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Ch081-Fish In Water

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Sylver closed his eyes as he gently sent out tendrils of mana and found the path beneath his feet. He stepped over several small rodent and bird skeletons as he walked, all the while deafened by the sounded of a roaring flame. Even with his eyes tightly shut, Sylver still only saw flickers of red and yellow.

He walked up to the house, and spent a few seconds blindly searching for the door handle. Upon opening it, he saw and heard the fire disappear. But even when he opened his eyes Sylver still couldn’t see anything. He was standing in complete and total darkness, only his own body was visible to him.

“Hello! Please allow me to introduce myself! I am Sylver Sezari. 1st tier necromancer and adventurer extraordinaire!” Sylver shouted into the never-ending void. He had to hand it to the phantoms, they even muted his voice from bouncing around.

“I’m here looking for a ring! And once I retrieve it, I will be moving in here!” Sylver continued to shout, as slowly walked down the hallway, careful to avoid hitting any of the statues or vases on either side. He stopped by one that felt strange and found that there was a dried-up corpse in place of a statue. Even with his hands touching it, he couldn’t see it.

Going by the way the skin near the face was broken, the dead woman had scratched her eyes out and bled to death. Sylver left her where she was as he continued down the hallway.

“Some things about me! I tend to forget where I was going when I speak for a long time! I ramble in short! I’m also so used to always having someone in my shadow, that it’s going to seem like I talk to myself a lot!” Sylver continued to shout.

“Something else about me! You can’t hurt me! My mind also can’t be read, so you can’t give me visions or the like! But I loved the illusionary fire, it was very well made!” Sylver continued to shout. He stopped walking for a moment and spread his mana out in all four directions as came to an intersection.

On Sylver’s left, a tall man appeared. His face was contorted into an unnatural smile, his cheeks ripped open with his jaw unhinged to the point it hung as if it were a beard. His tongue came out of a hole in his throat, and reached down to his crotch, dripping with blood. His left leg was a mixture of white and red, nerves and muscle and bone, while the other was covered in a ripped trouser leg.

The man held a metallic potato peeler in one hand and pointed it at Sylver. He screamed an inhuman scream as he started to slowly limp towards Sylver, dragging his skinless leg behind him. It snapped and cracked with each step he took as he put his weight on it.

“I’m sorry about this, but I need to see where to go,” Sylver said.

The screaming disfigured man started to speed up, now panting like a dog as he screamed, each breath sounded as if he were about to drown.

Sylver walked to the right and searched with his hands until he found a wall.

The man with the potato peeler began to speed up, still limping towards him, but now making more progress than he should with each limping step. Sylver found a flat enough surface and laid his palm flat against it.

The man suddenly stood right next to Sylver, one skinless hand on Sylver’s shoulder, and the other edging closer and closer towards his face and eyes.

Sylver turned to look at the man.

“Wonderful details. It’s the little things that make an illusion come to life. But what’s this?” Sylver asked, with his free hand poking the screaming man in one of the strands of muscle that stopped his jaw from completely falling off.

“This isn’t enough to hold the weight of the lower jaw. Either add more strands of muscle or don’t open it up so much,” Sylver said. The potato peeler entered his eye and Sylver lost sight of the man in that eye. The potato peeler came out and a pierced pitch-black eyeball sat deflated on its tip.

“See, now this I like. You could have been lazy with it, but you checked my eye color and matched it!” Sylver said. The screaming man shoved the eyeball-tipped potato peeler into his throat. He forced it down his throat and splattered blood everywhere as he began to violently cough.

Sylver waited a few more seconds, while the man’s tongue came alive and licked the side of Sylver’s face, temporarily blinding him in the other “remaining” eye.

Sylver lifted his hand off the wall and slapped it back down. A wave of crackling yellow sparks exploded from the wall and traveled outward from it. Sylver watched the partially revealed walls, floor, and ceiling before complete and total darkness replaced it. The screaming man had turned transparent for a moment, as the illusions were interfered with.

Sylver decided that the direction the potato peeler man had come from was a fair guess as to where to start. There was no map for him to follow, so Sylver would simply have to wander around until he found the ring and the item the phantoms are tied to.

“I’m going to guess the majority of you are women! I can’t say why, but that’s the feeling I’m getting! The few phantoms I’ve dealt with that were men were a lot more aggressive than their female counterparts!” Sylver shouted.

He removed his hand from the wall and used his tendrils of mana to not bump into any of the walls or furniture lined up against them. The potato peeler-wielding man limped next to him and continued to stab and scratch at Sylver's face and eyes, screaming and coughing hoarsely all the while.

