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Ch082-Brewing Storm

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“Ah, well there goes my drinking money for the week,” the guard said as Sylver closed the gates behind him and turned around. Only a single silver armored guard was standing nearby, holding a small key along with a matching scroll in his hand.

“Where’s Sophia?” Sylver asked. Going by the suns’ current positions he’d been inside the house for roughly 2 hours.

“She left. She made a bet with Tops and Leto that you would be back in under half an hour, and lost. Then she bet the rest of us that you would come back eventually, and given that you’re alive and well and standing here, won,” the silver armored guard explained.

After walking around in constant darkness, surrounded by one screaming and begging horror or another, the guard’s relaxed tone was hard to adjust to. Sylver’s ears were still ringing from the sound fake Sophia made as she was being disemboweled with a blunt bread knife.

“I didn’t think priests were allowed to gamble?” Sylver asked. The guard stood up a little straighter, his hand casually fell onto the pommel of his sword.

“The rules regarding what we can and can’t do are… I’m struggling to remember the right word, it’s… uh… Oh! Up to interpretation, that’s it. Not laws, mind you, those are ironclad, but the smaller rules, gambling, drinking, whoring, those are significantly less… clad,” The guard said, adding the last word after a long enough pause that Sylver could tell he couldn’t remember the opposite of ironclad.

“Are all priests like that, or just followers of Ra?” Sylver asked.

“That’s a hard question to answer. I’d like to answer, yes, but that we’re the only ones honest about it. But the other temples have been keeping everything a secret to outsiders for so long, there’s no real way to know. I know for a fact that a large number of brothels refuse to allow priests of Zeus to enter, even when they are off duty. Then there’s the rumors of the women inside said brothels ‘disappearing’, anyway, are the phantoms dead?” The guard said. He held up the key and a scroll and gestured with his helmeted head towards the house.

“Oh, no, I’m going to return tomorrow morning, I just wanted to give them some time to think things over,” Sylver explained.

“Think what over? So you’re going to kill them tomorrow?” the guard asked. He adjusted the strap under his chin to get the helmet’s eye holes back into the proper place.

“I’m not going to kill them. We’re in the middle of negotiating, and I’m giving them time to discuss and decide on what they want,” Sylver repeated. The guard was so still; he might as well have been frozen.

“You… You spoke to them? To phantoms?” the guard asked, with the kind of tone that was normally followed by the other person laughing.

“I’m a necromancer, I speak to the dead daily. Not everything has to be solved with a dagger or a fireball, sometimes words are enough,” Sylver explained.

The guard cocked his head. He spoke after a long silence, long enough that Sylver had very nearly started to walk away.

“What did they say?” the guard asked. It sounded like he was playing along to a ridiculous lie of a child. Thank you for the plastic teacup full of delicious invisible tea and all that.

“That’s between them and me,” Sylver said. The guard’s body language suggested a smirk.

“Sure,” the silver-clad guard said. Sylver didn’t like the condescending tone in his voice, but was a bit too tired to care, and didn’t value the soon to be forgotten man’s opinion highly enough to attempt to correct it.

“Do I need to go to the temple again tomorrow, or will you be here or…” Sylver asked.

“I was told to wait here until you returned, I’ll need to ask. So either come around to the temple tomorrow if there’s nobody here, or someone will be here,” the guard answered.

Sylver turned into smoke and began to travel through the rain gutters as the guard started locking the gate and reapplying the barrier.

*

*

*

The two of them sat on top of the roof and watched the unkempt field below sway in the wind. Bright green grass filled in the blanks left by the giant yellow-colored weeds, as the shades slowly but surely moved in a single line through them.

“The brothel? He ended up not going. In his words “it was love at first sight”,” Bruno quoted as he took another sip of tea.

“Might be a hormonal imbalance, I’ll need to check to make sure,” Sylver suggested.

“Might be. It is a bit too convenient that he fell in love with the woman who will be training him but I’m looking after him, don’t worry about it,” Bruno said, as he waved the issue away.

“After spending so many years at each other’s throats, I would have thought there would be some… I don’t know, bad blood I guess?” Sylver asked. Bruno took another sip of tea while he considered how to word his answer properly.

“When we are born, we start from scratch essentially. The memories of our past come in slowly, gradually, in pieces and fragments. Or they come in so fast and hard that the person we were at that moment in time ceases to exist. All that’s left are emotional attachments. I remembered who I was quite literally as I was watching my wife being murdered once. I don’t even know her name, I just had this unbelievable pain inside of me,” Bruno explained.

He spoke without so much as a shake in his voice. Sylver had to imagine after everything he’d been through, becoming numb to it was a very strong possibility. It had happened to Sylver for a while too, but he always had his people to help him overcome whatever he’d been trying to bottle up.

Bruno was different in that he was alone. His only companion, if he could be called that, was the man who was very often in the process of ruining his life and killing him.

“The worst part is that I don’t even know when it’s over. Among my jumble of memories, there must be some sort of specific mixture that defines who I am. But then I have to ask, what if there’s more? What if the person I am now, or the person I think I am now, is incomplete?” Bruno asked, still without any real emotion in the question.

“How’s the cheese farming coming along?” Sylver asked just as casually.

“What?”

“I saw cows grazing in the field, and Spring tells me you have goats hiding inside that barn over there,” Sylver explained, as he pointed at the recently constructed barn in question.

“It’s a while away. Because the military bought up all the good stock, the only cows left for sale are barely worth the meat on them. Aside from that, there’s a whole lot more to making cheese than just putting milk in a barrel and waiting. Proper temperatures are required, some sort of bacteria found inside a cow’s stomach, and a bunch of other small but critical details that we are yet to meet. And given that I don’t know what the process looks like, I can’t speed it along with my magic,” Bruno answered, with a wave of his hand as he counted out problem after problem.

