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A note from Shirtaloon

There is going to be a change to the release schedule, starting next week. Releases will be one day later, meaning Tue-Sat here (Australia) and Mon-Fri (the Americas).

“That should be the nest in there,” Humphrey said. They were on a wide embankment road, running through a stretch of wetlands. The largest portion of high ground had a sizeable stand of trees, in which they had been informed were the trap weavers.

Humphrey and Sophie looked at Jason, who still had bags under his bloodshot eyes. His gaze focused on the trees and Sophie noticed a shift in his posture. The confident, laconic, half-slouch became more upright, his feet ready to move. There was a sudden readiness that her own instincts recognised as a preparedness to fight.

“Use a recording crystal,” Humphrey said. “Give her something to watch later.

He nodded, taking out his carousel stand of recording crystals and picking one out before returning the carousel to his inventory. He tossed the crystal over his head as his magical cloak formed around him. He ran to the edge of the embankment and leapt off, cloak floating around him as he drifted lightly down to land on the surface of the water like it was solid ground. Moving forward, he disappeared into the trees.


  • Objective: eliminate [Trap Weavers] 1/14.

“That was quick,” Sophie said.

“Jason has abilities and equipment well suited to fighting trap weavers,” Humphrey said. “Most of us find them troubling at best and deadly at worst. More iron-rankers in Greenstone die to trap weavers than anything else.”

***

Jason held his conjured dagger in a back-handed grip. Emerging from a shadow he stabbed out to his side, pinning a spider to the tree it was gripping. The spider’s body was around the size of a human torso, spewing out gore as the knife plunged through it.


  • Objective: eliminate [Trap Weavers] 2/14.
  • You have defeated [Trap Weaver].
  • Would you like to loot [Trap Weaver]?

Jason yanked the knife free and the trap weaver splashed into the water. He walked over the surface of the water, unconcerned. Roots jutted from the water but his perception power let him easily pick them out in the darkness. A thick strand of webbing shot out and latched onto his cloak, immediately trying to pull on it. That section of cloak became incorporeal and the strand fell limp as Jason drew a throwing dart from the bandolier on his chest and flung it toward the other end of the strand. The dart had a red cord, marking it as explosive. Chunks of trap weaver belched out of the darkness with a loud bang.


  • Objective: eliminate [Trap Weavers] 3/14.

Jason walked over to a gobbet of flesh that had struck a tree and poked it.


  • You have defeated [Trap Weaver].
  • Would you like to loot [Trap Weaver]?

One of the functions of Jason’s hood was that he could see right through it, not obstructing his vision. He could see trap weavers all around him, crawling on trees and believing themselves hidden in the dark. They were shades of grey, like Jason’s armour, which had been crafted from their leather. Their legs ended in the sharp tips that dug into bark, which made them excellent tree climbers. Those legs were also powerful and springy, allowing them to leapt between trees or onto prey.

One of the spider leapt at Jason from the left. He reached out and grabbed it out of the air, gripping it by the head. It bit into his hand as its sharp legs tried to stab his arm, but skittered off his armour.


  • [Trap Weaver] has inflicted [Trap Weaver Venom] on you.
  • You have resisted [Trap Weaver Venom].
  • [Trap Weaver Venom] does not take effect.
  • You have gained an instance of [Resistant].

He crushed the spider’s head in his fist and dropped it into the water.


  • Objective: eliminate [Trap Weavers] 4/14.
  • You have defeated [Trap Weaver].
  • Would you like to loot [Trap Weaver]?

From multiple directions, strands shot out at him. Some ineffectually struck his cloak, others slid off his armour without achieving purchase.


Item: [Trap Weaver Battle Robe] (iron rank, epic)

A full body armour, carefully hand-crafted from the silk and leather of trap weavers. (armour, cloth/leather).

  • Effect: Increased resistance to damage. Highly effective against cutting and piercing damage, less effective against blunt damage.
  • Effect: Repairs damage over time. Extensive damage may require external repair.
  • Effect: Absorbs blood to prevent leaving a blood trail.
  • Effect: Increases resistance to bleed and poison effects.
  • Effect: Resistant to adhesive substances and abilities with adhesive effects.
  • Effect: Adapts fit to the wearer, within a certain range.

Jason stood in the middle of the trap weaver encirclement. The monsters milled about, confused by their ineffectual attacks. In the shadowy copse of trees, Jason could teleport almost however he willed. He panned his gaze around, mapping out the shadows and the positions of the trap weavers. As the monsters launched a second barrage of webs, he vanished and went to work.

***

Humphrey and Sophie awaited Jason’s return.