“Just want to clarify, I’m here to negotiate! I’m not going to hurt anyone; I just want to talk. If you want revenge, peace, or whatever it is, tell me and I will see what I can do!” Sylver continued to yell. The potato peeler was still screaming in the background, but he stopped and disappeared once Sylver turned a corner.

The darkness dissipated, and Sylver could see clearly again. Light came out of a small window at the end of the hallway and illuminated the surrounding area. Sylver continued to slowly walk forward and looked up to see as the light started to disappear.

The effect was something close to a solar eclipse, except Sylver could see that something was coming towards him and was becoming bigger and bigger. A large eye looked in through the small window into the hallway where Sylver was standing.

The window, wall, ceiling, and floor shattered violently, as a giant mass of tentacles ripped its way inside the house. A countless number of eyes sat inside the mass of tentacles, each one a different shape and color, but all locked on Sylver. The tentacle creature screeched as it shoved more and more of itself into the narrow corridor, and started to drag itself towards Sylver.

The tentacles looked slimy, with glistening needles sticking out of their ends, all snapping and becoming crooked as it used them to pull itself into the corridor.

“If all you have are illusions, I wouldn’t bother!” Sylver shouted, as the mass of tentacles, eyes, and needles wrapped itself around him and pierced his skin with the needles. Sylver walked through the mass and came out the other side completely unharmed.

He suddenly found himself standing outside the gates with Sophia smiling politely at him.

“What took you so long?” She asked.

Sylver rolled his eyes and didn’t bother responding, as the potato peeler-wielding man appeared behind Sophia and grabbed her by the throat, and ripped away the front of her robe.

Sophia started to scream with a high enough pitch that Sylver’s ears stung. The man used the peeling side of the peeler to remove strips of flesh from her bared chest, before finally-

“Good effort! Making me think I made it out, and then trying to see if torturing someone I know personally would work! But you should know breasts don’t bleed like that!” Sylver corrected, as he put one foot in front of the other and watched as the man dragged Sophia backward as if moving away from Sylver.

“Especially the large kind like Sophia’s. They’re not water balloons filled with blood, they are a great deal of flesh, glands, fat, and mostly capillaries. It shouldn’t be gushing out like that, especially considering you’ve shredded them, not simply cut or stabbed them!” Sylver advised, as he hit his hand against the wall and sent another wave moving through the house.

Sophia and her torturer turned transparent for a moment, as Sylver walked through them and continued down the hallway. If nothing else, he admired the creativity.

Sylver spent a good 10 minutes wandering around the lower floor of the house, constantly surrounded by one screaming creature or another. A man made out of crawling insects surrounded Sylver with flies that ate into his flesh and went into his mouth, eyes, nose, and ears, and disappeared all at once when Sylver hit the wall with his hand.

Then they tried snakes, scorpions, children, babies, a slime, they made it look like there was a spike trap below him with only a small plank of wood holding his weight. All completely useless and pointless, given that Sylver knew they couldn’t do anything to him, and had his disruption spell when it got too annoying.

If there was even a fraction of him that was afraid, everything would have been “real”. Not real in the sense they could kill him, but real in the sense Sylver would feel the pain of the potato peeler digging his eye out, even if his physical body was perfectly fine. Every single errant fly, eyeball-filled monstrosity, and the piles upon piles of gore would smell and feel as if it was the real thing.

They were going for the psychological angle now.

Which would have a chance of working if they could access Sylver’s mind to find the things he was afraid of. As it stood, they simply threw things at the wall to see what would stick.

At first, they tried to one-up Sophia’s torture. Which would have worked, had Sylver not been a necromancer. After what he had seen and done no amount of gore or knives going into places they shouldn’t would ever get a reaction out of him.

At some point, the illusions disappeared altogether. It almost felt like they had given up and surrendered, but Sylver didn’t let his guard down and continued to use his tendrils of mana to see where he was going, as opposed to trusting his eyes or ears.

Sylver hit his hand against the walls now and again, but there was nothing to interfere with. He couldn’t even feel anything nearby.

“Listen! Whatever you’re planning, don’t bother! I understand you’re confused and afraid, I understand that to you it feels like I’m trespassing in your home! But you should understand this! I am in my element! I’ve dealt with cities filled with phantoms such as yourselves!” Sylver shouted. His voice didn’t echo because of the carpet on the floor and the wooden walls.

Sylver walked around for a while, talking to himself essentially until he heard a sound behind him.

