Chapter 279 Survivor?
“Blood manipulation? Something the city made?” Ilea asked but he shook his head immediately.
“No. Something unique to the Descent, just as unique as the dungeon itself. I have my theories but nothing founded. Not until I get my hands on one of those machines.”
Ilea chuckled, “I know where one is. Also have the so called pure blood… or at least whatever liquid they used in their experiments.”
The king groaned for ten seconds straight, “Why… Ilea please. Don’t tell me things like that while I’m stuck in here… next thing you tell me you know a living demon…,”
It was hard for her to keep a straight face but she apparently managed, either her acting having improved or the fact too hard for him to believe. “So the monsters increased in level the deeper you went?”
Maro nodded, “It would be reasonable for you to explore and train in it further. Though after level two hundred monsters grow increasingly unpredictable. Perhaps destroying the knights here first would be a better option.”
“You’d hope for that. If I kill off all the normal knights, do you think you’ll get some control back to help me with the kingsguard? They’re still technically connected to you and your magic.”
Maro didn’t seem convinced, “I don’t know honestly. This machine is something I cooked up in the last months of the war, in cooperation with some of my most trusted mages. Normally I’d say yes but with how they actually took over, how they’re ignoring my control completely. I don’t know. Only way to find out is to try. Take your time. As said, better freed in a couple decades than never at all.”
Ilea scoffed, “Decades? You don’t think I can manage it earlier?”
“Maybe. I don’t doubt you’ll reach level three hundred in a reasonable time but it’s questionable if the boost is enough to take out triple mark monsters. Especially ones as dangerous as the knights. They retain some of their knowledge you know? Some of their magic too if they were proficient enough. The ones chosen by me were the best warriors my kingdom had to offer. I bought or seized the corpse of every one of them, just in case they were needed.”
Ilea raised an eyebrow, “Seized corpses? What the hell did I get myself into.” She sighed as the king laughed.
“How did someone at your power retain such a moral code. Religious perhaps? Or does it have something to do with where your from? Scipio would have been ecstatic to meet you.” He smiled.
“I know I know. Know anything about the Azarinth order? Healer warriors from long ago, your wife mentioned she remembered the name.” Ilea changed the subject.
Maro squinted his eyes at her, “Yea. Yea I think I fought and killed one of them. Decided to side with the enemy I believe. First Hunter or something was the class name.”
She tried not to reveal anything, “You killed them?”
“Him. And no, a good friend of mine did. I just kept him trapped while they battled, aiding occasionally with a magic blast or two. Took us nearly two days to bring him down.”
Ilea nodded, “Self healing and quick teleportation. Hard to deal with.”
Maro smiled, “So, first huntress… would you like to learn from his mistake?”
“Gladly.” She said with a grin, clapping her hands together.
“He was a blood enhancer in his second class, magic my necromantic spells could easily counter, some of his body enhancements subdued. The effects it would’ve had on my friend I could reduce to nearly nothing. A good thing too that the friend was a pure warrior, his armor and enchantments tremendous against the mana intrusion both of the assassin’s classes favored. How close was my guess with your class?” He asked finally.
Ilea considered, asking a question instead, “He’s one of the kingsguard isn’t he? The friend who protected you.”
“Yes. Man died after taking out a damn near floor of soldiers storming a nearby city. Getting his body out of there was one of the stupider excursions I took part in.” Maro said and laughed.
“Why didn’t you tell her about the assassin?” Or did she withhold information from me?
Maro sighed, “Elana had enough on her table, all the assassins, secret missions and hunts. We kind of had a silent agreement you know… I do my things and she does hers. Sometimes information about traitors or dangerous beasts in our territories would magically make it into one of my friends’ hands. I always knew it was her. That’s just how we did things… back then.” He added. “Though I couldn’t tell you more about the man. He didn’t seem to have a motive other than killing the king of Rhyvor and upon contacting the order they assured me he was working independently, only carrying their name through training early in his life.”
She nodded, “Found one of their temples and got the class. Now I’m a First Hunter too. Guess this is it, king of Rhyvor.” Ilea said and spread her ash, activating her buffs and staring at him as coldly as she could.
“Go for it. Best chance you’ll ever have. Though if you free me first, I promise to make it a good fight.” He said with a smile but Ilea knew he wasn’t quite as sure as he pretended. A good actor but Hunter’s Sight wasn’t as easily fooled.
Deactivating her skills again, she smiled at the mist slowly rolling into the hallway behind her. Do I really come off as unstable as that? Maybe I should find this world’s equivalent of a psychiatrist. “I found a map too. Figures standing in what seemed like random alignments. Maybe you know some of them.”
