Chapter 309 Pyre
“You didn’t interfere because of that?” Ilea asked, tapping the bone. “Damn, we should have asked him more questions.”
“Him? It sounded female to me. Interesting. Didn’t seem like a talkative fellow if it wasn’t about his beautiful villa.” Maro said as he cleaned up the bone piles with his ring.
“You can use them as minions?” She asked, looking at him work “Don’t tell me you planned all of this from the moment we got you out in Tremor.”
“I’m hurt that you would think so.” Maro said and laughed, “I’d like to think of myself as a good strategist but no. I didn’t know what was in here until we stepped onto the premises. Your abilities are such a good counter I thought I’d risk it.” He waved her off, “Don’t look at me like that, if he would have done significant damage I would have intervened.”
“You would have just healed him with your own death magic. And losing a heart isn’t significant damage?”
He shrugged, “That’s not how death magic works. And no, apparently losing a heart isn’t significant to you. I would have felt it if it was. Damn, you’re pretty indestructible then. No wonder you cleaned up the kingsguard so quickly. Battle healers… might be an idea worth pursuing in the future. Always though it was stupid to spread oneself so thin at early levels.”
“Guess I lucked out with my class then. I won against level fifty people while below and with only one class.”
Stepping into another pile, Maro made the skeleton vanish before he spoke, “Really? Is that the Azarinth he mentioned? The blue stuff. Never seen a mana intrusion spell that looked like that. Most work with blood or death magic. Yours looks more… well more like mana itself.”
“Healing orders and their experiments… guess something good had to come out of those lunatics at one point or another.” He grumbled, done with the cleanup.
“You want the big one too?” Ilea asked.
“I think you could use some of that to make armor. Just have to find someone capable of molding bone. If your fists can’t crack it I think it’s safe to say that the quality is good.” The king suggested and appeared, touching the chest of the thing, “Yea this is prime quality. I’ll take whatever’s left of it.” He added and laughed.
[Undying Skeleton – Timeless Quality]
“Hmm. What does timeless mean?” She asked.
“I’ve seen it only twice I think. It can regenerate if you push mana into it. Not as quickly as your ash armor but at least you don’t have to repair it constantly.” The king explained as he looked around the room.
I guess instead of skin it’s bone… full circle. She smiled at the thought. The drake scale armor had been one of her favorites. I hope Goliath can work with this at all. And I hope it can be made into light armor. It didn’t look light at all. She put it into her necklace and found it taking up four spaces on its own.
“I’ll go downstairs to find Gadrian, give him a proper burial.”
“What about all the other skeletons?” Ilea asked.
Maro shrugged as he walked down the steps, Ilea following after she placed the remains of the butler into her own storage item. “I didn’t know them. Nor did the monsters he created match up. No necromancer worth his money would waste such a large amount of bones.”
Ilea nodded when they came up on a closed double door. “Enchantments.” She said as he put a hand over them. A pulse of purple mana flowed up and the door opened.
Maro stepped through without a word, Ilea shrugging. The stairs led down and into another big open hall. No more monsters were present and compared to the piles of bones and rot upstairs, the glint of gold, silver as well as other colors shined through all the death. “It’s all yours as far as I’m concerned. Just leave the bones for now until I found the old fucker.”
Ilea smiled. That’s a lot of damn work. It turned out the work wasn’t as excruciating as she had expected. Her own efforts were sped up by her ashen magic, both her limbs as well as ash simply moving around the bones and separating gold and treasure into their own piles. Maro helped by supplying around forty skeletons that searched through the piles and piles of bones and treasures.
Ilea separated it all into piles. “It’s a small golden key by the way. Let me know if you find it.” Maro added after a couple minutes.
It took the two of them and their ashen as well asbony help two hours to sieve through most of it all. Much of it was rotten, old and useless.
428 gold coins
13821 Silver coins equaling 138 gold coins once exchanged.
Pile of gold treasures with varying worth, detail, age.
Pile of weapons and armor of various quality.
Ilea stored the gold and silver. “Hey can I have one of your crates?” She asked, Maro not quite done with his search as he separated bone piles. He appeared next to her and summoned a crate. “Thanks. Still haven’t found him?”
He shook his head and continued, Ilea dumping the pile of gear into the crate as well as most of the weapons. These all belong in a bloody museum. She requested another two crates and put in the treasures as well as the rest of the weapons and armor that wasn’t completely rusted away or rotten. Most of it was.
She stored the crates in her necklace and started moving through the room again. Probably gonna sell all that… wait no. She smiled at the thought. I mean at least I don’t have bones there too. She decided to keep all of it and put it into her own house’s little exhibition. The three crates took up a lousy three units which made her decision final. Maybe give some of the treasures to an actual museum if such a thing exists around here. Some of it probably is as old as time itself, coming from this fucker’s… oh hey look. She moved away a pile of bones and found a glint of gold. “Maro!”
The man appeared as she retrieved the key with a thin tendril of ash. “That it?”
