Sylver Seeker

by

KingKennit

Ch011-Three’s A Crowd, Nine’s An Army.

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Ch011-Three’s A Crowd, Nine’s An Army.

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His smile remained, even as he felt his poor lung getting sliced open again. The rogue behind him, pulled hard at the dagger, dragging it sideways and following the curve of the rib perfectly. He tried to jump away but found his feet glued to the ground.

Punching the back of Sylver's head, the rogue felt the force on his feet loosen for a moment, and attempted to punch again. In the cloud of darkness, the rogue couldn’t see where the arm was coming from, but he could feel the tight grip on his fist, blocking his punch.

The man in front of the rogue turned around in a spin, and lifted his arm upwards, wrapping it around the rogue’s remaining free arm, and locking it in place. A third arm went to the rogue’s throat, and he could only silently scream, as his very life was being drained out of him.

[Human (Warrior) Defeated!]
[Due to defeating an enemy 10 levels above you, additional experience will be awarded!]

[Necromancer] has reached level 13!
+5AP

[Human (Warrior) Defeated!]
[Due to defeating an enemy 10 levels above you, additional experience will be awarded!]

[Human (Archer) Defeated!]
[Due to defeating an enemy 10 levels above you, additional experience will be awarded!]

[Human (Archer) Defeated!]
[Due to defeating an enemy 10 levels above you, additional experience will be awarded!]

[Necromancer] has reached level 14!
+5AP

[Human (Archer) Defeated!]
[Due to defeating an enemy 10 levels above you, additional experience will be awarded!]

[Human (Archer) Defeated!]
[Due to defeating an enemy 10 levels above you, additional experience will be awarded!]

[Human (Rogue) Defeated!]
[Due to defeating an enemy 20 levels above you, additional experience will be awarded!]

[Necromancer] has reached level 15!
+5AP

[Koschei] has reached level 3!
+5AP

[Spell [Starving Sludge] added to spell list!]
[Starving Sludge: Tier I]
Cost: 150MP/S
-Generate a black colored sludge, that will eat away at the target’s health and stamina.
*Does not work on holy, or undead creatures.

[Appraisal (I) Proficiency increased to 6%]

[Optical Illusion (I) Proficiency increased to 71%!]

[Draining Touch (I) Proficiency increased to 29%!]

[Skill: Physical Endurance (I)]
Skill level can be increased by enduring pain.
I - Decrease the pain from physical attacks by 2%.

Dropping the dead rogue to the floor, Sylver went down on one knee and spat out blood. Waving at the disappearing cloud of red, it spiraled towards him, entered his body through the hole in his back.

He took an extremely deep breath and breathed out the red smoke. The wound on his back closed itself up, and his twice cut open lung healed to normal. Gesturing at the smoke he breathed out, it spread out near his feet and caused the 8 bodies laying around him to heal up a little.

“How the fuck did you do that?” Edna asked, already right behind him.

“Magic. But if you mean how they didn’t get me, I used Tom like a meat shield. Or shadow shield I guess. Classic tactic when outnumbered. Limit how much they can see, and then-” Sylver had to pause while he spat out blood that was stuck inside his healed lung. Edna patted him on the back and nearly sent him toppling over.

Finally cleared, Sylver could breathe normally again. Looking at his shoulder, where the robe was cut open, he was surprised to see a scar. Reaching behind himself, he found another scar on his back.

“Why didn’t you start off with that spell you used? The black slime one?” Edna asked.

“The accuracy is low. And it’s extremely expensive, so it’s not exactly something I can open with. Not to mention I didn’t know what their abilities would be, so I thought it best to be conservative with my mana.” Sylver explained, spitting out a chunk of dead flesh that was stuck in his throat for a while.

“The caravan is settling down for the night. We’ll need time to close up the hole they made, so take all the time you need.” Edna said. Sylver waited for a while for her to leave, but given how she just stood there, watching him, he turned around and started to work on the bodies.

Tom had already stripped them of anything valuable, putting all their jewelry, coins, and a few extra daggers they had hidden away, into a large backpack one of the archers was carrying.

Thankfully all 8 of the corpses still had their souls in them.

Total Level: 18
[Koschei-3]
[Necromancer-15]

CON: 20
DEX: 1
STR: 1
INT: 55
WIS: 34
AP: 20

Health: 200/200
Stamina: 84/100
MP: 419/550

Health Regen: 3/M
Stamina Regen: 1.5/M
MP Regen: 18.7/M

Dexterity is looking pretty tempting right now. I had forgotten how fun it is to fight hand to hand like that. On the other hand, the sooner I get more mana, the sooner I can start using 2nd tier spells. Plus, now that I have a small group under control, is there even going to be a point where I need to fight at close range?

