Chapter 323 The Beach Episode
Ilea was breathing hard when the others hovered down, her skin constantly eaten through and regenerating. It had been quite a long time since she hadn’t used her second tier Pain Tolerance for something like this. The pain was dulled by her resistance alone but it still felt like hundreds of paper cuts treated with lime juice. At least that’s how she imagined it. The pain was distracting, near all encompassing in her mind but she could still talk, even if barely, “It’s… nice.” She got the words out through her grinding teeth. Despite her necklace having gone through worse than this without a scratch, she wrapped it in ash. Her armor was eaten into as well but the ash reformed too quickly to make it an issue.
“She’s swimming in acid.” Neiphato observed and gulped, “Are you sure master?” Despite their talks and the way he had acted around Niivalyr previously, he still addressed him as his clear superior.
The barrier mage nodded and hissed, his armor vanishing before a reflective barrier appeared around his privates. Heranuur looked confused, teleporting up before he came back, completely nude before he simply let himself fall into the acid, right next to Ilea. His smug smile vanished instantly as she tried grinning at him, the elf screaming in a high pitched voice before he vanished, appearing next to Neiphato, his skin mostly melted off, muscle showing and in places even bone. He couldn’t get out a word before Neiphato started healing him. “It’s going to be fine… just a moment.” The healer said, trying not to touch the dripping and screaming warrior.
And guys complain about water being cold. Have a look at that shriveled up shrimp. Ilea managed to piece together the thought in between the surges of pain whenever the acid got deeper. Niivalyr moved down slowly, dipping his feet in as a root coming from Neiphato wrapped around his arm. He hissed but went deeper slowly, the healing coupled with his resistances and vitality apparently enough. He was in to his stomach before he stopped, crossing his arms and closing his eyes.
Seviir shook his head before he took off his beautiful golden boots, holding them in his arms as he lowered himself into the green liquid. He yelped when the acid started to burn through, Heranuur in the meantime mostly recovered, paled to a degree that made him almost unrecognizable coupled with the grim look on his face and thousand yard stare. Maro watched the scene in amusement before his boots vanished too, the king only grinding his teeth as he lowered himself downwards, more of his clothes vanishing before only his head remained above the liquid.
Ilea moved over an ashen limb to heal him as well as the others, should Neiphato fail or run out of mana. “You… too.” Niivalyr said, looking at him with a wicked smile.
“But… my healing… if… I won’t be able to concentrate!”
Niivalyr nodded towards Ilea, her mouth quivering and her eyes focused forward, “She’s… she’s… healer.” The words came with great difficulty. Ilea was surprised to find Maro holding up the best, at least according to everyone’s facial expressions.
“You have… Pain Tolerance, second tier?” She asked but the king shook his head.
“Elemental… resistance… and… pain red… uction.” He said through gritted teeth. Ilea was a little annoyed, her pain resistance higher, her corrosion resistance in the second tier as well as pain reduction from her Sentinel Core.
It’s his charisma… She forced herself to focus on her healing skill to see how he was doing, finding his teeth nearly breaking, his muscles tense and his heart pumping faster than her own. His face however revealed little of that. “Ch… eater.” She said, the man forcing a smile that came out more as if he was a wild beast baring his teeth at her.
Neiphato’s face distorted when he entered the acid, his boots taken off, the skin quickly healing again time and time again. “What… a… pleasant activity.” Ilea smiled, the fact that she was the craziest one among a necromancer king, a seven hundred year old elf and three exiled Cerithil hunters hitting her hard with both concern and pride.
“How… long?” Seviir asked, Niivalyr hissing at his question, the noise interrupted twice making it sound like a muffled giggle. Ilea laughed and even Maro smiled, immediately gulping as the pain took over again. The barrier mage looked at Heranuur but the latter shook his head, still pale. He glanced at Ilea and she knew that from that moment onward, he looked at her in a different light. She wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not.
At least the pain made nobody care about the naked elf hovering next to them, they had concerns going above and beyond the possible embarrassment caused by nudity. Heranuur had never really cared and Ilea wasn’t too bothered by it either though she didn’t know if it was a thing elves in general cared little about. Maro didn’t seem to mind either but she could have guessed as much. With meditation, she could theoretically stay in the acid infinitely long, the wounds while covering near her whole body were shallow and inconsequential in regards to her health.
Adding all the healing for the others would force her to get out at some point at least. Ilea hadn’t felt constant pain like this in over a year, since getting her Pain Tolerance skill to the second tier. She wondered if her decision to feel it right now was something to be proud of or something her therapists would be highly concerned about as soon as she established the science in Elos. At least she felt good about not being turned on by the whole ordeal.
After a while she realized that the worst of it wasn’t the pain itself or the smell of the acid coupled with their combined corroded skin and muscle, it was the sizzling sound the acid made as it wrapped around their bodies, burning into them. The constant sound coupled with the sobs from the elves as well as the grinding of their teeth. Heranuur’s pride forced him to get back into the acid too at some point, going a little deeper than Sevir before the latter copied the move. Before long they were both down to their noses, occasionally going even further as they proved that their competition and pride stood above all, even unimaginable pain.
