Chapter 233 Chicken Nuggets
With the emergence of the suns, Ilea watched closely what happened to the lakes of mist when the light reached their borders. Eating the last of her meal, she quickly scanned the surroundings to find the closest crack in the land. Putting away the box, she jumped off the mountain and glided down the steep side of it with her wings out. The sunlight was hidden behind the mountain but coming up on the crevice, Ilea saw how the mist was already dissipating. Miststalkers danced around before they too vanished, particles of mist floating up in the air, the last of their existence shimmering in the light that finally rose over the mountain.
And as quickly as the mist had vanished, black clouds formed and purple lightning started impacting faraway hills and mountains. Ilea watched a cloud form only a couple hundred meters away, deciding it was safe to traverse the chasms again. Jumping down, she felt the air rush by from the first lightning impact of the newly formed death cloud. Are the mist creatures in there? Just turning into lightning stalkers by day?
A little apprehensive, Ilea scanned her surroundings as she stepped down into the thin crevice. No mist could be seen, not even in its nooks and crannies. Which meant traveling was somewhat safe outside during the night and in the cracks by day. If one considered the dangerous beasts manageable.
Ilea saw the first animals and small insects move out of their hiding spaces among the rocks and cracks, eager to find food and water now that the mists were gone. Not exactly an abundance of resources around here. She watched the animals and started walking northwards. So far she had found the Dragoons that she could definitely kill but they were below her level, meaning it wasn’t exactly profitable leveling wise. They were interesting opponents but without an ability to seriously hurt her combined with the low level, she wasn’t particularly interested in hunting them.
Neither did they seem to be around in high numbers. A rustling resounded behind her but she couldn’t see anything when she turned, neither did her Sphere. Checking for anything in hiding as if she was looking for a rogue, she found nothing. Smiling a little, she imagined Eve trying to sneak up on her here in the north. Shaking her head, she walked on and continued her considerations. The Miststalkers were interesting but as long as they came in such high numbers she wasn’t sure if she should approach them. Her resistances were high of course and she could gain levels in her mist magic resistance at least but it wasn’t like they’d go anywhere.
That was if they appeared again the next night. Ilea had only seen one day and night in the north so far and while the purple lightning had returned she didn’t know if the mist did. The gray birds freaked her out but without having fought against them she might just find them the way to level up here. Coming into another section of the crevice, Ilea sniffed the air and activated all her buffs, blinking behind a rock she could see through her Sphere. Looking around, listening and waiting for a minute, she couldn’t make out anything but the smell of a recent fire was unmistakable.
Rushing through the glen, she found it. A crudely prepped fireplace, cold ash remaining. Bones of an animal lay to its side, free of any meat. Checking her surroundings again, Ilea instead activated her Hunter’s Sight, looking for any clues regarding the maker of this fire. There was of course the question if she really wanted to look for whomever had prepared it but the potential benefits of getting to know someone who knew their way around the north were obvious. Might even be worth the risk. She found half faded tracks in the sand.
Boots… She surmised, meaning that it wasn’t just some half intelligent ape creature able to make a fire. Well it could still be but the ape wore boots at least. Following the trail proved difficult, either because it was older or because the mists and stalkers had danced over it for a whole night or three. The trail continued into a small cave opening, darkness staring back at her when she entered. The Sphere taking over, Ilea walked through the narrow corridor before she heard a stream flowing, seeing it a couple meters later.
The water flowed down into the unknown, further than her sphere could see. The space wasn’t big enough for her to glide down with her wings, Ilea instead climbing down through the small gap between the water and rock. After a couple meters she could already see the bottom further down. Coming out as quietly as she could, she found the following cave to be a little brighter. She couldn’t make out the light source as of yet. Trying to stay quiet, she walked through the opening cave, finding a large fissure in the stone at the other end of it. The water flowed down a small creek that had formed over the years. Just another crevice?
There was grass growing outside the fissure, soft light breaking in from cracks above. It definitely looked like something Ilea wouldn’t have found if she had simply continued down the previous glen. The way led further down, actually opening up below while the top looked more narrow and even closed off, only opening in certain parts to allow sunlight inside. Wonder if the mists come down here too…
The answer would have to wait, Ilea walking deeper into the unknown, the small stream of water flowing down next to her, occasionally reflecting the sun when she passed a crack above her. The terrain led further down before opening up into a big cave, vegetation abundant, the water ending in a small pond hidden behind ferns. The trail was still there, actually growing more pronounced and easy to follow.
