Chapter 210 Evaluation from the other Side
The city soon came to life as the sounds of construction magic intertwined with merchants shouting about their low priced goods. Ilea slowly made her way towards Viscera, thinking about the possible second doom she had brought to the city. Christopher had been right though, their actions weren’t hers and the advantages of a working teleportation system between human cities would certainly increase the power of the whole species ten fold.
Ilea just wasn’t sure if that was good. We will see what the future brings. She thought, stopping near a line of people waiting for the food sold by a somewhat young looking cook. The girl couldn’t have been older than fifteen but she handled the wok like she was born with the ability. The smell was nice and Ilea’s stomach would’ve grumbled were it not for her enhanced body barely needing any sustenance anymore.
Still, eating was nice either way so she waited until she was first in line.
“It’s noodles with meat sir.” The cook said, a little uneasy having a member of the Hand standing before her.
“I’ll have a portion please.” Ilea said as nicely as she could, smiling under her helmet. The girl filled a wooden bowl to the brim and handed it to her.
“Next.” The cook said.
“I didn’t pay.” Ilea said, summoning a silver piece and handing it to the girl.
“Shadows don’t pay.” The girl said.
“I insist.” Ilea refused and put the coin on the table, walking away with the food. I keep on throwing out money like that. Ilea thought but smiled, blinking into an alley and switching into a more comfortable set of leather armor. Mostly to be able to eat the food as she strolled through the city.
Compared to Salia it was certainly a cold town, less artistry in the architecture and less color. The streets were mostly cobbled with gray stone, the houses and buildings put up closely due to the constricting space of the city walls. It was similar in Salia of course but Ravenhall was likely an older city, more time to fill it than Salia had. Both had been emptied by either elves or demons.
Ilea wondered how Salia was doing by now. Was it just a ruin, maybe even cursed with undead? Or did someone retake it? Perhaps someday she will go back and see what happened to it all. The meal consisted of cooked noodles with different vegetables and chicken. The sauce reminded Ilea more of something western than asian but the rest of the meal certainly didn’t. With Ravenhall now getting repopulated by refugees, she imagined a lot of the foods to be from different places all over the empire and beyond.
With magic being a thing, growing what would need a completely different climate likely wasn’t much of a problem here. The variety in the meals Keyla cooked certainly spoke for that. Loud noises could be heard when a man angrily pushed open a door, someone else shouting behind him as he drunkenly walked out into the street. The man shouting run out and tackled the drunk guy, both of them falling to the floor hard.
A guard from a nearby street rushed out, sword flashing as he yelled at the two men.
“Stop it at once! In the name of the empire.” He reached them when one of the men sent a wind blade his way, the guard dodging to the side before his sword came down on the attacker. Ilea stood by and watched the ensuing battle with interest, eating her noodles as more and more people stopped to watch. A stray wind blade was sent towards a group of civilians, Ilea appearing before them before it smashed into her Veil of Ash, the food safely held to the side.
She continued eating, the people behind her a little shocked at both the wind blade and her sudden appearance. A second guard appeared after a while, the mage overwhelmed as he was pushed back, taking to the air finally while the guards followed on the rooftops below.
“Thanks!” A kid said behind her, handing her a copper coin.
“Keep the money.” Ilea said and walked on. Life had returned to the city of Ravenhall. Humanity wouldn’t fall so easily after all, as long as they had some walls to hide behind.
Yet walls wouldn’t keep them safe and neither will they make them stronger. The guard before Viscera nodded at her approach, checking the badge quickly that she handed to him. “A good day to you ma’am.” The woman said, handing back the badge.
“Same to you.” Ilea replied, patting the guard on her shoulder before she entered Viscera. The entrance hall didn’t look much different than when she had first seen it. A bunch of massive metal gears had been added, likely to put the even bigger steel wall in front of the entrance should the need arise. Something that would’ve delayed some of the demons but ultimately the fate of the city would’ve likely remained the same. Even with such devices in place.
