Chapter 329 Monsters left untouched
“Can you access it?” Maro asked, the two walking back towards the palace. He suddenly stopped and sighed, “Hey, I didn’t really thank you. For helping me out, again. I wouldn’t have been able to get him out alone.”
She shrugged, identifying the ring, “Seemed like an interesting thing to do.” Didn’t even level my Fear Resistance. Even in her conscious mind, the creatures were just that by now, creatures. Ugly as fuck but nothing to be afraid of. They were too strong to take on but it was only a matter of time and training. For all I care they can rot down here forever.
[Ring of Holding – Rare Quality] – [Storage capacity at 12/30]
Would you like to claim [Ring of Holding]
She accepted, nodding to him, “There’s a bunch of stuff in here. Let’s check it out in the courtyard.” Maro agreed, still not looking his best as they reached the place. “Maybe we should also train a little outside, more sun there.”
Carefully, she summoned each item and put it onto the floor, Maro standing next to her to see everything. Sword, set of knight’s armor, drawn painting of…, She brushed over it, Elana… well. Maro chuckled lightly but didn’t comment any further. Food, water as well as other essentials like a fire rune and a notebook with a pen. The notebook was of course the most interesting of the bunch, Ilea handing it to Maro, assuming it was written in their language.
“Turning into archaeologists here.” Maro sighed, starting to flip through the pages.
“You had those?” Ilea asked. Then again isn’t every adventurer here basically Indy?
“Yes… I think something like the scavengers living in Hallowfort come close… although the archaeologists weren’t in it for money or survival. Historical and… they did it…,” He flipped the page, eyes going wide.
“He… the team he put together, they pushed into the dungeon, avoiding the monsters thanks to illusion and concealment spells. The place was full of Mothwing corpses, the original monster occupying that dungeon. In the deepest hall, they found runes and Soul Rippers digging into the stone, confused and scared he wrote. Nothing else was down there. They lost most people in the ascent, one of them bumping into a monster. Reyker survived but was heavily injured. The last words he wrote before hundreds of the beasts surrounded him in the plains outside the entrance.” Maro transcribed, turning the book to show the abrupt stop in writing as well as still somewhat fresh blood on the page from when the captain had been injured.
Ilea thought about it, shaking her head, “The runes brought them here? Then we should maybe go have a look. Neither of us is a rogue exactly…,” She started thinking on who could do the job when he interrupted her.
“No need. They copied the runes down, with great difficulty it seems.” He showed her yet another page in the notebook, the runes burning into her mind as she looked at them.
She ignored the mild defensive measure, comparable to Mind Weaver’s attack. “You don’t get fucked reading that?” She asked.
“Runes, at least reading them were a great joy of mine. Mind magic resistance is one of the first things I focused on defensively, too dangerous to leave a gap like that.”
Ilea checked out the rest of the runes but couldn’t make any sense of anything. She tried to remember those they had found in the demon realm but couldn’t remember, as if the memory was blurred. “Out of curiosity, what other gaps are there that would need to be filled?”
He smiled, “Death magic is one. If I can overwhelm someone’s defenses and they have no resistance, it’s very… well deadly.” She rolled her eyes, “Blood magic is another, as is lightning surprisingly. Void too but it’s hard to find something or someone who could train you. There are of course some rarer ones that could deal heavy damage but preparing against things like silver magic is inefficient at best.”
She nodded, having all the resistances he had talked about. She assumed there simply were too many hyper specialized magic schools out there to really get them all, just spending time on leveling or general defense was worth more in the end. “Trian and Weavy might know more about those runes, as well as some others. If we can pinpoint the origin, would that help in any way? Or are runes something universally known if you get certain classes?”
Maro drew something into the dirt, a simple symbol looking a little like an S, just drawn by a two year old. “Runes are the language of magic, capable to create things with mana. Once etched into an object by an enchanter, they can be used by anybody. Now, while the language of magic is universal, its understanding is not something easily taught, or learned.” He showed her the runes again, “Just reading this would kill most humans below level fifty, put a level hundred warrior to bed and might even give a headache to someone above two hundred. The reason being that they’re not versed in the language. While these symbols look simplistic, if taken as a normal written language, they contain knowledge and understanding I cannot comprehend. Not yet at least. It’s been a while since I last even felt such feedback.” He closed the book again.
“I can only assume that those runes somehow summoned the Soul Rippers or they ripped open a fissure between the dungeon and somewhere else.” He added.
“Another realm?” Ilea asked, a little concern in her voice. If those things get summoned to Earth, the planet is probably fucked. Would be cool to see what a fifty cal. Bullet would do to them. The answer was probably nothing. The next thought was of course, what such a bullet would do to her.
“Possibly, yet realm travel is something of legends. Those claiming to be from other realms, at least according to Scipio, never actually understood what had happened. They were successful by chance and without intention or something else willed it to happen. Are you concerned about your own realm?” He asked.
