Chapter 207 Farewells
“There’s a Taleen dungeon below this castle right?” Ilea asked after a while. They had eaten their fill and Popi had put away his kitchen aids and the rest of the batter.
“Was.” Maurice said, holding his belly. “That Zoy girl took care of that. Although there weren’t that many machines I suppose.”
“Were you even down there.” Ilea asked.
“The damn fuckers scare me.” He said, not answering the question.
“They can be pretty scary.” Ilea said and got up.
“You’re going down there?” Maurice asked and she nodded. “Well don’t die to a trap.”
That made her laugh. A fitting end I suppose. She thought, smiling before she blinked downwards. Again and again before she appeared in the very room she had been teleported away from. Without her Sphere, the teleportation gate looked just like a hallway. The runes and machinery below the white stone was more intricate but she doubted even with more attention in the moment that she’d have realized what it was. She understood why Arthur hadn’t known immediately what it was either, despite the control panel somewhat prominent a little further down the hallway.
It looked similar to the one she had seen in her first Taleen dungeon. Where Edwin had activated it to get away. To save Maria. Perhaps she wouldn’t have disliked him so much if he had just explained himself. That was too late now of course. Beating the man down while they demolished the Birmingale’s home had helped with that sentiment somewhat.
A chasm opened up behind the platform with the control panel, leading downwards into a black void. Ilea walked off, her wings spreading a moment later and stabilizing her in the air. On the other side of the chasm there was a lit up entrance but she ignored that for now, instead delving deeper, looking into the walls with her Sphere as she went.
A couple minutes of searching later she had found nothing. Except for the bottom of the chasm that was lined with pointy rocks. A couple skeletons and some rusty gear told a sad story, though none of it useful in any way.
‘ding’ ‘You have entered Iztacalis dungeon.’
The message sprung up in her mind as soon as she entered the lit door. Green light of course. The dwarves just fucking loved their green. It was a nearly nostalgic feeling, stepping into the hall beyond the entrance.
She had of course visited a dungeon the day before but that was more rushed and certainly more dangerous than this endeavor. Already destroyed and cut through parts of Taleen Guardians littered the white marble floor. Green and in some parts golden pipes and gears looked out from the walls.
This wasn’t a city, this was something else. Ilea walked on, through empty corridors and barely lit halls. Vegetation had started taking over in some parts, leaks in the cracking walls letting in water from the ocean around and above. The atmosphere was certainly eerie but that was nothing new to her Taleen dungeon experience. She was just waiting for green eyes lighting up in the dark corners of the room. This time though, she wasn’t scared. She was prepared, all her skills active.
Nothing happened. Not a single guardian assaulted her, the few she found lay dismantled on the floor, burnt, frozen, corroded or cut apart. They certainly had been thorough. More halls, storage rooms, what looked like a factory, worn down and rusty before finally she reached a dead end. Well not exactly a dead end.
In one corner of the room, she found something with her Sphere. A vague idea of something. Her mind wandered off and her eyes looked away whenever she wanted to look directly at the corner. An enchantment to be sure, one still working and one to keep her away from something hidden. She was surprised Arthur and his crew had apparently not found this but perhaps it had to do with them realizing they had found the teleportation gate all along. According to his diary it was the only reason for them to even explore the Taleen dungeons.
Ilea had some more ideas to use their amazing technology, robotics and trap design but Arthur Redleaf didn’t seem to share her opinions. Or he thought it impossible to replicate the machines themselves. Why would he though? The question remained as Ilea pushed her mana into the wall. Nothing happened, so she used her next reasonable way to get inside. Her fist landed on the stone, a passive crack forming and a chunk of rock pulverized on impact.
Again and again she punched, congratulating the dwarves on the incredibly durable construction and material. Compared to the factories she had destroyed in Virilya, this was like what metal was to drywall. Still, she destroyed the wall in a couple more punches, creating a big enough hole to look through. It seemed like another empty hallway, so she blinked inside, her sphere able to look through the wall now.
An empty room. It ended a couple dozen meters further back and this time her Sphere didn’t report anything special. There were skeletons on the ground, more than one. Six to be exact and in her Sphere it looked like they were dwarves. One of the room’s walls looked a little different to her Sphere but she couldn’t quite make out what it was.
Ilea summoned the golden lighter she had gotten in Salia and lit it. The flame wasn’t very bright but enough to answer her questions. The wall had a painting on it, crude and faded. It looked like a man, armed with an ax, fighting against a spider like creature with six blades. The limbs too straight to be a spider. A guardian. She thought, tapping the top of her helmet. “You know anything about that?” She asked the skeleton closest to her.
They were all dressed in Taleen clothing, some even in armor but nothing as fancy as the Legate’s armor she had found so long ago. The writing was partially faded as well but summoning the diary she still had, it was definitely the Taleen language. Ilea placed the lighter on the ground and summoned her notebook, writing down the runes as well as she could before she sketched down the painting on the wall.
