Chapter 316 Cleanup
Ilea wrapped herself back into her ashen armor when the three of them returned, Catelyn announcing the group through the opening before they ascended.
The fox addressed one of the warriors when they arrived, “Galin, go help the dwarf. Follow the trail of blood.”
“Sure you’re alright?” Ilea asked Maro, the man just shrugging.
“Where’s Elana?” He asked the fox when they joined up with Haiden, the cat person grinning when he saw the three of them.
“She returned a couple minutes ago, interrogating those we captured from below.” Haiden explained.
Ilea didn’t see her in her sphere and simply blinked to where the barkeeper was pointing. Opening the door, the enchantments deactivated and she gulped at the scene. Five dead Feynor lay on the floor, eyes closed and no wounds showing on their bodies. Elana was standing in front of one, Mist swirling around the creature before Ilea heard a bone snap. “Here to stop me?” She asked, smiling at her.
Ilea stared at her and then the Feynor, looking uninjured other than his broken neck. The woman glanced at Maro and Catelyn joining, “Pain is not a reliable way to get information my dear. I assume you won then? How many escaped?”
“None.” Catelyn said as she stepped forward, “What did you find out?”
“A diversion. To draw out the one carrying the flame’s blessing. I assume that is you. They spoke of one of the most dangerous squads in the Feynor troops. The numbers were overblown I thought. More interesting was the fact that they all named one Obsidian creator as the leader of this assault. Did you encounter him? Black armor head to toe.”
“I killed him.” Ilea said. “None escaped.”
“Good. That makes this simple then. We have several options but if I know you Catelyn, you’d rather ignore it.” Elana said, the fox stepping up next to the Feynor.
“Some might see it as a notable challenge to attack us. There were other attacks, did you hear about them?”
“Some. Those I interviewed knew little of the bigger plans sadly.” The queen replied.
Catelyn nodded and sighed, “We will support the dark army, at least financially. Plenty of gear available from all the dead too. I doubt the Protector will leave such an array of assaults unanswered. The Feynor will be too busy to attack us. In the meantime we can work on our defenses. Word of the expedition?”
“Still nothing. One scout returned just before the attack, he told of creatures behaving frantic even in the first layer. We have to send more and prepare to defend, I don’t have a good feeling about it Catelyn. Will you three be sticking around?” Elana asked.
“There’s only two here.” Maro said.
“Terok must be close by. I’m sure you will already be suitable repaid for the help today. I know I’m cold Ilea but thank you. I do appreciate you two saving one of the few sane beings in these god forsaken lands. I’m sure the council can grant you some more privileges if you take on some assignments.” The woman spoke, Catelyn nodding.
“We need more information. Plenty of things to work through for now.” The fox said and turned, “I’ll coordinate with Haiden. Is Goliath still missing?”
“He’s in a Taleen dungeon to the north.” Ilea supplied.
“He gave you his obelisk?” Catelyn asked, chuckling, “Of course the old fool would trust you instead of me.”
“Can’t fault him there, she just saved your furry ass.” Elana said, “Good to know the smith is alive. I’ll organize the cleanup if that’s alright. You take care of the defenses.” Catelyn nodded to her.
“We’ll move back to Tremor for a couple days after this.” Ilea said, looking at Maro.
“It’s going to be a week at least to get a grasp. There will surely be interesting work for you afterwards. Check back if you feel like it. Oh and let me know if you leave anything in the armory behind.” Elana said, nodding to Ilea and Maro before she walked out.
Catelyn jumped up, floating right in front of Ilea’s face before she touched her face, “First you bring me cake and now you save my life. Whenever you need me, I’ll be there.” She moved on to Maro, “No cake but also thank you. It’s a shame you got your out. At least your charms don’t work as well on Dark Ones.” She giggled and vanished, leaving Ilea there with the king.
So it is a skill. Or a stat. Ilea squinted her eyes at the man who hid behind his helmet. “I’ll check the injured again, back to help Terok and then off to Tremor?”
