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Ch048-Fear And Loneliness

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Sophia reappeared a few minutes later, holding the hand of the palest man Sylver had ever seen. Himself not included. The man wore a pristine white robe with only a single golden ring around his neck and shoulders, and his dark hair was tied into a ponytail behind him.

“Sylver Sezari, Anton Monseli,” Sophia said, introducing the two to each other.

Anton held out a hand for Syver to shake, and Sylver shook it but didn’t let go. Instead, he turned the hand over so Anton’s was on top of his and just looked at it.

“You used to be a necromancer?” Sylver asked, pulling the man’s sleeve up with his other hand.

“I was. Made it all the way to level 29 before deciding I had enough.” Anton explained, holding the sleeve away for Sylver. Sylver gripped Anton by the forearm and poked the skin with his finger.

Confused, Sylver let go of Anton’s hand and looked at his palm, and squeezed his fingers a few times.

“Would it be alright if Anton and I spoke in private?” Sylver asked Sophia, letting go of Anton’s hand.

“Of course. Anton dear, come get me in my office when you’re done.” Sophia answered, teleporting away.

Sylver and Anton just looked at each other for a while.

“So tell me about yourself,” Sylver said, walking back over to his seat with Anton sitting down where Sophia had sat.

“What would you like to know?” Anton asked, sitting perfectly straight and with both hands neatly on his knees.

“Well, first I would love to hear how exactly you got the necromancer class.”

“Ah. Normally I would consider it going against the teachings of Ra to spread such knowledge around, but in this case, you already being a necromancer, I don’t see the harm in it. I was orphaned when I was young and went on to train under an alchemist. I had a high mana affinity, and he thought it would work out well. But I was admittedly a little slow and uninterested and ended up finding a book on necromancy instead. So I thought ‘why not’, did a few of the rituals, brought a mouse back to life, and went on to be a necromancer adventurer.” Anton said.

There was dead silence for a solid five minutes as Sylver just tried his best to get a grip on what he was hearing. He started to say something, but found that he couldn’t quite piece together a sentence.

That somebody would approach necromancy with the same attitude they would approach getting into calisthenics it was just…

“So you found a book… And now you’re a necromancer?” Sylver asked, speaking into his fist with his eyes closed and taking a deep breath before talking.

“Of course. The rituals were a little tricky but how else do you become one?” Anton asked, choosing to either ignore Sylver’s reaction, or genuinely unaware of it.

“It’s not like it’s a taught subject at any academy. There’s no master necromancers that I’m aware of. You’re either born with it, or you happen to meet the requirements and read a tome or something. It’s a dead magic,” Anton said, getting a blank stare from Sylver, as he chuckled at his joke.

“So there are no liches… No death knights… There’s no one practicing necromancy like that?” Sylver asked, still struggling to wrap his head around it.

“Well no. Not really. The few that are practicing necromancers, they’re usually old men and women on graveyard duty.” Anton said, causing a vein to appear on the top of Sylver’s forehead.

“So no cults… No underground hidden groups of necromancy users…” Sylver asked, feeling a very strange mixture of unbound rage, held down by confusion and disbelief, and resulting in a kind of lukewarm calmness that prevented Sylver from doing anything.

“They wouldn’t be very well hidden if we knew about them, would they? But I don’t think we’ve had a necromancy incident in a little over 100 years. It’s a mana intense class, but doesn’t give anywhere near enough bonuses to level it out, you need a dark affinity to get it, and someone is rarely able to increase the level high enough to get anything useful. It’s just a shit class.” Anton said, unaware of how close he was to getting his head removed from his body.

But all of a sudden Sylver felt a wonderful warmth inside himself.

If necromancy is thought to be dead, that means no one has any experience fighting against it… Which meant that-

Or Anton could be lying...

A temple that would be among the first to kill off any necromancy that pops up, wouldn’t exactly tell Sylver that there’s a giant group somewhere that would help him.

In fact, every word out of his thin-lipped mouth could be a fucking lie. Even Sophia could be a fucking liar. I can’t tell because of all the holy mana, so who knows really...

Sylver did his best to go through every possible variation of necromancy that he could think of, but as far as Anton was aware, there wasn’t a single necromancer in living memory that went over level 100. He couldn’t even say with certainty there was one who went over 50 on necromancy alone.

