Chapter 211 Drowning for Fun
The two new members of the Shadow’s Hand left and would receive their team information and further instructions form William or someone else. Ilea looked at her fist and frowned.
“What is it? Dreading the underwater lesson so much?” William asked but she was preoccupied with the lack of her fist’s impact. The man of course had been a level two hundred tank and healer, focused completely on defense while she was more of a mix, both incredibly resilient but also having a strong punch.
If I want to fight a Praetorian, if I want to find and fight Eve’s killers I’ll need to shatter his shield with a single punch. The thought was refreshing. Scary in a way but she felt good. Her power had crept up on her a little. While many of her enemies could fight her or even win against her, this experience here, rating the other’s defense and attack, it made her realize how long of a way she still had to go.
“Alright water bender, drown me.” Ilea said, impressed again by William’s perfect straight face when he gathered water from the air around him. She summoned her [Drowning Bear Ring] which apparently made her drown less quickly and stood there as the water enveloped her.
The two had talked about this method quite a bit and while William would’ve preferred her to use a more conventional means to gain skills related to underwater survival and combat, this was definitely the fastest and most dangerous one. Perhaps she could gain other levels as well. After the first twenty minutes in the morning, Ilea had asked the man to attack her with ice and water magic while she was drowning and he had obliged.
The water flowed around her before she switched out her Ashen Hunter armor with a simple shirt and pants. It would allow for his attacks to actually inflict damage.
As soon as the water closed before her, Ilea calmed herself down. Meditation and her Healing magic flowed through her body, her eyes focused on the mage before her as he summoned small spikes of ice that shot into the water and slammed into her unprotected skin. Ilea’s Ice Resistance was at level seven, not quite as high as some of her other resistances but certainly nothing to scoff at. She wondered if it would protect her again natural ice buildup as well considering it wasn’t called Ice Magic Resistance.
The oxygen she had left slowly rose through the water around her that started mixing with blood as bigger and more dense ice spikes started slamming into her, some managing to pierce her already armor like skin. She didn’t use her Veil, instead allowing for the full attack to get through, knowing that it would be beneficial for her resistance leveling.
“Five minutes.” She heard the muffled noise through the water. Still, she had some breath left. An impressive result already for Ilea personally but she had realized her body was capable of much more already. In the morning she managed to keep her breath for a whopping thirty minutes which was likely already more than any human had any right to stay underwater.
The ring helped but didn’t change the result more than a minute or two. Time continued to pass, more and more injuries covering her body as William focused his aim on her stomach area to avoid any awkward situations, not that Ilea would’ve cared. Still, she appreciated the intent.
This time she could keep her lungs water free for thirty two minutes straight. A cough sent out the last of the air as her body gasped for more, finding bloody water instead. Ilea continued coughing but her skills kept her focused, the growing pain and discomfort something she focused on just like she had focused on the pain of burning herself to gain the Fire Mage class so long ago. Drowning wasn’t fun for sure and Ilea didn’t feel like picking a favorite between it and burning alive.
A minute passed and then another. Her body became less and less responsive while her health dwindled. Hunter Recovery fought against the drain but it became harder and harder, her mind growing heavier with every passing second.
“Thirty Five minutes.” She barely heard the sound coming from the mage as her consciousness slipped from her, right before she blinked out.
The following coughing fit didn’t subside for a whole two minutes or until all the water was gone from her airways. Her head still felt heavy and her body shivered as air finally came back to it. She could tell that her body was damaged, her healing spell the only reason she would walk away from this unscathed. Well at least physically.
“Still nothing…,” She said, getting up slowly and stumbling a little as the mage came up to her.
“It takes months if not longer to gain a skill related to underwater fighting. While I have never trained anybody with this method, it will likely still take a week at least.
“A fucking week of this. Give me back my torch.” Ilea said, confusing the man a little. He didn’t ask and went back to his pack, getting out more papers to work on.
“Are you sure you have time for this?” Ilea asked a couple minutes later, recovered enough to continue.
“Of course. With all this newfound paperwork I have barely any time to train my skills. Neither are there many subjects near my level that can take as much abuse and do so willingly. I actually believe I owe you something for this whole process.” He said and looked up before he scratched his beard. “It’s somehow quite meditative as well.” He added and laughed.
“Interesting. Maybe I should try to drown you for some meditation too.” Ilea said a little annoyed. Not at him of course, this was one hundred percent her choice. That sadly didn’t make it any easier to go through.
“You would find that rather difficult.” William said and lifted the water back up, the blood cleared out of it as Ilea rolled her eyes and let it flow around her.
