Chapter 180 The Path of Revenge
“Could you go a little further away.” Trian appeared, ripping out a piece of metal from his shoulder plate.
“Ah, apologies.” Kyrian said as the piece floated towards him. “I’ve been testing a new thing.”
“I gathered that.” Trian said and shook his head before he vanished again. Now that they knew where and who the target was, the whole mood became a little better. The uncertainty had left Trian in a worse state than the focus he was in now.
Ilea talked to Felicia nearly daily between her training sessions and she found that she really liked the woman. Weirdly childish with character traits she’d normally associate with a mother. Felicia seemed naive but was incredibly smart and her insight into magic theory helped Ilea improve immensely.
Aliana wasn’t around much, usually out hunting for more meat but she was tolerable when she was around. Ilea found it much harder to keep a conversation going with her than with Felicia though.
“Leaving already?” Kyrian asked as he watched Ilea grab her pack. She had taken it with her most of the time to let the others think she didn’t have a storage item. As much as she liked Felicia, she wasn’t sure the woman would withhold information from her brother. Perhaps if she thought it irrelevant to him and Ilea didn’t see a reason why Edwin would need another storage item.
She’d see at some point. “Yea, are you guys coming too? You can continue to tinker in the hideout.” Ilea said. Trian, a little further away made his things vanish into his ring and walked towards them.
“I’m nearly done.” he said as he reached Ilea.
“I’ll finish gathering my metal. Give me a moment.” Kyrian said and the others nodded.
“Are you sure you don’t want to share anything other than the targets yet?” Ilea asked the lightning mage who just shook his head.
“I’ve been changing things up somewhat. Doesn’t make sense if I have to explain it four times. Plus we have to be somewhat flexible anyway. We don’t have any scouts and while Maria’s information is certainly helpful, we can’t trust it completely.” Trian explained as Ilea leaned on a tree. She agreed but thought the operation to have too many unknowns.
What they knew now, thanks to the man who was so helpful during his interview, was that a lot of mercenaries had been involved in the Alymie massacre. Which meant that the targets were spread out and not a concentrated unit, which would’ve made it much harder to strike back. Especially with their limited manpower.
Trian knew that they only had a handful of level two hundred people in the Alymie houshold, his parents being two of them. Their abilities were somewhat well known due to tournaments, warfare and other internal conflicts. Gathering specialized tools and people to counter their abilities at least somewhat was a difficult undertaking but with enough time and money rather risk free.
It has also become apparent that the Birmingales were struggling to keep up. They had taken loans and their talent was leaving the family, which meant they had to risk something to keep afloat. It just so happened that the Alymies were direct competitors in several fields they operated in and they had coffers with enough money to pay back their loans and then some.
Trian had a lot of insider knowledge regarding his own family which helped immensely at placing the evidence. The whole thing was an operation that wasn’t unheard of within noble politics, especially in uncertain times but to eradicate a competing family so mercilessly was definitely a fringe case.
Being openly part of noble politics and trying to gain power bore certain risks with it, risks that for example an adventurer didn’t have to think about. Having a publicly known residence was one of them. Having members compete in more or less friendly tournaments and knowing the people behind the houses were more of them. All reasons why the Alymies had succumbed to the attack. And all reasons why it was possible for Trian’s own operation to work as well. At least against the actual family who ordered everything.
Most of the mercenaries would either be gone or would remain unknown and while Trian wouldn’t give up, the chance of finding them would remain rather slim.
“We’re going to strike in six days. Earlier if Baralia makes another move on the capital.” Trian said as Kyrian joined them.
“What about the increased security. And with the attack last week I’d assume the city is crawling with soldiers by now.” Kyrian asked as he shouldered his makeshift quiver.
“Irrelevant for a small group like us. We can even enter the city legally. As long as we don’t wear our armor from the get go. People might’ve spotted us. They definitely know your look Ilea.” Trian said as they started moving towards the hideout.
“You want to train your resistance to blood magic?” Edwin asked.
“And whatever she’s using.” Ilea said, gesturing to the sitting Maria who was in the process of reading through new letters they had recovered from one of their excursions. “You owe me Edwin, getting to use your skills against an opponent as strong as you isn’t exactly hard work.”
“I mean sure but it’ll hurt.” he said.
“Remember, second stage.” Ilea said and winked at Maria who looked up from her book at that statement.
“And she can even heal herself… well if that isn’t a convenient way to get resistances.” the woman said as she got up. “Care to help us out as well?”
“For the right price.” Ilea said and shrugged. Maria gave her a sly grin at that and gathered her mana. Ilea blinked backwards to avoid the attack.
“Not here, outside. I want the others to watch out.” she said.
“It’s too risky to be out all the time.” Maria said with a frown. “You all are already out in the open too much.”
“Who would come here. We’ve flown here. If anybody stumbles upon us randomly we’ll take care of it. And if it’s too much we’ll just flee again.” Ilea replied.
