Chapter 317 The End of Patience
Ilea was still playing with the idea of trying the Penumra dungeon as they made their way back to Tremor. The suns were shining in the sky, black clouds visible as they moved over the landscape, purple lightning flashing from time to time. “Don’t do it Ilea. As tough as you are, it can’t be healthy.”
Terok had been the one to speak, Ilea following his gaze to a nearby cloud. She smiled, “Don’t worry. I’ll try that when I’m not with you two. Hey Maro, doesn’t that look like your death magic?”
“Not exactly.” He replied, “I can see why you didn’t become a mage, differentiating between intricate and ageless schools of spells by color.”
“Fist go smash, yes?” She asked in a mocking tone, both of them laughing.
“Seriously though, your what was it, Azarinth magic? It’s quite unique. How do you get a class associated with it? Can’t see how something like that can be forgotten.” He added. “Incoming.” He said suddenly, the three of them moving towards the wall, hiding in small crevices as the body of a massive snake like creature moved past them in a high speed.
[Earth Serpent – lvl ????]
“Don’t try it.” Terok said from behind her, Ilea just rolling her eyes.
“Hey I’m not as irresponsible as I was.”
“Four question marks.” Maro commented as they exited from their hideouts. “It definitely noticed us but I suppose we’re not worth the trouble.” The snake had nearly filled out the whole crevice, hundreds of meters long and at least fifteen wide. A near golden sheen on its scales.
“To answer your earlier question, you eat a moss. Elixir I suppose. Kills you if you’re unlucky. Then you get the class.”
“Healing orders…,” Terok commented, shaking his head. “Not worth the trouble.”
“Why do I feel like I could take it?” Ilea asked suddenly, looking at the snake that vanished around a corner nearly a kilometer away.
“It’s mostly the size that constitutes its power, not its magical expertise.” Maro commented.
Ilea scratched her head, “I fought a Basilisk back when I was below a hundred… the thing took damage I think. Now… with all my upgrades.”
Terok chuckled, “I’d love to see that.”
“Basilisks are rather peaceful creatures, mostly ignoring small creatures like us. I’m not sure how you even managed to get one to fight.” Maro said.
“It attacked us out of nowhere, dozens died to that peaceful creature. When we left it didn’t pursue.” She explained.
“I suppose it had its reasons. Young maybe or you simply walked into its territory.” Terok said.
“Everybody an expert on Basilisks now? Try to tank its wind magic.” She said and shook her head.
Maro held up a hand, the three of them flying into another crack after surfacing for a couple hundred meters. “They don’t use wind magic as far as I recall. Wasn’t it lightning?”
Terok nodded, “Aye… yellow lightning. Never seen it but my father talked about it once. The ground shook when it hit, the creature hundreds of meters up in the air. I imagine it close to what those storms do.”
“What the hell did it do then?”
“Ever had ants in your home?” Terok asked, “I doubt you’d burn them up with your most powerful spells.” He said and laughed.
Ilea didn’t, she was glad the thing had acted as it did. Otherwise she might have been toast back then. I’m sure it didn’t act. Now I’m interested. “It seemed weak.”
“Well I’d like to see you fight after pushing out a baby.” Maro said, Ilea rolling her eyes at the comment.
“I’d be fucking angry probably.” And exhausted, in pain, wanting to see my kid instead of some idiots camping in the hospital room. It was a possible explanation but she wasn’t completely content with it. I planned to face it anyway.
“Don’t go and fight it.” Terok said, “Worrying as a friend.”
“I do what I want.” Ilea replied.
“Yea I know, that’s why I warn you. No sane person would seek out a Basilisk.” He said, “I’ll take whatever you don’t need of its body. The scales are supposedly incredibly versatile.”
Not good at defending against ice magic. She thought.
They shared some more thoughts on the Basilisk as well as the healing order’s elixirs. The Azarinth order was apparently not the only one with painful or dangerous initiations. Neither knew why that was the case when she asked.
