Chapter 255 Alien Town
“I’ll try not to alert them at all.” Terok said, “Can you leave the notebook here for a while before you go?”
Ilea looked at him, “No.” There was plenty in there she didn’t want the dwarf to know, information that might be worth something to him as well or could be used against her. “Hurry up and copy it now.”
He frowned, “I don’t have paper.”
“Lousy cartographer my ass.” Looking through her necklace, she summoned a book she remembered was a collection of poems, many pages empty or only containing single paragraphs, “Use that.” She said, adding a piece of coal.
Terok looked at her with a smile before he spoke, “You’re shitting me right? You don’t have a second pen?”
“You didn’t have a second ass when I saved yours back in there.” Ilea simply said in a dry tone. “To reach the city below Hallowfort I just go down?”
Terok took the coal and started cutting into it with his small knife. He either didn’t have a pack or lost it somewhere in the dungeon. Ilea left food, water and other necessities up to him. If he was to work with her, that was the least of his concerns. “There’s an old elevator. Ask the guards or Goliath. They’ll let you know where. Doubt you’ll miss it.” He grumbled, having cut a perfectly lined piece of coal that he quickly sharpened and clad in a casing of metal to create a professional looking pencil.
Ilea looked impressed, “At least I can use you for my pencil needs.”
Terok chuckled and started copying her map of the palace and Tremor itself onto an empty page of the book she had lent him. Summoning her helmet, she sat next to him while he worked, making sure he didn’t check any other pages of her notebook. They didn’t talk anymore, the dwarf expertly sketching what she had created in the past months of exploration. He was done twenty minutes later, closing both books and handing hers back. “I’ll start as soon as all enchantments are back up and running. Are you going to wait out the night?”
Ilea stretched as she got up, the notebook vanishing into the necklace under her armor. “No, I’m leaving. Guess I’ll be back in a week or so depending on how it goes. Leave a message if you’re not here. Mention me being away as well in case Elfie gets back.”
Terok nodded, metal floating back to him as he continued his repairs, “Will do. Good luck Ilea. You won’t regret saving me.”
I don’t think I will. She thought and spread her wings, flying to the top of the massive cave and the opening she knew would be there in the darkness. Looking back, she found the two floodlights illuminating the cathedral hall and the two meter headless robot standing within. A smile was on her face, the new information as well as new possibilities floating in her mind as she exited the mountain.
Mists covered the land, crows flying in the distance, moonlight reflecting off their leathery wings as ash shrouded her in darkness. Quickly, she moved over the desolate terrain, ignoring any moving creatures as she sped up and made her way towards the Penumra crack. The place that would lead to Hallowfort and the Descent. She had to find enemies in a similar or higher level range as the knights, preferably less durable against her attacks.
Perhaps able to advance some of my resistances as well. Diving into the crevice in the mountainous terrain, she quickly found herself in front of the gaping cave leading down into the Penumra dungeon. Terok had confirmed her instincts with what he had told her about the Drop Saurians. An enemy she might want to face at a later time. So many she had already added to that list. Ignoring the dungeon, she made her way down the caves and towards Hallowfort.
Quickly moving through the darkness, Ilea finally blinked out into the open. Light shining off the crystals reflected off her ash and armor, the woman landing as her wings disintegrated. The dark one standing on the other side of the bridge looked at her but didn’t move as she walked over. The ropes strained to hold her weight, the wood groaning below her. Stepping onto the massive statue on the other side, she looked up at the three meters tall warrior. The dark one was clad in heavy black full plate armor, two big horns jutting upwards from his helmet.
[Warrior – lvl 228]
Ornaments of varying detail and design decorated each piece. The helmet was closed off entirely, neither eyes nor face visible, if such were even part of the being standing before her. “Greetings.” Ilea said and bowed her head slightly towards the warrior in black, “I am told the elevator leading to the Descent is located in town.”
The massive form bowed, an ethereal voice speaking to her a moment later, “Greetings friend of ash. You speak truth. Find the stairwell leading down from within the establishment called the Abyss. I would lead you there yet I am not to leave my post.”
Ilea smiled below her helmet, her smaller form as well as forward curving horns making her look a little like his younger sister. “I’ll find it. Thank you, dark plated warrior.” She said, a little unsure of the title in the end but it felt right to her. Goliath had used random descriptions of her in their conversations and she liked the aesthetics it added.
“You honor me ashen one.” He said and bowed again. For a simple guard, this one was definitely both the strongest, most stylish and friendliest Ilea had ever met.
