Chapter 234 Roses
“What do you use for trading? Amongst each other I mean.” Ilea asked, folding her hands before her.
The elf raised an eyebrow, “Do you suggest elves trade shiny metals as a base of our economy?” Ilea shrugged, making him continue, “We trade knowledge, favors and…,” He stopped, his smile waning.
Ilea smiled and clapped her hands together, “Good, let’s do that then. Plus I get all the shiny rocks and gear in there. Not really interesting for a historian.”
The elf contemplated and answered, “As long as you show it to me. Enchantments and metals can say a lot about a culture. You seek knowledge then? Or favors.”
Ilea was seeking strength, monsters to slay and preferably dungeons. Getting anything in addition from an actual real life elf would only add to her gains. Plus Dagon, Elise and pretty much anyone seeking knowledge would rip her a new one if they knew she had botched this opportunity. She was curious herself if she was honest. The elves had been an enigma. An angry enigma killing thousands. She was however not about to judge a whole race by the actions of a few warriors.
“Sure, I’ll show you the stuff. Does the dungeon start right beyond that door?” She asked, pointing at the rose.
He nodded. “Indeed. However I would prefer not to waste my time on this. Even if you claim to have slain an elf I won’t be waiting here for a long dead human looking to fight through a dungeon above her capabilities.”
Thought you’d never ask. Ashen limbs expanding from the pellets she had created, her buffs coming to the max as she breathed out, a grin plastered on her face as she moved into an aggressive stance.
“The other humans in hiding may join as well. I’m well aware of the strategic benefits.” The elf said, moving back his hood to reveal lightly curled red hair falling to his shoulders. Magic thrummed around him as he prepared.
“It’s all me.” Ilea said and rushed at him in the span of two seconds. Her fist reached toward him before it impacted an invisible barrier. The force was distributed among it, a part of it shocking through her arm before she moved back, her ashen limbs smashing into the barrier and pushing a total of eight spells of Wave of Ember into it.
The elf rose his eyebrows but didn’t react in any other way, the barrier standing strong.
[Elf – Mage – lvl ??]
Could be anything between me and a literal god. Continuing the assault, she grew more bold and simply stacked her attacks again and again, her destructive mana slowly eating into the barrier before cracks formed and it shattered in glittering shards, the elf vanishing and appearing in the middle of the hall. Ilea blinked after him in an instant, her fist rushing at his face with all her speed. The Elf’s eyes opened wide before an unseen force stopped her arm. Another moment passed and a thin barrier formed near her elbow and sliced into her flesh between the connecting pieces of armor.
He held her and formed a second cutting edge when she formed ash within his barrier, her arm stuck and her ash now reaching out to him. Vanishing again, she watched him appear while healing her wound. The cuts were deep, ripping through tissue easily but not quite getting through her enhanced bones.
The elf watched her,gray mist seemingly swirling in his eyes before she closed her fist again. A dome suddenly cut off all the sound, runes starting to glow in a dark light below her. A cold feeling immediately spread and nearly made her vomit before she realized what it was. Curses? Her healing magic spread through her. She had to give it to the elf, his magic was quite a bit more impressive than Kyrian’s. Her health started draining but not at an alarming rate. If her health drain resistance worked it would become even more manageable as time went on.
Trying to blink out of the dome didn’t work and she could tell through her Sphere that digging under it wouldn’t be an option either. Instead her ash spread out, heating up as much as she could. Adding more and more to it, she covered the whole dome. Concentrating on her manipulation skill, she focused all eight of her ashen arms on a specific point. With an explosion of mana, she hit the barrier with all of them, Wave of Ember ripping out a chunk of her resources. The barrier cracked and allowed her to teleport out, Ilea appearing before the elf in the blink of an eye as her fist again hit a barrier.
He smiled, showing his teeth and lifted one of his hands, “That is enough human. I will await your return. Books and relics as well as biological remains, should there be any.”
Ilea activated her meditation, the damage from his curse was fading quickly with her high level healing and resistance to his spell. “I want answers first.”
He snarled and hissed at her, making her blink her eyes in a confused manner. “That is not part of our trade agreement!”
Ilea chuckled and sat down on a nearby wooden chair, “Calm down man. No reason to get all pissy. I won’t go in there with you behind me. I know you lot don’t like dungeons but I need to know why.”
The elf looked at her and sat down slowly, claws digging into his chair before he replied in a calm voice, “It is forbidden.”
Ilea sat forward, her elbows resting on her knees. “Really? Look if that’s the kind of information you’ll give me then I won’t bother getting a single bloody book out of there.”