Some monsters used wild magic that sounded like necromancy, but Sylver wrote those off as dark beast magic, it didn’t count. Zombies and undead monsters were quite common, but that was just ambient mana, it didn’t count and wasn’t necromancy. A zombie captain or something equally weak and annoying to deal with popped up every now and then, but that was about it.

In short, Sylver was alone in more ways than one. He was alone in the sense he was the only one left from the Ibis. And he was alone in the sense he seemed to be the only necromancer that wasn’t a complete utter fucking joke.

If Anton’s descriptions of the other ‘necromancers’ inside the temple of Ra were anything to go by, they were children with a makeshift flamethrower, calling themselves pyromancers. The only reason people seemed to take the necromancer class, was to get the slight extra darkness resistance it provided.

That Sylver didn’t even get since he was already immune to it.

So a necromancer was rare… In the sense, very few people bothered with it.

Sylver sat there with his hand over his mouth, staring at Anton and trying to think of something else to say.

“What do you do here?” Sylver finally asked, deciding to see out of pure curiosity what a job here would entail since necromancy sounded like a dead-end according to Anton.

“I’m part of the expedition team. Whenever a particularly nasty undead pops up somewhere, myself and a few other priests are sent to deal with it. Curses, plagues, infections, we have the skills and tools to deal with it all. If you were to join us, I’m fairly certain you would be part of said team.” Anton said, at this point comfortable around Sylver, although Sylver didn’t understand why.

Sylver asked for Anton to call Sophia back, and the priest teleported away.

Sylver closed his eyes for a few seconds and moved the anti teleportation device he was planning to have to Lola craft, to the very top of the list.

*

Sylver had another cup of tea while he waited, and tried to organize his thoughts a little better.

On the one hand, the optimistic hand, what he’d heard today was all a lie and should be ignored.

On the other, it made sense. If it weren’t for the strict laws foreign necromancy circles held, the fact that everyone kept everyone else in check, and that a necromancer fucking up usually escalated beyond any reasonable measure, meant that it made perfect sense that people would try to get rid of it if the opportunity presented itself.

Such as using propaganda to make people think it’s a bad class. Or quietly wiping out groups whenever they pop up or are discovered. Or just plain making sure all children with the proper qualities to become necromancers never grow old enough to become them.

Or burning away all the tomes and books that would allow someone to become a necromancer. It made sense, and fit. And if there was no one around to preserve the knowledge and teachings, the whole field of magic could be crippled quite easily. It wasn’t just a case of knowing the frameworks, knowing how to cast the magic, there was a whole process behind even the simplest raising of the dead.

If you wanted to do it right that is. Not to mention the soul manipulation aspect was critical for later stages, and nearly impossible to achieve on your own. Without a master practitioner around, Sylver could quite easily believe it had been wiped away. Yeva was an outlier, that kind of talent just plain didn’t exist under normal circumstances. She had achieved in months and days what had taken Sylver years upon years.

Nyx didn’t quite single handedly keep necromancy alive, but she came very close to it. Sylver could count on one hand the number of masters he would consider anywhere near equal to her or himself.

And although this didn’t prove anything since the system appeared to be handling most of the magic for them, Anton’s hands were disgusting. If Sylver wasn’t told he had been a necromancer, Sylver never would have guessed. The man must have never so much as touched a scalpel once in his life.

How he managed to raise a rat without cutting it open was as big of a mystery.

And Sophia’s reaction didn’t match. If necromancy was so shit, why would people threaten her when she offered them a way out of it? Did they defend the class on pure principle? Or did she mean that everyone threatens her when she tells them she wants to take away the class they presumably spent months or years leveling up?

It was most likely that she was talking about dark oriented classes in general.

“...hello?” Sophia said, her face barely an inch away from Sylver’s.

She really does have gorgeous eyes.

“Sorry, I was in my head and didn’t quite hear what you said. Would you mind repeating it?” Sylver asked, clearing his throat and putting the cold cup of tea back onto the table.

“It’s about the other thing I wanted to talk to you about,” Sophia said, back to her strange anxious tone.

“Could I get the short version?” Sylver said, running his hand down his face.

