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Ch021-Back In Black

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“Are you fucking serious?” Tera asked for the hundredth time.

“I said I’d show you what I was doing, I didn’t say it would be exciting or entertaining.” Sylver countered for the hundredth time.

“But this is just… so boring. I was expecting their blood to burst into flame, their souls to fly out of their bodies, and at least you laughing like a madman.” Tera explained, while administering the next injection.

“Since we’re talking about it, giving them a pill that instantly killed them, isn’t exactly what I was expecting from you. If I knew you were going to waste them like that I wouldn’t have bothered getting more cages in here.” Sylver complained.

Tera at least had the decency to blush and look away at this.

“In my defense, this was exactly the reason I didn’t want to buy subjects to test this on. But you’ll be happy to know, I did get a lot of useful information out of them. And if I ever manage to get the whole thing to work, I’ll give you a batch, free of charge.” Tera offered.

“If I swear on my life and name, never to tell anybody what it is that you’re trying to do, would you tell me?” Sylver asked, relaxing his chest as much as possible.

It didn’t help. Tom’s hand might be steady, but he didn’t understand how to go through the muscle so the pain was minimal, so it stung like a bitch. But this was the last one, so it was fine.

“I’d tell you if it was just mine, but it’s something I’m developing under my master, so it’s not my secret to tell. Can you at least tell me what exactly it is I’m doing?” Tera asked, as she injected the last unconscious subject with Sylver’s blood.

“Sure. Tom took blood directly out of my heart, or at least as close to it as possible, and now you’ve injected that same blood into their hearts. Mine, of course, is extremely dense with mana, given how I’ve not used mine for the last couple of days, and theirs has been flushed out of their system, courtesy of the potion I fed them. After that, they’ll all be put into a coma using another potion, and then I’ll need to wait approximately 5 hours, for them to reproduce my mana, and allow it to soak their mana channels with it.” Sylver explained, getting off the chair, and getting his shirt put back onto him.

“Then the last potion will destabilize everything, and after a tiny incision around their hearts, their mana channels will slide right out, and I’ll have enough to fix my right arm. And with one arm working, I’ll be able to fix it properly, and then I’ll just need to drain some people, or monsters, to fully heal the other, and I’ll be good as new.” Sylver said.

“How do you know how to make these? This is clearly custom effect potions, and I know for a fact you need a class in alchemist to do that?” Tera asked.

“I have a unique class that comes with a lot of perks. And being able to use custom potions is one of them. I’m heavily limited of course, and there’s a price to pay for this, but luckily it is within my budget right now.” Sylver said. He’d talked a lot with Lola about how he should be handling information that might out him as being an ancient lich, currently in the form of a 20-year-old boy.

She agreed with Sylver, that telling anyone outright what he was, was a very bad idea. Given how there would almost certainly be people, looking to capture him, and torture him for his knowledge. Lola even suggested changing his name, but Sylver wasn’t willing to even entertain the idea.

He’d already lost everything else, he wasn’t going to willingly give up his name. If it was temporary, sure, but he wasn’t willing to do it unless it was absolutely necessary.

And on top of that irrational belief, was also the plan that at some point his name would become known enough, that if someone who knew him before he died is still alive, they would be able to find him. Granted, that came with the danger of old enemies finding him, but it was a risk he was willing to take, if it meant finding someone like Lola in the future. Maybe he’d even find out what Oska, Sonya, and Helca did after he died… Maybe they’re still alive.

“Can I ask, what exactly do you see when you look at me with appraise?” Sylver asked after a full minute of silence.

“I can see your total level, as well as what the class rarity combination is. Unique and rare. The rare is a magic caster class, and the unique doesn’t have anything next to it. So I’m guessing it’s either a race class, or it’s general enough that calling it a warrior or a magic castor, isn’t right.” Tera answered.

“Huh. How high does my level need to be for me to start seeing class combinations too?” Sylver asked.

“It’s not a level, you just need to meet certain requirements for it,” Tera answered.

“And purely hypothetically, what would you want in exchange for those requirements?” Sylver asked, raising an eyebrow.

Tera looked down to think for a moment. “I really wish it was mine to sell, but you’d have to ask my master if you want to buy the requirements off her. I’ll introduce you if you want. She’s a little strange, but you quickly get used to it.” Tera said. While standing in a secret underground workshop, next to a bunch of cages full of men she just killed, and watching another bunch of men unconscious and twitching every now and then. All while wearing an incredibly skimpy and revealing dress, and covered from head to toe in shiny gold jewelry.

Sylver was honestly curious, what a person Tera considers ‘strange’ would be like.

*

“Are you going to sell this method to anyone? Or offer it as a service in the future? Mana burn can take months to heal, you’d make a killing off it.” Tera suggested.