He hissed and opened his mouth wide before he calmed down again, looking up at the ceiling and sighing, “Why would I bother. To play this game with a creature like you…,”
“Traps in there, maybe your abilities are badly suited for the monsters inside. Maybe it’s a sacrifice thing and the first one in dies. Or you’re just bored, this is actually your dungeon and you’re a dragon trying to have fun with my little old human self.” Ilea suggested and sat back, the elf staring at her in silence.
A bit of air was pushed out of his nose, “Amusing.” He spoke and tapped one of his claws on the armrest of his chair. “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt. It is forbidden. To enter dungeons. By those we serve. To add to that our biology is… sensitive to the mana density found within most dungeons. Just sniffing that door makes me want to puke.”
Ilea nodded, “Interesting story. So if I were to pull you inside you’d puke? Why not do that then.”
He stood up and threw his chair, “I cannot! Under no circumstances am I to enter a dungeon. Human it took me decadeswandering these desolated lands to find…,” He sighed and calmed down again. “… I am tired. Of this, of your presence. You have my offer and I will remain in this hall for seven cycles of the light. Do as you will.” He stood up and walked to the other end of the cathedral, taking a chair and summoning his book again.
The air around the elf had calmed down again.Ilea stood before the door and turned her attention to the silver rose, the metal showing spots of rust. If the lightning didn’t kill me, this won’t either. Her hand reached the handle and she pulled. Only a little, checking if the elf moved but he had remained in his chair. The metal made a creaking sound, her strength enough to pull open the huge double doors with relative ease. She only opened one of them, peering through. Stairs led downwards but what greeted her was a small field of green grass, silver roses reflecting the light of the sun.
The door opened even wider. Ilea checked on the elf again but he had not moved. There was still the possibility of him suddenly appearing behind her but the fact that she had seen another elf refuse to enter a dungeon made her somewhat confident. It was a common thing after all and the only reason he hadn’t fought her to the death she supposed. I wonder who would win?
Stepping through the doors, she took a deep breath but couldn’t feel anything different than right outside. He had talked about mana density but why did it affect elves and not humans? Ilea closed the door behind herself and walked on, a sound reverberating through her mind.
‘ding’ ‘You have entered the Tremor dungeon’
The space was open and could’ve been reached with flying as well but it felt right to her to use the big doors. As if entering the next area of a game. She smiled when she spotted the armored knight standing with his back turned to her a couple dozen meters further down the meadow.
Another talkative fellow perhaps? The question would be answered soon, Ilea plucking one of the silver roses and smelling it. Metal was the only thing she could make out.
Yea no shit. Storing it in her necklace she wondered how much something like that was worth down in the human kingdoms. Somehow she felt like her lacking affinity for plants would kill them quite quickly if she tried to grow them. Again checking if anything near the elf had changed, she stepped forward.
“Greetings.” She spoke but the knight did not respond. His armor looked similar to the roses in color but covered in even more rust than the decoration on the heavy doors. The sword in his right hand looked most intact, its handle beautifully crafted with a guard that looked like pellets. Its blade was long, more suited as a two handed weapon but the weight didn’t seem to matter. A shield hung from his right arm, much more withered from age than the sword. Full plate armor finished the picture of a deadly knight.
He looked more impressive to Ilea than most of the adventurers she’d seen trying to emulate such a look. The knight turned when she took another step, metal lightly creaking as it moved. A closed off helmet with two thorn like protrusions reaching towards the sky hid any facial features the man, elf or dwarf would’ve had. The only visible thing were white eyes staring back at her from the thin slits within.
“Hello, nice to meet you Mr. Knight. Can you speak?” Her head cocked to the side when she asked the question, ashen limbs floating behind her. “I suppose not.” The knight didn’t say a word. Taking another step seemed to be just too offensive for the being as he started walking towards her, shield rising and sword pointed towards her. “I guess your intentions are clear then.”
Waiting for the knight to reach her, Ilea identified it.
[Knight of the Rose – lvl ??]
The sword lashed out towards her with a quick move. Not enough to surprise her, Ilea dodging backwards to make space. Her ash moved out, three of the limbs impacting the shield the knight rose in response. He stepped sideways quickly and jumped to avoid the rest of her ashen attack.
Ilea’s eyebrow rose before moving in, getting closer while her ash lashed out. The knight stepped backwards while swinging, avoiding the ash with quick movements before he dashed first sideways and then towards her, sword upfront with a piercing motion. Ilea had to blink to avoid the strike, finding the knight had already turned towards her. Maybe don’t blink into him…
Roses were crushed in his following run, his speed increasing with each step before his swing rushed at her, Ilea dodging down under the sword as her ash hit into his side, destructive mana rushing into him. She felt some of her magic dissipate. Intrusion enchantment? She didn’t have time to contemplate it, his shield rushing down at her. Ilea was forced to blink again.