The Abyss…, She checked the signs and descriptions of the various different looking shops and houses as she walked through town. Now that she wasn’t just passing through, she noticed more of the architecture. Most of the houses were built from stone or metal, with varying degrees of craftsmanship. Either they had very different ideas about how and what to build or it was somehow normal to build your own house, however basic it looked in the end. Ilea stopped in front of what looked like a big bird’s nest, closed off at the top where a latch had been placed between the dense mesh of steel thread.
Perhaps some kind of metal magic bird? Other buildings looked like what a more advanced bug would build. Mud and stone somehow hardened and formed into the sad dome shaped houses that looked to be melting. Many of them she couldn’t penetrate with her Sphere. Priorities were different here, warding and enchantments cheaper than capable builders it seemed. The places she could look into were empty for the most part, some even gave her the impression of being completely abandoned. There were people on the street but it was definitely not busy.
Nobody acknowledged her, Ilea identifying them all. Dwarves, dark ones, cat and lizard beings as well as some more exotic creatures floating or crawling about. Most were below two hundred but definitely close enough, just like Terok. A certain strength was required to survive in the North but apparently it was less than she had expected initially. Surviving was of course different to thriving. She doubted many of them had seen a level up message in months, years or even decades.
They were veterans, every single one of them. While she wanted to fight the monsters lurking in the north, the people living here had to survive around them. Had to somehow make a living, collect things to sell or grow food themselves. Hallowfort was a safe haven, a place to rest and prepare. For creatures of all kinds. Ilea wondered how many of them were actually born here, how many knew no different life but the one surrounded by vicious beasts and dungeons. Nature that wanted to kill you just as much as the monsters looking for food. How many of them cared? Terok seemed content enough about his scavenging life, about going into dangerous places to make a bunch of money or find some rare metal he could use for his rig.
Goliath was probably hundreds or thousands of years old but he was content with forging and staying in his domain. A human would go mad after all that time…, Then again there was no human on Earth who could get to that age, at least not to Ilea’s knowledge. How one of her kind would react and change after all that time was unknown, especially with existing skills like Meditation, Hunter Recovery or Mental Resistance. Goliath didn’t seem to strive for power or domination, only focused on creation and metal. She could definitely see someone like Balduur following a similar path. Ilea had survived alone for months as well and she was pretty sure there was no major damage to her psyche, mostly because of the Meditation skill.
To think she could now fight for hours at a time without even getting a headache was definitely scary, thinking about the possible heights a human or any other species could get to when the system governing skills and classes was involved. The reliance on killing to level up wasn’t lost on her, the saving grace for the world’s morality was that wild beasts were still worse and more powerful than any sentient she had met, be it elf, dark one or human. Taking a random stairwell leading downwards and into the statue, she soon found a sign that read ‘Abyss’. Most of Hallowfort seemed to be located within the statue and not atop it, many of the races living here likely not reliant on light, perhaps even averse to it.
The living quarters were much more chaotic here, Ilea only really understanding the holes, doors and windows through her sphere. Even then some of the openings looked too small, the furniture too alien for her to grasp its purpose. It was there however and in a way she was happy to find herself in a place so distant from a human settlement. She was the stranger here, in connections and race as well as culture. Nobody looked at her black armor twice other than perhaps thinking about stealing it. Her cold stare at whatever feline or reptile eyes looked at her in a shady way quickly put those thoughts out of their minds. They would regret it if it didn’t.
A single magical lamp placed in what looked like a worn steel lantern lit up the underground street lined with closed doors of stone, wood or steel. It flickered from time to time as she made her way towards the torchlight illuminating white lettering spelling out the word Abyss. Warm golden light fought hard to penetrate the murky glass windows of the building cast into the stone wall, simply cut into the the inside of the once impressive monument to whatever civilization had resided here. The name definitely fit with the surroundings, the slightly damp street leading up to it, holes and loose rock as well as mushrooms decorating the tunnel.
Ilea wondered if her poison resistance prevented an early death a normal non fighting human would experience in these parts. The smell definitely wouldn’t be a tourist attraction but she was used to much worse. The control over her senses inside her sphere additionallyallowed her toreduce the intensity of the stench at least somewhat. Nobody checked patrons at entry, so she simply walked in. The heavy wooden door was painted in black but the smell suggested an alternative color source. At least compared to what humans used normally.
The room opened up, an immediate stairwell leading down into the big hall. Magic lights lined the walls, most of them warm but some going towards a reddish or even blue tone. Wave lengths some creatures might prefer. Ilea noted that parts of the pub were completely dark as well, as if the light was sucked from there. The whole left side was a bar with bottles, trinkets and apparatuses lining the shelves and wall. Their colors and shapes reminded her more of a medieval alchemist’s shop or how she’d envision one. Still haven’t been to a really high end one…,
Perhaps this was what she was looking for. With self healing there was rarely a moment she could use a health potion and if she really did, Ilea doubted her body would be capable of summoning and opening a bottle, let alone drink it. Other tinctures might be interesting though. Maybe there was something like a spell potency or strength potion. Considering how expensive low level health potions already were it might not be worth it.
