Ch076-One Door Closes
Sylver’s hands made a clickety sound as he flexed his fingers. He closed both into a fist and heard a soft crunch. He leaned back and heard an identical noise coming from his spine. Lastly, he moved his jaw from side to side and stopped himself before it became unhinged.
“Would you mind if I looked through your components bag?” Sylver asked.
They had taken a short break while Sylver recovered, and everyone was currently resting and eating. Dead proto zombies were moved out of the way and burned, and Sylver sat together with Edna. More honestly, Sylver was waiting for Spring and the others to discreetly pick up the Eldar sapling along with the [Dead Man’s Last Stand].
Few people had issues or questions regarding how Sylver was able to open a path out of the crypt. Partially out of politeness, given that they were being semi rescued by him. As far as crypt expeditions go, this was a failure in many ways. But everyone present was just happy to be alive.
More of Erin’s group had made its way here, and a surprising amount of them were unharmed. Everyone was understanding enough to keep what Sylver was doing to themselves after they left, partially because Rosa had asked them to but also because Sylver lost his temper with Eliot, and made himself look like a psychotic maniac.
In hindsight, there were less violent ways Sylver could have stopped Eliot. But he was the one who had wasted the [Dead Man’s Last Stand] on a presumably easy to beat enemy. Now that he was looking at the event with clearer eyes, Sylver very nearly felt bad about it.
Then again, Eliot did attack him first, and this was simply the consequences of his actions. If he never attacked Sylver or attempted to subdue him in this case, he wouldn’t have lost any teeth. Or been threatened with disembowelment and castration, when he attempted to ask his people to search Sylver for any artifacts.
If anything, Eliot should have been grateful Sylver let the healer heal his teeth back. A lesser man might have kept him toothless and bleeding to death. Which was still on the table, if Eliot suddenly discovered a backbone that wasn’t afraid of elven royalty, and Sylver’s extremely descriptive explanation of how he would use a hammer, a spike, and a scalpel to perform the procedures.
Things calmed down quickly after Eliot backed off.
“Penalty?” Edna asked as she handed Sylver a small pouch filled with various minerals and metals.
“Something like that. I used too much of a specific magic, and I didn’t have what I needed to counteract it,” Sylver explained. He poured out the contents of the pouch onto his hand and picked out a small yellow-colored bead. He returned the rest to the pouch. Thankfully Edna was all out of silver by this point, so he wasn’t burned like last time.
“I’ll replace it when we get back to Arda,” Sylver said.
“There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you,” Edna said.
Sylver nodded and made a tiny cut on the inside of his palm. The flesh opened up enough for Sylver to insert the bead and the cut didn’t so much as bleed as Sylver closed it. The faintest trace of a scar remained, but it might as well have been a trick of the light. Sylver flexed his fingers as Edna spoke.
“Would you be interested in forming a party with me?” Edna asked. She said it so carefully and quietly, Sylver wasn’t entirely certain she was talking to him.
Sylver carefully rolled his hand as a yellow light spread out from his palm and crept down into his wrist and forearm.
“Are you asking because you think it would be fun, exciting, rewarding, and will increase your level at an absurd rate? Or because you want to ask me for help, and you think this is the only way you’ll be able to pay me back? Or is it because something happened between you and your sisters, and you’re trying to get away from them?” Sylver asked. The yellow light went up to his shoulder and spread out in a flash throughout his entire body.
Sylver leaned back and turned his head but without any clicking this time.
“Right, you can sense souls, I keep forgetting,” Edna mumbled.
“I can, but this isn’t that. Look, whatever it is, there’s one thing you should know… There are some things that aren’t fixed with time, they only get worse, they grow and fester. Relationship issues between people are like that. Try to talk it out, no matter how hard it might be. It’s infinitely better than the alternative, which is waiting until the damage is permanent and completely unrecoverable. You might have to amputate a thumb right now, but it’s better than amputating an arm down the line,” Sylver said.
