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Ch027-Take Me To Your Leader

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*Adema

“The fuck do you want me to do? If he’s hiding, you’re not going to find him. He can sense your soul from miles away, and can disappear into thin air whenever he wants.” Nyx explained, walking down the corridor and being followed closely by Adema.

“You’ve got that tracker on him. Edmund is injured, so they’re together. Look… Just point me in the right direction and that’ll be enough. I’ll track him down myself.” Adema said, half begging.

“Sure. He’s somewhere that way, give or take 1000 kilometers because he will disappear the second he senses you approaching.” Nyx said, gesturing vaguely southwards and laughing as she said it.

“Then what am I supposed to do? Just let him go and fuck around with that water god cult?” Adema asked, brushing loose hair out of her eyes.

“The Amphitrite cult? Why is Edmund messing with them? They’re his natural enemies. It’s as if Sylver tried to mess with the temple of light. Again.” Nyx asked, stopping and turning to face the woman.

“I don’t know! He just packed a bag and left without a word. Then I got reports of their temples being burned to the ground, and then Sylver is packing his shit too and trying to leave. I caught him right as he was leaving and made him take me to him. You should really teach him how to lie properly at some point.” Adema said.

“And then what?” Nyx asked, her expression unreadable.

“And then he made me wait outside while he went in and killed all of them. And then he took Edmund and disappeared. He left a note saying he’ll be back in 6 weeks.” Adema explained.

“Then what’s the problem? He’ll be back in six weeks.” Nyx asked as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

“But what about Edmund? What’s he doing? Where is he going?” Adema whined getting in Nyx’s way to stop her from leaving.

“Probably trying to wipe out the Amphitrite cult again. And if Syl is nearby the worst thing that’ll happen to him is he’ll destroy his liver from drinking too much while celebrating. Again,” Nyx replied, gently moving past Adema.

“But what about-”

“This is Syl we’re talking about. Whatever he’s doing I’m sure he has a plan and a good reason. And as impulsive as Edmund might be, if anyone can calm him down and reason with him to take things slowly and carefully, it’ll be Syl. If not, at least he’ll help him with whatever it is he’s doing and make sure he lives through it.” Nyx said, walking away.

“He took that double-sided staff with him!” Adema shouted after her.

Nyx turned around and sprinted back towards Adema and grabbed her by the arm pulling her along. “Then we need to find him very quickly and calm him down. I know where he's going, there’s only 1 person he would use that god awful thing on.” She shouted as the two women started to fly towards the courtyard.



*Sylver

The freezing cold water woke Sylver up like a slap to the face. And the punch that followed, almost put him back to sleep.

“Not so tough now, are ya?” A voice asked. Sylver’s left eye had swelled shut and he couldn’t move his head for some reason, and couldn’t see the source of the voice.

“That’s debatable. I’m guessing you want me to spill the secrets of the De’Leon house?” Sylver asked, stretching his jaw to relax the strained muscles.

There were a few moments of silence while Sylver kept moving his jaw left and right, tapping his feet slightly.

“I… How-”

“Well you know, you torture me for information, and sell it to the guards or the woman at the desk, and get food or whatever you want as payment. Right? And this is your underground hideout where you interrogate people, and the guards can’t see or hear anything that happens inside? Because it’s too far underground for them to use any skills and they let you do this because you haven’t killed a single person in over 8 years. Right?” Sylver asked, trying to move his head but finding it stuck inside the vice.

There was another moment of silence.

“Since you seem so well aware, I guess I’ll cut right to the chase. Thomas was like a brother to me. And the thought that a little shit like you did him in makes me want to cry.” The man said, pulling a trolley full of something metallic up to where Sylver could see.

“So I’ll start with your eyes. Then your nose. And I’ll work my way down until you're nothing but a husk of a person. And if you tell me a secret or two, good. And if not, I’ll at least be able to say I tried.” The man explained, lifting up a small rusty scalpel up to the small light in the ceiling.

