Chapter 237 Palace Guards
Kingsguard. Meaning I’m in the palace? Ilea blinked again, not moving too far to see any potential enemies before they noticed her. She’d explore a little more until one of them actually saw her. I’ve gotten away from Praetorians, I’ll get away from these guys. They were much smaller to boot, only reaching close to two meters in height. Shorter and fewer legs meant a likely slower running speed. The three question marks worried her a little of course. It was the next barrier and could mean anything between level five or six hundred and a thousand, if not more.
A couple minutes later, she came up on a big opening towards the center. White stairs showing cracks led upwards and she blinked throught, avoiding another set of knights coming closer around the corner. Waiting between two pillars, she watched them move past before they continued on in the circle like hallway around the center. Blinking closer to the entrance around thirty meters further in, there were two knights standing guard. Both equipped with sword and shield.
There were no further pillars between her and the knights, the distance enough to blink into the room behind them but not enough for her to see what was there. The doors looked massive, dwarfing the two undead in front of it, dark steel with silver engravings just like the side entrance she had used to get in. The ceiling above her was solid and she couldn’t see anything below her either. Probably the throne room. Ilea smiled and blinked inside, appearing in a crouch as she saw the two knights behind her still guarding the gate she had just passed. They didn’t move.
It was the throne room. Empty and glorious. Two big chairs stood on a platform in the distance, withered flags hanging from either side of the room, some having fallen after all those years. Other than the few shimmering lines of silver, they had lost their color. One of the thrones looked a little more pompous, both of course made or at least coated in silver. A big flag of a rose was hanging on the wall behind them. Massive pillars stood in rows on either side of the hall, Ilea immediately blinking behind one of them.
If this doesn’t scream boss room. She was in a dungeon and this was the palace of the city. Still, so far she had the option to flee from any encounter with what she considered bosses. The Praetorians, the Basilisk as well as the Alpha Stalkerhound. Of the few games she had seen with bosses, it was usually a closed off encounter but even with dungeons and levels this world departed greatly from those games. Real pain was one of those things.
Blinking closer and closer to the thrones, there was nothing suddenly screaming or rushing at her. Right until she stood before the bigger one of the two, sitting down as gracefully as she could. “Welcome citizens. Your queen will now declare the newest laws.” She whispered with a smirk on her face, resting her head on one of her arms as shelazily lounged on the throne. Sadly the thing was fixed to the ground, otherwise she would’ve considered taking it with her. The noise of removing it would likely alarm the knights outside.
Or the one walking in from behind. She thought and blinked behind the throne, crouching just out of sight from the knight walking into the hall, thanking her armor for not making a noise. Close one. Blinking again, she appeared a couple meters behind the knight. A doorway led further back, the man not turning after she had appeared. It was another Kingsguard, carrying a single long sword. Identify showed three question marks. Ilea fought down the need to engage him, knowing that the noise of their fight would at the very least alert the knights standing guard just a hundred meters further down the hall and outside the doors.
Instead blinking back through the doorway leading behind the throne room, she quickly scanned it but other than stairs leading down there was nothing. I’m probably gonna trap myself down there. Of course she still went, blinking down the spiral staircase that led deep under the city. Finally coming out after three blinks, she wondered if the kingsguard patrolled all the way down here or if he had just been inside the small room for such a long time. She’d notice when he came back down at least. The walls, floor and ceiling were still marble down here. Definitely too spacious to just be a storage room or the royal cleaning chamber.
What kind of fucked up experiments will I find here I wonder. Following the hallway, she came into another spacious hall. There was furniture here, benches, many doors leading somewhere to the side as well as two knights in the distance, guarding a single corridor going further in. Ilea quickly blinked and crouched behind a marble pot that had some kind of red plant growing out of it. Checking the knights, they hadn’t reacted. Either she was too far away or they wouldn’t move too far from their position.
The hall was about fifty meters wide and three times as long. With her current level Blink she’d need around four casts to reach the other side. The first sets of doors to the side were reachable but only the one to the right would give her cover from the guards. Ilea quickly checked the immediate area around her for anything valuable but other than another two pots, a bunch of marble benches fixed to the ground and a fountain, there was nothing. Hold up a minute.
Looking up, she studied the red plant, perfectly fine and growing even though not a single bit of sunlight reached down here. Magic lamps on the ceiling shined down and illuminated nearly the whole hall, some of them broken. Listening carefully, she could hear the water fall inside the fountain further down the hall. There’s still power here. Of course the Taleen dungeon had working lights too, as well as traps and robot like enemies. It was more of a contrast here. The rest of the city looked dead, at least the little bits and pieces she had seen so far.
