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A note from KingKennit

In case you haven't heard, Defiance Of The Fall is now an actual book.

Like a proper real book.

The kind you would find in a library book.

Digital library in this case, but you can get a printed version.

Anyway long story short, check it out (and maybe buy it)!

https://www.royalroad.com/amazon/B09168R29M

https://www.audible.com/pd/Defiance-of-the-Fall-Audiobook/B094JZMCJX

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Ch079-A Long Day

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[Perk: Shadow’s Agent]
-Any creature under the caster’s command, can be used to channel magic.
*Efficiency decreases over distance.
*May not work on non-humanoid creatures.
*May not work on non-magical creatures.
*May not work on creatures with a high magic resistance.
*May not work on creatures with a low mana conductivity.

The system was sending Sylver mixed signals.

On the one hand, it threatened to put him into a permanent coma, if he tried to investigate it any further than he already had. And on the other, it gave him something that shouldn’t be possible.

Not just that, but it made it so intuitive that Sylver felt like he was the one who made it. The barely existent connection Sylver felt to all of his shades, now had an accompanying path for his mana to flow through. It was as simple as lifting his hand, and he was suddenly casting from ten meters away.

Aiming was an entirely different thing. It took a fair amount of mental gymnastics and calculation to orientate the spell to go where Sylver wanted it to go, but it wasn’t outside of his range of abilities. Sylver called out 4 shades and had them stand north, east, south, and west of him. Sylver maneuvered his soul until it had 4 ‘appendages’ and tried to create a simple fireball framework.

All four shades simultaneously had a small spurting blue ball of fire floating above their heads. Sylver kept the balls in the air for a few seconds and tried to see if there was a time or volume limit on the perk. Sylver ran out of mana before either question was answered, and all four balls of fire snuffed themselves out into nothing.

Sylver’s brow furrowed as he concentrated again, and summoned 10 shade archers out of the floor. All 10 of them drew their bows and held their arrows at the ready. One arrow flickered with a yellow spark. Then another, 2 archers to the left, then another 4 archers to the right. One by one a small spark jumped at the edge of one arrow then another.

Sylver tilted his head ever so slightly as he further adjusted his grip on his magic and all 10 arrows began to glow a bright yellow light. When the archers’ released their arrows, the arrows moved so fast that Sylver couldn’t see them. A giant explosion from where they hit the walls nearly made him stagger as the shockwave caused the ceiling to rain down with dust.

Sylver summoned more shades and made their swords, axes, spears, and daggers glow. He could even make the wolves’ fangs and claws glow.

“So now you can empower shades at a distance. As well as cast spells through them. I’ve seen you do it before; I don’t understand the point of accepting this perk?” Spring said, as he repeatedly tossed his glowing blade into the air and caught it with one hand.

“That was different. I charged them up, I prepared a spell and put a timer on it, but this is something else…” Sylver said. He undid the clasp on the [Bracelet Of The Aurai] and tossed it towards a swordsman shade. The shade put the bracelet on his wrist and locked it closed.

Sylver tilted his head and blindly reached out with his mana through the shade until he felt the bracelet suck it up. Sylver waited until he felt that it was full, and tried a variety of approaches. When the bracelet was on his own wrist, Sylver didn’t even activate it consciously, it was as close to a reflex as magic could get. With the bracelet being on the shade’s wrist, it was like trying to manually contract the right muscles to jump.

And yet…

The shade jumped up and stopped.

It was standing on thin air. Sylver had it jump again, and was a little quicker activating the bracelet this time. The shade moved his arm too much on the third attempt and came back to the floor.

“I’ll need to practice with this, but it opens up a lot of possibilities. For example,” Sylver said, as he had shades materialize near the walls, and with a slight delay made them all turn translucent. More than that, Sylver created an illusionary pane over each shade and was able to cover the entirety of the sewer canal in an illusion.

