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Chapter 322 Traps and Treasure

 

 

The three watchers joined the elves again, Ilea watching in fascination as Neiphato’s wood wrapped around a bleeding cut on Seviir’s shoulder. Mana flowed into it, quickly taking care of the injury. He looked at her and seemed a little embarrassed, “I learned it after we destroyed the Praetorians… it wasn’t available before…,”

She nodded, somewhat enjoying the fear in his eyes before she smiled, “I’m fucking with you. Good to see you have a healer now.”

The elf looked confused, glancing at Heranuur, “I thought you were fucking with him.”

“You’re fucking elves? Bold move.” Maro said, chuckling.

Ilea rolled her eyes, “It’s a figure of speech Neiphato. Why bold Maro?”

The king didn’t back off, “Just the proclaimed enemy of all humans you know. Been like that even in my times. You know they eat human flesh?”

Neiphato and Niivalyr looked away as Seviir hissed, “They don’t look that bad to me. Plus I can regenerate myself. Unlimited food supply Maro. Saves a lot of money for the household in the long run.” Ilea explained slowly, making sure the king would understand such complicated economic decisions.

“I thought the number one enemy of humans is other humans.” Terok said from behind.

“What?” Maro asked, “No back in Rhyvor we lived in perfect harmony. We were actually overwhelmed by monsters in the end because nobody had any combat classes anymore. Very sad to see that perfect utopia gone.” He nodded seriously.

Ilea could tell making fun of Rhyvor and its people was reserved for him alone, not adding anything as she clasped Neiphato’s shoulder, “Make sure to level that skill. It’s going to be the game changer in this group.”

He nodded, looking into her eyes again as he smiled, “Thank you. I believe we all learned that from you.”

Ilea leaned over to Maro, keeping her hand on Neiphato’s shoulder, “See? Look how fucking cute this guy is. Enemies of humanity? I think not.” The elf turned a little red, Ilea letting go of him to advocate her stance against torture.

“They do look very pretty.” Maro confirmed, “How do their women look you think?”

This time not only Seviir hissed but Niivalyr too, Neiphato even putting a hand on his chest as his expression turned serious again in an instant, wood forming on his back as he apparently prepared to fight. “Our females are what you know as Oracles.” He pushed Niivalyr a little, staring into his eyes, “It is a great insult to suggest what you just did. To someone under their influence at least.” Niivalyr glanced at Maro and then at Neiphato, calming down again before stepping away, turning his back on the group.

“Now I want it even more.” Maro said before a barrier slammed him away, the necromancer sliding for a couple meters without any visible damage dealt to him. Ilea couldn’t help but laugh, joined by Maro and Heranuur quickly thereafter. Seviir hissed again but Ilea could tell he wasn’t too serious either. Niivalyr just shook his head as his claws retracted again. A sigh left him as Neiphato walked up to him and patted his back.

Ilea clapped and moved on, looking back at the others. Neiphato smiled at her, “Us two will stay back for a moment if that is alright.” She nodded in understanding before stepping into the elevator. The group followed.

“Any traps?” She asked, Terok simply activating the thing as he shook his head. The drive was rather long, Ilea whistling something akin to elevator music before Maro joined in, Terok even adding his voice after laughing. It all ended swiftly when the elevator stopped, a guardian staring at them from the hallway beyond. A bullet was fired, Ilea catching it in her palm, her skin resisting the impact before she dropped it to the floor, a black beam eroding the creature’s head before it sagged down. “No appreciation for impromptu musical interludes.” She moved the body to the side with an ashen limb, walking through the hallway before they came into a room that made her eyes go wide.

Gears, spears, runes, pipes, scythes, barrels, pits and pressure plates all over. Fifty meters long and twenty wide, so many traps even the Taleen apparently had difficulties hiding all of them in the floor and halls. Maro lifted his hand before she stopped him. “No no no. Don’t you dare destroy this masterpiece.” Ilea said, Terok already laughing as the two elves looked at each other with confusion.

Understanding dawned on the king’s face before he too laughed. When he calmed down again he in turn stopped her as she started towards the path leading through the massive art piece of death. “In that case, let me do the honors. With your defenses it would be boring, wouldn’t it?”

She grasped his arms and moved her face close to his, “I think I’m in love Maro.” She said with an over the top voice, the man literally taking her and throwing her away.

“Don’t play with my heart you hussy! I am the king!” He laughed, walking towards the same path she had started on before. Ilea blinked and appeared right next to Terok, the dwarf just shaking his head.

“What do you think the makers of all this would think if they saw you two?” He asked in a silent tone.

Ilea thought about it and replied seriously, “I think they’d be happy that someone actually chooses to walk through it all. Additionally I think it’s the only way to get to the treasure at all. If it doesn’t trigger some kind of destructive explosion, poison or fire as well.”