On the other hand, this is a good chance to start all over. Is there any reason for me to do things like I always had? Ron said he would introduce me to a woman to act as a middleman for the Cord. Surely they have information brokers who could tell me how this class will progress. Or even how this class can be altered.

In the meantime, I’ll drop all 20 points into intelligence. But a close combat necromancer… I could be my own death knight...

Total Level: 18
[Koschei-3]
[Necromancer-15]

CON: 20
DEX: 1
STR: 1
INT: 75
WIS: 34
AP: 0

Health: 200/200
Stamina: 87/100
MP: 750/750

Health Regen: 3/M
Stamina Regen: 1.5/M
MP Regen: 25.5/M

[Shade (Lesser)] Raised!]

Starting with the leader, then the swordsmen, then the archers, and lastly the rogue, Sylver managed to raise all of them, in only about an hour. The framework was the same as Tom’s given how he wasn’t planning on using them for anything other than physical labor or attacks, so he just had to wait for his body to generate enough mana to finish solidifying them.

[Raise Shade (I) Proficiency increased to 88%!]

Edna watched the whole process from start to finish but didn’t say a single word.

The first to properly form was the rogue. He stood a little shorter than Sylver, in his hands 2 long daggers, a hood covering most of his face, dark cloth like armor, and covered in yellow cracks like Tom.

“Do they keep their memories, or…?” Edna asked, walking over to the newly risen rogue.

“To an extent. There’s the fog of undeath to worry about, but it’s very rare that it blocks up anything important. Ability wise at least. The more afraid of dying they are, the easier they are to raise, and sadly the more the fog of undeath affects them. But very rarely to the point, they lose their fighting style.” Sylver explained. Stabbing the rogue through the shoulder, with its own dagger, Sylver was surprised to see how quickly it closed up.

“What do you mean? What does being afraid of dying have anything to do with it?” Henra asked.

“There’s 2 kinds of undead summoning. The first is when you just use their body, or physical vessel if you’re being technical. In which case you simply animate it using mana, possibly insert a tiny portion of your own soul into it, to give it some semblance of intelligence, or the soul of another. It’s quick, cheap, and perfect if you know exactly what you want them to be doing. They’re essentially flesh or shadow golems if you do it that way. And the second is what this is. After dying, I give their soul an offer to remain on this plane of existence, under my command, and when they agree I provide them with a vessel, their own body in this case. They’re smarter, stronger, and can to an extent think on their own.” Sylver said.

The rogue didn’t have any issue moving in and out of his shadow and looking over his shoulder, a few of the other’s were starting to rise.

“Wait. So they’re all willing?” Edna asked.

“Depends on how you look at it. Imagine you’re hanging over a massive abyss. And there’s nothing around you, absolutely nothing. Just this terrifying tons and tons of nothing. And then I come along and offer you a hand up and out. On the condition, you follow my every command and order, and in the event you disobey me, you go right back into the abyss.” Sylver explained, giving the rogue a few extra daggers from his bag. They assimilated just fine thankfully and remained with the rogue even when he moved in and out of shadows.

“I’m sorry. Are you saying all of your shades are threatened into working for you?” Edna asked, looking with shock at the peaceful looking Tom and rogue.

“I prefer to think of it as ‘coerced’. It sounds a little more clinical that way. But they wouldn’t be here like this if they weren’t willing at least to a small extent. After they’re here, it can go one of two ways. Either they willingly start following me, in which case they gain more sentience and mental abilities and memories, or they try to go against me, in which case I basically use them as if they were purely physical bodies, with the added benefit of having more power, on account of their soul. In the second case, I essentially numb them to the point they have no idea what’s going on, and an eternity feels like a second to them.” Sylver explained.

2 of the archers and a swordsman rose and solidified next.

“So they are all slaves then?” Edna said, starting up a discussion Sylver had already had a countless number of times.

“Have you been listening? They aren’t. They have a choice in the matter. I do have ways to force them, but it’s extremely rare that I need to. Dying puts everything into perspective most of the time, and people especially are willing to do anything to get so much as an extra second of being not fully dead. Plus not to mention the fact that I can’t actually raise truly good people. Everyone here has enough regrets to keep them around long enough for me to do my thing, and at least to me that means I’m never working with objectively good souls.” Sylver explained. The rest of the group had finished rising by this point. All 9 of his shades stood in a single file line.

“That’s your excuse?” Edna said, looking at the yellow crack covered shades.