Spring looked around the bright forest they were both suddenly in and laughed a little. “I get it now, this solves your range issue,” Spring said, as the illusions came down and they returned to standing in a damp and dark sewer canal.

“Solves, is a bit of a strong word. This will help, but I’ll run out of mana after casting one spell if I’m too far away. There’s also a delay, that I’ll need to find out if it’s just me having a hard time compressing my spells, or just the price I have to pay for the range extension,” Sylver said. He brought his shattered left arm up to his chest and had a shade put the bracelet back on his right arm.

*

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*

Sylver removed the flask’s stopper and smelled it.

“Goat’s blood?” Sylver asked as he swirled the dark green liquid around.

“As I said, I don’t know. It’s a healing potion for undead, or as close to one as I’ve ever seen. Loft lost his arm and one flask was enough for him to grow a new one. Should be enough for you,” the red-eyed man explained. His bone-white hair seemed jarring to his slightly tanned skin, and his pitch-black fingernails gave him an oddly feminine look that matched with the oddly soft way with which he spoke.

Sylver smelled it again, held it up to the light. It was smooth, with the consistency of cream, but more liquid. It had a very faint scent of magic to it, but Sylver was struggling to put his finger on what exactly was going on with it.

Sylver swirled it around for a couple of seconds and drank the whole thing in one gulp. It tasted like very strong mint and strawberries, despite nothing about its smell suggesting such a thing. Sylver washed it down with a glass of water and swirled it around in his mouth for a few seconds to get the taste out.

The effect was instantaneous.

Sylver was tempted to release the spell that was keeping his body numb to see what exactly was going on but chose not to. The darkness that kept his legs together wobbled as Sylver’s mana channels moved for a couple of seconds, and Sylver sat down onto a chair to wait it out lest he fell.

Oddly enough the potion had priorities.

It started with Sylver’s head and fixed the cracks in his skull and the ripped-up skin that had ruptured. The blood clots that had formed in his head broke down and disappeared. Then it worked on his torso, starting with his heart and fixing his internal organs, one by one until it started fusing the bones back into one piece. Sylver’s skin was the last to heal, and dark murky-looking blood oozed out of the various cuts before they closed.

In about 30 seconds, Sylver was back in one piece. Albeit exhausted and with a strange heaviness in his stomach. He checked his body was stable before releasing the numbing spell and found that he felt perfectly fine.

“You said you got this from an alchemist in Urth?” Sylver asked. Spring was coming down the stairs with the bag now.

“A ghoul woman, I forgot her name. But if you ask around I’m sure someone will point you in the right direction there are only 2 alchemists in the entire city. If you want, we’re all going there after the tournament is finished, you’re more than welcome to tag along,” the red-eyed man offered.

Sylver spoke as Spring placed the bag of gold coins onto the table for the red-eyed man to count.

“Thank you, but I’ll have to pass… I’m planning on going to Urth in the future, but not right now. Is there anything I should know about it?” Sylver asked. The red-eyed man had a strange look on his face as Spring returned to Sylver’s shadow.

“Not particularly. There’s always a massive demand for books, especially more exotic ones. The people who handle transportation have a hard time finding new ones, and the library has been seeing less and less use since everyone’s already read everything there is to read inside of it. Most of the creatures living there don’t do or need a whole lot, just a place to exist without being chased and killed on sight. If you manage to bring something no one has read before, it’d be a great help,” the red-eyed man said.

Ron had warned Sylver not to ask for his name, and Sylver didn’t see a reason to go against his warning. Primarily because Sylver was fairly certain he felt the red-eyed man’s magic encircling him. It was harmless, and very likely unconscious, but it was still annoying Sylver the slightest amount. It was like talking to a man while he had a sword in his hand.

“I see… Is everything there?” Sylver asked. The man placed all the coins back into the bag and turned around to hide them in his backpack.

“Yes, 200 gold, and once again I’m sorry about the price. It was my last one and-”

“Don’t even worry about it. The amount of time and effort you saved me with this is worth whatever markup you placed on it,” Sylver interrupted.

