Advertisement
Remove

-

-

Ch035-Choices, Choices, Choices

-

-

The envelope had been opened several hours ago. Since then it hadn’t moved from its spot even once. Meaning either Jaret had died, right after opening it to read it himself, or Faun had read it and left it inside his table. Presumably along with all the other death threats a man in his position was prone to receive. Considering Sylver could feel the envelope’s location being roughly where he was told Faun’s office is, he had assumed it was the latter.

“What was even the point of all this? You make yourself seem weak, then do something that only someone confident he will win would do?” Lola asked, as Sylver inspected the dagger Reg had finished sharpening and polishing, and gave it back to him to continue.

“I need to appear overly confident. And someone who has an enlarged ego. There are certain tactics they will employ to deal with someone like that, that would be of great benefit to me. I would even go as far as to say I’m counting on it.” Sylver answered, moving towards the head and looking down at the slowly moving landscape.

Arty had given him a rough map of the location he was curious about, and Sylver could quite literally match the map to the actual landscape at an almost 1 to 1 scale from where he was. Traveling during the night was something he did out of pure habit, and hadn’t even considered that it actually worked in his favor as well.

Although considering the fact that ants tended to be more active at night, this may actually prove to be to his detriment. On the other hand, flying enemies were a much bigger threat than any ants would be. And wasps normally tended to their hives during the night.

Either way, it wasn’t like he was going to be using a whole lot of stealth for this. There was little stealth wise he could do against enemies that didn’t rely on their sight, or could be tricked like humans.

Sylver stood up and cracked his neck a little, before stretching the rest of his body. It was incredibly annoying walking around with those knives strapped to him, and almost euphoric to have them all off. And because his body was so large, he wore enough that he had to spread them out between 3 archer shades.

They were good knives, there wasn’t a reason to throw them out. And he wasn’t going to go back to Arda just to store some weapons. He wasn’t going to go back at all, until he was done.

Ciege and Lola would be beyond vulnerable for the first week after coming back to life. Having some band of kidnappers appear at the wrong time could kill them both.

Permanently.

Not to mention, Sylver could use a few extra hands and levels.

*

It was fairly flat land. Mounds of rock riddled with holes littered the place, and Sylver could see small figures going in and out of them. Small compared to Will at least, since each ant was easily twice as tall as Sylver was.

Each one had almost shining mandibles, a few completely soaked in some sort of reddish liquid that dripped down onto the ground as they walked. Their armor was that awful sandstone texture that meant it was layered, and they were all a disgusting brown color, that made it difficult to see them properly due to blending in with the floor so well.

There were 6 locations Arty had told Sylver to check, and Sylver did a complete loop around the entire area before deciding where to start.

The biggest issue was that Will needed far too much space to take off. And even one ant biting him in the wing or tail or something, would completely destroy him. Sylver would need an estimated 2 hours, spending every single drop of his produced mana, to heal him back together.

And if that happened, he’d be trapped on the ground, and surrounded by possibly hundreds upon thousands of ants. The best thing to do was get one of the wasps Arty had told him about, as a shade.

But he’s yet to see one. None of the ants had wings, so at least he wasn’t in any danger right now. There was also the fact that he wasn’t all that certain he could make a wasp into a shade.

Insects were a massive gamble. Not to mention he would need time to dissect it to figure out how exactly it worked. It was one of the biggest limiting factors of raising the dead properly, you had to know exactly what you were doing.

Breathing life into a corpse was always an option, but those had a time limit, and were difficult to control. Something that needed fairly advanced cognitive and muscular control as flying, couldn’t be half-assed.

Sylver just sat on top of Will, looking down below when he got an idea he wasn’t all that happy with. Or more accurately, he was happy with it, but it felt too crude for his taste.

It was something an idiot could think up. And a little embarrassing that he hadn’t thought of it, discarded it, and thought of something better.

It would work…

He reasoned, doing an estimated headcount and trying to think why this wasn’t done before. The most obvious answer was that he was just plain fortunate to be both able to fly, and have ranged attacks. And possibly afraid of the consequences of using such a tactic.

And it wasn’t like he’d be in danger of blowing the whole thing up. If there was a danger of that, the party of warriors would have set it off already. And even if he does blow the whole thing up… would anyone really care?

