Chapter 218 A new addition to the schedule
Elise was quiet for quite a while before she nodded. “Alright.” She said. “You’ve convinced me that you’re not just a young brat gaining a lot of levels form some kind of quirky skill. Then I’m looking forward to the entries you’ll add to known dungeons, monsters and ancient items and technology. I still believe you’re unnecessarily risking your life but it is not my decision.” Elise said.
“You’re right. It’s not. I live to fight the very fear that keeps you here.” Ilea said and finished her mug of ale.
“You damn idiot.” Elise said and smiled before she started laughing. “Well if it weren’t for your recklessness I’d be rotting in the capital’s dungeons.” She said. “I’ll look for what you need. Lists of skills, monsters and anything else that might be out there to kill you. Are you joining an expedition?”
“I will be going alone.” Ilea said. “And if you doubt my capabilities then I invite you to come to arena 8B in a couple hours.”
“I might. And I’ll let you know that being a good fighter won’t save you against a poisonous cloud suddenly rising in the cave around you.” Elise retorted.
“No, that’s what I have a level twenty poison resistance for.” Ilea said and smiled while getting up. She wasn’t about to argue with the overprotective librarian anymore, not when the woman had stayed behind safe walls only to be endangered by other humans in the end. “Maybe you should try flying again sometime.” She said her goodbyes and left the woman with her work. Dagon didn’t seem to be around but Ilea could get information from Elise for free while the man likely still held true to his principles, wanting to sell information for other information.
Ilea blinked out of the library, her wings spreading right before she would’ve hit the pavement. She quickly went over to the board showing different classes but found the information outdated. Looks like they’re still not back to the daily operations. It was a shame, she could’ve likely added some of the classes to her list of daily tasks but William’s underwater training was at least covering her personally most important skill set.
Viper and Philipp paid the entry fee and walked into the arena. Ilea the Shadow had apparently rented out the whole thing for a week. Not a cheap investment but with the silver he had seen in the bucket, she was already making a profit. Not a small one at that. The notice was still hanging on the Guild’s board and word of mouth would spread while she continued to do this.
The skill growth of attacking a tank’s shield or actually burning off their face wasn’t that different but paying a defender of sufficient level and power to take the abuse was impossible for most people below a certain level of pay grade. One silver coin for an hour was as cheap as it got but Viper surmised the woman was doing this for her own skills and not for the money. With what she could take, she could easily join any Shadow’s team if they needed a tank, let alone most adventurer teams. They’d kill each other to have her and the pay of doing jobs or joining an expedition or even a war was certainly better than the silver she amassed through this endeavor.
Maybe the lack of availability will actually make it somewhat profitable? The thought was somewhat verified when they walked into the arena, finding as many people as the day before. This time though, they all paid for watching, all of them waiting in the arena itself while around ten people flung their magic at the woman.
Fire singed her skin before it rapidly recovered, lances projectiles of various elements and magics glanced off her skin or managed to penetrate before they were slowly pushed out by what he assumed was her healing skill, the wounds closing in a frightening speed. You’d have to finish her in a single blow, taking her head would be the best bet. He thought and remembered that she had survived and easily recovered from one of his strongest spells. Viper had some cards up his sleeve that he hadn’t shown her yet and while the White Flame took a chunk of his mana to use, he could cast it a couple times in a row.
“Are you thinking about how to take her out?” Philipp asked next to him while they joined the waiting group of mages, warriors and rangers down in the pit. Many of them were openly debating the same so either Ilea’s hearing wasn’t exactly excellent or she simply didn’t care. Probably welcomes it. We all had our ways to get to level 200. She’s too young to reach it with experience and safe mercenary work.
“I am. Thought about the head.” Viper said, scratching his chin as he looked at her brushing off the magic from the group of mages, their highest leveled member an arcane mage at level one thirty.
“The head? Yea, seems like a good bet but you’d have to ground her first. She’s an ashen mage, creator even I think. From the little I’ve seen yesterday.” Philipp said.
“Creator? Interesting. Never seen an ash creator. Maybe we can ask her to spar for real? See what she can do?” Viper asked, hoping that Philipp would at least be somewhat interested. Shooting his bow was the first step but getting him to actually fight against someone would be the way to recovery, even without the intent to kill.
“Can’t say I don’t want to see what she can do…,” Philipp said and bit his lip under his hood. They stood a little off from the waiting groups and watched when they switched, the initial mages having completely spent their mana. Their reactions differed greatly, some lost in thought, likely looking at the gains in their skill levels while others seemed to be contemplating their life choices with how little they could do against the woman.