He and the red-eyed man spoke for a while longer. Sylver found a good place to end their conversation, and left shortly after. He asked Ron to put whatever the red-eyed man and his companions ate onto Sylver’s tab.

200 gold was a small price to pay for what Sylver had previously considered impossible.

*

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“This thing is as much of a cultivator as you are,” Flesh said. He pushed his finger against the nude and unconscious warrior thief, and Sylver saw something move inside of him. It wasn’t so much as Sylver saw something moving around, so much as he saw the man’s mana channels moving around in response to it.

“How are the lessons going?” Sylver asked. He spoke in Eirish and Bones answered.

“Good… Understand easy, read easy, but talk hard… Little words,” Bones said. Sylver was glad to see he hadn’t picked up Ron’s weird vocal tics.

He can understand, but he doesn’t know enough words to say what he wants.

“The poetry is god awful. Everything is so to the point, it’s hard to even call it poetry. I hope the singing is at least better,” Flesh complained in near-perfect Eirish. Sylver winced slightly as he heard the change in octave mid-word, and made a mental note to find a language teacher that used a mouth to talk.

“It’s an acquired taste. The elf performers here favor instrumental pieces, while the dwarves, gnomes, and humans have a greater focus on words. Arda is a trading town, the culture here isn’t exactly set in stone… So he’s not a cultivator?” Sylver asked. Flesh poked the man’s chest three more times and the same something passed through him.

“I don’t know how to explain it so that you would understand…” Flesh said.

“But in essence, that’s a no? Keeping in mind you’re essentially going to be doing little more than talking to people and handling paperwork,” Sylver asked.

“Keeping in mind that my wife would probably have a problem with my body changing after we got married and I find myself in need of strength to protect her,” Flesh countered.

“Isn’t the whole point of this that you two live normal-ish lives this time? Wait for me to figure out how to break or alter the curse? Why would you need strength to protect anyone?” Sylver asked.

“It’s one thing if it’s just me. I can put my own life in your hands, that’s my choice to make. But I wouldn’t feel right if I allowed my wife to be protected by someone else, it uh…” Flesh said a word that Sylver didn’t know in a language he didn’t know, “you know?”

“No. But I think I get it, you’re willing to trust me, but you’re not willing to trust me with your hypothetical wife and kids,” Sylver said.

“Something like that… Look uh… See this part here?” Flesh asked. He poked the warrior in the chest again, right over his mana core.

“It should be flat. If it’s flat that means his body hasn’t undergone any changes from interacting with Ki. I’ll start at zero, but I’ll be able to get a solid base for myself after a while. Mage, warrior, rogue, doesn’t matter, even if the body is crippled I can fix it, but this needs to be flat,” Flesh explained. Sylver turned to look at Bones.

“Any complaints?” Sylver asked.

“The jaw could be a little more squared, but otherwise, no. I’ll fix it myself afterward, gives me something to do while I wait for everything to mature,” Bones said. He spoke in demon tongue, but Sylver continued to speak Eirish.

“Glad to hear… I’ll keep this guy here unless I find something better, but keep in mind that I can get whichever body you move into to look the same as your old one. I’ve never done it on a living human before, but I can’t imagine it’s that much different from operating on a zombie… Might be easier actually, given that I could have a healer handle the stitched-up areas… Cosmetic surgery isn’t my forte, but I’ve done it before, it’s not that hard,” Sylver said, with a gesture towards the warrior thief who had managed to do more damage to him than whole armies have in the past.

“So what’s left? I mean, how much longer until we can leave this place and start walking around?” Bones asked.

“2 weeks? I need a few sacrifices for the ritual, and then I’ll need to perform the ritual, which will take a day. Then you’ll both be asleep for 3 days, and once you wake up, we’re good to go. Lola already has all the components I need ready; I’m just left with finding 20 human-ish sacrifices,” Sylver explained.

