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Ch050-Shifting Perspectives

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Sylver knew it would be pointless to search for the hero. They came in all shapes and sizes, all ages and sexes, and blended in like it was nobody's business. Aside from their unbelievably fast power growth, and as Salgok correctly mentioned, a slightly odd accent, they looked and felt like any normal human. And although Sylver knew their souls weren’t normal, even when he was at his peak he couldn’t feel them with his soul sense.

It was difficult to describe, but it was something like a natural disguising ability. Every single hero Sylver had ever met had this ability, even if they weren’t aware of it.

Not to mention if it was the powerful or flashy type, everyone would have already known about them already. They’d walk around inventing things that should have taken years upon years of development, and sell them off in quick succession making a name for themselves. A solid three-quarters of the magic technology the world used came from heroes.

A new invention appearing out of nowhere was the taste test to a hero’s arrival. For the ones that the Ibis wasn’t ready and waiting for at least. Which turned out to be a lot. The other was a demon spawning and building a base for itself.

The number of times Sylver arrived just in time to see a hero land the finishing blow on a demon, and ruin the core, was too high to be a coincidence.

The two were almost synonymous. A demon lord appearing meant that there was a hero for certain heading towards it. Not counting the odd times when the hero became said demon lord. In which case a hero from one of the other races would show up and kill him instead.

Sylver did of course understand that this was all speculation, given how he wasn’t even all that certain there was a demon here, let alone a named one, but he had a hunch, and his hunches were rarely wrong when it came to heroes.

But heroes were a special issue. They could be either a great help, or a near world-ending catastrophe. Or they could get killed before they so much as meet another human being. There was also the issue of reincarnated heroes, but that was an entirely separate issue.

Deciding there was nothing to be gained walking around hungover and fretting over ever increasingly unlikely possibilities, Sylver returned home and slept.

*

*

*

“That’s honestly cheaper than I was expecting,” Sylver said as the man continued to count his gold coins and placed them into neat stacks on his beautiful stone table.

“We have something of a discount for brand new customers. And you’re only going to be polite until you hear what getting from level 5 to level 6 is going to cost," The man explained.

“Tell me anyway. So I know what to look forward to,"

“Around 22,000 gold," The man answered with an embarrassed grin.

Sylver stood silently while the man looked back down at the gold coins and continued to count them.

For that much gold appraisal level, 6 better tell me the person's entire backstory.

Going from level 1 to level 2 took only a few minutes. Sylver mostly appraised extremely valuable pieces of art, golden statues mostly, and was level 2 in no time.

[Appraisal (I) Proficiency increased to 100%!]

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

Appraisal (II):
-See the HP of the target.
-See the HP percentage of the target.
-[Requirements not met]
-{Requirements not met]
-[Requirements not met]

Having already decided this a while ago, Sylver picked the first effect and moved on.

[Skill: Appraisal (II)]
Skill level can be increased by appraising targets.
I- Get basic information about the target.
II- See the HP of the target.
*Can see up to 20 levels higher than your own.

[??? (???) - 55)
HP- 973

“Do you have a modifier or something? Because why isn’t it a multiple of 10?” Sylver asked as the guide turned around to face him.

“I do. Percentage based modifiers always create uneven values. It’s normal to get 10 or 25 percent at the lowest level, but because of the curve it starts getting into 2 decimal point areas relatively early on,” the guide explained unveiling the first target for Sylver’s level 2 appraisal.

[Elven ??? - 300G - Excellent Quality]

[Appraisal (II) Proficiency increased to 19%!]

It was a carved piece of ivory, that was made to look like a small tree, with brightly shining golden leaves.

[Brillish Lock - ????G - Flawless Quality]

[Appraisal (II) Proficiency increased to 43%!]

A small rectangular piece of stone that didn’t even have a keyhole anywhere.

“What does Brillish mean? Is it a person?”

“An artist to be more exact. He created a lot of nonsense like this, that for whatever reason works extremely well as an appraisal training tool. We aren’t quite certain why exactly, but if it works, it works.” The guide answered, unveiling the next item.

[Brillish Key - ????G - Flawless Quality]

[Appraisal (II) Proficiency increased to 97%!]

“I wasted so much time trying to get it to level two by myself. This honestly feels like I’m cheating.” Sylver complained, as the guide placed the cover back on and undid the cover for the next item.