Ilea heard chirping sound before a blinding headache nearly brought her to her knees, the pain spreading through her before she shut it off, healing against the damage done to her mind and body. She had never experienced such a pure force of mind magic before, the attack feeling like a combination of Weavy’s and Eve’s abilities. Fine control shattering her mind with the force of a sledgehammer. Carefully surveying the damage done, Ilea simply healed against it, focusing on her mind as she started meditating.
Her second stage deflected a part of the attack back at whoever was doing this and she hoped it would provoke some sort of response. Her healing was stable and she combined with her recovery of both mana and health, she could simply sit there and take it for several hours. And so she did. The attack didn’t subside, first ten minutes, then twenty.
‘ding’ ‘Mental Resistance reaches 2nd lvl 11’
Might as well stay until it’s at level twenty. With such a ridiculously powerful attack that’s gonna take less than a day. The plan didn’t work out though, the mind magic subsiding another five minutes later. She could still heard the chirping and decided to find out what it was. In the grass nearby right outside her Sphere’s previous radius, she found a small yellow chick, chirping happily as it wiggled a worm out of the ground.
Slurping it down, the cute animal looked at her and chirped again, flapping its small arms. “You’re fucking cute.”
Carefully moving her hand forward, she pet the tiny chicken and identified it.
[Mind Flayer – lvl ??]
Ilea continued smiling and lifted the animal up on her hand. “Sorry little guy, I don’t have any bread with me.” Looking into the bird’s eyes, it chirped again before lying down in her hand. The thing was asleep in a couple seconds. “Aren’t you the cutest murder mage. Mind Flayer… are you kidding me.”
She considered an illusion spell like the electric mind magic cat had used to change its appearance but she didn’t feel any magic coming from the chick anymore. Maybe her identify skill was wrong or influenced by something that had actually attacked her but then again why wouldn’t a tiny chicken have an affinity for mind magic?
If there were hundreds of them maybe she’d at least consider making chicken nuggets, simply for the levels but just one of them was just too cute to harm. I’d get fried if there were even five of them attacking me at the same time. Reminded of the miststalkers, she wondered if there were more of these here. She couldn’t find any with her sphere at least. There were some more worms and insects, all of them dead in the area she could see. Using nukes to kill worms.
A mystery, how an animal so small and cute only in need of some worms and water to live had acquired such an insane ability with mind magic. She placed it down on the grass again and let it sleep, the bird likely exhausted from the magic it had exerted before. Next thing is a worm using earth magic to encase and eat me.
The thought wasn’t too far off but with all the beasts she had seen so far the bird was the most surprising, simply because of its small size. With the lacking Mental Resistance most people had, it wasn’t too far off to think a single one of those chicks could’ve wiped out an entire expedition. Or a single blast of that lightning. Not sure if it’s lightning or arcane but my resistances are in the second tier for both.
The open area continued for a while, the vegetation slowly waning as the water source was left behind. With a final twist, the cave led into a wide open space. Ilea’s eyes opened wide when she looked out over the cave walls, light breaking in from a big opening at the top, flowing down like a golden cascade that illuminated parts of the massive structures. Temples, high towers and aqueducts visible before they vanished into the darkness below where no light reached. Cracks, broken off pieces and rubble told her a little about this place’s history.
There was no notification so it wasn’t a dungeon. A city? Under the mountain? Have I finally found some dwarves? Something felt off about the place though. A dark and sinister feeling that made her apprehensive. This place was dead, long gone and rotting. Ashen wings spread before she floated down about a hundred meters to reach the highest tower. Looking down made her shiver, an unending void staring back at her. She had no idea what lurked beyond that abyss. Green eyes suddenly flashed in her mind, making her reel back and calm down using meditation and her healing.
Come on recovery, I thought you could heal mental damage too. Opening her eyes again, calm and collected she walked on the rooftops, their red color fading. Moving past one of the merlons she saw a square below her, not quite angled right but solid enough to still stand. A big gate lay at the end of it, leading into the massive cathedral she had found herself on. The intricate design of the architecture reminded her a little of Salia, towers with pointed tops and several distinct sections reaching up towards the sunlight above. Railings, some damaged and bent held onto the edges of the square, metal weaving in shapes of roses to create a mesh preventing a fall.
Walking to the edge of the square, she found thorns had been placed on the outside of the railings. Flaunting their wealth. Didn’t work out in the end, now did it? She was quite aware of her own pompous house but at least she hadn’t added roses to her balcony railings. Maybe I should.
The door leading inside was hanging off a single hinge, its heavy wooden frame a shade of its assumed formed self. The color it once had was long gone and the wood was rotting from within. The interwoven metal lines the only indication of its ancient splendor. Ilea moved past and found herself on the balcony overlooking the massive cathedral hall. Windows now missing all glass, only the metal framing going through their midst let the weak sunlight fall into the building, its brilliance reflecting on the silver being part of the construction.
