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Chapter 321 Relaxed Exploration

 

 

“Just don’t fuck with the dark one smith in the facility. He’s a friend.” She said.

Neiphato nodded, “Our enemy are the Taleen. We will not hurt anybody else should they chose to offer the same courtesy to us. It is a shame, the marred reputation our race has gained over the countless millennia.” He looked at Niivalyr with a serious gaze, “Perhaps that is something to consider too. Being freed of the oracles lends us power not only to enter dungeons but to question their very rule.”

Niivalyr hissed at that, angry or afraid Ilea noted. Neiphato hissed too, the former averting his gaze as he focused on his diary again. “It is unavoidable.” He added when Terok rejoiced, something clicking open. Ilea immediately saw the trap with her sphere, blinking in front of the dwarf before a spear smashed into her ashen armor that formed quickly, her body not moving an inch as the weapon was stopped.

“I could have taken that.” Terok grumbled.

Ilea nodded, “That one, yes. I remember there were some much more dangerous traps around and this dungeon is bigger too. Green flames that nearly killed me, acid as well as fire traps that you lot might not be able to deal with as easily.”

“Sorry.” The dwarf said, “Just surprised.” He shook his head. Ilea supposed it wasn’t a nice feeling to be protected all the time.

“You were in the fight just the same, saved Neiphato and protected Niivalyr. Don’t sell yourself too short Terok.” She said, mostly guessing at his reaction, “Don’t oversell yourself either.” She added, remembering who she was talking to.

He didn’t reply, suggesting her assumption wasn’t too far off the mark. Maro punched the dwarf’s arm before he joined Ilea. “What’s that?” He pointed at the altar standing in the middle of the small room they had found. “Nobody move in, there are enchantments all over the floor. I think…,”

“Yea, big explosion if you walk in there.” Terok supplied in a serious tone, “Anything else in there but that?” They all looked at the diamond shaped white form about as big as a fist, thin green lines flowing on it as if they were veins.

Niivalyr stepped closer, pushing Maro to the side as he stuttered, “That… could it be? Neiphato have you seen one before?” He turned to look at the brown haired elf. Ilea was a little concerned about the excitement in his voice.

Neiphato shook his head, not understanding where he was getting at, “I don’t know what that is.”

“Can we disable the enchantments… if what I think is true then that could be a gate key… you know about the teleportation network between all the Taleen cities? This was described in the notes I found on a murdered Cerithil hunter… two hundred years ago. I can’t think of anything else.” He looked at Terok in anticipation but the dwarf shook his head.

Terok glanced at the elf and then Ilea, “These are highly sensitive runes… I managed to bypass an activation when I even opened up the room but this would take weeks. Even then I would suggest getting a better rune mage.”

“Or I just blink in and take it.” Ilea suggested.

“Or that.” Terok said, “I doubt there’s more power in them than a Praetorian core detonation.”

Niivalyr was pacing, “The risks are too high.. we can’t…,” Ilea appeared in the middle of the room, grabbing the thing and placing it into her necklace. An explosion of green fire flashed around her, wings spreading before they wrapped her in a cocoon of ash.

Didn’t even get through my wings… She was a little disappointed in the trap, remembering the green flames from back then. Perhaps she was overestimating the dwarfs. Stepping out of the blazing fire, she gave a thumbs up to the mortified Niivalyr, Maro laughing next to him before he slapped his shoulder.

“What the fuck did you expect?” The necromancer asked, Neiphato having a sly smile on his face and Terok just shaking his head.

The dwarf asked the question, “Did you get it?”

“Of course I did.” She said and summoned the little piece of tech.

[Taleen Gate Key – Ancient]

“It’s called Taleen Gate Key so I suppose that’s exactly what you described.”

The elf took a quick step towards her, trying to grab it but Ilea just made it vanish again. “You have enough work to do here. Plus we don’t even know if there’s a gate here.” She explained.

Niivalyr hissed but calmed down quickly, “Apologies human. I get overexcited. To think there is a key… perhaps we might be able to access the whole network… doubtful but the possibilities. You know the meaning this item has for us? Our race’s very survival depends on it.”

Ilea rolled her eyes, “Don’t over dramatize it, elves are still around after how many thousands of years of this conflict? You’ll be fine. Plus I have my own goals with this thing.”

“What could that possibly be? No, I still believe it would be safer with you. You are right, we have this whole facility to clear out.” He showed understanding but she could tell he wasn’t completely fine with her having the key.

“I intend to find a good friend of mine who went missing.” She offered her explanation.

Niivalyr nodded, “You are aware of how many Taleen dungeons there are? Of course I won’t deny you but simply offer the low chances of your success. Dungeons aren’t the only places with gates either.”

Ilea nodded, “As soon as I’m done with it, I will pass it on to you. Should you have cleared this whole town and facility of the Taleen.” Another challenge and it seemed he was determined again, hissing fiercely as he grinned, licking over his teeth. Some habits just can’t be suppressed.

I’ll see what Claire and Christopher think about this little thing. Doubt I could find Kyrian after all this time. His corpse maybe but if he’s anywhere close to as capable as I think him to be, he’s probably on the way back already.

