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Ch020-Dark Alleyways Are Dangerous

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[Physical Endurance (I) Proficiency increased to 87%!]

I see... Since the pain never completely stopped, only decreased, the system regarded it as one continuous event. I thought it was weird I wasn’t gaining any proficiency. Does regrowing dead tissue count as a physical attack? Wait no, it said skill level is increased by enduring pain. And that’s exactly what I’m doing.

Sylver’s arm still hurt enough that he felt like crying, but it was at least bearable now. His mana channels had cooled down sufficiently, and he could finally start moving them around a little. The needle appeared to really work since his entire shoulder was healed. Or at least the flesh was healed.

He looked around his room and was glad to see Tom and the rest had enough sense to clean everything up. His wardrobe was organized, his money was separated into separate bags, his tools and weapons cleaned and neatly laid out, it was as a whole, a great thing to see when waking up from a self-induced coma.

Removing the wrapping around his arms, he checked their progress. The left had solidified better, and at the very least wouldn’t be falling off anytime soon.

And the right was already starting to repair the muscles. It was a weird emotion to be so pissed off that something was going right without any effort. But it just rubbed him the wrong way, that people here had it so easy. It’s one thing if you prepare for it, and spend years researching how to heal yourself, and your body, and then combining all that knowledge and experience into an enchantment, and a whole other if you just kill enough shit, and get access to a healing skill or something.

“Edna’s been looking for you,” a voice from the ceiling said. Looking up Sylver saw Ron’s helmet sticking out of it.

“She’ll have to wait. Is the workshop ready?” Sylver asked, getting his arms wrapped up again with fresh bandages.

“It is. 5 cages, lead-lined shackles, and a couple of tables I won’t miss,” Ron answered. His face disappeared back into the ceiling before his whole body came out of the floor near Sylver.

“Great. Thanks so much for all the help, Ron. How have you been? Anything interesting happened in the two weeks I was gone?” Sylver asked, getting dressed and his weapons hidden behind him.

“Not particularly. The lord of Arda is starting preparations for his daughter’s coronation, but that’s still months away. There’s a new dwarf blacksmith in the lower south region, but you already knew that. Oh and uhh… That’s about it really.” Ron explained. His voice was different again. Or it was more likely Sylver just forgot what he sounded like.

“I see. Well, that’s good too. Constant change is only fun when you’re in a position to take advantage of it. What do you think?” Sylver asked, turning in place.

His left arm was in a sling being held up to his chest as if a bone was broken. His right was hanging loosely at his side, the long sleeves of his shirt hiding the bandages, and creating the appearance of slightly bulkier than normal arms. A leather glove over his hand, further hid the wrapping, to the point he was hoping no one would notice at all.

“A little pretentious, gloves went out of fashion years ago, but if you mean can I tell that your arms don’t work, then no. People may think you’re an incompetent adventurer though, given how healing potions are only 2 gold. But it’s not unheard of for damage that doesn’t heal with magic. A lot of undead can curse the shit out of you if you aren’t ready for them.” Ron explained, gesturing at the sling.

“Good enough. I need to look as weak and punchable as possible for this anyway.” Sylver said, getting help from Fen to put his jacket on properly.

“Do you want me to come with you? There’s barely any guards there, things could go bad very quickly.” Ron offered, as a full-body sized mirror appeared in his hands.

“That’s very kind of you, but I’ll be fine. People with a level higher than 20 have better things to do than steal from passing weaklings. And worst comes to worst, I’ve still got perfectly functional legs. I’d like to see anyone catch me if I’m running for my life.” Sylver said, turning around while looking at himself in the mirror. He really did look like a pompous asshole.

“You know you could just buy them from the slave market? Granted, men are a little on the pricey side, but you can buy the cripples, they’re cheap.” Ron offered.

Cheap in this case meant, only 10 gold. At minimum.

“I’m not so rich that I’m going to start wasting money on things I’m perfectly capable of gathering myself. I’m already down 60 gold renting that workshop from you, not to mention the other 20 gold I’m going to have to pay Salgok to start working on my tools. I’ve no idea how much all the stuff I want from Raba is going to cost, but I’m guessing it will be a lot. And it’ll help the city out, at least a little, with fewer thieves and bandits prowling the streets.” Sylver said, walking towards the door.