“It’s easy for you to say,” Edna replied.
“It is. It’s incredibly easy from my point of view, I get to look at everything from an objective and impartial point of view with all the answers being simple and obvious. You’re the one who’s going to have to say something that you know is going to hurt them. And you’ll be the one to deal with the consequences,” Sylver continued.
Edna ate her bowl of mashed vegetables for a while, while Sylver quietly checked that all his joints were working properly.
“And no. Just so we’re clear. I’m not opposed to forming a team or a party, but I don’t like being second choice, and you’re a very bad matchup for me. Talk it out, trust me when I say you’ll regret it a whole lot more if you wait,” Sylver said. He didn’t want to elaborate how he knew this, because it was still a sore subject for him.
When Edna continued to stare into her bowl instead of talking, Sylver got up and walked up to one of the walls. Sylver spent several minutes touching the walls and slowly moving around as if he were searching for something.
When Sylver walked up to the wall that had the hidden door and hidden chest behind it, he let Spring push the two items towards him, for Sylver’s robe to absorb and hide. Sylver continued to walk around and touch the walls and ended up near the unconscious-looking Bones.
Sylver gave the man a brief thumb up, and Bones nodded as he started to pull down the next wall.
Sylver moved the [Dead Man’s Last Stand] into his hand and looked at it. It was a small wand, barely 4 inches in length and as thin as a pencil. Sylver moved it towards his middle, along with the grenades and the Eldar sapling.
It looked like a tiny blade of light blue grass. Sylver was saddened by this since he wouldn’t be able to take a sample without effectively killing it. As it was, if it was opened anywhere other than a properly prepared site, it would simply die and become worthless. It was stored in a small glass sphere, about the size of a small mandarin.
Sylver mistimed his random sparks and illuminated the area ahead of them as the walls came down.
The large group moved ahead.
“There’s something you should know,” Rosa said.
Sylver nodded but already didn’t like the tone.
“My name isn’t Rosa, it’s-”
“With all due respect, I’m not interested. When I say I don’t want to be involved, I mean it. No names, no explanations, no questions, we separate as strangers who never met,” Sylver explained. He created more sparks against the wall, while he waited for Bones to finish.
Rosa stood quietly for a while, almost 10 minutes before she spoke again.
“Does the name Garinich, mean anything to you?” Rosa asked, with a tense whisper. The emphasis she put on the name was strange as if it were a swear word.
Sylver carried on feeling up the wall, while he thought about how to answer. He spent nearly 5 minutes silently touching the wall, while Rosa stared at him.
“No. Doesn’t ring a bell… Why?” Sylver asked. The tension in Rosa’s soul didn’t decrease, if anything it felt like it might have increased a bit.
“Just thought I would ask. It’s the name of… I guess it doesn’t matter. Since you don’t want to get involved and all,” Rosa said. Sylver’s hand passed through the wall as Bones finished.
“If that’s supposed to be an insult, it doesn’t quite work, since I genuinely don’t want to get involved,” Sylver said, as he walked over to the next wall, and Bones’s body just so happened to be moved up towards the next wall at the same time.
“You’ve heard the name before,” Rosa said. It wasn’t a question; it was a statement.
Sylver furrowed his brows as he pretended to concentrate on the wall. There wasn’t a way he could prove he didn’t know something, so he decided not to answer. He didn’t like this line of questioning, and was thinking of a way of changing the subject when Rosa did it for him.
“If you ever visit the elven kingdom, you’ll be allowed in without any questions if you show them this,” Rosa said. Sylver looked away from the world’s most interesting wall of darkness to see her holding a small metallic rectangle.
“Thank you, I’ll keep that in mind,” Sylver said. He took the rectangle out of Rosa’s hand. Sylver tried to insert mana into it, but it was simply a piece of metal, filled with smaller pieces of metal inside. Going by the slight interference, there was something magnetic inside of it.