Summoning one, she held it out to the man. He looked at it for a second and spoke, “That’s the banner of the Azarinth order. At least according to the letter I got a couple years ago, as a response to my inquiry.”
“To the near assassination?”
“No, to find out if we’re at war.” He replied. “Only reason I didn’t go and slaughter them all myself was an abundance of enemies close by already.”
Ilea wasn’t sure how much of that was bravado only. It didn’t sound like the first hunter had been taken down easily, even together with a warrior countering most of the hunter’s offensive capabilities. Putting it away, she summoned another one and held it out. He shook his head, “Never seen it. The style points towards a human group, at least that’s my uneducated guess.”
King of a country… uneducated. Taking out a third figure, he nodded.
“Taleen dwarves. Can’t forget the symbol of their brutality.” He said.
Ilea nodded and put it away, “You knew them? Guess they’ve beenaround for a while then. The actual dwarves or just their machines?”
He nodded, “So their creations outlived them… or am I misinterpreting the question?”
Ilea shrugged, “Likely. Whatever is left of them are dungeons now, feared to be some of the most dangerous. If you ask me, the north is worse. Of the dwarves themselves, little is left. Terok might have more to say. Any idea how they stand to elves?”
“Don’t you have an elven historian up there?” Maro asked, chuckling at the look she gave him, “Well I do have to congratulate you on actually talking to an elf. Most of them just attack humans. I learned they just want a good fight. The problem is they always fight to the death. Wasteful creatures them. You mean Taleen and elves? There were wars I’m sure but I know little about the intricacies. Most of the long ears stayed south of the dwarven mountains too, few traveling these lands but then again the same was true for all other races.”
Ilea smiled, “The frontier then? Rhyvor was founded around a bunch of dungeons found here wasn’t it? Was it simply undiscovered land?” Ilea wondered when the last bits of land on Earth had been discovered.
“There are frontiers everywhere. I’d wager we still have them today. The mountains were treacherous and we had to fight off as well as integrate several local tribes of lizardmen and Feynor. I do not assume city walls have lost their value?”
Ilea shook her head, “City walls as well as guards and enchantments where possible. If you’re asking if humans stood up and rose to the heights of the food chain then the answer is no. On this world at least.”
He looked almost disappointed, “It would have been foolish to assume anything else. It has been the same for millennia and it will stay the same for another. The few outliers like us won’t be able to change that.”
Not if we keep having wars instead of developing infrastructure and clear out the wilderness. Ilea pondered but she was quite happy the world here wasn’t overrun and in the clutches of humans. For the best perhaps. So far she hadn’t found any other races doing a much better job either. Perhaps if everyone was like Goliath or the little fae.
Maro blinked and looked at her, “Your world was different?”
“No monsters. There were of course wild animals but after thousands of years the ingenuity of humans won out. If everything is level ten and no magical abilities exist, spears and swords win out. Plus we didn’t have any other intelligent races.”
He breathed out quickly, “Sounds horribly boring.”
Ilea shrugged. She neither agreed nor disagreed. There was plenty to do, plenty to learn and fill one’s life with on Earth. A fulfilling and safe life or one filled with adventure and danger. Not many got to choose what they really wanted but at least you didn’t get eaten alive by some magical beast in every little patch of forest. Ilea was glad she landed in Elos.
“Would you go back if you could? You are not a world traveler by choice I assume.”
Another shrug, “Maybe. To see how it’s going. To find out how I landed here, not by choice no. Would certainly be confusing if I suddenly appear again.” She also wasn’t sure if she could keep her abilities or if they were somehow tied to this magical realm. There had been no magic she’d known of on Earth, no status or classes. Would it be fair? After they had mourned me? What if they’re still looking? She didn’t want to think about it. There was a chance her parents hadn’t even noticed, neither had been especially caring when she had moved out. It was all speculation of course, impossible to tell how people had reacted.
Ilea knew in her gut that at least her parents would have cared. If time moved the same way here as it did on Earth, nearly two years had passed since her disappearance. “It would be. Though what’s to say you were the only one?”
She looked up at Maro, “I met a girl from my realm already. Though she was just walking in a forest when suddenly she appeared in this realm. A wonder she even survived.”
“It is. I assume neither of you had a class.” She shook her head, “Scipio had his theories. If only he’d still be alive, I’m sure he’d love to talk to you. Maybe he is… bastard certainly knew how to avoid conflict.” He laughed.
Ilea smiled, “Was he trying to achieve realm travel magic?”
Maro nodded, “Amongst other things. Scipio was a barrier and space mage. Catching him was near impossible, nor was fighting him. The man could cut people apart with his barriers.” He smirked, “Thought some inherently evil creatures were responsible for all the suffering in the world. A naive idealist, competent at least. Very dangerous if you got on his bad side.”