His bag made a very enticing jingle.

*

*

*

“She’s not home right now. And if I recall right, she’s got a double shift today.” Tera said, leaning inside the doorway.

“That’s good because I was actually hoping to talk to you,” Sylver replied, trying to look a little less pompous.

“I’ll say one thing, if nothing else, I admire the gall to try and go after a roommate. But I’m focusing on myself, for now, so no thank you.” Tera said, stepping back and closing the door.

A shadowy hand from the floor stopped it from fully closing.

“Actually I was hoping you’d join me for a stroll in the upper east area, so we can get attacked by thieves, and I can capture and take them away.” Sylver quickly explained, through the small gap of the door.

Tera paused, and then opened it wide again, staring upwards at the colorfully dressed man.

“Why do you need me for that?” She asked.

“Because I’ve already spent 3 hours walking around, with a limp mind you, and not one of them attacked me. On my own, I’m that horrible mix of unpredictable, and probably not worth it. If you’re around I’m hoping they’ll be more inclined to attack.” Sylver said.

“Why?” Tera asked, with a smirk.

“On top of being a very attractive woman, there’s also the fact that I’m going to give you some flashy jewelry, and the fact that you’re an alchemist will hopefully be enough to get them to act.” Sylver finished.

“What kind of jewelry?” Tera asked, with a raised eyebrow.

“It’s in my bag, but I need to step inside to get it,” Sylver explained. Tera looked at him for a while, before gesturing for him to come inside.

Once inside Fen came out of Sylver’s shadow, and took the bag off him. Opening it revealed a few extremely well polished, solid gold rings, and a few necklaces. Some even had small and colorful gems embedded in them.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so tacky in my life,” Tera said, smiling and holding one of the necklaces up to inspect it.

“Bandits have the weirdest taste in jewelry,” Sylver added, watching Tera smile while taking out more and more items.

“I think it’s the fact that they keep and wear what they couldn’t sell. So everything well made and worthwhile is sold off, and shiny crap like this is all that’s left.” Tera explained. She put one of the necklaces on and covered her fingers with multiple gem-studded rings.

“How do I look?” She asked, holding out her hands.

“Well if I was a weak loser, who didn’t have the skills or the class to be a proper adventurer, and I was drunk or addicted to something, and your only company is a mere level 19 mage, with a limp, I wouldn’t think twice about attacking you,” Sylver said, watching Tera take the rings off and moving them into a pile, before dumping the rest back into his bag.

“Why didn’t you ask Leke for this?” Tera asked.

“This isn’t really a side of myself I want to show her, and more importantly, because her guard would get in the way,” Sylver explained, letting Fen put the bag on him again.

“Ah… So Adam’s already spoken to you…” Tera said meekly.

“He hasn’t. But he followed us around through the whole night, and I saw her trying to wave him away a few times. And given how she’s extremely valuable to the guard station, it made sense. So it’s just one guy?” Sylver asked.

“It’s not. They’re all women, but they call themselves Adam, so we call them Adam. They’re all like level 50 with stealth skills, how did you notice them?” Tera asked.

“I can sort of feel it when I’m being watched. And hiding in shadows doesn’t really work with me. And I don’t mean to rush you, but I need an answer, if you’re coming with me or not.” Sylver asked.

Tera stood there for a while looking at him. “I promise, nothing will happen to you. And I’ll treat you to dinner wherever you want afterward.” Sylver offered.

“What are you going to do with them?” Tera asked.

“How specific do you want me to answer that question?” Sylver asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Very.”

“Fine. I damaged the mana channels in my arms, and my arms as a whole, and I need live human subjects, to inject with my mana, to force their body to copy and reproduce it, so their mana channels get adapted to it, so then I can take out their healthy mana channels, and repair mine with them.” Sylver explained, lifting his barely functional right arm up and getting the glove removed off it.

Tera’s eyes were wide for a few moments, staring at the black appendage, covered in dead skin and slimy.

“Well, you’re certainly taking advantage of the self-defense laws. And picking people no one would ever really miss. If I help you, can I watch?” She asked.

Slightly taken aback, Sylver couldn’t help but smile at his recent choices of accomplices. Counting Edna, Tera is the second woman he’s worked with, who sounds to be… interested in dark magic.

“That depends if you can keep everything a secret and have immunity to negative energy.”

