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Ch079-A Long Day

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“I sometimes forget that the world at large isn’t as understanding of the whole “magic is a tool, nothing more” mentality you have. Although given that you’ve fought and killed more “evil” necromancer’s than you’ve ever met in your past life, I kind of see where everyone is coming from,” Spring said.

Sylver yawned and made the dagger in Spring’s hand glow bright yellow. It was getting easier to use the perk, and Sylver was all but certain that the delay was his fault and not the perks.

“Those kinds don’t live for very long, but they really know how to make an impression on people. It’s like being born in a town of goat fuckers. Even if the goats say you never fucked them, no one will believe you. But, it is what it is, not a whole lot I can do about it. Maybe if I meet enough people who see that not all necromancers are corpse fucking sadists, it might be enough to clear the name in the next 2 or 3 thousand years, but it’s unlikely,” Sylver said.

“Why corpse fucking? Where does that come from anyway? You’ve never so much as glanced at the female shades in that manner, are you saying that others had-”

“They have, a lot have. At some point, I started to worry that the two go hand in hand, but it’s the other way around. Necromancers don’t become corpse fuckers, corpse fuckers become necromancers. It’s an obsession with the dead, just a slightly less sterile version than trying to bring a loved one back. All the good necromancers I know studied the magic in an attempt to bring their husband, child, or wife back from the dead, and ended up sticking with it, even after they realized it wasn’t possible,” Sylver explained.

He turned over onto his stomach and used his robe to stand up. It was dark tonight, the clouds above covered the stars and moon, but there wasn’t so much as a rumble of thunder in the air. Spring did as the note inside the envelope said and followed the river leading west, while constantly on the lookout for a large wooden bridge going across it.

“What’s the plan if the woman in white doesn’t show up? Or if she doesn’t know anything?” Spring asked.

“I see; I’m so frazzled from the lack of sleep my thoughts are leaking out to you. Since that’s the case, you already know the answer,” Sylver said. Spring waited for about a minute before he spoke.

“Tuli. You think she’ll have answers if you’re able to wake her up. And Carr Da’Nerto, the book thief, but you’re leaving that to the cats for the time being. But what about if they don’t have any answers?” Spring asked.

Sylver was quiet for a long time, only the muffled wind rushing over the barrier covering Will’s back made any noise.

“I don’t know. I’m moving forward, bit by bit, one day at a time, and it seems to be working. Let’s… Let’s just get Flesh and Bones settled in for now, and we’ll go from there... But… I don’t know, the woman in white seems too specific to be a coincidence. The question of why she shows up the same time every year is something I haven’t been able to figure out, but it can’t be random if she follows such a strict schedule,” Sylver said.

“I don’t like that we’re putting all our eggs into a barely visible white basket,” Spring said.

Most of our eggs. And I’m very open to alternatives than just nearly blindly walking up to a potentially 9th tier mage and hoping she hasn’t been looking for me to kill me. Even with the [Dead Man’s Last Stand] that fraction of a second it would take for me to use it, is more than enough time for her to obliterate everything within 10 kilometers of her. I wouldn’t even call this a plan necessarily, it’s disgustingly close to praying for a miracle,” Sylver said.

“We could not go? Ask Ciege and Yeva to stay there and let the woman in white do whatever it is she does and try again next year? Focus on getting stronger, increasing your level, building up shades, and other undead. Have Lola craft more weapons, enchantments, maybe find a perk that would be enough to make a difference. Doing it as you are now, seems both stupid and suicidal,” Spring cautioned.

Sylver walked over to the edge of Will’s back and looked down at the quickly moving ground far beneath him.

“Am I scared, or are you? I accepted the fact that deep down I’m a coward, but this is almost insulting. If the woman in white isn’t related to me, so be it. But I’m not about to run away because I’m afraid. This is the closest thing I have to a clue right now, this might be the only thing standing between me and finding everyone alive and well and in the same position as me,” Sylver said with uncharacteristic softness.