A suit of armor stood in the middle of the hallway, holding a spiked mace in one hand, and a small shield in the other.

[Living Armor (Warrior) – 134]
[HP-999,999]
[MP-???]

Loose strands of dark grey smoke seeped out from within the cracks of the armor. It floated slightly, the angle the helmet sat on its shoulders suggested the neck had been snapped. Its left arm was twisted to the point it was thin and elongated, and there was a hole in the chest piece, that Sylver could see through.

The armor slowly walked towards Sylver.

“Possession. That’s quite an advanced skill, I’m surprised you’re able to use it if you’ve only been around for 80 something years. And almost a million in HP, that’s downright cheating. I could spend an entire day hacking at the thing and get no closer to killing it. Then again, faking a status probably isn’t that hard,” Sylver said, as the suit of armor started to walk a little faster.

“But it has,” Sylver covered his mouth as he yawned and raised his other hand towards the now sprinting creature. “but it has one fatal flaw,” Sylver said.

The creature lunged into the air and very nearly touched the ceiling. It brought down its spike-covered mace down onto Sylver, which passed right through him. The floor shattered, as did the walls on either side of it, as the mace made contact with it. Sylver’s smoke form materialized next to the creature, and he used one finger to lightly tap it on the helmet.

All at once the hollow armor disconnected and fell to the ground into a pile of lifeless metal.

“There are ways to make the connection more secure, but it’s a very long and difficult process. Very good for defenses though. These things could be made to be nigh unkillable if there’s enough mana to restore them. Explains what happened to the people with mental resistance though,” Sylver concluded.

Sylver waited for a moment before he picked up the floating helmet and tucked it under his arm. He had to ignore the helmet being tugged towards the slowly rebuilding suit of armor and focused instead on the direction of the connection attached to it.

It took the phantoms about a minute to realize what he had done, and what he was doing, as they doubled down on trying to pull the helmet out of Sylver’s hands. When that failed, the phantom Sylver was tracking tried to sever the connection to the helmet.

Except Sylver’s soul was interfering with all of her attempts.

More illusions showed up, some more gruesome and disturbing than the other, Sylver walked outside about 10 times while he followed the connection to the source, and all 10 times something horrendous happened to Sophia.

Sylver finally arrived at a large bookshelf and felt around with his mana until he could find the secret entrance.

When that failed, he placed his hand onto the bookshelf, and ripped it out of the wall, and gently placed it to the side. Behind it was a small square door, barely tall enough for Sylver to go through without crouching. Everything went black once again as the illusions returned, but Sylver already had a hand on the door and was already fiddling with the locking mechanism.

It hurt Sylver’s pride that he couldn’t figure out how to open the door properly, but in his defense, there was lead inside of the lock. Somewhere inside the house, there was very likely a very fancy-looking key hidden inside of a piano, or some other ridiculous hiding spot. Sylver put the helmet down onto the ground and forgot about it since he was now close enough to feel the general direction of the connection by himself.

It took 5 kicks from his charged foot for the door to bend enough for Sylver to enter the tunnel ahead in the form of smoke. The tunnel behind the door was of a similar height, so Sylver remained in the form of smoke so as not to hit his head by accident. The illusion of complete and total darkness remained, but it was pointless now.

Sylver could feel where he was going, and the tunnel walls were charged with enough mana that they might as well have been glowing.

The tunnel ended with a ladder, and Sylver went downwards to the source of the phantoms. The walls were lined with cobblestones, with just enough room for a person’s back to not scratch against them as they went down. He found a tripwire but didn’t have a physical body to trigger it, so he didn’t worry about it. The ladder went further down, but Sylver materialized only after a minute or so of going down it.

The ladder was simple and metallic, square metal rods inside of a dug-out square hole. Sylver found a small keyhole on the back of one of the ladders and tried to force some mana into it, before finding it made out of lead.

Sylver followed the mechanical locking mechanism until he found something he could fiddle with, and spent a few seconds putting pressure onto it until it snapped.

Sylver heard a click behind him and saw the stones near his back pull away to reveal another passage.

Sylver waited for it to open all the way and turned into smoke to enter it. Rows upon rows of skulls lined either side of the passage, each one with an identical carving on the forehead. Sylver walked down the passage and entered the basement.

Going by the giant stairs leading upwards towards a normal-sized door, there was apparently an easier way to come here, than the path Sylver had found. He made a mental note to check to see how deep the ladder tunnel went, and what was down there.

The room was large, or it was more accurate to say it was wide. The ceiling was low enough that Sylver could almost touch it with his hand, but it stretched out further than he could see. Most of the space was taken up by rusted cages, with small identical tables standing near them.

