Chapter 257 Wormholes
Ilea stopped still in her tracks, already in the dark tunnels for hours without finding a single Reaper. Straining her ears, she heard the clicking. Quicker, alert and still quite a distance away. There were at least two of them. A challenge she wasn’t sure she was ready for. Still, she wanted to test it. After such a long search she wouldn’t just turn around and crawl back. Ilea trusted her defenses and her recovery. Blinking away was always an option. If you manage to stay conscious…,
It was the biggest danger of course, the beasts simply overwhelming her with mind magic. Ilea had no idea how two of them together would enhance the attack. Was it just twice as strong? Guess we’ll find out in a second. Crawling around the bend, the clicking intensified, two Reapers quickly crawling towards her before the magic wailed on her mind. Ilea stayed awake. Counting the seconds as she watched the monsters form balls of lightning, she blinked back around the bend and saw the bolts flash into the walls. Her health was draining and a pounding was inside her head that hadn’t been there before.
A headache so strong she had to turn off her perception of pain, most of her focus going towards it. She heard the sound of dripping, realizing it was her own blood coming out of her nose and ears. The damage was still manageable, her healing working hard against the enemy attacks that kept on coming. In waves at least and not as a constant stream. She filled the tunnel with ash and heated it up, seeing the critters move through and towards her.
When one of them was around the bend, she blinked behind the one in the back. Grabbing on to its hind leg, she cracked it while the lightning coursed through her. The mantis like head of the Reaper ahead turned, lightning flashing towards her. Ilea held up the monster she was still holding onto, the magic running through it, through her and then into the ground. The dazed state and movements of the beast before her made her grin, despite her draining health and heavily injured body. To her dismay the current on her touch didn’t stop. Ilea instead broke another leg and then blinked away.
Four seconds…, She thought, the mind magic having gotten weaker. The injured Reaper not quite as proficient anymore with two broken legs and a burnt up body. At least the lightning could injure them as well. She coughed, several spots in her throat bleeding and burnt. Ilea focused on her organs, bringing them back to working order before she blinked again, making more distance between the healthy reaper and herself. It was dangerous as she was moving into unknown territory but so far she hadn’t heard more clicking.
Another bout of healing and she noticed that the injured bug was falling behind. Coughing again as she tried to smile, she blinked next to the healthy one and then again to the already injured one. Grabbing on, she broke another leg before she started wailing on its central shell. Each hit sent sparks into the dark tunnel, bouts of lightning surging around them before cutting into the stone and scorching both the woman and the wall. Finally a crack resounded and the beast died, Ilea blinking away immediately right before a flash of magic burned into the ground.
Again and again she blinked, trying to make as much distance as possible between her and the healthy Blue Reaper, the marks on the walls visible in her sphere like a lifeline guiding her to safety. Stopping when the mind magic didn’t reach her anymore, she started healing. Her body was in a rough shape but she had been through worse. Perhaps not much worse but definitely worse. The dangerous part was that one of the monsters was still alive and looking for her.
Ignoring the message about the first Reaper for now, she simply focused on healing as much as she could. When she felt comfortable to face the remaining foe, she blinked towards it. Twice and she was next to it. Ash spread out and heated up, limbs smashing into it with Wave of Ember before she grabbed and broke one of its limbs, blinking back right after as the lightning still wreathed through her body, destroying what it could before it burnt into the stone. Taking a moment to heal, she continued her now tried and proven tactic against the Blue Reapers. Five minutes later, the beast was dead.
