Chapter 226 Meditation
Ilea straightened and smiled weakly, “I’ll see him then.”
The girl shook her head, her eyes closed during the motion while she clenched her fists. “He’s refused to see anyone.”
Ilea just grinned, running a hand through her black hair before she vanished. “He knows me better than that.” She said into the dark room, quite aware of the pungent smell. He was lying in a tumble of blankets in the corner of the room.
“Trian. How are you doing pal?” She walked over and stood above the man, his uneven breathing enough indication to his very aware state. “Grief and depression. Looks like you need to see some sunlight and let magic flow through you.”
Not even a grunt. Ilea knew the man and if anything managed to get through to him then it was her annoying little self. “I’ll bring him back in an hour!” The shout was directed both at the lightning vampyr and his sister, watching with sharp eyes from behind the door frame.
“Ilea fuck off…,” The man murmured but he didn’t exactly have a choice, Ilea simply grabbing him and slinging the full sized human across her shoulders like a kid unwilling to go out and play.
She looked at the head bobbing next to her shoulder before looking ahead. “I won’t. You’ve been vegetating long enough.” He didn’t react to the flow of her healing magic going through his mana stream.
The two of them went straight down into the Haven. Not real sunlight but it was close enough.
“I won’t fight you Ilea.” He stared at the ground between them, his eyes bloodshot, his beard scruffy and unkempt. Ilea sat down opposite him and summoned ash, moving it around in the air with her mind before she formed his likeness in it. Not exactly an easy task but trusting her skills, she’d get close enough with a little more time.
“I’m not asking you to fight me.” The offhanded comment was added with a smile when a little more ash was created to add the beard to the Trian that stared back at him. “I said you need some sun. Feel like sitting down? Meditating for a while maybe?” The questions remained in the air as he looked at her and then turned to the glowing orb in the fake sky.
No further word left her as she simply observed, moving his ashen head further up as she straightened his beard, added a body and straightened his posture from the limp and sloping one he showed to the Trian that had been annoyed with the incapable team he had been assigned to. She added armor and even some gray lightning flowing around his statue when he turned and looked at himself.
“You think highly of me.” The man said and sat down, his eyes closing as he relaxed. Ilea smiled and looked at him.
Closing her eyes to match him, Ilea started meditating, feeling the mana flow through her body as she thought about her team, “I know who you are.” She said and smiled softly, time accelerating as she vaguely noted the changes of the earth, air and sun around them, her sphere watching the movements of the insects below and around her as she relaxed and focused on her breathing, the ashen Trian long gone with the wind.
“An hour has passed.” The noise made her blink her eyes, the man standing with his back towards her.
She stretched and jumped up, feeling relaxed and prepared for whatever was to come, “So it has.”
“Do you need me to carry you back?” Ilea joked as she walked to his side, the man glancing at her.
He started walking towards the nearby elevator as she fell in next to him, bringing the man back to the hiding place of the remaining Alymies near Dagon’s library. The two stepped into his dark room, the man sniffing the air before he went back to bed.
Ilea watched his back and turned to the sister who was waiting outside. “I’ll be back tomorrow.”
When she came back the next day, the man was sitting on his bed in the dark, half the blankets missing and the smell considerably less poignant than before. He silently got up and followed her out and into the Haven where they went to the same spot again and meditated. Ilea didn’t speak a word and neither did Trian, both of them falling into a trance before an hour again had passed.
“Don’t shave it all off, it looks good on you.” Ilea said before she left again.
Ilea stayed at her home that night, relaxing in her bed as she looked at the stars before she grabbed one of the many books she had from back in Salia and started reading. It was relaxing, coming back to it and enjoying the sound of the ocean below. Hardly an hour had passed in the last weeks where she wasn’t training, where magic wasn’t cutting into her time and time again.
Putting her book down after a while, she breathed in deeply and let the air out through her mouth. Her clothes stored in her necklace, she appeared on the balcony outside and looked over the endless ocean. She shivered as she thought about what might be hiding in the deep but it was not a shiver of fear. Sitting down, Ilea activated her meditation as she took in the light from the stars, the crashing of the waves and the wind gently brushing over her skin.
She woke from her state when the suns broke through the skies to pierce the water, rays of light shining on the lone figure sitting in her solitude. Blinking into the living room, she summoned some pants and a shirt onto the table, deciding to dress manually for once. Getting a piece of meat from her magical freezer downstairs, she frowned. Checking the enchantments, she pushed mana into them and relaxed when the sides of the box cooled down again.
I shouldn’t leave it here. She thought and put all the remaining food into her necklace where it would stay in the same state far longer than the enchantments would hold without a charge or a magical crystal that was entirely too expensive to add. At least if she had her necklace anyway.