  • Objective: eliminate [Trap Weavers] 5/14.
  • Objective: eliminate [Trap Weavers] 6/14.
  • Objective: eliminate [Trap Weavers] 7/14.

“He really isn’t messing about,” Sophie said.

“Everyone has their own way of fighting,” Humphrey said. “With most monsters, I have an easier time than Jason but trap weavers are a bad match for me. I’m most effective against enemies that stand their ground in open space. Complex, shadowy environments are where trap weavers nest but that’s where Jason thrives. Over time, you’ll come to find what works best for you. As you pick up more abilities and get more experience, you’ll refine your style.”


Quest: [Notice: Trap Weavers]

  • Objective complete: Eliminate [Trap Weavers] 14/14.
  • Quest complete.

Sophie looked up, but no bag of coins appeared.

“No rewards if we didn’t contribute,” Humphrey said. “I can see the bag dropping on you becoming annoying.”

“Getting tired of money literally falling out of the sky is a problem I’ll be happy to have.”

They spotted rainbow smoke drifting up from the top of the trees as Jason emerged. Once he reached them he dropped his cloak, revealing a large amount of blood on his head. The monster blood had vanished into smoke, making what remained come from his own injuries.

“Are you alright?” Humphrey asked.

“No worries,” Jason said. “I healed up using my abilities.”

“Did one of them bite you on the head?” Humphrey asked.

“Uh… yep. That was it.”

“What really happened?” She asked.

“Like Humphrey said,” Jason told her. “I got bitten by a monster.”

“I hope you won’t be cutting me out of too many fights,” Sophie said. “I like getting paid. Not that it feels that way, with you storing all the money.”

“Don’t worry,” Jason said. “My storage space keeps all the money together, but I’m keeping track of how much is yours.”

“And I can trust you to keep the numbers straight?” she asked.

“You still don’t trust me?” Jason asked.

“If our positions were swapped,” she said, “I would absolutely be stealing from you.”

Jason chuckled.

“You’re his indentured servitor,” Humphrey pointed out. “All the work you do is for him and he is entitled to take any or all of what you earn as he likes. He doesn’t need to steal from you because he can take it all with complete legality. He doesn’t have to do any more than feed you.”

“Don’t worry,” Jason said. “I’ll keep proper track. You have to pay for your own gear, though.”

He took out a bottle of crystal wash and tipped it over his head.

“That means both equipment and consumables,” he added.

She gave him a flat look.

“What?” he asked her.

“Why would you lie and claim you were bitten on the head?” she asked.

“I’m not lying,” Jason said. “I definitely didn’t get woozy after the fight from teleporting too much while hungover and hit my head on a log.”

***

The procession of people who entered the ritual room was as prestigious a gathering as to be found in Greenstone. Danielle Geller, Thalia Mercer, Elspeth Arella, Emir Bahadir and the archbishop of the church of purity, Nicolas Hendren. Ernest Geller was waiting inside, playing guard to Jonah Geller. Jonah, his upper arm firmly in Ernest’s grip, glared at each person as they entered. When the Archbishop entered, Jonah's eyes went wide and he strained to yank his arm free of Ernest's grasp. It didn’t budge in the grip of Ernest’s bronze-rank strength.

Elspeth Arella used her aura to brutally suppress Jonah’s. Many powerful constriction abilities could only affect those who auras had been beaten down, like the ability she used to entrap Jonah in a bubble of force. It cut off his protestations and lifted him helplessly into the air.

“Thank you, Madam Director,” the Archbishop said. “If you could move him away from the centre of the room, that would be appreciated.”

Jonah’s bubble floated away as his fists hammered at the inside. His mouth was visibly firing off invective but his voice was as confined as his body. The Archbishop took a white bag from the satchel at his side and removed the stopper from a spout in the bag’s corner. From it, he started carefully pouring out a mixture of powdered silver and gold to form a ritual circle.

“Fortunately,” he said, “divine rituals are not so vulnerable to vagaries of ambient magic as the mundane varieties.”

“I’ve never seen one performed before,” Arella said.

“They are much as ordinary rituals,” the Archbishop said. “They still draw on the power of ambient magic but are infused with the glorious might of the divine. My god’s will moves the magic and not the other way around, which is why your ability entrapping the unfortunate boy will not affect it.”

After drawing out the magical diagram, the Archbishop went around placing materials within it. Silver rank spirit coins were the bulk of the materials, while most of the others were orbs of gold or crystal, set out in small frames like silver egg-cups. When he was done, he stepped back, held out a hand and started chanting.

“God most pure, I beseech. Make in this place a sanctuary most clean, to suppress that which poisons the stem and reveal that which poisons the root. In this circle, let no rot spread nor foreign taint take action. Let all be made pure and clean.”

