Chapter 213 Blood Clotting
Viper watched the scene with mixed feelings. Philipp had laughed for the first time in months but it looked like he hadn’t held back at all, using his most deadly combination of skills and getting piercing her core out of all places. The explosion would be devastating and it certainly had been.
Anybody else, himself included would’ve collapsed from that one very much dead but he refused to believe this one would go so easily, not after his white flame had done little more than reduce her waistline to an impossible standard for a little while. Still, Philipp’s combination of curse, bleed and corrosion enchantments were certainly nasty. Something that got their team the upper hand in many an encounter.
Sadly against hordes of demons it hadn’t exactly been very useful. The woman sank to one knee, her eyes going a little cloudy for a second before they refocused on the hunter. She held her guts in while blood continued to pour of of her like from a shattered bottle of wine. Does she even have any blood left? The question didn’t really matter. Viper knew that with a healer, the actual amount of blood wouldn’t matter much. It mattered for staying conscious usually but that didn’t seem to bother the woman much.
Her shattered core reformed bit by bit, pieces of shrapnel falling to the ground as her wounds closed. A minute passed in silence, the people watching from their seats fascinated by the scene just as much as the two Shadows standing in the arena itself. More surprising than her quick recovery from such an attack was the sudden appearance of two rogues, brandishing their daggers after they had teleported from their seats in the stands.
Viper hadn’t categorized them to be a danger to him or Philipp but with the woman in such a state he wasn’t so sure about her. His magic surged as he aimed at the two only to find them slashing at air alone.
“Don’t.” The woman said, standing ten meters to the right, blood still dripping to the ground as her body slowly recovered. “Sorry about your arrow.” She said and spit out a piece of shrapnel. The rogues looked at her in disbelief before she appeared in front of one of them, her arm lashing out and punching one of them in his throat. The other one vanished and appeared in the stands, the woman appearing next to him and grabbing his arm. The crack of a broken bone couldn’t be misheard before she tossed the man down into the arena, walking down the stairs slowly as her wounds continued to heal.
Viper stopped channeling his mana and watched the scene unfold. They had tried to kill her in her most vulnerable moment and had failed spectacularly. To think another Shadow wouldn’t intervene when they tried to kill one of theirs was idiocy but he supposed attacking her in the first place was just the same. The woman could recover from his and Philipp’s most powerful attacks, how exactly had they thought this was possible?
“Are you alright?” He asked as he walked towards the woman.
“Yes. Thanks for the help.” The woman said and winked at him.
She saw me. Another form of perception? He asked himself. A formidable warrior indeed. He was starting to doubt if he would win a fight against her or if he could even get away. She wouldn’t let an arrow hit her were they going at it for real.
“We don’t let Shadow’s die without a fight.” He said as the woman stepped on the injured rogue’s leg, the man crying out in pain as his shin was shattered.
Viper watched the woman check on the first rogue, finding him unconscious.
“Why would they attack me?” She asked confused.
“I’m sure you’ve made enemies along the way?” Viper asked before he checked on Philipp. The man was looking away but he hadn’t left the arena entirely. Not the best start to his recovery… well he had laughed for fuck’s sake.
“Oh yes, certainly. It’s just weird for them to send assassins this weak.” She replied. “Wait, could it be them again?”
“Them who?” Viper asked, the woman mostly talking to herself.
“Ah forget about it. Hey, who are you working for?” She asked the crying rogue with two broken bones.
“I might not kill you if you talk.” She said again, holding the man up by his neck and looking into his eyes. Viper noted that her body was back to normal, nothing other than her ripped clothing and ruined leather armor indicated that she had been injured at all.s
“Baralia…,” The man said and Viper watched her face change to confusion.
“What?” She asked and looked at Viper.
“The kingdom of Baralia, the ones starting the war with the Empire.” He said and she looked back at the rogue.
“I know who they are, I fought them in Virilya. But why? Why me?” Ilea asked.
“You were in…,” He moaned in pain. “…injured… they pay for dead Shadows and imperials.”
“Talkative fellow. None of my enemies then.” The woman said and let go of the man. “Stupid to assume I was injured.” She said and shook her head.
“You lost more than half of your blood and your body was blown apart.” Viper said dryly.
“True. Still stupid.” She said and he agreed. “What should we do with them?” She asked.
“Bring them to the guards I suppose. I don’t think any members of the Hand are seriously threatened by something like this but I’m a little worried about the imperial part. If any cutthroat looking for quick coin is going to kill guards and officers we’re gonna have a problem.” Viper explained and took one of them.
“Can you bring that one to the Shadowguard?” He asked the woman pointing to the unconscious guard.
“I don’t think he’ll wake up for a while. Plus I’ve just found a new training partner.” She said making him sigh.