“We hear that a lot. These items aren’t just random expensive pieces, they have something in them that triggers a leveling condition. Took years to find them all, and even longer to figure out which order to appraise them for maximum effectiveness.” The guide answered with a smirk.

[Brillish ??? - ?????G - Fine Quality]

[Appraisal (II) Proficiency increased to 100%!]

[Appraisal (II) rank up available!]
Choose 1 from the following:

Appraisal (III):
-See the MP of the target.
-See the MP percentage of the target.
-See the maximum MP of the target.
-See the MP regeneration of the target.
-See the mana conductivity of the target.
-See the mana resistance of the target.
-See the presence of skill [Mana Perception]
-See the highest element affinity of the target.
-[Requirements not met]
-{Requirements not met]
-[Requirements not met]

“You look confused. Is everything alright?” The guide asked, as Sylver read through his list again.

“There’s a few more than I was expecting. I’m a little at a loss as to which to pick. And where so many came from” Sylver said, honestly.

“How many?”

“Eight.”

The guide whistled before answering. “Since it’s the level 3 rank up, I’m going to guess you’ve had more than your fair share of dealing with magic. Or it could be that your classes are affecting the skill. Or you’ve just stumbled your way into meeting all 8 requirements by accident.”

Strangely enough, Sylver was unable to figure out what exactly the requirements were for each effect. Which was beyond unusual. This wasn’t in the booklet Raba had given him, level 3 was supposed to be either seeing the MP of the target, or seeing the MP percentage. He asked the guide about it.

“One of two reasons. The first is that it's completely due to one of your classes, meaning you would have gotten it no matter what you did so you technically didn’t meet any requirements, and there you won’t get to know how the effect was unlocked. The second is that you met the requirements, but weren’t treating the skill seriously enough to get it to activate and therefore didn’t get to learn the requirements.” The guide explained.

Sylver narrowed his eyes at this.

“What do you mean ‘seriously’?”

“Let me think… Do you know any fire spells?” The guide asked.

Sylver snapped his fingers and a ball of bright blue fire appeared in his hand.

“But you don’t have the fire manipulation skill.” The guide guessed correctly, as Sylver nodded and snuffed the flame out.

“This is what I mean by ‘seriously’. I’m not saying you’re just playing around with fire, but you need to essentially prove to the system that you should have the skill. The same for increasing the skill level. It’s not enough to do it perfectly, you need to do it in a certain way for the system to register that you’re doing it perfectly. A lot of melee related skills suffer from this I’m told, the angle and timing needs to be just right for it to activate. I imagine the same is true for magic-related skills. Although the specifics escape me, if I am being honest.”

“So wait… Is it possible to have a skill, but use it incorrectly, and cause it to level at a horribly slow pace?” Sylver asked, his eyes widening slightly.

“Almost certainly. I mean fuck, I wasted a good 4 years getting one skill from level 9 to level 10, and then breezed my up to level 32 in a few months, because I figured out how to use it properly.” The guide said as Sylver looked to the side at his list of skills.

“How would you know if you’re using a skill incorrectly?” Sylver asked.

“Slow leveling speed would be the most obvious sign. It’s been estimated that you need to use a skill 10 times its level perfectly for it to increase by 1 level. So to get to level 2 you need to use it 20 times, for level 3 30 times, and so on. There are special circumstances where a skill will get more experience than it should be able to, such as appraisal and Brillish. But as a rule of thumb unless you're doing it completely ass-backwards you should only need to use a skill a maximum of 100 times its level to increase it. So 200 times for level 2, 300 times for level 3, and so on, but that’s assuming you’re doing it completely wrong. For most people, the number is somewhere around 10 and 50 times the level.” The guide explained, as Sylver looked down for a moment at his over 100 shades, and his barely a third of the way level 2 [Raise Shade] skill.

“Is… Is this common information?” Sylver asked with uncertainty and tried to search through Ciege’s memories.

“Depends on who you ask. And it’s just a theory, no one has been able to prove anything definitively, as far as I’m aware at least. Some believe all skills are tied directly to the closest associated class. Others believe that each skill is tied to some invisible skills and the one we see is only the child. Are you alright?” The guide asked, as Sylver turned ever so slightly pale, then a whole lot redder.

“If you were a crafter, would putting yourself in danger help with increasing your level?” Sylver asked, thinking back on Yeva, and Lola.

“It will cost you 200 gold for me to answer.” The guide offered.

“I’ll pay, just tell me.”