White and gold light started shining up from the circle.

“You may deposit the man in the circle, Madam Director,” the Archbishop said.

The bubble floated toward the circle with Jonah, trapped inside, still furiously thrashing about. His hands and head were bloodied from where had pounded them against the enclosure. As it entered the light, the bubble rapidly dissolved, like butter melting in the sun. Jonah fell out but instead of collapsing to the floor, drifted through the air to float above the centre of the magic circle. His arms and legs were pulled out to his sides, his whole body jerking in a small seizure. His eyes were wide and rapidly turning bloodshot, his jaw clenched tight.

“Jonah,” Danielle whispered, her voice wracked with misery as she looked on. Thalia Mercer placed a comforting hand on her shoulder, her own troubled gaze locked on the young man in the circle.

Jonah’s eyes rolled up in his head as his veins became visible in the form of thin, dark lines all over his body.

“There is no question,” the blank-faced Archbishop said impassively. “Something resides within the body. The circle will purge it.”

“The enemies in the astral space had something inside them,” Emir said, looking at Danielle with concern. “When endangered they were able to trigger it and kill themselves rather than be taken alive.”

“It is too late for that,” the Archbishop said. “Any power the thing inside him has cannot be activated within the circle. The concern you must have now is how deeply it has infiltrated his body. Removing it may damage or even kill him.”

“I have gold-rank potions of the highest grade ready to go,” Emir told Danielle. “So long as there is a scrap of life left in him, we won’t let it fade.”

“I will heal him the moment I am certain the taint is gone,” the Archbishop said.

Danielle didn’t acknowledge their words, her gaze unwavering from Jonah’s struggles. His body’s jerking became more violent, pushing back against the magic of the circle that held him in place. His eyes went bloody and dark, then burst outward, spraying dark fluids as something erupted from within them.

Flailing metal wires, thin as hairs, shot out in clusters from his now-empty eye sockets, waving like the tendrils of a sea creature. Danielle made to lunge forward but her arm was gripped by Emir, his gold-rank reflexes catching her before she moved. She turned on him in fury.

“You cannot help him until it is done,” the Archbishop said. “I would suggest prayer.”

Danielle shot the priest a look of venom before turning back to Jonah. She did so just in time for Jonah’s cleansing to reach the final stage. Wires burst out from every part of his body, shredding muscle and skin, slicing apart bones. His flesh was shredded just as badly as his clothes as they erupted out of him.

The wires formed a complex network that seemed to have threaded itself through his entire circulatory system. A whole nest of wires had riddled Jonah’s brain, slicing his skull into pieces that tumbled to the ground with the rest of his shredded corpse.

What was left was a vaguely man-shaped wire figure, with all the wires threading into and out of a nucleus in the place of the heart. Free of Jonah’s body, the mass of wires staggered forward, but was rapidly corroded by exposure to the light of the circle. The wires dissolved into nothing as the nucleus fell to the floor with a hollow clatter.

In the aftermath, the light faded from the now-bloody circle. What had once been Jonah was splattered over the circle. All that remained of the wire construct was the empty nucleus. It looked like a small, hulled coconut. Danielle didn’t spare it a glance as she staggered forward, toward the gory mess that was all that remained of Jonah.

“It’s done,” the Archbishop said, his emotionless intonation startling everyone but Danielle into looking at his calm expression. Emir and Thalia turned to Danielle, who mercifully didn’t seem to have heard. She stood in front of Jonah’s bloody remains, no longer recognisable as a person.

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Shirtaloon

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Soncikuro ago

Thanks for the chapter!

That was not a pretty image to imagine.

    no168_92 ago

    did jason had a chance to check any of the five before? i felt like it was mentioned in passing before but couldnt remember when, where or maybe i remembered wrong...

     

    Edit: 

    I got that they don't know that the purity church is compromised, but why didn't they do some second opinion consultation or others before doing this ritual?

    like with knowledge, healer, or some other church? Is there a curch of magic? spatial? curses or afflictions? forge/autamatons? gods are contactable in this world 

    Didn't emir emir got that silver rank portal staff? he got a fully staffed castle, is there no affliction remover among his staff?

    hope more explanation/preparation will be given, since from what said before, i think all five are from influencial/wealthy family...

     

    this attempt seems kinda sloppy/un-prepared with pre-op things

      Northerner7 ago

      They were worried he would blow up or whatever like the guys in the astral space did. So they went with something they thought would work 100% rather then just checking him out.

