Chapter 144 Lakes and Crystals
“Any more help needed?” Ilea asked after she landed near the healers. Only six had remained.
“We’re fine, seems like people have become comfortable with fighting the monsters. Leave the rest to us.” one of them said as the woman Ilea had rescued flew over towards the group of resting fighters. She too followed and took a couple minutes to gain back her full mana. She watched as the woman talked to some of the people around them, three of them leaving right after towards the rubble Ilea had searched for the past half hour. They probably had some way to detect people in that mess, better than her Sphere which already was doing a wonderful job.
Sulivhaan was still floating in the same position as before, still using his spells as people occasionally joined him before they nodded, having received further commands. It seemed everyone accepted him as the strategic leader of this operation, at least enough for them to have a working structure.
Ilea moved back to the healers and past them where around eight corpses were laying on the floor, covered by white cloth. She continued the line with the dead they had found in the rubble, placing them as well before she closed their eyes, saying a small prayer to whatever gods cared before summoning a bed sheet she had and ripping it apart to cover the people. Each of them was geared with expensive and high quality looking armor or clothes, each one a human strong enough to face a hundred high leveled demons on their own. Each one dead.
She flew towards Sulivhaan and waited as two others received further orders from him, flying off afterwards.
“Healers are fine, rangers are looking for more survivors but we’re probably done searching. Five survivors and six dead.” she reported.
“Thank you. You can join the defensive line then.” the mage said without looking at her.
“I’ll go find the others if that doesn’t fuck into your plans.” Ilea answered.
“Do as you will.” Sulivhaan answered, not further concerned with her as Ilea flew off towards the city at top speed. What was left of the city at least. The damage on the surface was somewhat in control, only about thirty percent completely destroyed but the attack from the whale had come from above and it had cut deep.
Most of the sewers and several levels of the underground probably had to be rebuilt completely. Fires raged in the more in tact parts as well, caused mostly by the Hand’s mages who had initially fired into the city itself to score some lucky hits into the demon masses. Initially with all the mind weavers still alive it had been much more difficult to hit as the monsters had used the abundance of cover quite effectively.
Some solitary ranged attacks were fired at her, making her use her bow to kill the mostly lower leveled demons. A trickle of damage in the enemy forces but the ranged monsters were somewhat rare by now and the only thing that would stop the Hand’s mages advancing on the city and unleashing death upon the melee variants.
“Now to find a lone demon...” she said to herself as she dived downwards. ‘Let’s hope he was as smart as I think he is.’ Ilea thought as she blinked through a mostly intact part of the underground infrastructure before a minute later she appeared in a room she had been in before with a smile on her face and a startled demon surrounded by other demons.
“Weavy, you did it! Glad you survived. Now come with me, we have to find the others. And you better stay close to me or the other mercenaries will cut you down.” she said.
“Ah miss Ilea. I am also most grateful to the red death for your survival. What about the spawn?” he asked and gestured around him.
“Whatever you want, I’d kill them now so they don’t become a problem. If you want to look for them later you can but it’s gonna be hard getting them all out of here.” Ilea explained and watched into the deep black holes of Weavy’s eyes as the monsters in the room methodically cut their own throats before falling down in nearly a single splat.
“You’re fucked up mate.” she said and held out her hand. He stared at it confused before she just went and grabbed his arm before flying upwards, smashing through any floors in their way.
Ilea reached her next target two minutes later, landing before the entrance to the Hand’s headquarters. Demons screamed around her and started running towards the human and mind weaver as she ignored them and continued towards the entrance. The demons who reached her were cut down, none of them above level eighty, the ones further away simply stood frozen by Weavy’s influence. The main hall was collapsed in parts, rubble covering most of the ground. Hundreds of corpses were lying on the floor, some even stuck to walls and the ceiling. Ilea found a single mage and dozens of dead demons stuck inside a massive crystal in one of the corridors.
The woman was alive but had her eyes closed. Ilea took the minute to cut off big chunks of the crystal until she reached the woman. Touching her, she found her to be in perfect health. Reaching her hands inside the small enclosed space, Ilea pulled with her full strength and heard the crystal crack. A moment later the prison was forced into two, both sides smashing into the partially damaged furniture around the room as Ilea caught the unconscious woman, pushing some healing mana into her.
She continued on towards Viscera with the woman held in her arms, finding a similar scene as in the main hall. Demon corpses covered the ground even more densely here which made her fly over them with her ashen wings. No human corpses could be spotted but any dead Hand members, merchants or trainees had probably turned into demons themselves by now.