“It’d be easier to flee out in the open. I agree with her. While a hideout is good it might end up being a trap as well. At least if we’re throwing around magic anyway, let’s do that outside.” Edwin surprisingly agreed with Ilea and Maria sighed as she gestured for the others to leave.
An explosion of flesh and blood splattered red onto both Ilea and Edwin. “Damn, that’s nasty.” Maria said from the side as Ilea’s destroyed arm started reforming. “Good thing you have Pain Immunity.” she added.
“It’s less effective.” Ilea said to Edwin. “Does it bother you?”
“I’ll be honest. It does a little.” he replied.
“Still rips off my arm quite easily.” she said.
“No, there’s threads still hanging. Here and here.” he said, pointing to specific pieces of flesh. Ilea found him to be right. Soon he won’t even be able to rip off her whole arm anymore.
“And you didn’t want to be there when they tortured a guy?” Maria asked before she started laughing out loud. “Silly girl.” she added before her void magic manifested inside Ilea’s other arm. Maria was better at reducing the area which meant Ilea didn’t have to regrow her right arm all the time, just heal the insides.
“It’s different. I’m not screaming.” Ilea said. “Can you two just do that inside my head? You’d be able to kill anybody with a single strike…,” she said which made them look at each other.
“Sadly not. Using my void abilities is harder against more vital spots. I think because of the mana density. It’s a form of mana intrusion so that always made sense to me. Easier to rip out two legs anyway than a heart. People can tell and with higher levels they can tell even earlier.” she explained.
Edwin didn’t comment on it which made Ilea doubt both of them. If he wanted he could destroy her brain, she was pretty sure about that. Then again maybe he remained quiet because he knew the limitations of his ability. In that case it meant she had won the latest bout between them.
‘ding’ ‘You have learned the General skill Void Magic Resistance – lvl 1’
‘The mystical magic usually used to enchant high level items applied as a form of combat magic. It’s as deadly as it is silent. How exactly you survived is unclear, perhaps the caster willed it so. Next time it might work against a true enemy as well.’
Ilea felt immediately how the attack was earlier predictable. The damage as well was noticeably lessened. If the Golden Lily really was as dangerous as Edwin proposed, she’d have to get as many of these skills as she could beforehand. A visit to the Shadow’s Hand would likely provide most.
Perhaps some exotic animals and monsters would provide even more. Her initial rage had subdued and Ilea realized that there was nothing she could do for Eve anymore. She was dead. Her friend was dead. To find out who did it and to bring them down she needed more than what she had now. She needed levels and skills, she needed resistances and influence.
Claire, Edwin and Trian were great sources for information. If Claire was as competent as Ilea believed, then her investment would lead to quite a lot of influence through gold alone. For her personal strength though, she needed more. Before she got lost in thoughts, her arm was ripped off again.
‘ding’ ‘Blood Magic Resistance reaches lvl 4’
She needed to focus on the now. Trian had his plan ready and she would help him pay back the people who wronged him. Their motives and execution more than justified Trian’s plans. The parts she knew of already at least.
With a somewhat clearer mind, Ilea realized that she didn’t know what exactly Eve had done to enrage the Golden Lily, if it really was them being responsible. She didn’t know what Eve’s goals were in the first place, other than hunting down individuals with evidence to their corruption and criminality. Perhaps she was working for someone as well, perhaps the evidence was placed to lead her or others in a wrong direction.
All she really had was the letter she had gotten from Eve. And Ilea knew that before she wanted to hunt down anybody, she’d want to find out more about the person she had considered a friend. Perhaps that would lead her to the killers as well.
Another void attack ripped out a junk of her arm that started regenerating immediately. With her meditation active, it was a simple act of healing the wounds and reconstructing her left arm. Ilea found that she got better with it in time as well, forgetting that her skill was already at the current max, she focused on how exactly she rebuilt the arm and how the finished product was supposed to look like.
Compared to most healers, she had the advantage that she could heal the same body again and again, getting to know the intricacies better with each cycle. In addition her skill healed herself much quicker than others, even faster than what she assumed a dedicated healer could heal another person.
Trian continued planning while the others were helping out Ilea while Kyrian worked on his metal magic. The two of them were only there to intervene should Edwin and Maria try to do something unplanned for.
She had informed them that should her head suddenly explode, to just leave her body there and engage the others. And to avoid having them damage her more. Ilea trusted her healing skill and losing her head or heart would not be the end of her. ‘Sucks that Eve didn’t have a skill like that.’ she thought and squished the small hope that tried to squeeze out of her subconscious. ‘Eve is dead.’
Hours later they stopped their session, Edwin mentioning that they had to prepare for the next day as well. Ilea felt that Maria somehow liked her a little more at this point, perhaps because she could destroy her arm for a couple hours or perhaps because Ilea had her Pain Tolerance in the second stage. If she interpreted correctly, then Maria was the friend Edwin talked about when he asked her about the second stage. Which meant that the woman had gone through quite an extensive assortment of pain. Having done the same, Ilea couldn’t help but harbor a certain level of respect for her as well.