“I am going to assume you met a crafter that was level 100 something and got there at an absurdly quick pace.” The guide asked as Sylver nodded.

“See… Crafting classes level a little differently than combat classes. For starters, they don’t need anywhere near the same amount of experience as combat classes do. Also the higher their skill/quality of what they produce, the more experience they get. It’s not unheard of that a craftsman has a natural ability to craft an item, let's say in the level 50 area, so they’ll get the experience they would as if they were level 50. So a craftsman will have an easy time getting to level 50, but could spend years going from level 50 to level 51.” The guide explained.

“What about unique crafting classes?”

“Even more so. Unique crafting classes come from when someone has an extremely specific talent. Which greatly limits what they can produce, but in exchange, they are masters at it. But the same rule is still true. They might level up like crazy initially, but once they hit their limit it goes back to normal. Not to mention material quality as well as other factors are involved.”

“Kind of how it’s impossible for certain people to increase their level past a certain point because the monsters that are above their level are too strong for them?”

“Exactly. Some people call it a soft cap. It's why monsters in a certain area are a certain level range, and why bandits tend to be old but low level. They’re just people whose classes or skill choices were too shit for them to be strong enough to kill the appropriately leveled monsters.” The guide explained, as Sylver thought about where Lola’s hypothetical soft cap would be.

Or where Sylver’s would be.

I wonder what my level would have been back when I was an apprentice…

“But then again, unique classes are unpredictable. I’ve heard of some that would give their user 2 levels for every single kill, and others that required thousands upon thousands of monsters for even 1 level.” The guide said.

“But it balances out, right? The unique class that requires a ton of experience, gives better perks and skills, and whatnot?”

“Who knows… There’s one I know that needed for certain conditions to be met before it leveled up. But I mean information for unique classes can go for hundreds of thousands of gold. There’s no way for me to properly answer that, and I would feel wrong taking money for rumors and unfounded theories,” the guide said.

Sylver thought about it and tried to think of the times his [Koschei] class leveled up.

The first was right after he reset Ciege’s status. The second was when he killed the man who became Tom. The third was when he killed Fen’s group. The fourth was when he wiped out that Black Mane hideout and saved those women…

Not counting the first, the only real connection seemed to be when he killed someone.

“Oh fuck…” Sylver said accidentally out loud.

Does it fucking need me to kill ever-increasing amounts of people to level up? Every single time there were more people, more powerful than me and the ones before, and I was all alone each and every time.

“What?” The guide asked, looking towards the wall Sylver was staring into empty space towards.

“Nothing I… Just had an upsetting realization.”

“Be careful with those. The obvious answer is very rarely the right one when it comes to the system. I’m going to have to charge you extra unless we get a move on, because I do have other things to do.” The guide said.

[Appraisal (II) rank up available!]
Choose 1 from the following:

Appraisal (III):
-See the MP of the target.
-See the MP percentage of the target.
-See the maximum MP of the target.
-See the MP regeneration of the target.
-See the mana conductivity of the target.
-See the mana resistance of the target.
-See the presence of skill [Mana Perception]
-See the highest element affinity of the target.
-[Requirements not met]
-{Requirements not met]
-[Requirements not met]

Percentage is useless, maximum is useless, I can figure out regeneration on the spot, conductivity would come in handy but not right now, mana resistance I can figure out from the HP and damage, mana perception doesn’t matter either I’ll be able to tell, and highest affinity I can probably guess or just check post mortem.

[Skill: Appraisal (III)]
Skill level can be increased by appraising targets.
I- Get basic information about the target.
II- See the HP of the target.
III-See the MP of the target.
*Can see up to 30 levels higher than your own.

“Good to go? Your eyes might start to hurt from this point on.” The guide said as he led Sylver towards the next room.

*

*

*

[Skill: Appraisal (V)]
Skill level can be increased by appraising targets.
I- Get basic information about the target.
II- See the HP of the target.
III-See the MP of the target.
IV- Increase the skill’s range by 300%.
V- See more details when appraising a target.
*Can see up to 50 levels higher than your own.

Overall the whole process took almost 6 hours. And a majority of that was spent getting from level 4 to level 5. Not that Sylver noticed time passing all that much since all he had to do was appraise a bowl full of colored broken glass, or an apple painted gold, and the skill’s proficiency increased.

