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A note from Rhaegar

Hello. Thanks for reading and let me know what you think!

Patch notes 1.01

Thoughts previously: ‘I am thinking’
Thoughts new: I am thinking in italics to add edge

System previously: ‘ding’ ‘Fancy italics’
System new: ‘ding’ ‘Bold and fancy italics’

This change will be implemented as of now. Let me know if you spot mistakes or if you think this is a stupid change. I’ll retroactively change it to existing chapters as soon as we have two suns as well.

 

 

Chapter 188 War

 

 

Some rare spells were still impacting the city from above but as far as Ilea could tell from a distance, most of the fighting had come to the streets instead. The inn they were staying at was quite a bit away from where they had attacked the Birmingale fort. It seemed like the attack was coming from the north. The brunt of it at least Ilea thought and looked to her right where she heard fighting coming from the streets.

She landed on a nearby house and observed the three warriors below, two of them in imperial armor armed with swords fighting a single spear wielding Baralia soldier. The latter held his own rather well and Ilea moved on, not about to take sides in a conflict she understood nothing about. Although there were things she would interrupt. Her hearing improved by her skills was rather impressive and amidst all the explosions, spells, fighting and screaming, she could hear out specifics.

Here we go. She thought and blinked into a partially burning house, the smoke not yet having reached the ground floor where several corpses littered the floor and a soldier was currently engaged with a rather unwilling woman. Ilea grabbed one of the swords of the dead and rammed it through the man’s chest, twisting the blade before she grabbed his collar and flung him towards a nearby wall.

The woman retreated to the far wall, her eyes focused on the armored intruder to her home. “Go hide in the cellar of the house opposite yours. There’s people in it already.” Ilea said before she blinked away again.

ding’ ‘You have killed [Swordmaster lvl 108 / Fire Blade lvl 82]’

One of many tonight. Ilea thought as she continued her flight, uninterrupted in the chaos of the invasion. Of war, seeing how large scale the operation looked like. This wasn’t any small city like Riverwatch, this was the capital of an empire. And someone came and invaded it. Ilea thought of Berlin in the second world war as an adequate comparison.

Her involvement would be minor in any case but if she could save some normal people just living their lives then perhaps it was worth it. She did make her way towards the center of the city where someone could tell her the whereabouts of her newfound friend Sadin. Now was the time to get specialized and secret information for helping out in the war efforts. And if she didn’t find him then perhaps someone else could be of use.

Interrupted in her flight, Ilea dodged a thrown spear coming from her right. The metal rushed past her while she identified the attacker, one soldier in a five man squad walking down a street. Imperial as far as she could tell. Ilea sped towards them and landed non threateningly a couple meters in front of them, her eyes focused on the thrower who looked positively terrified.

“We’re sorry s… sir, Rudy over there didn’t mean to a… attack you. We thought you were a Baralia soldier sir.” the apparent squad leader informed her with quick and stuttered words.

“Haven’t seen a black armored Baralia man yet.” she said and blinked before the man in question who promptly stumbled backwards and fell down.

“Making grown man piss themselves…,” she muttered to herself and shook her head. “What am I doing?” she asked and ascended again. Could’ve asked them about Major what was his name? Falken? She thought but there would be enough imperials around for her to ask. Big swaths of smoke were rising in the northern parts of the city and Ilea quickly remembered the guard she had met at the smithy.

Thousands had died and you don’t care. The man had said. Herself from a year ago would be terrified, Ilea knew that. Still she couldn’t change who she had become. At least now she could do something good to get information.

Activating her Embered Body Heat, she made herself cold enough that anybody with Heat Vision wouldn’t be able to spot her. The skill had been underused but she had simply not wanted to waste mana on its limited usability. In this scenario there was some use at least and perhaps its second stage would be worth it. Otherwise she’d have to replace it with another skill, if she ever got another one, her classes weren’t exactly overwhelming her with choice.

Again blinking downwards, Ilea stopped a man’s sword by grabbing his hand. “Are you the shopkeeper?” she asked the target of the interrupted attack while the soldier struggled to get free.

“Y… Yes, he came in and demanded money.” the man stuttered out.

“Go hide, the city’s under attack if you haven’t noticed yet.” she said before she broke the soldier’s arm, the sword dropping on the ground next to her. Her hand around his throat, she used her Embered Body Heat to increase the temperature in her body to the max. More than a light singe, there wasn’t any damage. Might be good for leveling the skill.

The soldier was barely level sixty, seeing the invasion as an opportunity to rob a store. “Great morals really.” Ilea said as she ascended again, keeping her hand around the man’s throat as she continued on her way towards the central district.

“You don’t do shit like that again. I’ll come for you if you do. Either fight off the invaders or hide.” she said to the man who could obviously not get a word out. Slowing down, she let him fall from a couple meters, making sure he only broke a couple more bones.