*

Fen landed on the floor safely. He undid the wrapping around the torch in his hand, and used his rapier and a piece of flint to light the torch. All 6 archers came out of his shadow, and materialized themselves near him.

The whole area had stopped dead just then. All the ants were frozen in place, their antenna clicking faintly, as Fen just stood there looking back at them. One of the archers caught the sealed pot that had dropped from above, and handed it to Fen to hold with his free hand.

As Fen removed the lid from the pot, and set it alight using his torch, all the ants nearby broke into action. They rushed towards the center where the shades were, as the archers dipped their arrows into the burning pot, and removed them covered in the viscous jelly and bright with orange fire.

Each one aimed at the nearest ant, and released their arrow.

*

Sylver watched on from above, as he saw the small projectiles leaving behind trails of fire, before embedding itself themselves right into the ant’s eyes or mouth.

The explosions were so intense that even as far up as he was Will nearly flipped from the shockwave.

[??? (None) Defeated!]

[??? (None) Defeated!]

[??? (None) Defeated!]

[??? (None) Defeated!]

[??? (None) Defeated!]

[??? (None) Defeated!]

...

Messages continued to pile on, as Sylver waited for the dust to settle, and saw that there was a fairly large pile of semi liquified ant corpses strewn all over the floor.

But even more surprising was that Fen was still alive, as were 2 of the archers. And the ants were in such disarray right now, Sylver almost felt bad for them. He could almost feel the panic in the air, as his remaining two archers chose new targets and fired at them.

[??? (???) Defeated!]

[??? (None) Defeated!]

[??? (None) Defeated!]

[??? (???) Defeated!]

[Necromancer] has reached level 28!
+5AP

[??? (None) Defeated!]

[??? (None) Defeated!]

Sylver waited for the messages to pass, and barely registered that his level had increased. He watched the onslaught down below and only because he was looking at the whole thing from a bird-eye view did he understand what the ants were doing.

They were very carefully keeping a distance from one another, just out of range of setting off a chain reaction of explosions. And even more interestingly Sylver saw that specific ants, not the closest, were the ones that were rushing towards Fen and his two archers. The smallest and the least explosive he had to guess.

They had them completely surrounded after only a few seconds, and Sylver was amazed by the fact that they had some sort of extra large and strong variant of ant, taking all the flaming arrows head-on, and all the others hiding behind them.

They had built an armored wall around their enemies. And completely boxed them in.

Smaller ants climbed on top of this wall of bodies, and spat liquid onto Fen and the archers, which promptly exploded into a black cloud of dust, and did not reform. The small fire that was held in the pot, fell to the floor and spread all around. They continued to hold the wall and spat on the fire as it ever so slowly stopped burning.

They then dispersed and went back to how they were before. The dead bodies were cleared away so quickly, Sylver barely saw any traces remaining in 5 minutes.

Sylver had Reg go into the shadow of a piece of cloth, and dropped it down onto the floor, before flying away towards an area with the lowest concentration of ants.

By the time Will landed, Reg was already there along with the other shades, and went back into Sylver’s shadow.

The temptation to drop a bomb on the whole thing, just to see what would happen, was present. And Sylver actually considered it for a moment. Before realizing he didn’t know how deep their hives went, or how many of them there were there. The possibility of the higher leveled ants hiding deep below was also there, and they hadn’t come out yet purely because they didn’t see a few foot soldiers dying as worth their effort.

There was also the fact that they obviously had countermeasures to fire. And Sylver could only assume that they were even better prepared for a fire being started inside their hives.

And more than that, there wasn’t anything to really gain from trying to commit an insect genocide.

*

[??? (???) Defeated!]

[??? (???) Defeated!]

[Necromancer] has reached level 31!
+5AP

[1 perk available for [Necromancer]]

[??? (???) Defeated!]

[??? (???) Defeated!]

After killing off a countless number of ants, Sylver had figured out a few things.

First. His ancient strategy of using tactics that can only be used with immortal/suicidal troops, wasere still effective. Drop a bunch of shades into one area, have them cause chaos, all the ants run to them, jump off WIll in a now unoccupied area, pick up a sample off the floor, wait for Will to loop back, jump back onto Will, and fly away to the next zone.

Easy. Efficient. Safe and rewarding. And a little boring.

The whole thing could not have gone better.