The rest of the palace too but this hall was powered, lit up and had plants growing. Either it was part of the dungeon and the higher mana density somehow powered it all or they had a massive power source hidden away somewhere. A mana crystal that worked for a couple thousand years or something. Ilea checked the two closest doors and blinked to the one on the right, a counter close by giving her a bit of cover.
Sitting somewhat close to the door, she let a tendril of ash flow out towards it. The ash reached the beautifully crafted handle and pushed down. It was locked. Feeling her way towards the keyhole, she formed her ash to unlock it. Whenever she met the least resistance, she just let her ash lose form and flow further in until it was filled. Solidifying her ash, she turned it. The door remained locked. An enchantment maybe? Her sphere didn’t see into the room and when she tried to blink inside, she just ended up closer to the wall.
Getting her ash back out, she reformed it into a serrated blade and solidified it. The door was a dark piece of steel set into the wall, leaving little to no space between stone and metal. Ilea started sawing into the marble before a small pulse of mana sent her ash away from the wall. Checking the knights again, she saw them still standing there. Her ash had done no damage at all. Ilea blinked back into the middle of the hall, hiding behind a bench as she made her body as small as possible. The closest door on the left didn’t have any cover and while it wasn’t much closer to the knights as the entrance, she didn’t want to risk it. At least not yet.
Two doors on the left side were tried unsuccessfully before she finally found an open one on the right. Opening it carefully and very slowly with her ash, she just moved it enough to allow her sphere to see inside. The enchantments had to be connected to work, as much she had learned from Claire’s room in Ravenhall. A good thing that she checked as a knight stood motionless a couple meters behind the door, shield and sword in hand. Ilea summoned some of the Dracgal meat she still had from a mission and ripped off a little piece. Moving it with her ash, she put it between the door and its frame. Testing the stability, she pushed at the door with her ash but found it unable to close. None of the guards had been alarmed.
A long hallway followed behind the knight, Ilea appearing without moving before she blinked again.
[Kingsguard – lvl ???]
How many of those are down here? The hallway had several doors but only two were open, both having a bed and some furniture inside. Checking through all of it as quietly as she could, Ilea found a book bound in leather and a small notebook. Both were in the same table drawer. The wardrobes in both rooms were empty. The few items either saying something about the culture or they were soldier’s quarters. Perhaps occupied by the very kingsguard standing only twenty meters away, now part of the dungeon.
Checking the rest of the doors, she blinked back out into the hall with the treasure she had found. The books were in perfect condition, as was the furniture and the beds. Something was definitely keeping this place of the dungeon fresh. The knight she had checked out from behind wore analthough dusty still perfectly fine set of armor. And a sword as deadly as when it was made.
Blinking behind the counter, she found some bottles of alcohol as well as a bunch of kitchen utensils, ice in a metal crate and a runed metal plate next to a sink likely there for water. She took the bottles with her and blinked into the middle again. There were five more doors she hadn’t checked but they were too close to the knights and offered nothing to hide her. They looked like kingsguard too. Could almost be statues as still as they’re standing.
Blinking as close as she could without being seen, she was finally able to make out the knights through her Sphere. Which means…, Ilea thought and appeared in the corridor behind them with a grin below her helmet. Checking out the corridor, her perception ended in a small room where she blinked into as soon as she could. The knights hadn’t heard her.
Again, a closed door albeit a bigger one at that. It too was closed and runed off to prevent her from damaging it or entering. Ilea doubted it would hold up to her full on assault but that would most definitely alert the two guys protecting this place. Ilea considered if she could use their power to break down the door but where would she go afterwards? She had no idea how one of them might be in combat. For now it was more reasonable to look for another way in. A key maybe or someone that could crack the enchantment inside the lock.
This sucks. Her exploration of the palace so far had wielded exactly two books. Not a single level gained nor buckets of gold found. At least I’ll get to fight these guys eventually. The thought made her smile as she blinked towards them again and out into the hall, hiding behind cover. Fighting two of them at the same time was unreasonable and with active enchantments she didn’t know if there could be something to trap her down here. Guess I’ll go see what they can do and then talk to Elfie.
