Chapter 298 Fear and Void
Laughter rolled over the square, “Well…for one thing.” Terok said, the steel in his arm reforming to create a razor sharp blade that started at his fist and ended near his shoulder. Appearing before her, he smashed the blade at Ilea’s torso, the blow cutting into her Veil and breaking through with a bit of a push before it scratched against her armor. He teleported back again, “Not good for piercing steel.”
Ilea gave him a minute, “Well let’s just say I could drain Health from you if I could pierce.”
“Good. Can you do it with projectiles too?”
He shook his head, “No…might be the second tier though. I replaced one of my skills to get this one.”
She nodded, “We can work on it later. Might be difficult to drain against my second tier resistance.”
“Thanks. Wait second tier resistance? Ah… that’s where you sneaked off to every night. And here I thought you had a gambling problem.”
She furrowed her brows, “Gambling problem? What?”
“Hey I ain’t judging. Just thought, you giving away stuff for free you must have plenty of gold lying around. One of my theories on how you got it.” He said and chuckled.
“Found most of it in a dungeon. Do you have anything else? I would hope you got more from your evolutions.”
“Well the transformation of my arm is one thing. Still working out the details but my armor has gotten more… well flexible might be the closest word I can use to describe it. Plus my mana sight has improved, I’m pretty sure I can enchant your stuff with a higher level too now. No teleporting now, just fists. You’ll see about the rest.”
She smiled and faced him, the dwarf rushing at her with quite impressive speed, his hands changing into fists as big as her head before they smashed into her Veil. The force was distributed well, making him unable to penetrate but she could tell he had gotten stronger by quite a bit, even with her own improved levels. On par with perhaps even Seviir, strength alone. If she assume he had used all he had against her neck earlier and she didn’t think highly enough of him to suspectthe elf had held back.
Again his arms changed, this time back into blades before he slashed into her, the steel clashing against her own, leaving scratches wherever they struck. “You’re too durable… damn woman. Attack me instead. Frontal.” He said and jumped back a couple meters. Ilea gave him a second before she advanced, her fist delivering a powerful blow towards his chest. Shields suddenly formed on his arms, the two melting into each other before her blow landed on the metal, a dull sound echoing as the energy flowed through both him and her.
“A tank now too?” She said, her arm moving back again. This time she used all she had. Her fist landed, Terok skidding back a meter. The dent in his shield evened out quickly.
He laughed and released the spell, “You pack one hell of a punch. I guess if I can block you then I might as well participate more as a melee fighter. Use the projectiles to get them from behind or when they’re stuck on my shield.” The dwarf mused.
“It’s an idea. Glad you got your evolutions Terok. You’ll be at least a little useful to have a around.” Ilea commented.
“Don’t you dare thinking about ditching me woman!” He said and chuckled, both of them aware that she hadn’t been a part of his team for the past months at all. It was nice to have someone in the north at least somewhat knowledgeable about enchantments and traps but she couldn’t think of teaming up with him full time.
“I prefer to work alone.” Ilea said simply.
“And yet here you are.” Terok replied. “Don’t hit me.” He held up a finger.
Ilea smiled, “Well it’s the place to be. I killed one of the undead earlier.”
“We did too.” Terok gestured to the corpses.
“The ones in the lower zones, not connected to Maro. Three question marks. Level five hundred.”
“Oh… well I’m sure you’ll show me your own evolutions soon then. Now go and get to it woman, I have some elves and their power to exploit.” She could practically feel his grin as he started floating, on his way towards where the others had left.
Ilea sighed, her wings spreading as she prepared to take on her next undead. This time perhaps without losing her head.
Four days had passed while Ilea focused on finding and fighting the undead rose knights scattered in the lower parts of the city. Marking them with colors turned out to be helpful but also showed how few of them were actually there. It made them even scarier, knowing the distance in which they noticed battle. Of course the extraordinary violence and collateral damage facing them caused didn’t make it that crazy but the normal knights rarely even showed up when a fight was happening a couple streets over.
Forcing herself to abide by the self imposed rule to face one and only one undead at a time, Ilea slowly whittled them down. The damage on their armor as well as lack of connection to Maro made the approach possible. Still, Terok had informed her that if she waited too long, they might recover health as well. Just like any monster or human would. Simply at a rather slow pace. She hadn’t asked the king about the specifics of undead health or unhealth regeneration but so far it worked.
Another one down. It was the fifth one so far. She smiled brightly, breathing hard as her wounds closed, bones resetting while she waited and listened to the surroundings. It had been a short battle. The undead was marked on her back, meaning she had faced the same one the day before. Twice even. Not much had been needed to finish the job. Still, it had brought her health down by a third and broke most of her rib cage with the handle of her sword. Fucking ridiculous.