“Alright, I’ll do the bloody work.” Viper said and grabbed the crying man. “Come on. You’re alive at least.”
Ilea watched Viper leave with the heavily injured man in toe. “I’m ready for the next hit.” Ilea said to Philipp. “Maybe we can later change to a normal sparring session?” Ilea said. Viper stopped and looked at Philipp but left anyway. Ilea moved the unconscious rogue to the side of the arena. “Hey anybody got some rope with them?”
Someone walked down from the seats and quickly bound the rogue, nodding to her with a bit of a scared smile. At least nobody else will try this shit today. Ilea thought. It was of course a dangerous move to expose herself like this, to have her body destroyed while others could take advantage and attack her. On the other hand it would keep her on her toes. She’d need to be on alert even if half of her body was missing and that was exactly the kind of training she needed. If she wanted to travel through places few or none had been before, she needed to be as ready as she could get.
Yet still, at least she could gain something out of it. “Anybody who’s watching it costs a silver per hour as well. Leave if you don’t like it.” She said which created a chatter immediately. The overarching sentiment seemed to be that it was simply too expensive. Ilea was sure some were willing to pay were she to fight another Shadow but as it stood most of the people watching didn’t feel like staying anymore.
The ones who did walked down into the arena and let her know they’d be training their magic as well. “Just take turns with that guy.” Ilea said, motioning to Philipp.
“Thanks.” He said in a whisper, audible to her only because of the skills he didn’t know she possessed. Ilea didn’t reply. Perhaps that statement was meant for him more so than it was meant for her.
“Alright hunter, use your next arrow. Might as well not make them explode if you want to reuse them. I’d appreciate it if you still do of course.” Ilea said and smiled while he summoned an arrow, aiming at her and loosing it.
This time he shot another one which made the process of healing herself quite a bit more difficult already. It wouldn’t be enough to take her out but his destructive capabilities were certainly nothing to scoff at. Ten seconds later two successive explosions rocked through her, ripping through flesh and muscle as her organs were turned to mush and her blood sprayed around her.
Ilea focused on all her skills to keep herself conscious and focused on the man who was preparing another arrow. Fucker The thought was sluggish in her brain, everything slowed down due to the heavy blood loss. She activated Veil of Ash and created the element around her, a wall of it forming before her to intercept the arrow.
“Not nearly as helpless as you look.” The man said as he put down his bow with a grin. “If only…,” He started, in a whisper again but didn’t continue.
Ilea healed herself and concentrated on keeping herself conscious, Meditation flowing through her mind and body as she slowly recovered, focusing on rebuilding the important parts first. It seemed that her bones at least were significantly harder to destroy than anything else. The second stage of Body of the First Hunter was the main reason for that.
She could still recover even if her bones were destroyed but it made it easier to build the flesh around the existing skeleton compared to regrowing a new leg for example. I wonder how my blink ability works with half a body… She thought and decided to use it with most of her core missing. The result was as expected, Ilea flopping to the ground half a meter to her left before she continued healing herself. Blink still worked, just as it had against the two rogues who had tried to kill the easy prey earlier.
The ash settled a couple minutes later, Ilea standing up with a fresh set of leather armor. “Maybe leave out the explosions for now.” She said and smiled at the man. One of the mages had puked after seeing the spectacle up close. Another one had been splattered by blood and looked white as snow. There were only five of them left. Ilea clapped, trying to get them to focus on her.
She accidentally woke up the rogue to the side of the arena instead. He vanished and reappeared ten meters to his left but still bound, his head smashing on the ground when Ilea appeared above him. “Don’t do that again or I’ll kill you. Alright?” She asked and threw him back to his previous position.
“Two arrows enough? I can do three for a couple minutes before my mana runs out. Ten to fifteen if I meditate.” Philipp said, summoning an arrow.
“Two is difficult already.” Ilea said but nodded. “The rest just attack me with whatever you have. I’ll start defending if I am about to die. If you blow me up without warning I’ll rip off your head Philipp.” She added and pointed at him.
“Yes ma’am.” He said, his eyes now focused and a bit of a grin on his lips. The action seemed to help with whatever he had been dealing with.
Three of the mages started attacking, first hesitantly but then more and more vigorous as they noticed the lack of an impact their attacks were having. It was a good way for them to train their skills just as much as it was a good way for Ilea to train hers. Resistances wouldn’t have the same impact as her class skills but they could make the difference between life and death in a tricky situation.
An arrow was sticking out of each of her arms, trying hard to curse and corrode her from within while each piercing strike from another attack by the mages made her lose a significant amount of blood. The rogue had a shocked expression on his face through the whole training session as he sat completely still and reconsidered his choices in life.