She seemed to be in deep thought for a moment before speaking. “We would like for you to infiltrate a demon worshiping cult and-”

“No thank you. Have a nice day.” Sylver said, standing up in a cold sweat and walking towards the exit.

Sophia teleported directly in front of him, and just nearly touched him before she stopped herself. “We’ll pay you! 1000 gold! You’ll never have to work a day in your li-”

“No thanks. Good day to you.” Sylver interrupted, walking around her and taking 2 steps before she appeared in front of him again.

“2000 gold! And I will-”

“I’m busy.” and I am not getting involved with demons while I am this weak.

“But thousands will-”

“Not my problem. Find someone else, good day to you.” Sylver said, walking around her yet again, before she appeared right in his face, close enough that he felt her breath on his lips, and stopped just short of headbutting her.

“What do you want?” Sophia asked, placing her hands on her hips, and looking Sylver directly in the eye.

“This isn’t a negotiation,” Sylver answered, trying to walk past her again, and closing his eyes and sucking his teeth as Sophia appeared right in front of him again.

“Will you at least hear me out?” Sophia asked, a tone of defeat in her voice.

“No. You lost me at demon worshiping.” Sylver answered, walking around her one more time, and once again finding himself mere inches away from her face. He’d only noticed it now, but she was a little taller than he was.

“Final offer. I’ll give you everything the people who converted know about necromancy.” Sophia said, with a self-satisfied smile as if she had just managed to solve a puzzle.

I’ve taken shits that know more about necromancy than all your convertees combined.

“All the knowledge people who don’t even respect the class enough to keep it have. No thank you.” Sylver answered, grinning ever so slightly as he walked carefully around her one last time.

“It was very nice meeting you Sofia Rala. I hope everything goes well for you with the demon worshipers. We’re all counting on you,” Sylver said, turning around after a few steps of freely walking away.

Sylver watched as she stomped her foot two times, causing her chest to jiggle ever so slightly, before turning around and teleporting away.

That could have gone better. Sylver thought as he walked past the 4 silver-plated guards and turned left.

His skin was still crawling at the thought of demon worshipers being somewhere inside the city. On the other hand, since the temple of Ra knew about them, it was their responsibility to handle it. And as sorry as Syler felt for all the potential casualties, he wasn’t about to get anywhere near demons.

Especially, now that there was a system in place that seemed to make everything so easy that any idiot with a book could become a ‘necromancer’. As far as Sylver knew, ‘demon worshiper’ was an actual class. And if that was the case, that probably meant they had already made contact with a demon somehow.

And while this kind of thing used to be Sylver’s responsibility, it wasn’t anymore. Not to mention Sylver had no idea what demons on this side of the world would be like. Or even worse, Aether’s theory about them was true, and the same ones would show up here.

The Asberg was a fickle piece of shit, it was impossible to predict what it did and didn’t allow through. And since demons came from outside this realm, there was a very solid chance they ignored it.

And if any of the demons that Sylver fought as an arch-necromancer showed up here…

Physically rubbing down the goosebumps running up and down his arms and neck, Sylver turned a corner and walked down a dark alleyway.

Was this the right thing to do? He thought as the path gradually darkened until he was subconsciously using his night vision to see where he was going.

If they’re only worshipers and it’s a mere possession, I could probably handle them. Nip it in the bud so to speak. Lola is here now. And she can’t leave like I can because of the deal with Wuss. Neither can any of the families that moved in here. Not to mention I first need to hear Ciege’s answer. Then wait for the woman in white to arrive. And then go searching for the book thief, if the woman in white doesn’t go anywhere.

What if they do manage to summon a demon? How much damage could one do here? A level one hundred something warrior could probably handle it. Presumably… Sophia could certainly handle it… And with her backup of priests… Not to mention all the adventurers in the guild...

On the other hand, if it’s a small fry, I could probably get a really good deal… Lola can handle getting all the gold and diamonds I would need… I might even be able to tame it…

If they succeed and it’s anything above tier 3 we are all fucked anyway… But anything tier 2 and below, I could handle…

The uncertainty factor was entirely due to the system. And that this could be a setup.

So 2 questions needed to be answered. Was it possible the system somehow let someone summon a tier 3 or above demon? And can Sophia be trusted?