There was enough meat, various vegetables, spices noodles and rice to make a couple hundred meals at least. Perhaps not for someone like Ilea whose hunger had evolved into a past time compared to the need it was previously. If there’s a third class at some point maybe I should become a cook. She mused, summoning a piece of meat and heating up the blood in her hand to boiling temperatures. Adding some ash to it, she completely entwined the piece and watched through her Sphere how the inside of it changed. It was not living anymore but had some mana remaining, making it harder to pierce with her Sphere. It was enough to see the progression of its cooking.
Or maybe a baker. She thought and cooled down the ash and her blood, looking at the steaming piece of medium rare feathered drake. Ilea had no idea if medium rare was unhealthy with this kind of meat but she had worse poison flowing through her body. Adding some salt alone, she ate the piece while the juices flowed down her hand. Blinking up and outside her house, she decided the taste wasn’t exactly up to par with Keyla’s cooking.
She whistled an ominous tune while walking into the nearby cave, growling soon heard from the dark space before her. They grow up so fast. She thought and threw the meat while her ash enveloped her arm, cleaning it off any remains. The cat hissed as Ilea turned to leave. “Don’t trash my house while I’m gone.”
Wings of ash materialized behind her, each feather like protrusion forming out of thin air before she flapped them once, the magic lifting her from the cool rock while she looked over her otherworldly house. Maybe I should’ve gone a little less swanky.
Flying up, Ilea breathed in the fresh snowy air, the old trees clinging to the stone and rocky earth with deep running roots as the human flew above them, twirling in the air. Ilea smiled as the wind brushed against her skin, a fresh set of Shadow leather armor replacing her clothes that flattered in the wind, already close to tearing at the speed.
Activating all her buffs, the wind pressure of her passing freed the close by trees off the snow adorning the tops of their branches. Ilea left behind a trail before she ascended steeply, following the side of a mountain that stretched into the clouds above. The air cooled as she was swallowed by white, her sphere continuing to report on the close surface that rushed past her before she came up to meet the two faraway suns shining down on her and the high mountain reaching for their light.
Continuing her ascent as if an arrow shot towards the sky, Ilea soon landed on the peak. The natural barrier separating the Isanna desert from the empire of Lys and the human plains spread before her, mountains reaching higher still than the peak she was standing on. She could see a shadow quickly moving over the white snow but was unable to spot its origins, instead the woman jumped down and spread her wings, laughing as she sped up and rushed through the valleys, stray wolves, trolls and unknown species howled or fled at her approach.
An hour of detours and petting unwilling animals later, Ilea flew into the valley where the city of Ravenhall resided, the mountain lake spreading before her as she approached, its brilliance reflecting the suns before she promptly pierced the icy surface, breaking through the meter thick ice without much resistance before she swam through the water, barely slowed down by the element, her skin ignoring the freezing cold around her as her sphere warned her of any possible approaching threat in the dark.
Breaking out of the ice a couple minutes later, Ilea twirled and shook off the snow and frozen pieces still sticking to her armor before she blinked to the shore, rinsing her wet hair as she formed ash around it, heating the element enough to quickly dry it.
She could see people walking on the distant road to the city gates, some wagons pulled by oxen or horses in between. It’s not slowing down. Ilea thought, walking towards the city gates, the guards loudly organizing all the refugees. She nodded towards one of the guards and was waved inside before the waiting people.
He nodded to her and spoke, “Welcome back Shadow.” Ilea blinked inside instead of waiting for the people to part, waving at the guard who tried to find her again. The square behind the gate was even fuller than the last time she had been there, young children and babies crying while merchants shouted about their goods, adventurers, guards and soldiers waiting like hawks to find strong or useful individuals to hire as well as a bunch of unsavory individuals hiding in the shadows or among the bigger groups of people.
She sighed and walked towards Viscera, “It’s getting full.” Many of the stores on the way that had remained closed, abandoned and half destroyed for weeks after the demons had been vanquished were now open and bustling with life. Bakeries, clothes shops, armor and weapon vendors as well as a bunch of pawn shops had opened up. Serious looking mages and warriors stood in front of the doors, checking the interested for required funds, levels and a willingness to actually purchase something.
As Ilea passed the streets, she found beggars and thieves among the people, looking for the next meal while street cooks made their bellies growl from a couple meters away. People around her seemed interested but whispers of Shadow and respectful guards and adventurers had them stay at a distance, not sure if she really was part of the order but too afraid to risk anything. They had a reputation, here even more so than in other cities.
“Thank you.” Ilea said, handing over four copper coins to the old man who handed her some fried balls of dough filled with fish and drenched in a brown and aromatic smelling sauce. Eating her meal, she quickly approached the second ring of walls, the guards leaning on the walls as people went in and out. A beggar was stopped and shooed away, not welcome in the second ring it seemed. Ilea was nodded through and calmed down at the considerably less dense mass of people here.
