Chapter 280 Green Memories

“Lassie you done with the king?” Terok asked, stepping up to her. Ilea noted the drilling had stopped a while ago, the tunnel looking to be improving ever so slightly.

Looking at Maro, she shrugged, “For now. I hope you’re not unproductive either Maro.”

He snorted, “Don’t worry Ilea, I’m working on world domination plans as we speak. My unrelenting power and necromantic will shall tower over all. Elana reads to me sometimes.”

She nodded and walked off, Terok falling in next to her, “Good enough. What is it? I hope you’re not asking for help with your drilling. Neither my fists nor ash are particularly good at the job.”

“No. I was thinking to explore the Taleen dungeon to the north. Been talking to the elf and he knows some interesting things. Might be able to improve my armor if I go and explore a little there. You being here I assume the Descent isn’t exactly going as well as it could.”

Ilea smiled at him, “It’s going. Not particularly quick to level up there but Taleen machines are probably not the best either.” Centurions might be reasonable. Would be interesting to see how I handle them now. Maybe face a Praetorian… if there’s a single one there.

Terok nodded, “Well I can’t make you. Thought I’d ask at least. You there to destroy the machines and walk through traps would certainly make it quite a lot simpler.”

Ilea thought about it. Maybe another possible place to find Kyrian, another working teleportation gate for Claire and Christopher. The dungeon being in the north might’ve added some levels to the machines too. If she could fight hordes of guardians at level three hundred instead of two hundred, she’d advance in no time. “I’ll check it out.” She simply stated, Terok nodding before he fist pumped the air.

“Yesss. I knew you’d come.”

Ilea shrugged, “Maybe we can get you to two hundred too, I’ll leave some guardians alive.”

The dwarf nearly stumbled, “Sure… sure. If you’re around to heal me. Getting those evolutions has been a long time coming anyway.”

Nobody said anything about healing… ah who am I kidding. At least he’ll be more useful to me then. “Wanna leave now?”

Terok nodded, “I’ll inform the queen and Maro. Might be they have something interesting to note as well. Though I doubt it, their knowledge of the area is a couple thousand years outdated.”

Ilea exited through the cathedral doors, joining the elf while Terok was left behind to talk to the royals. “Going to explore the Taleen dungeon nearby. Feel like coming?”

He looked at her at the mention of the Taleen, “And why would I want that?I won’t be going into the dungeon itself.”

Ilea shrugged, “To get some air? Destroy escaping machines I missed maybe? Provide a safe retreat should we be overwhelmed? Provide translations as we go further in? You do know the language I assume.” If he spent decades learning the Rhyvor language then she had no doubt in her mind the elf spoke Taleen. She still had the little notebook from the dwarven skeleton she had found. As well as the Tungsten key, neither things she wanted to reveal as of yet.

Tapping his pen on the open book, the elf finally decided and closed it. “Alright human. I will humor you. When do you intend to leave?”

“As soon as Terok shows up. What’s that book anyway?” She asked, the dwarf flying in through one of the destroyed windows before landing smoothly, black and red armor suit at the ready.

Elfie stood up, straightening his black mantle, “Questions for the king and queen of Rhyvor. If we cannot talk face to face there are other methods.”

“In their language I suppose?” Ilea asked.

She received a nod in response, the elf having the book vanish from his hands, “A good way to build trust. We have made every effort to alienate other races in the past.”

Terok snorted, “And present, if you mean slaughter and hunt down as alienate.” The elf hissed but didn’t deny the dwarf’s accusations either.

“Alright. Ready to find some hobbits then.” Ilea joked, the two looking at her with a bit of confusion.

“A variant of Taleen machines?” Terok asked, “Thought I’d know most of them by now.”

Ilea went with it and spread her wings, “You haven’t been inside one of the dungeons, have you?”

The dwarf chuckled, “Fair enough. To the hobbits then.” Ilea laughed and ascended.

It was nighttime, the moons shining down on the lakes of mist below them as they scanned the sky for any dangers flying towards them. A human, a dwarf and an elf, on their mission to find and explore a dungeon filled with machines built by the Taleen. Hours passed, the three flying in silence.

Terok slowed down after a while, landing on a spot devoid of mist and situated a little higher than the lower regions around them. Ilea slowed down too, the Elf turning with an annoyed look on his face. She didn’t comment on it and simply landed near Terok. “I’ll be off training, shout for me when you’re ready to go again.”

With Meditation the dwarf shouldn’t need too long but it was time she could use. Elfie looked at her as she drifted down towards the mists, landing nearby. Close enough to grab the attention of some of the miststalkers but not in the mist itself to avoid their bladed arms. Same magic as the queen. Ilea wondered if there was a connection at all. Probably not, seeing how the queen was at a lower level than even her. The miststalkers were still unknowns, not triple marks but certainly more dangerous than Elana. At least from a purely magical perspective. Politically, she doubted the stalkers had much to counter the queen.