With everyone fighting and better coordination… The thought somewhat justified the new additions to Ilea. If whatever enemy or monster attacked, the new walls would help. At least for the Hand and the guards to group up and prepare a defense.
“May I help you ma’am?” The trainee with receptionist duties asked, the young man respectfully bowing when she approached.
“Looking for Sulivhaan.” She said.
“He should be at his office this time of day.” The man replied.
“And where is that exactly?” Ilea asked again.
“Near the library. Take the same elevator.” He said, Ilea nodding and going towards the actual Viscera. Again, there were bunker like gates in place just in case they were needed. The town itself was less busy than she was used to. More people in black armor and gear walked around than when she had first come here, people still prepared for a fight it seemed. She made her way towards the elevator, glancing quickly at the apartment she had initially gotten. Ilea held little interest in it now.
Having had her house built, the feeling of having a safe place to go back to was satisfied. Sleeping outside and traveling to unknown places was likely going to be a big part of her life but it was nice knowing that she could go back. The board mentioning different classes wasn’t set up but perhaps Sulivhaan or William had more answers regarding that.
“She came with a friend. One is a healer and tank, the other an arcane mage.” William told her, handing her the two files. The man had informed her that most classes weren't available yet but he had another suggestion.
Ilea looked over them briefly and nodded. “She looks like a noble.” Ilea was to help him evaluate some potential new members.
“Paid in advance but we don’t know about her family status. She says she’s from the north.”
“The northern plains?” Ilea asked, remembering Maurice talking about them.
“Perhaps. Many strong tribes there fight and change territories. Information on them is scarce and not worth a lot considering the quick shifts in power.” William explained.
“Interesting. Maybe I should go there at some point.” Ilea mused and handed back the papers.
“Would you like to continue your lessons until they’re here?” The man asked, making Ilea gulp.
“After.” She said. Her arrogance had been paid with terror. She’d get the better of it but five hours in the morning had been quite enough to justify a small break.
Luckily the two possible new joiners entered the training hall a moment later, dashing any argument the strict and sadistic teacher could bring up. He stroked his gray mustache as he looked at them with his cold, unfeeling, evil, terrible, sadistic eyes. At least it looked like that to Ilea. She shifted her attention to the newcomers, cracking her neck in preparation for what was to come.
“What do we have here. So you two are supposed to test our strength?” The woman asked, her long black hair flowing beautifully behind her. She had rugged looking light steel armor on and walked with visible confidence. The man next to her didn’t say anything, full plate steel armor covering his whole body, his eyes focused on William.
“She is mostly. Gan and Bataar of the north. Welcome to the Shadow’s Hand.” William spoke.
“She is? When do we start.” The woman asked.
“Right now.” Ilea said and stepped to the middle of the hall. “One at a time, first you attack me.”
The woman followed Ilea and spoke when she stood a couple meters in front of her. “I am Gan, warrior of the Hand, face me.”
“Ilea, nice to meet you.” She answered and activated her Veil while creating some ash around her.
“Your name does not matter, don’t stand in my way or you will be destroyed.” Gan said, making Ilea roll her eyes.
“Ok ok. Whatever you say. Just attack me, start with the lowest power and ramp it up with each strike, leave five or so seconds in between.” Ilea instructed, knowing full well that some of the people wouldn’t listen to her.
Gan’s hand went up, her black eyes flashing quickly with a little bit of red before a beam of the same color shot at Ilea, impacting a fraction of a second later. Her Veil stopped the blast of pure energy. Her Arcane Magic Resistance was at level eight and the mage that gave her that resistance was at a considerably lower level than the woman standing before her. His magic had looked quite a bit more impressive.
The next blast was like a confirmation, the beam of energy much wider and more destructive, burning through part of her Veil. Gan lifted one of her eyebrows, apparently already impressed with Ilea’s defenses. Spreading out ash before her, Ilea formed three walls and condensed them into smaller plates.
