Chapter 274 Blood and Bones
Big white eyes looked at her as she flapped her wings slowly. A tendril of ash went out towards the fae before it stopped, blocked by a barrier in the air. Sending healing mana through the ash, Ilea rested her head on one of her knees, sitting as she watched the little creature about the size of her hand. It had little legs but no arms or feet, the black mist just ending. Turning its head to the side, it deactivated the barrier, allowing Ilea’s ash to pass.
Raising her eyebrows, Ilea was again startled at the physiology she found. As if its mana flowed out into the air, its physical body ended but its magical one did not. Humans had their mana inside their bodies, flowing similar to how blood flowed through it. Ilea’s ash for example expanded the flow because it was considered a part of her body. Is it an Air Creator or something? The creature at least wasn’t hurt but Ilea still sent some of her mana into it. She knew if felt pleasant to humans at least. Again, the fae twirled in the air, Ilea stopping a moment later as she smiled.
“You can go now if you like.” She said and stood up, checking the rest of the room. One of the cells held a skeleton of something that looked a little like a snake. Could a necromancer raise that again? She wasn’t sure but stored it in her necklace anyway. The blood monsters she wouldn’t take, raising them again seemed like a bad idea all around. The fae was hovering behind her while she looked through the rest, not finding anything else of interest.
Turning around, Ilea faced the curious creature. I’m glad it’s not another Aki. While she considered the dagger a friend, he wasn’t exactly the nicest when she first met him. “You don’t want to go?” It just looked at her, floating closer before it bumped into the ash of her Veil, recoiling a little before it flapped its wings once. The white eyes didn’t blink, likely couldn’t. Extending one of her ashen limbs towards the creature, she watched as it circled around it. Finally it landed, standing on the ash while looking down at it, the two black horns facing straight up.
Ilea chuckled when it carefully stepped on her ash, looking up again. “You want to stay with me then?” She asked, the little thing not giving her the slightest hint of understanding. She didn’t mind either way. It wasn’t her task to take care of it but neither would she refuse its company. “You’re free to join.” Standing up, she checked the room once more before walking out through the opening she and the trap had created.
When she reached the first hall again where Hana had fought her, she sat down on the ground and looked through the notes she had found, the fae still floating behind her, sometimes bumping into her ashen limbs. Ilea was happy to find the text was written in Standard.
The goal was to combine the blood or how later defined life essence of the being designated by the unknown as ‘Fae’ and the pure blood. Properties such as high affinities for mind and space magic were hoped to be found in resulting specimen.
Mixture was applied with the layer four Tuner to human and dwarven specimens. Lizardman and Feynor specimen requests have been rejected.
Results include deformation, mutation and spontaneous vanishing. All specimens have perished or teleported to unknown location within the span of two months.
Due to results not meeting expectations, funding has ceased. Specimen ‘Fae’ will be kept in hidden containment room, enchanted cage infused with space magic blockade III. Permission to connect cage to layer four Tuner has been granted. Potential buyers for specimen ‘Fae’ to be contacted.’
The page was somewhat conclusive. Didn’t find a buyer then. Or they just forgot about the Fae being in there. Ilea put the page into her necklace, reading the next one.
General goal: Combination of specimen ‘Life Serpent’ with various successful previous mixtures and pure blood. Healing and regeneration properties expected to show in specimens.
Mixture was applied with fourth layer Tuner. Specimens subjected to substance include human, dwarven and Feynor heritage. Permission for rare specimens granted should results meet expectation.
Results were mixed, some rare specimens showing enhanced regeneration as well as added healing abilities. No extraordinary classes or traits discovered. Mixture will be applied to specimen V.’
Ilea put the page into her necklace and studied the last one she had found on the table. The red church or whoever had conducted the experiments certainly held little regard for morality, injecting humans and other sentient lifeforms with their certainly creative blood cocktails. Whatever results the pages showed weren’t impressive either and if Ilea’s theory about the Pure Blooded was true, the end result wasn’t pretty either. Contrary to the first two pages, the last one held very little information, most of it scratched through. By a knife, not more ink.
The goal was to combine with including pure blood mixed with Specimen VI .
Mixture was applied with fourth level Tuner, permission for lower level Tuner granted regardless of success. Due to , further testing is necessary.’
The last part with the possible results had been removed completely, leaving Ilea at least a little intrigued what the fuck they were doing down here. The cages, lots of mentions of blood and the monsters she had fought didn’t paint a good picture. A bloody one certainly. “What do you think little fae? You must’ve heard and seen a bunch of what was going on in these cursed halls…,” The little creature looked at her with big white eyes, giving her little answer to her questions. “To be honest, as long as there’s stuff to kill I don’t really care much. Seems like whatever shit they did, they’re gone now.”