“I’m an alchemist, I can drink a potion to solve that. And yes, I swear on my life and name, never to tell anyone about the secret underground workshop Ron has, that my master and I helped build and set up.” Tera offered with a bored smile.

“Do you ever feel like you’re too lucky?” Sylver asked, as his glove was put back on.

“All the time. Especially if you let me try a few experiments on whoever you capture after you’re done.” Tera said.

“Sure. They’ll lose any ability to interact with mana, but other than that they’d be perfectly healthy. I need 5 for myself. If you want I can get more than I need so you have some to work on while I’m converting mine. I’ll have to ask Ron for a few more cages, but it shouldn’t take too long.” Sylver said.

“Great! I want 3 of my own in that case. I’ve got something I want to test, but I’m too low on funds to buy anyone healthy enough to see if it works or not. Have some tea while I get changed.” Tera said, walking up the stairs.

Sylver sat down in the kitchen, and let Tom make him some tea.

 

*Devin

“It’s that black-eyed freak again,” Devin said, nudging his brother awake.

“Ignore him. A giant like him isn’t worth the effort of taking the 2 silver’s he has. Poor fuck can’t even afford to get his arm healed.” Devin’s brother responded.

“Ay. But he’s got a girl with him now. Level 29 alchemist. And very worth the trouble.” Devin suggested, learning down at the girl from their hiding spot.

His brother poked his head out too, and almost wolf-whistled. Covered from head to toe in jewelry, a silk scarf around her shoulders, a thin and revealing dress, and as Devin suggested, very worth the trouble.

“Go call the lads. And find Leonard, so we can sell her when we’re done.” Devin’s brother suggested.

“And the freak?” Devin asked, silently putting his shoes on.

“He’s only level 19 with a broken arm, I’ll handle him myself.” The brother responded.

Once Devin had set off, his brother jumped down and followed the two from the shadows.

 

*Sylver

“I’m thinking about it now, but this may have been too much. What if we run into some drunkard? I’d have to show my hand, and that would destroy the element of surprise I was counting on.” Sylver whispered, matching Tera’s slightly slower pace.

“If it’s just one, I can handle it. Alchemy requires more strength than you might think, not to mention I know a few offensive spells too. Is he still following us?” Tera asked, moving the silk scarf out of the way so it wasn’t covering what it’s meant to.

She’s having more fun with this than I am. Sylver thought, as he felt around and found the stalker behind them.

“We’re fine. He’s still behind us.” Sylver said.

“How are you controlling the shades without your hands? Are you channeling mana through your legs or something?” Tera asked, doing her best to stay composed and noble-looking.

“They’re a little special. Once I summon them, I don’t really need to do anything else. They can take mana out of me without any input on my part, so they’re perfect for instances where I can’t manipulate mine a whole lot. And I can cast with my legs, but I would really rather not.” Sylver explained. He saw three black fingers, with yellow cracks in them, appear from a shadow on the floor, then they reappeared with four fingers, then five… After turning a corner they found themselves face to face with a group of people.

“Ok, cool, looks like they’re all here,” Sylver whispered.

“I’m going to do the voice,” Tera whispered.

“Don’t do the voice,” Sylver half begged.

“Too late,” Tera responded before moving in front of him. “Move away peasants! I don’t want your stench to reach my noble nostrils!” Tera shouted at the group up ahead.

“Noble nostrils?” Sylver whispered to her with a raised eyebrow.

“Shut up. It’s supposed to sound stupid. Let me have my moment.” Tera whispered in response.

“A thousand pardons, my lady. My men and I were just wondering if we could have a moment of your time. Assuming your chaperone takes no issue with it.” A man with a polka dot bandana said while bowing in mock. He even went as far as to copy Tera’s awful accent.

Standing around conversing with dalcops? I’d rather die!” Tera said with disgust and indignity in her voice. She wrapped her arm around Sylver’s and stuck her nose up at them.

“You’re overdoing it,” Sylver whispered through gritted teeth. They’re bandits, not imbeciles. You’d have to be mentally retarded to-

“That can be easily arranged, milady.” The polka dot wearing bandit said, as the men behind him drew their weapons.

-not find this whole thing suspicious...Well, good thing I don’t need them to be smart.