Ilea shrugged, “I don’t know honestly. This could still all be an illusion. I certainly didn’t intend to travel through magical realms. If there is a chance though, that someone might access my realm to summon creatures like these… well I don’t fancy the result.” She said. “Wait… can’t necromancers summon demons? Isn’t that another realm as well?”
“That is true. I know little about the summoning of demons but yes, somehow it is possible. Even for novices with the right runes.”
“Then other realms should be accessible too? Or are we just missing runes?” Ilea asked in turn.
“I don’t know. All I know is that demons can be summoned more easily. You said one of the Shadows’ elders succeeded even in traveling the realms. You did too in fact.” He said. “Perhaps he would be the one to ask about this.”
“Or Scipio, if it’s really the same guy that I met.” Ilea said, at least not knowing if he too was a mass murderer like Adam.
“Finding him will prove difficult.” Maro laughed, “Well the same is true for the elder. It is a shame that knowledge like this is so heavily guarded.”
“For good reason.” Ilea said, thinking of the demon summoning.
“Probably.” He sighed, “Well at least I know now that the dungeons were manipulated by someone. I’ll have to consult Elana but I believe the wars might have been prevented without that sudden spike in dangerous monsters.”
“You want to avenge your kingdom?” Ilea asked.
He laughed, glancing at her frown, “Bad experiences with revenge? Yea, me too.” He said, “Rhyvor would have fallen, there were simply too many powerful factions looking our way. The chance was high at least. I’m simply interested. To bring Soul Rippers and the like here, I just don’t understand why. If their goal was our destruction, they could have just summoned them into our cities.”
“Might not have been possible, mana density and they live in the dark.” She said.
“Possible. Well I just want to understand it. Rhyvor is gone and there is nothing I can do about it. The only solace is that most of the people will have escaped. I just hope many of them found shelter in the south, before the north changed into… this.” He gestured widely around himself. “If it turns out that this change was in fact manufactured, then you can be sure all the death and destruction will be repaid. One way or the other.”
She chuckled, “You think your power is enough for something capable of summoning Soul Rippers?”
He cracked his neck, “No. Not yet at least but, now that I’m not burdened by being a king anymore and I’ve found a capable healer, I’m sure I’ll reach previously unknown levels of power.” He smiled at her, “Yet I’ll probably get distracted along the way.” She was surprised at the sincerity of his words. The man really believed he would simply get distracted.
“So far you seem pretty focused.” She said.
He waved his hand sideways, “Not much going on around here other than fighting. Interesting monsters and people, yes but Hallowfort being the domain of my wife…,”
“I’ll show you Ravenhall as soon as my armor is done. Riverwatch too maybe, it’s the first town I found after waking up in Elos. Oh also, my abilities and the fact that I’m a realm travelers isn’t common knowledge in the south. I’d like to keep it that way.” She said.
“Sounds splendid. I hope gambling, drugs and sex workers are legal there.”
She was a little taken aback but just grinned, “I don’t know honestly. I’m more a food and fighting type. Do drugs even do anything to someone at your level?”
“Oh right… my evolution… ah fuck. Well there are other things.” He seemed optimistic. Ilea was always of the opinion that drugs could be regulated and legalized, the public educated to lower addiction rates. Alcohol was one of the worse ones anyway and everybody drank, same here in Elos.
Personally, she just didn’t have much of an interest. The few times she tried had neither been horrible nor eye opening. She knew opinions differed greatly. With her enhanced body as well as resistances, she doubted anything but a super lethal poison would even make her react in any way.
“I’m sure you’ll find either of that, legally or not.” She added, “Not like the guard could stop you.”
“Always thought the same… until you have damn near a whole army waiting outside your gambling den.” He shook his head, “What a night.” He glanced at her and laughed, “I’d tell you but honestly, most of it is rather foggy.”
What a night indeed. She thought. “Still escaped with your life.”
“That I did. Hey you talked about training outside? Should we wait for the night?”
Ilea looked up and nodded, “Sure. I’ll try my armor again.”
“Fine with me, other than the near death experiences I had, there was little opportunity to get the thousand year rust away.” He said, cracking his neck as he piled a bunch of bones and corpses. “You take the ring of holding.”
She nodded, putting the empty ring into her necklace. Probably a good idea, with all those gambling stories.
The armaments of trials appeared and Ilea resumed her training.
Hours passed, her sphere slowly inching along the enchanted steel darkness as her healing mana pushed into the metal. Single veins of her mana were recognizable now, snaking their way through the openings. All of it was deliberately forged, Ilea was sure of it. When for the first time, she had seen a single vein of her Sentinel Reconstruction, she knew how valuable Goliath’s gift was. This wasn’t a suit of armor to fight in, this was an instructor in the arcane.
When Maro knocked, she jumped and hit her head on the steel around her. Of course there was no damage to her, otherwise she might have perceived the attack coming. The massive thing vanished into her necklace, Ilea looking over at Maro, the two of them in the dark. “The moons are out, lady of the dark.”