The next blast shredded through all three plates and part of her Veil, likely enough to pass her Veil had it been alone. The woman’s eyes glowed red for a second after the blast this time.
“Your defenses are adequate Ilea of the Hand.” Gan spoke before red runes formed on her body, visible wherever her skin was exposed. Her eyes turned dark red before she lifted her hands in front of her, mana surging through the surroundings and Ilea waiting for the blast behind her repaired shields of ash.
The surge of raw mana smashed through her defenses, hammering into her black armor and pushing her backwards for a meter before she stopped. Her healing skill activated and took care of the slight burns her body had sustained. Compared to Arthur’s wind blows that managed to break her bones even with her armor and all defenses ready, this was child’s play.
“Come on, that’s not all you’ve got.” Ilea said as she remade the ashen shields. This time Gan grinned, crouching a little as her eyes stayed red. A big surge of mana left her before a ball of red light condensed between her hands, the woman continuing her grin as she channeled more and more mana into the attack. Ilea debated if she should blink away as more and more time passed but this day was already filled with defeat.
I hate drowning. She thought and braced herself, crouching to receive the energy blast that followed a second later. The light bit through the ash and her Veil like through paper, smashing into her and sending her skidding backwards as her insides were cooked and burnt by the unstable energy that sizzled off into the air and ground around her. Not as bad as expected. She thought, her healing taking care of the wounds immediately, her Pain Resistance removing the terrible reaction she would normally have felt from most of her skin melting.
“Not bad.” Ilea said, looking at the bent over woman who was breathing hard. She had invested a lot of her mana for that strike it seemed, not something she would do in a normal fight.
“Invest in some more Wisdom.” Ilea said. “A seven in attack power.” She said to William who noted it down.
“A bit of a low score no?” He asked, walking a little closer.
“You agreed didn’t you.” Ilea asked, having rated some of the current members while comparing their scores to the initial ones given out. Hers were usually lower, by quite a bit. “If we have a bunch of eights and nines and no fours then what do the ratings even mean?” Ilea asked rhetorically.
“Now let’s see about speed. Move around and attack me, I’ll do the same but won’t attack.” Ilea explained, the woman looking at her with an unreadable expression. And then she vanished, appearing at an angle behind Ilea while floating in the air. Arcane magic shot out in a beam before Ilea dodged it. She wouldn’t use her blink or flight skills if it wasn’t necessary. It was part of the grading process.
She did however run. More and more arcane beams smashed into the ground, leaving behind burnt and even glassy stone as the woman appeared and vanished, flew through the air in great speeds while Ilea tried to catch up, nearly getting close enough for a punch a couple times. After twenty minutes of the cat and mouse game, Gan seemed to slow down but she didn’t asks for the test to stop, instead using her teleportation skill more to evade Ilea who jumped through the air to get to her. Another five minutes and she was done, Ilea finally getting a grip on the woman’s armor with her right hand. The left followed around the neck, the two of them stabilizing in the air as her ashen wings spread behind her.
“Good.” She said and let go of her, floating to the ground as the woman landed, wobbling on her legs a little.
“Maneuverability six, speed five.” Ilea said, William writing it all down.
“You’re not filling a tank role I suspect. Would you still like to do the defense test?” Ilea asked as she turned around to Gan who was up again, ready to fight. There’s a reason people get to two hundred, isn’t there.
“I would like to. May I recharge my mana? It will take five minutes.” Gan asked and Ilea nodded, waving the man over. He was about her height but quite a bit broader. Not overly so but under that armor was quite a bit of muscle.
“I am Bataar.” He said and bowed to her lightly.
“Ilea.” She said and copied the gesture. “Hit me with what you have.” She said.
The man nodded and walked up to her, one hand holding the massive shield that looked heavier than a car and the other one holding a somewhat short nasty looking barbed mace. There was still blood on it.