“You’re an element creator?” Philipp asked after a while, his arrows having lost their destructive effect while he regenerated his mana. Ilea nodded, a blast of fire smashing into her face without much of a reaction. The mage that threw it was long past doubting his own abilities as she continued to fire blast after blast. Two of the others had left already, having paid their fees in the silver bucket. A lucrative way to train as much as it was effective.
“I knew a creator once. Old teammate of ours.” He said but left it at that, firing two new arrows her way. The old ones didn’t seem to be working anymore so Ilea ripped them out with junks of flesh, throwing them his way afterwards.
“Do you not feel pain?” He asked, the new arrows taking effect.
“My Pain Tolerance is very high. The healing magic helps, as does Meditation.” Ilea replied without mentioning the second tier and her literal ability to nullify pain should she wish it. At the moment she did. While she thought about leveling her Pain Tolerance even higher, the prospect of feeling that if she didn’t have to wasn’t a pleasant idea. Knowing how little sense it made, made her very curious about a possible third tier of her Pain Tolerance though, if such a thing even existed.
“Know anything about third tier general skills?” She asked after a while, two of the mages sitting on the ground to recover their stamina and mana.
“I heard you have to be level two hundred to get those.” One of the mages said, looking a little anxious after having talked.
“You’ve been attacking me for an hour, I think you shouldn’t feel bad about talking.” Ilea said and smiled at the man.
“You’re right…,” He said and scratched his head before he laughed.
“I haven’t heard of anybody with one so far. My highest general skill is at the second tier and level ten.” Philipp said.
“Which one?” Ilea asked immediately.
“Meditation of course. What else even is there other than resistance skills?” He replied.
“Identify for example.” Ilea said. “I even have an archery skill.”
The man laughed at that. “Archery? You don’t have a class for that though do you? Why invest all that time then?”
“Seemed fun to me.” Ilea said and summoned her heavy bow.
“Ah yes, that makes sense I suppose.” The man said and shook his head.
“Speaking of, I need more arrows. Used them all up.” Ilea said and looked at her bow before she stored it again in her necklace. She only had alloy arrows and ice arrows remaining.
“I’m an enchanter if you want help.” Philipp said and summoned some arrows.
“Really? That would be terrific. Explosion ones would be good but if you can give them all the things yours have…,” Ilea said but he shook his head already.
“Everything is linked to my own abilities. Even the explosion will be less powerful than the one my arrows create. Perks of my enchanter class.” He said. “Plus I don’t have arrows for a bow that big.”
Ilea summoned twenty of her arrows and threw them his way. “Use those.” She said and smiled. “Between attacking me. Might be good to level other skills as well.”
He smiled and grabbed some of the arrows before he sat down and started carving into them with a small sparkly knife. “That would take a while.” He said.
“I’ll be here again tomorrow.” Ilea said which seemed to satisfy the man.
“Good, I think I might visit again. I’ve already gained a level for my corrosion enchantment.” He said.
Viper came back after a while to get the second rogue, checking in on Philipp and her before he was on his way again. His mood seemed very gloomy. Likely because of the implication these two had exposed. Ilea didn’t think she was the first and only one to be targeted. If Baralia used money to destabilize the empire like this, with all the refugees and opportunists, it would give them good results, that was sure. Right now though she didn’t want to care too much. As long as they didn’t pay well enough to persuade Shadows to attack their own or citizens of the empire it wouldn’t affect her or the people she cared about much.
Ilea was here to train, she wasn’t about to get involved in another revenge adventure or murder spree. At least for now. Midnight soon came and she stopped the people attacking, summoning her Veil of Ash making the mages’ attacks wholly ineffective before she ripped out the arrows and healed the wounds, handing the enchanted weapons back to the hunter. Viper didn’t return anymore after leaving with the rogue but she didn’t assume anything bad had happened.
“You going to be alright?” She asked Philipp and he nodded.
“Don’t you worry about me, we don’t even know each other.” He said and smiled.
“My name is Ilea, it’s nice to make your acquaintance then, Philipp.” She said and offered her hand. He looked at it a little confused but then grabbed it. The gesture wasn’t a complicated one, even people who had never seen or used it grasped the concept quickly.
Making Elos into an unsanitary place one person at a time. Ilea joked to herself. “Feel free to join again tomorrow.” She said and went to get her bucket. “Thanks for coming everyone.” She added a little louder to the other mages who prepared to leave as well. Two had remained until midnight.
She counted the money and put put it into her necklace. Fifty six silvers. According to what Dale had told her a healer got less than a couple silvers for a day’s work. Then again Riverwatch was somewhat small and she was below level fifty then. With that she was sitting at 32 gold coins, 14 silver and 62 copper. Not quite the spending power she had before investing into Claire and the city but it would pay out in time, she was sure. It certainly was enough to buy whatever she needed. And what she needed right now was a drink and some food.