A note from Rhaegar

Hey guys and gals, back from vacation. Thanks for reading as always :).

Chapter 253 Resourceful Dwarf

“How did I do?” The dwarf asked, all the fighting tests through. Ilea healed up the wound and switched to her armor again. The helmet stayed off as she sat down on the fountain rubble.

He could teleport, could see magic and could definitely crack into some places. She was sure his pure physical force didn’t topple her own but he could focus it better than she could. Perhaps if her ash improved more she’d rival him but for now it might be an asset. Ilea was definitely more interested in what information he had to share so far. Elfie had precious little to say about the undead and the dungeon as well as other monsters in the area.

“You did alright. Now try not to get hit.” Ilea said and punched at him, happy to find only air where her fist landed. The dwarf was in the air, flying towards the exit of the dungeon. He’s actually running. Smart move. Wings materialized behind her, ashen limbs moving to her side to create a more aerodynamic form before she blinked up and sped up. The dwarf was teleporting as well but Ilea’s speed was on a completely different level. Appearing behind him, she grabbed on and pushed down, the two of them tumbling in the air before they crashed into one of the houses close to the top of the city.

Ilea held on, her hands bending the metal away a little as she tried to pry open his chest. His laser formed but ash moved into his arm to prevent an attack. His drill she simply ignored, the blade cutting into a wall of ash that grew and grew, more of it pushing into all the openings in his exoskeleton. Finally overwhelming the mechanism, the two plates moved aside and a bleeding Terok was revealed, looking at her with big eyes. Three metal spikes rushed out towards her but Ilea caught two of them, the third one deflected by an ashen limb. “Give up?” She asked, three more limbs ending in hardened spikes hovering close to his face.

“You win.” Terok said, holding up his hands as the kinetic power in the metal projectiles subsided. “Couldn’t even get to the entrance.” He spat some blood, Ilea pushing healing magic through his armor with her ash. Standing up, the ash moved out of his suit and spread around her, a lot of it disintegrating.

Ilea leaned on an intact wall, looking at him as the machine closed again, even bent and damaged it worked. “How does it close at this point?”

“You mean my rig? Metal magic. Otherwise I’d have to dump it after every little bit of damage. Broken enchantments are more of a problem usually.” He explained, standing again.

“Good thing the knights aren’t exactly as quick as I am. And they can’t fly. Ready to face one?” She grinned.

“You really meant that… can’t be worse than you if you manage to kill them.” He grumbled, smashing two fists together.

Ilea wasn’t so sure about that, “They won’t hold back. And they go for the kill. Whatever they were before, they’re the best swordsmen and women I’ve ever faced.”

“Doesn’t mean much with your age.” He said and chuckled but definitely not as casually as he behaved back in his house.

“You be the judge of that.” Ilea said and jumped out of the now damaged ancient house, landing with a thud on the cobbled stone floor. Terok followed quickly, landing with grace. She observed through her sphere and was sure now that his control over metal was miles ahead of Kyrian. “What’s your metal control at?”

“Two twenty. Third stage as soon as I reach two hundred but I don’t expect that to happen anytime soon.” The dwarf replied.

Ilea grunted and summoned her notebook, starting towards an area she still considered unsafe. “You don’t look as old as you say. I thought people wanted to hit two hundred before they’re past their prime.”

“Don’t know a lot of dwarves do you. Our lifespan is quite a bit longer than a human’s. No wonder you lot rush leveling like that.” He said and laughed. “You can’t be under fifty.”

She raised her eyebrows, “Fifty? Someone else might’ve interpreted that as an insult.”

Terok held up his hands in defense, “Not a lot of humans around here. And those that are have reached high levels already. I never learned about age differences in your race.”

“I’m closing in on my mid twenties.” Ilea said, “I guess I look that age as well but having reached two hundred I’m not sure how I’ll go from here.”

“You can heal yourself. I don’t think your face will change any time soon. Higher chance of having it smashed in by some unreasonable monster you challenge.”

Ilea nodded. It was nice not having to worry about that but it had never really been a concern of hers anyway. Perhaps she’d learn to appreciate it more when she had hit her fifties. “You said humans rush leveling?”

“Sure you do. I doubt you had all skills at the end of the second tier before you passed the threshold.”

“I don’t think I did but it was close enough.” She said. Most of her Azarinth skills had been in the second tier before hitting level hundred already.

“Well you should try to max them before you get to three hundred. Bonuses from more specialized and rare classes are usually worth much more than the stats you get for pure levels.” Terok explained.

Ilea stopped walking and turned towards him, “Three hundred is always a class evolution?”

“Mostly. Before two hundred it can happen pretty much randomly. Had one guy tell me he could evolve at one eleven. Weirdest one I heard of. Two fifty can happen as well but it’s rare. Three hundred is always one as far as I know.”