“Fought a man like that once… when we found the girl from my world actually. Maybe he formed a cult or something?” Ilea chuckled.
Maro stared at her, “How did he look like? Levels? Abilities? Anything you can tell me?”
She had to think for a while. The man had fought her for a little while in the ruins they had found near the shoreline. “In his fifties, black hair, some gray showing. Barrier magic was golden and cut through my legs like they were nothing. Called himself Albert.”
The king stared at her before he laughed, a clean and loud sound. When he calmed down again, Elana was out of the room, staring at the two of them. “What’s so funny?” The queen asked.
Maro looked first at Ilea and then the queen, “Scipio is alive. Ilea here met him.”
“What?!” Elana stepped towards the king, “Are you sure? The chances of him surviving, let alone meet this random woman is almost impossibly low.”
“Or somehow not a coincidence…,” Maro suggested.
“Oh come on? Just because she’s from another realm? He would’ve not let her go if he knew. If it’s true I’m more interested in why he didn’t come and get us out of this situation.” Elana was talking faster with every word.
Ilea thought about it, “He didn’t hold on to the other girl there either and she was from another realm too. Seemed pretty coincidental to me. I’m pretty sure he would’ve continued fighting too were it not for the collapsing cave.”
Maro shook his head, “Well one way or the other he somehow survived or someone that knew him very well and learned from him. I’d like to find out. He’d have all the answers to our questions and likely some of yours as well my dear finder of very old and forgotten people.” He laughed again but Elana just walked away, cursing about the man who didn’t come for them.
“I have some of his books but for those I’d want something in return as well. Once we open the other rooms we’ll talk. Not like you’re going anywhere anyway.” She said to the king who nodded.
“Fair enough. I don’t think we’d be able to find him anyway. Not without an extensive search. If I somehow got my name out there he would certainly find me. Although he might not want to talk.”
Ilea sat down on the chair again, “Why not?” She asked, summoning another one of the figures.
“I suggest you ask your elven friend about that one.” The king said and nodded towards the little piece, “To why we might not be on the best of terms… I won’t tell you. Maybe if you get me out of here but even then it would depend on my mood.”
“They’re elvish then.” Summoning her notebook, she showed him the map and the positioning of the figures she had quickly sketched down, “Any idea what it could be?”
Maro nodded, “Strategic placement of troops. That is Karth I assume, the only remarkable dungeon to put on a map of the human lands south of the mountains. Interesting are the placements…,”
Ilea frowned, “Karth is a massive mountain, not a dungeon. Well there might be dungeons inside but even the Descent isn’t close to as big as that would be.”
“Then perhaps that dungeon has changed as well… only one way to find out. You have troop constellations of elven, Taleen and Azarinth order units there. Either they all got lost in the woods or they are working together against those black figures.”
Ilea nodded and summoned the black piece, showing it to him. His reaction came a little too late for her to take seriously. “Aaaaah, the forces of the evil god Nesca. Now all of it makes sense, no other great force could unite species such as elves and humans.”
“You have no idea what this is.” Ilea said, wiggling the thing in front of his face before it vanished.
“No clue.” The king said, “Must have been quite the fight to warrant such an alliance. Never heard of anything like it. At least not in such a grand scale.”
“I mean we don’t know how big the units actually were. Might’ve been five guys working together.” Ilea suggested with a smile.
Maro nodded, “True. I’m certainly interested in who it was they were fighting and who won in the end.”
She shrugged and sat back down, thinking on the things she had learned. Most relevant for now were his opinions on stats as well as the fact that a first hunter had fought and lost against his warrior friend. Of course she was an ash creator and not a blood enhancer but still. To have the ability to trap her even with her blink ability? Maybe strength to five or six hundred as well? She considered it. There were still around eighty level ups necessary to reach level three hundred, around four hundred stat points all in all.
Focusing on Intelligence for now as well as Wisdom and Vitality had been a good decision. It let her deal with the knights more quickly and now she could heal herself back up almost immediately. Breaking the Reapers’ carapace as well as their legs was already possible. More Strength would make it easier but she’d still get hit by their magic. If I want class and skill evolutions not only focused on mana intrusion I should keep my physical stats somewhat up to date.
Putting her ten remaining points into Strength, she got it to two eighty. Two hundred Strength and maybe another fifty or more into Wisdom. We’ll see about the rest. Ilea mused, still sitting in front of the necromancer king.
“You’re being terribly unproductive.” He commented, Ilea sacrificing two thousand of her health and slowly healing it back right after.
Getting up slowly, she stretched, “Got a couple decades to get you out old man. If you keep talking like that I might just leave a single kingsguard alive, how about that?”