Second. He was lied to regarding wasps. Sylver hadn’t seen a single one in over the 3 hours he had done this. No wasps, no ants with wings, and their best ranged attack didn’t even come close to hitting Will. If it weren’t for the fact that the jelly Sylver was using for the arrows burned out too quickly, he would have had them shooting down at the ants from Will.

Third. Sylver was almost certain that all the samples were going to tell Arty the same thing. The false dragon fire was the result of the spit or drool or poison of the ants, mixing with the iron-rich dirt. It was a complete guess on Sylver’s part, since his alchemical knowledge was highly specialized and highly limited.

But at one point he did see an ant bite another, and it looked like its mandibles just melted through the other ant’s leg.

And the fourth…

There was something big hiding at the very bottom of this place.

As in, big enough that Sylver felt it with his crippled soul sense. He couldn’t quite put a number or a size to the feeling, but it was the oldest and biggest thing he had felt since taking over Ciege’s body. Not counting the dormant Tuli of course.

But…

He already had all the samples, and wasn’t comfortable enough yet to start poking his nose wherever he wanted to. So he simply made a note of it in his journal, and after collecting all the recently killed shades, made Will fly to his next location.

*

Sylver’s contact in Dorte, a bright orange cat called Mumbles, told him that Faun and his officers were all still alive. And that he had seen Jaret Tulion enter their office, and leave empty-handed. This meant that Sylver’s gracious offer of peace was ignored.

Which meant that he was completely justified in what he was about to do. He gave them a warning, and an offer, what the fuck else did these people want?

Sylver finished his cup of coffee as he watched the last sun rise, and made his way out of the city.

*

If nothing else, the members of this particular hideout were good at hiding their base. If it weren’t for the fact that Sylver had a map to follow, and could feel the death from the people killed inside, he would have most likely missed it.

They used a giant pile of boulders as their entrance, and had a fake boulder that was hollow on the inside as a door.

It was only because Sylver was waiting for two poisons to finish mixing that his mind wandered and he remembered he had leveled up. And had a perk to choose.

Total Level: 34
[Koschei-3]
[Necromancer-31]

CON: 25
DEX: 1
STR: 1
INT: 100
WIS: 59
AP: 25

Health: 250/250
Stamina: 125/125
MP: 1000/1000

Health Regen: 3.75/M
Stamina Regen: 1.88/M
MP Regen: 59.00/M

Sylver almost didn’t even think twice, before considering his other option. He’d been around for almost half a year and he hadn’t put a single point into either strength or dexterity. With how much he fought people hand to hand, it seemed almost idiotic. Granted he used his mana enchantment sparsely and efficiently enough that it hadn’t been a problem yet, but he was curious what the system enhancing his physical body would feel like.

He put 9 points into dexterity to see what would happen.

And…

Nothing.

Or at least he didn’t notice any changes. His body was as fast as before, which wasn’t very fast without being enhanced by mana, and Sylver couldn’t honestly say his perception had sped up at all either. Considering he relied on his mana sense rather than any of his physical senses, he had zero idea of his eyes saw or perceived things quicker.

It also could just be the fact that Ciege’s body was built with the idea of having high strength and dexterity and constitution. And Sylver resetting everything, hadn’t really reset it. Or more accurately, the system was reset for ‘Sylver’ but not for ‘Sylver’s body’.

But that raised even more questions. Like if he were to switch bodies, would his strength and constitution carry over? If he changed bodies into a frail old man’s would the man suddenly gain the constitution of whatever the equivalent of 25 was?

It could be another oversight. The system wasn’t really made for anybody to reset their status, and it didn’t have a function to remove stats from a physical body? So hypothetically, Sylver could make himself a body with the strength equivalent of 100, jump in with his stats, and get the equivalent of a body 110 strength? Or does it hold back adding anything until he got to where the original was?

As in, he already functionally has the strength of whatever Ciege had, and only when he starts going past it, will he feel any changes?

As always the headache that came with thinking too much about the system was making itself more and more known. The system had no issues with Sylver considering how best to allocate his points, or which skills to focus on training, but the moment he started thinking of it as a foreign entity, he felt an almost literal pressure on his brain.

He dropped the other 16 points into wisdom, and decided he would ask and test everything else later.

