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Ch036-Go Big!

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The poison had all condensed by the time Sylver finished gathering all the bodies. He had them all neatly laid out in a single line.

His shades took their jewelry away. They broke their weapons and armor since they weren’t worth the effort of moving to sell.

And while they did that Sylver was standing in the doorway to the room filled with caged up women, and trying to figure out what to do.

He used appraisal on all of them and not a single one was even level 20. The lowest was a dark-skinned girl in the middle cage, level 4, and the highest was a redhead on the right. There were 9 women here in total. And 2 children that appraisal didn’t even work on. 3 were sitting in one cage on the left, 3 were sitting in the middle cage, and 3 were sitting in the cage on the right, 2 of them holding sleeping toddlers in their hands.

Not a single person had moved or spoke since Sylver walked in and stood there. They all just stared at him.

Sylver only had until the man who had left to patrol, or whatever it is he went to do, returned. So he needed to come to a final decision, as quickly as possible.

So he just stood there. Weighing all the pros and cons, of what he was about to do, or not do. And trying to rationalize his on the spot gut decision to not have killed them using the poison.

He’d almost died as a result of that decision. If he had just blocked the exit, and caught everyone off guard, he never would have been so much as seen, let alone hit. He’d have been done with everything, and would get to watch a terrified man running away to tell Faun what he found when he returned to his hideout.

And even worse he wasn’t feeling any sense of arrogance right now. It was something else. Like if he were to do this, he wouldn’t be content or accepting of it. That he would regret it. And even more so-

“... but save the children,” a voice said on Sylver’s left. He turned his masked face to look at the 3 women inside and couldn’t tell which one had spoken. He was so in his head he just barely caught what she had said.

“Do what you want with us, but save the children.” the woman inside the cage repeated. She had short blond hair. And she was keeping her voice steady, although Sylver could hear the slight shake in it.

“If you came here to kill us, you would have done so already. If you came to rescue us, you would have done so already. So for whatever reason, you’re deciding between which to do. I’m begging you, at least spare the children.” The woman said, wrapping her arms tighter around her knees.

With her face lowered and muted by her arms, Sylver just barely understood what she had said.

“Their eyes are closed, they don’t know what you look like, and even if they did they’re too young to remember or understand or tell anyone.” A woman in the middle cage said.

“Drop them off at an orphanage. No one would know where they came from.” A new voice said, in the left cage.

Sylver stood perfectly still and silent.

“Is there anyone here who would prefer I kill the children and let you live instead?” Sylver asked, his voice as calm and cold as the chill he felt spreading throughout his body.

Almost all of them swallowed at his words, and one went as far as to cup her hands over her own mouth. He could feel the fear in the air and his skin crawled as all of them were suppressing what they wanted to say. But actions are the true measure of a person. Intentions and desires are meaningless.

Sylver waited for an answer, but not a single one took his offer. Although almost all of them were shaking. They were confused, terrified but still remained silent.

“Good,” Sylver said, smiling underneath his mask, and walking over to the cage at the very right and holding his hand against the locking mechanism. It whined softly and creaked as the metal turned orange and fell down to the floor in rusted chips.

After a few seconds, Sylver closed his hand, and completely crushed the rusted lock, pulling the cage door open.

“I will escort you to your homes, and you will never speak of this to anyone,” Sylver said, going to the middle cage and rusting the lock there too.

By the time Sylver had gotten the last lock open, all the women from the other 2 cages were already out and just standing behind him. He ripped the last door open, and stepped back towards the exit.

No one was limping, or bleeding anywhere, and if you ignored the scratches and bruises, they were perfectly fine. At least physically.

Sylver felt his archer return to his shadow.

“I need you to wait here. I’ll be back in a moment, and then everyone can go home.” Sylver said, keeping his voice altered and higher than his usual pitch.

The blond woman who was the first to speak nodded.

Sylver had no idea how the man outside knew, but he was already on guard. He approached the entrance and Sylver saw the mechanism begin to work again, and swing the false rock open. Sylver remained hidden behind the tunnel wall, and suddenly found himself impaled with a short sword.

