Chapter 327 Theories and Assumptions
“But compare it with the last page… May the One without Form prevail. That is what they activated.” Maro said.
“You think the One without Form is responsible for all those machines and they’re hunting the elves because the Taleen are still at war with them?” Ilea surmised. Maro nodded, sitting forward with hands clasped.
“Hear me out…,” He said and moved a hand through his hair, “That unlimited energy thing isn’t a random mention… no…,”
Ilea pushed him, “What is it? Come on, can’t be more ridiculous than a talking dagger.”
He locked eyes with her, “It’s the sun. The sun suddenly vanished. Somehow the dwarfs, the elves or those Ascended found a way to pluck it from the sky. If it had been the latter, the species of Elos would have a reason to bound together and attack. Why else would humans, elves and dwarfs work together?”
“Many reasons, might just be they came and attacked everyone.” She said.
He shook his head and continued, “And after they won, the Taleen took that energy and used it.”
“What, the sun? You’re aware that a sun is so big… it’s absolutely ridiculous.” She said, sitting back.
Maro chewed on his fingernails, “Yes, I’m aware. Still… we know for a fact that this landscape changed drastically after some event the Dark Ones still remember. Some mentioned the disappearance of the sun and I can confirm that there were three here before. At least if this is really the same realm still.” He paused, “I’ve had powerful mages talk about the effect the suns have on different forms of magic, monsters and specifically mana density. The mists at night and the storms by day. It’s still happening today, just in a much more noticeable pattern.”
“Yea but how do you explain the rest of the world?” Ilea asked and he didn’t have an answer.
Shaking his head, the king continued, “We’re onto something big here.”
She sighed, “I don’t want to be onto something big, Maro. I just want to eat nice things and explore places.”
The necromancer laughed, “Well if you explore, you’ll find interesting things like that diary. Just because we’re onto something big doesn’t mean we have to do anything about it, not that we even can. Niivalyr knows about all that too and I’m sure he has his own theories.” He noticed she was still a little annoyed, looking over the translated booklet, “It was obvious that something was behind all those Taleen machines, we just have a theory on what that is now and how it generates the power to do it. There are still hordes of the fuckers in the way if we want to find out anything.”
“Plus, it might not be the wisest to free the elves of their troubles.” He added.
“Are you sure? I mean you were around before all this happened… if your theories are correct. Were the elves constantly attacking humans?” She asked.
He looked up and thought about it, “Not more than what you talked about. Them destroying whole cities was rare, though it happened. We didn’t think of them as the impossibly strong threat you seem to see them as.”
“I don’t see them that way. But yea, most people would shit their pants. The oracles have weird rules though. Not entering dungeons would weaken them in the long run. Elfie seemed fine after the initial damage to his body.”
Maro nodded, “Yea, to think they really put a curse on him…,”
She cocked her head to the side, “What?”
“What do you mean what? You saw him and they said elves entering dungeons are cursed.”
“I saw his body, through my healing. That was no curse, I’ve seen plenty of those in many varieties. It was his body adjusting. I assume to the high mana density inside the dungeon. He didn’t even really change afterwards.” She explained.
Maro nodded, “Interesting. Well the rule makes just as little sense.” He stretched, the crates of books vanishing into his ring, “I for one, would like to find out more about all this at some point. The Ascended, I always feared an enemy like that, appearing from another realm. With all the stories there must be races who figured out the magic to travel them.”
Ilea’s eyes went wide, “Wait a minute. The demons… the place I was at, the demon realm. There was a bunch of weird ass sci fi tech there. Runes that neither Weavy nor Trian had ever seen. And we could travel back to Elos after activating a massive device there.”
He thought about it, “Might be… could just be a coincidence. If there is one race, there can be two. The demons I’ve heard about didn’t strike me as such a threat. The fact that corpses turn into new demons is the real problem. And what do you mean by sei fei?”
“Well there is no description about the Ascended. I don’t think Weavy and his brethren built all those structures but they don’t really work together anyway, at least not according to him. Could be that some others advanced in a different direction.” She suggested. “It means science fiction, in my realm we had books, movies and games… more focused on space and other planets. Hard to explain why the place felt like that to me.”
“Interesting…,“ He said, “Weavy, we definitely want to ask him about it, you know where he is?” He asked and she nodded. “This is exciting.”
“You think so?” She asked, “I just want to be able to kill a Praetorian on my own. The prospect of finding the energy source or those Ascended doesn’t really sound safe with my current power.”
He waved her off, “You’re underestimating yourself, Ilea. Still… I get where you’re coming from. We hesitated in investigating the Soul Rippers too. Hey, maybe that’s related too… those monsters suddenly appearing in all those dungeons… one huge conspiracy.” He cackled evilly, Ilea staring at him with concern.