Just like Rhyvor. Maybe Maro knows something about this church or the city that once was here. Ilea got up and put the last page away as well, continuing her recovery training. Jumping up to the balcony overlooking the hall, Ilea found the fae suddenly appearing next to her. “Teleporter hmm?” She asked and looked at the fae. “I’ll be exploring a little more. If there are any monsters you should stay back and let me handle it.” Ilea wasn’t sure the fae understood but if the thing had any of the intelligence that shined in its eyes, it would react accordingly in a dangerous situation.
Ilea spent the next twenty minutes trying to fine tune her recovery training, sacrificing around three hundred health and healing it back in five seconds. Moving too fast for her meditation, she needed around thirty seconds to get the used mana back, mostly because her Veil and other buffs were active at all times. The corridors were rather sprawling, Ilea already mapping down the area in her notebook. “This place is bloody massive, eh little fae?”
There was no answer but the little guy floated around her head, flapping its wings twice. Ilea held up her hand, looking towards one of the dark corridors, more lights broken now that she was further in. The fae moved away from the noise, Ilea spreading her ash behind her as she carefully listened and prepared.
Around the corner ahead came a single Pure Blooded. Ilea waited and looked around, none of her senses noticing anything else but the single enemy. “Hey there.” she said, waving at the monster that immediately screeched at her, a throaty gurgling noise coming from somewhere below its deformed head. Blood dripped down as it rushed at her, one of its legs looked injured, making it a little slower than the beasts she had faced before.
Appearing behind it, she kicked at the injured leg, something snapping in the process. Ilea spread ash around the monster, blinding it as it slashed its bladed arms at her. A step back let her avoid the slash. The beast attacked quickly, that much she had to admit. The ash blinded it but she didn’t want to risk going into the meat grinder the thing was creating in front of it, instead blinking to its side and punching it a couple times. Teleporting again when it turned, she continued her assault until another bone cracked. A minute later, the thing was dead, slumping down as Ilea shook the blood off her armored hands.
‘ding’ ‘You have defeated [Pure Blooded – lvl 305] – For defeating an enemy forty or more levels above your own, bonus experience is granted’
No levels this time. The fae joined her again, flying around a corner before it hovered over the dead Pure Blooded. Landing on it, the thing stomped down a couple times before moving its head closer. Ilea wasn’t sure it it was sniffing or just trying to see better. It hovered upwards again a moment later, Ilea shrugging and ripping off the two bladed arms before she stored them in her necklace. More poison training time.
Moving on, the two of them didn’t encounter any of the monsters for a good hour of walking through the corridors. Ilea decided to slow the pace a little because of her ever growing map and the possibility to focus a little more on her recovery and poison training, using the Pure Blooded arms instead of her State’s third tier to get her health down. It drained her faster but with the slower pace, Meditation added to her mana recovery, which somewhat balanced it out again.
‘ding’ ‘Poison Resistance reaches 2nd lvl 7’
‘ding’ ‘Poison Resistance reaches 2nd lvl 8’
‘ding’ ‘Hunter Recovery reaches 3rd lvl 3’
The lack of enemies wasn’t entirely unpleasant. Chucking away the last of the bones she had, Ilea started to sacrifice health again. Most of the rooms and halls she explored held little but skeletons, destroyed furniture and machines as well as rusty tools and deformed armor. It really was a city, even the inner circle as the others had called it having all the necessities for an albeit small society to work. Most of it seemed minimalist but Ilea didn’t know if it was merely the age that stripped the rooms of valuables, colors and light or if it was intended by design. The only place with ornaments and what looked like more expensive handiwork was still where she had found the so called Tuner. The chair connected to the containers she now held in her necklace, mentioned in each of the experiment notes found within the hidden room.
“Closed door.” Ilea said, hitting the metal gate a couple times to no avail. The shine of magic reflected some of the light from the device built into the ceiling a couple meters away. With each hit, she heard a fizzle, her hand burnt by a bright flame she didn’t particularly care about. The fae twirled around, either excited or concerned but didn’t do anything about her antics. Might be worth a try…, Ilea thought, summoning the golden key she had found. There was after all a keyhole she could try.
A click resounded, the ruby shining slightly before the shimmer on the door ceased to be. Hey, a problem solved by not hitting something really really hard. I am an intelligent woman of culture after all. Ilea told herself and put the key away, the door pushed to the side. It screeched, parts of it rusty and not sitting quite as smoothly in the frame anymore. Maybe should’ve put an anti rust enchantment on it as well.
The two of them stood at the start of a dark hallway, noises coming from skittering movements made Ilea perk up. “Woke up something in there didn’t we?” Stepping inside, she started spreading her ash around her. Sections of the room were walled off, all formed with the same boring gray stone. Ilea’s sphere didn’t pick anything special, just more of the same broken machinery, the odd ripped apart skeleton as well as ruined furniture and moldy tapestry and rugs. The fae followed her in, Ilea listening carefully for the noise she had heard previously. “Hello? Anybody home? Friendly cleaning lady inbound.”