The man had materialized right in front of him, was pushing harder with the short sword sticking out of Sylver’s chest, and tried to move it sideways to follow the lines of his ribcage. Only Sylver’s hand on the handle, and the man’s hand, kept his lungs and other important internal organs internal, as he reached out with his other hands for the man’s neck.

The man disappeared again, and reappeared a moment later, holding a large crossbow in his hands and releasing the dart almost point black at Sylver’s face. Fen appeared right in front of the man and pushed the front of the crossbow upwards using his head, his rapier following suit, and starting from between the man’s legs, and moving in an upwards motion cutting through his hip.

The man disappeared again, and Sylver heard him screaming in the distance. Reg moved towards the sound, and Sylver yanked the short sword out of his body and clogged the wound up with darkness.

His health was down to 30% from this hit. He felt blood trying to make its way up to his throat, as he swallowed it and held it back, and sprinted towards the source of the noise.

He saw the man on the floor, completely unconscious and in a massive pool of blood. Reg was holding the torn open wound on his thigh closed, and trying to slow down the bleeding.

Sylver placed his hand on the man’s face and absorbed his health, using it to heal the large gash in his chest.

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

[Physical Endurance (I) Proficiency increased to 91%!]

[Draining Touch (I) Proficiency increased to 100%!]

[Draining Touch (I) rank up available!]
Choose 1 from the following:

Draining Touch (II)
-Increase the speed of draining by 100%, decrease the efficiency of draining by 50%.
-Increase the efficiency of draining by 100%, decrease the speed of draining by 50%.
-Can absorb through solid materials. Efficiency decreases by 50% for every centimeter of material.
-[Requirements not met]
-{Requirements not met]
-[Requirements not met]
-{Requirements not met]

Draining touch had 20 entire pages of unmet requirements. And the only 2 Sylver knew from Raba, involved either limiting the skill to one hand, which he had no idea if he could bypass that restriction and therefore wasn’t interested, or involved reversing the flow of mana, killing whatever he was touching almost instantly. That was also pointless, since anything he was close enough to touch, he was close enough to stab. Or better yet, drain mana and use said mana to kill it.

Preferably Sylver didn’t want to choose any of the 3. They were all shit. And if the 50% reduction stacked, as most effects did, anything thicker than 2cm would be impenetrable. He could hypothetically drain people through thin clothing, but anything thin enough to make it worth it, could very easily be torn open.

For nothing else, other than hoping he’ll get something better at level 2, Sylver chose the absorbing through solid materials effect.

[Skill: Draining Touch (II)]
Skill level can be increased by draining enemies.
I - Absorb health, stamina, and mana from the target.
II - Can absorb through solid materials. Efficiency decreases by 50% for every centimeter of material.
*Requires physical contact.
*May not work on targets with a high enough resistance.
*May not work on targets without mana channels.

Sylver decided that he might as well do it now, as he walked towards the area Fen had found the secret passage. The door was kicked down since Sylver couldn’t figure out how it was supposed to be opened, and inside there was a very convenient wooden chest.

Sylver scooped all the silver and gold coins into it, and picked what he liked from the strewn around jewelry. He closed the chest and enchanted it to stay sealed.

Leaving the shades to carry it later, Sylver made his way back to the women.

“So where are we going? I have a mount that flies, so as long as it isn’t too far away everyone can be home by sundown.” Sylver said gently, walking past them and towards the exit.

He walked for a few steps before not hearing any of their footsteps and turning around.

“If you prefer to stay here, I will not force anyone to come with me,” Sylver said, keeping his tone light and what he hoped was friendly. But given the fact that he was drenched in blood, there was a high possibility it didn’t matter what tone he used, since it all would sound equally psychotic.

“We don’t have anywhere to go,” the blond woman said.

Sylver stood there quietly and tried to think of how to solve this. He had already decided to help them, he couldn’t just stop here and say ‘tough shit’ and leave.

“Would you be interested in a job in that case?” Sylver asked carefully.

They all looked at one another and looked back at him confused.

“A friend of mine is going to be opening up a workshop fairly soon, and could use employees. Hours, responsibilities, and pay will be discussed with her, but I’ll provide you a place to live and funds for food and other materials, until then. She’s a high elf woman, if that makes any difference.” Sylver said, standing up straight, and holding his hands behind his back.

