Chapter 185 A Bright Night
“Tincture of Seething Flame. Fifty health per second at level seventeen poison resistance. And my vision is supposed to be disturbed for twenty minutes but I don’t see a change.” Ilea said.
“Marvelous… marvelous.” the man said as he got a small notebook and started writing everything down. “No change? Do you have any perception related skills?” he asked.
“I do. Cancel it out don’t they?” she asked and the man continued writing.
“You’re crazy for trying this. How long until you’ve recovered?” he asked. “Are you perhaps a Shadow of the Hand? I doubt a lot of people with your power would agree to something like this. Plus you seem rather young.” the man asked but Ilea just shrugged.
“I’m recovered already. Let’s just wait until the health drain stops.” she answered.
“Self healing ability as well? Exciting.” he said and she was sure she saw his eyes sparkling. The man had just found a perfect target for his experimentation and Ilea had found a source for likely a bit chunk of the empire’s information. An assassin was supposed to know quite a bit, she assumed. If his story of being part of the empire was actually true. She would gain some Poison resistance at least, if he was lying.
The man could barely stay still, his hands rushing all over his pouches to find the next poison to try.
“What’s your name and how do I find you after you leave.” Ilea asked.
“Sadin’s the name. First Assassin’s division. We don’t exist but you can ask Major Falken for my whereabouts. I’ll inform him about you. Take this badge.” he said, handing her a small token with an eagle like bird on it. “He’s near the palace usually, in one of the military bases.” he added, handing her another poison.
“This one should make you very dizzy. No health drainage. If your healing can cure it, I’d prefer you don’t use it and tell me about its effects.” the man said.
Ilea downed the poison and waited for the notification to pop up. It really wasn’t an effective assassination method if it just informed you about being poisoned. Then again it seemed like most of them took effect immediately and had enough punch to kill at least lower health targets. The man likely had other ways to kill up his sleeve as well.
‘ding’ ‘You have been poisoned by The Glutton’s Curse. All perception reduced by 90%. A sluggishness drowns out your senses for five minutes.’
Ilea didn’t use any of her active skills but her passive ones had to have an effect as she felt only slightly slowed down. She related her experience to the man and the effects she read in the message as he wrote everything down with trained motions of his pen.
“Not a perfect test subject for these kinds then. Oh well, there are many others or myself.” Sadin said, shrugging and giving Ilea the next substance.
Testing of the assassin’s arsenal went on for another two hours but Ilea insisted after ten minutes to relocate to the roof of the building to at least get some sun in the process. Kyrian accompanied them as she kept on drinking or eating poisonous substances before healing herself.
‘ding’ ‘Poison Resistance reaches lvl 18’
‘ding’ ‘Poison Resistance reaches lvl 19’
‘ding’ ‘Poison Resistance reaches lvl 20’
The fruit of her labor, easily accomplished by digesting incredibly expensive poisons and using her very own healing spell to counter them.
“That is all I have with me at the moment but I’d like to continue this at some point.” the man said as he closed all his pouches again, putting away the empty vials. “Sadly I will be occupied for a while starting tonight. Find me again in a couple weeks if you would like to continue working together. And for me to repay you of course.” Sadin said.
“I assume then that you would like information on the Birmingales?” he asked, surprising both Ilea and Kyrian whose metal stopped floating, instead forming into spikes.
“Oh do not worry. I don’t care. It is just, this revenge of yours. One of you is a survivor then, an Alymie or a Recot?” Sadin said. “Alymie is more likely, they were more open and spread out among the empire. I will look into it and bring you some names, mercenaries and associates to look for the next time you meet me.”
“I have another target.” Ilea said and watched the man closely. The Golden Lily was on her tongue but she wasn’t sure about their influence. “Eve Aillan. Joined the Shadow’s Hand over half a year ago. A high level mind mage and illusionist.”
“I will open my eyes to such an individual. Illusionists are hard to track and mind mages are difficult to face.” Sadin said.
“Oh, she is already dead.” Ilea said, going into the details of what she already knew of Eve and where she had found her. She didn’t mention that the woman was a friend but instead formed a narrative of revenge against her and her associates, should there be any. This way, should the Golden Lily ever come up, they would in the worst case ignore her and in the best case contact her or even wish to work together.
“Be well then. I suggest you leave the city within the week. Military units are being relocated and an attack from Baralia is imminent. Even with your power you could be in danger and the leading generals won’t tolerate attacks on nobles. They are already on the hunt for you.” Sadin said before he vanished into his mist like state.
“Nice talking to you as well.” Ilea said towards the leaving mist.
“We should relocate. Just in case he’s informing the wrong people.” Ilea said as she got up, Kyrian following behind.
“I didn’t plan to stay for more than a couple more days anyway. Enough to destabilize them near completely.” Trian said.