 

CON: 25
DEX: 10
STR: 1
INT: 100
WIS: 75
AP: 0

Health: 250/250
Stamina: 125/125
MP: 1000/1000

Health Regen: 3.75/M
Stamina Regen: 1.88/M
MP Regen: 75.00/M

And lastly, choose a perk for leveling [Necromancer] past 30.

Husking presence.
Blistering Blood.
Vehement Screech
Congealing Mess.
Nocturnal Niche.
Kiss of Death.
Coiling Embrace

There was once again nothing all that good in any of the new perks. But he was starting to see why necromancers rarely made it past level 20. There just wasn’t anything worth the huge limitations the perks added.

[Perk: Dying Breath]
-Any creature under the caster’s command, when killed will return 5% of the cost of summoning/animating/repairing.
*May not work on non-humanoid creatures.
*May not work on creatures with no mana.
*May not work if the distance is over 500m.
*May not work if the caster has no direct line of sight to the creature.

The poisons had just about finished when Sylver had to rub the surprise out of his eyes.

One of the members, the one he had considered leaving alive to pass the message, just left the hideout. Fen immediately moved inside the door through the shadows, and stood at the ready for Sylver’s signal.

As the man walked further and further away, Sylver sent an archer to go with him, so he had a warning when the man was coming back.

Fen opened the door for him from the inside, and Sylver very carefully walked to a secluded area and had the remaining shades scout things out.

And when they returned Sylver had a dilemma on his hands.

There were innocents here. People sitting in cages, that the shades categorized as non-combatants.

Which meant that if he broke open the bottle of poison now, it would kill them too. The alternative was to get to them, set a barrier around them, then release the poison. But considering this one was on a very tight schedule, before it started to condense back into a liquid, Sylver had literal minutes to do all that.

One part of him wanted to say ‘fuck it’ and kill them too. Put out the message that he didn’t care about innocent or not, and completely wipe out any future attempts to use hostages against him. If anything this was the best way to go, since it saved more potential lives in the future.

These people would die, unawarely saving possibly hundreds of lives. Maybe even thousands.

And who were these people anyway? Most likely they owed a debt, or they were kidnapped from their burned down homes. And if he saved them, it wasn’t like they would disappear. Or be out of danger. They would probably get caught again, or without any other options resort to crime.

Thinking of it like that made killing them painlessly almost a favor he was doing for them.

Sylver quite literally had his hand on top of the cork holding the poison inside.

And it was only because it was so quiet down inside these tunnels, that he heard it. The sound of a small child crying.

His hand still on the cork, Sylver held it where it was and really considered what he was about to do.

He had already done it before...

And he didn’t regret it. He had to do it because he was too weak to do anything else. He did it because the alternative wasn’t something he could accept. He did it because it turned into a question he didn’t need to think to answer. Them or us.

And how was this different? Did he not care about Ciege and his child enough to do it? Did he think he could do everything the way someone strong could? Was he really about to put this one unknown life above everything else? Was he afraid of dirtying his clean slate?

He couldn’t turn back now. He knew he would be in this position the moment he stepped foot out of Arda and went against the Black Mane. And if he ran away and came back to knock them out then what? The Black Mane would still notice the lack of bodies. They’d know he didn’t kill them.

If I turn soft now, it’ll be pointless. They’ll use hostages, and I’d have to kill them then instead. Saving these people means potentially killing far more in the future. There’s only one child now, what if there are more later? What if these people actually deserve death and the ones in the future are the true innocents?

A tiny wisp of bright white poison escaped from the tiny space between the cork and the bottle’s neck and Sylver stopped breathing as he adjusted the cork back into place. The white poison harmlessly moved away from Sylver’s mask, and diffused into the air. Sylver looked down at the still corked bottle and gave himself exactly 10 seconds to come to a decision.

He would worry about the consequences later, but he had to move right now. He wasn’t going to get a chance this good again, and he didn’t like his chances in a confined space and against people a higher level than him. And he needed to make a decision. Right now.

10 seconds.

...

He forced the cork tighter into the bottle and sprinted down the tunnel, following Fen’s directions to get to the caged people.

Sylver blocked himself from view using an illusion, but he saw a man inside the passing doorway turn his head, and follow Sylver with his eyes.

He heard the same man scream “INTRUDER!” at the top of his lungs, as Sylver turned a sharp corner and heard the word echo its way through the tunnels.

