Chapter 252 Questioning a Robot
Coming back into the cathedral, Ilea was happy to find the dwarf back in his rig. It looked dented still, his metal magic apparently not enough to fix it completely. The head was missing entirely, instead two small holes had been drilled into the chest plate to allow him to see through, “Can you see in the dark without the light?” The first thing she asked. Ilea wouldn’t make it easy for him. And if he was a liability after all, she’d leave him behind. Perhaps I’ll bring him back to Hallowfort at least.
The robot moved, testing its legs as the dwarf answered, “We can see in the dark. Not perfectly well but we can see. The flood lights are not just for me to see. They’re to blind and to detect enchantments as well as magical connections and spells.”
“Your machine can do all that? I had a skill once called Magic Perception but you just have tech for that? Can I have that too?” Ilea was curious. If she had glasses or something that could give her all those abilities it would certainly be helpful.
The metal arms crossed before his chest, “I’m a metal mage and an engineer. Those abilities come from the second class. It’s not as straight forward as you warrior kinds but if you’re good enough and have the resources, your gear will make quite a difference. Sadly the enhancements like my magic perception don’t work for others.”
“What else can you do? And what did you see in there? Anything that might be useful for me?”
The dwarf might have nodded, had he not lost his robot head. The two tubes exiting behind his back sent off some steam, “I have tools to drill, cut and force myself into wherever you want to go to. I can see runes, enchantments and know my way around them. I’ve deactivated traps whole expeditions couldn’t figure out.”
“Sure. I’ll have to see that in action before I believe it.” Ilea interrupted but gestured for him to continue.
“I’m willing to demonstrate. The same as for enchantments goes for magical barriers. As long as I have time to figure it out. Also how I noticed that the knights patrolling parts of the city have a magical connection to somewhere. The undead knights didn’t have that, not sure what that is about. Normally undead are the ones having a connection to their summoner. Naturally occurring ones are a little different.” He explained, Ilea lifting an eyebrow as she took off her helmet.
“You mean the knights are controlled from somewhere, while the crazy undead ones that nearly killed you weren’t?” Ilea asked. The robot shrugged.
“I didn’t have time to examine the connection. Perhaps it’s more than just mere control. You said you’ve killed some?”
Ilea nodded, “What did you do with the bodies?” He asked, his voice a little uneven.
Is he afraid?, “I burned them.” She replied simply.
“Good. Good. Usually one of the best ways to sever the connection. We can examine it if you’re willing to let me watch. Although I’d need to repair my head first.”
Ilea thought about it, “So they could’ve stood back up… even after I had killed them?”
“As I said, it’s hard to say. Even if I see the connection it might be impossible to tell. Depending on how good the necromancer is. Undead are pretty rare in dungeons as well as naturally so I can’t say if this is special behavior for sure. I simply haven’t ever seen anything like it.” The dwarf explained.
“Well I’ll have you fight one of them anyway, you’ll be able to think about it then. Can you repair the head here or not?”
Terok was quiet for a while but spoke eventually, “Fight one of them?” He took a step back, “W…why?”
Ilea cocked her head, a little confused at his question, “What do you mean why? Why not? You’re level one eighty five. They’re between two fifty and three hundred usually. And they just attack with their swords or bows. You’ll have to be able to at least flee from them if you’re ever going to work with me.”
She heard him breathe out, “Fleeing is different than fighting.” He grumbled and went on, “I can repair it but I need a little more time. The enchantments were literally smashed. Takes me a while to get everything running again.” He pointed towards where his head would be. “What level are you by the way? Just so I know what I’m getting myself into.”
Ilea didn’t see a reason to hide it from him, “Two fifty five right now.”
“And you fight them alone? They’re two fifty to three hundred?” He asked but continued right away, “How old are you?”
“Why does it matter?” Ilea asked, strolling around the hall.
“Never mind. Well you have survived so far but fighting higher leveled enemies, alone. I’m not going to lecture you. You’re the one who saved me after all.” He said and chuckled, “So how can I prove that I’m useful to you?”
Ash slowly flowed out of nowhere, swirling around Ilea as the limbs on her back focused on the dwarf. Her hands crossed before her, a set of five ashen walls formed and grew as dense as she could force them. “Attack me. First as fast as you can, then as hard as you can and finally you simply try to break through with as much time as you need.” She walked towards the double doors and entered the dungeon, “Not here though.”
Terok followed her, the dwarfacting as fidgety as an exoskeleton possibly could. “Don’t stress over it. I thought your long time experience speaks for itself… I will only defend so don’t worry.”