“What kind of job?” The blond woman asked.

“Crafting. So leather work, sewing, glass smithing, alchemy, enchanting, wood crafting, trading, and selling. She comes from a long line of crafters, and I can guarantee everyone a fair wage if they choose to work for her. In the event she declines to accept you, you’ll be given 5 gold and free to go and do whatever you want. With the exception of ever telling anyone what you saw here.” Sylver explained.

Sylver could see in their eyes they were still afraid, confused, and he could tell they didn’t understand him. He was expecting questions and was ready with answers, but he wasn’t ready for them to all just nod and follow after him.

He’d seen this before. It was the same as with the twins. They’re in a state of shock, and had just watched Sylver kill their tormentor, along with all the others, and now he was offering them food and shelter.

All he was missing was some mirror finish armor, and he’d be a character right out of a fairy tale. But he wasn’t going to be doing anything to correct them, so he simply accepted their blind faith and took them outside. If they changed their minds, he’d let them go with no further questions.

While they boarded onto Will, Sylver had Fen and Reg decapitate all the corpses, just to further fuck with the Black Mane. The chest was also moved onto Will and glued to his back. After making sure everyone was sitting down securely, Sylver made an opaque barrier around them, so as to reduce the fear of heights as much as possible.

Sylver remained outside of the barrier and even made it soundproof so he could talk in private.

*

“So what happened to scaring the living shit out of the Black Mane? A rescuer isn’t scary, it’s someone easy to manipulate with hostages.” Lola said, repeating what Sylver had been thinking for a while.

“I guess I’ll just have to take things up a notch to make up for that. And it’s not like I need to prove anything to myself. If they hold hostages, and I am unable to save them without dying or being seriously injured, I will. And this isn’t some sort of selfless altruism. I’ll make back every single copper I invest into them, with interest, once you get your shop running.” Sylver said, leaning against Will’s neck and getting comfortable.

“Speaking off. What happened to being your shade and following you along on your adventures? Was that not the deal you had offered me? I was kind of looking forward to it.” Lola asked,

“You know I can feel it when you judge me, right? Your soul is literally sitting inside mine, when you think back onf your family, I can almost see them.” Sylver said, closing his eyes.

“I’ve never-”

“I know. But you didn’t need to say anything. And look, you can judge all you want, I’m not holding that against you. But it’s not something I need in a companion. So the new deal is that I will give you a body, and in return, you will make things for me. Open up a workshop and sell things and give me a portion of the profit. In return, I’ll help you with your research, and when you are done I will escort you to your home to pass it on.” Sylver offered.

Lola took a pause to think it over and Sylver felt it when she realized why he was doing this.

“You think I’ll be useless in combat. Too slow and indecisive. And unwilling to follow your orders as Fen or Reg would. And that if I have a crafting class, you’ll get to learn how that side of the system works.” Lola said, her tone completely neutral as she couldn’t decide whether to be insulted or happy about this.

“I’ve read through your research. You have a brilliant mind, but the only way you’ll ever earn enough to cover the expenses to continue your research, is either from fighting or through services. And you’re not a fighter.” Sylver explained honestly.

“What makes you say that? I traveled the world, I know how to handle myself. I’ve even-”

“When you were an extremely powerful high elf mage and could overwhelm the everyday bandit or monster you came across. The body I’m going to be giving you, will be anything but. You’ll still be able to use all the magic you’re used to, but your mana capacity and generation are going to be that of a child for a couple of years. It’ll grow back to how it was, but it will take a long while. Not to mention I’m not all that sure how the System is going to react to your existence.” Sylver explained.

“So you think I’ll be better off getting a crafting class, and increasing my level through that? What happens if I get a high enough level and then get a combat class as well? Actually, why doesn’t everyone do that?” Lola asked.

“I’m not sure. I guess the obvious answer is that the people here rely on the system for their skills and perks and such. And the fact that you’d need to kill something higher level than yourself to level up your combat class. In which case you would be a level 100 person, with the stats of one, but without any perks or traits or skills for combat. It didn’t even allow me to get [Draining Touch] when I was just using Ciege’s [Blacksmith’s Apprentice] class.” Sylver said.