Looking at the knight, she patted the side of her helmet. “You’re a quick one aren’t you.” Her words had barely left her mouth before the thing was upon her again, a flurry of four fluidly executed strikes that she dodged with back steps, most of her tendrils cut apart or blocked by his shield. Dodging his last blow, the sword swinging high above her, Ilea stepped forward, her fist impacting the shield he held out towards her as the force of her whole might crashed into it. Both held true, a small wave of air pushed outwards, moving the grass and roses next to the two warriors.
The brief moment passed before he stepped backwards, sword coming down to again get back the distance. His weapon was held close to his shield, the knight silent and careful, as if contemplating her every move. Ilea held out her hand before she formed ash, a big cloud of it. The knight didn’t move as she draped it all over him. Rushing into the cloud from the side, she could see him respond the exact same way, as if the ash didn’t exist at all. His sword lashed out, Ilea dodging before she punched in his side, his elbow jerking back to hit her.
The impact sent her stumbling back, followed by a sword strike that cut through the stunned hunter’s defenses, slowed down by her ash before it stopped dead on her armor. Blinking back, Ilea felt her shoulder had been injured by the strike. A small dent showed on her armor that had survived what she thought was worse. Maybe she had been wrong. White eyes looked at her before the knight rushed out again, his blade moving quickly and surely, leaving her few openings even with all her experience and high fighting skills. Her ash hanging on to him, she used reversed healing but again found a lot of the mana simply dissipating.
A slash of his sword cut through the ash before he resumed his unrelenting attacks. Letting the sword glide through her Veil, she felt as it scratched past her helmet before her fist again met his shield. This time he pushed back, Ilea’s arm glanced off before she blinked behind him. Using the rotation, she kicked into his knee with little effect, the knight turning as he swung his sword. A step into the dirt sent her tumbling and avoiding the blade, gaining enough time to blink away from him as the sword rushed at her again.
Ilea’s wings spread before she flew up, watching the knight below that just stared at her. Creating a small projectile of ash, she was about to fire when she saw him draw a bow, the arrow rushing at her before she dodged sideways. Of course.
Back on the ground, she decided that the only way she could beat this damn thing was a frontal clash. It was a masterful swordsman, better than anything Ilea had ever fought. It didn’t mean much but coupled with the insane power every strike held the knight definitely lived up to his name at least.
Trusting in her skills, Ilea faced the knight. Ashen limbs moved in from the side to hit it wherever possible while she simply stayed in his reach, dodging and weaving through the strikes. Some she could only let glance and scrape against her defenses while others had to be dodged using blink. He wasn’t the quickest she’d ever fought, nor the flashiest. Still, she had a hard time getting damage in. Whenever she moved into one of his openings, the shield would bash towards her, even with heavy gauntlets equipped the knight took her beating easily.
Moving under the shield or to the side of it was followed by a hit with the sword’s pommel or the knight’s armored knee. Ilea was used to sword wielders to struggle as soon as she had moved past their preferred reach. Not this one. Strike followed strike, the once beautiful garden turning to trampled roses and uneven ground as the two powerful warriors traded blows of ash and steel.
Sweat rolled down her brow, sticking to the inside of her helmet. Several dents in her armor marked every mistake, every step she had miscalculated and every time she had misjudged his range. The knight stood, like a devil with two horns, shield raised and sword pointing towards her. A formidable opponent to be sure. His slow reaction whenever she blinked further away allowed her to use meditation frequently between exchanging blows.
Sword slashing towards her, she knew exactly how far it would come. Stepping backwards, she felt the air rush by before her helmet, the sword passing when she stepped forwards and to the left. Her right arm moved upwards, punching the arm that held his sword, mana dissipating from her skills. Some into his body and some into the air. He stepped to her right and used his shield to slash at her. Ilea ducked and twirled to her left, her leg impacting his before the knight jumped back.
Jumping up, she watched the sword dig into the ground where she had just been, her right leg kicking out before she impacted the shield that rushed towards her. Landing several meters further back, Ilea crouched and panted, meditation flowing through her for two seconds while the knight rushed towards her, faster with every step.
The moment passed and his sword rushed towards her with a piercing motion, Ilea’s body turning sideways as the blade rushed by. Grabbing onto his arm, she pushed mana into him while her limbs of ash hit towards his shoulder, three managing to swing around his shield before impacting his back. Hearing the sizzle of her embers made her smile but she wouldn’t lose her concentration. The increasing effect of Form of Ash and Ember helped her get in more hits by the minute but the effect had been maxed out for a while now. I’ll take you down and if it takes a week to do so.