‘ding’ ‘You have defeated [Undead Rose Knight – lvl 520] – For defeating an enemy two hundred and twenty or more levels above your own, bonus experience is granted’
Highest one so far. Ilea mused, her health closing in on her max again. She quickly checked through the messages from the past days, the new ones added at the bottom.
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth First Hunter has reached lvl 292 – Five Stat points awarded’
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth First Hunter has reached lvl 293 – Five Stat points awarded’
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth First Hunter has reached lvl 294 – Five Stat points awarded’
‘ding’ ‘Inheritor of Eternal Ash has reached lvl 291 – Five Stat points awarded’
‘ding’ ‘Inheritor of Eternal Ash has reached lvl 292 – Five Stat points awarded’
‘ding’ ‘Inheritor of Eternal Ash has reached lvl 293 – Five Stat points awarded’
‘ding’ ‘Destruction reaches 3rd lvl 9’
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth Fighting reaches 3rd lvl 4’
‘ding’ ‘Veil of Ash reaches 3rd lvl 10’
‘ding’ ‘Ashen Warrior reaches 3rd lvl 3’
Back to levels getting more attention than skills again. Well I won’t complain. Both is helpful.
Fourteen stat points she had put into Vitality, bringing her health to 6500. The other sixteen went into Wisdom, giving a round number of 666. There was an argument to be made to keep it there but Ilea would push both of the stats higher before even hitting three hundred. She saw the difference her Strength brought, each hit crashing into her enemies with a devastating force. Dexterity changed her ability to dodge, use openings to her advantage and to simply have her body keep up with her perception. Intelligence boosted the damage from her spells, all three of these stats letting her win against her enemies in the first place.
Vitality and Wisdom on the other hand, they let her survive. Let her get decapitated without her health reaching zero, let her recover the lost head without taking her out of the fight. Arguments could be made for her investments but the experience was fresh on her mind. It felt right.
A sudden appearance in her sphere made her turn her head, eyes going wide as she breathed out slowly. Checking her resources, she found her health full, mana sitting at two thirds, stamina damn near full already. A drop of sweat rolled down her neck as she looked towards the other side of the street. Both the house she was in as well as the one she was looking at were mostly destroyed, piles of rubble as well as an unmoving knight the only things around.
[Soul Ripper - ???]
It didn’t move, simply looking her way. No eyes adorned its head, no mouth to talk or screech. The beast looked the same as the last one she had seen. Elongated legs and arms, it stood on all fours. The thin frontal two limbs had hands with elongated fingers and claws at the end, its body just as slim.
‘ding’ ‘Fear Resistance reaches lvl 7’
Way to go, didn’t realize I was shitting my pants. Ilea didn’t move a muscle and neither did the beast. The tentacles in its flower like head started writhing a moment later, barely visible in the dim light provided by her buffs. Ilea blinked her eyes. It moved.
Soundless the monster lunged, with a speed surpassing even the undead knights. Perhaps it might have caught her, had it not been for Ilea’s sphere. She blinked up and behind the monster, her fist and ashen limbs smashing into its spine. A chunk of mana left her, its destructive force coursing through the monster. It didn’t turn towards her when she landed, neither showed any injury or notice of her attack. Ilea watched as it lowered its head, right above the undead rose knight. A surge of mana nearly made her stumble, a force dragging her towards the beast for a mere split second.
The undead’s head was gone. With it a little of the floor. As well as the very air that had been near the monster’s magic. She had seen it before, Ilea realized. Void. The same as Maria, the mage traveling with Edwin. This was more raw, dimensions from the woman who had used the magic against Ilea’s body.
“What the hell are you?” She said in a quiet voice, the beast turning quickly towards the noise. Its hand lashed out, nearly grabbing her before she blinked away. The beast held its hand towards its head before it realized nothing was there. “Not the brightest are you?”
She had no way to tell if there was anything beyond instinct. It fed on the undead or removed its head for some reason. Maria never mentioned if the voids she created put the removed tissue and blood anywhere. Never thought about that. Something dragged me towards it though. Gravity? Or space filling up rapidly? Ilea knew as much as not to get into its claws. That much was simple to deduce and enough for her.
Ashen limbs lashed out, closing in on the creature as it rushed her again. Ilea only managed to blink away because her limbs hadn’t reached the beast yet, otherwise it would have gotten her. “I don’t really feel like finding out what happens if you get me. But I won’t fuck off without at least trying to kill you.” She said, defiantly. I refuse to be afraid of this thing.
‘ding’ ‘Fear Resistance reaches lvl 8’
Fucking damn it. A grin was on her face when the beast jumped at her again. This time she had waited patiently, blinking and delivering the same blow as before. Her third tier Azarinth Fighting didn’t offer her an insight towards the damage she would sustain, Ilea assuming the beast would simply grab her. The real attack would follow afterwards.