The dwarf nodded, “Yea… there’s too much here to even get a grasp. You really think they would think so highly of their traps to simply allow the person getting through uninjured to get to the treasure?”

“Terok, what kind of person do you have to be to even build something like this?” She wasn’t sure of course, the Taleen might have just thought differently but it seemed so ridiculously over the top it would be kind of fitting. “Of course once we’re in there’s going to be another trap to seal or kill us there.”

 

 

Niivalyr and Neiphato came out of the elevator ten minutes later, staring at the group consisting of two elves, a dwarf and a human, all cheering as gusts of fire lit up the hall, spears and spikes flying around as well as poisoned darts, fumes and bullets fired from moving contraptions. Maro was dancing through it all, not quite as dexterous and quick as any of the warriors or Ilea would manage but what he lacked in speed he countered with shields. Ilea noted he never used his teleportation, either as a challenge or because there were runes in place. She assumed the latter.

A couple minutes later, the king emerged on the other side, his armor singed and pierced in various places before his helmet vanished, a grin on his face as blood dripped from his mouth, the man bowing with grace. “Thank you! I would appreciate a healer in the next two minutes!” He shouted and brushed a hand through his near gray hair, the glint of sweat on his brow showing in the green light.

“That means I’m next.” Ilea said and started walking, her armor of ash forming around her as she casually and slowly made her way through the sea of traps, the spears smashing into her defenses, the fire washing over her and the bullets bouncing off without dealing any damage. She lifted her arms to the side when she reached Maro, “You call that a challenge?” She checked him and healed against the poison, already a third of his health gone.

“How can they make Praetorians and the traps here can’t even pierce my armor?” She shook her head, watching Terok move through, mostly relying on his shields to block the various attacks.

“Traps don’t have levels and stats to make them stronger.” Maro replied as he too watched the dwarf slowly move forward. Teleportation really was inhibited within the area.

“Why not? Shouldn’t a high level trapper be able to injure me?”

Maro nodded and glanced at her, “Of course. But do you think the dwarf who made all this is still alive?”

Ilea’s eyes went wide, “So you’re saying all this would have been even more dangerous if the makers were still around?”

“Likely.” He nodded.

Good thing they weren’t. She thought, “So the dungeon took over the machines but not the traps?”

Maro welcomed Terok whose armor reformed in parts, Ilea adding an ashen limb for him to take care of his health. “The traps are part of it too but again, no maker around anymore so they’re less powerful probably. The Guardians are autonomous with their own level and all. Makes traps incredibly dangerous though because a lot of people underestimate them and walk into one laid by a high level hunter.”

“Nasty shit.” Terok added to Maro’s explanation, “You can tell if you know how to look. The enchantments here are fueled by the dungeon itself. The difference is very slight.”

The elves followed, Niivalyr and Neiphato the least damaged, the former actually completely fine. Heranuur and Seviir made it a challenge to follow Ilea’s example, walking slowly as their bodies were mangled more and more, Neiphato actually extending a root towards both to heal them as they approached. The severity of the damage was obvious as neither denied the help. “You are a bad influence Ilea.” Neiphato said, actually hurting her a little.

She didn’t react. While he was right, both of the elves were older than her, adults in their own right. They should know better. At least they leveled some resistances. She helped him heal the two before they entered the room beyond, Ilea stopping everyone as she entered. “This looks the same as the dungeon I’ve already seen. From here on only Terok and Niivalyr.” She looked at them and was surprised to find nobody protesting. It was fun but the damage to the others and even Maro showed how dangerous the traps were, even in their ancient state and laid bare. “Don’t stay in this room. Last time I nearly died because of it.” She didn’t mention her level on purpose to not give them a sense of security, false or not.

“Ready?” Niivalyr hissed his affirmation and Terok nodded, the three jumping down the shaft before they came out in an open hall, a shining white light came from Niivalyr’s arm to reveal the sea of acid below. Ilea pointed at the opening in the wall, “As soon as we take whatever is left in there, the acid will rise. At least it did last time.” She looked at Terok, not sure if it was wise to bring him but if he could reveal something about the trigger it would be worth it. Then again, his metal armor had held up incredibly well against the traps.

They floated towards the opening when Terok stopped them. “There is something here. Wait.” He studied the wall, Ilea trying to focus on it with her sphere but finding nothing amiss with the magic. She had figured out Eve’s incredibly hiding skills so she would find a way for this too. “It recognizes shifts in the air… I think. It’s alreadytriggered but nothing is happening.”

“It only started once I was inside.” Ilea said.

“Hmm… well then let’s move on. I’ll keep a lookout. You two just loot what you can.” The dwarf said.

Moving closer, Ilea’s eyes opened wide as she saw the room. When they actually entered, the others stopped, “What happened here?” Terok asked. There were obvious signs of a fight, chunks of the wall missing in spherical shapes as well as the armored remains of a dwarf, again parts of him simply missing, as if cut out.