“Which is fine for you since you know how to fight without the system’s aid, but you’ll be fighting creatures or people who have the system’s aid. Not to pat myself on the back too hard, but I’m uniquely trained and suited to fighting people stronger than me. Not to mention my past fighting style translates quite well into what I’m currently capable of. Your raising earth golems will not translate as well.” Sylver explained.

Lola stood around in silence, mulling over his words and thinking on his offer. She ultimately decided that she only learned to fight to protect herself. And if she was under the legendary Sylver Sezari’s protection, she had nothing to worry about.

“In that case I accept. So what would you want me to make?” Lola asked as a small notebook, identical to the one Sylver carriedr around, appeared in her hands.

She flipped through it, pausing on some of the more obscure items and raising an eyebrow at others.

“And these work?” She asked uncertainly.

“You have my blessing if you think you can improve them. I never said I was a crafter. Augmentor is more accurate to describe my skills in that area. I’m better at modifying already working items, than making them from scratch, but these are what I currently would like to have.” Sylver said, opening his eyes and standing up.

Lola didn’t even respond to him, and was already in the process of editing blueprints.

*

*

*

Landing at the edge of the town, Sylver kept Will materialized and poked his head through the opaque sphere.

With the exception of the blond woman, and one more who was holding a sleeping child in her lap, everyone else had fallen asleep. Which was a given since he kept the inside of the sphere warm, and the gentle rocking due to Will’s muscles flexing did actually make him a little sleepy too.

“I’m going to be gone for a few minutes. This is a safe area so nothing should happen, but I’m leaving guards just in case. Don’t leave the barrier.” Sylver whispered, getting a nod from the blond girl.

Walking towards the town, Sylver felt a very strange emotion. He recognized the path, the trees and rocks, and even the smell in the air. Except these weren’t his memories, and ended up causing a strange nauseous feeling instead. He hadn't planned on coming here for another 4 months, but he did not have a lot of options. He could go to Arda, but he didn’t want to. No rest until he was done, he said that’s what he would do, and that’s exactly what he will do.

An old and wrinkled man sat near the gate leading inside the town. He had his eyes closed and looked to be chewing on something, deep in philosophical thought. Sylver stopped a couple meters away from him, and raised his hands in the air.

“I’m here to see Whiskers. I have no intention of entering the town, so please tell your men to stand down.” Sylver explained, his voice calm and mellow.

The old man opened his eyes and looked at Sylver.

“You’re the-”

“I am, but don’t say it. I need to speak to Whiskers.” Sylver said, smiling despite himself underneath the mask.

The old man made an upwards gesture towards the area behind Sylver and Sylver could feel the souls moving away.

“Wait here.” The old man said, as he groaned and got up and walked inside the town.

Sylver lowered his hands and walked behind a tree a short distance away. He wasn’t sure if Yeva would recognize him like this, but he didn’t want to take the chance. Even though he had changed clothes while flying here, his body hadn’t changed all that much since he had taken it from Ciege.

It may have gotten slightly slimmer, due to all the compression his mana was putting the muscles under, but he doubted anyone but him would notice that. Leke may have, but she didn’t comment on it.

The old man returned and a cat that looked like it had been starved all its life walked behind him. It sort of flicked its head to the left, and Sylver followed after it.

They walked in silence for a few minutes, before stopping in a small secluded clearing.

“You weren’t expected for a few more weeks.” Whiskers said. His voice was a much lower pitch than Sylver was expecting. And this close up the black cat looked feral and mangy.

“I know. And I apologize for that. I would like to negotiate protection for a few more people. And I would like for someone to handle making sure their needs are met while they are staying here. And it’s very likely I will bring more to be put under the same conditions.” Sylver said bluntly.

Whiskers looked at Sylver’s mask and his tail swished around slowly. Sylver noticed that he was missing the tip of it, and it was crooked in 2 separate areas.