“Oh don’t take me so seriously. I just always hoped for more interesting things than nobles murdering each other, war declarations from kingdoms trying to expand or issues and conflicts growing with other races due to cultural differences.” He explained.
“Those don’t sound simple at all.” Ilea replied, rubbing her forehead.
“I didn’t say simple, I said boring.” Maro held up a finger, “Important difference. I’m certainly intrigued and with me being at three hundred now, I think we could at least poke this beast of a theory with some questions.”
Ilea agreed, “Maybe. Just dial it down a notch, we can work it out one step at a time. I also don’t want to fight Taleen machines for a decade just to find this One without Form. That sounds like the exact opposite of interesting.”
He calmed down somewhat, “You’re right. Damn…,” He balled his fist, actually annoyed.
“We can start with our bout, maybe give each other some pointers. Also train the resistances against each other’s magic.” She suggested, “Then we can maybe fight the Soul Rippers.” They still terrified her but after killing the Praetorians, she felt ready to try, felt like challenging that which she feared.
“That… sounds like you’re skipping some steps.” Maro said, his concern washed away with a blooming smile, “Guess that’s what I signed up for.” He nodded and got up, cracking his neck, “Until half health?”
She shrugged, “Sounds alright.” Her ashen armor came on immediately, her buffs at the max as his body erupted in purple flames, a barrier forming a couple meters away from him. The armchair and the rest of his belongings vanished into his ring as her ashen limbs fanned out behind her. His eyes turned purple, a grin on his face before the two vanished.
The silence in the dungeon was no more, energy exploding in the palace courtyard as the two powerful mages danced in flame and ash. Beams of purple energy cut into the stone, ashen limbs crashing into the barrier time and time again, fiery energy flowing through it as it was damaged more and more.
Ilea finally got through, appearing inside his defensive dome as a bright purple fire rushed over her, burning into her ash as her limbs slashed into his armor. The king dodged the first three limbs before he was cut. She didn’t stop, appearing closer. A punch fueled by Absolute Destruction slammed into his side, enhanced by her buffs and skills.
She was engulfed by death magic right before he was slammed to the side tumbling twice as she followed, her steps interrupted by a beam of magic she avoided with a blink forward. Maro was back on his feet when she appeared, flying away from her quickly with continued attacks as well as bones falling out of his ring, forming skeletons behind her that followed after the two. He kept her low to allow his minions to stay in the fight, Ilea using her ashen projectiles to fire back and destroy them.
Just as with Trian and Kyrian, the fight was all about Maro keeping her at bay. If he had enough power to break through her defenses, he could win at range but even with his fully powered death magic rays that simply wasn’t the case. Her ash was burnt into but it simply forced her to dodge, slowing her down but ultimately not getting any closer to killing her. With the added benefit of her ten meter range ashen limbs, Maro had to be careful too, his shield reforming often to get rid of the mana burning into it.
Whenever he deactivated the shield that prevented her from blinking closer, she did exactly that. Most often he managed to teleport too but after around thirty attempts, she managed to grab onto his arm. A big grin formed on her face. He aimed his free hand at her but she slammed it away, four of her ashen limbs winding around him as the rest cut into his face and chest, destructive healing magic flowing into him. Maro’s purple flames burned into her limbs and body but Ilea could heal both herself and the ash, making it difficult for him to get through.
Adding Absolute Destruction to the mix, she both damaged him and stole mana at the same time. Of course with all those active skills going on, she would hardly be able to keep it up for too long. “Stop!” He suddenly shouted, his face cut and bleeding, holding up much better than the rough attacks would have suggested. She let go, the king slowly floating to the ground, landing on his back before he turned and coughed, blood splattering onto the stone.
Ilea landed next to him with her arms crossed. “A little disappointed, not gonna lie.” She said and started healing the man, his wounds closing quickly. To think he had reached half health so fast. The fight had been less than three minutes long.
“You’re a nightmare for a mage… fuck.” He coughed once more before his health was back to two thirds, “The damage output once you grabbed me… there was more than just your limbs hitting, it felt like a curse of some kind.”
“Reverse healing.” She supplied.
“And I couldn’t get through even your ashen limbs. They reformed so quickly.”
“Also healing, combined with creation of course.” She said, the man just shaking his head.
“I know that wasn’t even your full arsenal. I’m not sure I could stop you, even going lower.” Maro said.
Ilea formed another chair and sat down, “What do you mean, going lower? Do you get stronger with less health?”
“Significantly, yes. Also you just shut down my minions, this is not my kind of fight.” He sighed, sitting up.
She had to agree there, a well prepared Maro with a dozen or more powerful undead or skeletons would make it a more difficult fight, him attacking from behind the monsters that would defend him. “Do you want to try again with preparations?” She asked, excited to try again as her mana recovered quickly.