“There are healing classes you can get without eating the world’s hottest chili though?” Ilea asked when they entered the mountain below which Tremor lay.
“Yes but healing orders have always discouraged non members practicing the magic. Not uncommon. Lightning magic was nearly unanimously reserved for nobles, as was anything related to blood or the void. I would assume those still hold true.” Maro surmised.
“Probably.” Ilea said, only remembering that one healer back in the Taleen dungeon expedition. Didn’t they try to poison me? Or was that Alice’s family? Well I remember that healer to be an ass either way. Trian was a noble, as was Edwin and Maria, the three examples of lightning, blood and void magic she thought of. Another way humans are jeopardizing themselves. The adventurers in the guild looked at me like a fresh baked muffin when they saw my healer tag.
“Any idea why it is like that? Couldn’t any random person learn lightning or blood magic?” Terok asked.
Maro waved his hand, “Well yes and no. Without knowledge it’s definitely harder. Elixirs help too, especially to get a class initially. Most influential people wouldn’t want commoners practicing their choice of magic. I doubt any of those schools are any better or worse than anything else. Otherwise all the most powerful adventurers would be nobles.”
When they landed in the cathedral, Ilea immediately noticed the piece of paper stuck to the double doors with an expensive looking dagger. She walked over and read it quickly.
‘Ilea, I seek your assistance.
Deceived, running off to face the Great Hall.
They are not ready.’
The letters were rushed, Ilea spreading her wings as she focused. The handwriting was the same as the books he had translated, “The Taleen dungeon. Turns out the trio didn’t learn after all.” She said and ascended, blinking twice before she appeared in the rock formation above the entrance. Checking for storms, she shot off. Ilea ignored the crevices, instead moving in as straight a path as possible, her wings moving stronger and faster than before her evolution. Let’s see if these fuckers are enough to avoid the storms.
A cloud moved dangerously close a couple minutes later, forming out of seemingly nowhere. She flew to the side but the cloud was too vast, lightning flashing down a couple meters away from her. Ilea was moving high, near where the dark storm hovered. Her Azarinth Fighting picked up the lightning a split second before it struck. The impact smashed into the stone below, a shock wave visibly expanding over the land.
Her ashen armor reformed, seared by the pure arcane power that had flashed by a couple meters away from her. Ilea moved a little lower, giving her more time to react while far enough from the ground to ignore the shock wave of the impact.
‘ding’ ‘Arcane Magic Resistance reaches 2nd lvl 4’
Another strike came from above, Ilea blinking to get distance between herself and the dangerous power. The armor on her back was burned through, her wings reforming as she fell for a second. And then she was out, blinking several times to get distance to the cloud that moved eastwards. Breathing out, she focused and moved on. Not training in there yet. But I can survive. She pushed on, her storm resilience testing moved ahead by reason of overconfident elves.
Ilea sped over the land, concentrating on the destination and slowing down as she blinked through another passing arcane storm. The lightning hit much further away this time, allowing her to speed through without interruption. The safe area in front of the dungeon entrance was visible now, only a couple hundred meters more to go.
When she landed, Ilea found Elfie pacing in front of the entrance with a grim expression on his face. When he noticed her, his mouth twisted in a way she didn’t understand. “How long have they been inside?” She asked, her wings disappearing as she looked around, trying to sense anything.
“I do not know. I couldn’t stop them… they moved when I was out. Ilea please…,” His voice was frantic, his claws out as he hissed.
“How do you know they’re even here? Maybe they went further down into Tremor. More importantly, why aren’t you looking yourself?” She stayed calm. As risky as their decision was, the three weren’t pushovers either. She would certainly help out, if only for Elfie’s sake but their stupid decision to go on with this was their own.
He hissed again, this time at her, “You know very well that I cannot do that human. I know, I sensed them. Do you believe I lack understanding of those I train?!”