“If it worked for everyone, I would. But it only works on me because of my unique class, and a few other unique features that I have, without which, this whole thing wouldn’t work.” Sylver explained.

There’s also the fact that for this to work, you need someone to be actively suppressing their souls from communicating with their bodies, which requires such a high level of soul control, that other than Nyx, myself, and Aether, I’ve yet to meet a single person who even came close to it. And with how dependent magic castors appear to be on this system in this era, I don’t see anyone ever developing it ever again.

The realization that he had another dead magic that no one in the world would ever be able to use, ever again, brought a smile to his face, that even the prospect of fixing his arms couldn’t match.

“How will you know when they’re done?” Tera asked.

“I’ll know,” Sylver answered.

“Are you going to eat their mana channels?” She asked, with great care not to sound too interested in the answer.

“See… I know exactly why you would think that. A surprising amount of dark magic is dependent on various forms of cannibalism. But as with the fire and lightning nonsense, that’s all for amateurs. And in many cases unnecessary, and purely symbolic.” Sylver explained.

“Have you ever eaten anyone?” Tera asked, as she should have initially, instead of trying to beat around the bush.

“No. I can honestly say, I’ve never been a cannibal.” Sylver responded.

Because I’m neither an elf, nor a vampire, nor a werewolf, nor a dark elf, nor a gnome, nor a dwarf, nor a sprite and I’m not a Valgon, either. So I’ve never been a cannibal, technically speaking. And I was still human when I ate that Lich.

“I see,” Tera said. For some reason, she looked further disappointed.

They continued to sit in wait, Sylver reading Lola’s grimoire, with Tom flipping the pages for him, and Tera sat around twiddling her thumbs and staring at the unconscious prisoner’s intensity, waiting for something to happen.

*

Sylver could feel it, when the first one was done. To his senses, it was the equivalent of a balloon reaching the very point of almost bursting, one single puff away from exploding all over the place.

Sylver quite literally jumped out of his seat, and barked orders at Tom and the other’s to start using the framework on the man. It glowed brightly, as the metaphorical pressure further increased, reaching the boiling point as Fen used his rapier to make a long cut along the man’s chest.

Sylver’s wrappings were quickly cut off, nicking his skin a little, but that was what he deserved for underestimating how quickly this would all happen. He was certain he had another hour at least, but there was always the chance-

The man exploded, sending chunks of flesh, bone, bile, blood, and mana channels, into every single nook and cranny of the small workshop.

Tera thankfully remained silent, while Sylver searched around, half praying he got lucky and it was still intact. But it appeared he had used up all his luck, and the longest length of a mana channel he could find was barely the length of his finger.

Tera wiped off the smear of fluids, and pieces, off her face, and got off her chair.

“Ok. Now that’s a little more like it. But warn me next time please.” She said, reaching into her bag and pouring water into her hands.

“I apologize for that. It usually takes more time, I don’t know why it was so quick just now. But this is exactly why I always leave room for error.” Sylver explained, watching the tiny bottle keep pouring more and more water out of it, as Tera washed her face and hands, and did her best to wipe away the pieces of bone off her dress.

He decided to remain to stand, and simply waited near the cages.

“Aren’t you going to wash?” Tera asked, picking up her bottle of endless water and capping it.

“Later. I can’t afford to have another one explode.” Sylver said, standing at the ready.

As if on cue, the next bandit reached the exact same point, but this time Sylver was ready. Fen made the exact same cut, and Sylver’s arm was already reaching inside of it, his barely functional fingers searching around, the blood pouring out of the hole, and Sylver’s black and smoldered arm getting drenched in the warm liquid, a second time in as many minutes.

He felt the connection instantly, and reached in so hard, he slipped his hand between the man’s rib cage. Completely abandoning any plan to keep this man alive to drain later or give to Tera, Sylver grabbed hold with his numb fingers, and yanked his hand out, ripping the skin off his hands from the man’s ribs peeling it away.

Fen was ready with the sword, slicing open Sylver’s wrist and Tom immediately got to work, stuffing the gently glowing blue vein-like organs, into the cut.

Rotten and sweet-smelling blood came out of the hole in Sylver’s wrist, trying to force the blue string out of itself.

Tera was already by Sylver’s side by this point, watching the self-mutilation with the horror it deserved, but surprisingly not looking away from it. The blue strings seemed to catch onto something, as a pulse went through them, before they got sucked inside the hole.

Having handled lightning on many occasions, Sylver considered it a poor comparison to how this felt. It hurt but it didn’t hurt at the same time. Nevertheless, he shuddered at the strange sensation, as his channels accepted this foreign guest, and immediately got to work cannibalizing him, giving his arms to those who needed it, his eyes split between two blind elders, his liver shredded and cooked, heart fried and served, lungs inflated and used like balloons, and at the cost of one man, the village was made partially whole.