“We can arrange that. I will need to consult with my higher ups regarding what they will want in return, but in the meantime I can organize a place at the inn, and protection while they are inside the town. Everything else they will have to handle themselves until we reach an agreement.” Whiskers said, reaching out with a paw towards Sylver.

“I’ll give gold to cover the costs to the old man at the gate. How’s Yeva?” Sylver asked, taking Whiskers’ paw and gently shaking it. He felt that the cat was missing a few of it’s claws.

“She’s fine. Cries a lot, but that’s understandable given the circumstances. One of her sisters got married, but she didn’t attend the wedding. Or wasn’t invited if we are being direct. The midwife has been making efforts to befriend her, but she hasn’t had much luck yet. We’ve narrowed down her unique class to something [Tailor] related. Which isn’t strange given her other class, but strange in that there aren’t any known unique [Tailor] classes.” Whiskers reported.

“And the child?” Sylver asked, getting a strange look from Whiskers.

“It’s fine. She’s gone to see the midwife a few times, and everything is perfectly normal. The child will be born in spring, summer at the latest.” Whiskers answered.

“Good. Alright, thank you. I should be done with everything by then. Do you mind starting to look for a house for them? Preferably a few vacant homes next to each other, so everyone is all in one place.” Sylver asked, starting to walk back to the main gate.

“How many should we expect?” Whiskers asked.

“I honestly don’t know. I’m hoping that not everyone doesn’t have a place to go like they do, so let’s be optimistic and say 50 more women, men and children.” Sylver said, making an estimate on the fact that there were only 24 hideouts left. That he and the Cord knew of at least.

“What are you going to be doing with them after you’re done?” Whiskers asked, following after him.

“Giant workshop. There’s no reason to start small, and naturally loyal workers are hard to come by. I’ll need a loan at some point in the future, but that’s for later. For now just keep them alive. And get the midwife to go visit them at least once for a checkup. Yeva takes priority over all of them, but do your best in case something happens.” Sylver said, looking up at the midday sun and trying to figure out if he still had time.

“How much do they know? About you, about us?” Whiskers asked.

“Nothing. And there’s no reason to tell them. After I’m done with this, I’ll introduce myself as a friend of a friend, and go from there. I do understand I haven’t been very good at remaining anonymous and under the radar, but honestly it’s starting to not seem worth it. I mean, really, it feels like I’m way past being a regular adventurer. So I may as well embrace it. But having said that, please keep everything regarding me and everyone around me on the down low. And I ask this only to have asked, but any news on the people I asked to find?” Sylver said, lowering his shoulders as he waited for Whiskers’ answer.

The black cat walked quietly for a few moments. “Nothing yet. But we’ll find them. It’s just a matter of time.” The cat promised.

*

After passing on 30 gold to the old man, Sylver went to see the women sitting on Will. Thankfully nothing had happened in the few minutes he was gone, and he escorted them towards the town gate.

The midwife was waiting for them, and Sylver was glad to see she was absolutely ancient. Not that she looked old mind you, but Sylver could feel the age in the mana surrounding her. Skills and levels aside, she would be a competent healer even without them.

No one protested, or asked questions, and simply walked along with the midwife, as Sylver handed everyone 2 gold to cover their food and other necessities and repeated several times that if they leave the village, they are no longer under his protection or offer. After all of them nodded in agreement, he left.

*

Sylver watched the clouds quickly fly by underneath him, and looked through the gaps that appeared every now and then to find his next target. His plan of getting 4 in one day had to be pushed back, and now he was going to destroy one more hideout and then go back to Arty.

The overall plan hasn't changed. He would still kill his way through their ranks, with the big difference being that he would start with the ones he predicted had slaves or captives.

He was killing 4 birds with one stone like this. Yeva, Ciege, and Lola would be safe. Sylver would increase his level. Sylver would build a giant workshop to produce anything he could ever need, and fill it with people who owed him their lives and would be loyal and trustworthy. And he would get a chance to get a little revenge for what happened to Tuli. And possibly torture information about the system, and how exactly their whole operation runs to inflict as little damage as possible, so the Cord gets more out of taking over their territories.

So 6 birds if you think about it.

It was a fortunate thing that Sylver’s stone was big enough for his ambitions.

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KingKennit

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