Sylver couldn’t see a pattern or logic in all the items that he had used to raise the skill. Although since the golden apple was apparently worth 9 figure range Sylver’s theory was that there was some sort of manipulation of the system going on. His attempt to ask where the names the skill provided came from, caused another onslaught of pain on his head, and he decided it wasn’t that important right now.

His best guess was that these items had a sort of theoretical worth versus what they were actually worth. It would explain why the guide was so careful never to say what value Sylver should be seeing, or even explained how the later pieces of garbage were in the hundreds of thousands range.

But more importantly, Sylver now knew why his skills were so bad.

He was using them wrong.

Apparently.

He was raising shades wrong, he was raising zombies wrong, and draining energy wrong. Apparently.

He was just the greatest necromancer who had ever lived, who was he to say what was the right way to raise a shade? Apparently, the system had other ideas.

But now that he knew that it wasn’t just a case of his unique class getting in his way, he was planning on getting more skills when he could, and increasing the ones he had a lot faster. Although the guide very heavily implied that anything that wasn’t directly related to necromancy or his unique class would take years of effort to be registered as a skill. If it was that easy to get a skill, everyone would be walking around with hundreds of them.

Which was fine, since Sylver wasn’t planning to get any skills he wouldn’t be using, that would be pointless. A handful of extremely high-level skills were a lot better than even 1,000 low-level skills.

*

*

*

[High Elf (Crafter) – 19]
[HP-644]
[MP-2,298]

“This is almost insulting,” Sylver said, staring at Lola and rereading through all the new information appraisal was giving him.

“In my defense, I am wearing 10 enchanted rings, and I have a perk that boosts the effectiveness of enchantments,” Lola said, showing Sylver the 10 roughly crafted golden and gem-studded rings on her fingers.

“Fair enough. It’s not like it’s the first time in my life someone gets to use something that I can’t. Three-quarters of the gear the other apprentices used knocked me unconscious when I tried to so much as touch it.” Sylver said, chuckling at the memory. Venna nearly had a heart attack when Sylver put on the mana enhancing gloves and stopped breathing.

He might have been incapable of using any healing potions or any positively enchanted gear, but he more than made up for that with his ability to think fast, and that getting his head crushed wasn’t enough to stop him. Power doesn’t matter when your opponent cannot be stopped, only slowed down.

“So when are you going to go see Ciege?” Lola asked, bringing up the dreaded question Sylver had been stalling and trying not to ask himself.

“They’re probably busy, and need more time to think about it, and it’s not like I want to rush them into anything…” Sylver said, sitting down onto the new leather couches someone had crafted and moved into Lola’s office.

“Are… Are you nervous about them telling you no?” Lola asked, a very faint smile playing at the edge of her lips.

“This isn’t a laughing matter. And yes. Although everything is settled between us, I feel like I owe his family a little more than what I’ve currently given them. Did I tell you that Ciege could have taken back control at any time he wanted?” Sylver said, as Lola sat down next to him on the couch.

“What do you mean?”

“After I killed the goblins he could have forced me out and returned to his body. I honestly don’t know why he didn’t even try it. My best guess is that he was afraid he would fail and I would take it out on Yeva. It’s comparable to laying your head down on the chopping block when your hands aren’t even bound,” Sylver explained, as someone tried to enter Lola’s office but was stopped by the locked door.

“So you feel like you owe him because he kept his word? If anything I would think that’s just further proof you have no reason to feel indebted to him in any way. He made a deal and honored it, what’s there to reward?” Lola asked.

“I don’t need a reason to want the people I like to be comfortable. If I can’t do whatever I want, what’s the point? I want to help him, so I will help him. If he is willing to accept my help. And from a certain standpoint, he is my brother. And his child is my nephew, if not my actual son. Ciege is the closest thing I have to a blood-related family right now, and it’s only natural that I want him and his child to prosper. Not to mention if you really think about it, Yeva is my wife. ” Sylver said, looking at the time and deciding it was a good time to go.

“But let’s not talk about that. It rubs me the wrong way just thinking about it. Give me some good news instead,” Sylver said, getting up and stretching and putting his robe back on.

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. But I’ve just learned my way of doing things isn’t in line with what the system considers proper, so I could really use some good news to balance things out.”

Lola thought about it for a while. “The crypt expedition failed. Or at least no one has heard from them for several days now, and the scouts they sent inside said there was blood everywhere. They managed to identify a few of the bodies but a huge portion of the force is still missing,” Lola said, as Sylver made a mental note to go see the crypt at some point in the future. To collect the bodies if nothing else.

