Chapter 194 Dangerous Flight
“There you go. Good as new.” The man said with a bit of a slur in his speech. Ilea couldn’t deny his craftsmanship, leaving the stone wall behind as if it had never been touched.
“Good. And this is for your silence.” She said, flinging another gold coin towards the man.
“Two reasons why this wasn’t a bad idea.” The man said and shook his head. “I’ll leave now, lest I remember you two.” He said and touched the wall, melding with the stone before he was completely absorbed.
“What a weird way to teleport.” Ilea said and shook her head, not seeing the man anymore through her sphere.
“You mean opposed to ripping through the fabric of reality and appearing at your destination? From thin air?” Elise commented and chuckled.
“I suppose you’re right.” Ilea said and blinked to the side street above.
“Arthur Redleaf hmm? So you’re involved in the recent attacks against nobles all over the city?” Elise asked.
“One or two of them, yes.” Ilea said as they walked towards one of the possible exits from the city.
“It’s the lost son isn’t it, Edwin Redleaf.” Elise commented as they watched the checkpoint from afar. The dome was closed already, the soldiers clearing away the remaining tables, traps and supplies.
“Checkpoints are closed then. Come, let’s see if it’s all of them.” Ilea said, turning around. “What do you know of the man?”
“Little, I read his file around five years ago. Noble son but the Redleafs don’t favor their own children. Same rigorous training or well, torture more like as the child soldiers and assassins they usually groom. It’s not really an unusual story if you look at him as one of them. Still, he hasn’t been killed yet so that’s unusual enough. The ones that normally disobey do so earlier and get taken care of by the families or an imperial assassin. He took his time to strike. Smart that one.” Elise explained.
“You knew that from something you read five years ago?” Ilea asked doubtfully.
“I’m a librarian.” Elise said as if it was the most normal thing in the world. “We’ve got skills for that.” She added.
There it is. Ilea thought, accepting it now. Perhaps they had their own library in their mind with all the information they had ever consumed.
“I don’t think the man escaped because of the torture.” Ilea said more to herself as they reached the next checkpoint. Just that there wasn’t one in the first place.
“The sewage then.” Ilea sighed and walked off.
“Now just focus on me and follow. No spells other than teleportation.” Ilea whispered to Elise while filling the whole tunnel with ash, condensing it again and again. The librarian watched the ash in fascination and nodded.
When she had gathered enough, Ilea walked towards the exit. A large group of imperial mages and soldiers occupied the room before the tunnel Ilea had previously visited from the other side. Some of them looked at the newcomers but it was already too late, Ilea’s ash expanding and distributing in the room with a flash before she blinked to the shield mages, ramming one of them into the close wall before blinking to the other one, hitting him in the stomach without any spells, the force sending him flying for a couple meters.
The defensive shield flickered and Ilea was through, Elise close behind before it stabilized again, a flood of fire following the two of them as they vanished and appeared in an unoccupied apartment outside the central district.
“Come on, you can celebrate when we’re further away.” Ilea said, blinking again. Some Baralia soldiers noticed them, some even trying to follow for a while but the two of them were simply too fast, escaping towards the clock tower where Kyrian was probably still waiting for Ilea.
“Where are we going?” Elise asked after a while.
“Still have a friend in the city.” Ilea answered, blinking again.
“Edwin?” Elise asked with a smirk.
“Edwin is more like an abusive ex friend you sadly still sometimes have to see.” Ilea said in a monotone voice.
“Did he rape you?” Elise asked in confusion.
“That’s not what I… no, he didn’t rape me.” Ilea said. “You should really look into psychology.”
“I’m not about to break any slaves.” Elise said with disgust.
“Forget about it.” Ilea said, not about to explain the misunderstanding from her standpoint coming from Earth. At least they knew what psychology was, just that it was likely used in a purely military way. It’s a different world and by now I’m not really one to talk about morals. She thought to herself as they reached the street with the clock tower.