Sylver walked among them, and each and every cage had a dead body inside of it, with dried-up skin and visible scarring and damage on the face, chest, and hands. Self-inflicted as far as Sylver could tell.

Sylver walked around for a while and saw a dead body, dressed in a purple robe, laying on the floor near one of the cages. Sylver flipped it over with his foot and pulled the man’s squashed lips back to reveal a mouth full of pointed and sharp teeth.

In one hand he had an empty syringe with a needle that was wide enough to be called a straw. The other hand was missing.

Sylver followed the trail of blood and saw the corpse of a woman clutching a ring of keys close to her chest. Next to her lay the shattered bone remains of a hand that had been eaten.

“You managed to somehow cut his hand off, but even with the keys you couldn't get out of the cage... And then you, and everyone else starved to death, all alone, in complete and total darkness…” Sylver summarized.

Sylver walked around the cages, but couldn’t understand it. There were only 2 souls here, where were the rest? He returned to the body with the keyrings and spoke at it.

“There’s no use in hiding, I can see you,” Sylver said. The corpse remained perfectly still, and his voice bounced around and echoed through the silent room.

“What if I said I could bring you back to life?” Sylver asked.

He heard a scuffling sound from one of the other cages, in the direction he could feel the other soul.

“I’ve done it before. Quite literally 2 weeks ago. And again 3 months ago,” Sylver added.

Sophia appeared next to the cage and had an expression that didn’t quite match her face as she spoke.

“We’re stuck here. This house, this place, our souls are fused into it,” Sophia explained. Her voice was wrong. Not wrong, but different.

“I know. It will take 3 years to undo that, if you’re lucky, and 10 if you’re not. Your original body is still here, it would be extremely easy for me to repair it and make it habitable,” Sylver offered.

Another woman appeared, one that Sylver hadn’t seen before. She looked to be a very young human woman, barely in her 20s.

“You’re lying. You’re trying to trick us,” the woman said. There was a slight delay between the sound of her voice, and her lips moving.

“What would I gain from tricking you? And more importantly, what’s your alternative? If you prefer I could bring a priest down here to try to exorcise you. It would hurt like nothing you’ve ever experienced, but it wouldn’t send you away. They would have to burn the whole house down for that, and even then it isn’t guaranteed that you’ll be able to move on. Your souls aren’t just fused to this house; they’re fused to this space,” Sylver explained. Sophia’s face flickered a few times, before settling on a slight frown. The other woman’s did the same.

“You’re lying,” fake Sophia said.

“Considering where we are, and the way you presumably died, I understand why you would be distrustful. I’m going to leave and I’ll be back tomorrow morning. Think it over until then,” Sylver said. He walked back to the purple-robed man and reached down to the corpse on the floor and twisted the ring off its finger. A light grey silver ring, with the outside area nearly invisible under all the white stones embedded into it. Oddly enough, this one hurt a little to touch.

“You’re not leaving,” fake Sophia said. Sylver was once again standing in complete and total darkness.

“I am, I memorized the layout of the lower floor, and you’ve already seen there’s nothing you can do to stop me,” Sylver explained, as he spread his awareness through his mana and made his way towards the large staircase leading out somewhere.

He walked in complete and total silence. He had been expecting something, but it seemed strange to him that fake Sophia would let him go just like that. Sylver could feel the two souls connect behind him, and hoped that they were discussing it, or that one of them was convincing the other.

The staircase opened up into some room Sylver couldn’t see, given that he was still effectively blind. Sylver couldn’t tell what was used to hide the entrance, but the mechanism that opened and closed it was simple enough that he could force it open when he returned. He found his way out easy enough, the two souls acted like a compass.

Sylver stopped with his hand on the front door.

“I forgot to mention this, but in return for bringing you back to life, I would like to hire you both to work for me. Mostly as guards for the house, but we can discuss the details tomorrow. I’ll pay you a salary, and in 3 years you could be alive, rich, and with all the time in the world to enjoy yourself,” Sylver said. He had felt the two souls stop moving while he spoke, and carried on since he had their attention.

“The way you two have been able to use your abilities is extraordinary. I’m all but certain you could become great mages if given the chance… I’ll add this just in case, but I’m willing to negotiate the terms if there’s anything else you want,” Sylver said.

He waited for a moment and was hoping one of them would agree on the spot. The darkness illusion receded as he left the house and walked down the white path. It was littered with dead bodies of rats, pigeons, and people, but otherwise perfectly clean.

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