“That’s great! Not for them, but for us I mean. Anything else?”

“I’m about a third of the way done with that anti teleportation device you wanted. I just need to wait for a few more materials to arrive and for the mana well to be filled up. I had to change your design quite a bit, but now it doesn’t just stall teleportation, it should completely block it for 13 seconds on one charge.”

“Fantastic! What else?”

“Wuss thinks he found the diamond hoarder. He’s sending Naut to go talk to him tonight.” Lola said, smiling with a mixture of smugness and pride.

“That is amazing! Why didn’t you start with that?” Sylver asked.

“Because I don’t like saying something unless I’m certain. And I’m quite honestly exhausted. I haven’t had any proper sleep since I came here. I want to strangle half the people working under me.”

“What about the other half?”

“Those I just want to kill. I’ve had an easier time building a phantasmal shield, than I did getting 50 people trained and organized to work. If it was just that, it wouldn’t have been an issue. But everyone is constantly bickering with one another, there’s so much drama, and the second I think I’m done with one problem, four new ones arise and need to be dealt with immediately.”

“Yeah. You’ll get used to it.” Sylver lied, patting Lola on the back.

“The demon?” Lola asked, her voice shaking the tiniest amount.

“I need time between going to the bar, but nothing yet. The cats are looking into it too, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they can’t find anything, since they didn’t even know about the demon worshiper.” Sylver said, as Lola just looked at him expectantly.

“So while I’m here going from headache to headache trying to build a company that lives up to yours and Wuss’s expectations, you’re out there drinking?” Lola asked, in an understandable fuss.

“That’s certainly one way to look at it. But in the future, it will be more along the lines of you blissfully engrossed in research, and me running around the world searching for clues in every nook and cranny and fighting with my life on the line every hour of every day. Not to mention, I’m not just drinking, I’m drinking to lure someone into recruiting me to join the demon worshipers, meaning at some point I will be dealing with a demon,” Sylver said, as he adjusted the robe and looked in the mirror.

“Well when you put it like that, I guess that’s not too bad. But please go see them. I need to know if I’ll need to prepare anything for Yeva as soon as possible.” Lola said, handing Sylver another bag of used silver coins and watching him tuck it away inside of the robe.

“I’ll go see them in the morning. I’ll let them both sleep on it one more night before asking for an answer,” Sylver said, as he left.

*

*

*

Flying through the air, Sylver completely filled out a notebook writing down all the information he knew about the system. Strangely enough, it didn’t seem to trigger a headache if he wrote down questions inside the notes, but anytime he tried to think too much about anything, a buzzing like noise filled his ears. And if he didn’t drop his line of thought, turned into a drilling like pain right inside his head.

It was… worrying.

Sylver was undead. He was immune to mind magic. If this was working on his soul he would have felt something that had such a direct effect. This wasn’t small and subtle like [Kindred Spirit Mitigation], this was the equivalent of a hit directly to the face. There wasn’t anything that should be able to hurt him in such a way without leaving something behind.

Then again this kind of overlay over people's magic and bodies should be impossible. Not to mention that he was producing mana. Which was impossible for a number of reasons. Primarily because he was-

Hitting his head against one of Will’s large spinal barbs, Sylver worried a tooth would break from how hard his jaw was being clenched.

It was getting worse. Each and every time the level of pain went up a level. It had already gotten to the point Sylver had actively stopped questioning several aspects of the system, it was only a matter of time before the thing managed to make him submit and stop thinking about it completely.

He’d already checked that the pain wasn’t physical, numbing elixirs had zero effect on it, and neither did trying to sever his pain receptors. It was something else entirely.

The pain receded slowly and dragged its feet before giving Sylver enough room to breathe properly. Will was already circling around the edge of the town, so Sylver only had to jump down and go talk to them…

Go and talk to the man who had given him life... And who was his, technically speaking, biological brother...

And the woman who had nearly killed herself trying to bring him back… And was, technically, his wife, and carrying, technically, his child….

I’d honestly rather go after the demon instead of this. Sylver thought as he jumped down and spread his robe out as much as possible to slow down his fall. Mixed together with a small amount of hot air underneath slowed it down to the point he barely stumbled as his feet reached the ground.

There were still plenty of kinks to work out, and it was too expensive and slow to be used in the middle of a fight, but it was acceptable for the moment.