Ilea stepped closer, her ashen limbs forming behind her, “I know that it’s a stupid rule by your fucky oracles. If you care so much about them then maybe you should rethink your bloody priorities. And don’t fucking hiss at me like I’m your fucking prey asshole. Be grateful I’m here to help.” She knew there were actual physiological reasons not to enter but the others had managed somehow so he could too.
His face twisted again as he gazed at her and then the entrance, his hand clawing on his own neck so hard blood started flowing. Ilea rolled her eyes and moved towards the dungeon, “Are you coming or not?”
Ilea didn’t say anything else, just shaking her head as she turned her eyes from him and rushed into the Taleen dungeon. Her Sentinel Huntress skill quickly picked up no the magical signs of the three. They certainly had grown in the past year. Enough to face the Centurions. Green eyes flashed in her mind, memories from long ago. The pain and terror making their way back before she willed them out. No. She refused, simply refused to be afraid, to let herself be beaten again by those mindless creatures. It wasn’t planned, she wanted to train more, get more powers but at the very least she would try. If anything she wouldn’t let them take any more of the people she knew.
“Really am a fucking Sentinel…,” She spread her wings when she reached the town, blinking and rushing through in her full speed. She noted the Taleen Guardians moving below her, all making their way towards the Great Hall. The fleeing expedition had rushed right into the blades of the oncoming Guardians, it seemed the elves had triggered a similar reaction. They’re really here then. She gulped, a smile coming to her face as she focused on the power rushing through her, “You’re not the same as back then.”
Ilea landed on the bridge, dozens of Guardians turning her way as she breathed out. Her ashen limbs rushed out, piercing through steel limbs and severing heads as if their defense was made of paper, she blinked twice, the crowded machines on the bridge reduced to scrap. The gates had been forced open. They needed time for that. She blinked in, finding fewer machines here, many more already destroyed. Small craters as well as burning pieces suggested destroyed Centurions, at least two. The hall was bigger than the one she had visited before, the same white stone but several hundred meters of it, chairs, tables and even smaller buildings were crowding the place in addition to the guardians of this forgotten town.
She focused her gaze on the closed green gates at the end of the hall. If she knew Goldie and Hera, that’s where they’d be. Neither cared about treasure, no, they just wanted to fight the toughest fucker in the room. It’s going to be a long lecture by Elfie. Didn’t sound like they beat him. Avoiding the strong to fight the stronger doesn’t seem advisable. Have they never heard about steady progression? Her thoughts came to a stop when she reached the gates. They were closed, a bunch of guardians pierced and ripped apart by ashen limbs when she landed.
Her sphere saw through the steel before she blinked, a massive mace slamming down onto her wings, the force rushing through them and her hands right behind, the ground cracking slightly under her strained legs before she looked up. Green light shined down from above, a white throne was centered in the back of the big hall, eight pillars connected the floor to the ceiling on each side.
“I had that…,” Heranuur said, coughing up blood as he struggled to stand, a big grin on his face, his sharp teeth showing.
Ilea pushed him back with two ashen limbs and started healing, “Oh yea? Four organs destroyed and most of your ribs broken. Let alone your back… how can you even move?” She looked around the hall and focused forward again.
Her damaged wings reformed as they opened up, Ilea staring down the two green eyes set into the tall creature’s head. She could swear they looked different than the normal machines. I knew they were different. Her muscles were tense, her breathing steady. “We meet again…,”
[Taleen Praetorian - ???]
She noted that Neiphato had finally decided to use his second class, wood continuously growing around a second Praetorian a couple dozen meters away, the elf standing before a crouching Seviir, the latter breathing hard, likely trying to recover mana. He’s actually holding it back. The scythes had difficulty gaining enough speed to cut through the wood, more and more roots replacing those already cut as he slowly stepped back. “How long can you hold?” Ilea asked in his general direction, never leaving her foe out of sight.
