Chapter 262 Discovery
“Impressive.” The voice of Terok resounded behind her, Ilea smirking as he appeared in her Sphere.
He already knows the range of my perception magic…, It spoke for him more than anything else, Ilea continuing her meal as he landed next to her, his machine back in order and with a head to boot.
“And why are you here? Are you making it a habit to follow me around?”
“Kept a safe distance and I didn’t go into the darkness so keep your boots on lassie. They don’t follow you out of there?”
Ilea nodded at his assumption, “Don’t fight one on one for long either. I think killing them will be quite a difficult task. Oh and I met a Soul Ripper… I suggest you don’t venture too deep.”
Terok sat down next to her in his robotic exoskeleton, “You didn’t engage?” He laughed when she shook her head, “Perhaps there is some brain matter in that skull of yours remaining still.”
Something shot out of his suit, Ilea looking at it before he let it fall into her hand, “A key? To the closed off chambers?”
She could practically smell the grin between his beard, “Maybe. It’s a working theory but someone has to try. I thought you should have the honor. Before you ask, yes it might fail and cause whatever traps are down there to spring to life. Maybe the knights will come for you. Why I think you’re the best for the task.”
“Didn’t you say it’d take weeks to do this?” Ilea asked, looking at the small shiny key.
Terok looked her way and chuckled, “Well the chances of it not working are rather high. It should in theory disconnect the enchantments imbued in the lock from the source of mana that keep them running. To continue working I need to know what happens when you put the key in.”
“You need to be there?” Ilea asked but he shook his head.
“Seeing it from a distance is enough. I can hide behind the plants to observe.”
Ilea frowned before the key vanished into her necklace, “What if the trap encompasses the whole area and not just the door and a couple meters in front of it? What if the knights from upstairs come down?”
“Then we’ll deal with that. I’m willing to take that risk.” He said in an excited voice.
Ilea thought about it, “Why don’t we test first with some of the plants or literally any other enchantments than the main door?”
Terok gave her a metallic thumbs up, “Good thinking. That’s what I did to come to this solution. I didn’t expect to be done so quickly but the elf and his barrier magic helped to forge the key a lot quicker than I’d have been able to. Plus something was off with the central door. Almost like the enchantments weren’t in place correctly. I might be wrong and trust me I’ve been wrong before but with all my experience I say that it’s the only one that can be cracked like this.”
He was silent for a moment before he continued, “Perhaps it’s an elaborate way to deceive anybody trying what we’re attempting but honestly… the other doors that remain closed, I doubt I could get in there in months even. Why set up a trap like that?”
“There could be reasons. We don’t know who set it all up.” Ilea said and sighed.
“I know. Still, there’s a chance it’s just a coincidence. Or maybe it was damaged at some point, perhaps deactivated and not reactivated correctly. I’ve seen it happen with plenty of old ruins or people reusing enchanted artifacts they found down under.” Terok explained.
Ilea smiled at the mention of down under. “Maybe. Meaning somebody else could’ve been in there before us?”
The dwarf shrugged, “Only one way to find out.”
“Well we can try. I should be able to escape should it go awry. Just make sure to keep as much distance as you can.” Ilea said.
The dwarf nodded, “Will do ma’am.”
Shecontinued eating in silence, the dwarf standing up and waiting for her, arms crossed. “Give me a couple minutes.” Ilea said with a full mouth.
Terok didn’t seem happy about it, though he nodded and started pacing behind her. “Do that somewhere else, you’re stressing me out.” He stopped before teleporting away. Like a dog waiting for his walk.
Ilea wanted to know what was in the closed off chambers but her mind was still lingering on the Soul Ripper and the undead knights. While the dwarf was here for riches and perhaps better metal and materials for his suit, Ilea wanted to fight stronger beings. To think she already had several of them to chose from but lacked the ability to engage was more than a little irritating. Terok considered her crazy to even think about it, as did most humans considering the way they thought about the North. Ilea just didn’t see a reason why not, even while they were too dangerous now, with the system in place, it was only a matter of time until she smashed them apart like she would an ordinary Drake by now.
She just hoped it wasn’t the decades or hundreds of years that her current cooperators suggested. I’m at two sixty already, just have to find more solo Blue Reapers or something else reasonable in the Descent. Putting off the thought for now, she finished her meal, savoring every bite. Terok waited a couple buildings over, still pacing and impatient for her to join him. Ilea sighed and blinked over, her wings spreading and taking her the rest of the distance, landing next to him. “Let’s see if you’re just an extraordinary salesdwarf or if your products actually live up to expectations.”
Terok started hovering, moving in his suit as naturally as he would standing on the ground, “Trust me, I’m as interested as you are to find that out.”
“Got an opinion on the subject?” Ilea asked as she started flying towards the distant form of the palace.