The crystal mage stirred and slowly opened her eyes. “Hah!” she exclaimed as a crystal shot out from her hand right towards Ilea’s had. It was stopped by her ashen veil before it dropped down into the woman’s hand again. She was out of breath already and Ilea doubted the level 205 wouldn’t be able to pierce her veil at full power. Ilea stopped Weavy from doing anything stupid as he closed in.
“Calm down, I’m not the enemy. And neither is he.” she said and continued onwards, mentioning the gist of what was happening outside the city. The woman had apparently been caught in her crystal prison for the past months, her skill attacking any demons who stepped into the room. Mind weavers either couldn’t attack her inside or they simply didn’t find her. A miracle she had survived really. She shot glances at the demon a couple times but seemed to trust Ilea for now.
“I actually survived…” the mage said as she closed her eyes and relaxed in her savior’s arms.
“You have two more minutes, then I’ll drop you.” Ilea simply stated in a quiet voice. The woman gulped but didn’t answer, her face reddening a little as she realized the situation she was in. She stayed for the full two minutes though, her joy at surviving stronger than the embarrassment.
There were no surviving demons inside Viscera, at least not as far as Ilea could sense. The woman decided to follow as well, probably feeling a little bad at having done exactly nothing in the past months.
“This is horrible… I never imagined the attack to be on this scale...” the mage said.
“You should see outside, the mages are dead but thousands of demons remain. The Hand is cleaning up rather efficiently though.” Ilea explained as she looked down into the hole where the main elevator leading to the Haven had been. It wasn’t there so she decided to jump down. A surprised noise left the mage before she followed, Ilea already reaching the bottom of the elevator shaft. Her buffs surged as she landed, bending as the force of gravity went through her body. She smiled as the fall of over a hundred meters felt more like jumping down a small flight of stairs. Weavy followed behind as quickly as he could, at least faster than the other mage.
The rubble of a destroyed elevator platform was spread around the bottom and dust filled the room. It reeked of blood and rot. Here too, corpses were piled up but they had been moved to the corners of the room. She continued onwards to the elevator that would lead to the Haven. It was still in working order she found so she activated it, looking at the demon next to her. The female mage managed to jump onto it right before it started moving. Ilea didn’t look at her but saw through her Sphere that her legs were shaking.
“We’re not the first ones down here, don’t worry.” Ilea said as she gripped the hilt of her dagger tightly. The elevator shaft opened up as the environment of Eregar’s Haven spread before them, Ilea immediately grinning and loosening her grip as she saw the spark of well known lightning in the distance. She jumped off and flew into the direction of the magic.
A bizarre scene showed itself as she got closer, the mage following a little behind with slower speed. A lake had formed where there was none before. It wasn’t big, not quite big enough to call it a lake really but bigger than a pond. On a nearby hill eight people resided, some sitting, others standing. Trian was one of them. The man lazily lifted his hand before lightning flashed and struck into the lake.
The group tensed before they looked towards the approaching woman but relaxed quickly after realizing it was one of their own. Ilea closed in as Trian got up and waved towards her. Kyrian turned his head and she saw his posture relax a little.
“Hey all, guess my help isn’t needed here. Don’t mind the demon coming, he’s with us.” she said as she landed. Most of the others ignored her while looking for the mentioned demon but soon faced the lake again. “The Hand is exterminating vermin and you just enjoy the new seasonal addition to the Haven?” she asked and grinned as the men of her team joined her.
“How’s it going outside? I heard some pretty huge monsters were summoned.” Kyrian asked.
“Yea, we took down most of the mind weavers, two huge fuckers were summoned, one dying by the closing of the portal. The second one we took down and now it’s more or less just killing a flood of demons. What about you guys?” she asked, looking to the lake with interest.
“I’m glad it went so well. There were demons down here, rather high leveled compared to the ones in Viscera. We cleaned up but it seems like more are coming out of the lake.” Trian explained and motioned towards the water.
“Aaah, a dimensional spawning pool. Impressive.” Weavy beamed into their minds, still it felt like he was talking to himself.
“You know about it?” Kyrian asked. His helmet was off and he glanced towards Ilea a couple times.
“Yes, I read about this ritual but you need an incredible energy source in the surroundings to create it. Afterwards it can sustain itself for years if not longer.” the demon communicated and continued. “It’s a direct connection to another plane and it attracts spawn to it. The ones coming out are the ones that found it on the other side.”
“Can we use it to go there?” Ilea asked, now more than eager to find that elder again after she saw the damage he had caused.