“Is this your first time torturing someone? What fucking moron starts with the head? What if you accidentally kill me? What if I bleed out? Everyone knows your start with the legs or the arms, you fucking moron.” Sylver complained, rocking back and forth in the chair.

“Hahahaha!” The man laughed, the noise echoing around the room. “Good job with the tough guy act. Now, I’ll only ask this one time before we start. Tell me how Count De’Leon is connected to the Cord.” The man asked.

“Fine. You’ve sufficiently frightened me.” Sylver said, “Martimer uses your mother to pass the notes. Twice a day he visits her, and buggers her until she can’t walk, and leaves a sealed envelope with her. In the evening a man from the Cord visits her to do the same, and picks the envelope up. When it’s really urgent they meet up at her house together and do what’s called a demon’s three-”

“MY MOTHER WAS A SAINT!” The man screamed, his eyes red and bloated. He continued to scream as he picked up the biggest knife from the table, and made to stab it through Sylver’s good hand.

His wrist was caught and raised in the air by a black and yellow hand, as the knife was wrenched out of his grasp. Another barely visible figure appeared behind him and grabbed his other arm, while a third wrapped a thin wire around his neck and pulled it tight. The man struggled and screamed hoarsely, going to the ground while being restrained by the three figures.

*

When he next came to, he was sitting in the torturing chair, strapped down and the vice extremely tight around his skull. He saw that his trolley of tools was now empty, and only a single leather tool wrap was on it. He also saw that the De’Leon kid was completely healed up and that he himself was missing over three quarters of his health and stamina. The gag in his mouth was being held in by some leather strap and he couldn’t so much as scream properly.

“See… I don’t particularly care for torture. Not that it’s dishonest or against my principles or anything. I just genuinely never really needed to do it. I used to employ an extremely powerful psychomancer, and she took care of all the information-gathering I ever needed. But if you do a thing, you should do it well.” Sylver said quietly. He picked up one of his scalpels he took from the cat curse sorcerer and couldn’t help but smile at the excellent quality.

The man in the chair struggled against the restraints but couldn’t so much as get them to budge. Trying to rock the chair proved futile as it was now glued to the floor somehow.

“I’ll ask you now. Before we start, as you did. So later on you don’t feel like I never gave you a chance. But I’ll tell you something first. I have a 100% customer satisfaction rating in the torturing area. Have you ever split a tooth open? Nerve exposed to the air? Picture that, but with your thumb. And then your pinkie. And all your fingers and toes. And then I would…”

Sylver spent a solid 10 minutes just describing all the various methods of torture he knew. A very good chunk of said knowledge came from experiencing it himself. Having only ever tortured 2 people, successfully he might add, Sylver didn’t have a great deal of experience of what kind of torturer he should act like.

He settled on the one that haunted him the longest when he was younger. A mister Dake. An extremely thin and dead-eyed man, that spoke in a perfect monotone and almost never blinked. Sylver did his best to emulate that and kept his eyes glued to the man’s, even though they were starting to hurt.

After removing the man’s gag so he may speak the large and burly man, the fierce leader of the white locks, started to cry and sob.

“I’ll tell you everything! Just please don’t hurt me!” The man screamed.

*

“Nova?” Sylver asked, holding up the notebook to the man.

“No, Novva. Two V’s. He has a fondness for tobacco and cigars and just about anything you can smoke. Level 84, allegedly, and he’s got some sort of warrior class that focuses on fighting barehanded.” Severin De’Bourque finished explaining.

Sylver closed the notebook and handed it to Fen to assimilate. The notebook was now filled with the names of all the major factions, speculations, and concrete knowledge and more or less exactly what Sylver needed right now. He put question marks where Severin was either lying or uncertain, but a good 99% of everything in there was the honest truth.

Sylver’s soul sense might be crippled, but it was still good enough to tell when someone is lying. And Severin must have been really frightened for how little he lied.