Kyrian was meditating on the top floor, metal spinning around him as they appeared nearby.
“You’re back early.” He said as he got up.
“We have to leave immediately. This is Elise, librarian and a friend.” Ilea said as he approached them.
“It’s nice to meet you Elise. You really make friends everywhere you go.” He said looking at her.
“And enemies.” Ilea said but he waved her off.
“That I know how to do too.” Kyrian said.
“You must be Edwin then.” Elise said. “I didn’t know you were a metal mage, quite a rare class.” She added with respect. “To think a noble like you has hid in the Shadow’s Hand.”
“My name is Kyrian. I can see where your priorities lie though.” He said, the second part towards Ilea.
“Kyrian I’m sorr…,” She started but he just put his hands up.
“I’m joking. Now come, I assume her knowing about Edwin means we’ll visit him first?” Kyrian asked.
“I hadn’t planned on it but why not. I have something on his father and who knows how long we’d need to find them again if we don’t visit the hideout now.” Ilea said, thinking about it.
“Can you fly?” She asked Elise.
“Most useless skill I’ve ever gotten.” She replied but Ilea just smiled.
“Oh you’ll like it. Trust me. Reason enough to get out of that bloody library.” Ilea said.
“I doubt it, excitement about something like that really diminishes after a couple decades you know.” Elise said, the others activating her flying skills.
Ilea reduced her speed and turned around, checking on the laughing Elise as she moved up and down in the air, twirling and nearly losing control from time to time. Flying was as expected not an experience diminished by years of waiting to finally do it. Ilea still enjoyed it and she’s been doing it for over half a year now. She doubted even a pilot’s experience would come close to what she could do. Perhaps skydiving but the speeds were on a completely different level.
Plus she wasn’t just falling, she could go wherever she wanted. Elise suddenly veered downwards before she crashed into a set of trees, branches snapping before she came to an abrupt stop, rolling on the ground with at least some broken bones.
“Kyrian wait!” Ilea shouted to the man ahead of them and landed next to the injured Elise, shooing away the bear like creature that had approached carefully. The monster roared at her but Ilea simply knelt down next to the nearly unconscious woman and checked her for injuries. Several ribs had been broken, as was one of her arms.
“I flew…,” Elise stammered out. “It hurts.”
“Flying doesn’t hurt.” Ilea said as she focused healing the most pressing injuries. “You should invest in Vitality. Some tree branches shouldn’t injure you that much.”
“If you’re in a… ah, fuck… if you’re in a library, other stats seem much more vital.” The woman said.
“Well you’re not anymore.” Ilea said when the bearwolf roared again, Elise lifting her hand before a beam of red energy disintegrated the creature, not even leaving bones behind.
“I can see how focusing your stats can be beneficial.” Ilea said but she was still rather happy about her own spread out stats. She would’ve been dead ten times over without it. Elise would soon be too if she didn’t change her approach.
“Still, you need to survive. And you won’t have a healer around every time you fly into trees.” Ilea said, helping Elise get up.
“Thank you. I’m quite aware of my shortcomings Ilea. I’ll get it to two hundred first thing I do.” She said.
“Make that five hundred and I won’t bother you about it anymore.” Ilea murmured before her wings spread again. She didn’t listen to the woman’s response, joining Kyrian a moment later.
“Is she alright?” The man asked.
“She is.” Ilea answered and continued onwards to the hideout they had used the week before.
“Anybody home?” Ilea said while opening the camouflaged entrance to the Alymie hideout. Considering all the nobles in and around Virilya there must’ve been a lot of these places around these plains and forests.
“Ilea?” Felicia asked, checking the hallway from their room. “It’s you! I’m glad you’re still alive. Come, Aliana just finished cooking.”
When isn’t she? Ilea thought but nonetheless joined Felicia on the big table. “Where’s Edwin and Maria?” She asked, looking around but finding nobody other than the two through both eyes and sphere.
