Chapter 192 The Librarian
“I’m aware of that.” Ilea said, smiling. “Looking to get a teleportation ability as well?” She asked, the man answering with a grunt.
“Doubt my classes can spew that up.” He said as they ascended again, just barely over the rooftops.
“Back to the center then? Or out into the wild?” The man asked.
Ilea watched the burning city, the center a shining beacon as spells rained down on it, retaliation coming from within just a moment later. If there still were any survivors in these parts, it would be hard to find them if none of the enemy soldiers did that. By now Ilea thought she had at least instilled a conscious into some of the murderous rapists being part of both armies. That was as much as she could do. She wasn’t about to pick sides in a war she didn’t understand, nor care about.
“I’m not sure how easy it would be to get in again. Both the city and especially the center.” Ilea said.
“What if we can’t get out anymore either?” Kyrian asked.
“Do you really thing the elite, royalty and generals of the Empire don’t have a way to save their own skin?” Ilea asked with a smile.
“We just might get stuck there for a while.” He answered.
“I’ll leave tomorrow. Maybe it’s best if you stay in the clocktower? I’m sure I’ll find a way out. Did so before out of a shielded city. You though?” She said, thinking mostly of her Sphere and Blink abilities, both great at getting into and out of places.
“I suppose you’re right.” The man said after a while. “Don’t die on me, ok?” He added.
“You neither. If I’m not there in a couple days, I suggest you leave for Ravenhall. It’s going to be more and more dangerous the longer we stay here.” Ilea said and Kyrian nodded.
“I will. Good luck on your search.” He said and flew off. Ilea did the same but compared to him, rushing directly towards the shining center of the capital. An area at least as big as the whole city of Riverwatch, with much higher buildings as well.
The second stage of her Embered Body Heat was certainly effective at distraction, if nothing else. Perhaps at higher stages the heat would actually manage to seriously injure someone. At least she now had an effective area attack against really weak enemies.
Landing near the central shield, Ilea rushed through the streets, avoiding soldiers of both sides as she looked for a checkpoint to get into the center. Should I? She thought and instead blinked into a house close to the shield dome. Seeing through the dome with her Sphere worked she found. Blinking through it didn’t. If she couldn’t get in, she couldn’t get out either. At least that was the likely scenario.
Checking around, she found that the shield didn’t extend underground but as soon as an explosion or spell ripped a part of the street away, it would fill in the gap near immediately. There have to be sewers or something around… The thought led her to check any possible entryways below the ground. Sure enough there were some. Not as many as the sewage system right outside the central district but there were some entryways.
Blinking downwards around twenty meters, Ilea entered one of them and walked towards the center with hands held high. She was sure there were people defending this place as well and sure enough as soon as she had reached a certain spot, scorch marks around the metal tube she was in, fire came rushing towards her.
Her Veil of Ash combined with her healing power and Heat Resistance made the attack seem more like a warm summer breeze. She walked on, shouting into the tunnel. “I’m not the enemy!”
Another attack came, this time water. Ilea blinked into it again and again until the powerful stream ended. Either they didn’t hear her or they didn’t care. Perhaps the attacks were traps or runes, not even initiated by a sentient being at the other end.
Blinking further, she rounded a corner and finally came up on the defensive force. A shield shimmered in the dark and she could see at least ten people standing behind it, one of them preparing another spell. This time she could identify them through the shield as she walked onwards. None above two hundred she found. A risky test but one she felt necessary should she want to leave the center again.
The barrier flickered when the mage behind it released his spell. A greenish mist entered the tunnel and flowed towards her, the shield closing again right after. Intrigued by the spell, Ilea let it come closer, touching and breathing in just the edge to make sure she could still blink away if it was more dangerous than she suspected.
‘ding’ ‘You have been poisoned by the Mist of Lys -50 HP/s for five minutes.’
A rather strong poison but other than reducing her healing ability a little while she countered it, nothing special. Empire of Lys… Maybe it’s a spell they discovered here. Of course they had biological weapons at their disposal. Without an insanely high defense to poisons or a healing skill, a lot of people would succumb to this attack but who in their right mind would come through this tunnel to engage in such an easily defensible spot. Especially with shield mages in place.
Walking closer and through the mist, she was surprised to find the people behind the shield stayed calm and collected. Perhaps they expected her to fall down any moment now. The poison did take a while to drain all life after all. Ilea didn’t stop though and instead kept walking, trying to blink through the barrier but again finding it impossible. Even blinking into the corners of the room wasn’t possible, runes likely put up to prevent such a thing.
“I’m not your enemy.” She said as she stood right in front of the barrier, the people behind it looking at each other with confusion.
“You cannot enter here and the poison will kill you soon. Leave.” One of the mages said after a moment.
Perhaps I cannot enter. Ilea thought. But I can certainly leave.