The monster’s bone was as hard as anything Ilea had met, most of the energy going right back through her arm as she disengaged, at least the physical force of it. I don’t think I’m doing anything here. She watched the beast turn and jump. Not at her but over the buildings behind her and off, out of her sphere. Left in the darkness, she didn’t hear it land, didn’t hear a or see a single thing with neither eyes nor sphere. Did I injure it? Maybe it just got bored… or frustrated. A shiver went down her back. Stop it body. Get a fucking grip Ilea.
At least her Fear Resistance didn’t level again. First time she was happy about a skill not getting higher. Not going to chase it. Her reasons were her own. I need a break. Again.
“The undead’s head just vanished.” Ilea said, shoveling half her portion of fried potatoes into her mouth.
“According to your description. How did I do?” Elfie asked, showing her the sketch he had drawn into a fancy book of his. “Any idea what kind of magic it uses?”
The resemblance was eerie, Ilea just holding up a thumb while she struggled not to suffocate. She coughed and struggled, swallowing twice before she spoke, “Void I think. No idea why it’s called Soul Ripper. Maybe there’s something else there I’m not seeing. Terok you might be helpful with your mana sight.”
Holding up both hands, the dwarf chuckled awkwardly, “Only if you drag me down there Ilea. I’d rather pass. Already nearly died against the crazy knights there, I don’t need more nightmares to keep me awake.”
“I’d like to see it.” Heranuur said, fire dancing around his arms.
“No.” Ilea simply said. “I’ll go down again soon, shouldn’t be more than another ten or twenty of them until I get there.”
Elfie chuckled, “I had thought you needed years, decades even.” His eyes turned hard as he looked towards Heranuur and Neiphato, “Don’t even think about it. Not before you can heal as fast as she can.” Goldie was working on his bone magic at the other end of the cathedral but Ilea was sure he simply didn’t want to join dinner at their fire place.
“You could do the same. Just go in there and fight. Or use your magic against the miststalkers at night.” Ilea suggested.
Elfie shook his head, “My advice to them is true for myself. Curses can heal me, yes but compared to the health drain or danger posed by most of the creatures roaming these lands, the risks far outweigh the rewards.”
“I mean she gets shredded to near death daily.” Terok said, pointing at Ilea with his mug.
“How would you know?” She asked.
“Seeing far and flying high. Might want to think about getting binoculars lassie.”
She chuckled, “Well I might think about it next time I go to Hallowfort.” Looking at Elfie, she noted his silver eyes on her, “Speaking of which. Did you get your talk with the queen?”
His eyes closed and a small sigh left him before he spoke, “I did. As did I talk to the fox.”
“Found what you were looking for?” Ilea asked.
“A human and a dark one. Both showed extensive knowledge yet ultimately nothing of the like I had been hoping for.”
Ilea sighed, “Sucks. Well I’m sure you’ll find something in the next thousand years or two.” A smile, Terok laughed. To her surprise the elf grinned too.
“If that is what it takes.” He said. “Perhaps the king will have something else to offer too.”
“What exactly are you looking for anyway?” Terok asked but the elf shook his head. “You lot and your constant secrets. You’re in the north… nobody cares around here. Your people aren’t here, mine or hers are neither.” He added, pointing at himself and Ilea in turn. Still the elf didn’t speak.
“Aaaah you’re a boring old twat.” The dwarf added, Neiphato snickering at the comment.
Ilea took a sip of ale from her mug, “Thought you wanted to avoid his curses.”
“I can see them coming a mile away now lassie. Don’t have to be able to kill the elf to survive the battle.” He said and pointed to his own head.
You’re still constantly inside your machine. She noted. The only time she had glimpsed his real body was when he took the food inside earlier. Perhaps Elfie really was that harsh of a teacher, not even dinner being excluded from possible training. Noting her own sphere and auras constantly active, Ilea couldn’t fault them. In a world where monsters lured around every corner, especially the north.
“Still want to talk to the king?” She asked, finishing her meal.
“Of course. Most human kings would have me hunt down before I even set foot into their cities.”
Terok chuckled, “You overestimate their security.” Ilea raised her eyebrows but he just shrugged.
Would actually be interesting to see. If he could enter Ravenhall undetected. “I don’t know if he will be help where Elana couldn’t. She was the true ruler after all.” Ilea said.
“As much I have been told. Though I try not to judge someone by the opinion of another.” The elf replied.
Heranuur grinned, drinking from his mug, a red liquid sloshing inside. Blood of an animal or monster mixed with water or wine. Commonplace among elves Ilea had learned, “You really are a lunatic.” Elfie looked at the ground but didn’t say anything.
Great mood guys. “So. Any tips before I go in and level the last stretch?”