Three more hours… The thought wasn’t very comforting. As shitty as the experience was, mostly it was boring. This time Ilea summoned ash outside of the sphere of water and started moving it around with her Manipulation. Sadly she wasn’t an oxygen creator or wind mage but she was sure that the training was worth it at least. William confirmed it to her, mentioning the existence of several skills that could be beneficial.
One thing was for sure, Ilea didn’t want to die drowning as some eldritch horror dragged her to the bottom of the demon realm’s endless ocean.
“Not a lot of useful shit on the board this week.” A man in black armor complained next to Ilea while she read through the requests posted in the adventurer’s guild. Most of the jobs for mercenaries like her were posted here, in the central inn owned by the guild. Several people were sitting around, having a chat or a drink as they waited for their group members or someone to hire.
Perhaps better jobs as well. Ilea thought, finishing with the third construction job request already. Monster slaying didn’t seem to be on the menu. There were of course jobs directly from the Shadow’s Hand but most of them weren’t local and would require weeks if not months of commitment. Travel times alone would be extensive and Ilea didn’t really plan on leaving Ravenhall for a little while. At least not the mountain range containing it.
Not with the possibility of the Birmingales, the Golden Lily and the Forkspears looking for her. Here at least she was protected by the anonymity provided by other people around her level. In most towns she would stand out like a tiger in a chicken coop.
The man next to her grunted and took one of the papers before he walked to one of the counters. Ilea didn’t find anything reasonable for her abilities but she wasn’t exactly here for that either. People avoided looking at her as she made her way to one of the clerks. Even while in Ravenhall, Shadow’s certainly demanded respect. Perhaps here even more so than in other places, most people in the know regarding their abilities and what it meant to be part of the mercenary guild.
“Welcome to the adventurer’s guild Sir Shadow. What can I do for you today?” The woman asked with a smile. Ilea could tell her heart rate had gotten a little higher upon talking to her. Considering the previous employees were likely made demons and wiped out by the Hand, the workforce of Ravenhall likely consisted of newcomers, opportunists and trainees. This one seemed like a trainee to her.
“Sir Shadow?” Ilea asked and chuckled, the woman smiling as her discomfort grew. “Ah don’t worry, Shadow is fine though. I need to post a request or well, an offer.” Ilea said and watched the woman relax a little.
“Of course. Posting on the main board costs ten silver coins, one of the smaller ones one silver. Five percent of the reward goes to the guild, we’ll deduct that in the description.” The woman explained.
“There is no reward.” Ilea said and handed over the page she had taken out of her notebook to describe her request.
“Hmm…,” The woman said as she read through the page, her eyes opening wide before she looked at Ilea again. “Yes well… it’s another three silvers then as a fee to the guild.”
“How long will it stay up?” Ilea asked.
“Twelve hours normally but you may extend the duration for ten coppers her hour.” The woman explained and she nodded, handing over the thirteen silver coins from her pouch.
Viper sighed as he entered the adventurer’s guild. His black eyes took in the inn and its occupants in a moment, registering a couple interesting individuals, a couple dangerous ones as well. A fiery flash went through his eyes as he felt a magical pulse from one of the people. Realizing it was only someone working on a weapon’s enchantment, he continued and walked to the board listing the most prominent jobs.
The four people standing near the board made space after they noticed his approach, none of them Shadows like him. Of course there were people wearing black that weren’t part of the Shadow’s Hand but when you were in Ravenhall you better assumed everyone in black was part of the order. Offending one of theirs wasn’t a smart move, never was. With the demons and now the war between the Empire and Baralia, such a move was becoming more stupid by the day.
Perhaps today. He thought, glancing over the jobs he had already gone through. More construction and guarding jobs. There was of course the arena but people on his level usually didn’t participate. He wasn’t sure if it was beneficial for Philipp anyway. The man wasn’t the same anymore after the demon summoning. War and refugees aren’t helping.
Viper was about to leave again when his eyes fixated on a new posting. One without a reward, the reason he hadn’t immediately looked at it.
Train your magic against a Shadow. Healer and Tank ready. One silver coin per hour per person.
There was a location as well. One of the training halls below the small arena in the second ring of the city. The man smiled a little before he closed his fist. Maybe we can finally improve a little there. Without scaring the poor guy. He thought and left the guild. There was no time frame on the paper but it was worth a shot to be sure. If the tank and healer were there he’d ask Philipp if he wanted to join as well.
The guard standing next to the central wall’s gate nodded to him as he exited into the second circle. The city was getting busier again. Every day it felt like the population recovered by another ten percent. The war certainly was doing wonders to the recovery of Ravenhall. He had believed the city would be retaken and turned into a ghost town, a city standing empty except for the Shadows in Viscera.