      JeffreyXIII ago

      I think it also has to do with the fact that in a world where gods can show up personally, there is an implicit trust in any of the churches.

      no168_92 ago

      not neccesarily... remember the healer incident? in jory'c clinic.... they know that the churches can be corrupt until the gods intervene....

      well, once bitten (exploded into a gory mess) twice shy (hope they do go for the 2d, 3rd and however many opinions and options after this) they say....

      Undead Adventurer ago

      Well, in a case where the thing inside him wasnt a nervous system made of metal wires and say something more fleshy and or fluid, probably wouldnt of turned him into a smoothie, from the point of an outsider it seems entirely plossible mistake

      Misery's End ago

      iirc jason wasn't asked to cleanse nor examine any of the wounded people (something which I found very odd). In the end, he was tasked with segregating the 5 suspected tainted individuals from the rest of the basecamp and little else. Him and Clive were kept busy with keeping the rest of the camp from devolving into a chaotic mess and dealing morning. Soon after the silver ranked Nobel removed them from leadership of the camp, the families of the 5 were told and they came to collect them.

      jtrowell ago

      Weren't the 5 lost for a while and only found much later, long after Jason was removed by the arrogant silver ranked noble?

      Misery's End ago

      Nah, jason was back at camp from the beginning of the rescue. Him and clive were put in charge by the gold ranker when everyone started coming out. Emir specifically put jason in charge of segregating the 5. They they were relieved of co trol two or three days later when the silver rank noble didnt like they didnt get preferential treatment blah blah blah.

      Pion ago

      It was Vincent not Clive if i'm not mistaken

      Misery's End ago

      O.o whoever the second guy was is ultimately unimportant. The salient points are:

      • Jason and a second individual were placed in charge of the camp.
      • Emir places Jason in charge of the 5 and is told to keep them segregated.
      • It is never stated that Jason examined the 5.
      • He and the other guy were told to fuck off a few days later by a silver rank noble.

      Northerner7 ago

      They were lost in the astral space and some of the last people to come out of it. Much later then when Jason was ousted from control of the camp.

      Misery's End ago

      O.o um when Emir came out of the astral space with the 5, he specifically asked Jason to watch over them though. It was later restated when Emir questioned the bronze rank that ended up in charge of the camp, that he personally left in control to avoid the 5 people disappearing before they could be looked at by the proper people. It was one of the reasons he was so pissed.

      elyalyn ago

      Unless the gods are like the church as well. The healer just happens to be a nice dude.

      Pankaic ago

      Wait, how is he purity church compromised? Did I miss a detail somewhere? 🤨

      jtrowell ago

      It's the church of the bitch elf prietress from the first arc, she was very suspicious at the time and it was since confirmed in a small scene that she was conspiring with the builder cultists

Drumes ago

Thanks for the chapter!

Azgul ago

Thanks for the chapter.

humblepeasant ago

Thanks for the chapter!

I got no strings to hold me down
To make me fret, or make me frown
I had strings, but now I'm free
There are no strings on me....

 RIP Jonah

    CrimsonEclipse18 ago

    Yeah, cause they were in him

    kjoatmon ago

    Yah, I think he is toast. And they now have proof that the remainging four are not who they say. The aura changed because the proginal person was killed when the "terminator" crawled into the meat sack.

      Samelie ago

      idk, being mush doesnt mean he is dead, if gold rank elixir is as good as i hope it is. I mean, there probs are poisons and shit that eat bone and make you mush too, that should be healable.

      Rakhmamort ago

      A whole nest of wires had riddled Jonah’s brain, slicing his skull into pieces that tumbled to the ground with the rest of his shredded corpse.

      I dunno, that part there seems to show the brain has been mushed. I don't think anyone is coming back from that.

      Samelie ago

      well the "corpse" part says it all i guess^^

      Omnivoyance ago

      Magic so probably possible though I would think for a situation where "death" has occured the ritual, skill, or item you used would have to be specifically for saving someone who has x amount of body mass, y amount time since "death", z amount of live cells, or something along those lines. I don't think even a high level "health" potion would do it if it was just meant for general health.

      kjoatmon ago

      They were clear on "scrap of life" being a state that can be saved. So it all comes down to what constitutes that.

      Samelie ago

      I assume that Gold is a rather high rank, anything short of missing most of your body constitutes as that, while diamond will give full body ressurection type stuff.

      kjoatmon ago

      What it really comes down to is where they system/world/universe assigns the soul. Jason came through the void as a soul and now has a magic body and is not really human. So we know this system uses souls. OK. So, was the soul of the victim removed when the wires were added? Is the soul linked to the brain or heart? Is the soul an energy of the whole body? If the link is gone, whatever the reason, then he is dead. If there is some scrap if the link, then it comes down to how fast they can reassembler the body and maintain the link. It is a system issue defined by the story and we just do not have enough from the author to say, "We have seen this, so..."