Sighing, Ilea felt her health and mana begin to drop. With time the mana would start to damage the creatures and her health would become harder to drain. She found it more beneficial to not heal herself at all, the initial drop in health slowing down later on while she needed every bit of mana recovered from her meditation. Choosing a barren space, Ilea sat down, her armor shifting as it adjusted to the new position. She watched the miststalkers twirl, around and around as more of them slowly joined to sap her life and magic from her. To what goal she didn’t know. It was likely the beasts just ate it, sustained themselves somehow through the night before they vanished again when the suns were out.

It felt weird, the dull pain of her life leaving her, slowly but surely as more of them connected their magic to her. “Ilea we can continue.” The moment passed, Terok’s voice resounding over the barren land as she got up and walked out of the range of the monsters, almost a little sad that she couldn’t feed them anymore. Her resistances would level again soon, it had been a while since last time. “Are you sure you’re alright? There were eight of them draining you at the same time…,”

Ilea waved him off without an answer, her wings spreading again as her meditation worked to recover her lost mana, her healing taking care of the health in the meantime. She was at a little over four thousand mana after the ten to fifteen minute break. “Did you go in and fight them at some point?”

Ilea shrugged, “I’d rather level my resistances a little more before. Maybe try to whittle them down from further away.”

Terok nodded, “They’re terribly durable and tend to vanish once damaged enough.”

Ilea hadn’t even reached that point. Might be different if I’m actually close enough for them to drain me. Animals don’t act rationally when they’re getting food. She would of course had a similar situation going on as with the knights in Tremor, trying to out damage their health drain ability.

She nodded and followed them, intending to take up the training again the next night. Depending on how the dungeon goes. Maybe back to the Descent again afterwards. She would grow steadily until reaching the three hundreds. Higher resistances would certainly help but with what she already had it wasn’t much of a priority right now. Elfie slowed down when they reached an incline leading to a mountain towering over the surrounding hills and crevices. No mist was visible nearby, the three of them descending before landing in a rather large crack that led upwards.

“Should be near the mountain.” Terok said. “It’s not a popular one this one.”

Ilea was a little surprised to hear that, “Why not? Guardians are between one fifty and two hundred aren’t they? Should be right in the range of most scavengers I’ve seen in Hallowfort. Or are they higher leveled here in the north?”

“It’s pretty far away from Hallowfort and not everybody can fly. You’ll find out inside why it’s unpopular.” Terok said, his floodlight shining the way, rocks and a thin creek making its way down towards the lower altitudes. A strong wind brushed past her armor, Ilea noticing how Terok and Elfie had to fight against it more than she did.

Her second stage Wind Resistance was the likely culprit. Or she was simply liked by the wind, “You have no idea what’s in there do you?”

The dwarf didn’t reply which was answer enough. He laughed a minute later when they nonetheless made their way up the mountain, Elfie now moving a couple meters behind the other two. Ilea assumed he didn’t want to accidentally step into a dungeon.

It took them another twenty minutes to climb through the crevice, the last patch in darkness as the stone grew over them. A noticeable entrance crafted not by nature but something else showed in the distance, the angular opening carved into the stone wall. “There it is.” Terok exclaimed. “No mist in here either, nor arcane storms during the day.” The statements directed at Elfie who wouldn’t be joining them in their exploration.

“Build a fire or something.” Ilea said to the elf who stared towards the entrance. “Come on.” She added, directed at the dwarf this time as she walked to the entrance. Skills flaring up, she noted that it wasn’t exactly a forgotten and unused path, some of the rocks and sand suggesting travelers coming through in the past weeks at least. “We might not be alone in there.”

Terok shrugged with his huge two meter metal mech, “Didn’t expect anything else. More corpses to loot for us.”

She didn’t comment on it. More corpses to loot for me if you’re not being useful. She thought, walking through the small opening. No dungeon notification popped up immediately, meaning it was either further in or not here at all.

Terok commented on it too, “Further in. This has been dug out by someone. I doubt the Taleen would’ve used such an ugly entrance.”

Ilea hadn’t found the dwarven architecture to be particularly extravagant or beautiful but she agreed that this at least didn’t seem like them. Mere stone, carved to the barest minimum. When they reached the actual dungeon a couple minutes of climbing down later, the contrast was even more clear.

ding’ ‘You have entered Izna dungeon’

“There it is.” Terok commented with a chuckle, the two of them finding themselves in a dimly lit hallway, the familiar green light bringing up memories for Ilea both good and bad.

Taking a couple steps, she summoned her notebook, “Izna. Meaning it’s a fucking huge one. You boasted about your map making skills, want to take over that task?”