“That’s unsanitary.” She said, pointing at the mace as he stopped a meter in front of her. He looked down and grunted.
“Yes, more effective like this.” Bataar said.
“Guess that makes sense.” Ilea said, her Veil ready to take the hit.
The man screamed and brought the mace down, the spikes pushing through her Veil but the overall hit blocked, the metal screeching against her armored shoulder. A pulse of mana was felt before a second strike hit her Veil, this time breaking through. Her shoulder was injured lightly but the blunt force wasn’t something that could threaten her life, not even without armor or the veil.
She waited for a while but he simply stepped back a little to signal that he was done. “Two in attack.” Ilea said.
“Now move and attack me.” Ilea said. The man was quicker than she ever though possible but still a long way behind the woman or herself. For his armor’s weight though it was impressive.
“Three in speed and maneuverability.” Ilea said. “Who wants to go first in defense?”
“Me, you’ll just waste your mana on him.” Gan said from the side. Ilea looked at the man with interest, willing to test that with all she had.
“I will simply stand here.” Gan said as Ilea approached.
“Good.” She answered, her fist rushing at the woman before a shield intercepted the attack, the energy even partially burning her Veil. “Interesting.” She said and attacked again, this time with her buffs active but without Destruction or Wave of Ember. A dull sound could be heard on impact. Ilea felt the shield waver a little and punched again. Five punches later, it was overwhelmed and Gan vanished.
“Defense, three.” Ilea said. “You would do well to increase that skill a bit more. And invest in Vitality, personal suggestion.” Ilea said to the woman who had appeared a couple steps next to her.
“Your advice is not needed.” Gan said in a respectful tone.
“Alright.” Ilea said and turned to Bataar. “You’re gonna be a tough nut to crack I imagine.” She said but he just grunted before he held his huge shield in front of himself. Ilea blinked in front of him and smashed her fist into it. Gan’s eyebrows rose a little at the sudden use of teleportation.
The shield however didn’t move much. Ilea repeated the five punches before she activated Wave of Ember and Destruction on impact. Some of it was deflected, she felt it. The shield had a mana intrusion enchantment but with time it would fall. Using her third tier State of Azarinth, she sacrificed a hundred points of health to deliver one punch. The impact pushed the man back a little. Just a step but it was something.
Her relentless assault continued for another minute before she deemed it worthless. “May I use all means?” Ilea asked.
“Go ahead Shadow.” The man said with respect. Ash started spreading around him before Ilea appeared on his side, her fully powered punch landing on his side. The man’s mace lashed out but she had already vanished, kicking at his left leg from behind before she ducked below the shield bash that followed, delivering an uppercut to his chin with the next punch, sending him flying into the air. He came down two meters further back, shaking his head but getting back up quickly.
He wasn’t done and neither was she. Ilea continued to bash into the man for a whole three minutes, his lacking speed and one sided defense near his shield made it trivial for her to deliver her attacks but he didn’t seem to react much. Whenever she got him to the ground, he would get up and continue. Ilea blinked in once more, this time carefully checking the angle as she held his arm with one hand and jabbed with the other. A cracking sound could be heard, his bone giving in.
Bataar winced but lashed out at her regardless, Ilea jumping back to observe him. His shield dropped to the ground and he used his left hand to correct the broken right one. He locked eyes with her, a golden light quickly shining in them before he started moving his right hand again.
“A healer? Or a paladin?” Ilea asked. With his reactions the man could probably tank Arthur’s Wind magic without being moved as long as he was behind his shield. Any damage to his body he could heal, at least that’s what it looked like.
“Healer and tank.” He said. “You are an impressive warrior and a healer as well. I commend you.” Bataar said and bowed. “I would die were this not a mock fight.”
“Defense seven, nine with his shield up.” Ilea said to William who noted it all down.
“Good, then we’re done here.” He said with a grin. “Back to training.”