“Void magic.” Ilea and Niivalyr said at the same time, the two looking at each other. The dwarf had nothing valuable on him. Again there were twelve pedestals in the room. The chests sitting near the walls were open and empty, dust sitting inside of them. The air in the room was bad but either it had simply been shut off for hundreds of years or there was a ventilation system somewhere.

No key this time. Ilea looked over the pedestals, Niivalyr watching her closely. She couldn’t tell if there was a difference between them or the dust that had settled on them. Terok kicked an empty chest, making her look at him sharply.

“We’re too late.” Niivalyr said.

Terok shook his head and continued to look around, “A couple thousand years, yes. Something activated too.” Ilea looked around but he gestured her to calm down, “Nothing will happen until we actually step out of here.”

“How did whoever came before avoid the trap?” Ilea asked, seeing no damage to the walls outside or in here. If the trap was the acid rising again then it should at least show on the stone, the skeleton or the chests.

Niivalyr brushed his hand over one of the pedestals, “They had a way to vanish out of here.” He tapped the pedestal and looked at Ilea. “Do you know who did this?”

She touched her chin and shook her head, “No. For all we know this could have happened before the north collapsed into what it is today. Maybe Maro has an idea but other than them using void magic, we know nothing. Well they have a longer range teleport skill too but honestly, even those assumptions are just that. Assumptions.” She sighed, “The place could have been empty all along.”

“Doubt it.” Terok said, “Why activate the enchantments and traps then?”

“Misdirection?” Ilea asked but the dwarf shook his head.

He lifted the chests to check below, “No. I’m not a Taleen but if I know anything about dwarves, they don’t build all this for nothing. Do you have any idea what it costs to set up those traps above, the enchantments here? An acid creator probably had to stand there and fill the whole room up for weeks.”

Niivalyr nodded, “I believe there was something here too. The Praetorians remained and we found a gate key. If it is simply misdirection then I doubt we would have found something as valuable at all.”

“You’re probably right. Well we know fucking nothing then, other than that someone or something came and shattered the place.” Ilea said, “Well there’s more to be found, either here or in the production facility. Come on, let’s rush back up. There should be a trap activating as soon as we come back into the room above the shaft. Make sure to teleport directly to the others.

Following her advice, the three rushed back up, the acid beginning to rise as soon as they crossed halfway out of the treasure room. This time getting out was simple, the green flames avoided by simply teleporting a little farther. Ilea moved an ashen limb into the flames, finding the heat enough to partially burn it but it didn’t get through. Terok informed her that the trap was one time use only, meaning further testing or training wasn’t possible.

“The rest of the dungeon is likely not super interesting. If the layout is the same as the great hall I’ve seen before.” Ilea said and stepped back into the room leading down towards the treasure hall.

“You’re not coming then?” Terok asked.

Ilea shook her head, looking over the group. “I’m sure you can handle it. Plus I missed the opportunity to level my corrosion resistance the last time.” Seviir and Heranuur started trashing the traps, Maro smiling at her proposal.

Niivalyr nodded and looked to be lost in thought, “I believe this could be beneficial. Would it be agreeable for us to join you?”

The other elves looked at him, Seviir hissing and Neiphato shaking his head, “Pain Tolerance, Corrosion resistance, healing for Neiphato and self regeneration skills as well as Health drain for the others, if we could use it on you of course.”

Ilea shrugged, “Sure, there’s enough acid down there. Though I’m not sure how effective it’ll be without an actual enemy to fight.

“Not everybody has their resistances in the second tier already Ilea.” Terok said and laughed. “Though I’ll sit this one out, thank you very much.” He walked to Maro and asked him for some more metal to work on his suit.

Ilea broke through the now closed off shaft entrance with her ashen limbs, looking at the group with an awkward smile, the human jackhammer. Seviir gulped at the display, Niivalyr looking disinterested while Heranuur and Maro seemed to approve. They could of course all teleport in but having only an exit through blinking wasn’t the safest option.

Jumping down as soon as the work was done, she willed her ashen armor currently only a small dot on her neck into what was essentially a two piece swimsuit, storing her clothes in the process. Unnecessarily destroying them would be a waste, especially because she couldn’t exactly get more quickly. There was probably a tailor in Hallowfort but it would still take an afternoon to go there and find one.

The acid had flowed down again, not as far as it had been before but the small tunnel was empty, signs of corrosion visible on the walls at least. Dipping in a toe, she watched as the skin was slowly eaten through, very slowly. I’m not sure how effective this is going to be.

Lowering herself into the green bubbling liquid, she activated her healing and tried bearing the pain without deactivating her perception. She wasn’t sure if third tier general skills were even a thing but somehow she felt like actually experiencing some of the feedback her body gave her would ground her a little in regards to the abuse she constantly put it under. A little like the sphere not allowing her to decrease her senses anymore. She grit her teeth, the burning sensation covering her to her neck.

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Rhaegar

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