He didn’t look at the key, instead kneeling down before he moved some bones away. What remained was the skeleton of a man. His hands shook as he carefully touched the skull. Ilea stored the key as he carefully touched each bone, stored safely in his ring. At last he held the skull again in his hands, his helmet vanishing to reveal his pained expression. The skull went into his ring before he looked at his empty hands.
Waves of black and purple energy shot out, the piles of bones around him rotting away more and more with each touch. Ilea’s armor formed quickly as she remained at his side. The waves intensified, his helmet appearing again. With a last wave rotting away a layer of her ash, Maro looked down and let out a single shout with all his breath. He was heaving when Ilea took a step towards him, putting her hand on his shoulder. “Let’s burn this fucker down.”
Ilea added the corpse of the butler to the small pyre they had built in front of the mansion. Her ashen limbs had ripped through half of the entrance to get enough wood. Her fire sphere summoned, she looked at Maro with a questioning gaze. “You do the honors.” He said, not wearing his helmet.
Ilea shrugged, stepping towards the pyre before she pushed mana into the sphere. The wood wasn’t wet but the pieces were rather big, leaving her with a couple minutes of burning before it finally caught. She refrained from using her Heart of Cinders in consideration of the event. When the fire started taking over, she moved back to Maro. “I’m sorry.” She said after a minute of standing there.
The man didn’t speak, simply watching the flames move. Ilea noticed that with time more and more dark ones gathered close to the estate, none actually stepping upon the dead land. “We’re attracting a crowd.” She said to the king.
“It seems so.” He simply said.
“Mind if I set the whole place ablaze?” Ilea asked when the pyre started to collapse. Maro shook his head lightly as she stepped towards the broken in entrance. Most of the mansion was built with wood. When she was inside, she did actually use her Heart of Cinder to dry out and slightly burn the stairs while using her sphere to actually set them aflame.
When the flames started spreading, she activated her ashen armor to avoid losing her last set of leather armor. Guess I still have a bunch of clothes. Just no light armor. She released Heart of Cinder in the dining hall and added her tiny flamethrower into the mix. Should be fine now if nobody stops it. A good part of the mansion was burning now, Ilea stepping down the collapsing stairs before exiting, her ashen armor receding as she joined Maro.
The crowd had grown and the previous silence had been replaced by cheers and loud conversation. When Ilea joined Maro again, she formed a spear of ash before releasing it towards the cave ceiling. He smiled and lifted his arm, adding a ball of darkness that exploded in a flash of wild mana when it reached a thirty meter height.
The man sighed deeply as he looked towards the crystals above them. Different elemental spells started shooting out from the crowd, first only a couple but soon a sea of spells added to the colors of the ceiling. “When I went under… I didn’t expect to come back.” He spoke, Ilea looking at the man. “To come back. And now I’m back to bury all the people I had known, the kingdom I founded. It’s not how it was supposed to go.”
Ilea looked up too then, “How was it supposed to go?”
He just smiled lightly, “Well I suppose it could be worse. At least Elana is still around.”
“As far as I’m concerned, we just defeated Death. I think you can cut yourself some slack.” She said, putting her hand on his shoulder.
“I’m not your grandfather that needs to be comforted Ilea.” He said but didn’t move her hand. “I’m the king of Rhyvor, feared necromancer and legendary womanizer.”
“Still human.” She said as the spells started to subside, the house now fully ablaze, chunks of wood and stone falling to the ground.
“So what are you going to do now, having killed Death itself?” He asked.
Ilea looked at him, finding him staring back at her, “Isn’t that what I’m supposed to ask?”
Maro laughed and shrugged, “Perhaps it is. It isn’t a question I can answer right now. Now being King sounds lovely though.” The first people started entering the dead land, walking towards the two still standing alone. The mansion actually burning down probably convinced them that the lord was dead. Ilea hadn’t really thought about the significance he had held in the dungeon. Seeing the dark ones not getting hostile, she was glad they weren’t in a death worship cult cave.
“What about you? You didn’t answer either.” He said in a teasing tone.
“I came here to get away and have fun. Getting stronger is a nice benefit too. I think I can stick with that.”
He shook his head, “I think you’ll get involved with time. No matter how much you want to deny it.”
“Humans of ash and death, have you killed the Undying Lord?” A being with antlers not unlike Maro’s head gear asked, bowing to them as it approached.
“Deny what?” Ilea asked, “Yea the fucker’s dead. Why is that relevant to you?” She wanted to at least know if a fight was coming.
“One of ash, the undying lord has demanded tribute in the form of captured monsters or sentient beings for hundreds of years. Of the few remaining dangers in the Vineyard Cave, the spirit of death remained its greatest. You have done us a service we cannot repay.”
Ilea rolled her eyes, “Don’t worry about it. Glad we could help you get rid of it.” She looked at Maro who had a wide smile on his face, his helmet appearing a moment later, “What?” Ilea demanded but he just started laughing.