She realized a moment later that she had turned into an npc quest giver. Oh also Niivalyr, collect 500 leafs of Taleen ivy.

“So that’s the treasure?” Terok asked in a disappointed tone, “No offense but we have enough dangerous dungeons around. A gate to even more doesn’t excite me.”

Niivalyr scoffed, “It’s not a gate, it’s merely the key.”

“Even worse then. Ilea any idea where the treasure room is?” The dwarf added.

She smirked, “I might. Or well, he might.” She pointed at Niivalyr, “There should be descriptions of all the side paths in the great hall. You’ll be the guide I suppose.” He looked at her and inclined his head lightly.

 

 

“It’s exciting isn’t it?” Maro asked, “Exploring the unknown.”

Niivalyr looked at him after a moment, realizing he was being addressed, “I suppose it is. There are however many secrets not hidden within the confines of dungeons, human.” The group was standing in front of the entrance with the treasury mention.

Maro replied, “True, but in dungeons you have a pretty good chance to find something.”

“Death usually.” Terok supplied, opening the door, the stone sliding down into the floor before they entered. Ilea noted that it was an enchantment that activated a mechanical device sliding the stone downwards. The Taleen really liked not to use magic exclusively.

“Death to our enemies.” Heranuur said casually and while Ilea cringed a little, she was aware that he had literally just destroyed dozens of ancient robot guardians of a lost civilization that could tear through whole villages without being stopped. With a bunch of daggers.

Interesting situations I find myself in. She noted, taking the lead as she checked for traps through her sphere. Terok walked right behind her, his added detection helping prevent a dangerous situation. When the stairs ended, they came out into an open room that was rather low. Ilea immediately recognized the gears and compilation of beams behind the walls. “Oh, I know this one. Stay back, the door will close as soon as I’m inside.” Terok nodded, the rest waiting on the stairs, having heard her.

She looked up and shook her head, entering the room before the way back was closed off, the walls starting to move towards her. “Bloody field trip with my class of deranged idiots.”

“I can hear you!” She heard Maro shout, her ashen limbs moving out and slamming into the approaching walls, stopping them dead in their tracks. The metal groaned, pushing against her ash.

“Deranged idiots with enhanced hearing, Maro.” She added, the steel bending, springs shooting out and steam released before the trap stopped working. “You can enter by the way.”

A boom resounded, Terok’s enlarged fist crashing through the stone a couple times before he stepped towards her. “Hey, this isn’t exactly dangerous.” He said, looking around as Ilea rolled her eyes, crossing her arms in front of her shirt.

The next room was cube like, open and large, simply occupied by a bunch of Guardians, ranged and sword bearers. Dull green light shined on from above, dozens of pairs of green lights shined towards the intruders. “Ok class, we’re going to get some practical experience here. Make sure not to stumble.” She said and vanished, deciding not to use her ashen limbs but instead dodging the attacks, grabbing onto the guardians and throwing them at the others. Some she simply punched, denting in their cores and sending them flying.

Beams of black slashed through the machines, barriers slamming them together as the steel groaned and bent. Roots pierced through the guardians, leaving them mangled as a set of warriors rushed through, their blades, claws and fists flashing as they obliterated the foes. The guardians were left crushed or in pieces, at least fifty of them cut through in the span of thirty seconds. Ilea blinked and kneed the last guardian straight through the next gate, the green lights winking out as she stood up, rubble and dented steel below her, icy eyes focused forward.

She grinned, looking at the five Centurions protecting an elevator a hundred meters away. The rest of the group caught up with her, stepping into the hall as well. Broad stairs led down to the white floor, green ivy growing on the walls to each side, both around ten meters away. One of the lights was flickering. Ilea wondered if it was intentional, to give a sense of dread. Do you really want to face these ancient warriors? You don’t. Taking a step forward, Niivalyr stopped her, grasping her shoulder.

“May we? It has been a while since I faced a Centurion.” He asked, Neiphato, Heranuur and Seviir stepping forward as they readied their weapons, the latter two grinning forward as the wood mage checked the walls.

Ilea took a step down the stairs and sat down, summoning a meal before starting to eat, her armor receding to reveal the white shirt and brown pants, both comfortable and providing the same level of defense as an ornamental flower dress. I do have dresses actually. She thought about it but the fabric was simply more comfortable, the cut easier to fight in. And she deemed it a little too extra, her nightmarish horned ash armor filled that role perfectly fine.

Maro sat down next to her and looked at the meal, “Looks good. Benefits of storage items am I right?” She smiled with a full mouth as Terok grunted behind them.

“When are we going back to Tremor?” He asked, looking at the elves that rushed at the Centurions, weapons and spells at the ready before they clashed. Niivalyr and Neiphato joined in somewhat close combat too, probably at the latter’s suggestion. Not every place will be as wide as this hall.

“After this I guess. Elana mentioned some jobs in Hallowfort but I don’t know.” Ilea said, taking another bite. Meatballs in a dark sauce with mashed potatoes and an added vegetable mix of eggplant and tomatoes on an onion and garlic base. Very hearty. She moved the dish a little further away from Maro, his gaze fixated on it.