“It is. But it’s not really an excuse, because I have nothing to apologize for. Or justify myself. Souls are immortal. Compared to infinity, even 500 years of servitude is nothing. Fuck it, 10,000 years. It doesn’t really matter what I do, and to who, because from their perspective, or their soul’s to be exact, I don’t matter. I’m doing the equivalent of stealing a copper coin, from a man with a million platinum. It’s not just that he won’t notice it missing, he’s so rich he can’t even conceive that a copper coin exists,” Sylver said, repeating the speech he had already given roughly 20 times in his old life.

“But you’re stealing. You’d still be a thief. Just a very small one.” Edna countered, crossing her arms.

“I am. And I will never say I’m not. I am a thief. And while I could argue that putting their souls to work, creates a net positive in the world, compared to the 0 if they get to move on, I’m not going to. Because I don’t have to justify myself, or my actions, to you or anyone else. If you truly have an issue with what I’m doing, you are completely free to try and stop me.” Sylver said, gesturing at Edna’s sword and staff.

For a single second, he worried that she would actually raise her blade against him. It surprised him that he cared that she would.

“I can see the reason in what you’re saying. I may not agree with it, but I understand it. And more honestly, I don’t really care, I was just curious. I’ve seen worse things done by druids, than just raising the dead. And from how you describe it, it’s not even that bad. But what do you mean by abyss?” Edna asked, releasing the tension from her shoulders and mirroring Sylver.

“It’s just what I call it. My master always saw a giant hall, when she looked in there. I always see an empty abyss. It’s a little different for everyone. My understanding is it’s just the mind trying to perceive something it can’t perceive. Like trying to smell a color, or see a sound. ‘Seeing’ with your soul is very tricky and extremely personal.” Sylver explained, doing air quotes when he said seeing.

“So you don’t know if there’s an afterlife?” Edna asked. Someone was calling for her from one of the caravans.

“I don’t. I know there’s something. But I’ve never crossed the line to see because there’s no coming back from it. Undeath is about all I’ve managed so far. People think of death and life as positive and negative. In reality, it’s more like a zero and a one. A corpse without a soul is a zero. A functioning body with a soul is a one. And my shades and zombies, are in between.” Sylver explained.

“How come you're so open about all of this? I thought this would be a closely guarded secret, at the very least.” Edna asked.

Because you sound just like Oska, and it made me lower my guard.

“I like sharing knowledge. And it’s not enough for anyone to do me any harm with. And I’m hoping you’ll answer some of my questions, in return.” Sylver explained.

“Of course! Ask away!” Edna said enthusiastically.

“This is kind of basic, but why does my level increase somewhat randomly? It feels inconsistent.” Sylver asked.

“Oh. How old are you? Sorry, nevermind. You know that craftsmen gain experience from crafting things, miners get experience from mining, and combat classes gain experience from combat, right?” Edna asked something so obvious that it almost sounded like an insult.

“Yes?” Sylver answered uncertainty.

“Right. So imagine you had 2 classes, one combat, and the other a craftsmen class. How do you think experience should be distributed between them?” Edna asked.

“If you kill something, the combat one gets all the experience, and if you craft something, the crafting one gets all the experience?” Sylver guessed.

“Exactly. But what if you had 2 combat classes? How would you distribute the experience then? Especially if you had 2 classes of different rank and level?” Edna asked.

“It would… I don’t know?”

“You’ll figure it out eventually, but that's the reason for the inconsistency. Since you have a rare, and a unique class, my best guess is that the unique takes most of the experience when it can, and lets the rare class take it when it can.” Edna explained.

“Are you telling me classes are sentient?” Sylver asked, the thought disturbing him for some reason.

“Of course not. But they have hidden mechanics and requirements that can take years for you to figure out. With how closely guarded people’s classes, skills, and perks are, it’s very hard to get any concrete information most of the time. For example, did you know most warrior classes have an honor system?” Edna asked.

“As in…”

“As in they gain more experience if they fight ‘fairly’ and with ‘honor’. Magic classes gain more experience depending on how efficient the spells are, how well-formed they are, and how well they fare against the target being attacked. There are hundreds, possibly thousands of tiny bonuses and penalties you can trigger, without even realizing it, that translate into more experience when you kill one thing, verses when you kill another.”

“Is it not level-dependent then?”

“It is. Killing anything 10 levels lower than you is a waste of time. You’d need to kill 100 monsters that are 10 levels lower than you, to get the same experience as killing one monster on your level. But the problem with that is-”

“Monsters increase in strength exponentially, while humans increase in strength linearly.” Sylver finished.

“Yeah. Which means at some point you’ll be unable to face monsters on your level, let alone monsters higher level than you. And unless you pick your perks and skills properly, you’ll be too weak to kill anything above your level after a point in time. With your rare and unique class, your guess is as good as mine where that would be.” Edna said.

