Chapter 293 Resistance Dance
“Why do you think she agreed so easily?” Ilea asked Maro. On the other side of the room a bright red glow could be seen in the hole Terok had started to dig. The white stone was melting quickly, a day or two maybe and a tunnel would be finished. Elana free to explore and do what she wanted here in the north. Maybe I did unleash something dangerous.
Maro looked at the glow, his wife standing next to the entrance, “I don’t think she was acting. You know as cold as she got in the end, she cared. She really did. For Rhyvor… for everyone. Perhaps it resonated with the dark one. She is part of a government too, came here to ensure we are no danger to her people. Though Elana would never admit as much, perhaps they’re quite similar… her and the fox.” He said and chuckled.
Ilea smiled, “Well I better get going. Can’t reach three hundred by talking to you.”
“Wait. Something has been bothering me. I know you wouldn’t want to run errands like this but I would have asked Terok on his return. We have talked about Gadrian before… that he was likely in Lisburg when the city came under attack. I just… you know I’ve been thinking about it and wanted to know… if anything was still remaining.” Maro said.
“You think he’s still alive?”
“I doubt it… and if he was he wouldn’t be there anymore. Just… you know it was a beautiful town… vineyards on hills as far as the eye could see. Charming buildings and the most intricate and beautiful fountain you could ever imagine. A river flowing through it all.” He continued with a more subdued voice, “You know… Tremor was bustling always, people came together here and the government, the nobles, the parties and everything. It was all here. When I sought some quiet I would go to Lisburg. I simply dared hope that maybe… a part of it remained.”
The man paused before he spoke again, “You could take Terok. If you find the key to either treasury or armory there he could repay the debts he owes in Hallowfort. And you, well I’m sure you would find something to your liking.”
“I’ll check it out Maro. Catelyn did mention a vineyard cave, perhaps that’s the same place.” Ilea said. It wasn’t easy, seeing the usually confident and charming king in such a state. He had lost everything, all the people and his kingdom. The last months, alone with Elana must have not been easy, thinking it all over. All the what ifs, all the possibilities, the unknowns. “I hope she has some answers for you two.” She finally said.
“I hope so too.”
Having gotten the location of Lisburg, at least where it had been for Maro back in his time, Ilea made her way back to Hallowfort. Catelyn didn’t join her for the time being, wanting to finish the tunnel as quickly as possible. Ilea didn’t know why the fox prioritized getting the queen out but she did. Perhaps the fox already wanted to make a good impression or simply didn’t want to get on their bad side. She was probably powerful enough to deal with them alone but a king and queen brought more to the table than just levels.
Back in Hallowfort, Ilea quickly checked the Abyss and found it more packed than the times she had visited before. At least one patron was sitting at every table, some drinking, others playing cards. Others again showing off their magic or weapons. There were dark ones, humans, dwarves, machines that she assumed had dwarves inside as well as some rare humans. One in particular opened her eyes wide when Ilea spotted her.
She couldn’t get a word out before Ilea appeared in front of their table, “Hey.” She said with a smile under her helmet.
Krentin stayed calm but Ilea could tell his muscles had tensed a little, his breathing a little quicker. “Warrior!” Loud laughter came from the direction of the bar, Hana the lizardwoman walking towards the table with four beverages. “You survived the fourth layer. No surprise.” She added and put the drinks down. “Can I get you something too? On me?”
Ilea smirked, “I think I’ve gotten enough gold out of you.” Krentin made a sound but didn’t move.
“Joining the expedition?” She asked.
“If you’re looking for a team, we’re not interested.” The mage said.
“Not exactly. I’m looking for people to train resistances with. How would you like to blast me with some of your magic?” She asked the team leader directly, his features distorting into something Ilea couldn’t even begin to guess at.
“Are you mocking us?” He asked.
Hana sat down and started drinking her ale, “I don’t think she is Krentin. I trained with her, remember?”
“Why would you trust us then? I could kill you any moment, take back what was ours.” The mage asked again. The healer and dark one on the table were silent.
Ilea shrugged, “I’m pretty sure I could escape if you tried anything. Plus you’d get magic training against a real foe. The whole team could join in, maybe this time you’ll do better.” A challenge but the mage just sighed.
“We have an expedition to plan human. Not interested.” He said.
Ilea nodded and sighed, “Well your loss, I’m sure I’ll find some people to train with. Good luck on your expedition.” She said and meant it, winking at Hana who smiled at her. Ilea noted that the healer girl looked at the lizard woman and then her with a frown on her face.
At the bar, Ilea waited for a moment until Haiden showed up, the cat person nodding to her as he put away some bottles. “Warrior of ash… you return. Stronger yet again I presume?”
“A little. When’s the expedition planned to leave?” She asked.