Walking through the forest Syver took the scenic route and was pleasantly surprised to see that whatever had targeted him when he first got here let him through without any issue. They must have recognized him and didn’t pursue him further.

Which was something Sylver would have to lecture the old cat on, given how many different ways there were to disguise yourself as someone else. From shapeshifting to advanced illusions to potions to magic items. The methods were practically limitless.

“Good morning! Lovely weather today.” Sylver said to the old man sitting at the entrance.

The old man just nodded and didn’t look up from the small book he was reading as Sylver passed through.

Sylver walked through the village unencumbered and took the long way to give himself a little more time to think, and to check to see how the village was doing.

There was a small black cat sitting on an abandoned house’s window sill, licking it’s paw and rubbing its ear stub. Sylver changed direction and followed the black cat inside the house, and closed the door after himself.

“You usually wait until the last moment to see me. Did something happen?” Sylver asked, as the cat jumped up on a shattered barrel.

“We had a bit of a close call. We’re fairly certain no one saw anything, but I thought you should know.” Whiskers explained.

“How close?”

“They had a hand on the door handle close. But it’s been handled, no casualties, I just thought you should know.” The black cat explained.

Sylver looked the cat in the eye for a moment, before smiling ever so slightly.

“Thank you, but you don’t need to tell me every little detail. I left them in your care because I trust you, you don’t have to consult me on it. Unless anyone actually sees something, or gets hurt, or there’s some other major development, just do what you think is best. They’ll hopefully be moving to Arda fairly soon,” Sylver said, pulling a smashed stool off the floor and sitting down on it.

“Hopefully?” Whiskers asked, pausing.

“I came here to hear their answer. Hence ‘hopefully’.” Sylver answered, crossing his arms over his chest.

“Well, I hope it goes well. And if not, Yeva has already become a known enough name that there’s constant attempts on her life. So it’s not like I’ll get bored anytime soon. Believe it or not, there’s so many bandits around this area that a number of my underlings have leveled up from all the fighting.” Whiskers said, scratching the underside of his chin and exposing his scarred and hairless belly for a moment.

“If that’s everything, I’ll be off now.” Sylver said, getting up. He was already feeling nervous in a way he wasn’t accustomed to, and decided he waited long enough, they were both probably awake and had come to a decision by now.

*

The door opened a few seconds after Sylver had knocked.

Yeva hadn’t changed at all since Sylver had last seen her. Or at the very least he couldn’t discern any noticeable changes. Maybe a little less pale, but it may have just been the light.

“You look well. Do you mind if I come inside?” Sylver asked, as she stepped inside to allow Sylver to pass.

The kitchen has been packed up… So far so good...

Sylver saw Ciege exiting out of the workshop area and washed away the soot and dirt on his hands in the sink.

“Have you come to a decision, or do you still need more time? I’ll say it again, there’s no wrong answer, choose what you feel is best.” Sylver said, getting a very slight look of confusion out of Ciege and Yeva.

“Oh… You’re here about the job offer from Lola, right? We’ll have to decline for the moment, we’re both quite content with what we have here. Aren’t we darling?” Ciege said, wrapping his hand around Yeva’s shoulder and kissing her on the neck. He looked to have gained a tiny bit of weight since Sylver last saw him.

Sylver surprised himself by how calm he felt right now. He was expecting a bit more oomph from the rejection, but they really did seem happy here. There wasn’t any fear or uncertainty in either of their eyes and Sylver could almost feel the love in the air. If he were in Ciege’s shoes, he wouldn’t give up such a home for anything. As sad as this was, it was also for the best.

“In that case, I wish you two the best of luck. If you ever change your mind, I would be delighted to have you three nearby. I understand the difficulty of your decision, but as I promised I will respect it.” Sylver said, walking towards the table and placing a new sealed envelope that contained references for both of them, should they ever attempt to get into Arda without contacting them first.

Sylver’s finger traced a deep cut on the tabletop and he tried to remember if that was there when he was here a few days ago. Ciege normally fixed this kind of stuff right away, he had a separate tool kit for repairing furniture. And it looked too deep to be a slip of the cooking knife.

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay for breakfast? We were just about to eat,” Yeva said, as she walked over and placed a hand on Sylver’s shoulder.

There was a very faint crackling sound as Sylver turned around and placed his hand on top of hers. His eyes were wide open for a split second, before they returned to their normal size.