If it weren’t for the fact that Spring could hear him through the shadows, he wouldn’t have heard a word.

“But you do understand that chances are-”

“Shut the fuck up,” Sylver interrupted quietly. “I appreciate the concern, but I’m tired of everyone always questioning me. I’m going to see her even if I shit myself out of fear in the process. That’s the bridge isn’t it, check the map,” Sylver ordered, with a hand pointed towards a bridge that was wide enough for 4 carriages to pass side by side.

Spring checked the map and confirmed. They flew an estimated 10 kilometers south from it, and Sylver jumped off the wyvern to see if they left any traces on the ground.

*

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The potion Sylver had drunk had helped a bit with the weariness. But Sylver wasn’t at a stage yet where he would be able to disregard sleep yet. He would have to stop his heart and give up on being alive, but that came with its own dangers. Right now the adrenaline Sylver forced his body to overproduce was helping with staying alert, but he could already feel his body straining from the overexertion.

He’d slept as much as possible while on Will, but the constant influx of information Spring provided was too valuable to cut off but too intense for Sylver to rest in the way he needed. It would be like blinding himself in enemy territory, he wasn’t willing to do it. In hindsight, he should have not spent so long talking to Lola and slept instead, but it was too late to do anything about it now.

Sylver sent Ulvic back into the shadows once he felt it. It wasn’t what he was used to, but Sylver could feel magic in the air. Whatever the spell was, Sylver was already well within its range. Going by how sensitive it felt, Sylver could only guess that it was an alarm spell. Which he had very likely triggered already.

Sylver feigned ignorance and walked in a straight line through the circular spell he could feel, and compared the change in intensity to triangulate the middle, and hopefully the source of it. Meanwhile, Spring spread everyone out to find the Krists, but he didn’t have any luck. He found a crudely made cart with dead bodies inside of it, but the area around it was deserted.

Sylver closed his eyes and spread his awareness and mana out through Spring and the other shades littering the area. He closed his hand into a shaking fist as he became the biggest source of animosity these nomads had ever seen and felt a reaction almost instantly. Sylver cut off the killing intent and returned to looking at the world with clear and clinical eyes.

Some people did it naturally, they leaked violence and death, while Sylver had to stir himself into a frenzy to achieve it. Now that the worst thing he could ever imagine had already happened, Sylver had to search for a new source of anger. Imagining Lola, Ciege, Yeva, and Benjamin being in danger worked quite well for the moment.

The Krists were smart, they returned to their camp and gathered around a man wearing a bear’s hollowed-out skull over his own. His face was sticky with blood and dust, as was the rest of his naked body, with only the deep black tattoos that made his otherwise pale arms nearly invisible in the night. The pattern looked like a black fire that spread from the man’s shoulders, down towards his hands, and ended at his fingers. With the shades being spread out, they likely assumed about 50 people were hiding throughout the forest.

Sylver found a solid piece of stone deep underground and made the smallest of holes in it. While bear head chanted, Sylver turned into smoke and materialized inside the rock. A crude carving on one of the rock’s walls was enough for Sylver to mask his presence inside of it.

Sylver checked to see how bad the efficiency was at this range, and found that he lost over 80% of his mana in the process. But it was good enough for this.

Spring appeared directly behind bear head, and in a fluid motion, reached around his head with a sword’s sheath and pulled back hard enough to shatter the man’s windpipe closed. Someone attempted to punch Spring, but he called a duplicate shade behind him to be hit instead, while he disappeared into the shadows. More shades got in place to handle bear head and the other Krists, but Sylver felt the spell even while hiding inside of his rock.

A good half of Sylver’s shades were destroyed from bear heads spell, while Sylver rearranged the survivors to get away from there. Sylver felt the spell take hold around the Krists makeshift camp, and Spring described it like trying to walk through mud.