Sylver wished dearly that Tera wasn’t here right now, because his desire to curl up and groan at how incredible it felt to have his mana channels whole, was barely overpowered by his desire to not be seen as even more of a maniacal savage.

Sylver allowed himself a few seconds of silent celebration, his eyes closed and his breathing calm and steady, as he reached out with the newly repaired hand and drained the very life and essence from the essentially dead man.

[Human (Rogue) Defeated!]

[Necromancer] has reached level 17!
+5AP

The hole in his wrist closed up as if it were never there, to begin with. He didn’t waste any time, and with a few quick gestures, the remaining 3 bandits, all started to violently convulse. Sylver grabbed a dagger from Fen’s side, and made much smaller and cleaner cuts along the men’s chests, and simply poked a finger inside of them.

[Human (Rogue) Defeated!]

[Draining Touch (I) Proficiency increased to 30%!]

Sylver’s right arm regained a bit of color, the skin between his shoulder and elbow, almost back to its usual tone. Pieces of dead flesh fell to the floor, a slimy mess that would go unnoticed in the mass of blood and bones the first bandit had left behind.

[Human (Rogue) Defeated!]

[Draining Touch (I) Proficiency increased to 34%!]

The skin around his forearm crackled with energy, the sound, and smell reminiscent of a really juicy steak being fried, as the dead skin simply dissolved into nothing.

[Human (Warrior) Defeated!]

[Draining Touch (I) Proficiency increased to 36%!]

Sylver’s previously bony and deflated fingers, gained their original tone and width, the nails appearing to crawl away, revealing a glossy pink layer underneath, as the whole thing flashed bright yellow, over and over again, veins, nerves, and arteries, silhouetting through the skin, lightning up the entire room.

[Human (Warrior) Defeated!]

[Draining Touch (I) Proficiency increased to 38%!]

Finally, a pulse of light in the shape of a ring, appeared on Sylver’s shoulder, and very slowly and carefully moved down towards his quickly moving fingers, almost a blur to the untrained eye. The ring moved down slowly, leaving behind a crisscrossed lattice of bright yellow strings, giving the whole arm the appearance of being tangled in a net.

The light reached Sylver’s hand and split into individual rings for each finger, the lattice no longer visible, as the rings simply left behind a pure yellow glow.

The entire arm was sparkling clean, in great contrast to the rest of the room, and the arms owner. The skin seemed to barely contain the rock-solid, and bowstring tight muscles, as they rippled from the movement. Finally, the glow died down, as dark shadows pooled in his closed palm.

With a gesture of trying to lift a handful of sand upwards, the shadows spread out and coated the left arm completely. The mangled and dirty flesh, disappeared behind a pristine coating of total darkness.

Getting off the floor, Sylver moved both of his arms around, checking for any lingering damage, and getting used to controlling two hands using one. Thankfully what was impossible for the average, and even above average mage, was as easy as breathing for the man who had done much more challenging things as an exercise than just splitting his focus into two.

“How do I look?” Sylver asked, spreading his arms out for show.

“Well, you’re covered from head to toe in gore, I just watched you kill 4 men with a psychotic smile on your face, and your left arm looks like something straight out of a horror novel. In conclusion, pretty good. Can you feel it? Is it fixed?” Tera asked, walking over and touching Sylver’s left arm.

“Right is almost fully healed. Left is still completely numb, but now that I’ve got my right, I can fix it, if I just kill a few more things. I’m planning to go down into the dungeons tomorrow and finish this.” Sylver explained, letting Tera look between his fingers, to find just more darkness between them.

“What is this?” She asked, after sending multiple pulses of mana into Sylver’s hand.

“Just hardened dark energy. It’s the ice equivalent of water, to an extent. It’s a little brittle, but I’m just using it to puppeteer my own arm, so it’s fine for that.” Sylver said, pulling his hand away and looking around.

Now that some of the adrenaline had died down, he noticed just how messy everything was.

“There’s a shower up in my room, you go first while I clean up here.” He said, summoning his shades and getting to work himself.

*

*

*

“Finally! I was beginning to worry you made me move, and then died on me.” Salgok complained, taking off his goggles and putting the metal plate he was working on, back into the forge.

“Please. As if losing the use of my arms is enough to stop me. How’s it going? Business looks good.” Sylver said, pulling a chair out from the side, and sitting down on it.

In the short time since coming here, Salgok had managed to settle down so well, Sylver was having a difficult time remembering when this was all just an empty and unused warehouse.

A giant forge took up the entirety of the left side, sigils directing the heat and smoke where it belongs, the floor coated with fireproof resin and sparkling clean, walls lined up with shiny tools, leathers of various colors and lengths laid out in another corner, and a small bar that looked identical to the one Salgok had before, near the front entrance. Various lamps on the walls illuminated the areas, balls of bright white light hovering over a few of the worktables, and a pile of crates sat idly in a dark corner.