“Do they not sell slaves anymore? I would have thought you kept a couple on hand, just to be safe?” Bones asked.

“They don’t work well as sacrifices. Too brittle, and I have personal reasons not to use slaves in such a way. Bandits are better, they’re free, their souls are significantly tougher, and I even get rewarded for killing them. Slaves are better if you free them and employ them, magic can handle a great deal of menial labor, but creativity has to come from a living being. You can’t force a good idea, no matter how much mana you sink into it,” Sylver explained.

“Huh… Well, you learn something new every day,” Bones said.

Sylver sat around for a while and checked to see how well the connection between their souls here and their real souls back in the crypt was. Both were surprisingly stable, much better than Sylver would have expected.

He mentally patted himself on the back as he left.

*

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“Cannibals. Followers of a war god. Scavengers and pillagers. A bit like goblins in a way, our scout units have confirmed that they took over an island not too far away from here. Killed all the men and took the women as breeding slaves and have been sending the produced children to scavenge and bring more women back. We think they use some sort of magic to speed up their growth because the timeframe doesn’t make sense otherwise,” Tolst explained.

Tolst was a proxy between adventurers and Arda’s military. In the same way, Sylver would talk to Raba without meeting with the Cord directly, Tolst was a way for adventurers to work for the military without having to enlist.

“We call them Krists. They have a way to make interrogation useless, so a lot of their motives and other important details are still a mystery. But we’ve figured out their god is called Krist, hence, Krists. Although it’s just as likely that’s the name of their king, but god works better. Makes them seem more foreign, and easier to kill if the low-level troops don’t see them as people. One of the downsides of having to fight a human army when your army is mostly human,” Tolst explained.

He was a level 92 rogue but didn’t look the part. His hair was a deep black and was tied into a single braid behind him, that was covered in etched metal. His left ear was pierced with so many silver piercings that it was hard to tell if there was even an ear left under them, while his right was completely untouched.

Other oddities included the fact that Sylver had never heard an accent quite like his, and Tolst was easily the darkest human Sylver had met since waking up in Ciege’s body. His dark brown eyes were sometimes narrow enough that Sylver couldn’t see any white, and he had a hard time telling if they were opened or closed.

“They do use magic, but not like the kind we’re used to. It was explained to me it’s some sort of wild sorcery, as opposed to our neat and tidy mage craft. They’re mostly warriors, but you’ll always find at least 1 of them among a group, one Krist that isn’t as muscular or as tattooed as the others, and wearing a dead animal’s skull on his head,” Tolst explained. He patted a man on the shoulder and whispered something in his ear before he turned back to Sylver and continued speaking.

“Our advice is always to take those out first, because otherwise they start chanting, and causing all the warrior Krist’s to grow twice as strong. We theorize it’s some kind of [Berserker] perk, but even our best researchers haven’t been able to identify what exactly is going on,” Tolst continued. He held the tent flap open for Sylver and gestured that he should enter.

Inside the soundproof tent, were about 20 people running from one table to another, shouting letters and numbers at one another, and now and then, moving a piece on one of the many maps littered around the place. One of the people, a man wearing the same dark green uniform as Tolst, with a different insignia on his shoulder and chest, walked up to them.

“Sir?” the man asked.

“3 rank 5s. As close to the west canal as possible,” Tolst said. The man nodded silently and returned to running around from table to table. Sylver briefly looked at what was going on with his [Mana Sense] and regretted it instantly. The sheer amount of mana being used for telepathic communication was likely enough to be enough to cast a couple of 3rd tier spells.

Sylver pulled his mana back into himself and went back to completely blocking everything out. The few seconds of exposure had given him a very faint headache.

A different man from the one who Tolst had spoken to earlier returned after about 30 seconds and placed 3 sealed envelopes into his hands. Tolst opened the tent flap and gestured for Sylver to leave.