The group left the inn and moved through the city undisturbed for around an hour, renting another room for the evening. “We leave again in the night, get some rest now if you need it.” Trian said but neither of the others had any need. He continued reading his Blood Magic book and Ilea flipped through her monster encyclopedia to focus on something different. Kyrian worked on his metal magic and Ilea helped by creating ash and moving it around the room while reading, making the rest of the evening go by rather quickly.
‘A welcome change of pace.’ Ilea thought as she prepared herself for the night to come. Looking into the mirror, she smiled a little at the nice dress she was wearing. She had never owned anything as well made as this back on earth but the woman looking back at her wasn’t who she had become. The smile left her face and her arms dropped to her sides. A mere blink later her dress was replaced by black armor, covering her whole body and face.
Blue eyes looked back at her from within a horned black helmet. The same blue eyes that had stared back at her for now over twenty years. “You really went to shit didn’t you?” she asked herself in a whisper. Surprisingly her eyes held the same spark as they always had. She had become a survivor, hunted by fantastical beasts she knew for a fact didn’t exist. Here they did. And here they had become her prey. She had fought and killed humans, in self defense at first but now she was hunting and killing them to avenge her friend’s murdered family.
A bizarre place she had found herself in. ‘Magic and monsters.’ she thought as a sphere of ash formed above her outstretched and armored hand. It felt right and it felt true. She felt alive. And she would overcome whatever life threw at her. Breathing out slowly, Ilea blinked upwards and onto the roof of the building. A pale moon shone above, barely illuminating the three warriors clad in black.
“Ready?” Trian asked and she nodded. To the man who had been introduced as a part of her mercenary team over half a year ago. A snotty and arrogant noble who used blood magic to strengthen himself. A lesson to her that morality wasn’t as black and white in this world as she would’ve believed. It was just as gray and complicated as earth had been but here everybody had the opportunity to become strong enough to fight, to defend oneself and to punch above their given fate, stomp on it and become even more powerful through that.
Ilea nodded not just to his question, she nodded her affirmation to kill, to hunt and hurt other people, people with just as much of a will to live as her own. People with flaws, fears and dreams. People who had made wrong decisions, yet still people. And she would be the one to right some of those wrongs. She didn’t have any illusions as to the result of revenge. More people would die and that would be that. Nothing new would arise and nothing lost would be regained. Yet still, to her, it felt like the right thing to do. The only thing she could do.
Trian jumped off, the powerful mage vanishing before her eyes and appearing on a building twenty meters in front of them, Kyrian shooting forward quickly, drawn by the metal controlled in his hands. She didn’t like it. To be in a city, to hunt and fight people. Sighing, her magic activated and her legs tensed before she shot forward, with speed no human on earth would’ve ever reached, no body strong enough to endure it.
She yearned the days of monster hunting. Non human monsters that was. Her mind focused on the task again as she put her conflicting thoughts to the back, the memories of her day of comforts forgotten as the wind rushed past her, her body leaping from roof to roof as the tiles dared not creak under her balanced weight and trained movements. Twelve more factories were destroyed in the next six hours.
“This one is much better fortified.” Kyrian said the obvious as the three stared at the lone fortress overlooking a small estate within the city. Guards and adventurers with torches patrolled the gardens in groups, their watchful eyes looking for intruders to their employer’s property.
“Do you think the survivors are in there?” Ilea asked without looking at the man next to her. It was obvious that this building was important to the Birmingales, either the building or the people residing within. None of the factories, stores or inns they had attacked before had this amount of guards. It seemed they had focused all their resources here, the remaining ones that is.
“At least something important is here…,” Trian said and got lost in thought.
“Do you want to inform Edwin and Maria. We could work together.” Ilea suggested but the man waved her off.
“If they’re really here then I’d rather do this alone. I trust you two. And this is not their battle, this is mine.” he answered.
“I’m with you Trian.” Ilea said and touched his armored shoulder.
“As am I.” Kyrian added, making the man relax a little and sigh.
“This is gonna be a difficult one.” he said. “Ilea can you check around if there is a way to get in under it?” Trian asked, looking at her.
Nodding, she vanished and appeared on the ground, using her Sphere to check for any sewers that led towards the small fortress. After searching for a couple minutes, she did indeed find a path leading straight to their intended target. Only one in the complicated sewage system and she was reasonably sure that there were guards placed at the end of it or where it would lead into the building.
Still, it was likely a better idea than to run into the heavily guarded gardens. Going back to her team, Ilea relayed the information and they both agreed with her. “I’ll go in first if it’s a trap or something.” Ilea said as she looked at the metal bars before them. At least so far there were no guards around.
“Any enchantments?” Kyrian asked “I don’t see anything.” he added as metal spheres split next to him.