“We can still help you out. Take care of the kids, provide you with food and funds.” Severin suggested, as he had repeatedly for the entire 4 hours Sylver had spent interrogating him.

If this could even be called interrogation. Severin just told him everything he knew. Sylver even got a few useless skill requirements out of him.

“You’ve been a great help, Severin. Thank you.” Sylver said, getting up off the chair.

“You’re very welcome my friend. And I swear on my life and name to never speak of this to anyone.” Severin said, smiling.

“Oh, you don’t have to do that. You punched me in the face. And if I wasn’t for my shades you would have tortured me. Start with my eyes, then the nose and blah blah blah. Which in my opinion means an extremely slow death is the way to go. Cooked alive inside a giant cauldron, or death by a thousand cuts, that kind of thing. And you tortured at least 10 extremely nice old men. And one woman who had a panic attack and cried when she heard your name.” Sylver said, moving the chair he was using back in place.

“But I… You said you-”

“I guarantee you, I never once said I would let you go. I said I wouldn't hurt you while you gave me worthwhile information, but you’re all out of it now. And while a slow death is what you deserve, for being so cooperative, I’ll make it painless. You don’t have to thank me.” Sylver explained, walking back to Severin and undoing the latch on the head vise.

It released immediately and Severin’s head fell down as he started to cry.

“Ple-Please! I have a wife and kids!” He begged, as Sylver placed his hands on either side of the man’s head.

“A lot of people seem to,” Sylver said, as he twisted the man’s head and snapped his neck in one smooth motion.

[Human (Rogue) Defeated!]

[Draining Touch (I) Proficiency increased to 40%!]

“What a stupid thing to try and use,” Sylver said to the dead body. “Like it changes absolutely anything if you’re married with children,” Sylver said, moving around the absorbed health and directing it to his left arm.

His jumpsuit was stained red again, the only difference being that it was solely his blood this time. It’s a good thing with this system he had an easy way of telling his shades when to act. ‘Health drops below 30%, kill everyone, and get my body away from there.’

Sylver walked over to the corpse and looked at its neck. The collar didn’t appear to react in any way to the wearer's death. Removing his own with the key, Sylver put it down on a nearby table and stretched himself for a few seconds. Having his mana stuck under his skin felt as restrictive as wearing incredibly tight undergarments. And about twice as unpleasant.

After enjoying himself for a few seconds, Sylver covered his body in a layer of mana and crouched down to find the keyhole on Severin’s collar. Pushing the key inside, Sylver crossed his shadowy fingers on his other hand and held his breath.

It clicked open.

It clicked open!

“It’s fucking open!” Sylver shouted to the empty room.

The collar fell to the floor with a clatter.

Sylver raised both of his arms in the air and cheered, unable to contain his happiness.

Those fucking morons use the same lock for every collar! Sylver thought to himself, laughing and shaking his shades out of cheer. He quickly calmed down at realizing he needed to check a few more before coming to a conclusion, but he had 9 willing people to test it on.

Not willing exactly, but close enough for his purposes.

Sylver briefly considered undressing, but running around naked felt both idiotic and dangerous. These people were about to be attacked by their own shadows, a blood-covered naked man would be too much for them. He already had to wash the jumpsuit again, so there was no real point now to avoid any more blood.

Thankfully the room was soundproof, as most torture rooms were, so Sylver could celebrate to his heart’s content in here. Severin didn’t like to be disturbed while ‘interrogating’ so he could even take a nap in here, if he wanted to.

Sylver cracked his knuckles and walked over to the only entrance and exit to the room. Silently pulling the door open, he allowed his shades to escape and waited.

They all returned a moment later, Fen drawing a rough layout of the underground base on the dirt. If the way he got the scale seemingly perfect was anything to go by, Fen was as close to sentient as he would ever get without performing the ceremony.

Sneaking towards the exit of the base, Sylver counted how many souls he felt on the way, and was surprised to feel that they were all asleep. He walked in the darkness, mentally giving the king of cats his thanks for how well he could see everything. Even the tripwire on the floor might as well have had a sign for how easy it was to spot.