Blinking back through the hallway, she came to a stop near the last bench, sitting on the ground to hide from the guards. Her sphere barely reached the stairwell but she nonetheless blinked inside. Her question if the knight would patrol all the way down here was answered when she saw him a couple meters further up through her sphere. Blinking past and up again, she was back in the throne room, humming the theme to a famous spy movie franchise.
Ilea realized that she found the thrill of hiding less exciting than that of death during battle. “The day is still young.” She said to herself and watched the gates to the throne room open, blinking behind a pillar. The two knights rushed in and scanned the room, Ilea blinking past and out of the doors. They hear better than me, damn. Moving around the extensions of the palace, she found the enchantments from underground didn’t affect anything here. All of it was rotten, unusable or just empty.
Moving around the palace, she found a single guard at the main frontal entry that was situated towards the darkness. The light was already fading when Ilea looked down from one of the towers closest to the main gate. The guard had a single long sword, bigger and heavier looking than the one wielded by the shield bearers she had fought. Jumping down, she landed on the courtyard before the palace, waving at the knight that slowly pointed his sword at her, lifting the thing as if it was a mere toothpick.
“Come on, let’s see what you can do.” Ilea said as her ash spread out, the Kingsguard knight slowly stepping towards her. He stopped ten meters shy of her and lifted his blade, slashing sideways. Ilea noticed a thin line moving through the air thanks to her Sphere and crouched under it. Neither her ears nor eyes would’ve known anything had happened but she trusted her Sphere, probably more than her other senses. Another hit, this time a slash from above confirmed it, a thin cut forming on the stone when his weapon came down.
Ilea blinked closer and was met with a thrust towards her heart, dodging sideways she was hit by the knight’s fist crashing into her chest. Her armor held but she was bruised, her rib cage damaged but holding. At least he didn’t break every single one of my bones with that attack. With all her bonuses to defense it was impressive to actually damage her in the first place but such was the power of the knights of Tremor apparently.
“I’m gonna kill every single last one of you.” Ilea said when the knight slashed twice, making her blink right into a third attack he had started when she activated her spell. The invisible blade cut into her armor at the thigh, going through her ash, her Veil and the metal. Ilea jumped backwards but found herself losing balance. Probably because of the leg that was falling downwards as the knight swung his sword again. Blinking back, she spread her wings and flew upwards. Seeing the air move through her sphere, she twirled as one of her wings was cut trough.
Falling towards the ground, she focused on stopping the bleeding. Her perception of pain was off as another blade cut through the air. Ilea blinked again, trying to get around the palace to hide behind the building. She was still falling as her second wing reformed, stabilizing before she sped up, blood dripping down on the massive structure from the wound on her leg. Guess that proves their ability. She smirked at the idea of a long range blade knight. Can they all do that? She thought about the different weapons. A dual wielding knight would demolish her with these kind of attacks.
Flying over the palace, she continued on before blinking into one of the nearby buildings. Teleporting four more times, she rested in an abandoned apartment. Her leg had stopped bleeding. God damn fucker took my leg. It was likely still on the ground but Ilea was more annoyed about her armor. The very armor that had protected her against most things she had encountered so far. It was cut through cleanly as if an industrial laser was taken to it. “Was that wind magic or what?”
Neither her armor, leg nor bone had offered much resistance it seemed. Still, her other leg had a cut going about halfway into her armor. So I did stop it. The situation might have ended differently had she lost both of her legs. Not that this was very favorable. Ilea hit the ground with her fist, her bone and tissue slowly rebuilding. She had been outclassed by the normal knights already but to be so utterly demolished by a single bloody kingsguard variant was frustrating. You’ll get there. It’s just the next Drake you have to face. She told herself and smiled, summoning a set of leather armor and taking the left boot. It would take another couple minutes for her leg to regrow and a ton of mana but at least she didn’t have to run away barefoot.
The sunlight had vanished when she could move her toes again. Putting on the boot, she stood up and checked her surroundings. Being in the dark already made her curious. Ilea blinked out and soon found a wall separating this part of the city from another one. Parts of it were broken down and she was now definitely in the area where no sunlight reached during the day. Her sphere was the only sight she had, piercing through the wall.
She tensed up when she heard scraping. Metal against stone, uneven and close by. It got louder and louder until she saw a hunched over knight missing an arm and half his head stumble into her sphere. His breathing was heavy, the chipped and dented big sword scratching into the stone before he looked up as if sniffing the air. He turned away and growled right before rushing off with uneven movements, sword smashing into walls and other obstacles along the way. Ilea turned and made her way up again. Lost enough legs for a day.