“I’m not worried.” He snapped, “I’m not supposed to hold back am I?”
Ilea smiled, her helmet appearing on her head, “I would hold it against you if you did. If you manage to deal significant damage to me I’d be impressed and not just a little.”
“Then here goes nothing.” He sighed and vanished, Ilea immediately grinning. Teleportation was already quite useful. She saw him appear to her right, a drill arm quickly slashing towards her side when all her ash shifted his way, intercepting the attack that drilled into it. Terok jumped back, his mech pulling hard to the side before it quickly closed the distance again, Ilea’s ash swaying to intercept him when he appeared behind her.
Instead of using his drill arm, this time a small barrel had extended and sent a thick needle like object around thirty centimeters in length and two thick straight at her back. The ash didn’t intercept, Ilea instead curious what it would do. Her armor of course stopped the projectile but it didn’t rebound, instead floating where it had hit. The needle scratched against the armor and moved upwards before it found the gap between her shoulder piece and chest plate. Ever so slightly it pushed inside, Terok in the meantime moving to the air and floating around as he shot another two of the projectiles at her. These she let her ash intercept, the element pushing back against his magic that willed them forward.
The projectile near her shoulder had started to spin and slowly dug into her flesh. It apparently wasn’t easy to penetrate so the projectile instead exploded into tiny shards that dug a little deeper. He did manage to draw blood, the shards themselves slowly pushed out by her healing as she recovered. Terok didn’t let it stop him and instead continued circling around, appearing closer before hitting into her quickly moving ash. This really has become a second protective shield…, Even before her Veil had to step up to take damage, her ash alone was intercepting.
She let the dwarf attack for fifteen minutes straight until she held up her hand. He had not let up, his speed kept at the same level and his metal needles, quite reminiscent of Kyrian’s attacks had kept coming. Compared to her friend, the dwarf chose fewer but more intricate projectiles. The fact that he could recover them spoke for this approach. I’ll inform him if I ever meet him again.
Terok was breathing hard, under his machine but the exoskeleton didn’t let on that anything was amiss. “Good. You’re quick and I think with your teleportation as well as flying you have a good chance to escape most situations. You see in the dark… any abilities that let you see around you?”
He breathed out heavily before he answered, “No. The magic perception however lets me feel spells coming from behind for example. Most of the time ranged attacks are magical. Arrows usually carry some as well so it’s rarely been a problem.”
“I see. Well next is pure force. Come on.” She said, several layers of ash forming in front of her as she casually stood behind them. “Hit me.”
The dwarf’s right arm reformed, pieces moving in place like a well oiled machine. Even with the dents she could see through her sphere, his robot suit held up and worked well. The right arm had formed a heavy plate at its front, pipes and rectangular extensions coming out of the metal grid behind it. “Here I come.” Terok whispered, a quiet motivational speech for himself before he started running. His speed picked up quickly, metal magic pushing his otherwise slow limbs to heights reserved for people above two hundred.
Mana built up on the squares extending from his arm before in the last moment everything was released, all the pressure forcing his arm forward as it smashed into her defenses. The ashen layers were first penetrated, then pushed aside before finally her Veil was punched onto her armor. Ilea had to take a step back to stabilize. Air was pushed out of her lungs before she breathed in again, “No bad.”
The dwarf stepped back, “Not bad? Are ya fucking kidding me Ilea?” He grumbled something, “That is enough to take down enchanted and reinforced doors. You have the defenses of a tank… your ash is insane. You’re a body enhancer aren’t you?”
“Stop the flattering. I have dual body enhancement classes, can heal myself quickly and my attacks are based on mana intrusion and physical force.”
“It’s not flattery. I don’t mean to insult you but you obviously don’t have a lot of experience with all this. No wonder you can fight these knights. Although both mana intrusion and physical force will help you precious little against undead on that level. Especially if they’re still being fueled from somewhere.” He mused.
The ash in front of her parted, revealing Terok in his machine. His right arm had reformed to the normal variant, the pieces she had seen in action now residing between the grid of metal rods again. “I mean I know it’s a bad match up. I can kill them in a couple hours though so it’s fine.”
He didn’t say anything at that for half a minute, his eyes both mechanical and dwarven staring at her from behind the two small holes in his robot’s chest plate, “You fight them for hours at a time?” This time he laughed, “I’m curious. How can you keep that up? I mean you don’t take all their hits do you? And you need to keep all your buffs active. Body Enhancers can usually fight longer but concentration lapses, especially when you’re in a dangerous situation.”
Ilea walked to the destroyed fountain and sat on a piece of rubble, her helmet disappearing. “I mean it’s just not that interesting if it’s not dangerous. Plus I usually blink away to meditate and heal whenever I got in a good hit.”
