles to reign in their salt world. With time that would likely change but right now she was at ease. He also knew that they would target him immediately should any of his demons turn against them.
They walked or floated onwards through the dark corridors of Ravenhall's sewers, the dark and murky water streaming next to them reflecting the little light they produced from their skills. Ilea wondered how her self from two years ago would handle being in a monster infested sewage system without light. Adding to the sewage probably, she smiled and checked her status, the power that enabled her to be the hunter in this environment. Forty five stat points remained from the many fights she had had in the past weeks and soon she would reach level 220 of her main class and subsequently unlock another third tier point for her skills.
Name: Ilea Spears
Unspent statpoints: 0
Unspent 3rd tier skill points [Azarinth First Hunter]: 0
Unspent 3rd tier skill points [Inheritor of Eternal Ash]: 1
Class 1: Azarinth First Hunter – lvl 217
- Active: Destruction – 2nd lvl 20
- Active: Hunter Recovery – 2nd lvl 20
- Active: State of Azarinth – 2nd lvl 20
- Active: Blink – 3rd lvl 3
- Active: Azarinth Hunter Sphere – 2nd lvl 20
- Passive: Body of the First Hunter – 2nd lvl 18
- Passive: Azarinth Fighting – 2nd lvl 20
- Passive: Hunter’s Sight – 2nd lvl 4
- Passive: Azarinth Perception – 2nd lvl 18
- Passive: Azarinth Reversal – lvl 2nd lvl 10
Class 2: Inheritor of Eternal Ash – lvl 213
- Active: Veil of Ash – 2nd lvl 15
- Active: Form of Ash and Ember – 2nd lvl 16
- Active: Ash Creation – lvl 2nd lvl 10
- Active: Embered Body Heat – lvl 15
- Active: Wave of Ember – 2nd lvl 7
- Passive: Ash and Ember Manipulation – 2nd lvl 13
- Passive: Ashen Wings – 2nd lvl 10
- Passive: Eyes of Ash – 2nd lvl 16
- Passive: Body of Ash – 2nd lvl 14
- Passive: Ashen Warrior – 2nd lvl 11
- Elos Standard language - lvl 5
- Identify - lvl 7
- Meditation – lvl 2nd 16
- Poison Resistance – lvl 17
- Heat Resistance – lvl 19
- Pain Tolerance – 2nd lvl 4
- Mental Resistance – 2nd lvl 10
- Fear Resistance – lvl 2
- Water Resistance – lvl 6
- Wind Resistance – lvl 7
- Lightning Resistance – 2nd lvl 5
- Ice Resistance – lvl 7
- Crystal Resistance – lvl 6
- Earth Magic Resistance – lvl 5
- Arcane Magic Resistance – lvl 6
- Corrosion Resistance – lvl 8
- Light Magic Resistance – lvl 2
- Mist Magic Resistance – lvl 1
- Curse Resistance – 2nd lvl 2
- Mana Drain Resistance – lvl 18
- Health Drain Resistance – lvl 16
- Blast Resistance – lvl 12
- Dark Magic Resistance – lvl 1
- Veteran – lvl 1
- Heavy Archery – lvl 4
Twenty each were spent on Wisdom and Endurance to increase the time she would be able to fight. Five went into Intelligence, giving her skills just a bit more throughput. A new noise in the distance made her close the list in her mind as she meditated to fill up the newfound pool of mana. It was time to take back a city, a place she had come close to call home.
“The surveillance is complete master Sulivhaan.” a man in dark leather armor bowed to the mage after having placed a report on the man's table, Sulivhaan standing up and nodding to acknowledge the respect the scout had shown. The assault on the city was planned to take place in seven hours, the teams already preparing for the assault, sleeping or cooking while others sharpened their blades and prepared potions or bombs.
Moving fast was of utmost importance, more reports of previously unseen beasts filled his table. The demons had a way to summon more and already their numbers were exorbitantly high. Every minute, every hour their numbers would grow. The only light on the horizon was that for the most part, the demons remained in the city. At least the ones that hadn't left in the past month, that one was a completely different beast but Sulivhaan had to concentrate on the task at hand.
“We have the groups, the combination of skills, a couple healers in every group and enough firepower to wipe out an imperial army. I think we'll be fine.” Dagon said as he removed his glasses and cleaned them with a towel that had appeared in his hand.
“There are too many variables we don't know.” Sulivhaan said as he leafed through the latest report. They knew the terrain, the city and at this point most of the enemy troops. Removing the ranged units from a distance will open complete air control for their mages, allowing a continued bombardment while funneling the demons below through the gates where their most resilient warriors and barrier mages will be stationed.
Experience was their main advantage against this savage enemy. While the mind weavers were smart and likely had some innate talent to lead their troops in organized maneuvers, they lacked the ingenuity and diversity of magic the Shadow's Hand had at their disposal. Without the initial chaos and surprise factor of the summoning, the wars and dungeon explorations nearly each member of the human force had been a part of was unreachable for the enemy.
“There is much we don't know but my trust is with the Hand. We're not soldiers Sulivhaan, all this planning isn't necessary. Each and every one of our members could take out hundreds of those demons on their own. With the backing of the whole organization, we'll be unstoppable.” he smiled and put a hand on Sulivhaan's shoulder.
“And they will have to kill hundreds. Thousands even.”