He locked eyes with her and grinned, moving his attention back to the elves. “Good cook. Smells nice.” He paused before asking, “Do you not want to stay in the north?”

“She really is. Keyla, works in Ravenhall. I hear the restaurant is great in general. Golden Drake.” She took another bite, not answering his question because she didn’t know herself. Getting more powerful was the initial goal, she did that. Fighting the Praetorians had been on her list for a long time and while they weren’t the same ones, they kind of were. That was halfway crossed now, as she had a group to help her out. Maybe she should keep training until being able to kill them herself, then again that would take quite a long time and after her failed vacation in Lisburg, maybe a place a little more safe would be nice for a change.

The monsters didn’t run away after all. Then again, others might clear them out. Miststalkers, Blue Reapers, The Descent, the cliffs Niivalyr has talked about. For training and fighting there were plenty of options. Finding Kyrian was an option too but the elf was right, there were a lot of Taleen dungoens and Kyrian would have likely not remained in the one he teleported to. A part of her didn’t want to look for him either, as if the act would have her admit his need for help, possible death. Shaking her head, she refused thinking something like that. The man could drain health and was exceptionally capable. He wouldn’t take unnecessary risks. Maybe he had shown up in Ravenhall already, there was no telling how far away whatever node he had appeared on.

The investigation into the Golden Lily was looming as well. She dreaded thinking about it, sighing as she watched the simple conflict of elf versus machine in front of her. Could at least hire some people to look into Eve. The Lily itself will show up once I go look for them. If they have a bunch of people in my level range it seems like an unnecessary risk to rush it at least. It has been well over a year since Eve had been murdered. Her stomach dropped a little when she thought of her, covered in blood in her bed. Still, the rage and anger she had felt back then didn’t surge up again.

The first Centurion exploded, the elves moving back to avoid the blast. The shock wave washed over the waiting trio as Ilea finished her meal, the fork cleaning out whatever leftovers remained. “What are you going to do?” She glanced at Maro, “Join Lucas in meditation?”

He chuckled, “Maybe…at some point perhaps. I’m more interested in what humans managed to build and do in the millennia I was absent. Maybe have some good ale and visit the Golden Drake.”

Ilea nodded softly, leaning back a little as she watched the fight commence. “Ilea.” Terok spoke up, the woman looking up towards him, “I’ve been thinking. There’s a ton of treasures here, good levels to be made and a bunch of elves that care little about gold and precious metals. Would it be alright if I stayed with them? I’m always here if you need me of course.”

She smiled, “Of course. You’re not my slave Terok. Do whatever you want.”

“But… I owe you everything…,” He shook his head, “Sorry. Hard to get used to someone with such lacking economic insight.”

She laughed and shook her head, “Maybe help out some people who need it too. I can take care of most of my problems but a level two twenty six mage can certainly be godsend for most people.”

The dwarf chuckled, “Are you saying I’m useless to you?”

Ilea rolled her eyes, tapping the steel shin of his suit, “You have a tendency to be quite negative Terok. Feel free to stick around if you want to, now that my detection senses for hidden rooms are lessened I’ll have to lug a rogue around me at all times.”

Maro deemed the topic worthy to add an exceptional suggestion, “Or, punch all the walls.”

“Easy for you to say Mr. Skeleton army.” She commented to which he smiled.

“Your ashen limbs will do the job.” He said, shrugging before his stomach rumbled.

Ilea summoned a meal and gave it to him without a comment, the king lowering his head before accepting the food graciously. The literal frenzy he went into right after too away some of the noble feel she had gotten before. “You can see mana now though right?” Terok asked to which she nodded weakly, looking at the elves again as another Centurion’s core exploded, leaving three of them. The hunters didn’t look particularly injured. “Well then you’ll have to learn to spot subtle differences in the magic around you. Enchantments, except really good ones usually give off some form of residue. With the quality of your classes I’d assume the skill would allow for such nuances.” The dwarf helpfully supplied.

“Adding enchantment spotting to my training list. Thanks.” She replied.

He chuckled, “I like how you always sound sarcastic. Half the time I wonder if you’re taking me seriously.”

“I take you very seriously Terok.”

“She did it again.” He said, shaking his head before he too tried sitting down on the stairs, finding his metal suit a little too bulky and stiff for the job.

“I think you’ll first have to build a new armor in Hallowfort.” She suggested but he waved her off.

“Don’t worry lassie, I have steel here and the Taleen left behind quite a mass of tools, not that I need much. Plus for the details I have Goliath, you said he was down in the facility?”

“Should be.” She replied, “Guess we can visit him before going back to Tremor.” The last three Centurions exploded in a flash, Maro scraping every last bit of the noodles into his face.

Keyla?” He asked, pointing at the box with his fork. Ilea confirmed before he looked up to the sky, “And here I thought finding the way to faith was impossible for me. I must meet her.” His eyes sparkled green, serious and determined about his newfound goal in life. Ilea certainly approved.

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Rhaegar

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