“They’ve been out since early morning. But Edwin said it’s a small task only today. The war messed up their plans I think.” Felicia explained before starting to eat. “You brought someone new? Did the war get in the way as well?”
“Not exactly. We finished what we came here for.” Ilea said, sitting down. “I guess we can wait for them to return. Elise what’s that magic you’re using? Arcane?”
“Yes, why?” The woman replied, a little uncertain about the new people around. Still, she sat down and got a plate of food. Aliana seemed all the more happy to feed more people. Their residence in the hideout would leave behind the smell of cooked and grilled meat for a year at least. Longer if Felicia wouldn’t use her magic to create some sort of ventilation system.
“My resistance to that element is only at level six. I could use some training.” Ilea said between chewing.
“You want me to attack you?” Elise said and then nodded. “I guess I can do that but don’t underestimate it, my magic packs quite a bit of power. And it’s going to hurt.”
“I doubt the second part.” Ilea said with a grin. “And I hope the first part is right.”
“Is it alright if I join you in that?” Kyrian asked.
Ilea looked at the man sideways. “Ah yes, your healing curse. You can use that on me and we’ll get the system down. Doubly effective for both of us.” She said and gave him a thumbs up.
“Wanna start after the meal?” Kyrian asked and Ilea nodded.
“Thanks by the way Aliana. Your cooking is marvelous.” The man said and smiled at the woman who blushed quite a bit but didn’t reply.
Ilea just looked at him with a sly grin before finishing her food.
“Why aren’t you wearing your armor?” Elise asked, all of them standing or sitting around the clearing a couple hundred meters away from the hideout, having left behind a note in case the others come back.
“I don’t want to have it repaired again. Plus the damage will be higher like this.” Ilea said. Kyrian nodded in thought and switched to more casual clothes as well, shivering right after.
“Not a fan of the cooling system.” He said, referring to his new storage ring.
“Just wait until it’s summer.” Ilea commented. “Where did you get those clothes anyway?”
“You think I just sat in the tower and waited for you?” Kyrian said and chuckled. “The whole district was empty, except for a bunch of soldiers.”
“Are you two done?” Elise asked, red energy flowing around her form. Felicia giggled from the side, apparently enjoying the sight.
“Me first, start as low as possible.” Ilea said right before a beam of red energy hit her in the left arm. The attack barely burnt into her flesh. The clothes would be ruined, that was for sure. Kyrian had been right though, perhaps she would visit the capital once more after all. Just to fill up her wardrobe with some spares.
“More, until you my arm is ripped off.” Ilea said, the wound healing quickly.
Elise shook her head with a smile, looking at Felicia and then Kyrian. “She’s joking right?”
“I’m afraid not.” The man replied. “She can take it, trust me.”
“The Shadow’s Hand. Seems like the jokes and rumors weren’t exaggerated at all…,” Elise murmured to herself before a stronger attack hit Ilea’s arm.
Again and again they tested until finally her flesh was ripped off, the bone below refusing to go.
“Anything stronger and I won’t be able to specifically aim the attack at your arm.” Elise said. “Are you sure you’re alright?” She asked.
“Yes, quite fine. And this is good. You can aim this at my torso as well, the damage will be more extensive that way. I’m pretty much immune to pain by the way.” Ilea said. “Kyrian you can use your drain now, it won’t be a problem.” She added, looking at her teammate. The first notifications had already appeared in her mind. It made sense, as losing an arm to a specific magic attack would certainly constitute some amount of skill gain. She was a little annoyed that not even flinching at it didn’t give her an additional thing. Her face is pretty good at least. She thought, looking at Elise.
The drain set in and every fifth spell was aimed at Kyrian from now on, albeit at a much lower intensity. Having the flesh stripped off your arm wasn’t a nice experience even without any pain. Plus his resilience wasn’t exactly comparable to Ilea’s, even though his defense was excellent for a mage. The same attack Elise used on Ilea would likely disintegrate his bones as well.