“I’ve got most of what you asked ready. Did the garrottes work? Did you get a chance to test them?” Salgok asked, removing his apron and moving the conversation to the bar. “What’s with the arm?”

“They worked perfectly, thank you. But I did say not to make them fancy, and you made them look so good I almost felt bad for using them. And this is temporary, until I go dungeon diving tomorrow.” Sylver explained, lifting up his left arm, covered in black bandages. Or at least made to look like black bandages.

“So when’s your friend coming? I could really use some help here, with all the orders people have been trying to make.” Salgok asked, snapping his fingers and causing the whole bar table to fill with plates of food and drink.

“It’s going to take a while. I’ve got some more things I would like made for me, but we can discuss it later. But seriously, how are you? Anyone come around yet to threaten you for protection money or anything?” Sylver asked again, digging into the giant roast he was given.

“Eh… There was this one guy, but he left quite quickly once he saw all the weapons floating around and pointed straight at him. Promised to come back with more people, but the cats said they’d take care of it, and I haven’t been bothered since.” Salgok said, taking a huge swig himself. “When are you going to talk to Raba?”

“Fucks sake, why is everyone rushing me to talk to her? Does she want something from me?” Sylver asked, hitting the table with his mug.

Salgok lifted his mug higher to hide his eyes.

“Fine. I’ll meet with her tomorrow morning. Or whenever she’ll have me. But I’m going to ask how the fuck she knows me, and I better not hear your name from her mouth.” Sylver threatened with a grin.

“You won’t. That I can promise you. Look, let’s not discuss this any further, I’ve something to ask you instead. You’re not human, are you?” Salgok asked. Sylver couldn’t read his face properly to tell if this was a genuine question, or a just fact being stated.

“It depends on your definition of human. I’ve heard arguments made that anyone who can use magic, is an entirely separate race from those who can’t. Or that if you do something irreversible to your body, you’re above or below a human. But if you’re asking if my blood is red, and if you cut me open you’ll find a heart, and everything else you expect inside a human, then the answer is yes. Why are you asking?” Sylver said, staring the dwarf in the face.

“Because you speak like an old man, and it’s been messing with me. At first, I was so overjoyed when I heard you speak dwarvish, I didn't even notice it. But you keep using, sorry for saying this, really weird sentence structures and you mispronounced words in a way I’ve only seen elders who’ve lived over 2000 years do. So either you learned how to speak exclusively from ancient dwarves, or you yourself lived back when that was the normal way of speaking. And considering how few of them there are, I would find the former very hard to believe.” Salgok explained, shaking his head as he spoke.

“We all have our secrets. Ask the question you really want to ask. We might not know each other that long, but we’ve drunk together, and I consider you at the very least a friend.” Sylver said with a steady tone.

“Are you the [Hero]? I’ve heard about it before, but the skills they get to speak to us, sometimes give them really strange dialects.” Salgok said, looking down into his drink.

“I’m not the [Hero]. I’m just your regular, everyday, normal necromancer. As for the dialect, I don’t know what to tell you. It could just be a regional thing, I’m not from around here.” Sylver said, keeping his tone friendly and ever so slightly confused.

“Alright…” Salgok said, breathing out a long sigh.

“I was hoping to wait a while but I need to tell you something. I want you to understand that I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. And it’s something that would have happened anyway, so there’s nothing really for me to apologize for.” Salgok said, as Sylver lowered his drink and closed his eyes due to weariness.

“Raba is waiting for you upstairs and said she has something urgent to discuss with you. She gave me her word no harm would come to you, or that she will force you to do anything. If you at any point feel threatened or uncomfortable, you’re free to leave. But I would consider it a personal favor, if you at least heard her out. I’ve been told from a very trusted source, that she never once went back on a deal.” Salgok said very quickly, almost stumbling over his words.

Sylver leaned back on the barstool he was sitting on and pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Fine,” Sylver said, as Salgok’s shoulders relaxed a whole lot.

“I trust you. If you say I can trust her, I trust her.” Sylver said simply.

Some may call him a naive idiot, but he’d already lived as an overly cynical bastard for a very long time and it changed absolutely nothing for him. He still got betrayed and tricked, all the same, the only difference was that he had fewer friends to help him when it happened.

So his philosophy after that has been to trust people, until they gave him a reason not to. There was also the fact that when he was betrayed he retaliated in such a way that everyone who knew his name had to be incredibly desperate to go against him after hearing the story of what he did. Retaliating against someone so high up and known as Raba, might be enough of a message, that he’s never fucked with ever again.

Not to mention, as weakened as he was right now, he was still certain about his ability to run away from anyone and anything. And the cat’s were at least somewhat on his side, so they wouldn’t let anything happen to him, knowing how valuable he is.

Sylver finished his mug, and after adjusting his clothing, made his way up the stairs.

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