He shrugged, “No vacation then. Well I suppose it feels good to stretch my muscles again. Maybe moving some rocks would be fun too.”
“Sure you didn’t hit your head?” She walked out, making her way towards the room with the injured. Maro chuckled at her question but didn’t reply, simply following her in silence. Most of the Dark Ones looked at them when they passed through the main room, nods and approving gestures aplenty. Ilea was glad none actually talked to her.
The weakened healing pulse she feltcoming through the thick wooden door made her smile. The healer was still at it, granted she was only gone for an hour, less even. The creature looked up and inclined its head lightly. “Do you need help? Missing limbs or anything serious remaining?”
The creature nodded, getting up from their meditative position and quickly moving around the room, pointing out those with injuries they apparently couldn’t treat. Ilea moved her ashen limbs and recovered missing organs, limbs as well as simply treating wounds too extreme to quickly stabilize for the other healer. Maro sat down with the creature and joined them in meditation while they both worked.
Ilea mostly let her skill do its magic, knowing nothing about the alien biology of the creatures here. She checked through the notifications from the fights.
‘ding’ ‘You have defeated [Genesis Regenerator – lvl 305 / Warlord Chieftain – lvl 290]
‘ding’ ‘Your group has defeated [Scythe Ruler – lvl 321 / Guardian of Ki – lvl 318] – For defeating an enemy ten levels or more above your own, bonus experience is granted’
‘ding’ ‘The Azarinth Sentinel has reached lvl 304 – Five stat points awarded’
‘ding’ ‘Kin of Ash has reached lvl 303 – Five stat points awarded’
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth Fighting reaches 3rd lvl 9’
‘ding’ ‘Aspect of Ash reaches 3rd lvl 7’
‘ding’ ‘Curse Resistance reaches 2nd lvl 3’
‘ding’ ‘Heat Resistance reaches 2nd lvl 13’
‘ding’ ‘Ice Resistance reaches 2nd lvl 3’
‘ding’ ‘You have learned the General skill: Obsidian Magic Resistance – lvl 1’
Obsidian Magic Resistance – lvl 1
A rare form of steel manipulation requiring a strong mind and an abundance of Obsidian. Like many obscure schools of magic, its powers are varied and flexible, molded by their masters. Your body has suffered heavy damage from such magic, making it a little more resistant.
‘ding’ ‘Obsidian Magic Resistance reaches lvl 2’
‘ding’ ‘Obsidian Magic Resistance reaches lvl 3’
Ilea finished healing the last of the injured as she invested her remaining 25 stat points, ten coming from the previous fight and subsequent level ups. Ten she put into Intelligence, ten into Wisdom and five into Vitality. “Hey Maro, are there multipliers for Wisdom and Vitality?”
The man opened his eyes, looking at her when she walked back. He nodded to the other healer and stood up, “Possibly. One of my class skills reduces the mana cost of active skills used, why I can keep going for so long. It actually increases in potency the lower my health goes.”
“That sounds amazing… although I’d just walk around half dead to get the benefits.” Ilea said with a smile. “Any idea what’s up with Catelyn’s health?”
They walked back towards the shaft leading down to the ruined city above the Descent, landing in the darkness before they continued towards Terok. “Maybe she just invested a lot into it. The two warriors we fought had ridiculous health too.”
“I guess.” She said, shaking her head.
He glanced her way, “What is it?” Neither were bothered by the darkness.
“Just… you know we just won against a bunch of three hundred plus enemies… actual people. Just surprises me.”
Maro laughed, “They didn’t fight just anybody. Plus didn’t you clear out Kingsguard just a couple days ago? They were five hundred. More predictable of course but still. My own brilliance ignored for now, Catelyn is probably older than those Feynor combined. Those flames… I understand why someone worshiping dragons would come look for her. They lacked the intelligence to simply ask for her knowledge to be shared but hey, everybody makes mistakes. Then there’s you. Recklessness and a deathwish getting you classes more powerful than most. Mana intrusion and healing adds a combination few prepare for, rare in both monsters and people.”