The one and only exit to this base was a small half door, made of metal and bolted to the wall using thick looking loops.

Sylver spent a few seconds observing the locking mechanism and found a good enough piece. Bending the metal and wasting 30% of his mana on it, he effectively made the door completely inoperable. If someone had enough strength and time, it could be forced back into position and opened. But the whole point was to stall in case someone somehow slipped past him. It’s not that he didn’t have faith in his troops, just that there wasn’t a reason not to take precautions.

He considered sitting down and waiting for more of his mana to come back, but everyone was here and asleep. It was the perfect time to strike. The torches along the walls that provided meager light went out one by one as Sylver walked down the corridor.

*

“Gentlemen!” Sylver shouted, waking up some of the other men.

They all slowly came to, struggling against their bonds, swearing, threatening, promising, and all falling on completely deaf ears as Sylver sat opposite them and made notes regarding their level, their class, and what their mana felt like. They were all in the level 20 area, and not a single mage.

“Nice to meet you all. My name is Mort. Your boss kidnapped me from my home, courtesy of those two giants,” Sylver said, gesturing at the two men who knocked him out, and now had matching double black eyes as a result, “and he is now dead by my hand.” Sylver explained, gesturing at the dead body sitting in the torturer’s chair in the corner.

“You will all meet the same exact fate as him,” Sylver said.

He could see all 9 men leaning forward slightly waiting for the but.

It didn’t come.

“Now. I will be attempting to get your collars unlocked using my own magic, so please prepare for a very high chance of death.” Sylver further explained.

He walked up to the first man on the left, and without touching the lead device, tried to work on it. Absolutely nothing happened. Either Sylver’s mana was too thin to affect the collar, he didn’t have enough power, or he wasn’t doing it properly. He couldn’t even muster enough strength to just break it open.

Lead weapons were a massive problem for most mages. It’s even called “mage-killer” metal in some areas as a result of that. You stick a pure enough lead dagger into a mage, and his magic is completely shut off, and more often than not, long enough for the attacker to kill him.

Sure you can still use internal magic, but the extent of that is making yourself as strong as the person attacking you, who managed to get within striking range of a mage. In short, if you can’t deal with someone before they stick the dagger in you, you won’t be able to deal with them after. Projectiles were a little easier to deal with, since the wind could be used to direct them away from oneself, or you just use a shield, or a wall of earth or something.

Sylver was in that rare category where he had enough control over his mana and martial arts training that it wasn’t a death sentence for him. Not to mention he was one of the few who could just cut out an affected piece and rip it out of himself. Which wasn’t something normal mages were capable of, or willing to do. Self-mutilation was on some level harder than killing a person.

It crossed a different kind of line, that couldn’t really be reasoned with as self-preservation could be. You could kill someone in the heat of the moment defending yourself, but good luck cutting your arm off because there’s poison running up your veins. Equally deadly, but very different emotionally speaking.

The body just didn’t care or understand that unless you cut a hole in your chest and pull out the barbed dagger with the affected chunk of flesh, you’d be dead.

Sylver dedicated a solid hour to trying to work on the collars, before giving up on the idea. But he did learn a few things from his efforts.

The first was that the collars didn’t have any transmissions emanating from them. Which meant nobody was keeping track of where the wearer of the collar was, or what he was saying or doing. So if Sylver had a collar on or didn't, no one would know unless they saw him without one. They did have a piece that accepted a signal, but it was solely for that repelling collar thing.

The second was that the collars had ID’s that seemed to be unique. But they weren’t keyed in on the person wearing them. So Sylver had no issues swapping the captives collars around. It just meant they kept track of it manually.

The third was the one that made him grin like an idiot, taking off and putting the collars on and off the prisoners, each time writing down any changes he made. The short of it was, the lock was entirely mechanical.