Another night for my future psychiatrist. She thought as a squad of flying imperials intercepted her, making her slow down and raise her hands.

“Shadow’s Hand? Why are you here?” one of them asked.

Ilea summoned her badge and flung it his way before she answered. “Looking to make a deal, maybe help out with the defense? Looking for Major Falken.”

“Falken.” The man said as he inspected the badge and threw it back towards her. “Well if you’re looking for that division then I won’t stand in your way. Could use a shadow in this mess. Head straight towards the military complex, ask for him there.” the man said and gestured to the others before they flew off. One of them nodded to Ilea. Lovely group.

Continuing on her way, Ilea glimpsed a flashing light coming from a rooftop of a high building. She wasn’t sure what it meant but saw the archers and mages standing near the building. Perhaps a warning or they’re asking me to approach? The building was on her way anyway so she made her way towards the man using the light spell, slowing down as she went on and with raised hands. No attacks came and she flew until reaching five meters before the group on the main building.

“Looking for Major Falken. Shadow’s Hand.” she said, showing her badge before throwing it. The woman quickly nodded after checking the badge and pointed to the big structures in the distance. Central military buildings to be sure, more impressive than anything she had seen back on earth. She had to remind herself that magic was more effective than machines. Except for computers but she had a feeling the Taleen had that covered. A shiver went through her remembering the Praetorians. That’s what happens when you put smartphone A.Is into murder machines.

She nodded to the woman before catching her badge and flew towards the central military construct of the capital. The palace was nearby and just as impressive. More guards were around and she was stopped another two times before one group actually escorted her to the last destination. Scouts, she later remembered according to their badges. Around level one fifty all of them. Ilea was surprised how easily she had gotten into the brain of the imperial military but considering how the people around here looked combined with their level, she’d have difficulties dealing a lot of damage or at least getting away with it.

She wouldn’t underestimate people just because they had fifty fewer levels than her. Ten years of additional experience, teamwork and defensive structures would do her in in no time. An itch somewhere in her mind asked her to try it out but there would come enough situations in her future without having to kill people with families just to test her strength.

“Here you go.” one of the men said before they all flew off again. Ilea looked at the building before her and two guards approached immediately, not scouts those but assassins the way they looked and moved. Graceful bunch. She thought approaching them herself.

“Looking for Falken and employment.” she said with a smile. The two looked at each other and nodded.

“You are very welcome here Shadow.” one of them said and bowed respectfully.

“Please follow me.” the other one said and went inside. The building opened up as soon as they had entered, dozens of people rushing around talking, preparing and some even meditating. Ilea wasn’t quite sure where she had landed when a thin man in his forties with an androgynous look approached her.

“Shadow, welcome to Virilya. I’m sure you have noticed the commotion. Are you already employed? To kill me perhaps?” he asked with a thin smile on his lips. His eyes had a spark that told her he hoped she answered with a yes. Ilea’s instincts were on alert even though he was at level 205, something she thought she could handle. Still her instincts were something she tried to trust more in her new world and levels weren’t everything, she had learned that early on.

“You must be Major Falken. I wish to be employed. A man named Sadin has suggested I come looking for him here but I doubt he is available at the moment.” Ilea explained quickly.

“Ah, a good thing he found you then. Are you looking for gold?”

“Information.” Ilea answered.

“Information. Well we do have plenty of that, may I ask what kind in beforehand?”

“No.” Ilea simply stated.

“And what kind of work may you provide?” the man asked in a disappointed tone.

“Killing pillagers, rapists, stopping torture and protecting citizens. Perhaps delaying enemy troops. No assassinations or simply killing Baralia troops I’m afraid.” Ilea said and watched his excited face change to an outright disgusted grimace.

“Ah you bore me. Such a powerful being and yet you chose an idealist moral code. Why?” he asked, surprising her a little.

“I don’t give a shit about your war but I do care about the terror it causes.” She said with a smile under her helmet. To be lectured on her ideals by a literal assassin master, comedy gold to be sure. Her upbringing in a country where killing each other wasn’t the norm made her have at least some set of morals. More and more they were changed here but while she was fine with two soldiers fighting and killing each other, she wouldn’t blink at murdering a soldier who tortured a child or killed a defenseless family.

Ilea was quite aware that she was just a vigilante without evidence, a judge or existing law. While she wouldn’t seek out war crimes and slave traders, if her goals aligned with it, she could see a certain joy in delivering some justice. Invigorating power…, she thought. Perhaps she shouldn’t overdo it, or she might turn out like that nutter from the tournament in Riverwatch. Or she might turn up dead because she fucked with the wrong people. Oh well, that’s gonna happen now anyway. Eve you dolt. She thought, sighing. Perhaps that was her plan all along.

“Well so be it. It is a service to the empire and you will be rewarded in return. Bring me the ears and badges of the soldiers you kill. Don’t think to cheat me.” the man said, already talking to the next person that approached him.