“Is this your first war?” Tolst asked.

Sylver held in a laugh and answered without any trace of it in his voice, “It is,” Sylver answered.

“Then I’ll give you the short version. This is a war. Not the war, but a war. One of many, the kind that has been fought hundreds of times in the past. There are no heroes in this war, there aren’t even any legends. If you’re here for fame, you won’t find it here,” Tolst said. His tone had changed, it was stern, rehearsed.

“I’m not here for fame,” Sylver said, as he walked alongside him.

“Good. As I said, this is a war. We have tried diplomacy, and it hasn’t worked, so now we are in the process of wiping them out from this world. If it weren’t for the natural defenses on the island they call home, we would have glassed the whole thing months ago. We’ve handled the brunt of the invading force, and you adventurers are mobile enough to deal with the few who managed to slip past,” Tolst said.

Sylver nodded and followed Tolst towards the camp’s entrance.

“I want to be crystal clear about this. I do not care for your reason for being here. Whether you’re doing it for the experience, to meet a perk requirement, or for fun, it is all the same to me. You are a body I’m throwing at the enemy in the hopes you’ll kill them. If you are captured, you’re on your own. But I’ll say this right now,” Tolst said.

He leaned in to the point he was almost speaking directly into Sylver’s ear.

“If you do get captured, I would highly recommend doing your very best to escape or die trying. Because I have seen firsthand what they do with captives and despite what you might have heard, they are unwilling to trade hostages, no matter who you know or who your father is. If you were a woman they would do their best not to kill you, but I strongly advise against dressing up as one in the hopes of them going easy on you. Their ‘going easy’ is cutting off all your limbs, and the rest you’re better off not knowing,” Tolst explained.

“I understand,” Sylver answered simply.

“Good. The locations in here are suggestions, we have a rough idea of where all the invading groups are going, but this information isn’t 100% accurate. They are estimated to have an average level of 50, but as I said, this information isn’t 100% accurate. Approach the situation as you see fit, and report back to us if you manage to survive. Once you enter into combat with them, please break the wooden stick inside the envelopes, so we can mark you down as dead in case you don’t report back,” Tolst said.

“Alright,” Sylver answered.

“That’s all. Oh, one last thing. I was told you are a necromancer, is that true?” Tolst asked. He was still speaking with his rehearsed tone.

“I am.”

“Then I would like to add one more thing. My personal views on dark magic are not in any sense of the word positive. But as I said earlier, this is a war, and you are a body I’m throwing at the enemy in the hopes you’ll kill them. As such the military is somewhat relaxed with what is and isn’t allowed when it comes to the enemy. So even if you do something… unsightly to the enemy, be aware that as long as they are dead by the end of it, there will be no repercussions,” Tolst warned.

Sylver cocked his head to the side slightly at his words.

“Do you understand what I’m saying?” Tolst asked.

“I’m quite sad to say I do. But you’ll do well in life not to assume that all the stories you’ve heard are true. Nasty rumors involving necrophilia and cannibalism do have a kernel of truth to them, but those kinds of dark mages are the kind my kind kill on sight,” Sylver explained. It was depressing to think how little goodwill the necromancers on this side of the world had.

“So you’re a civilized necromancer?” Tolst asked. There was a hint of a smirk there, but he masked it well.

“Just because you’re a rogue doesn’t mean you’re a lecherous thieving alcoholic. And just because I work with the dead, don’t mean I want to fuck them,” Sylver said with a slight smile.

“I’ll keep that in mind… Well, best of luck. If you manage to survive, we’ve always got more work,” Tolst said, as he shook Sylver’s hand. Sylver watched him walk over towards the next group of adventurers waiting near the entrance.

Sylver noticed that they all looked far too excited to be here, and didn’t like the jagged shape their swords had. A blade like that wouldn’t leave a clean cut. Sylver opened the first envelope and summoned Ulvic to get some distance away from the camp.

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KingKennit

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