Terok caught up with her, the two flying a couple meters above the buildings below them, “A mixture of both I guess. Though I assume you have enough experience at least to know that even a high skill can result in failure from time to time.”
“Depending on what’s standing against you.” Ilea suggested, landing a couple hundred meters away from the palace. She jumped down to the street and started walking.
Terok followed her down but kept floating next to her, likely to avoid making any noise. Ilea wasn’t overly concerned yet, her sphere alarming her before the knights would hear her steps on the stone. They walked the last part in silence but she could hear his heart beat. The dwarf was scared, excited or nervous. Maybe all three. She grinned under her helmet. Perhaps she would feel similar once the door had been opened. Worst that could happen is them being trapped with a level one thousand necromancer and his ten most loyal guards, each triple marks rushing to dissect the two of them.
Ilea had survived the Praetorians, she had survived the Basilisk and the elves. If she was the kind of person to stop at a what if scenario then she wouldn’t have come north. Perhaps she would have rotten away down in the Azarinth temple so long ago. “If we get stuck, you distract them and I find a way out.” Terok said when they reached the courtyard, not a single knight in sight.
Ilea nodded, the plan simple but with how little information they had it was as good as it got. Holding a finger to her mouth, Ilea checked the inside of the palace. Stepping inside, she made sure to stay hidden in the long hallway. Knowing where the throne room was and where the knights patrolled made it simple to reach the main hall of the palace. The two waited next to the thrones for the patrolling knight that would soon come up the stairs.
She looked at Terok, tapping her armored leg while waiting for the Kingsguard. Finally the knight showed up, walking through the throne room in his beautifully crafted armor, his sword sharp and deadly. Ilea itched to engage but she knew it would end in disaster. Very likely. There was a chance. A tug on her arm took her out of the thought, Terok motioning towards the stairwell leading further down into the structure. Blinking down, the two of them found themselves in the underground hall a couple seconds later. It looked virtually unchanged from the last time she had been there.
Blinking thrice, Ilea appeared behind the two knights guarding the central path that led to a massive closed door. Silver in color and of course a rose embedded in the massive thing. Looking back, she could barely see a glimpse of Terok hiding behind the plant she had just stood by. Giving him a thumbs up, she summoned the key and checked the door. A single opening was visible, energy visible as it washed over the sheet of metal. The entrance was seamlessly set into the white marble. Ilea wondered what it had cost to build such a place. The key looked simple in comparison, made of some of Terok’s spare metal to be sure.
The mold created by Elfie’s barrier magic that held the molten metal Terok had heated up. An interesting way to use his abilities. Ilea wondered who of the two had the idea. Ash formed around her, several walls of it both towards the two knights and the hallway as well as towards the door in front of her. Buffs already active surged to their highest power. Ilea sacrificed five hundred of her health to activate her third tier State of Azarinth as she slid in the key through the small opening in her ash.
A dull humming noise resounded when the key reached the end of the opening, fitting perfectly. Metal magic must be a nightmare for locksmiths…, Checking the knights, Ilea found them unmoving as they had been before. Whatever protection their armor granted, it was not the best for their hearing ability. Ilea grinned and turned the key. A dull click could be heard before the key was pushed outwards. A handle slowly extended from the smooth metal sheet. Ilea grabbed it and opened the door.
Checking the inside for movements with her Sphere and waiting for a moment to see if any misshapen experiment lunged at her, she turned back to Terok and let her ash float aside. Bowing a little, she gestured for him to enter. The dwarf appeared next to her a couple seconds later, floating to avoid making any noise. Ilea put the key back into her necklace while Terok set up some enchanted plates of metal in the hallway leading to the two knights standing guard. A sizzling and the magic was in place.
Terok landed on his metal feet, “There you go. Sound canceling activated. Vision should be blurry enough for the one patrolling down not to see us. He doesn’t walk far in to the hall.”
Ilea nodded as he opened the door more widely, checking the inside of it, “Key should work from the other side as well.”
Ilea summoned one of her heavy gauntlets and set it down behind the door, “Let’s just keep it open. Your enchantments will stay active for a while I assume?”
“Couple hours at least. I’ll check on them periodically.” The dwarf reassured, his flood lights streaming into the dark room, illuminating a variety of machines Ilea had no idea where to place. It was a long hall with several doors leading into small rooms.
“Safe to enter from your side?” Ilea asked, the dwarf giving her a thumbs up before she stepped inside. He followed behind closely, his light giving color to the things Ilea saw through her Sphere. The ground and walls were marble, the same as in the hall outside. Metal boxes, bags, books, notes and many other things littered the many work benches, interspersed with machinery that looked like something out of an eighties science fiction work.
Several glass tubes lined the opposite wall. As soon as she was in range, Ilea lifted her eyebrows and motioned for Terok to stop, “There’s a person in one of those tubes. I think she’s alive.”