The dwarf shrugged, “Already working on it.” The metal head looked at her when she didn’t reply, “Inside the armor. I just need a couple seconds to react in case something shows up. Plus you’re right, it’s usually bigger the shorter the name is but it’s not a given. Good for us if it’s really the case.” He said.

“Which way experienced scavenger?” Ilea asked.

Terok looked around, “The ivy is growing a little thicker that way so I assume that’s where the mana is thicker. Doesn’t mean much in Taleen dungeons but anywhere else you’d find higher leveled monsters there. Your call.”

Ilea noted the familiar green ivy growing all over the walls, snaking along the stone just like it had in the other Taleen dungeons she had visited, “Why the ivy? I think we should go towards the less dense area first.” She added, starting to walk leftwards.

“Something to do with the metal they use in their machines. I don’t know if it’s a byproduct of some kind, has a purpose or if it just showed up after the dungeons had been left alone for hundreds of years.” Terok said, following her as he checked the walls and floors, his floodlight shining with much subdued intensity. “You were right, something moved through here. Not a machine as far as I can tell.”

They soon came out into an open room, not exactly a hall but definitely bigger than anything she had in her house. Several stone tables were placed in the midst of it, torn tapestries adorning the walls. Ilea noted the skeletons as well as half decayed bodies of various beings splattered against tables, laying on the ground or sitting near the walls. She knew exactly what had happened to them, the two green eyes she was staring at turning towards her.

[Taleen Centurion – lvl ??]

It looked the same as all the ones she had faced before. Six spindly metal legs that would carry it towards her as quickly as she could comprehend its movements. Two hands, all made of the same greenish metal. It let go of the piece it held onto, its spear appearing in the other hand. The spear that would cut through her defenses and skin as if it was mere paper. The staff end of it braking her bones as if they were cardboard. The core that would explode once damaged enough. She knew about her enemy, about the cold eyes that wouldn’t stop until she had ripped its body apart, had burnt every circuit or enchantment that somehow forced the thing to live on, to fight and hunt.

Ilea didn’t remember at what level she had been the last time a Centurion stood in her way. Ash spread around her, eight limbs forming on her back, each swaying in a nonexistent wind, poised to attack at any moment. “This is my fight Terok. Wait in the hallway further back. Don’t come until after you hear the explosion.”

“Explosion?” He asked, gulping as he watched the Centurion stand up from its previously crouched position, its legs moving over the table like a well oiled imitation of an insect, the head predatory, sleek and at its center two vicious green eyes. Ilea didn’t wait for the dwarf as her buffs flared up to their highest potential, three hundred health sacrificed for what she knew was to come. A moment later the Centurion moved, its spear thrown in a motion she was familiar oh so familiar with.

Her senses enhanced, Ilea tensed her muscles, her eyes following the spear as it advanced on her. A quick move of her hand and it impacted with her Veil, glancing off from her armor below as she sent it to the side, the metal cutting into the stone floor before it came to a stop several meters away. She shook her hand, having felt the heavy impact. Not quite as planned. She thought, grinning as she healed back the sacrificed mana. The green eyes kept looking at her, focusing on the threat before she was gone, appearing right in front of the machine, her fist lashing out as eight limbs of ash smashed into the metal, Wave of Ember releasing as her fist clashed against the summoned spear, already held in a defensive position.

The Centurion skidded back a couple centimeters, Ilea’s ash continuously smashing into its metal, bending its head sideways and nearly cutting into its torso. Its sudden retreating movement was easily predicted, Ilea following as she continued her assault, deflecting the spear attacks with her arms, the metal ringing against her armor, her Veil alone not quite enough to block the powerful blows. She knew it had no way to repair itself, her mana intrusion getting through without much of a problem, its attacks not even dodged but outright deflected. Times have changed.

A particularly obvious move masking its retreat let her try something much more ballsy, Ilea raising her hand, Veil moving out of the way before she clasped the spear, the thing moving through and cutting into her Veil near the chest. Ilea grinned, holding on to the weapon before she twirled, using her whole body, all her buffs and her heavy bones and gear to move the rather light machine around. Before she could smash it into the nearby table, the Centurion let go and landed a couple meters off, its weapon still in the grasp of Ilea smashing into and through the stone table with a loud crash.

You’re no fun.” Ilea commented as the weapon was ripped out of her hands, disappearing in the air before it appeared again in the machine’s hands. Ilea stepped over the destroyed table, just now seeing the destroyed Centurion lying a little to her side. That’s where he was standing at the start. The people coming before them weren’t completely useless she surmised. No explosion…, She wondered but focused on the task at hand for now, stopping as she watched the machine circle her cautiously. “Come then, let me rip you apart.” Ilea said, ash forming around her, a savage grin on her face.


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