‘ding’ ‘You have defeated [Blue Reaper – lvl 380] – For defeating an enemy one hundred and twenty or more levels above your own, bonus experience is granted’
‘ding’ ‘You have defeated [Blue Reaper – lvl 333] – For defeating an enemy seventy or more levels above your own, bonus experience is granted’
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth First Hunter has reached lvl 257 – Five stat points awarded’
‘ding’ ‘Inheritor of Eternal Ash has reached lvl 250 – Five stat points awarded’
‘ding’ ‘Destruction reaches 3rd lvl 3’
‘ding’ ‘Ash Creation reaches 3rd lvl 2’
‘ding’ ‘Embered Body Heat reaches 2nd lvl 14’
‘ding’ ‘Lightning Resistance reaches 2nd lvl 6’
‘ding’ ‘New Skills available in Inheritor of Eternal Ash’
Ilea was lying on her back, coughing and healing. Her sense of pain was entirely shut off but her recovery skill certainly painted a bleak picture of her body’s state. Soon it would be fine again but fighting two at the same time was definitely a stretch. She would survive it if she didn’t make a bad mistake or a third one would show up but their damage potential was ridiculous. And I worried about a knight cutting off my leg…, The kingsguard and undead knights didn’t seem quite as dangerous to her anymore. Problem with them of course was the lack of damage she could deal and the apparent healing they received from wherever the fuck the necromancer was hiding.
Could also be a machine powering them, an ancient artifact or something…, Ilea now had twenty stat points but wasn’t sure yet where to invest them. Vitality seemed like a good idea as she laid there, blood leaking through every opening in her armor, her body writhing as its tissue reformed, the woman thanking whatever cruel system or magic governing this world that she could shut off her pain. A blanket of warm ash had formed around her at some point, trying to comfort or protect her. A sigh went through her a couple minutes later, her body fully recovered.
Three of them is a no go right now. In an emergency she would try but if she could avoid it, she would. Ilea kept lying in the tunnel, no noise or light anywhere close as she checked the apparently new skills available for her ashen class.
‘Active – Ash Coffin
Wrap your foe in ash to squash and suffocate them. Ash Manipulation increases the strength of this skill.
Category: Ashen Magic’
‘Would you like to learn this skill?’
‘Passive – Ashen Perception
Ash has become your ally. See through ash connected to you and no further than ten meters away from you.
Category: Ashen Magic’
‘Would you like to learn this skill?’
Two new ashen magic spells. Perhaps she would’ve been interested when she first got the class but right now neither seemed useful. Ash coffin might be but if she had to stay connected to the ash that surrounded the target then she’d rather use Wave of Ember with her ashen limbs. Plus she would have to level it back up to the second tier and level twenty by the time she reached three hundred. From her active skills in her ashen class, Embered Body Heat was the obvious outlier that might need to be replaced at some point but it was already at level fourteen in the second stage.
Without a perfectly good reason to replace it right now, she’d at least wait until after three hundred to get the best class bonus out of it. Maybe other and better skills might present themselves anyway. The passive skill was great, if she didn’t already have her Azarinth Sphere. Plus ash needed to be around her at all times. Now that her body was connected to it she couldn’t both see an enemy and blink away if she chose to use it. Her passive skills were all exceptionally useful already anyway. No way am I going to replace any of that…,
Somehow she felt averse to replace a Body Enhancement skill with an Ashen Magic one. Just because it might influence her class evolution. Speaking off, no evolution at two fifty either. Guess they’re both just pretty amazing classes already. The class bonuses themselves gave her a four hundred percent increase in Body Enhancement skills. Splitting that with Ashen Magic would be problematic.
May as well end up weaker at three hundred than I am now if I get shit selections. She doubted that possibility. Whatever had happened in this world so far, Ilea hadn’t been betrayed by the leveling system so far. It somehow knew where she was going, what she desired. While the skill descriptions didn’t offer much in regards to the actual bonuses, her two classes synergized incredibly well together. Having seen other people fight, she was pretty sure the same was true for everyone. Even someone like Aliana who had a fire and water class used it in an interesting yet powerful combination.
Ilea spent her twenty stat points, fifteen on Wisdom to top it off at 600, four on Strength to bring it to 270, simply because the round number was calling her. The last point was spent on Vitality, giving her ten more health that might or might not make the difference some day. Considering her healing skill could recover her even if her body was smashed to a pulp and her Vitality had reached zero, she would probably reach a better result by investing more into Wisdom but one didn’t know what could happen after the body was destroyed. Something like a Miststalker might even continue to consume her mana once her body was destroyed, effectively draining her until she was truly dead. Ilea didn’t know any of this for sure of course but she wasn’t about to test it either. The Blue Reapers came close enough, her health hovering below one thousand from time to time.