“Don’t look that lost in thought. I was down to my last three hundred health, that claw one nearly got me. Catelyn was literally knocked out, I don’t want to know how low her health was. If Terok hadn’t come I’m not sure if we two could have killed that warrior.”
So I nearly died… again.
“Now I don’t know what you just realized but a creepy grin shouldn’t be your go to move. They came in a prepared team and in most other circumstances they would have succeeded. I assume they tried to capture Catelyn. Capturing a three hundred plus creature. Fucking ridiculous. What they didn’t expect were two even more ridiculous people coming to help.”
“Three.” Ilea added, hearing the sound of Terok’s laugh. For as selfish as he gave himself, he had really pulled through every time so far.
“Yes. Well he’s a brilliant opportunist. Do you think he will ever realize that he doesn’t have to try to impress you anymore?” Maro mused and Ilea just chuckled.
“It’s good for him. His fear of being left behind coupled with immense greed bring out the best in him.” She said, nodding towards the dwarf who waved at them from a distance.
Maro looked at her but didn’t say anything, the two reaching the dwarf and dark one. “Need a hand?” Ilea asked, cracking her neck.
“About a hundred, yes. Just start smashing through the rock. You know where the corpses are.”
She nodded and got to work, the warrior stepping aside with grace. Ashen limbs cut into the stone with ease, the pressure alone softening them up before chunks were ripped out. Terok looked her way and shook his head, “You’re embarrassing me. Do I even have a use for you anymore?”
“I like you as a friend.” Ilea said after a while, the dwarf just looking down on his metal arms before continuing their work.
Bringing out the last corpse, Ilea lowered it onto the pile right outside the tunnel, guarded by Maro who really could have added some undead to the help. “That’s the last one.” She said, the warrior nodding next to her.
“Thank you. For defending this town and for defending the revered alchemist.”
Ilea wasn’t sure what to think of that title, Catelyn likely forcing it on them. “Hey, you know most guards here.” The dark one looked her way, “I talked to one a while back. Found him dead when we arrived. This was his hammer.” She said and summoned the massive obsidian battle sledge.
“Tal was their name. A noble warrior protecting Hallowfort for centuries. May they find their way to the next life, or rest in peace should they wish so.” The warrior said and looked up.
“What will happen to the hammer?” Ilea asked, twirling the heavy weapon in her arms.
“It will be stored and given or sold to somebody. Perhaps molten should nobody want it.”
“What about family?” She asked.
The warrior shook his head, “Tal was a solitary guardian, such as many that reside in these parts. Should you wish to have it, I am sure they would be honored, to have their weapon wielded by the Ashen Savior.”
“Ashen savior?” She asked, looking at the obsidian weapon, black as the night. It was a little shorter than the one she had wielded in Lisburg, acceptably balanced for her height.
“Does the name not please you? My apologies ashen healer. Yet without you and the king of death I doubt the outcome today would be so favorable.”
Maro chuckled from the side, Ilea rolling her eyes, “Don’t worry. I would like to have it. I’ll leave some gold with you too.”
The warrior immediately shook his head, lifting both hands to stop her, “I refuse. In the name of Hallowfort. It is the least we can do to repay you.”
Ilea was about to retort when Maro spoke up, “Take the bloody hammer you dunce. What is this? Bloody court? Nobles trying to up each other on their generosity?”
“Hey fuck off.” She said, looking at the hammer with a smile.
[Quiet – Rare]
An appropriate name she thought, given by a guard that died for no fucking reason. Thanks Tal.
“The answer of an uncultured warrior with no regard for nobility.” Maro said, shaking his head.
“Yes exactly, and the reason you’re sticking with me I assume.”
A snort came from Terok, the dwarf exiting the collapsed hall, “Just warn me when you start fucking. I don’t want to die because of a stray spell going off in your fated battle.”
“She hasn’t bathed in years.”