Ilea was skeptical, “You seem to know a damn lot about high level shenanigans. Being at one eighty. How’d you get that knowledge? And how do you know it’s true?”

Terok just shrugged, a gesture that looked rather impressive with his massive metal suit on, “Living in the north for this long I got around. Travelers, explorers and dark ones visiting Hallowfort have made similar experiences. We’re survivors Ilea and information like that benefits everyone. I know you humans don’t think like that and trust me back in Eranur, the city I grew up in people were the same.”

“As to if it’s true at all… well I don’t know. I don’t think everybody is a liar and the stories I’ve heard came from direct sources. Comparing them gives me somewhat of a picture. Though it’s rare enough to meet someone above three hundred after all.”

Ilea listened to him. Compared to the elf, he was ready to share whatever information he could with her. Perhaps he was making some of it up but it sounded plausible enough so far, “Anything else you would suggest me do before hitting three hundred. Not that these knights are enough for that.”

Terok laughed, “I’m sure you’ll get there eventually. Quicker than me, that’s for sure. If I had a self healing spell to add to my abilities…,” He was silent for a moment but then answered her question, “You only get third level skill points every twenty levels. At least that’s what some people have told me. Your choice with them might influence the evolutions your classes might take so keep that in mind. Also general skills might help. Resistances and such.”

Ilea smiled at that. She didn’t think her third tier choices were bad in relation to a class evolution. She just hoped her ashen class choices would remain somewhat focused on Body Enhancement considering her choices there. The bonuses from both her classes related to body enhancement were the highest multipliers she had, splitting too far from that would be a problem. “I have plenty of resistances, so that shouldn’t be an issue. I don’t feel like waiting until all of them hit the maximum in the second tier to level higher.” She had invested quite a bit of time already and it might take years to get them to the required levels, “I mean I can do that eventually, leveling doesn’t stop after three hundred, does it?”

Terok shrugged again, “Not as far as I know. It slows down at two hundred and then again with every ten to twenty levels. At three hundred I’m told it gets even slower. So much so that you’re basically forced to fight alone and similar or higher level beings to advance further. Not that that would be a new thing for you.”

“Might want to think about it though because if it gets even slower you definitely want to get the best classes you can get.” He added.

Ilea nodded. I might think about another resistance session. After three hundred though. I have enough now and if I doubt it constantly I’ll just be stuck for years or decades before I finally decide to advance. “Speaking of general skills, any idea how to get them to the third tier?” Meditation was getting somewhat close, although it had taken ages to get the last couple levels in the skills.

The dwarf crossed his metallic arms in front of him and sighed, “On this I’ve heard different stories. Most of the people I talked to supposedly at or above level three hundred had nothing to share on the topic. It’s a mystery apparently, same with third classes. Seems like something that should be possible at some point. A dark one I’ve met twenty or so years ago claimed to have three classes but he had no way to prove it. He did however say that it wasn’t equal to his main two classes, not close to it even. Claimed to have faced and injured a Basilisk to get it. Mad lad that one.”

Ilea smirked at the mention of the Basilisk. She knew where to start looking for one to maybe get her third as well, if what the dark one said was really true. If what Terok is saying is really true.

“So he got it not because of some level but because he did something remarkable?”

Another shrug, “I suppose. He died a couple years later. Got trapped in a poison swamp of some sort I heard. One of his teammates survived, the healer. Otherwise nobody would know about it at all.He was below two hundred which made it even more remarkable, claimed to have a high poison resistance but some believed he somehow killed the team.”

“What do you think?”

“I knew him, good kid. Blamed himself for their deaths and I believe him. The mage I talked about was always cocky. Had insanely high damage output and more Wisdom than anybody should be allowed to have but still he needed a healer in his team. That tells me enough about his survivability.”

Ilea chuckled at that, “You think everyone who needs a healer won’t survive?”

“Doing what he did nobody would survive indefinitely. You should keep that in mind but I’m likely not the first one to tell you. Getting resistances, healing, good armor, a high Vitality and ways to escape is the best way to stay alive. Getting high damage is the best way to get strong quickly. If you face stronger monsters alone, you better go the defensive route.” He explained and Ilea had to agree.

There had been dozens of situations where she would’ve died had she not had one or the other resistance, her blink skill or self healing. And a lot of luck. Now that she was at this ridiculous level, she couldn’t rely on the latter anymore. Not that she ever did. Her resistance training was a part of that, the armors forged by Goliath another. She could probably face the knights without armor but it was risky. A single bad slash and a leg or two could be unusable. She doubted they could separate her bone but she wasn’t about to put it to the test.