“So levels are useless when determining the strength of something?” Sylver asked.

“They’re not. You’d have to have really special skills and perks to kill something 50 levels above yourself. Or you have a massive advantage over the enemy. Like Essa could hypothetically kill a level 100 warrior if she snuck up on him and killed him before he activated any skills to protect himself. And with my holy attribute magic, I could probably kill an undead 20, or even 30, levels above me. Levels are a better determination of a monster’s strength than a person’s.” Edna continued.

“Because people can use equipment to boost their power, they can drink potions, or as you do, augment their physical abilities with mana. But at the end of the day, it’s not just a question of who has the bigger numbers. There’s the environment, experience, and other factors that match up to it. Even if you’re level 100, you should still think twice about attacking another level 100 person. Combat is so unpredictable, it’s up to you to judge how strong something is. At a higher level appraisal can show you how much mana or HP a person or monster has, but it’s such a huge pain in the ass to level.” Edna explained.

“On that note why do skills gain proficiency at different rates?” Sylver asked.

“I don’t mean to be rude, but how did you become a necromancer without knowing any of this?” Edna asked.

I spent a whole other life studying and practicing it, back when this system didn’t exist.

“A very specialized education. That I would rather not talk about.” Sylver answered.

“Right… Skills work based on talent and focus. It’s not enough to swing a sword around to get a sword related skill, you have to be actively trying to do whatever the skill would do, to get it. Or at least be close enough. Requirements are part of it, but if you don’t have the talent for it, you’ll take forever to acquire the skill. Having said that, some people are naturally talented with certain skills. For example, I could manipulate earth, almost instinctively, and don’t even know how old I was when I got the skill. On the other hand, it took me 2 years to learn to manipulate water, and even then I had to spend ages to get the skill to a second level. It depends on the skill, but the rule of thumb is, if you kill something with the help of the skill, it’s proficiency and level increases faster.” Edna explained.

Sylver knew most of this from Ciege’s memories, but it was good to get a clear answer on the matter. It also explained why he got so many skills so quickly.

Sylver handed the fencer his sword back, and couldn’t help but smile at how well he looked. Even with Sylver’s specialized knowledge, these shades were a step up from what he generally worked with. He watched as the fencer flicked his blade, and it turned the same bright yellow as the other shades weapons had. Clearly, the system was giving him some sort of leg up with the quality. Or maybe it’s just been so long since he personally raised something, and he forgot how well his magic worked.

Fuck… I forgot his name.

“Alright. You’re Fen,” Sylver said pointing to the fencer, “you’re Reg,” Sylver said pointing to the rogue, “you’re Dai, since you’re taller, and you’re Sho, since you’re shorter” Sylver said, pointing at the two swordsmen.

[Shade (Lesser)] has received the name [Fen]
[Requirements for evolution not met.]

[Shade (Lesser)] has received the name [Reg]
[Requirements for evolution not met.]

[Shade (Lesser)] has received the name [Dai]
[Requirements for evolution not met.]

[Shade (Lesser)] has received the name [Sho]
[Requirements for evolution not met.]

“What about the archers?” Edna asked.

“What about them? They’re archers. Archer one, archer two, it doesn’t matter. Their job will mostly be to stay behind me and shoot everything in front of me dead. Very little tactical maneuvering required. Fen and Reg, on the other hand, will be the vanguard, and Dai and Sho my shields. It’s actually incredibly convenient. I got the whole group all in one go.” Sylver said, willing his 9 into his shadow.

Edna looked down into the small shadow on the floor, where she now knew 9 potential allies resided in. She wanted to ask further questions and make sure he named the archers, but a call from Henra distracted her and caused her to leave.

Walking around camp, Sylver was told by Henra he would be off duty tonight. Essa had everything under control, and frankly, she imagined that he would be exhausted after killing 8 people.

Finding her words to be true, Sylver ate with a silk merchant, who gave him a bowl full of melted cheese and with chunks of meat floating around in it. Despite how heavy and horrible it sounded, it was surprisingly very light but a fulfilling meal.

The silk merchant went as far as to tell Sylver about how a friend of his was robbed by these very same bandits, and how he was glad they were off the road now. After buying a sewing kit from the man, for 2 silver coins, Sylver repaired his robe and reminisced about the last time he had had to repair his own clothes.

He almost handed the task over to one of his shades but remembered that he didn’t have anything intelligent enough for the job. He’d have to sit and watch over their shoulder, and then fix their mistakes anyway.

He had his tent set up for him, by Tom and the archers, and slept through the night without any incident.

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A note from KingKennit

Edited on 01.10.2020

No major changes, other than Edna's explanation for the system.

 


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KingKennit

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