Turning around, she left again, not about to engage that group of people, unsure if she could even break through the shield. Although her Destruction spell was surprisingly good at well, destroying them. Even that high level guy Albert who had found Cless couldn’t stop her.
Blinking up again, Ilea moved through the streets, finding a check point a couple minutes later. The opening in the shield had gotten much smaller, mostly only allowing the defenders to shoot spells towards the street before them. Nobody else was entering at the moment but one of the soldiers waved her in immediately upon seeing her.
“The Shadow is back. It’ll be good to have you.” He said as she entered.
“Are you going out again?” He added, making her stop in her tracks.
“Perhaps later. I need to restock and prepare a new route. Baralia has taken over a big part of the city. It’s getting dangerous to move around. When are you closing the barrier for good?” She asked, hoping that her bullshit would convince the man.
“Tonight likely. No official command yet but the way things are going I’d say tonight. Most of the soldiers are already back and the rest are either dead or fleeing.” He said.
“Any other way to come and go?” Ilea asked but he shook his head.
“I’m afraid not. At least not to my knowledge. I’m sure the assassins have a way. Perhaps you should speak to Major Falken.” He said and she nodded.
Most definitely not. She thought, walking through the big plaza full of soldiers, mages, war machines and supplies. Defensive structures were built before her eyes, earth and stone mages forming the very ground to their wills. It’s gonna be pretty difficult to penetrate that one. She thought, looking up to see the massive shining dome. Meteor like attacks coming from siege weapons exploded on impact, fire and stone rolling off the barrier like raindrops on an umbrella.
Mages working together. Ilea thought about perhaps an attacking group of mages creating a massive offensive spell like the big red light she had seen coming from the center earlier. She couldn’t quite figure out where it had come from but there were a lot of machines and buildings around hershe didn’t know the purpose of.
The poison was gone from her body now, earlier than the message had implied. Either her Healing spell or her resistance had done more than she had expected. Not quite knowing where to go, Ilea went to the library again. If anything the woman could tell her where to find something interesting in the central district.
Upon entering, she found that the person behind the counter was someone else. Something about the way the man looked at her made her a little uncomfortable. There was only one guard sitting in the corner this time.
“What do you want?” The man asked, obviously occupied with whatever he was reading.
“I’m looking for the woman I talked to yesterday. Brown hair and white glasses?” She asked and saw him smile a little. Not the good kind of smile.
“Oh yes, I recall her. She’s in the dungeons now, a traitor. The final proof found, I believe thanks to you.” The man said.
“Interesting story. I was looking for someone, perhaps you can take over the work she left.” Ilea said, pretending not to care. The man was gloating about his victory and obviously disliked her as well. Perhaps she could get some more information out of him before she ripped open the metal wall and smashed his skull against it.
“The work… she. No, no I’m afraid we can’t help you anymore. What again is your connection to Virilya anyway? Ilea was it?” He asked. So they knew who she was, which meant there was a chance they got it out of Elise.
“I’m here on a mission to look for the person I told Elise about. Now if you’re going to waste my time I’ll have to look somewhere else.” Ilea said, acting impatient.
“The dungeon is the only place you’ll find help.” He said and chuckled while Ilea walked towards the door, exiting with a heavy sigh.
The Golden Lily intervened? Or was it someone else. Something unrelated to her and Eve perhaps? Now where to find the dungeons. The man had given her enough information to work on. Ilea walked down the street and stopped near a group of soldiers.
“Where are the dungeons? I’m looking for a traitor. They owe me a service.” Ilea said, the group stopping their conversation to look at her.
“Dungeons are that way. Traitors and others alike. Should be quick about it, they don’t last long in times of war.” The man said seriously, Ilea rushing off in a sprint. The directions were simple but they served their purpose, Ilea finding a big sign only a couple streets further, indicating exactly the way the soldier had implied.
Another couple minutes of running and she came up on a stairwell leading downwards, the word dungeons barely readable written on an aging sign. Rushing down, Ilea ignored the guards and people around, blinking first into a cell, surprising the resident before she vanished again, going further down into the structure as she looked for Elise in her Sphere. There were no shouts coming from above, the guards on duty either not having seen her or simply not caring about a break in.
Unsurprisingly the dungeons were rather vast, leading down for over a dozen floors, hundreds of cells on each floor with differing amounts of residents. There were very few guards, some floors even completely empty other than the dying criminals. Hygiene was certainly not a highly prioritized concern, mold and piss damn near everywhere, only getting worse the further she went.
Finally on the fourteenth floor, in a closed up room she found who she had been looking for. Blinking inside, Ilea gently smashed the torturer’s head and started healing the woman strapped on the table in the center of the room.