“Couple days… perhaps a week. It depends on the leaders. They would surely have you join if you are interested.”
Ilea shook her head, “I’m engaged elsewhere at the moment. What I was looking for were new Resistances.”
He nodded, “I see. Well I’m sure some would benefit from the opportunity. Let me inform them. I’m sure you’ll have a queue by the end of the hour.”
Haiden wasn’t kidding. The news spread quickly, Ilea finding herself down in the city with a bunch of unknown level two hundred or close enough people ready to blow her apart. It’s not what it sounds like. She thought to herself, looking at the shady, geared and armored people. “Just attack me, focus this area.” She said, her armor vanishing, replaced by casual clothes as she patted her belly.
Ilea spend the next three days training non stop with the expedition. More of them joined as time went on, in the end even Krentin showed up to send some spells her way. A good change to hunting Centurions yet not so different from her Miststalker training. In the very least it showed her that the beasts were ridiculously powerful, many of the adventurers and scavengers barely able to get past her Veil. Granted most weren’t much higher than level two ten, Krentin being one of them. The leaders of the expedition didn’t join sadly, both of them at least at two fifty.
It at least allowed for a smooth training experience, Ilea meditation and healing herself while her Veil dealt with a big chunk of the damage. The adventurers attacked in groups until they had found an optimal cycle for all of them. She noted that many didn’t sleep through the three days either, attacking nonstop just as she stood there, tanking the abuse. Contrary to humans, it seemed this method of training was albeit rare, not completely unheard of. Many healers had some kind of ability to reduce pain and she was sure some that were mentioned had their Pain Tolerance at the second tier.
On the third day, Ilea healed up and put on her Stonehammer steel armor again, some of the adventurers still remaining before they joined up with the rest of the expedition back in the Abyss. Ilea joined them and got herself a bottle of ale from Haiden. “Heard you’ve been at it for three days straight?”
She nodded, opening the bottle with her ash before taking a sip. “Did they not ask you to join?” The barkeep asked.
“No. I suppose my level intimidates them.” She said, taking another sip.
Haiden chuckled, “Higher than the expedition leads… well you certainly left an impression when you went and killed those Blue Reapers. Didn’t think you would advance so quickly. At this point the human ash wielder clad in black is just as much of a legend to this place as some of the better known people around here.”
“Any of them still alive?” Ilea asked with a chuckle.
“A few. That I know of.”
“Interesting. Hey they’re actually leaving. I hope some of them survive.” She said and lifted her bottle to cheer them along. Some of them actually looked her way and nodded or gestured back in some way.
Haiden smiled, “These are not similar to your human expeditions. They are well prepared, composed of veterans.”
“Well prepared for what they know. Just like those human expeditions you talk about. Well I’ve dwelt here long enough, see you around Haiden.”
“Good luck on your travels.” She heard him murmur, his attention lying with the departing expedition. He probably knew many of them, some better than others.
Making her way out of the Abyss and out of Hallowfort, she quickly checked the progress she had made in regards to her resistances. Three days was a drop in the bucket compared to her Miststalker and Heat Resistance training but skills below the second tier did level quicker after all.
‘ding’ ‘Blood Magic Resistance reaches lvl 9’
‘ding’ ‘Blood Magic Resistance reaches lvl 14’
‘ding’ ‘Crystal Resistance reaches lvl 16’
‘ding’ ‘Crystal Resistance reaches lvl 17’
‘ding’ ‘Crystal Resistance reaches lvl 18’
‘ding’ ‘Dark Magic Resistance reaches lvl 2’
‘ding’ ‘Dark Magic Resistance reaches lvl 12’
‘ding’ ‘Ice Resistance reaches 2nd lvl 2’
‘ding’ ‘Light Magic Resistance reaches lvl 17’
‘ding’ ‘You have learned the General skill: Death Magic Resistance - lvl 1’
‘Common in the deepest and most depraved parts of the world, the magic of death itself seeks nothing but to destroy, to rot and kill. It is difficult to survive but to someone like you, what is death but another challenge?’
‘ding’ ‘Death Magic Resistance reaches lvl 2’
‘ding’ ‘Death Magic Resistance reaches lvl 5’
Contrary to expectations the magic was very similar to the feeling she got from Health Drain spells. Just that in this case the health didn’t go anywhere and was simply destroyed. She noted it to be more potent, actively burning away her life force and body but at such a low level and against her healing, it was just another drop in the bucket. Even the system apparently had noticed her collection of defensive skills.
‘ding’ ‘You have learned the General skill: Time Magic Resistance - lvl 1’
‘The intricacies of time magic are difficult to grasp, its secrets hidden forever to most who attempt the plunge. A rare few have managed to bend the elusive force to their will, making it a dangerous tool both for themselves and for their enemies.’