“You’re living for this don’t you?” Terok asked in a sad voice as he turned away from her.
“Don’t pity me. I enjoy it. This is exactly why I wanted to be alone here…,” Ilea murmured the last part.
The dwarf turned to her again and quickly spoke, “I’m not pitying you. It’s just a fact that people like you find early graves, no matter their talents, their luck or preparation.”
He remained silent for a while, the both of them basking in the sunlight that illuminated parts of the dungeon city, “Well at least you’re more durable than most and you can heal yourself. Still, a couple hours for an enemy fifty levels above yourself? How is your offensive potential looking?”
Ilea rolled her eyes, “This was about testing Your abilities Terok, not mine.”
“And one of those abilities is decades of experience in the north. I doubt you sport that lassie, no matter how capable of a fighter you are.” He said and she knew he was smiling under his hood.
“Should I test it on you?” Ilea joked and walked to the side of the square, the dwarf following. Activating her buffs, her ashen limbs smashed into the wall of a house, cutting and breaking through with ease before her fists followed suit.
“That would be a bit much for me. Have you fought enemies at that level before? Two fifty I mean?”
Ilea remembered plenty of encounters and nodded, the dwarf thinking it over for a moment, “Well that is more power than I can put out and I’ve killed some rare beasts in that range as well. You shouldn’t need that much time to kill one if you hit that hard. Especially coupled with mana intrusion. I mean some beasts have higher durability, sure. Their armor is good too but it seems weird to me. We both use the steel as well and as good as it is, it dents. It’s breakable.”
“I mean I welcome them being so durable.” Ilea smirked. Fighting the knights was one if not the most enjoyment she’s gotten so far, mostly because of the complexity her many abilities brought into the duels. They were both durable and challenging. Hit like trucks but were calculated and masterfully competent with their weapons.
“Oh I know that much. You’ve probably been fighting them for all this time when you were away right?”
Ilea nodded, still smiling as she thought back on all the fights.
“I’d like to see you fight one later. Maybe we can figure it out. I know it’s fun and you’re still gaining power but if you’re looking to improve your levels then I have plenty of possible alternatives for you. Depending on your resistances and healing power.” Terok suggested.
Gaining levels and power…, Ilea wondered if that really was the goal anymore. Of course she had justified her solo expedition north with that but in the end a part of her knew it was just about finding interesting enemies to fight, about being in dangerous situations and unknown places. She shoved those thoughts away. “Sure, we can do that. I have plenty of resistances so if it’s not something super rare I should be able to deal with it.”
“Good. We can talk about that later. Being able to heal, to flee and to resist strong attacks is what everyone usually lacks… offensive power is rarely the issue. I think we’ll find you something better than this creepy place. Still, you first wanted to see if I can break through your defenses with time?”
Terok got to the point and Ilea nodded, focusing on the task at hand as ash spread around her. This time she stored her armor and instead just wore a shirt she wouldn’t miss if it was damaged. Her Veil stayed up as well as a thick wall of ash that formed in front of her torso. “I’ll let you know when to stop.”
The dwarf gave her a thumbs up with one of his robotic arms before he appeared next to her, Ilea’s ash swirling a little but she willed it to stay put. His left arm transformed before group of mirrors aligned inside of it, each having enchantments cut into them with perfect precision. At the end of it a small barrel looked out, aimed at her ash and chest behind. Mana was released before light traveled through the thing, hitting each mirror before gathering at the barrel. A white beam of light exited and burnt into her defenses right after, getting through her ash with ease.
It hit her Veil and struggled harder to get through. Ilea didn’t rebuild the ash where it had already pierced, instead waiting for it to get through her last layer of defense. It took a while but the dwarf didn’t let up, instead intensifying the power of what was essentially a laser. Ilea felt the ash heat up and slowly burn through but the Veil wasn’t so easily shoved aside, rebuilding nearly as fast as he damaged it. After two minutes, he finally did it. The scorching heat burned a small dot through her shirt and started biting into her skin.
“Go on.” She simply said, feeling the laser subside and then pick up in power again. This time it had to get through her skin and she wasn’t sure if it was an attack considered light magic, arcane magic or fire magic. Against all she had resistances and coupled with her tough skin, it definitely showed. Her healing rebuilt the tissue faster than he could burn it so she stopped healing herself after a while. Slowly the laser made its way into her skin before it stopped on her rib cage. With her recovery magic she could tell the bone wasn’t getting damaged which prompted her to lift her hand. “That’s enough.”