There were cuts and bruises but nothing life threatening. Ilea made a double take when she identified the woman and looked at the torturer again, concerned her instincts had failed her. Stopping in her motions for a second, she scratched her helmet and shook her head, checking around Elise. There you are. She thought, seeing the runes below the table. The woman was a mage at level 211, not something the torturer at level eighty should really be able to restrain. Touching one of the runes, Ilea felt her magic drain. Instead she just unshackled the healed woman and moved her to a chair also standing in the room.
“Y… you.” Elise stammered but Ilea just put a finger on her mouth.
“Just tell me if it’s a trap, otherwise you need to recover. Meditate.” Ilea said and Elise nodded weakly, closing her eyes. She couldn’t find any increased commotion both visual or audible. Perhaps this really was it. Nobody cared about the woman as soon as she had been strapped to that table. To think that a runed device like that could take out an above level two hundred mage that easily. Investing some of her stat points into Strength wasn’t the worst idea then.
But to only have one guy at level eighty in the room with her? It was war after all and all resources not desperately needed were reallocated towards the enemy. It seemed the empire really trusted their enchantments.
The torturer groaned and slowly got up. “I wouldn’t m…,” Ilea didn’t get her sentence out before a red beam of energy damn near pulverized the man’s head, blood and bits of brain and flesh landing on her quickly expanding Veil.
“Could’ve fucking warned me.” She said to the woman whose extended arm slowly sunk down.
“He just did his job. Sadly it got personal.” Elise said and tried to get up.
“We have time, don’t worry. The center is under siege anyway, we’re not going to escape easily. You’ll have to be at full strength.” Ilea said. “And while we’re here, where nobody cares about us, I’d like to have a little talk.” She said, sitting down on the table.
“You know your mana is draining right?” Elise asked with one eye open, cracking her neck.
“Easy way to build resistances. I’m sure you would’ve escaped eventually.” Ilea answered. She already had a rather high level of Mana Drain Resistance at 18, making the device somewhat ineffective. Still it canceled out her recovery without Meditation. Add a mage or two and they could even leave her powerless down here, at least when it came to Mana related spells.
“I forgot for a second that you’re from the Shadow’s Hand. Plus you’re young, I don’t want to know what the hell you’ve been through.” Elise said.
“Haven’t been tortured yet.” Ilea said with a smile, removing her helmet and holding it in her hands.
The woman grunted. “Not very pleasant I tell you. Not the worst I’ve had though.” She said and smiled back. “Now where the hell are my glasses.”
“On the table in the next room. Should I get them for you?” Ilea asked but the woman shook her head.
“It’s fine. I just really like them. Now Ilea, why did you come to these lengths to save me?” Elise asked, smirking towards her.
“Well for one thing, you wanted to help me find out more about Eve. For another, the guy at the library was the most insufferable little shit. It’s worth it just to spite him really.” Ilea said, Elise starting to laugh. “And last but not least I like you. Seem like a decent witch.”
“Witch? I prefer Arcanist but when do I ever get anything I want.” Elise said sighing.
“A good friend is a witch, take it as a compliment. So did you find out anything about Eve?” Ilea asked, constantly checking if anybody was around. She didn’t know when the torturer’s shift ended or if anybody even started to miss him at some point.
“I did, albeit not much. There are different records we have that fit well enough with the woman you described. She was a high level illusionist and mind mage but she hasn’t always been. Assassinations or rather murders from six and more years ago associated with some of the records make her out to be a somewhat sloppy killer. Apparently she learned. Was never caught, even in her early years and the records dry up around four years ago. I don’t have to tell you that there are plenty of dead around where it’s impossible to find the killer, let alone anybody that cares to find out.” Elise explained. “Do you have something to drink?” She asked, her voice drying up.
Ilea summoned some water but decided otherwise, filling a cup with ale and handing it to the woman.
“Wow, that is some good ale. Where did you get it?” Elise asked after finishing the cup.
Ilea chuckled and refilled it. “Friendly Dark Sorcerer and dare I say professional brewer.”
“Definitely, this is some of the best I’ve ever had.” Elise said, drinking a little from the second cup.
“Well I’d assume after being released from torture even piss tastes good.” Ilea said making the woman chuckle.
“I’m not going to try.” She said. “Anyway, the fact that she’s so young leads me to believe she’s one of seven possible people, all of them commoners, all of them having a reason to go after nobles. That’s what they all did, mostly. Criminals and human traffickers, slave traders and just generally horrible people protected by the law or paid by influential officials. They took it into their own hands to deliver what they thought to be justice. Some ore successful than others. Your friend, if she really managed to join the Shadows, was one of the more successful ones.” Elise explained.
“The records are in the library if you want to find out where they were from and additional possible leads. Sadly there’s nothing about recent times, not for a lack of dead nobles, that’s for sure. No idea who would’ve killed her at last but all of the people I researched for this certainly had enough enemies.” Elise finished.
“The Golden Lily.” Ilea said, watching Elise’s face turn even more serious.