No wonder they’re so feared. Facing two at the same time was not something most people in her level range could do. At least not close up while facing their retaliation. While the small tunnels gave her a bit of an edge with dodging the lightning, it would pretty much prevent any other mage or warrior from sneaking up on them or getting a long ranged highly damaging spell off. A team would have difficulties coordinating in the tiny space as well, leaving it as a big advantage for the Blue Reapers.
Maybe someone able to flood the tunnels with poison could deal a lot of damage but the Reapers’ durability wasn’t to be ignored either. Smelling the blood on her, Ilea decided to go wash her armor in Hallowfort as soon as she got back. Collecting the corpses, she continued her search. Ash heating up around her while her Hunter’s Sight worked to find any clues towards more of the enemy monsters.
Days passed, Ilea finding five more of the critters that she took care off with continued ease. Knowing the weak spots and what exactly they were capable of made the one on one fights a simple bug extermination. Finding her concentration lapsing, she looked for the markings on the walls and made her way back. She needed some sleep but wasn’t about to pass out in the enemy den. A last Reaper confronted her when she was just about out of the tunnels, Ilea taking care of it and storing the corpse to top off at eleven dead critters.
While fewer in number, they were much higher in level compared to the knights. At least most of them. Checking her messages and her skills, she was quite content with the decision to face them.
‘ding’ ‘You have defeated [Blue Reaper – lvl 352] – For defeating an enemy ninety or more levels above your own, bonus experience is granted’
‘ding’ ‘You have defeated [Blue Reaper – lvl 361] – For defeating an enemy one hundred or more levels above your own, bonus experience is granted’
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth First Hunter has reached lvl 258 – Five stat points awarded’
‘ding’ ‘Inheritor of Eternal Ash has reached lvl 251 – Five stat points awarded’
‘ding’ ‘State of Azarinth reaches 3rd lvl 6’
‘ding’ ‘Blink reaches 3rd lvl 7’
‘ding’ ‘Hunter’s Sight reaches 2nd lvl 16’
‘ding’ ‘Embered Body Heat reaches 2nd lvl 15’
Name: Ilea Spears
Unspent statpoints: 0
Unspent 3rd tier skill points [Azarinth First Hunter]: 0
Unspent 3rd tier skill points [Inheritor of Eternal Ash]: 0
Class 1: Azarinth First Hunter – lvl 258
- Active: Destruction – 3rd lvl 3
- Active: Hunter Recovery – 2nd lvl 20
- Active: State of Azarinth – 3rd lvl 6
- Active: Blink – 3rd lvl 7
- Active: Azarinth Hunter Sphere – 2nd lvl 20
- Passive: Body of the First Hunter – 2nd lvl 20
- Passive: Azarinth Fighting – 2nd lvl 20
- Passive: Hunter’s Sight – 2nd lvl 16
- Passive: Azarinth Perception – 2nd lvl 20
- Passive: Azarinth Reversal – 2nd lvl 20
Class 2: Inheritor of Eternal Ash – lvl 251
- Active: Veil of Ash – 3rd lvl 3
- Active: Form of Ash and Ember – 2nd lvl 20
- Active: Ash Creation – 3rd lvl 2
- Active: Embered Body Heat – 2nd lvl 15
- Active: Wave of Ember – 2nd lvl 20
- Passive: Ash and Ember Manipulation – 3rd lvl 2
- Passive: Ashen Wings – 2nd lvl 18
- Passive: Eyes of Ash – 2nd lvl 20
- Passive: Body of Ash – 2nd lvl 20
- Passive: Ashen Warrior – 2nd lvl 20
- Elos Standard language - lvl 6
- Harmony of the Drowned – lvl 1
- Heavy Archery – lvl 4
- Identify - lvl 7
- Meditation – 2nd lvl 18
- Veteran – lvl 6
- Arcane Magic Resistance – 2nd lvl 2
- Blast Resistance – 2nd lvl 1
- Blood Magic Resistance – lvl 8
- Blood Manipulation Resistance – lvl 4
- Corrosion Resistance – 2nd lvl 1
- Crystal Resistance – lvl 15
- Curse Resistance – 2nd lvl 2
- Dark Magic Resistance – lvl 1
- Dust Magic Resistance – lvl 1
- Earth Magic Resistance – 2nd lvl 1
- Fear Resistance – lvl 5
- Health Drain Resistance – 2nd lvl 14
- Heat Resistance – 2nd lvl 3
- Ice Resistance – 2nd lvl 1
- Light Magic Resistance – lvl 16