“Watch your tongue mongrel! I am Sabrina Da’Metania, and if you so much as lay a hand on me, my father will have your head!” Tera shouted. To her credit, she sounded the perfect mix of confident and ignorant.

Let’s see... 8 in front of me and the one in the back. Should I take one extra, or just kill him here? Sylver wondered to himself. All his shades were already in place and were just waiting for the command.

“How about a trade then lady Sabrina. I’ll allow you use of my head as you see fit, provided you allow my men and I use of yours! Because otherwise, things will turn very bad for you.” The polka dot bandit answered. Most of the group behind him laughed at that.

“Alright! Everyone gets one, and only one, chance to back away and fuck the fuck off! I will listen to no complaints, or explanations after this, if you choose to remain here, your lives are forfeit!” Sylver shouted. He even went as far as to reach behind himself, and pull out his dagger, promptly dropping it to the floor.

That got a roaring laugh out of all the bandits, and even a giggle from the one creeping up behind him. Fen’s group at the very least kept things professional.

The one with the polka dots on his head, walked out of the group, almost falling onto the dirty floor from laughter. He pulled out a short sword from his back, which was only a few centimeters from being called a dagger.

The polka-dotted bandit’s smile disappeared entirely and was replaced by a sneer. “You must be a noble used to getting his way. So I’ll ask you this, before breaking your other arm, legs, and then making you watch as my men and I fuck the life out of your companion. You and what army, mate?” The bandit asked.

Now it was Sylver’s turn to laugh. And even Tera joined in shortly after. Sylver spoke as his shaking hand reached upwards to wipe a tear out of his eye. “You just made my day right now. It’s been such a shit day, and that one sentence has completely turned it around!” Sylver said between fits of laughter.

The bandits in the back were all less giggly now, some even getting into a defensive position.

Finally, Sylver took a deep breath and calmed down a little.

“Alright everyone, string em up. Fen and Reg, take care of the one in the back, everyone else you know what to do.” Sylver said, barely loud enough for anyone to hear.

In an instant the scene changed from a man and a woman, standing in the middle of a dark and dirty alleyway, surrounded by a group of well-armed bandits on one side, and by a very tall and muscular looking bandit blocking the other side. To a scene of a man and a woman standing in the middle of a dark and dirty alley, and 8 men being choked to death by bright yellow garrottes, and the man on the other side, being repeatedly punched in the stomach, as a black bandage covered figure, choked him to death.

The noises of their struggle, and falling weapons, filled the dark and dirty alleyway, as one by one they dropped to the floor unconscious, splattering murky water on their peers, and on the shadowy figures.

Blood seeped down onto the cobblestones, the wire-thin garrotes being a little too thin for Sylver’s purpose, and having cut their necks slightly. Luckily everyone was forewarned about this, and Sylver even went as far as to show his shades the proper technique to using the custom made garrotes Salgok had made for them.

Sylver moved his attention away from the passed out bandits, and caught an unmistakable ear to ear smile on Tera’s face, as she watched Fen and Reg, kicking, punching, and wrestling the large bandit down to the floor. The man’s attempt at speaking or screaming was cut short by his throat being forced closed from the pressure Reg put on it.

He managed to grab Fen by the arm, and lifted the shade high into the air, before slamming him down into the ground. Fen exploded into a cloud of darkness, temporarily blinding the large bandit, and Sylver and Tera alike.

Dai and Sho appeared out of the newly created puddle, and used their sheathed swords, to hit the man at the knees, breaking them and finally bringing him down. He continued to swing his arm while on the floor, making several unsuccessful efforts to roll onto his back to crush Reg, but he very slowly, and finally, stopped breathing and lost consciousness.

“I don’t think there’s a single thing I love more, than when everything goes exactly as planned. It’s honestly almost euphoric at times.” Sylver said, mostly to himself.

Tera continued to stand there, and stare at the unconscious man, with a peculiar smile on her face that reminded Sylver very strongly of Helca, when he first met her.

He actually felt the spear in his stomach for a moment, before remembering where he was.

“Alright! Everyone grab a body and follow me. Reg and Dai are on the big one. Anyone stirs awake while we walk, punch them in the side of their neck until they stop.” Sylver ordered, gesturing to the area in question of his neck, and getting a nod from all the shades.