After twenty minutes of this, Kyrian set out to get a breather, the constant pain a little much for him. Elise moved on to target Ilea’s stomach and chest, ripping through her unprotected flesh again and again. With time, the attacks dealt less and less damage. Not noticeable to the eye and barely different in Ilea’s health meter but to her healing skill, the difference was like night and day.
Ilea ignored the notifications in her mind as she had started to do a while ago. It distracted from the training and while she could do little else but stand there and take it, she could increase her knowledge about her healing skill, learning more about her body and which parts needed to be healed first in different scenarios. Bloody scenarios for sure. The ground around her was littered with guts and blood but she stood there like nothing happened. Well her clothes were ripped up of course but other than that, her mana recreated her flesh perfectly through Hunter Recovery.
When the suns were setting, her eyes moved up to the trees behind Elise where her Sphere had picked something up. A fleeting feeling at best but having trained extensively with Eve, Ilea was an expert at spotting hard to find people.
“Welcome back.” She said. “Guess our little session is over.”
Maria appeared on the tree and jumped down, looking around. Elise was on guard but seeing Ilea’s casual behavior and Kyrian’s continued meditation let her know that the newcomer wasn’t an enemy.
“I need to take care of something.” Elise said, walking to a nearby bush before she puked her guts out.
“You don’t waste any time, do you?” Maria asked with a smile. “How’d it go with you? The war certainly brought a lot of chaos into this whole operation.”
“And opportunities.” Ilea said. “We were successful. Trian has already left. I possibly have something for you two.”
“I’m happy to hear that.” Maria said in a monotone voice. “Found a new friend as well I see.” She added in a very obviously annoyed tone.
“Ah shut it girl. I couldn’t give two shits about you and the Redleaf boy. Very effective murdering in the past months though. You must be one of the survivors then?” Elise said while cleaning her mouth. Ilea threw her a flask with water.
“You told her our names?” Maria asked and stared at Ilea.
“And here I thought we started to have a thing here.” Ilea said smiling.
“You really are a liability. I thought so from the start but…,” Maria started but just sighed. “Who is she anyway?”
“I’m right here you know. Elise, ex librarian of the Library of Souls. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.” The woman said with a smile, Maria’s expression turning to stone.
“The library of S…,” She started and looked at Ilea. “You didn’t…,”
“I have no idea where your thoughts are. I have the latest gossip on Arthur if that helps.” Ilea said.
“You glorious idiot.” Maria said, leaving Ilea with the question if she should take that as a compliment or an insult.
“Call me idiot again and I’ll smash your tits right off your chest.” Ilea said.
“Apologies.” Maria said, actually bowing to her. “For doubting you. As free spirited and impulsive as you are, your ways are efficient. To think a member of the library would defect the empire…,”
“Is that just who you are? Constantly insulting people?” Ilea asked but smiled. The woman reminded her of a bully she had put in her place back in primary school.
“What? I didn’t insult you?” Maria said confused.
“As free spirited and impulsive as you are. Those were your words. Do you not see the possibly offensive content?” Elise asked as she joined Ilea and handed back the water.
“Oh I see. I’m sorry. I’ve spent the last couple years being tortured and raped. My social etiquette lacks its previous splendor.” Maria said.
“See, I knew I started to like you.” Ilea said, both of them grinning.
“You scare me.” Kyrian said as he got up. “Both of you. I don’t envy your enemies.”
“You’re not exactly harmless either. You can stop cursing me now by the way. It’s unpleasant.” Ilea said and the feeling left immediately, as did the constant health drain.
“Thanks, got four levels today.” Kyrian said with a smile, his armor appearing on his body an instant later.
“Opportunities hmm?” Maria asked as she looked at the man. “Well we’ve not been idle either. Edwin is at the hideout, planning the next move now that Virilya is under siege. A lot of buildings and room has been freed up and a lot of important people have fled and are isolated. Perhaps what you found may help as well.” Maria said to the group.