- Lightning Resistance – 2nd lvl 6
- Mana Drain Resistance – 2nd lvl 12
- Mental Resistance – 2nd lvl 12
- Mist Magic Resistance – lvl 7
- Pain Tolerance – 2nd lvl 4
- Poison Resistance – 2nd lvl 1
- Silver Magic Resistance – lvl 1
- Void Magic Resistance – lvl 7
- Water Resistance – 2nd lvl 1
- Wind Resistance – 2nd lvl 1
- Wood Magic Resistance – lvl 1
The ten points were spent on Vitality, bringing just a little more survivability to the table. Coming back out in the corridors of the Descent, she noticed the message informing her that she had entered the dungeon. Ilea felt like the small tunnels were quite a bit more dangerous than whatever this underground city could throw at her. At least at the high levels starting above the actual Descent. Finally stretching her body and moving her arms and legs in the free space, she sighed in relief. Form of Ash and Ember had been the only light coupled with the lightning and usage of her third tier State of Azarinth.
Her thoughts were focused on getting a bottle of ale in the Abyss and maybe renting a room suitable for humans. She trusted the citizens even less than the monsters lurking below but at least she felt more capable in dealing with them in a surprise attack. Not a single one she had seen so far had been above her level and she would sleep in armor after all, clad in ash, her Veil and other skills active as well. Ilea’s Meditation allowed to keep them all going even while sleeping.
“You sure it’s this way?” A squeaky voice resounded through the corridors as Ilea floated with her wings and heated ash towards the exit.
She saw the group of adventurers a moment later in her Sphere, completely oblivious to her approach still hidden behind a corner, “Wait, something’s there.” Another voice spoke, making them all stop. Torchlight illuminated a part of the hallway as Ilea’s wings disintegrated, the ash around her cooling down and forming limbs and small spheres behind her. Landing on her feet, she rounded the corner to the apprehensive group of warriors and mages.
Five of them in total, each armed, armored and ready for whatever was to come. One was definitely a dwarf, two were hidden in full plate armor, tall but impossible for Ilea to determine their species. The last two were mages if she went with clothing stereotypes. Armored robes, metal reflecting the torchlight. Quickly identifying everyone, she found all except for one below two hundred. Scavengers then…,
A likely assumption. Or the first layers of the Descent could be traveled by the likes of these as well. She didn’t know. “Greetings.” She said to the tense group, ash shrouding around her as they tried to look at her. Torches were held closer towards her but it didn’t reveal much other than a warrior clad in black, shrouded partially in black mist. The light reflected from the burnt out parts of her armor’s coating, where the lightning had struck hardest. An intricate design had formed and it might have looked deliberate.
“Warrior… greetings. Is this the way down?” One of the big armored men asked.
Ilea cocked her head before replying, “There were some stairs and holes leading down but I didn’t go there.”
“What did you do then?” The squeaky voice asked, one of the mages. Two of the others looked at him, one even hissing. They weren’t sure what to make of her, that much was clear. Ilea wasn’t out for conflict at least, she wanted to go sleep.
Summoning one of the Blue Reaper corpses, she held it up and dumped it between her and the group, the closest warrior taking an instinctive step back. Light flashed from one of the mages but he put away the spell as soon as he understood what had happened. “I was hunting these. I would suggest not going that way, there’s a tunnel system they use ending in one of the hallways. Good luck on your hunt.” She said and took the corpse, walking between the group who parted at her approach, blue blood dripping down from the dead reaper.