“Don’t tell me you’re a vampire in secret.” She said, rolling her eyes.
“Vampire? Humor me, what exactly do you know of such creatures? I assume it’s from your own realm. Few here even know of their existence. I’m talking about Vampires, not Vampyrs, just to clarify.” Maro commented, walking towards the exit.
Ilea followed, spreading her wings to speed up, the man starting to float too. She noted that this time she saw the magic manifest in his body, purple lines flowing down his feet and back before he was propelled upwards. I was blind it seems…, She noted, answering his question, “Depends on who you ask. They were mythical creatures in our realm, often used in books and movies and generally seen as fictional. To my knowledge, magic wasn’t a thing and vampires weren’t real either.”
“They are cursed beings, hurt by the sun and prowling the night. They feed on the blood of humans and animals, bloodthirsty and powerful. Usually there was a sexual note connected to all of it but there the works differed greatly. Some full on romance and others going more into the beast like nature of them. What did they get right?” She was genuinely curious, having read some questionable stories herself, of both the gruesome kind as well as the romantic ones. She personally preferred those going both routes.
Maro opened the cathedral gates and moved through, “Well, the suns don’t hurt them. That much I can tell you. Also they’re powerful and while they use blood magic, I’ve never actually seen one of them feed on blood itself. Fresh and bloody meat, sure but drinking blood itself?” He explained, “Those that I faced weren’t Intelligent but I feared the day a Dark One would emerge. I suppose your romantic stories could apply then, even if it’d take a woman of your caliber. Same with elves really.”
“What do you mean a woman of my caliber?” She asked, feeling the tension rise in him thanks to her Sentinel Huntress skill.
He stared forward, the two emerging out of the mountain, to the sight of the moons and mists, “A… strong core. Hard skin and… mental resistance. Did I mention you look lovely today?”
Ilea rolled her eyes, “It’s weird how the fiction and myths in my realm were so close to the monsters and races common in Elos.”
“You believe it to be an illusion because of that?” He looked relieved at the change of topic.
“Wouldn’t you? There are none of those monsters on Earth.” She said, trusting him with the name too at this point. Maro had his quirks but he wasn’t a danger to her or anybody she knew, of that she was sure.
The two landed near a sea of mist, stretching out for hundreds of meters as it lightly reflected the star and moonlight. “I definitely would question it. Perhaps magic once existed? Then again, you came to this realm… who is to say a monster couldn’t accidentally fall into yours? A single one would be powerful enough to instill fear and create legends. Without a mate and without powerful beings to fight and level, it would die at some point. Either to injuries or old age.”
“Every legend? Well I suppose there has to be some explanation as to why the monsters here are so similar. Might also be that I’ve been brought here because I’m more familiar with it than say something like the Soul Rippers. Whatever fucked up swamp or eldritch realm they were birthed out of.” She theorized. Maro grunted in response.
“So do you want to level our resistances more?” He asked.
Ashen armor formed around her, starting on the small dot on her back. Her wings spread and her limbs extended, Speaking of Eldritch. She smiled and pointed at the mist, “You, will be leveling your drain resistances. I, will try to kill them.”
Maro looked at the dancing miststalkers, “They vanish after you damage them for a while. I tried.”
“When did you try that?” Ilea asked but he just shrugged.
“You slept all night yesterday.”
“True. Well I’ll try to hold on to them. Might be it prevents their escape.” She suggested.
He nodded, “Yea, I’m not getting that close to them.”
Ilea walked towards the dancing figures, “Just let them drain you and don’t steal my kills, I’ll murder you.”
“I don’t believe you.” Maro replied, “Just let me know if you need help.”
“Sure, thanks.” Ilea said and walked to the shore. Now what should I try? Grab one of them and get it out, fly off with one or just tank it? She decided flying up as she grabbed on with her ash was the safest bet. If she could even grab the half corporeal beings. She saw the magic in her sphere pulse when she got closer to the lake, the mists themselves forming tendrils of power.
The first dancing miststalkers noticed her a moment later, slowly meandering towards her as they spun their scythe like arms around and around. Ilea felt like there was some eerie music missing.
[Miststalker - ??]
Just two question marks. Should be manageable. When she had tried last, the numbers were already more the problem than their individual strength but now she had her evolutions. Levels aren’t everything. She reminded herself and wrapped her ashen limbs around the creature, finding purchase as she smiled and flew up. The monster was pulled up with her, Ilea feeling her health and mana slowly drain, the latter actually regenerating more quickly than the creature could steal it.
When the monster had left connection to the mists, it started evaporating immediately, as if it was cotton candy put into water. Ilea blinked her eyes and the creature was gone, as if it had never existed. Unexpectedly, she neither got a kill notification. Alright, this is going to be a little more interesting than fishing in shallow waters.