The time wasn’t wasted either. She had advanced her Blood Magic Resistance to level 6 and her Void Magic Resistance to level 5. It seemed so easy to her. She just needed a couple of willing attackers and they could literally rip off her limbs for a couple hours. The inflicted damage was absurd but with her healing ability and pain immunity it felt like cheating the system.
‘There must be others out there who do the same…,’ she thought but so far everything spoke against that. Even Maria who had pain immunity didn’t seem to have gone through all this. Hiring a healer couldn’t be that hard. ‘Maybe didn’t have the time yet?’ Ilea asked herself. She hadn’t exactly banked on the idea that much either. Not as much as she probably should have. There were other things more pressing and more lucrative to both her personal power and priorities at the time.
Sighing, she looked towards her two companions, both occupied with their own work. Time really was the only factor that really seemed to be an issue. Becoming a time mage seemed like a better idea all in all. She walked up to the others as she looked around, seeing the suns set on the horizon. Birds were chirping nearby, making Ilea take a deep breath. “Can we move back out, I want to continue training.”
“Sure.” Trian said, his papers vanishing again after he checked for the two distant figures of Edwin and Maria.
The last days of their preparations passed somewhat uneventful. Nobody attacked them out in the woods, nor did they even see anybody pass by. Even so close to the capital Ilea felt like she was stranded nowhere near any civilization. She compared it to the early ages of humanity on earth, when perhaps their species wasn’t at the top of the foodchain.
As the suns rose, Ilea sat on the top branches of a tall tree to see the light envelop the distant lands. Lands she could travel to with her wings in mere hours. She smiled and created a small sphere of ash. Today would be quite a bit more chaotic than the past week had been. Ilea had managed to raise her void and blood magic resistances even further, also working on Lightning, wind, water, curse, health drain, mana drain and heat. The latter was not as the name suggested a resistance to both cold and warm temperatures but fire only. The naming didn’t make much sense she thought but boiling water wasn’t exactly fire so she gladly accepted the additional usefulness.
Checking her stats, she wasn’t exactly sure what to think.
Name: Ilea Spears
Unspent statpoints: 0
Unspent 3rd tier skill points [Azarinth First Hunter]: 0
Unspent 3rd tier skill points [Inheritor of Eternal Ash]: 2
Class 1: Azarinth First Hunter – lvl 224
- Active: Destruction – 2nd lvl 20
- Active: Hunter Recovery – 2nd lvl 20
- Active: State of Azarinth – 3rd lvl 2
- Active: Blink – 3rd lvl 5
- Active: Azarinth Hunter Sphere – 2nd lvl 20
- Passive: Body of the First Hunter – 2nd lvl 20
- Passive: Azarinth Fighting – 2nd lvl 20
- Passive: Hunter’s Sight – 2nd lvl 8
- Passive: Azarinth Perception – 2nd lvl 20
- Passive: Azarinth Reversal – lvl 2nd lvl 16
Class 2: Inheritor of Eternal Ash – lvl 220
- Active: Veil of Ash – 2nd lvl 20
- Active: Form of Ash and Ember – 2nd lvl 18
- Active: Ash Creation – lvl 2nd lvl 20
- Active: Embered Body Heat – lvl 20
- Active: Wave of Ember – 2nd lvl 12
- Passive: Ash and Ember Manipulation – 2nd lvl 20
- Passive: Ashen Wings – 2nd lvl 14
- Passive: Eyes of Ash – 2nd lvl 19
- Passive: Body of Ash – 2nd lvl 16
- Passive: Ashen Warrior – 2nd lvl 16
- Elos Standard language - lvl 6
- Identify - lvl 7
- Meditation – lvl 2nd 17
- 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 7
- Wind Resistance – lvl 8
- 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 5
- Mist Magic Resistance – lvl 1
- Curse Resistance – 2nd lvl 2
- Mana Drain Resistance – lvl 18
- Health Drain Resistance – lvl 17
- Blast Resistance – lvl 12
- Dark Magic Resistance – lvl 1
- Blood Magic Resistance – lvl 8
- Void Magic Resistance – lvl 7
- Veteran – lvl 3
- Heavy Archery – lvl 4
Her levels, skills and stats were impressive of course. Especially knowing that many people worked for years to achieve something even closely similar to what she had managed in a little over a year. Recklessness, high risks, the luck of her healing and warrior hybrid class and some fortunate help she had received marked the rather short way of the rise in her power.
Still, she had been stagnating. While it was true that Ilea had learned a lot in the past six months, from her lessons in the Shadow’s Hand to working together with her team, it had become much harder to both find and kill enemies that rose her levels and skills. Perhaps there wasn’t much of a need either, she thought. Initially the reasons for her fast improvements were mostly tied to her own survival.
The Taleen dungeon had been a huge step in power and that one didn’t come completely without help. Ilea was pretty sure she would’ve managed either way but it would’ve taken longer and the expedition would have likely thinned out her possible targets while removing any possible treasures she had walked away with. It had been a fun and exciting ride but now she had more than just her love for fighting and exploring to think about. She had to get stronger to face her enemies, to find out more about Eve and to face the people who had killed her.