Ilea walked along the wooden railing, taking in the incredible architectural wonder now forgotten and rotting away. Tables as well as chairs and benches lined the floor of the hall, metal cutlery and plates remaining on it still. What happened to this place?
There were no skeletons, no signs of a fight nor zombies or demons walking around. Did they just abandon it? Her reverie turned into apprehension when she reached the end of the balcony, now seeing the massive double doors leading out of the cathedral. The doors were cast in metal, silver lined within showing a beautiful rose. Not the door had peaked the feeling but what sat before it. A tall person in a wooden chair, one of their legs propped on the other and a book in had. Their back was towards her and a hood prevented her from seeing any of their features.
Ilea had tried to be quiet but she didn’t have any stealth skills, surprising her that the man or woman hadn’t seen her yet. Or chose not to react. Wait, is this guy still alive? Her options were sneaking up and attacking, identifying them from closer up and going from there or speaking up from a higher distance. The last option seemed the sanest one and would allow for the highest chance to get away should it become necessary. Identifying them would serve nothing as her approach likely wouldn’t change. She wouldn’t attack them without knowing more.
Her wings spread and took her over the wooden railing, down towards the stone floor where she landed with almost no noise. Checking for openings in the walls and orienting herself to know where the cave led outwards, she stepped forward, “Greetings traveler.”
Head moving back a little, she at least knew they weren’t dead, “How unexpected. A tracker of some sort I surmise?” A deep voice spoke, Ilea stopping in her tracks. The man touched the book and turned the page.
Ilea wanted to get closer but something told her the man was dangerous, instead keeping her distance, “Found a fire, followed the trail. Beautiful place, is it yours?”
A hearty chuckle reverberated through the hall, “No. I do not claim possession of this ruin.”
“What are you here for then?” Ilea asked, seeing a strand of red hair when he turned a little towards her.
The man got up and dusted his insanely intricate robe off and patted the book, “Just the attendance list…,” He murmured and shook his head. “I’m a historian.” He said and turned, dark gray eyes looking at her as she took an instinctive step back. A tongue brushed over his pointed sharp teeth, the book held by hands ending in delicate clawed fingers, carefully resting on the side of the leather. A pale and fair face with red hair falling to its side.
Not a man at all. She thought about how to proceed but as long as he didn’t attack she would see to what it lead.
“You are afraid? Naturally. I am as surprised to find a human here as you are finding an elf.” He said, the book vanishing in his hand. “Perhaps… perhaps we may find an arrangement that would benefit the both of us, before you run off or uselessly die in your misguided attempt at vengeance.”
Ilea relaxed a little. The elf was odd, that at least she was sure of. He looked older than the ones she had fought which either meant they were aggressive and arrogant because of puberty or this one was simply different. Either way she lacked information but she did want to explore this city, at best without an elf lurking inside of it. “Been a while since I met one of your kind. None of them were particularly pleasant.”
The elf smiled, his mouth opening partially to show his teeth. Ilea wasn’t sure if he was trying to intimidate her with the creepy look or if his jaw simply didn’t allow otherwise. Ash formed behind her back, condensing into small pearls to allow for a quick fight should it come to pass. “Your race tends to spread. Too much. too quickly. It is good for the young to experience warfare in a safe environment.”
Ilea just looked at him, “Not so safe when we killed them.” A challenge perhaps but his insult wasn’t lost on her. The elf’s expression didn’t change however, simply waving off her comment.
“Then you are a warrior. One capable of slaying elves. Where is your group? Don’t humans normally move in bigger numbers?” The elf asked as he turned and looked at the massive gate.
She didn’t reply for a while, thinking about the situation, “It’s a dungeon isn’t it? An elf claiming to be a historian, standing before the closed gates that would lead to an ancient city, full of libraries. Knowledge long lost in time.” Ilea smiled and stepped closer, interested in his class and level, “I am a warrior and as fate has it I’ve come to explore dungeons.”
He turned to her again and smiled, his tongue licking over his teeth, “Indeed. I thought you foolish for a human but there seems to be something up in that skull at least. Bring me what is hidden in this dungeon and I will reward you. A task as your guilds and kingdoms assign.”
“What kind of reward can you offer long ears?” Ilea asked, her head turning to the side.
He summoned a piece of gold. Not a coin but a literal unrefined piece of gold. “This is what you use as currency, is it not? To trade amongst each other.” Moving it from side to side, Ilea’s eyes stayed focused on his.
Am I supposed to dance, monkey master?