For the first Sylver didn’t even have the beginning of a clue.

And for the second, he had a tough time coming to a decision. On the one hand, his gut was telling him yes. On the other hand the few times his gut was wrong, it was about beautiful women. He was so on guard around them, that he had to forcibly lower his guard to remain any level of reasonable, and that messed with his gut to the point he couldn’t fully trust it.

What do I stand to gain? Some sort of fame among the temples for stopping a demon summoning? Possibly more power if it’s a reasonable demon. Possibly even a demon familiar. Possibly a demonic weapon. And I would learn how summoning works with the system.

What do I stand to lose? It would be simple as anything for the temple of Ra to say they don’t know about asking me to infiltrate the group and just execute me along with the real demon worshipers, if this is just a big setup. If it’s a tier 3 I’m fucked. If it’s a tier 3 everyone is fucked.

But the things Lola could make with a fully intact demon core…

Sylver briefly considered flipping a gold coin to come to a decision, but changed his mind before his hand even went into the bag.

Powerless as he may be, he was still a necromancer. And if a bunch of dipshit demon worshipers thought they could endanger him and his people, they were sorely mistaken.

But first, he needed to make sure his pride wasn’t leading him by the nose. And there was finally someone he could consult about things like this.

*

*

*

Lola had turned so white she was almost as pale as Sylver usually was.

“You’re going to handle it, right?” She finally asked, after a long silence.

“I’m thinking about it. There’s a reason they haven’t just taken them out. So they’re either smart or lucky, or the temple of Ra is that incompetent. There are too many variables. Too many moving pieces. I could get fucked beyond repair if they so wished.” Sylver said, finding that bouncing his thoughts of Lola was surprisingly useful.

“Why not have the cats make sure they keep up their end?” Lola asked after a few seconds.

Sylver thought about it for a while, and remembered how Kitty just sent those guards away.

“I didn’t think of that. But espionage feels like something the Cord should be handling. They surely have people for that,” Sylver said, rubbing his chin and staring at the large grandfather clock one of the dwarven sisters had made for Lola. It was a beautiful piece of woodcraft, and worked entirely off ambient mana in the air.

“Involve them too. Surely the temple of Ra cares more about maintaining friendly relationships with the cats and the Cord, than they hate you? Do they even hate you? You could show them you have allies and aren’t a lone figure,” Lola said, sending someone who had opened her door a crack away with a wave of her hand.

“I don’t know. I mean, it just comes down to the fact that I don’t know. A demon is a one-time thing, you kill it, destroy its core and you’re done. But what about me? I’m not just a necromancer, I’m a necromancer that’s constantly getting stronger. In their eyes, I’m the unknown variable. A demon is a demon, but who the fuck am I? If the necromancer class is so shit, they’ll get suspicious if I keep getting stronger.” Sylver asked, tapping his foot as he tried to come to a final decision.

“So what you’re looking for is something that could be used as leverage against the temple of Ra to make sure they don’t betray you, right?” Lola asked, after thinking it over for a while.

“What can I do? Threaten them? They’re all so devoted they would see it as an honor to die for their cause. Threaten their families? I wouldn’t doubt it for a second that they’d kill them themselves if it meant serving their god. So what does that leave?” Sylver asked, reaching into his robe and pulling out a notebook, and rereading through his notes.

“Are you speaking from your past experience, or did they do something to make you think they’re like that. What if they’re only as devoted to their god as those ‘necromancers’ are devoted to their class?” Lola asked.

“You’re saying they’re priests in name only? Only doing what they have to, to get access to the class?” Sylver asked, sitting up properly and putting his notebook away.

“It makes sense. Most of the other crafters I’ve spoken to only see their class as their job. There’s maybe a handful that has a true passion for what they do. Why would the priests be any different? Half the adventurers here can’t explain why they picked the class they did beyond ‘I met the requirements’. And I also think you’re exaggerating the danger you pose to them. You’re a necromancer, sure, but you’re just one person. By their metric, even if you were to get to level 100, a level 110 priest could still destroy you, right? The cats know something about you, but even they don’t seem to fully understand what Naut is talking about.” Lola explained.

“What do you mean?”