Even Maro and Ilea looked on with concern, not for their quickly regenerating bodies but for their troubled minds. Ilea could tell their bodies were left only with pain, their resistances much lower than her own or even Maro’s. Niivalyr nodded in approval as Ilea thought about a hot tub with warm water and soap. At least the sweat and grime came off in the acid bath, her head going under for a moment as her hair and eyes were eaten through, regenerating quickly when she came up again. The pain she noted wasn’t any worse, just another area of her body added to the agony.
Checking her messages after ten minutes, she found the training was more effective than expected.
‘ding’ ‘Corrosion Resistance reaches 2nd lvl 3’
‘ding’ ‘Corrosion Resistance reaches 2nd lvl 4’
‘ding’ ‘Corrosion Resistance reaches 2nd lvl 5’
‘ding’ ‘Pain Tolerance reaches 2nd lvl 6’
‘ding’ ‘Pain Tolerance reaches 2nd lvl 7’
“What?!” Niivalyr exclaimed, “The second tier grants full immunity?” He looked speechless, his body suddenly relaxing. “This is amazing. Do you know about this humans?”
Maro and Ilea looked at each other, “Yea.” The man said, “Though... I’m not... quite... there.”
Ilea didn’t mention that she was in fact choosing to go through this. “Heard about it.” She said, Maro chuckling next to her but he didn’t make a comment, quickly overwhelmed again by the pain as his chuckles turned into sobs before he forced himself to quiet down again.
“Well that is spectacular. Also dangerous. Perhaps it wouldn’t be best for those two to have it. We’re stopping here.” Niivalyr said, quickly floating through the acid before he dragged the corroded bodies of the two heavily damaged elves out, their spirits and flesh broken, only driven by pride. Perhaps it was their very instinct to do so. Ilea and Neiphato healed them up, the elf looking with pleading eyes towards their trainer. “No, you stay.” Tears rolled down the elf’s face as he endured.
“Torture… bad?” Maro asked through gritted teeth.
“Training… isn’t… torture.” Ilea replied, feeling the pain dulling more and more as time went on. With three people gone, her mana situation had improved again, Neiphato mostly taking care of himself leaving only Maro and herself to heal.
Maro reached the second tier half an hour later, suddenly relaxing as he looked up and smiled, “You are crazy you know that? Pretty effective method to get the skill at least. Unthinkable without healers and high resistances as well as Vitality and durability. No wonder barely anybody has the skill in the second tier.” Ilea smiled, floating next to Neiphato while holding his hand in a tight grip.
“It’s… useful… but dangerous.” She said.
“There should be a smell resistance too, horrible really.” Maro commented, “Well as much as I enjoy bathing with you, I think I’ll pass on leveling this skill… for a long time. Maybe ever.”
She smiled as he floated up, his clothes and armor appearing again. “Should we start checking out other parts of the dungeon already?”
Ilea nodded, “Sure, not… too… dangerous… I think.”
The man gave her a thumbs up before vanishing, Neiphato resting his head on her neck as tears rolled down his face. “You can… stop… whenever. He’s… not...really your… master.”
The elf looked up, a fierceness in his eyes she had only seen when he fought the Praetorians, “This… is… nothing.” He said, squeezing her hand.
When his hand relaxed another hour later, she looked at him as he smiled, his face quickly turning red before he pushed himself away from her. “Sorry… I.”
Ilea deactivated her pain perception and smiled back, “Don’t worry. Happy to see you got it.”
“That was the most horrible experience in my entire life… why would you do something like this?” He looked scared and disturbed for a moment before he closed his eyes, “I’m sorry. I guess it’s things like this that made you stronger than us, than Niivalyr or that necromancer.” He paused, his face turning serious, “Thank you. We are often spiteful, angry and proud. What my clan did… to humans, animals, other elves. How we treat your people… yet you saved our lives, gave us a teacher and I believe… you saved him too in a way.”
He sighed, “We would have died, against the Praetorians. You showed us what is possible, deeply and with all that I am, I thank you. The others will not say this to you but I know they feel the same. Know this, should you need our strength, be it much less than your own, we will fight for you Ilea.” He thought for a moment, “Guardian of Cerith. It seems a fitting title.” He smiled brightly.
Ilea moved out, the remaining acid both burning into her skin and dripping off before she put on her clothes again, “What does Cerith mean?” She asked, looking at the elf that remained in the liquid.
“It means life, yet not exactly what it means in standard. It is all that we are, our very purpose and spirits.”
“Thank you.” Ilea said and she meant it. “I really just dislike killing rational people. The training is easy with a healing skill, every added resistance a big help so I spent a lot of time to get them.”
Neiphato closed his eyes and shook his head, “Do not dismiss yourself so easily. Your reasons, be they contrived or true do not really matter. You saved three lives, perhaps four and you set them on a path that will impact them as long as they live.”