Hunter’s Sight, Embered Body Heat and Ashen Wings were the only skills that hadn’t reached the maximum of tier two yet. Definitely something she would want to get done before hitting three hundred. Maybe getting one or the other new resistance on the way would be good too. Some of the Hallowfort residents would surely help her get them or level them to the second tier for some good old cash. Scrolling through her skills in her mind, she stopped at Veteran. “Any idea if getting Veteran to the second tier would be beneficial?”

“Anything in the second tier or even higher will be I’m sure. You’ve had class evolutions… you know how random and specific some of the requirements are. I would assume there might be some that require it. Never had anybody share what the second stage does.” He said and laughed, “Though mine is at level twelve and it helps not get splatted by random walking forces of nature. Especially around here. I don’t encourage specifically trying to level it up but I guess that won’t deter you.”

It wouldn’t of course but in the end Ilea set her goals simply to reach the end of the second tier for all her class skills. She had a ton of high level resistances already but maybe some people would be willing to give her a rare one or two additional ones. Waiting too long just for that wouldn’t be worth it as she had no idea what the possible class evolutions required anyway. Focusing on her fighting and leveling would be reasonable enough. Getting to three hundred would be hard enough already. “Alright, let’s find you one of those knights to fight then.” She said with a smile, closing her notebook with some new plans written within before putting it into her necklace.

Ilea watched Terok as he teleported away from another sword strike, the knight quickly taking out his bow to shoot at the now flying dwarf. It was a reasonable approach, sending out his spikes of metal to try and penetrate the undead’s armor while circling it and avoiding any attacks that might come his way. The dwarf definitely struggled hard in close combat range, the rose knights simply too fast and powerful for him. Ilea didn’t know if it was a simple difference in stats or if his skills just didn’t stack up well enough. Probably both, she thought, blinking between the two when Terok was slowing down noticeably.

“I’ll take over. See if you can figure out anything.” She said, not getting a response but seeing him fly a bit further off before he went on one knee. The knight’s blade slashed at her ash that moved around her, more and more added to it by the second. Wave of Ember crashed into the knight, Ilea adding Destruction whenever an opening presented itself. She played it safe, stepping away and blinking whenever necessary. Even if the blows would likely just scrape against her ash or armor. Some of the feints were simply too difficult to spot, even with all her skills and enhanced reaction speed.

After about half an hour of fighting, she stepped back and spoke, “Feel like taking over again?” The sword of her foe slashed at her sideways, dodged by a single step back before she moved in, a wall of ash forming to push the incoming shield bash aside. The maneuver allowed her to deliver a single punch with a full load of Destruction and Wave of Ember before she had to blink to avoid the blade again.

“I’m alright. I know I won’t impress you with my fighting capabilities. We’ll see again at two hundred but I doubt I’d ever be able to take one of those.” Terok denied the request but she had already assumed as much. While his information and possibly his scavenging skills would be helpful, he wouldn’t be a big help in battles. Not that she had planned to team up with him in such a way, putting him against a knight was simply to gauge how he would handle himself under stress. Terok had done well, had fought and tried his best while staying as safe as possible. A little too safe perhaps in her opinion but he had stressed about not having a healing ability and she certainly knew about the importance of that.

Ilea wondered why not everybody simply started with a healing and fighting class. Evolutions would surely help along the way to become something similar to her. More people must’ve thought about the possibility. Still, while some people in the Shadow’s Hand had abilities to self heal, nearly none of the people coming to her resistance training had been healers of any kind. Dany had used a bow and sword so at least there were some.

The fight continued while Terok watched, blow after blow, Ilea falling into her fighting trance before finally the knight fell.

ding’ ‘Your group has defeated [Knight of the Rose – lvl 289] – For defeating an enemy thirty or more levels above your own, bonus experience is granted.

None of her skills had leveled but Ilea itched to fight more of them. To continue where she had left off. One knight had fallen and another would take his place. Until she would face the undead knights with their unpredictable styles again. Terok’s voice shook her out of her tunnel thinking, “Ridiculous…,”

“What is?” Ilea asked, kneeling down as she started to unhook the knight’s armor piece by piece. Goliath somehow still had use for Stonehammer steel even after she had brought him so much of it. He reforges it all again and again. Why does he need so much?

Terok walked up to the undead and looked at it before he touched the armor, “There is still a connection. Weak but it’s there. You should’ve seen the amount of mana that flowed through while you were fighting. No wonder you took nearly three hours to beat it. They’re powered up by a necromancer and not just a little. The mana bursts didn’t change their fighting behavior as far as I could tell so I assume it simply recovered some of their health or stamina.”

“You mean to tell me undead have stamina? I thought they were simply unstoppable killing machines.” Ilea chuckled, taking off the man’s helmet. White eyes looked at her, the woman closing them with a smooth motion.


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