Rosa remained where she was and Sylver counted at least 4 attempts to say something. A way to approach the subject while somehow not prompting Sylver to reply with “I’m not interested”. As Bones pulled the next wall down, Rosa left.
As they had agreed earlier, Bones opened up the tiniest hole in the wall. It was high up near the ceiling and barely big enough for a toothpick to be pushed through. He had promised that it wouldn’t compromise the anti-teleportation aspect of it, but Sylver was skeptical and continued to pretend he was working on the last wall.
Spring passed through the hole and took several shades with him for backup. He counted out 92 armed elves, including Darr and his 4 companions.
“You asked about one of the women having a scar going across her head. Is she someone you know?” Sylver asked.
“Petal, she’s… Why are you asking?” Rosa asked.
“I’d like to make sure the elves outside are yours, and not some other faction. What could I ask Petal to confirm she is who you think she is?” Sylver asked. He relaxed the slightest amount as he felt Rosa attempt to teleport through the wall, but was instantly blocked.
“Is she alone?” Rosa asked.
“The man who called himself Darr is there, along with 3 other women, and 92 elves sitting around the area,” Sylver said.
Rosa looked down and closed her eyes as she thought. Sylver was told by Spring one of the elves reacted to him moving around, and he had to back up towards the wall to hide.
“Are you talking to her now?” Rosa asked.
“I will in a moment. If these elves are from a different faction, I’m going to send my shades out to Arda for assistance,” Sylver said.
Rosa said a string of words in her language, that Sylver didn’t understand. He had to get her to repeat it several times before he could mimic the sounds properly and coherently.
In reality, he was checking to see if she was asking them to ambush everyone, under the pretense of a truce. Feeling such a thin threat without direct physical contact was difficult, but Sylver didn’t feel even a twinge of emotion as she repeated herself.
There was also the fact that he knew from firsthand experience that Rosa didn’t have anywhere near the required level of emotional control to repeatedly hide her intentions from Sylver’s soul sense, even if he wasn’t touching her.
Spring appeared near the wall with his hands up in the air and practically shouted the words Rosa had said. More than 50 arrows were suddenly pointed directly at him, but none fired. He was dressed in one of Sylver’s robes, and a simple patternless grey mask. One of the women who was with Darr whispered something to herself, as did Darr who looked like he was about to faint.
She finally approached him and said something, that Sylver repeated to Rosa. Rosa said 5 words, which Spring repeated, and this went on for roughly 2 minutes, the two women speaking to one another, through Sylver and Spring.
“They won’t attack unless they’re attacked. Everyone will be free to leave. When you feel everyone is far enough away, you’ll hand over the flower, and you’ll be free to leave too,” Rosa explained.
He turned around to face the gathered crowd.
“Everyone! One quick thing before we leave. There is a small army of elves standing outside and provided we don’t attack them; they won’t attack us!” Sylver shouted. A few people, the cook, and her two assistants particularly, looked terrified at his words.
“Here’s what I want you all to do. Nothing. Go home, the crypt will still be here for you to return if you want. You’ll probably be able to sell the information I’ve told you about it to the guild, so the quicker you return to Arda the better,” Sylver explained. This got a few small smiles out of people. Erin particularly. She arrived after Sylver had left, but hadn’t said a word to him in all this time.
Without context, Sylver’s reaction to Eliot made him look unhinged. And rightfully so, even Sylver felt like he had overdone it, but it was too late to do anything about it now, and he did want to kill Eliot, if not as slowly as he had implied.
“Here’s another thing to think about. There is absolutely no reason or benefit to attacking them here and now. You won’t make your country proud, your attempt at revenge will fall flat and will result in the deaths of everyone else, there’s nothing to be gained by attacking them, only loss. So please, for the love of whichever gods you serve, just fucking go home,” Sylver pleaded.
Instead of nodding along, everyone appeared confused and concerned. Some even went as far as to look insulted.