“Wanna check it out?” He asked. The dwarf didn’t seem too enthused about finding anything alive down here.
Ilea continued walking. A quiet humming could be made out when they walked further down the hall, at its end a dome like machine with several big cords extending into the walls. A glass casing protected something inside but Ilea couldn’t see through it with her Sphere. “One of the cords on the walls is missing.” Terok spoke, his light illuminating the empty socket. The thing was around twenty centimeter in diameter. His light followed the thick cables growing out of the metal half sphere before he found one connecting to the machine incorporating the glass tubes. “Found the culprit.” He said and laughed.
Clothes were laid out on a beautiful chair next to the machine. Terok’s light flashed into the tube and revealed a female human looking to be in her fifties. Gray long hair, eyes closed and a body marred by three scars that looked nasty enough to have killed her. She was thin, malnourished. Ilea knew her heart was beating. “Should we wake her up?”
“Are you nuts?” Terok quickly said, “Identify her at least… let’s first find out what we can and explore the whole place before we tinker with anything.”
[Mage – lvl 262]
“She’s level two sixty two. A mage.” Ilea shared, tapping the glass. The woman didn’t respond in any way, sleeping or frozen. Something swirled in the tube but Ilea was sure it wasn’t water.
Terok chuckled, “Found our energy source. Guess you were right with your necromancer theory.”
Ilea turned to him, the dwarf looking into the glass cover of the dome like machine. Appearing beside him, she looked inside and found a man in his thirties, broad shoulders, long silver beard and hair. His eyes were closed as well, arms folded over his naked chest. Scars marked his body too but he seemed in a much healthier condition than the woman in the glass tube. “His mana is flowing away, somehow the machine gathers it all up and distributes it among the tubes leaving it…,” Terok explained what he was seeing.
Ilea suddenly turned back to the glass tubes, “Something happened. Prepare to fight.” Her perception was diluted near the tubes, something tried to go unnoticed. Terok’s light flashed into the hall, the only thing they found was a thick mist.
“Quite perceptive girl.” A female voice rung out. “Before you attack, I would like to suggest a bargain.”
Ilea looked through the mist and found a portion where it seemed ever so slightly different. Something she would never have noticed without her training with Eve. Looking right at the spot, she replied, “Take down your mist and we’ll talk.” Her own ash started to spread in the room, limbs forming behind her back. Terok took a step away from her, towards the dome like machine.
“Are you enemies of Rhyvor?” The voice ignored Ilea’s request.
Ilea stepped forward, ignoring the burning mist that made its way into her armor. Her healing and resistance took care of it. Someone to level my Mist Resistance…, Grinning at the find, she stepped right in front of the differently swirling mist, “Rhyvor is long dead. You and the guy over there might be the only survivor. Now take it down or I’ll make you.”
The mist washed to the side of the room, evaporating slowly. The woman who had resided in the glass tank stood before her, silver eyes staring at her intensely. Her naked body was veiled in mist. “I feared as much…,” The woman said, “… though I cannot believe you without proof.”
“You want proof? Look around the city, the knights are covered in rust and all of it is buried inside a mountain.” Terok said, shaking his head at the ridiculousness.
“She can’t leave.” Ilea said, “She has no way of getting away from the Kingsguard…,”
How long was she trapped down here?, Ilea thought, the woman still staring into her eyes, unwavering.
“Well then we’re at an advantage. Who are you?” Terok asked.
The woman looked at him with disdain, a grimace forming on her face before she spoke, “I am Elana Invalar, queen and regent of this revered kingdom and you will show me respect dwarf.”
He laughed, “Queen of nothing but undead and ruins.”
The woman’s arm shot out, mist swirling around her arm before Ilea’s hand rushed out to catch it. Mist buried into the marble, leaving behind a deep gash. “He’s here with me. Don’t be stupid. I know the news must be terrible to hear but dying because his idiotic…,” Ilea paused and turned to the dwarf, “… insensitive ass offended you won’t help in the slightest.” She finished and turned back to her. “Alright?” Ilea asked, looking into her eyes.
Closing her eyes for a moment, the woman sighed, “Excuse me. It has been a trying and… frustrating time.” Ilea let go of her arm.
“She nearly killed me! Why would you let her go?” Terok asked, appearing behind Ilea to avoid any further attacks.
“Completely justified. Now shut it. You spoke of a bargain? What do you want? And what do you have to offer?” Ilea asked, ignoring Terok rambling about her being a specist, human loving cunt. He really had a mouth about him.
The supposed queen looked at her, “Do you really need to degrade yourself with such company? We can talk about how I will reward you…,”
Ilea interrupted her with a finger to her mouth, “Bap bap bap. I said he’s with me alright. Now stop weaving your aristocratic bullshit and tell us what you want. Maybe we’ll help, maybe not. That’s exactly why I like His company…,” Ilea sighed the last sentence and shook her head.