“They don’t quite know who or what you are. All Naut told them, as far as they’ve told me, is that you have a lot of knowledge, but it would be impossible to force it out of you. And that you helped Kitty kind of skewered everything to do with them in your favor. The Cord knows even less, they think you’re as capable as you are only because of your extra special unique class. And even if the temple of Ra betrays you, you have enough favors to call on to correct that.” Lola said, a little color returning to her extra pale face.

“Novva, the adviser of the Lord of Medera, potentially the cats if I agree to do more work for them, the Cord and whichever nobles are involved with them, if I agree to do more work for them, and you on top of that.” Sylver thought out loud and he tapped his foot on the ground. It was unnerving to be so uncertain about something.

“What’s your gut telling you?” Lola asked, somehow being able to see what Sylver was thinking.

“That I’ll regret it if I just ignore it. But that I need to see the woman in white above all else. I don’t know why, but I feel like that takes priority. I have a little under 2 months left before she will supposedly come to see Ceige. But then again I don’t know if she will show up since Ciege’s father is dead. She might have even heard about the fact that Ciege was gone for a year.”

“The one who you think has been erasing her presence from Ciege’s mind? I have a question in that case. Suppose she is somehow connected to you being inside that thing. What are you going to do? I understand specialization and all that, but if she’s even 5th tier, let alone 9th tier like you think she is, what are you going to do? Even if you’re immune to mind attacks, she’s got enough mana to just wipe you and everything around you out. What’s your plan for that?” Lola asked.

Sylver didn’t have a good answer.

“I’ll think of something by then.” He finally said after a while.

“Like what? Do you think there’s something I could make that would help you bridge that power gap? Or do you have some sort of instant powerup you haven’t used yet? What’s your plan? Enlighten me.” Lola demanded with an annoyed expression, crossing her arms over her chest.

Sylver just looked at her for a moment. “I do understand you’re worried about the demon. But don’t ever talk to me like that.” Sylver said, standing up from his seat and walking over to the grandfather clock.

I’m looking at this wrong.

“This should have been my first question, but how long do we have until they finish summoning it? Or even start for that matter?” Lola asked, bringing Sylver out of his staring contest with the grandfather clock.

“I don’t know. I freaked out when she mentioned demons and ran off. But if it’s so urgent that they’ve been pestering Salgok about it every single day, I can’t imagine it’s years away.” Sylver said, turning around to face Lola.

“One thing I know about demons, is that you need either a ridiculous amount of mana or a lot of materials to summon one,” Lola said, flipping through one of her notebooks and opening it on a blank page.

“Everyone knows that. What are you getting at?” Sylver asked, confused by the question.

“Well first of all I think you should at the very least go finish hearing her out. But in the meantime, assuming you know everything needed to summon a demon, I could just buy up all the materials so they don’t make it into any demon worshiping hands,” Lola said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

“Why does everyone assume all necromancers know how to summon demons? Where’s the connection, I don’t understand. One has to do with the forces of life and death, and the other is blurring the line between realms,” Sylver asked, walking over to her and sitting down.

“Are you saying you don’t know how to summon a demon?”

“No, I do. But not because I’m a necromancer.” Sylver said, as he took Lola’s notebook and started jotting things down. “Above all else, you need to be sure you get every single gram of diamond you can get your hands on. Pure, impure, doesn’t matter, you need to have it. You can’t summon a demon without diamonds. And then you need to make sure…”

*

*

*

After going through all the various materials Lola would be buying up at such a fast and aggressive pace that it will cause the prices to jump to unreasonable amounts, Sylver returned to the temple.

And just stood a short distance away, looking at it.

I could do this completely on my own… But how? Just walk around shouting I want to summon a demon? Go drink at a bar where I think there are demon worshipers and hope one of them talks to me? Try to track down where they are, by looking for demonic energy?

None of those would work. I can’t sense demonic energy as I am now, and I need a piece of a demon to find a demon.

And above all else, Lola is right. Even if I do find the woman in white, I wouldn’t be able to do anything to her. Unless I’m strong or have something to level things out, I would just be wasting time.

Sylver took 2 steps towards the temple, before turning around and walking to Salgok’s. The demon could wait one more day, and this was something that needed to be at the very least slept on. Maybe he’ll get a better idea in the morning.

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