Viper didn’t say anything on the matter. He and Philipp could slaughter all of them in the span of a couple minutes, as could most Shadows. The change level two hundred classes brought to one’s power were significant, let alone the third tier skills that would come into play. It really was no wonder a couple of elves could destroy whole cities in the west, most of them having less than a handful of people at their level.
“You still need to pay, even if you’re waiting.” The woman said and Viper raised his eyebrows when he noticed her looking at the two of them. Philipp chuckled and went to the bucket, flinging two silver coins into it. The time between him throwing them and the impact suggested a significant amount of silver already present in the bucket.
Their turn came twenty minutes later, two groups having spent their mana before the Shadows stepped up. “You should train together while recovering your magic, spar and learn from each other.” Viper said to the meditating mages when he walked by.
“Fancy yourself a teacher?” The woman asked when they reached the spot of the attackers, sweat and even blood in the sand around them. Not to be confused with the woman’s little pond of blood and guts. He was still fascinated with a healer’s ability to recover lost blood and tissue. Creating fire and light was one thing but creating living matter was something on a completely different scale, at least in his mind.
“I think I can spare to share a little of my experience.” Viper replied.
“A commendable sentiment. Care to share some with me?” The woman asked. He didn’t know what to answer to that for a second, his mouth opening and closing before he caught himself and smiled a thin smile.
“How old are you exactly?” He asked. With her reckless behavior he of course assumed she had found a way to get to two hundred quickly, perhaps just risking her life all the time and fighting higher leveled monsters, alone even. Most people he met that were like that either stopped doing that or were dead. The quick rise to power usually came with a quick rise in arrogance.
“You don’t ask a woman’s age. Perhaps you lack the experience you pretend to have.” She replied.
“I have experience in fighting monsters, not in courting women.” Viper said honestly. He wanted information from her and being upfront seemed like the way to go with this particular Shadow. Uncommon but not unheard of.
“That’s a good answer. Philipp you can start. So, Viper was it? Why did you come today?” She asked as his friend summoned his bow and an arrow.
“I wanted to talk to you. And maybe spar a little. Been a while since I’ve gone all out.” Viper said and watched her look at him with interest, her stomach exploding in a mess of blood and guts a moment later. Viper looked away from the gore as he held up his hand against the blood splashing their way.
“Sounds… like an interesting… proposal.” The woman said as her body regrew the missing parts, spitting out a glob of blood between each word. “I’m not joining any teams.” She added, most of her lower body restored.
“Are you wearing Hand leather armor?” He asked, noticing the similarities between her damn near destroyed set from last time and this half destroyed one. She looked away not saying anything but he knew the face of a thief when he saw one.
“What did you want to talk about?” She asked as soon as her body had recovered. “No more explosions Philipp. First group can attack again!” Ilea added and waved for the waiting mages.
“I’d prefer to talk somewhere more private.” Viper said. “And I would be willing to pay you of course.”
“I’m not doing any jobs at the moment.” Ilea answered as the first spells started to hit. The noise made it hard for their conversation to continue.
“I’m here until twelve, come back if you still want to talk.” She said. Viper nodded and took a couple steps back to give more space to the adventurers.
Sparring with them… It was something to think about. Both had interesting skill sets and it would certainly be a challenge. Less effective than leveling her resistances of course considering most of her class skills were close to the max already. With only sparring, leveling them even once would take weeks if not months. And only if she focused on it completely. The man so easily sharing some advice with the mages around him made her interested though. He seemed experienced and not in the way most Shadows she had met so far were. Eve and Kyrian got to their level because of their unique classes, Trian because he was trained and taught from early on and because of his class as well. Claire didn’t strike her as the person to take any risks and while she was knowledgeable about tactics, she hadn’t traveled the world and fought things that nearly killed her time and time again.
Of course she didn’t know about the specific history of all her teammates but talking to them and training with them for months had given her somewhat reliable impressions. Many members of the Hand she had met probably had similar backgrounds or were to proud and secretive to share any of their expertise. Or they’re simply away on another hunt. Viper seemed different. He wanted something from her but maybe they could trade and maybe sparring with them would benefit her beyond just stats and skills.
The session continued, her skills rising slowly but surely as a group of mages paid her to do so. She couldn’t stop smiling at the whole situation. It was of course a win win situation for all parties involved but Ilea still felt like she was benefiting the most. Some of the mages had left early, gagging at the carnage they took part in but with her Pain Tolerance and healing it was just another vacation day in Ravenhall. A big chunk of her levels were brought by Philipp and Viper’s attacks, the latter joining in as well after a while.Perhaps he thought to win her goodwill through the action. Ilea couldn’t deny that if that was his intention, it certainly worked.