He looked at her and sighed, “You know what, no. Not now. I’m rusty, I think I was lucky to survive against the Feynor. The Praetorians weren’t as quick as you are. The teleport and spacial perception you have make it harder too. And you just ignored my rays… that armor is definitely not a joke. I knew when I saw you tanking those explosions but it’s a little disheartening, seeing it against my magic.”
“Well my resistance is at level twelve as well. Care to train me in that too? Did you get any resistances from me by the way?” She asked, not pushing him on a rematch. The last thing he needed were more doubts about his abilities. Was this a bad idea? She wondered but he was already back in high spirits after half a minute of brooding.
“Ashen Magic Resistance, your mana intrusion didn’t trigger anything. What’s it categorized as?” He asked.
“Healing magic.” She replied, “Is there no general resistance against mana intrusion?”
He shook his head, “No, you should have gotten that too at some point, don’t you think? It’s surprising there isn’t a healing magic resistance but I suppose that is a good thing in the end, for everyone and you as well.”
“Suppose it is… oh, can I get a resistance against my own ashen magic?” She asked, never really having focused on it.
“No, only if someone else uses it on you. Still, having the class makes you more resilient to it than any resistance skill could ever achieve. I can train your death magic resistance of course.” He replied, “You can level my ashen resistance in the meantime. That second tier of Pain Tolerance is really useful for resistance training now that I think about it.” He squinted his eyes, “That’s what you’ve been doing, right?”
She smirked, lounging in her ashen chair, “Maybe. Hey there should be a reward for going through so much pain.”
“How did I never think of that…,” He shook his head, “Well it is a high price to pay. The pain would be overwhelming with a body below level one or two hundred.”
“No shit.” Ilea said and chuckled. The acid bath hurt, sure but it was nothing compared to what she went through before. Just getting bitten by a Drake was much worse than anything she had experienced in the past months. Well losing her head was at least terrifying in its own right but the pain itself, negligible.
“And you need a healer.” He added, standing up again, his face back to normal other than the blood still dripping from it.
“Sucks that they’re such a rare commodity.” She commented, Maro groaning.
“Tell me about it. The orders like to have the numbers low to keep their influence. Difficult to even get a class without them, most already have something else before learning enough about medicine and healing to be offered a class. Plus you’re sacrificing a bunch of power.” He said, summoning his armchair again as well as a crate, getting out a book.
Ilea formed a bunch of projectiles and sent them into his stomach, the king in turn firing his beam into hers, the two continuing their conversation as if nothing out of the ordinary was occurring, “Still though… with the rarity, even if you sacrifice power you’re going to get more jobs and are sought after in every team, seems like a reasonable choice. Even if it takes longer to get a class.”
He flipped through his book, blood dripping from the side of his mouth, a purple flame washing over his face to clean it all off. “Yes, either you’re with the guard or a country then. Otherwise the orders ask unpleasant questions. Random adventurers are very very rarely healers. At least in my time… I don’t see a reason for why that would have changed, nor does what you say suggest it.”
“So the orders push healers to take jobs in the guard or military? Or make them join?” She asked, not quite aware that this had been an issue. Was that why that healer person was so difficult. Maybe it was them that tried to poison me then? Would they go that far?
Looking at herself, firing deadly ashen projectiles at the necromancer burning through her skin and muscle with death rays suggested that yes, someone would certainly go that far. “I don’t think they want people to join. It’s a purist thing too, just like with all the other magic schools. Do you really think a noble family known for dust magic would pick up a random lowborn with an affinity?”
“They’d just get rid of him.” He added, flipping the page as she healed the damage to his body. The projectiles were much much less effective than her mana intrusion had been in the fight.
“Is that why low level adventurers nearly all have generic fire or ice magic classes?” She asked.
“One of the reasons. Ease of access and simply power at early stages help too. Most warriors are body enhancers early on too, when a specific weapon mastery class would be much more powerful. Harder to train those skills and you need someone to teach you.” He said and made a surprised noise.
“Found something?” She asked, actually interested what he would have uncovered in his book on tax records.
“An off hand mention but yes. You found the diary of the guard captain, Reyker?” She nodded, Maro chuckling as he shook his head, “Guy hated me, still the most loyal and capable man ever working under Elana. Would have made a terrible king though.”
“Get to the point, oh great king Maro.” She said.
He smiled and pointed at her, a massive beam burning into her and her chair, “I never said I was great.”
‘ding’ ‘Death Magic Resistance reaches lvl 13’
“Well, someone reported him returning from the Soul Ripper dungeon, falling to the beasts only around an hour away from Tremor. The scout couldn’t advance because of the nearby monsters but the report made it back. Maybe he found out something?”