The skeleton didn’t answer her sadly and soon she closed her notebook and made one last round in the room. Before she left, she quickly stored the corpses in her necklace. Rotting in a forgotten and closed off tomb like this was dwarf like to be sure but she felt they deserved better. They would have a farewell ceremony anyway, why not add a couple more corpses to the flames.
All the remaining people on the Isle of Garath were gathered on the terrace they had started their battle with the monster and the ice lady. A pyre had been build from wood donated by Aliana, all the corpses they had produced were on it, with the addition of some dwarven skeletons. The winds were strong and it looked like a storm would soon be upon them. As much as she had talked about going east, Ilea would postpone her voyage across the ocean to the very last. The wild waves breaking on the cliffs below were just the cloak masking whatever lurked deep down.
The heat of the rising flames distracted her from the thought, Popi’s magic setting the pyre ablaze from all sides before the whole thing turned into a raging inferno.
The wind and waves were the only sound around them.
“He was a horrible father.” Felicia said as the fires burned.
“Ice lady was a tough one.” Maurice whispered to Ilea.
“She was.” Ilea answered. “Didn’t help her in the end.” She added and stared into the flames.
“May they find their rest.” Popi said, increasing the heat until only ash remained.
“Did you find anything in the dungeon?” Felicia asked after Ilea had sent the ash towards the ocean.
“Only bones and broken machines.” She answered, the woman nodding in response.
“A shame. You will find him.” Felicia said and touched her shoulder.
“Or he will find me.” Ilea said and smiled at her friend.
“I wish you good fortune on your journey Ilea. May our paths cross again.” Felicia said and hugged her.
Ilea hugged her back. “To you too. I’m sure they will. Just don’t get killed.”
“I think the chances of that happening are significantly lower than you dying.” Felicia answered and giggled.
“Well then let’s hope I don’t die.” Ilea said, letting go of the woman.
Felicia laughed at that. “I’d like to see the beast that manages that feat.”
I’ve seen plenty capable enough. Ilea thought but didn’t want to bring it up. Felicia’s optimism was a nice change of pace, something she needed now.
Christopher and the vegetation mages that wanted to come to Ravenhall had gathered together, ready to leave with their bags and equipment. Everybody else prepared to leave as well, the longer they stayed near the castle, the more dangerous it would become.
Ilea went to Maurice and Popi, shaking the former man’s hand and hugging Popi right after. “Don’t be too stupid out there. If you ever want to open a store, I’m sure we can arrange something in Ravenhall.” She said and let go.
“It was nice meeting you Ilea.” Popi said and smiled. “I made this for you.” He added and summoned a cheesecake. “It’s my secret recipe.”
Ilea damn near choked up at seeing the gift but kept herself together. “Thank you Popi.” She said and took the cake, making it vanish into her necklace.
“Damn shame that you’re going out there alone. We could use you.” Maurice said and grinned.
“I’m sure a level two hundred adventurer will be fine without me.” Ilea said and waved him off.
“Yea but we’d be finer with you.” Maurice answered.
Aliana came up to her and bowed her head lightly. “Thank you for the help on this mission.” She said.
“Of course. I’ll find him Aliana, don’t worry too much.” She said to the woman who looked up, her eyes locking with Ilea’s.
“You won’t be the only one looking.” Aliana said. “Plus he can handle himself.”
“I know he can.” Ilea said, glad she wasn’t the only one who cared about Kyrian. “Are you sure you want to stay with them?”
“I go where Felicia goes.” Aliana said and that was that.
Edwin and Maria were standing a little to the side, Ilea waving to Christopher and the mages coming with them as she walked to the blood mage.
“Ilea.” He said and bowed lightly. “I’ll be forever in your debt. If you want to look for the order or hunt down a target, I’ll come with you as promised.”
“True to your word? Interesting. Perhaps I will call on you at some point. I hope you’ll remember your word then still.” She said and nodded towards Felicia. “In the meantime, keep her safe.”
“I fear that my help isn’t necessary with that anymore. Still, I will do what is necessary.” Edwin said and smirked.
“Good luck Maria.” Ilea said, the woman’s eyes opening wide at that but she didn’t respond.
“Give me that.” Ilea said to the mages when she walked towards them, putting all their baggage into her necklace.
“Son of a bitch.” Edwin murmured to her amusement.
“Grab onto me.” Ilea said to the group, each grabbing her arms or legs without a lack of awkward glances and uncertainty. “Safe journeys to you all.” Ilea said, specifically smiling at Felicia, Aliana and Popi before her wings spread out and she ascended, slightly weighed down by the people hanging off her body. Kyrian you dumb fuck, leaving me to do this myself.
They flew higher and higher, some of the group below waving towards them before Ilea sped up towards the south. Towards Ravenhall.