The mace again rushed at them, this time horizontal and aimed at her. The air whistled as the weapon neared, Ilea activating her blink before she saw magic emanate from the mace itself, her spell disrupted before the heavy weapon was upon her. One wing intercepted the blow from the side as she held up her arm, the blunt hit traveling through her as she was sent tumbling to the side, skidding to a halt. Bruised. Her whole side was bruised, internal bleeding even. Her healing started working.
Neiphato didn’t reply, sweat dripping from his face as he focused on his magic. Not long then. “You three should leave, if you couldn’t beat Elfie you’re not going to beat them.” She was back to full health as the Praetorian turned towards her, mace casually held in both hands. The difference in its green eyes really made it seem like an intelligent insect, studying its prey.
The elf looked her way and she knew it was futile, “Ilea… we worked months…,” He coughed, blood spraying onto the floor, “This is it. If we can’t beat them…,”
“You are so fucking stupid.” Ilea murmured with a grin, “Well, if you die. You die. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” She shot off, the mace coming at her immediately. This time she ducked under the long handle as the main piece rushed past behind. Even the one using the fat weapon is fast as fuck. She needed a plan, quickly. Her limbs smashed into the Praetorian, slamming into a magical barrier as her mana flowed into it. She managed to hit twice before its mace came back.
She dodged sideways to avoid the blow. Feeling an attack coming, she blinked back as far as she could, a green expanding sphere of energy burning over the floor. No visual cue, no activation time either. She knew it would have corroded through her armor with the initial hit, part of her skin too. The floor sizzled, whatever that sphere produced was still burning into the white stone. The one back then never used that ability. Are these different ones?
Might want to avoid it. Dodging another three hits, she focused on one of its massive steel legs, hitting it with all sixteen limbs, the shield flaring up each time. There was no mention of Storm of Cinders damaging others’ skills but them being machines it was possible the shields came from enchantments or were even considered natural defenses. The fact that she could see her destructive mana still eat through the upper layers of the defenses at least supported her assumption.
The mace crashed down again, Ilea jumping back twice to avoid the hits, the Praetorian following with quick movements. Closing in, the creature used its area skill again, corrosion eating into the nearby pillars as Ilea blinked away once more. As long as she kept it away from the others, there was no danger to herself. At least Heranuur wasn’t trying to intervene for now, instead rushing to the others as his mana recovered, his remaining bruises and injuries healing very slowly. The hall was big enough for plenty of maneuvering, making her speed and teleportation quite effective against whatever the machine threw out so far.
Those Three aren’t enough against that scythe one. She thought, continuing to lead the machine as it tried to strike at her with a green mace as big as her chest. Another set of attacks followed, Ilea barely moving out of the way before her limbs smashed into the one leg again, the increased range making it a simple affair. She already saw the problem though, her mana eating into the defenses but with the amount she had already used it wouldn’t be enough. The damaged layers were already recovering. She needed her Destruction too.
Ilea looked to the side when she heard the groaning of wood, Neiphato’s staggering back as the scythes slowly pushed through. Oh fucking hell. She thought, moving towards the struggling elf in an attempt to lure the mace Praetorian towards the other machine. The creature was right behind her. Ashen walls formed in front of Neiphato, the elf staggering back as one of the two scythes pierced through, slowed as they slammed into the ash, cutting through before Ilea appeared in front of the elf. “Do something useful or fuck off.” She said.
The blade stopped halfway through her wings. The second machine had closed the distance, Ilea’s eyes widening as its area attack expanded.She activated her blink but the scythe was in her ash, pushing further and preventing her from moving away. She hastily formed as much ash as possible, two of the elves already having teleported away but Neiphato still stood there, his hands still held up and connected to the wood holding back the Praetorian.
A cracking noise resounded, a part of the attack stopped before the corrosion ran over her defenses, burning about halfway into her armor. The barriers shattered. Elfie had appeared in front of the closed gate, blood running from his mouth, nose and ears as he held up his hands, claws extended. A blow from the mace followed, the immediately forming barrier dented in as he shouted, “Neiphato, get out of there!” She felt the power emanate from him, healing up Neiphato behind her, damn near a third of his body gone.