Which when remembering that it’s a device meant to hold mages, the people known for their intellect, was unbelievably stupid. Granted Sylver would have probably needed several weeks to pick such a lock manually, but it could hypothetically be done. The key looked like an extra-long toothpick, with exactly 256 bumps and holes on it with 8 sides.

And the last thing that made him laugh out loud was that the collar’s only safety feature, to prevent someone from tampering with it, was to tighten itself around the wearer's neck. And the reason it made him laugh was that he could set it off with a single touch in the right spot.

So not only was he a mage in a place where no one else could use magic. Not only was no one expecting him to use magic. Not only did he have a small army at his beck and call, that would be unstoppable in a purely physical fight. On top of all that everyone had an instakill button.

The only downside was that the shades couldn’t do it for him, since they just exploded when coming into contact with lead.

Sylver looked down at the unconscious men, all 9 of them blue in the face from the collars completely cutting off their breathing.

Sylver had the men laid down into a pile and reached down and drained all their health and mana.

[Human (Rogue) Defeated!]

[Human (Warrior) Defeated!]

[Human (Rogue) Defeated!]

[Draining Touch (I) Proficiency increased to 53%!]

His left arm shook and blistered, as dead skin fell away, pus oozed out of the cracks, and a yellow light slowly moved down from his shoulder. The light intensified to the point it was illuminating the entire room, shining a light on Sylver’s deeds.

The fingers appeared to spin, as the entire surface of the hand’s skin slid off like a glove, and a fresh and beautiful pink hand appeared underneath. Closing his hand into a fist, Sylver finally felt whole again.

If he were outside this would be the moment thunder and lightning would appear in the background. If this were a book the guards and people in charge would feel a cold sweat running down their backs and the glasses in their hands would crack and break. Oranges all around.

With all this excess mana, stamina, and health, Sylver felt like he could just run up to the guard tower and take them all on his own.

But sadly he understood that he wasn’t in a position to take on people 60+ levels higher than himself right now.

He went to check if everything was back to normal.

Total Level: 20
[Koschei-3]
[Necromancer-17]

CON: 25
DEX: 1
STR: 1
INT: 75
WIS: 34
AP: 5

Health: 491/250
Stamina: 967/125
MP: 2113/750

Health Regen: 3.75/M
Stamina Regen: 1.88/M
MP Regen: 25.5/M

I’ve had 5 untouched points all this fucking time… Sylver suddenly saw, smacking himself in the forehead. He groaned as he dropped all 5 into his INT stat and felt the tiny jump in his mana pool.

The idiocy almost spoiled his mood. He went through every nook and cranny that he could access and almost missed this one too.

[Class: Koschei (Unique)]
-Neither living nor undead. Your life is bound to a silver needle, your greatest strength, as well as your greatest weakness.
-???? ????
-???? ?? ??? ????
-Plunderer Of Fate
+10CON
+10INT
+10WIS
+Perk: Living Undead
+Perk: Deathless

Plunderer of fate? Where the fuck did that come from? When the fuck did that come from?

Is that where that new effect for the [Golden Egg] perk came from? Whose fate did I plunder? The sorcerer? The king of cats? The girl’s? Stopping someone from dying does kind of mean changing their fate. But then shouldn’t every healer have this thing? Or is it only fate plundering if I do it with this unique class?

There’s no point thinking about it now. It doesn’t matter right at this moment.

Putting the small revelation to the side, Sylver looked down at the dead bodies and ordered his shades to line them up.

After a quick workover via Will, the resulting chunks of meat were thrown around the place as if a fight had broken out. Sylver had a quick wash in their shower while this went on and then dug through their secret stash of crystals, and tied them all to his body, hiding them under his new jumpsuit.

He set a small fire at the very back of the cave, threw some furniture on it, and walked out of the secret entrance wearing a fresh jumpsuit, a woolly hat to hide his baldness, and blended into the crowd of people walking around.

Getting punched in the face aside, everything had worked out perfectly. He didn’t even have to use his trump card.

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KingKennit

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