She gulped at his words and didn’t say anything for a moment, “Are you not coming?” She asked as she flew a little higher.
“My clothes are up there. I’m not quite as brash and confident as the others.” He said and smiled.
Ilea nodded and grinned, watching him immediately avert his eyes, “You know I can see everything around me, even if you’re hidden in the liquid?” She said, watching him turn beet red, “Trust me Neiphato, you’re ridiculously handsome. Not being brash and overconfident like the others might be seen as a weakness in your culture but trust me, women would claw each other’s eyes out to get a chance at dating you.” She left it at that and moved her wings, flying up as he sunk a little deeper into the acid.
If he had the confidence he shows in fights or when it’s about going against the oracles, in other situations, he could be the bloody leader of their race. She smiled at the thought, coming out into the now trap free hall. There was a note pinned under a piece of shrapnel.
Ilea, we are moving on to the dungeons.
Do not bed Neiphato. It is a grave… forget it. He is free to do as he likes. Still, simply for my sake. I will pay you with your currency.
She chuckled and set it on fire with her fire rune. Waiting for the elf didn’t take long, back in his armor he joined her, looking composed. “They went on to the dungeons. Let’s go.” She said, the elf nodding before they rushed off.
‘ding’ ‘Corrosion Resistance reaches 2nd lvl 6’
‘ding’ ‘Corrosion Resistance reaches 2nd lvl 7’
‘ding’ ‘Pain Tolerance reaches 2nd lvl 8’
‘ding’ ‘Pain Tolerance reaches 2nd lvl 9’
“Finally…,” Seviir said when the two late comers found the group, his left arm held in his right, severed by a Centurion likely. The wound was burnt shut. The grin on Heranuur’s face made it clear how he viewed the situation, brushing his hand through his red hair that flowed out behind the helmet covering his face. Goldie hissed before Neiphato healed the arm back on.
Niivalyr stared at Ilea with an intense glare but she just shook her head with a soft smile, the elf nodding after a moment. Maro was crouching over a skeleton nearby, Terok tapping a bunch of steel chunks that sat on a stone table. “Found something interesting?” She asked the two, stepping towards them as Seviir tried punching Heranuur, the two teleporting around before a bunch of barriers slammed them through a wall.
Maro looked her way before touching the skeleton, “I mean. Kind of. It’s in pristine condition. Whatever it was, not human, not an elf, not a dwarf.”
“Dark one perhaps?” She asked, the man just scratching his head. It looked humanoid to her, a tail and horns as well as claws.
“Maybe… or a demon. Well I’ll keep it if that’s alright, the structure is pretty good. Not as good as the Undying one but I should be able to have an actually useful puppet in this one.” He nodded and made it vanish.
Ilea tilted her head to the side, “You mean those skeletons weren’t useful?”
He stood up and brushed off his robe, “I mean yes. Just not very good. The bones weren’t assorted from once complete skeletons, just pieces thrown together. They were pretty damaged too and not necessarily powerful when they had been alive.”
She nodded, the group moving on to clear out the rest of the great hall. Most of the ways didn’t offer much other than low level traps and gear as well as the occasional battle against guardians, the machines mostly taken care of by the group of elves. Ilea yawned when they reached the end of the teleportation section, finding the gate broken and destroyed. Guess this won’t be the place to test the key. She hadn’t planned it anyway but perhaps just seeing if it worked at all would have been nice. Plenty of gates back in the south.
“I think we’re pretty much done here.” Maro commented as he checked the stone chunks left of the gate, standing up before looking at the group.
Terok clasped his hands together, “To Tremor then?” He had talked to Niivalyr previously, the elf accepting the dwarf in the elven group, to help with the facility cleanup.
“First want to see if Goliath is still around. Then sure.” She replied. Nobody complained and the elves wanted to move on to the facility anyway, their group quickly moving there. When they were about to leave the Taleen city, a saurian approached them. She could tell even without her sphere that the dark one was scared shitless.
“N… noble… w… warriors. We… would like to… thank.” The voice was grating and deep, its tongue straining to make the sounds. It revealed a red gem as big as her fist, holding it out to them with an expectant gaze. Terok stepped forward and took the gemstone, holding it up as he inspected it.
“Thanks.” He said and walked back, leaving the saurian in an awkward position, not knowing if to approach, stay or leave. Ilea at least waved at the creature when they stepped into the elevator.
Maro looked over at Terok who threw the gem up before catching it again, “Is it worth anything?”
Terok looked his way, “No. It’s a blood crystal. Might be rare here but there are some caves filled with the stuff. Holds little use other than for decoration. If you know a crystal make that can mold it.” He handed the crystal to Maro who looked at it before putting it into his ring, “Didn’t want to be an ass. We basically gave them the whole city compared to the small parts they roamed before, with great danger.”
Maro chuckled, “Maybe they’ll build a statue in our honor.” Looking at Terok, Ilea shook her head.
“Don’t give him ideas.” She said with a smile, the group stepping out of the elevator when it reached the top.