The noise returned and a moment later a monster the size of the old blooded moved into her sphere. Not quickly but carefully, its two arms dripping with venom. Contrary to most of the other beasts, this one had the deformed head of a lion. “What were you made of?” Ilea asked when it started retching up something from its massive throat. A glob of liquid splattered against the ash moving to intercept the unknown. Ash started sizzling, the acid burning through quickly as Ilea took a couple steps back.
[Old Blooded - ??]
Blinking next to it, Ilea’s limbs and her fist smashed into its side, finding it just as vulnerable as the other Old Blooded she had fought. Twenty minutes… let’s hope nothing else is waiting down here to join us. Jumping away from the retaliation, Ilea already knew it had some way to see through her ash, the dark element slashed through as it focused on her shrouded form hidden within a black mist. Blinking and attacking was the way to go, so she continued, focusing on the bones on the creature’s legs as well as its spine.
Time passed and Ilea grew more and more bold, finding the thing’s acid puke as well as fast slashes simple to evade. It lacked the veracity of the Carrier as well as the other Old Blooded she had faced, usually not pursuing when she stepped back and instead using its ranged attack that was powerful but easy to avoid. Another hit but this time Ilea added another two, hearing a muted crack before she smiled and was smashed into the wall by the bladed arm. Her bones held up, armor denting a little on her chest which would make the set a little uncomfortable to wear but not unusable yet.
Blood splattered into her helmet, the wall behind her cracking from her weight and the force of the impact, Ilea blinking away to avoid the follow up strike. Taking a moment to recover some health, she noted that the bone she assumed to be the creature’s spine moved. When she reached full health, the bone snapped into place and the small gash in its skin closed. The lion head snarled at her as it turned and spat some acid at her.
“Are you healing yourself?” Ilea asked, jumping back to avoid the ranged attack. No wonder it’s not going into a frenzy… I’m not hurting it in the slightest. If the beast could heal itself then maybe the red church did manage to succeed with the life serpent’s blood. So it’s a race of resources. Assuming monsters had similar mana and endurance numbers to a human at the same level, she was at a disadvantage, not that it was a reasonable assumption at all. Have I ever faced some monster that ran out of steam?
Concentrating on the fight, Ilea tuned out everything else and started to use her tried and trusted method of wearing an enemy down. Picturing the Old Blooded as a knight, she weaved and danced around its attacks, using every moment of quiet to meditate and regain some mana. Her attacks focused on dealing damage to its limbs, to cut skin and break bones. More mana would likely be necessary to heal those wounds compared to a simple recovery of health. Ilea wasn’t sure how her mana intrusion skills stacked up, how hard it was for the beast to recover from the cellular destruction her Wave of Ember and Destruction skills brought upon it.
Maybe ask a healer about that. She noted, a little annoyed she had never investigated further. At least there were several healers around in Hallowfort. Barely dodging a bladed arm slashing over her head, she delivered a hard punch to the monster’s gut before blinking away, meditating and preparing for another strike. At some point she noted the fae was still floating near the entrance, watching the whole fight between her and the old blooded. The thing had started to move a little slower, a little more jagged, its attacks more lunging than precise and controlled movements. It didn’t exactly make it easier for her to dodge but she at least knew something changed. Another half an hour later, one of the injuries she inflicted didn’t heal immediately but only over a long period of time. She had worn it down and was herself still at around two thirds of her mana, the lack of aggression coming from the monster giving her ample time to use her meditation.
After that point each injury stacked, with every broken bone the beast moved slower and Ilea more confidently, more vicious. A hard stomp broke the second leg, grounding it before she moved on to its head, grappling onto the exposed muscle and smashing it repeatedly with her right fist. The monster tried to get up, pushing its boned claws into the ground but finding them slipping on the bloody floor. Ilea had her Veil of Ash combined with her control to clean off the worst of it, preventing herself from falling. The creature didn’t have the luxury, allowing Ilea to get in another eight hits before a loud crack opened its skull and killed the beast.
‘ding’ ‘You have defeated [Old Blooded – lvl 371] – For defeating an enemy one hundred levels or more above your own, bonus experience is granted’
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth First Hunter has reached lvl 263 – Five stat points awarded’
‘ding’ ‘Inheritor of Eternal Ash has reached lvl 256 – Five stat points awarded’
‘ding’ ‘Destruction reaches 3rd lvl 4’
‘ding’ ‘Veil of Ash reaches 3rd lvl 6’
‘ding’ ‘Meditation reaches 2nd lvl 19’