“And they will. Now come, I haven't seen you even eat since we came.” Dagon said and Sulivhaan agreed. The librarian wasn't known to be optimistic but it seemed this whole mobilization had given him a bit of his youth back, his step a little lighter. Perhaps he had simply been too occupied with books and the trade of knowledge that he forgot the thrill of the hunt.
It was early morning as the two stepped out of the inn, the previously deserted square returning to near the same activity it had when Morhill still stood strong as a city of the empire. Though the scene reminded more of an adventurer camp before the exploration of a dungeon would begin, new lands to be discovered. Cooking stations and fires were burning as people trained their skills, talked and worked together with people and teams they hadn't been in contact with for years or never at all.
The air was fresh still, the sun not yet reaching the horizon as the fires provided most of the light, the snow in the square was walked into the earth by the many people occupying it, turning the ground to mud. The smells of different exotic and regional food filled their noses as they advanced to one of the tables set up outside of the inn. A bard was working on his lute, toning the different strings before he started playing, the thick mana streaming from his magical weapon penetrating the surroundings.
No wild beast or demon had come close to the walls of Morhill in the past day, many of the members having gone out to hunt and clear the surrounding villages or further away small towns, finding many of them occupied by demons but no mind weavers. A select few had even managed to withstand the assault, quite impressive so far outside the empire's main military bases and so close to the demon summoning in Ravenhall. Sulivhaan was already planning resupply missions for the members who were available for work and didn't have to prepare longer for the assault. They would wait with clearing the smaller towns and villages of demons to his annoyance.
Should a mind weaver escape, they could easily find another group of monsters to command but right now he had to focus on the main target. Dagon came back with two plates of steaming food, placing it down on the table. The stew was comparable to what an experienced cook in Viscera would produce, perhaps someone had brought one with them.
“How do you feel about Strand?” Sulivhaan asked, influencing the space around them a little to make it harder for sound to travel. Dagon looked at him and then back to his plate, poking around in his food for a moment before he answered.
“I knew he'd vanish at some point. There were clues even years ago. I didn't think it would come to something like this. Hoped he had more left in his stubborn heart for us, you know?” the librarian answered. Sulivhaan stayed quiet, the man would talk if he wanted to, there was no reason to push. It was no secret that the librarian and the elder had known each other for more years than others even lived.
“We did manage to bring the Hand back on track. That's why I didn't lose all my respect for him.” Dagon added.
“What do you mean?” Sulivhaan moved in a little closer, the magic around him thickening. Dagon sensed it and looked around.
“Wallace Urn was taken care of in the confusion of the summoning.” he said.
“So that's why you didn't grow suspicious of Strand's behavior...why Urn?” Sulivhaan asked. He knew that the elder wasn't exactly similar to the other leaders of the Hand but at least he was in Ravenhall sometimes. Two didn't even show up when the city got destroyed.
“No, Adam Strand was always scheming, planning and being a suspicious character. That's why I didn't think this one was different. All his experimenting with animals, monsters and demons. It's led to this. Urn wanted to change the Shadow's Hand, wanted to change who we are. I have reliable sources and evidence pointing to a cooperation with Baralia.” the man said, sharing information for free, not something he was known to do regularly. Sulivhaan just shook his head. Just like the empire, the kingdom of Baralia had their hands and eyes in everything. At least they tried but to think they had come so close as to plant an elder into the Shadow's Hand was definitely concerning.
“There will be a vote you know?” Dagon said. Sulivhaan knew what he was talking about and he had already considered it.
“Maybe a couple years off the field would be good. My age is a bad influence on the team.” he said and smiled as he continued eating.
“Verena isn't exactly good with people.” Dagon said “It'll be good to have you.”
Sulivhaan finished his food, a single thought on his mind as he looked at the friend sitting opposite him. There were two elders dead or missing, not just one.
“Fuck... fuck, this is bad.” Eve's hand was steady as she read through the content of the letter before her again. She sighed and placed the documents into her pouch. 'Should've stolen that necklace...' she thought but then again Ilea probably needed it more with her food obsession and heavy armor.
The woman expertly walked over the cold corpses around her, doing her best not to leave any tracks or disturbances behind. Even more important knowing that she wasn't the one responsible for their death. Her target had again struck before she had managed to find him but this time she at least was here before the man she had fought. The golden lily was in reach, she had a name and possible sources. The problem was that one of them had nearly killed her and the other didn't seem any less capable.
For once she wasn't happy for the bad news that would reach Trian. Knowing her own family it might not come as a complete negative but she doubted they had that in common. Leaving the building through the roof, she breathed in the morning air. She wouldn't waste too much time on this but she owed the man at least some Lightning Resistance, already worth sending a letter.
One of her information brokers was in his usual spot, Eve jumping up to the bar built on top of a big building's roof. The woman had exceptional magic to prevent eavesdroppers but one could never be too sure. She checked around for familiar faces but found the place rather empty.
“It's you.” the woman said, not looking at Eve as she sipped a little of her drink that looked more like a drowned salad than anything else. The nicely carved wood around them brought a charming feel to the locale, intertwined with the ivy and plants growing from the roof and specific containers placed all around. Scents of dozens of herbs and plants permeated the place, their unnatural growth rate at the end of winter leading Eve to believe the owner's magic was quite involved. A good defense for sure.