‘ding’ ‘Time Magic Resistance reaches lvl 2’
‘ding’ ‘Time Magic Resistance reaches lvl 3’
That one was definitely more interesting to her than Death Magic. At least at first. The effects it had on her were weird, hard to grasp but in the end despite the discomforting feeling, all it really did was make her perception worse. As if time moved faster around her. Talking to the mage revealed the limits to his magic, at least if he was being honest. Then again if the magic was as limitless as Ilea thought it could be, then every time mage would be an impossible opponent to defeat. The very existence of it made her want to train her resistance higher, just in case she ran into a dangerous one at some point, or perhaps a monster that could use it.
To suddenly be stuck in a time loop or completely lose her perception of it while some beast feasted on her wasn’t on her to do list. If death magic couldn’t just wipe her away instantly, she was pretty sure time magic wouldn’t be as ridiculous either. At least she had a resistance now and could work on it should she meet more friendly time mages.
Back in the factory, Ilea put down the black Obelisk she had towed here from Goliath’s forge. It would be another six days until he teleported but there was plenty to do anyway. Too many things to level, too many monsters to slay.
Sighing, Ilea sat down on one of the forges and started eating a meal, the first one she had in three days. Even after all that time she didn’t feel sleepy, her mind prepared and active. The constant healing might have helped with that, keeping the sluggishness out of her system. Or her level ups simply increased the time it took for her to actually need any sleep. Either way, it was welcome, as long as she could still sleep when she really wanted. The sweet release of unconsciousness was something she liked back on Earth, now she had a bunch of fun things to do and a meditation skill that could get her through months without human interaction. A skill that refused to level to the last of the second tier.
The next several hours were spent on destroying Centurions, finally after three hours she found a special variant on the second floor.
[Centurion Ripper – lvl ??]
This one looked the same as the usual Centurions, the only differences being its four arms and serrated swords it carried instead of the usual spear. This should be enough…, Ilea thought. Dodging its blows, she found this one to be quite a bit faster than the last special variant, more calculative too and not relying purely on aggression. The main difficulty was the fact that it managed to defend against all her ashen limbs with swift cuts from its blades.
It simply refused to engage her real body as long as her limbs were trying to target it. Ilea decided to lay caution aside and engaged. Dodging the blades proved difficult but not impossible, the Centurion still a machine, its movements calculated, the possibilities finite. She had learned against the Guardians that their attacks had patterns, their aggression having a certain style to it. The same was true for this one, although more and more it felt like a living breathing enemy. A particularly good feint made her blink away, avoiding the blade that would have skewered her otherwise.
Its defensive approach at least had the positive effect of her regeneration never slowing down. There were ample opportunities to use Meditation, effectively doubling her mana regeneration. After twenty minutes of her careful approach, not getting in a single hit, Ilea decided on her tried and proven strategy of trading damage.
Blinking close to the thing, she dodged the first two blades and let the third scratch into her Veil and past her armor. Her fist hit, a full dose of Destruction and Wave of Ember smashing into it, her arm wreathed in flame as her third tier Form of Ash and Ember enhanced the punch. The hit left a dent in the machine as it was pushed back, its last blade cut through her Veil and dug into her armor, leaving not just a dent but cuts that continued into her shoulder below.
The attack prevented her from blinking but Ilea continued her offensive momentum, punch after punch landing on the machine while its blades glanced off of her armor, two of them digging into it but stuck for a moment to allow her another attack. One particularly strong hit to her chest sent her stumbling, still unable to blink when two blades rushed at her neck. One of them was blocked by her arm, the weapon punching through her Veil and steel before the second blade but into her neck, ripping out a big chunk of it.
Ilea used her ash and hands to get the blades away before blinking, bringing her thirty meters away from the machine as she healed the damage. Blood dripped to the ground as a grin formed on her face, a part of her helmet missing. The Centurion was still on the defensive, meaning her damage had been sufficiently high. Otherwise it would have used the opportunity to close the distance and continue its attacks. Neck healed back, Ilea instead of switching out her armor, changed to pants and a shirt instead. The blades could of course still get stuck on her bones but having her blink disabled with each hit was the reason she had nearly just lost her head.
Moving back in, her Veil stopped at least a part of the enemy power before the blades ripped into her flesh, cutting through cleanly as she delivered her own blows. She angled her body in a way that would allow the enemy to hit but not get stuck on her, a maneuver impossible with her armor on. Two quick hits made the machine stumble again, her improved Strength showing before she targeted one of its legs. It dented a little before she was forced to blink away, all four blades rushing at her at the same time.
Several cuts showed on her body, her shoulder was a mess, her stomach bleeding as well as her leg nearly separated. The Centurion watched her with green eyes as her wounds closed, a savage grin on the woman’s face as she prepared to finish it off.