The door was slightly ajar as Sylver shoved it open and saw a man with his pants around his ankles, with his back to him, standing and facing the middle cage. Sylver turned his head for the briefest moment to the right, where several women were holding children and staring at him with tears streaming down their faces.

Sylver returned his attention to the man trying to pull his pants up, and kicked him between the legs, directly in his bare family jewels.

The man cried out in pain, as Sylver wrapped his arms around his neck in a chokehold and pressed as hard as he could until he felt the man’s spine extend past its limit and separate.

[Human (Warrior) Defeated!]
[Due to defeating an enemy 30 levels above you, additional experience will be awarded!]

[Draining Touch (I) Proficiency increased to 96%!]

Sylver didn’t waste any time and used the cave walls and doorway to create the barrier. He threw the dead body outside of the enclosed room, and came out himself. The barrier sealed shut behind him, having eaten up all the mana the dead man had provided, and a quarter of Sylvers.

An arrow turned sharply around the corner on Sylver’s left and passed right through where his neck was a fraction of a second ago. It ricocheted around the walls 3 times, before narrowly missing his face by another fraction of a second.

Sylver lowered the bottle to the floor, and threw it upwards into the ceiling, as the whole thing exploded into a giant cloud of white.

Sylver held the mask tighter around his face with one hand, and did a spinning gesture with his other.

The cloud of white started to expand and fill up every nook and crevice, moving further and further along the tunnels on either side.

Sylver carefully ran around, making sure the clouds kept moving around, and dodged another several arrows that had appeared out of nowhere. The last one had adjusted for his dodge mid-flight and cut him right along the side of his neck.

Sylver could feel the cloud running out of space, as his ears popped and the pressure continued to increase. He sealed the room with prisoners shut with a wall of stone, wasting a further 20% of his mana. It stopped the poison from going through, it wouldn’t stop an arrow or a person.

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

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

Sylver went to the floor as a volley of arrows passed on top of him, bouncing around the walls, before flying right back at him in a volley. Two swordsmen shades blocked a majority of the arrows with their shields, but one went right through Sylver’s stomach, and another 2 tore his left bicep open.

Clogging both with solidified darkness, Sylver sprinted where he heard the sound of a released string coming from.

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

An arrow that would have hit him right between the eyes, was instead stopped by his open hand and merely scratched the mask. Sylver snapped the back of the arrow as he ran, and yanked it through the rest of his hand, clogging the bleeding up with darkness too.

He saw the archer, just as she released her bow, and the arrow moved with impossible speed, going right through Sylver’s chest.

Blood exploded inside of his robe, and the pressure made it impossible to clog up yet. He saw the archer woman smile, as she got another arrow ready, but in one smooth motion, Reg cut the string on the bow, and then punched her in the throat with the back of his dagger.

Sylver enhanced his legs, as he reached the woman quicker, and wrapped himself around her, crushing the back of her spine as he stole the health she had taken from him, and sealed the hole in his heart with it. He looked at his HP and couldn’t honestly say if it had gone past zero at any point.

[Human (Rogue) Defeated!]
[Due to defeating an enemy 30 levels above you, additional experience will be awarded!]

[Necromancer] has reached level 32!]
+5AP

[Draining Touch (I) Proficiency increased to 97%!]

He took another arrow right in the back as it pushed itself out of his flesh and fell down, as Sylver heard a gargling screech on the other side of the tunnel. Sylver was honestly quite glad there wasn’t a skill to hold your breath.

[??? (Mage) Defeated!]

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

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

...

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

[Necromancer] has reached level 34!]
+5AP

[Koschei] has reached level 4!]
+Perk: Hare’s Great Escape
+5AP

[Perk: Hare’s Great Escape]
-While in contact with the needle and below 20% health, dexterity increases by 500% for 100 seconds.
*Can only be used once every 24 hours.

31…

There were 31 people hiding in this particular hideout. All roughly in the 40 level area.

Sylver pulled away the dead body that was lodged full of arrows, and dusted himself off, and tried to wipe as much of his blood away as he could.

Still masked, covered completely in the blood of his enemies, and some his, Sylver made his way over to the caged prisoners, to see what exactly his gut had made him choose.

Advertisement

Support "Sylver Seeker"

About the author

KingKennit

Bio:

Achievements
Comments(147)
Log in to comment
Log In

Log in to comment
Log In