Zethuron ago

Thanks for the chapter.

ShamanRay ago

Thanks for the chapter

F*ck the parity church. 😡👆

Premium

flriley ago

I hope they find a way to counter this wireframe construct without killing everyone.

    xtremeloldude ago

    that honestly seems unlikely with it being fused so completely to every single single piece of the body both inside and out.

    Especially considering the method they just used is already extremely powerfull (if not entirely specific for this issue) and expensive

      Azgaroth ago

      I think one it's a message from the man, because we know one priestess is involved in the sh*t going, and it's will not surprise me that all the "Purity" church here is involved. Two, although they wanted to test it with a certified "Cleanser/Purifier" but they didn't think that Jason ability work on it or at least lessen it's effect.

      And about The Purifier, he didn't precise what need to be cleansed, for me he cleansed everything including Jonas natural resistance to the thing, so it's develloped faster because he had access to Jonas full body to feast and after that when he burst the "ritual" finally cleansed the metal thingy....

      LadyLark1 ago

      I would have thought Jason's healing ability would have done it? Doesn't it eliminate things like diseases, cancer and other afflictions. So why not parasites?

      I could be wrong of course. But I think I remember them not asking Jason if he could do anything.

      Thanks for the chappy!!!

      Wandering Shadow ago

      The way the wire thing is described, it seems to be like a golem construct, so the ability might see it as a seperate entity, thus not something it can effect.

      MaliMi ago

      Even if it did so, the wires could be too high level for him to even realize they are there.

      Olinn ago

      @LadyLark1 would this count as a disease or a magical affliction? because if it's the latter, then Jason's ability won't work, unless this counts as an unholy affliction or a curse.

      Icaimas ago

      I believe we´re missing a point here.
      Even if Jason has a cleansing/healing ability, it has limits.
      Diseases like cancer and other such afflictions might be difiicult to or not curable at all in our world, but there it´s a normal illness, unrelated to magic, curable even with an only just awakened ability, like in Jason´s case.
      From what was mentioned in previous Chapters, it´s assumable that iron-ranked skills are weakend or downright useless against higher ranking stuff (monster, person, skill, afflictions,...) and whatever afflicts them is most likely higher ranked than iron and most likely resistant to simple skill effects. Which is why they had to use a costly ritual led by a high-ranking priest, of the group which is the leading expert in cleansing, purging and eliminating everyting they deem `impure´.
      Of course it might just be a ploy used in the masterminds plot or something. Or the person known as "Jonah" didn´t exist anymore since he went missing and the one found was merely a construct acting under orders -very speculative, I know, the thought just came up as nothing remained except for a puddle of flesh, blood and an empty core.

      Wandering Shadow ago

      Forgot about the difference in rank effecting cleansing things, cause he was mostly shown to be doing no-rank common stuff in life, with odd iron-rank things, like the corpse spores, with no problem.

      So, potential homonculus with forced copy personality into core, with wires to properly control the flesh bag, with the 'cleansing' ritual to dispose of the captured?

      Brian Swanson ago

      I don't think there is any way to heal or purify the remaining victims in a traditional sense. I think, that if they are going to be able to save the rest of them, which I doubt is in the cards, they will need to use an affliction or curse that attacks the parasite directly.

      Wandering Shadow ago

      The only way I can see them possibly 'healing' them, would be to

      1. Disable the core
      2. Cut to the heart and extract said core
      3. Slowly drag the wires out, one by one, while under a heal over time spell/blessing

      If the wires are interconnected though, then step 1 and 2, then snip the conneted wires and hope they can live with the wires thoughout their remaining life.

      ZeroDivide ago

      Always a chance they could find something that breaks apart the metal, like a super fast acting rust that doesnt leave anything behind that will harm the person.

      Getting a way to cause metal to rust super fast sounds like something an affliction specilist may be able to do Wink

      Samelie ago

      Even if that were the case, i doubt our resident affliction mc has any say or donig in the matter. And i dont think it counts as an affliction, more like possesion or something.

      Premium

      flriley ago

      Why bother to extract the wire-frame? Leave it in, but burn and melt the construct slowly, healing the body as you do so. Now that they know it exists, they should be able to find a way to identify and trace it.

      Or examine what they extracted to find out exactly what it is made of, then introduce a virus into the body that attacks only that organism.

      Premium

      flriley ago

      I like this idea!

    no168_92 ago

    i believe the purity guy did somehing to trigger/enhance the phenomenon instead of purify it the right way. could be wrong.

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