“One last time, don’t fucking attack them. Please, just leave them alone, and go home. This is exactly the kind of bullshit over which a war would start over, so fucking please go home. Any questions?” Sylver asked. Everyone remained silent.
“I’m not allied with the elves, I’m not even on good terms with them, I only want to go home without having to fight off almost 100 fucking high-level elves, that could easily riddle you with arrows before you so much as saw them. So once again, go the fuck home. Don’t talk to them, don’t antagonize them, don’t swear revenge on them, don’t even fucking look at them. Go home. If you have any problems or questions with this, this is your last chance to ask,” Sylver offered.
He was ready to try again until he got the message across, but someone raised their hand.
“They killed Orlok. He was my-”
“Don’t fucking care. I’m not willing to die over a dead man. If you want to fight them later, go right ahead. But not right now, not when there are 100 of them, and we are walking into what could easily be described as an ambush. Stay here instead of going home for all I care, but for the love of god wait until everyone else is gone. Please, I cannot stress this enough, either wait or just go home. Any other questions?” Sylver asked.
There was a collective murmur from the group, mostly craftsmen and noncombatants. The original group that came down here had been turned into Bones and Flesh, and their name tags were sitting inside of a pouch in Sylver’s robe. The jewelry was split up among the shades, as was the armor and weapons that Sylver deemed acceptable.
It was done out of habit, rather than any real need. Sylver had decided not to raise any of them as shades because the sheer amount of damage he had done to their bodies when he harvested the pieces he needed to build Bones and Flesh made them not worth the effort. Whoever was left was gently placed into a pile and burned.
“You’re all smart and capable people, so please see the wisdom in this. One last time, go home. Final chance for any questions or anything,” Sylver said. Silence.
“I know you might feel this is excessive, but I’ve been in this situation before. Everyone is tired, emotions are high, this is exactly the time to not make any hasty and stupid decisions. Everyone ready?” Sylver asked.
Almost everyone in the group nodded along, as far as Sylver could see at least.
Spring asked Petal and the others on the other side of the wall to step back a distance. Sylver subtly gestured for Bones to finish opening the wall, and the whole thing disappeared in one fluid motion.
Sylver recognized Darr, and Petal was one of the masked women who was with him when Sylver came here earlier. Spring disappeared into the floor and returned to Sylver’s shadow. Sylver stood perfectly straight, as the mass of elves stared at him. Sylver had to fight a smirk from forming on his face as he was reminded of a very similar situation.
Albeit back then, the mass of elves were the ones praying that he would just leave them alone.
Sylver very nearly reacted disastrously, as Rosa teleported away from him and appeared near Petal and brought the woman into a very tight hug. The two whispered something amongst each other, while the group behind Sylver stood a little closer. Edna, Henra, and Essa were at the very front, which said far too much about the large group’s combat ability. They were at the front to appear as non threatening as possible.
Eliot was right behind them, along with the only other 2 people who could put up a fight, should it come down to that. For all his many faults, Sylver respected that the man was ready to defend his people with his life.
The elves that stood near the entrance were all men, dressed in perfectly identical dark green tunics, with matching green cloth masks. Petal shouted something at them, and they teleported away. Sylver had his shades scout the area and confirmed that the elves were very quickly moving north and away from the crypt.
Once Sylver’s group managed to walk outside and out of the crypts interference, they very quickly organized themselves. There were two transportation specialists with them, which meant they all teleported as close to Arda as was possible, or wherever it is they went.
Words that could be vaguely described as pleasantries were exchanged, but everyone seemed to understand that getting the fuck home was the most important thing right now. In less than 5 minutes, Sylver was left alone with Rosa, Basil, Flax, Darr, Petal, and the other 3. It hadn’t occurred to him that there was anyone capable of creating a gate here, but it was too late for Sylver to ask them to wait for him. A stupid mistake on his part. Edna had attempted to stay behind but at Sylver’s request, was dragged away by Henra.