“You know what? That doesn’t sound like a bad idea. But would you two mind sitting down first for a moment? I forgot that there’s something important I need to tell you,” Sylver explained, sitting down at the dining table as the two other people sat opposite him.

Sylver placed both of his pale hands onto the table with his palms turned up. Both of them looked a little skeptical, but they placed their hands into Sylver’s anyway.

“I’ve noticed a while ago I’ve become a little softer, so to speak. I care about the people around me a little more, I get attached a whole lot easier than before, and I’m more trusting in a particular way I never used to be. And I know why,” Sylver said, as he gently closed his hands over theirs.

“I’m not proud to admit it, but I know it's because I’m already preparing myself for the eventual realization no one is coming back. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst, that kind of thing. It’s what I do. I lose people, and I move on. I try to deny it, I get angry, I do everything in my power to get them back, but at some point, I just wake up and they’re already a distant memory. And I hate myself for it. It makes me think that every future connection I make is cheap and temporary,” Sylver explained, as he looked into both of their eyes.

“There were very few people I could rely on to always be there for me. And now that they’re gone too, I’ve been almost desperate to find something. I’m ranting, sorry but bear with me.” Sylver said, with a bitter smile.

“What I’m trying to say is that as a result, I care very deeply for the few connections I end up making. Especially now. Especially to the man who gave me a second chance at life, and the woman he loved so much he was willing to give up his life to save. There’s almost no one in my life at the moment who can compare to them.” Sylver explained.

If someone were observing the room very carefully, they would notice that the windows had very slowly become frosted. That the bright light that came in through the windows and had dimmed slightly. That, while before there was a constant murmur of noise outside the house, birds chirping, dogs barking and small insects buzzing, it was now dead quiet. That the only two doors leading out of the dining room had closed by themselves and silently became locked. That what little color Sylver’s face had disappeared completely leaving his face as white as his eyes were black.

“Do you understand me?” Sylver asked, as both the people in front of him looked back at him with tearful eyes and matching soft and tender expressions on their faces.

“Here’s something else I want you two to understand. I have recently learned that the way people become necromancers in this day and age, is slightly different from how I learned it. When I was studying the subject it was experiment after experiment, dissection after dissection, attempt after attempt, trial, and an unimaginable amount of error. I learned a lot about the human body. How it heals, how it works, how it should be, how it shouldn’t be, what goes where, what can be done, what can’t, I daresay I know more about the human body than all the healers in Arda combined.” Sylver said, gently increasing his grip on the hands in his.

“Which I’ll tell you right now, has been extremely useful. From fighting to fucking, my knowledge has rarely failed me. I know the body inside and out, in every way possible. Do you understand what I’m trying to say?” Sylver asked, getting a confused but polite shake of the head from both of the people in front of him.

“What I’m trying to say is that when I make a threat to someone about hurting them in a way they can’t even imagine, it isn’t an empty threat. It’s a threat backed up by multiple lifetimes’ worth of research and practice. I know where a person's weak points are, I know how to abuse them, I know how to make the equivalent of a paper cut feel like boiling acid was poured directly into the vein.” Sylver continued, pulling their hands slightly and causing their faces to come closer to his.

“So now that we all hopefully understand what I am capable of, and who I am, and how deeply I care for the people I care for. For both of your sakes. And really think before you answer. Look into my eyes, and really really really think carefully. Count to at least 30 before you answer. Alright?” Sylver asked, his eyes widening slightly.

“Remember where we are. That just across that wall is a fully stocked workshop full of saws, blades, hammers, boiling hot oils, hot metal, hot coals, pliers, vices, files, and just about any tool you can imagine,” Sylver said gesturing with his head towards the wall in question.

“And do understand that just because I don’t want to do something, doesn’t mean I won’t do it. I do things I find distasteful on a daily basis. So I’m going to ask you a question, and I expect at least a few seconds of consideration before you lie to me. Before this turns from a friendly conversation between strangers, that could potentially walk away from each other completely unharmed, into something else. I am an extremely reasonable man, and if there is a way for us to end things on a positive and friendly note, I would very much prefer that. Ready?” Sylver asked, as his grip gradually tightened to the point he could feel the skin bruising underneath his fingers.

“Where are the real Ciege and Yeva, and what have you done to them?” Sylver asked, feeling both of the imposter's souls jump around in their bodies, and just short of crushing their wrists in his hands as they tried to pull away.

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KingKennit

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