Great, their sorcerer is a light attribute. With my luck probably holy too…

Sylver came out of his hiding place and walked towards the prepared group. He could feel the magic moving away from the sorcerer in the middle in ever-increasing waves. It wasn’t potent enough to hurt Sylver, but he could visibly see the effect it was having on the muscle-bound warriors nearby. Their veins looked like they threatened to burst, as their skin started to steam slightly, and their eyes became bulging and bloodshot.

A woman wearing a thin black robe walked out from amongst the tree line where Sylver had been. She walked so slowly it was almost a saunter.

“Gentlemen! How about a one on one duel? Winner takes all?” The woman offered with a laugh, batting her eyelashes at the giant hoard of monstrously giant men.

Bear head vaguely waved his hand towards the buxom woman and caused the paper-thin illusion Sylver had created to waver but not break. Giving up on any attempt at subtly the woman sprinted towards the group and reached into her robe for a second. The woman jumped high into the air, and landed almost right on top of bear head, but was quickly yanked off him by her leg.

There were maybe 3 seconds where the foaming at the mouth savages attempted to tear the illusionary woman into pieces. Sylver’s illusion gave out quickly, and Reg was left silently trying to stab as many of them as possible, while Sylver used [Auditory Illusion] to mimic a woman’s voice screaming in pain to help keep everyone confused.

The three grenades in Reg’s pocket went off in near-perfect sync.

[??? (???) Defeated!]

[??? (???) Defeated!]

[??? (???) Defeated!]

[??? (???) Defeated!]

While everyone was stunned and the framework bear head had drawn on the ground was disturbed, Spring appeared out of the shadows with all the other shades, and started strangling and otherwise incapacitating the survivors. Sylver handled bear head himself and shoved a dart through the man’s eye to knock him out with a jolt of mana directly to his brain.

Sylver’s soul sense helped pick out the ones that were pretending to be unconscious, and his shades pinned them to the ground and knocked them out too.

In under a minute the fight was over.

Sylver picked out one of the more in one piece corpses and had it dragged away from the pile to dissect.

Tolst had been right, these were humans, but they weren’t normal. Their bones, and muscles were fine, but their internal organs were all wrong. The kidneys were too small, the lungs were too enlarged, their liver was the size of an apple, and their stomachs connected directly to their large intestine.

If Sylver didn’t see that this was a fully grown man, he would have thought this was an extremely disabled child. The forced growth Tolst had mentioned made sense, but if they’re all like this they would all be dead in under a year.

Sylver moved onto the next body and cracked its skull open to look inside. There was a faint smell of Sulphur coming from the man’s blood, and having pulled the brain out, Sylver discovered that there was a metallic rod stuck through it. Sylver had another body’s corpse dragged over to him, and used a dagger to remove the skin from around its head.

There was a hole there. That matched the metal rod Sylver found in their brains, and after Sylver used magic to reach inside the hole in the man’s skull, Sylver found the same metallic rod. He checked the alive ones and found a hole and metal rod inside too.

Except when Sylver tried to pull it out of the unconscious man’s head, he started to violently convulse and died. Given that Sylver didn’t receive a notification for defeating him, the system didn’t consider him to be responsible for his death.

Meaning these rods were made to kill them when removed?

Sylver did feel them react to his magic, but it wasn’t blocking it or anything, it barely felt like it was interfering.

“I don’t get it… A condition for their class or perk? A cultural thing? Maybe this is why they can’t be interrogated, this thing cancels out all attempts, and removing it kills them... A bit crude, but it does make leaking information impossible…” Sylver thought out loud. He summoned a ball of water and washed his hands in it.

“Is it going to get in the way of your ritual?” Spring asked.

Sylver walked over to one of the unconscious men and placed a hand onto his chest. He checked the man’s soul and life force, and couldn’t find any issues.

“No… I don’t think so at least, I only need their life force for it, this is entirely physical… A biological trigger to kill them if someone takes it out? It’s hard to call it a weak point, you’d need to stab them in the head to abuse it, but that would kill them anyway…” Sylver explained.