The flight back took significantly longer than Ilea’s rushed arrival. She didn’t particularly mind it, pausing after the first six hours of traveling in a small forest’s clearing near the cliffs. The trees were small and scrawny but still provided some shelter against the ocean winds and possible creatures on the hunt for prey. Ilea would keep watch of course but unnecessary danger was something she would reserve for herself.
Her wings crumbled away, the ash vanishing as she stepped on the ground, the four people hanging off her limbs letting go, stumbling on the ground and breathing hard. One of them, a big bellied man in his thirties fell on his back, his chest heaving up and down as he struggled to keep his lungs working.
The red haired woman next to Ilea recovered the quickest, rubbing her arms before she cracked her knuckles and neck. “You used healing magic didn’t you?” She asked, Ilea focusing on her as she spoke.
“I did. I don’t think you’d have lasted six hours otherwise.” She said and looked around, checking the area through her sphere and hunter’s sight. It seemed safe enough. Monsters had a good instinct, the one screaming at them not to approach her.
“Any of you know fire magic?” Ilea asked as she walked towards one of the trees, looking up to the top of it before she stabilized the trunk with both hands. One powerful kick and the groaning of wood later, the only thing holding up the small tree were her very arms.
“Gods.” The red haired woman said, staring at the scene. Christopher and the last mage they had taken with them, a young boy in his teens looked on in shock as well. Ilea was a little confused but concentrated on turning the trunk sideways, chucking it on the ground before she summoned one of her remaining Taleen greatswords. The blade was massive, reflecting the afternoon suns in its greenish metal. The nearly one and a half meter long blade came crashing down on the wood, sending splinters to the side, Ilea’s enhanced strength cleaving the frail tree in two with three strikes.
“Instead of staring at me you could gather some stones and small sticks to start a fire.” Ilea said, glancing back at the group who quickly sprung into action. She continued her work wordlessly for another ten minutes, some of the strikes missing and digging into the ground or glancing off her armored leg. Even with her high dexterity, she wasn’t good with swords. As soon as it came to making actual logs, she stored the greatsword again and used her hands instead, ripping the chunks of wood apart to get sizable pieces.
A scream rang through the clearing, making Ilea blink towards the sound immediately. A second blink and she saw the scene in her sphere. The big man had alerted something that looked like a mutated boar. Mutated in the sense that it was bigger than what Ilea imagine a boar to be. Then again, she hadn’t ever seen one on Earth.
The thing was easily one meter fifty high and over two meters long and it looked pissed. Ilea appeared before the bald man and casually looked at the beast.
[Fanged Boar – lvl 59]
“Shouldn’t you be able to handle that?” She asked, looking at the man who was at level one hundred and nine, blood streaming down from an injured thigh. Ilea quickly crouched down and checked on him, stopping the bleeding for now with her healing magic. The boar stood defiantly, a bit of blood dripping from one of its fangs.
“Why are you not running away?” Ilea asked as she got up again and turned around. She didn’t see any young nearby and identified the beast to be quite obviously male.
“Th…. They don’t leave…,” The man behind her said through gritted teeth, the pain from the wound quite obviously discomforting. “… once they draw blood.” He added, looking down on his leg.
“Well there’s our meal then.” Ilea said, appearing next to the boar and smashing in its head with a single precise strike, crushing its skull and brain as its body twitched and was sent to the ground.
‘ding’ ‘You have killed [Fanged Boar – lvl 59]’
Ilea stored the beast in her necklace and walked back to the man who was just staring at her in a combination of awe and terror. “Come on.” She said, healing his injury in the next minute, helping him up as he carefully tried stepping on his previously mangled leg.
“You’re a healer too…,” He said and shook his head. “I’m so… sorry.” He added, looking for anything else to say.
“Don’t worry about it. I’m human too though, might as well treat me that way.” Ilea said as she walked back to her pile of wood.
“Any of you know how to treat a boar corpse, could be lunch.” She said and dumped the corpse near the stone circle the others were building.
“I do. Got a knife?” The red haired woman asked, Ilea noticing the scar on her cheek for the first time. She looked at the woman for a moment before she nodded and summoned a Taleen dagger and sword respectively, handing both of them to the woman hilts forward.
“Cheers.” She said and placed the sword on the ground carefully, starting to cut into the thick boar hide with the dagger. The smell of blood joined the scent of the trees and ocean soon after, the woman sometimes glancing at the boar’s crushed head, looking towards Ilea in turn. She didn’t know Ilea saw all this through her Sphere but decided not to react.
The way their squad was looked at and greeted on their missions was indication enough as to how Shadows were treated by normal people. Hell, she had experienced it herself in Riverwatch when they had encountered the squad hunting for elves. What happened to them I wonder…, She thought but put the thought away for now. All she remembered were a bunch of people in black. It could’ve been anybody.