“Nothing I can detect.” Trian said and watched as the metal formed into small blades positioned on each bar before they snapped through. The bars came loose as one grid, falling towards them as Ilea stepped forward, her buffs activating before she caught the heavy mesh of metal. Lifting the whole thing up, she placed it as silently as possible on a nearby wall before she turned around and led the way through the small tunnel.
There was barely enough space to go through crouched and the pipe got smaller as they continued onwards. A couple minutes later, it was too small to go on and Ilea saw that a couple meters further down there was barely enough space for a mouse to get through.
“They closed it off. And it’s too far to blink inside from here.” she whispered to the others behind her. A sudden noise made her concentrate.
“There are tremors going through the ground.” Kyrian whispered.
“Magic spells.” Trian added.
“A trap then? But there’s nobody here.” she said, checking through her sphere that reached as far as to the entrance of the pipe.
“Well something is happening. Perhaps Edwin and Maria followed us?” Kyrian asked but Trian shook his head.
“They don’t have the skills to make such a ruckus. At least we wouldn’t know of those.” he said and Ilea had to agree. The tremors were too numerous for it to be them, even if they had hidden skills that could shake the ground around them.
“Whatever it may be. It’s giving us a good opportunity.” Ilea said and started punching the stone in their way. Kyrian started helping immediately.
The tremors didn’t stop, some of them much stronger than others. Ilea was remembering what had happened in Ravenhall but Virilya would be on a completely different scale. Surely they had enough manpower to fend off whatever demon attack was coming. Even elves for that matter.
“We’re through.” she whispered as she walked into the dark cellar. “There’s nobody here.” she added, looking around the room.
“That’s weird. Why have so many guards outside and leave this entrance empty?” Trian asked himself.
“There were people here recently. The torches are missing but there’s ash on the ground.” Kyrian said, pointing to the metal holders on the walls. Using her magic to influence the ash, Ilea touched the floating bits with her fingers and sure enough, they were warm still.
“Yep, something’s happening outside that made these guards rush upwards. The tremors must be something rather serious then.” she added. “Go with the plan?” Ilea asked towards Trian.
“Yes, whatever it is it’s a distraction. If it’s nothing justifying an immediate escape from the city we’re going in.” he said.
“And what would that be?” Ilea asked seriously.
“An elven invasion is the only thing that comes to mind. It would be hard to flee without chaos.” he said and walked up the stairs. Ilea followed and checked as far as she could see with her sphere but found nobody close by.
Opening the door, the group rushed upwards and Ilea soon saw several people on the walls and towers of the fortress, looking upwards, sending spells and arrows towards the sky.
“Something’s definitely attacking the fortress. I can see the wood mage and the women I fought, as well as the old man. The Birmingales seem to have barricaded themselves in here. I don’t recognize any of the others.” Ilea finished.
“We should strike now, cause even more chaos.” Trian said but Kyrian stopped him.
“We have to see what’s going on first. Your revenge doesn’t mean anything if you die in the process.” he said, glaring at Trian. It took him a moment to accept it but Trian backed down.
“Alright, Ilea any balconies or something where we could see?” he asked.
“The south east tower is unoccupied.” she answered and led the two towards the staircase. Again there were no guards, all the residents focused on sending spells upwards.
Coming up on the windows, Ilea saw fire. The sky was burning but as her eyes adjusted to the light, she could see a staggering variation of spells raining down on Virilya. Defenders sent spells upwards but fires were already raging in a dozen nearby buildings.
“Are they elves?” Kyrian asked, standing next to her.
“In that number? That has never happened before… and why attack the capital?” he asked but Ilea knew they weren’t elves.
“The spells are too weak. Elves rip out streets and houses with their fire and ice. I think we’re looking at war, a war between humans.” she said, a little baffled by the scene before her. The only reasonable comparison she could draw were war movies about the second world war and the storming of the Normandy.
“The city seems to be losing…,” Trian said “The response is too weak. But how? It should be unbeatable…,” he said, confusion apparent in his voice. Neither Ilea nor Kyrian were versed in the city’s military power but if what he said was true then Ilea had a simple suggestion.
“The empire’s in on it then? Or at least a part of it. Am I wrong?” she asked and Trian nodded.
“That is the simple explanation, yes. I just never thought it possible. With the recent developments… it could be viable. Difficult and you’d have to have a lot of connections already. People loyal and on the inside.” he suddenly started laughing, realizing something but he didn’t elaborate further.
“This is our opportunity then. The Birmingales are responding with attacks which means they’re not in on it. Let’s wait here until the attackers focus on this small defensive beacon. We’ll strike then.” he said and calmed down. The rain of spells continued from above and Ilea could see stones and small dots of fire in uncountable numbers coming over the distant walls. Again, she had stumbled upon a city invasion. For the first time, the enemy was human.