He was wrong as it turned out. Soon Ravenhall would be back to its former glory and likely beyond even. Fresh hopeful people scarred by war and angry at the Empire or Baralia would bring a boom in economic power. With the experienced and strong administrators of the Hand that had pretty much taken over the city by now, it was bound to flourish. He and Philipp were there when the demons had been summoned. They had been there when a hundred thousand people were slaughtered by their own mutated neighbors and family members.
Something Viper knew the new leadership would invest highly to prevent. The new walls were just a part of it. The Shadowguard and the gates separating Viscera, Eregar’s Haven and the city itself were another part. He didn’t know what else they had come up with but was certain there was more. Not a single elder remained but perhaps that was exactly what the Shadow’s Hand had needed. A fresh start.
Thoughts of the demon summoning being a conspiracy by the elders to bring about exactly said new start flowed through his mind as he entered the underground arenas, an establishment build and rented out to various guilds and rich people. It had been partially destroyed in the demon attack but had been rebuilt to be even more extensive, now reaching seven floors below ground.
Viper paid the fee to enter arena 8B, the one mentioned on the job description. The lady took the five coppers and grunted, motioning towards the entrance.
The now nearly thirty people watching cheered as a stone the size of Ilea’s head smashed into her leather armor’s chest, the light damage nearly immediately healed as she brushed off the remaining pebbles. She hadn’t visited the arenas in Ravenhall often, her team and the Haven sufficient for training but now that most members of the Hand were out and about while new adventurers came to the city, it was the perfect location for her little training.
The circular arena was surrounded by a stone wall with several cracks in it, seating provided for any spectators further above. The whole place had actually been repaired but this training session wasn’t exactly friendly to the construction work around it.
“That’s shit!” One of the drunk adventurers watching shouted to the stone mage who just stared angrily at Ilea.
“You’re shit!” He shouted back and focused on her again, magic condensing as a piece of stone cracked out of the ground before it twirled and was sent her way. This time he aimed for her knee but she simply braced for the impact and let it happen. With all her skills and the light protection her leather armor provided, this wasn’t nearly enough to bring her out of balance.
The mage before her was dressed in leather armor as well, his face red and puffy, sweat dripping down his brow as a vein popped on his forehead. The man was a little above level one hundred but his damage output wasn’t exactly anything to worry about. Ilea remembered how a bunch of demons on the same level could rip through her flesh with ease back in Virilya. Both a testament to their strength, even at lower levels but also to this man’s lack thereof.
Then again, this was blunt damage, much harder to damage her with that with her enhanced bones. “Are you done?” She asked the man and smiled, her blue eyes sparkling as she watched him finally snap. Nearly all of them did and would at some point use whatever attack they thought too dangerous to throw against another human in a sparring match or in this case, a training session to improve their skills.
Ilea noticed a new face in the crowd and smiled, seeing the black robe the man was wearing as he looked at the scene in the arena. Her feet prepared for the impact as they pushed against the sand and stone below. The mage had switched his approach to spears. A worthy change indeed but with what little impact he showed thus far, Ilea doubted this would bring much of a change.
She focused and watched the stone spears crack as they became smaller and started to spin, reminding her of her own ashen projectiles. And then they came, shooting towards her as quickly as the Taleen machines sent out their projectiles. Not enough to prevent her from dodging but in this case it didn’t matter. She was here to improve her resistances and nothing else.
The spears punched through her leather armor and dug into her flesh before they shattered against her rib cage. She was pushed a step backwards by the impact, a small cloud of dust and pulverized stone floating before her as she ripped out the pieces still inside of her chest. The wounds closed as the flesh rebuilt, pushing out the fragments and pieces of bones she hadn’t gotten with her hands. Blood dripped on the ground but soon stopped again. Another couple drops on the slowly reddening sand and stone below.
“Nice try.” Ilea said and watched the man’s eyes go wide. Relief filled his eyes when he realized she was fine.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…,” He said and swallowed.
“That was the first attack worth your silver. Calm down and come back. I’m here until midnight. Again tomorrow evening. One silver per hour.” Ilea said and smiled at the man. He was a little overwhelmed by the situation it seemed and nodded quickly before he walked to the stairs leading to the seating.
“You fucking useless shit stick, I bet four silvers you could at least pierce through her body! What about that story of you defeating a troll with that spell?!” One of the adventurers shouted as he punched the mage before two others stopped him. It seemed in good fun though as they all started laughing right after.
Ilea watched them all, having endured nearly all of their magical attacks already. Some even in groups of five. When it became overwhelming she had used her Veil but that had only happened twice so far today.