“You fuck. Tell me your secrets.” She said, jumping at him but finding the king appear a couple steps away.
“Can we… do this later?” His plea seemed sincere, making her stop as more and more people gathered.
She started to ignore the questions. Most of them simply walked to the mansion itself, offering a variety of slurs, prayers, spit or even gifts. Wanting to leave due to the mass of people, she blinked away. Maro followed a moment later and they made their way back to the city. “Seriously though, what did you mean before?” She tried again when someone appeared a couple meters behind her.
Ilea turned because it was a human. The man bowed, smiling at her brightly. “You prevailed against that terrible creature. Thank you.”
[Mage – lvl 321]
Whoa, not bad old man. “Sure thing.” She gave him a thumbs up and turned around, Maro staring at her and then looking at the old man as he smiled. The old man looked unsure, lifting one hand as to continue the conversation. “Look I’m not in the mood to talk to random people all day. I didn’t reach this level to be held to social expectations. Plus I’m hungry.”
“Ah yea, you puked. Didn’t think you would react in that manner. The young and inexperienced.” Maro said and the old man chuckled, a joyous sound.
“Hmm, yes. Perhaps? Mocking others to avoid one’s own pain is quite common for those of a young age. You my dear friend should be above such. No offense meant.” The man said as he looked at Maro. Ilea turned again as she processed the man’s words, looking at Maro and back at the man.
“Do you know each other?” She asked.
Maro didn’t reveal anything below his helmet, “Not that I’m aware. Did you serve Rhyvor?”
“Rhyvor… the old kingdom. Ah yes… wasn’t this ruin a part of it too? I believe some of the records state such. No. You misunderstand. You have defeated one to sow death and pain amongst those seeking a peaceful life, it is enough to consider you friends. It’s been a while since I met a member of the Hand, how’s the old order holding up?” He said, smiling at Ilea with his disenchanting charm.
I really need to get Charisma Resistance. The man was older, only relative to Ilea though. In his seventies perhaps looks wise. He wore black pants and sturdy leather boots. A simple shirt covered by a brown poncho above. His face was wrinkled and near bronze in color and his gray hair thin, his whole frame was thin for that matter.
The man held a wooden staff that he leaned onto while they talked. The reason she assumed him to be old wasn’t necessarily his look, more the way he looked exhausted just standing there. If it weren’t for the fact that he appeared out of nowhere and had a level even higher than hers or Maro’s, she would be sure he was a retired craftsman who had worked hard in his field and now spent his days fishing on his boat in some southern country.
“You know the Hand?” Ilea said. He waved her off and started walking.
The man had a brisk pace and passed them shortly, stopping before he turned, “I think you wanted food? I’m hungry too. I’ve lived here for a couple years. You’ll want to avoid most restaurants, being human and all.” He laughed, “Come then young ones, my treat, for taking care of that spirit.” Ilea looked at Maro and shrugged, the king not reacting before she followed.
“The Hand, yes. Few know the order here.” He said and led them into the city. “We work with jobs and other than expeditions there is little incentive to come here. Plenty of dangerous dungeons and beasts down south, if that is what someone is looking for. Not many humans here to talk to, cities to enjoy. I doubt you’re here on a mission either. No, I don’t think so.” He pointed his staff at her.
Ilea smiled, “No, I’m not.”
“Thank the suns, almost thought you had been sent to fetch me. Hahaa, well I suppose the old man would be forgotten at one point or another. Is Verena still alive?” He asked.
“Well after the demon invasion she vanished, Ravenhall was destroyed mostly but with Dagon and Sulivhaan I think it’s in good hands. The defenses now look much better too.” She replied, the man stumbling before he fell face first into the dirt.
“Ah motherfucker.” He exclaimed and groaned, “Apologies…,” He got up again, dusting himself off before he smiled at the two, “Destroyed?! By demons?? Bloody…,” He shook his head, “Oh don’t tell me… that fool!” Ilea felt mana emanate from him, her sphere informing her that yes, his level wasn’t a joke or illusion. He calmed down again though, hands shaking as he summoned a pipe. Ilea’s sense of smell told her it wasn’t tobacco inside.
Lighting it with a small silver lighter, he took a deep pull and exhaled the smoke, “Mhm, yes. Adam Strand. It was him wasn’t it?” He asked, calm again. Ilea nodded. “Did you retake the city?” She nodded again. “Casualties must have been in the hundred thousands? But the empire? Is it still standing?” He looked at her with big eyes.
“Yes to both. Well Baralia started a war last year so I’m not sure if the empire is still there. At least the demons didn’t seem as much of a problem anymore. You’re part of the order then? One of the ever absent Elders I presume?” Ilea asked.
The man smiled again, “Oh you have to tell me all about that. It is however good to hear Dagon and Sulivhaan taking over the order. And yes, Lucas is my name, elder of the Shadow’s Hand, at least as far as I know. Pleased to meet you.”