People came and went, attacking her and recovering their mana before at last, the session ended. Ilea shouted for them to stop and said her farewells, reminding them that she’d be here again the next day. The bucket of silver was already half full, enough to buy food for several years or perhaps one piece of good armor. The discrepancies between cost of living and something like Balduur’s gear really bothered her. She reminded herself that a hand crafted chair or table back on Earth was ridiculously expensive too compared to daily necessities. I wonder what some really high quality armor would cost. From one of those gluetube blacksmiths. Could it take a single punch from me?
Her thoughts were interrupted when the two Shadows walked up to her. “I don’t think I introduced myself to you yet. Ilea, nice to meet you again Viper.” She said, shaking his hand.
“The same to you. You went from below one hundred to this in what? A year? Two?” Viper asked.
“I had some help. Fought Taleen machines for a long time.” Ilea replied.
“Good teachers those. Especially for close combat classes.” Viper said and nodded. “And here I thought you had found some kind of trick. You just risked your life one too many times it seems.”
“I have classes that allow for such luxuries.” She said.
The man looked on the bloodied ground and nodded. “So it seems.”
“Is this private enough now?” Ilea asked, seeing how everybody else was gone already.
“I suppose it is.” Viper replied as he too looked around quickly. Philipp collected the arrows lying near her in the meantime. “I’m looking for information, mostly on the demon incident that happened here. Were you present when it happened?”
“I was, even went after the one responsible.” Ilea replied and smiled. “Thought I wasn’t in Ravenhall for quite a while after that.”
Viper blinked a couple times when he heard that but continued talking. “You went after the one responsible? So who did it? Why? Where did you go if not Ravenhall? What happened to them?”
“That’s an awful lot of questions. I don’t see why I wouldn’t share any of it with you but you have to agree to training sessions every day for two weeks. Through the night for eight hours in Viscera, Philipp too. Plus I want to know about monsters and magic you’ve encountered.” Ilea said.
“And how do I know you’re not lying?” Viper asked, Ilea now the one blinking.
“Do I strike you as a liar?” She asked. The man looked at her and then Philipp who looked up a little embarrassed as he got the last arrow.
“What?” The hunter asked and Viper started laughing.
“Ah why not. Some sparring will be good either way. I’ll gladly prepare you for your expedition. Where to? The north? Hunting elves in the forest? I’d dissuade you from that one. Don’t know a single one that returned from that. Or are you going east to find new lands?” Viper asked with a smile.
“Why not south?” Ilea asked, interested in the fact that he hadn’t mentioned that direction.
“People return from there. With tales of sand but they do return.” The man replied. “Now to my questions.”
“Alright. So the tournament starts and runes start to glow around a big area in Eregar’s Haven. Adam Strand, one of the previous elders summoned all those demons and opened a gateway or something to the demon realm. Big fucking creature comes out of that gateway and he goes in, me and a fellow Shadow follow through and find ourselves in a big ass ocean. Got out of that and flew for days until we found land. Well… salt really. We fight through hordes of demons, the creatures attacking each other as much as us until we encounter a talkative mind weaver, the more intelligent kind.” Ilea started retelling her adventures in the great salt, going through their encounter with Weavy, the discovery of the teleportation runes and their findings in the facilities they had been transported to.
She explained most of the adventure but left out that they got Weavy back with them. Many of the Shadows knew about him but Viper would have to find out about that himself.
“Adam Strand.” He spoke the name with a broken up voice.
“He is in that place, the great salt? Do you have any idea why?” Viper asked but Ilea just shrugged.
“He was there for a purpose, that I’m rather sure about. He didn’t seem to have done it just to cripple or destroy Ravenhall or humanity. At least that was my impression. Doesn’t make it any better of course.” She said.
“No… no it doesn’t.” Viper said and shook his head. “That’s a lot to take in. I had considered him one of the best in the order. To think he would betray us like that. Can anybody confirm your story?”
“I think plenty of members saw him go through the portal in the Haven. If Verena were here, she tried to get him too I think. Still missing though. Dagon might know some more.” Ilea suggested.
“I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll talk to him. Do you know anything about the new Head Administrator?” He asked.
“Head what?” Ilea replied a little confused.
“She’s a member that rose to a lot of power in the order, virtually unknown and now she controls big parts of the city according to my sources.” He explained.
Ilea thought about it for a while but didn’t come up with anything. “Any idea what classes she has?”
“She’s a rune mage, parts of the new walls bear her craft.” Viper explained and her eyebrows rose immediately.
“You mean Claire?” Ilea asked.