The last sentence should’ve been intimidating but Ilea just chuckled. If she wanted to steal from them she would be down in the floors below, blinking through to find the treasury or the archives. If the city fell that was exactly where she would be.

She walked to a nearby lower level accountant looking woman. “Hear that, can I have that on paper should he bite the dust?” she asked and watched her frown and take a fresh piece of paper, moving her hand in a ridiculously fast fashion over it before she stamped and signed it.

“There you go. If you have anything else please ask any of the others, I’m insanely busy. Sorry!” the woman said and continued her work.

How did you know what we were talking about if you were so busy. Ilea asked herself and looked through the paper before blinking on top of the house, making the paper vanish right after. North would be the best bet to start but she had already killed on guy and that was barely ten minutes from the eastern inn they had stayed at.

Her wings spread and she accelerated to her top speed with all buffs activated, rushing past buildings, fires and soldiers alike until she reached the area where the fighting was the most intense. Or one of them at least. She couldn’t exactly grasp where the defensive line was in this mess. The corpses piled high where she was and that seemed good enough for her.

Spells and arrows shot her way from somewhere along the northern territory but she simply dodged behind the stone wall next to her, parts of it immediately destroyed by the attacks.She definitely was in the right area. It had been over an hour since the attack started but a lot of people still hadn’t evacuated it seemed. Thinking it to be similar to the attack a week ago, perhaps that was the plan? To test the defenses and give a sense of insecurity to allow a large scale invasion without the mobilized forces answering where the biggest part of the attack came from.

While the spells in the air had thinned, trebuchets or whatever they were using were still destroying parts of the city with their payload coming from beyond the city walls. Either they didn’t have a defensive shield system like Dawntree or they simply didn’t use it. Ilea’s suspicion was that the city was simply too large. The palace and central military structures were sure to be defended in a similar or even more sophisticated manner as Dawntree. The layout of the city inside the mountain lent a geographical advantage unlike anything she had seen so far.

“Please don’t take them!” a scream heard through the noise of all the chaos around her alerted Ilea of her first possible intervention. Rushing through houses and over roofs, she landed softly on the ground near a house inside which a group of soldiers was taking two young teens from their mother.

“They’ll fetch a good price. Maybe we can use them once or twice beforehand.” one of the soldiers said as the mother screamed next to him.

“Oh shut it bitch.” he said and punched her hard enough to knock her out.

“Krom are you sure about this? We’re supposed to wait until after the city is taken.” another soldier said but was immediately pushed by a third.

“Fuck off Brandon. For that you’re not getting a cut. And no go at the girl.” another said. Ilea watched on through her sphere as Brandon apologetically looked towards the two young soon to be slaves.

Ilea looked to her left and caught an arrow fired at her, forming a rotating spike of ash that was shot back at the archer on the nearby roof. The projectile injured the man but he wasn’t killed, rolling off the other side of the building and to safety. Poor target choice mate. She thought and smiled at the comically evil soldiers inside the house. Considering their upbringing and the apparent normality of slavery, one might not be able to fault them completely for their missteps but they were about to take away the children of a mother to sell them into slavery.

Definitely an easier choice than fighting the Birmingale daughter. Ilea thought before blinking into the midst of the group, spreading ash around her and guiding parts of it towards their mouths and noses. Swords flashed and spells flared up as some of them started coughing and Ilea started to move, equipping her bladed gauntlets and smashing them through two of their necks, the standard Baralia armor leaving a lot to be desired.

Another four slashes in the mist and the ash settled, leaving behind a burnt staircase, two swords stuck in walls and six corpses. Taking a dagger from one of the dead soldiers, she started cutting off one ear each.

“Who are…,” the girl said while the boy checked on their mother.

“I’ll heal her after. You should head east and try to get out of the city or into the center.” Ilea said as she continued cutting off ears.

“And you, Brandon?” Ilea asked as she moved to the third soldier.

“Y… yes…,” the man stuttered out.

“Tell your people that a hunter in black will come for them if they rape or kill the people of this city. Slavery is a nono as well. Get it?” She asked.

“But… we’re at war?” The man asked, more confused than scared at this point. He knew that had she wanted to kill him, he would already be dead.

“Yes you are.” Ilea said and looked at the bloody ears, checking on the mother and healing the wound on her head. “So go and fight the soldiers, take over the city and steal money and power. But leave these people alone.” she finished as the mother was waking up.

“Leave now.” she said to the three civilians as they scrambled up.

“Thank you!” the boy said as they left.

Brandon got up next to her and scratched his head. “Were a bunch of assholes anyway.” he said, kicked the guy who had shoved him and walked out, otherwise seeming unfazed by the experience.

Ilea stored her ears and moved onwards, continuously using her Embered Body Heat. Plenty of prey to hunt.

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Rhaegar

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