She walked down the stairs, some of the people looking at her as she made her way towards the bar. A jingle played in the background but she didn’t notice until she was standing at the bar that there was a group of floating creatures moving and summoning some sort of black swirls to create the sounds. Magic band. The whooshing sounds and high pitched noises in between reminded her more of an alternative meditation session rather than background music in a pub. She was the stranger here, that was for sure.
“What can I get ya?” The cat person behind the bar asked, black fur and yellow piercing eyes as well as ears at the top of his head finished the look. The male voice almost a purr made her smile. If cats became more humanoid, this one definitely kept the smoothness she associated with the animal.
Do they keep cats as pets as well? “Ale if you have any.” She replied, looking at his casual pants and lack of a shirt. The black shorts seemed to be there more for the pockets and belt lined with tools, daggers and cleaning rags rather than fashion. The cat person purred and looked into her eyes for a moment before stepping aside smoothly. She noted that no noise came from the movement.
[Mage – Lvl 211]
He could compete with Walter. Ilea doubted however that he ale was anywhere close as good, especially with what Terok had given her previously. Perhaps she had to get the old barkeeper to visit and teach some of the brewers.
An open bottle was placed before her a moment later, “Five copper.” He said, Ilea summoning the amount and putting in on the counter.
“Looking for the elevator leading to the Descent.” She said, the cat cleaning a glass with one of the rags.
He pointed towards the opposite corner of the room, an opening in the wall revealing steps leading downwards, “I suggest waiting. A Blue Reaper was sighted yesterday. Sorry lad who went down made it out half dead only thanks to the healer close by.”
“Any money to be made if I kill it?” She asked, noticing a nearby lizardman looking her way with interest.
The cat shrugged, “The usual price. Ninety silvers for the corpse. Maybe one gold coin.”
“Where do I bring it?” She asked in return.
“Big building up top, has a Dragoon skull hanging outside.” The barkeeper supplied, Ilea tipping a piece of silver for the information. The cat’s eyes narrowed but he nodded and took the money.
A creatureclad in a long black coat, white mask resembling a vicious predator adorning its face approached her. It looked like black mist was all residing inside the closed coat and behind the mask, “Warrior in flesh. Human. I greet thee. Though no dark one I beseech thee to heed the call of the Dark Protector. The one to unite all and bring peace…,”
Ilea grabbed the bottle and took a sip before she stood up, completely ignoring the rambling priest. Yep, definitely need Walter here. Or bring some apprentices to him. Business idea maybe. Walking towards the corner with her bottle, she noted that the closer she got the more people looked her way, some speaking in weird gibberish to each other before what she assumed was laughter came from wherever their voices were produced. Insect like beings, possibly dark ones.
“Meet me here, the Revered one Sato if you will fight in the great war. Treasures and fame wait for thy human soul…,” the ethereal voice somehow carried to her ears but Ilea had no interest in another war. Human or not.
The band kept on playing as she passed through the opening in the wall, making her way down the stairs and coming out in a big stone cellar.
A warrior at level two hundred stood guard, looking similar to the one near the bridge but smaller. Smaller even than her but the sword on his back looked vicious nonetheless. “Blue Reaper down there somewhere. Here to kill it?”
Ilea didn’t reply as ash formed around her, swirling lazily as some of it condensed in spheres behind her back, limbs forming at the same time. Her buffs went to their heights before she walked off into the open elevator shaft, chains leading downwards on each side but no platform visible. Wings spread behind her, not quite enough space to expand fully but still slowing her down. The descent was longer than she had expected, Ilea floating for a minute at least before she hit the ground.
No light was around her, more and more ash coming to life as she took in the surroundings. A tunnel, built by something sentient. Somehow the way the bricks were laid in the stone walls, the way the ground was cobbled and lined up, she thought it more familiar than the town up above. It had been a city at some point Terok had said, a city that revered the Descent, the dungeon above which it had been built. Or in which it had been built.
‘ding’ ‘You have entered The Descent dungeon’
Nothing more, nothing less. She couldn’t detect any movement, any noise coming from around her. Already she could chose three directions, hallways leading into the dark. Activating her Hunter’s Sight, she focused on what she knew about the Blue Reapers. Mind magic and electricity, as well as more than two legs. The ground was worn, many travelers, scavengers and adventurers having walked here before.