12 bodies were stacked on top of each other and tied together so as not to fall apart. Some of them were still as muscular as they were before, but others looked to have deflated once they were put to sleep. Each one of them had a pitch-black tattoo covering the majority of their body, only the sorcerer was largely tattooed.

The tattoos always started from the area around the front of the heart, or their stomach, and spread out in various patterns. One man had fish scales that got smaller and smaller as they got further away from his stomach, another had hexagons that did the same, another had vines, another had petals.

As far as Sylver could tell these tattoos weren’t drawn by the same person, but there was a theme in these designs, that Sylver couldn’t put into words. A logic he didn’t understand but could feel.

“You know what? Not my war, not my business, not my problem. Let’s just get 8 more of these, 10 more to be on the safe side, and call it a day,” Sylver said.

He tried to make some of the dead bodies into shades, but they were too damaged for the process. In hindsight, one grenade might have been enough. There was also the problem that Sylver felt like something was wrong with them. They looked like bad meat if he had to put it into words. But whatever the issue was, he’d already decided he didn’t care.

Sylver burned the dead bodies they were carrying with them in a makeshift cart and did the same for the Krists that he had killed and dissected. Sylver flew away on Will and moved towards the next area.

*

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*

Capturing the next group of Krists was dead simple. Now that Sylver was aware of their magic, he didn’t bother searching for them on the ground. He felt the dome-shaped spell brush the underside of Will’s stomach, and Sylver eyeballed the rough area they would be most likely to hide in.

Sylver didn’t bother trying to trick these people, he dropped down from the sky, and landed directly in their midst. The sorcerer in this group wore a fox’s head over his own, and Sylver grabbed his arm, disrupted whatever magic he was trying to use, and stabbed him through the eye with a dart.

The other warriors were too distracted by Ulvic’s pack rushing at them, and failed to notice all the translucent shades wrapping and tightening a metallic wire around their necks. Without their sorcerer, these guys were so easy to handle, it was laughable.

Sylver wanted to get 10 to have 2 extra, but this group had 19 people here, counting the sorcerer.

“Bones had a point… I really should keep a few on hand for the future. But it will be a pain to keep Will in the air with all this added weight…” Sylver said, as Spring finished putting the last warrior into a coma. Sylver stared at the warrior, with his thick tree trunk arms, and matching legs.

“I don’t… I don’t really need them in one piece though… Cauterizing the wounds will take a while, but the only alternative is taking two trips…” Sylver thought out loud, as Spring got the idea and got the other shades to untie the Krists from the first group.

Sylver inspected all of their cores and found 3 that had flat ones like Flesh had wanted. Worst case scenario, Sylver would simply have him switch his body again if he isn’t happy with these.

Sylver kept bear head and fox head in one piece and had the rest of the people’s arms and legs removed. The resulting cuts were sealed using fire, and Sylver reduced the weight of his cargo by almost half.

“It’s times like these that I’m grateful I decided not to take Lola with me,” Sylver said.

“Oh, I 100% agree. You wouldn’t hear the end of it if she saw this. So we’re sneaking these in through Ron’s door outside of Arda’s walls, and then storing them in your workshop? How long can they stay alive anyway?” Spring asked.

“A week, maybe 2, if I’m lucky… It’s fine, be careful they don’t snap their necks, and pack everyone up… I’ve got an idea, for long-term storage, but I’ll need to see how hard the materials I want are to find...” Sylver said. He walked up Wills's wing and sat down into his usual spot.

All that was left was transferring Flesh and Bones into their new bodies, and then helping them enter Arda through the proper channels, and settling them in. And after that… Well, that’s something to think about after Flesh and Bones are alive and comfortable.

Sylver might not have any bandits left to hunt, but these Krists were good too. Even if there was something strange about them and their bodies. The first sun just started to rise by the time Will reached the proper altitude. Sylver lay down and tried to rest his body, if not his mind. Only a bit more until he could have a proper sleep.

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KingKennit

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