Darr was the first to speak. He extended a hand towards Sylver and the two shook.
“No thank you,” Sylver interrupted with a polite smile, while still shaking Darr’s hand. Sylver briefly glanced to the side and saw that one of the women elves that wasn’t Petal looked like she was about to say something. Thankfully Rosa’s glare stopped her dead in her tracks.
“No names, no explanations, no questions,” Sylver said.
There were several seconds of complete and total silence. Sylver looked up and was delighted to see the sky was completely clear of clouds, with the softest of breezes in the air. After how long he had spent inside the crypt breathing stale and lifeless air, the fresh woodland breeze was delightful.
Basil said something in his language towards one of the woman elves, and she reached behind herself and pulled out a small ring. Sylver turned to watch and saw that Basil had a thick-looking envelope in his hand, and was dribbling white wax onto it. He used the ring the woman gave him to seal it with a peculiar-looking emblem.
“There’s a woman named Mira that works at the guild. If you would give her this, you will save yourself a great deal of questions and issues,” Basil explained. Sylver nodded and accepted the envelope. He refrained from asking why exactly Basil had a connection to someone in Arda, and Basil didn’t explain further.
“I would like to apologize… For killing your friend,” Darr said uncertainly. He looked towards the spot where Reg’s shades and a wolf shade was buried.
“If you really did kill one of my friends, all the apologizes in the world wouldn’t save you,” Sylver warned. He felt Petal and the other three tense up at his words. He let go of Darr’s hand and continued.
“But he isn’t actually dead, so don’t worry about it. But the next time you do decide to kill someone don’t cry about it afterward. It’s insulting and pathetic. You shouldn’t ever do anything if you’re uncertain, especially, something as permanent as ending another’s life,” Sylver explained.
Another few seconds of silence passed. Darr spoke again.
“So you’re just going to leave? You’re not even going to ask about-”
“I am curious, but it would be hypocritical for me to ask to be left alone right after sticking my nose directly into your business. So yes, I’m just going to leave, assuming no one else has any issue with it?” Sylver interrupted. It seemed strange to him that Darr looked at Basil, instead of Rosa, when he looked for confirmation.
“In that case, all that is left is giving us the flower,” Rosa said. She got a strange look from Darr and his companions.
A small part of Sylver considered holding the Eldar sapling hostage until he was paid for it, or until he got something useful in return for it. A much bigger part, the one that was exhausted and eager to go home and take a long bath, just wanted this whole nonsense to be over and done with.
Sylver reached into his robe and held the small ball of glass in his hand, but didn’t take it out.
“Could I…” Sylver considered asking if he could take a small piece in the future, given that he was the one who found it. “Never mind. I wish you the best of luck in all your endeavors,” Sylver said.
He removed the small glass ball out from his robe and held it out towards Rosa. The soon-to-be elf queen took it from his hand with so much care and gentleness, that Sylver was glad he hadn’t explained how exactly his dead man’s switch worked. He had a feeling everyone would be slightly less courteous if they had known about the primed explosive.
There wasn’t anything much to say at this point. Rosa stared at the small crystal ball in disbelief, as did all the other elves present. Sylver almost felt like he was intruding on an extremely personal moment.
“We’ll see each other again,” Rosa said.
“What?” Sylver asked.
“In the same way you knew not to accept the double axes challenge, I know we’ll meet again,” Rosa explained.
“In the sense, you have a skill for it, or it’s just a feeling?”
“In the sense, we’re all in your debt in a way you can’t even imagine. And the world always finds a way to balance something like that out. Your name will never be spoken out loud, but we will never forget this,” Basil promised. Rosa and the others nodded along.
“I see… It’s destiny that we’ll meet again,” Sylver said.
“Nothing so complicated. But yes. If you ever need any help, know that you will always have allies with the elves,” Rosa added.
“I’ll keep that in mind too, thank you,” Sylver said.