“Why can I never shut up?” Terok asked and held up a finger to his metal head, “No… keep your witty shit to yourself. I nearly died today. So did you two as a matter of fact. Why can’t you shell shocked like any normal person, rethinking their life upon such an event.” Terok mumbled to himself as he walked past.
“Death holds no meaning to its king.” Maro commented dryly, helmet on and showing confusion through his body language.
Ilea nodded, “I’m just collecting near death experiences for my next evolution.”
Terok’s murmuring became incomprehensible, Ilea holding out a fist to Maro who didn’t react. “You’re supposed to hit it with your fist.”
“It’s like a celebratory gesture when a team does something they’re proud of.” She explained.
“So we’re a team now?” He asked, Ilea taking down her fist.
“Forget it necromancer.”
Terok looked back, “To Tremor? I saw at least two people I owe money to in the Abyss. Maybe your treasury holds something useful.”
“I could use the money I have here.” Maro suggested but he waved him off.
“They can wait another day, or week.”
“You don’t intend to pay them?” Ilea asked with a chuckle.
“Maybe after the story of a brave dwarf saving Catelyn and her helpers has spread far and wide.” He said and laughed, the others joining in, the tang of blood around them not bothering her anymore.
The organization of Hallowfort certainly wasn’t sleeping, the Abyss empty when they returned. The fires had been put out already, the cleanup under way. Several small pyres had been built, groups of dark ones and others standing near as the fires consumed the bodies of those fallen. She noted that the Feynor too had gotten a pyre. The three were recognized and greeted as they made their way through the town, the scenes reminding Ilea more of the days after a massive festival instead of an attack by an enemy force.
“They’re taking it well.” She noted when they reached the bridge. Tal wasn’t lying there anymore she noted, halting as she formed a single lance of ash. “Rest in peace friendly warrior.” She said and sent her ash lance flying, the projectile dismantling and fading away a couple dozen meters into its flight.
“Well it’s not the first time someone attacked Hallowfort. Mostly it’s monsters roaming out of a nearby dungeon or trying to find new nesting places. Three takeovers by extraordinarily stupid scavengers have been attempted since I came here. There’s a reason it’s supposedly one of the oldest settlements in the north.” Terok explained.
“They just need better fucking ale.” Ilea said, “You sure you’re not a brewer in disguise?” Her gaze was on Maro.
“No, I’m sorry I shattered your favorable image of the noble necromancers. Most of us just raise corpses and bring death.” The man replied, with an obvious lack of brewing knowledge and experience.
They made their way out, walking through the tunnels before reaching the surface. Ilea looked over to the entrance of the Penumra dungeon. “You think I can handle them now?”
“Maybe. Only problem I see is you getting paralyzed and falling in. Their numbers are higher the further down you go and they swarm no matter how many already focus on someone.” Terok commented.
Ilea looked him up and down, “How did you go in there then? Your group was laughably underleveled.”
“Normal people inform themselves about the monsters and dangers lurking in dungeons. Then they prepare, preferably with plants that give off a smell these particular beasts hate. You will probably survive quite a bit longer if you would put in even a minimal effort into such endeavors.” The dwarf added, Ilea rolling her eyes as she summoned her monster encyclopedia.
“Shame there’s nothing about half the beasts out here.”
Maro chuckled, “Then maybe you should write one yourself.”
“I’m not a writer, nor an artist. Ask the elf, he’s good at sketching beasts.”
“Ah yes… you reminded me. He will want to talk to me.” Maro said.
“Why are you bothered? Hate elves too?” Terok asked.
The king just shook his head lightly, “I just don’t feel like talking about Rhyvor. Not yet.”
“Talked about it plenty already.” The dwarf said with a chuckle.
“It’s different to being interrogated.”
Ilea shrugged, “I mean you don’t have to talk to him. What’s he going to do? Throw a tantrum?”
“He helped train Terok and the three elves that helped clear out the knights of Rhyvor. You can call me many things but ungrateful isn’t one of them.”