As he had instructed, every shade picked up a body and got in line behind him. The big bandit groaned a little but quieted down after being repeatedly punched in the side of his neck.

“Which ones are mine?” Tera asked after almost 5 minutes of solid silence, simply following behind Sylver and never taking her eyes off the large bandit.

“Pick whoever you want. We’ve got 9 so you get 4, I get 5. What are you going to be testing anyway?” Sylver asked, walking through the dark streets, and keeping a lookout just to be safe. Luckily, not really, there were almost no guards in this area, or on this path, or especially during this time of night. It was planned out beforehand, with the help of Ron, and that Sylver had fuckall else to do during his early attempt to get this done by himself. He understood the problem quite quickly, but thought he might get lucky and carried on.

Even if they were stopped by guards, it was as simple as Tera swearing that these men attacked them, and they were in the clear. Nevertheless, it would be best if as few people as possible knew about this. A group of bandits randomly and mysteriously disappearing, was better than people knowing that it was Sylver who took them out.

*

“You understand they’re going to die down there right?” Ron asked again.

“It’s fine. Tera is going to give me some potions to lessen the effects. And I only need them alive for a day or so. And from what I gathered Tera is testing, they aren’t going to live that long anyway.” Sylver answered.

“Still. What’d you to do their necks?” Ron asked.

“I had the shades snip their vocal cords. The workshop is almost empty right now, and the echoes would hurt my ears. Plus I warned them I wouldn’t be listening to any explanations and excuses, so there’s nothing for them to say anyway.” Sylver explained.

“Are you alright? You’ve been kind of different since you came back.” Ron asked, walking over to the cages and looking at the unconscious men.

“I think it’s that I’m not moving my arms when I talk. You’d be amazed how subdued someone feels when they aren’t moving their hands when talking. It’s such a small thing, but body language is a crucial part of communication.” Sylver explained to the man who was supposedly a walking pile of tentacles, hidden inside a bunch of armor.

“I think you may be right. So you just kill these 5 and you’ll be right as rain?” Ron asked, returning back to Sylver’s side.

“I don’t actually need to kill them for this. I’ve done this once with completely willing participants. But I will kill them in this case, because letting them out to be free isn’t really an option. They’ve seen my face, heard my voice, and they don’t look like the kind who would learn a lesson from this, and change their lives and become better people. Not to mention, I might need to do this again, and if it becomes known not to attack couples or weak-looking people, that would make things difficult for me in the future.” Sylver explained. Any city he spent any time in, had a tendency to see a very rapid drop in violent crimes.

“You know, I think I recognize that one,” Ron said, pointing his finger at one of the bandits. “He looks like the one who threatened the butcher near the fountains. A scar on his nose, missing finger, and everything. Do you mind if I ask him if it’s him, so I can tell her not to worry about it?” Ron asked, walking over to the bandit in question.

“As long as it’s a yes or no question, sure. They’re mute, remember?” Sylver said, walking over to the bandit, and seeing how banged up this one was. Not too badly it turned out.

He watched as Ron reached out a hand towards the man, and very lightly tapped him on the forehead. A pulse of dim light spread out from the point of contact, and moved underneath the man’s skin, all the way down his body. After a few seconds, the pulse returned and blinked out of existence at the initial point of contact.

The bandit jumped awake, struggling fruitlessly against the lead-lined shackles, his bare feet scraping against the cage’s floor, and he attempted to bash his skull thwarted by the collar around his neck, forcing his head to remain in place.

It took Ron a few minutes to get the man to calm down enough to nod or shake his head, and to Ron’s great disappointment, this wasn’t the guy.

“If you want, after I get my arms working, I’ll hang around at the butchers, until that guy shows up.” Sylver offered.

“I’ll take care of feeding and cleaning up the bodies, in exchange,” Ron offered in response.

“Oh. Sorry I wasn’t negotiating. See this is what I mean, no hands means bad communication. I mean I’ll handle it for you since we’re friends. And because I’m guessing that’s where those spicy sausages you serve at breakfast that I like come from.” Sylver explained.

“Thank you,” Ron said.

“Don’t mention it. And don’t throw away the bodies, if they die while I’m away. You’re looking at my future workforce.” Sylver said with a puffed-out chest.

They might have been barely cognitive ruffians in life, but under Sylver’s control, they’ll be a lean, mean, crafting machine.

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