“No. Only spawn and only one way.” the demon dashed her small hope. Ilea sighed but ultimately didn’t care much. People have died, yes but none of the few she actually cared about. The man was a mass murderer at this point but it wasn’t like she went after dictators back on earth. With his power he wouldn’t be easy to fight either. Ilea thought that perhaps she should focus on her own power first before she undertook operations like that.
‘Speaking of...’ she thought and brought up the relevant information in her head.
‘3rd tier skill points available [Azarinth First Hunter]: 1’
‘Skills available for third tier advancement in [Azarinth First Hunter]:’
- Hunter Recovery
- State of Azarinth
- Azarinth Fighting
Apparently neither Destruction nor Hunter Sphere had fulfilled the requirements to become a third tier skill. Ilea thought about her choice while the others were talking to Weavy about the ritual and the lake. Her healing spell was the first choice immediately, considering the losses and near deaths she had experienced in the past months it seemed vital to get some sort of edge in her healing.
‘Then again I’m not getting stronger through that, simply less killable. Whatever that third tier might give me it probably wouldn’t help much again that demon, Green was his name, or against the elder Adam...’ she would reach level 240 at some point where she could still choose her Recovery spell but for now Ilea decided against it.
That left State of Azarinth and Azarinth Fighting. Both of them had been used by Ilea near constantly since getting them so long ago but somehow the decision was easy for her. The flashy glow was a better sell than a simple improvement to her fighting skills.
‘ding’ ‘State of Azarinth advances to 3rd tier’
‘Active: State of Azarinth – 3rd lvl 1:
Your body glows with the power of Azarinth, increasing your resilience, speed and strength by 55% [Effect after bonuses 220%].
2nd stage: Your sight, hearing and sense of smell is also affected by State of Azarinth
3rd stage: You are one with State of Azarinth. The skill’s upkeep has been removed. Instead you may overcharge it with your life’s energy. The amount depends on both skill level and health used.
Category: Aura – Body Enhancement’
Ilea hoped she didn’t make the wrong choice as she read through the new information. The upkeep removal was nice and with her long fights it would ease down on her mana consumption considerably. The overcharge thing was ambiguous at best. A life for skill effect. Ilea though that she could only use the overcharge ability while her Healing spell was taking care of her at the same time.
She shrugged and used the new ability. Her mind raced as she instinctively decided on a number, one hundred. The murky question in her head asked for a level of power and Ilea chose at random again. A split second had passed as Ilea activated the skill before a wrong feeling coupled by a weird pain shot through her body. One hundred points of health were ripped from her being before a light red glow shone from the inside of her armor.
Ilea looked at her hands as she removed her gauntlets. The runes were still there, slightly changed in form but recognizable to her still. The difference was that these runes shone red. Much more subdued than her previous blue shine but she attributed that to the low level of the skill, at least in its third stage. She felt more powerful, not comparable to herself with all her buffs active but certainly stronger than with just State of Azarinth before.
As quickly as the moment had come, it vanished again and so did the shine. Both her teammates had stopped talking to Weavy and were instead looking at her, specifically her arms. State of Azarinth was still active, Ilea found but there was no glow anymore. Apparently the You are one with State of Azarinth meant more than just the removal of its mana cost.
It made her a little sad that the shine was gone, it was after all the edge it had on Azarinth Fighting when she chose it over the other skill. At least it would be less obvious that she was using a skill now and she could have it active at all times without any cost. She wondered if it worked while sleeping as well but considering she didn’t have to consciously hold it active, it was possible.
“Whatcha got?” Trian asked as he nodded towards her.
“I’ll tell you later.” she answered. “What are we going to do about the lake?” she asked, not interested to share her newfound power with the people not part of her group.
“Well as far as the demon says, theres little we can do to stop the spell now. It’s self sustaining, all we can do is kill the demons that come out of it.” the lightning mage answered.
Ilea nodded. “Use it for training then? Like a dungeon or something.” she said.
“A level two hundred dungeon.” Kyrian supplied as Trian nodded.
“Perfect for the Hand then but also a responsibility. If one of these gets out a whole city could fall.” Kyrian added.
“Ah, let’s not overdramatize it. At least now the human cities now how to handle them.” Ilea said. “Now this is getting boring, we have three mages and one fucked up demon here to thin the enemy numbers and get some more experience out of this mess. The rest can handle the situation here I assume?” Ilea asked them and Trian nodded.
“Fine with me. Hey, we’re gonna get some fresh air.” he said, the last part directed at the others standing on the ledge. Complaints were ignored as the four flew back towards the exit of Eregar’s Haven. Demons would be an interesting addition to this place, now truly only an environment for level two hundred people.