Shops had opened too, as well as inns and restaurants, the beautiful weather bringing life to the differing colors and architectural styles that had sprung up in the previously drab and gray medieval city. Looks like a bloody amusement park. She thought and smiled, stuffing the last of the fried balls into her mouth before she closed her eyes and savored the taste.
Music played from a nearby cafe, reminding her a little of rock n’ roll. It really was a bizarre place. The shops here looked higher class, no doormen standing outside, nice looking attire, weapons and even books displayed in the various store windows. People were smoking and talking on the balconies, some of them motioning to her as she walked past below, quite aware of the stares thanks to her Sphere. A passing shadowguard nodded to her, Ilea mirroring the gesture as she followed along the third wall’s side to get back out of the second ring.
The entrance to Viscera was in the third and outermost ring but close to the mountain, meaning it was quicker to walk through the second ring to get there. She could see the line of potential shadowguards waiting, as well as already appointed guards standing watch around the square before the entrance. She quickly blinked twice, appearing before the door before she was waved in by the guard whose only reaction was a tighter grip around the handle of his sheathed sword.
Ilea quickly made her way through Viscera before she flew up towards the library and blinked into the hallway in front of it. Checking around her, she teleported a couple more times before she came into the hidden space where the Alymies resided.
Trian was not in his room but Aurelia was training with Samuel and Orthan in a hall further back. The girl noticed her quickly and shook her head. “He’s not here.” The girl didn’t know where the man had went upon further questioning but Ilea had a good idea where she could check.
She found him near their previous meditation spot in Eregar’s Haven but the man had apparently decided to sit next to a tree overlooking a field of grass and flowers. Ilea stepped up to him and sat down, enjoying the warm breeze that flowed through her hair.
“Why do you think we’re here?” The man spoke after a while, Ilea glancing over to the man before she smiled.
Thinking on his question, she fell backwards into the grass. “I don’t know. Maybe there’s a reason for everybody, maybe there’s a mastermind pulling all the strings and we’re just playthings to quench its boredom.” Plucking a flower from the ground, she continued talking as she twirled it in her fingers, “An answer might not present itself, in which case I chose to make my own reason.”
The man chuckled, ever so slightly. “Let me guess? Fighting and eating?”
“Sounds good, doesn’t it?” Ilea opened one eye and found him looking back at her.
“What did you want when you came to me?”
“Your health and mana drain abilities.” Ilea replied honestly. “And to help a friend.”
The man looked out over the field and smiled lightly. “You have.” Magic surged in him before she felt her mana and life slowly tick down.
“What is your reason then?” Ilea asked, relaxing again as her healing and meditation activated to more than outweigh his magic.
“For now?” He asked and closed his eyes again, “I like to sit here and think about that very question.”
Ilea smirked, reminded of some philosophers of old, sitting below trees and thinking about life. With his reduced hunger and need for sleep as well as improved body, the mage could literally sit there and think for days, perhaps even weeks. At least he’s out of his bed.
He used his drain spells whenever she was nearby, slowly but surely leveling them between her training sessions with William and the now four apprentices he had. Philly was stoked at first but had a similar reaction when their training actually began. At least she’d have pain resistance soon enough.
Later that day, Ilea went to the adventurer’s guild and took down the notice regarding her spell training, informing the clerk that she’d be discontinuing the sessions and to thank anybody who would ask about it.
Five days of extensive lying next to a tree brought her the two missing second stage advancements.
‘ding’ ‘Mana Drain Resistance reaches – 2nd lvl 1
Rare foes will have the ability to drain your mana. Either for their own use or simply to weaken you. Having encountered one such being, you have learned of its destructive effect. This skill will help you reduce the effect any mana draining abilities will have on you.
2nd stage: Your mana is bound to you, making it harder for anybody to drain it from you. In addition the mana removed from you damages the enemy, should they desire to use it for themselves. This effect increases with every point of mana lost.’
‘ding’ ‘Health Drain Resistance reaches – 2nd lvl 1
Some creatures have the ability to drain your health. You have been subjected to such a spell and have endured. This skill will help you endure more easily and turn the tables on your enemies.
2nd stage: Your health is yours, with each point lost it will become more difficult to steal from you what is yours alone.’
Both skills would be useful against someone with either ability but Ilea simply mentioned to Trian that he could stop using his skills, continuing to lie there and enjoy the serene atmosphere.
The man stopped and sapped her with some lightning instead, the woman just grunting at him in response. “It was nice having you here.” He said and continued his meditation, occasionally writing something into a small notebook he had brought the day before.
Ilea didn’t intrude on his notes and yawned. “Wake me in four hours.” She still had two skills missing and hoped William’s training had born enough fruit for her to have some breakfast.