“And the bees?” Sylver asked.

“On their way. As are the tools I requested. Someone will be sent over here at some point to check if I’m proficient enough in using them before giving them to me,” Bruno explained while Sylver coughed on his tea from laughing at him.

“On that note, how’s your body? Your core and channels seem fine, but they’re…” Sylver tried to find a polite way of saying “shit”.

“It’s enough. The conductivity isn’t that bad, all things considered. Class-wise, my unique has already cannibalized and transformed my farmer class so my magic is a bit more specialized than I would have preferred. But as I said, it’s enough, I’ve done more with less, so it isn’t a problem. I stopped vomiting blood last night, so there’s that too,” Bruno said.

“What about Faust?” Sylver asked.

“Also fine. The nails on his toes fell off at some point, but new ones grew in before the day ended,” Bruno explained.

“Ah, yes, I forgot that could happen… Did he get his eyes checked out?” Sylver asked.

“There isn’t a healer that specializes in eyes, but he said he’ll fix it himself eventually. He’s wearing glasses in the meantime. And don’t tell him I told you this, but I’m all but certain he could fix his eyes today if he really wanted to. My best guess is that the girl he’s fallen for likes glasses or wears glasses, that’s the feeling I’m getting anyway,” Bruno said, with a slightly hushed tone.

“Is it strange that I envy him?” Sylver asked.

“I envy him too, a little. But I’ve been where you are, the desire to stick your head in the sand and just pretend everything is alright is always very tempting. Both of us are essentially doing just that right now. But it isn’t like the one person that can solve all your problems will just wander into your house and offer you the best deal you’ve ever gotten, ever,” Bruno said with a grin.

“It would be nice though. Go here, do this, and everyone is somehow miraculously alive and well,” Sylver said with a small chuckle.

“You never know. That we met is pure luck, maybe you’ll get lucky like that as well,” Bruno offered.

“If nothing else, I respect that he’s willing to get attached again, even while knowing full well how much it’s going to hurt when she dies, or he dies,” Sylver said with a slight slouch of his shoulders.

“Maybe he just trusts you that much? He knows more about you than I do, maybe in his mind, it’s a done deal, just a matter of time before the curse is broken. Why sit around wasting time if this is already the start of his new life?” Bruno offered.

“We’re still a while off from doing anything substantial, materials aside, I’m still within smiting range if I try to do something too direct. Once I can at the very least fight off an improbable lightning bolt or two, then I can start poking the connection to see what gets a reaction. Until then, just enjoy the simple life of a farmer,” Sylver offered.

Bruno sat up suddenly and patted the many pockets on his apron. As he teleported away, Sylver refilled his teacup and sat in silence for a while. Spring and the others were halfway done by now, the weeds had been carefully collected and tied together to be mixed into the cow’s food later on, and the dirt had been plowed for grass in one area, and crops in another.

With each shade splitting up, Sylver had nearly 300 working the field at the same time. The ground was moist here, courtesy of the heavy rain that had flooded the field a few days ago, so very little strength was needed to pull the weeds. With Sylver using [Shadow’s Agent] he could even empower the shades that needed just a little help to speed things up.

It was surprisingly not that costly to make up for the 60% decrease in ability using mana. If Sylver had all the shades split up to the maximum number, around 500, counting the wolves, he could make them all as strong as their original bodies were for about 30 seconds. If they were closer to him, the time would increase, but Sylver didn’t think he could handle more than 4 minutes.

Bruno reappeared with a leather-bound notebook and placed it into Sylver’s lap.

“I hate how often this comes up, but the spell I used to make the shade and zombie combination creatures is more muscle memory than actual understanding. I’ve written down all the frameworks that I can remember, but I don’t have the mana to check if I’m right or not,” Bruno explained, as Sylver flipped the book open and looked through the pages.

“It’s… This is enough, I’ll fill in the gaps myself. At least you didn’t write it out on a vase,” Sylver slowly said, as he memorized one page after the other and eventually put the notebook away. Some experimentation and fiddling would be needed, but it wasn’t too complicated.

“Vase?”

“There was this one group… It’s hard to explain, their writing system was linked to the circumference of the thing the text was written on, and I wasted far too long trying to decipher it. It wasn’t even worth it; their magic was so inefficient that their 5th tier mages could just barely cast 2nd tier magic. Thank you, I meant to say. I mean this in the best way possible, but I’m used to getting incomplete information, it’s almost better this way,” Sylver said.

He stood up from his chair as Spring started to gather up some of the shades and split himself into two so one could watch over the ones doing the weeding, while the other was with Sylver.

“You’re not going to stay for lunch? Meet the family, so to speak?” Bruno asked.

“I would rather not. I don’t want to mar their perception of you by my association. Maybe later, when they’re all comfortable with you and trust your word when you tell them I’m not some deranged lunatic,” Sylver explained.

“Ah. Right, the jaw thing. On the bright side, there are as many people saying he deserved it, as there are saying you went too far. But you have a point, they’re wary of me as is, and that’s without even mentioning the experiments I’m going to have to do to figure out how to cross an insect with a mammal. Thankfully the kids are young enough that they won’t see it as a problem if they grow up with it, and the older ones… what’s the right word to describe it?” Bruno asked as he sat back down into his chair.

“Tolerate it?” Sylver suggested.

“Sure, that works. They’re getting paid more per month than some people make in a year, and all that’s being asked of them is helping a half-elf learn how to make cheese, and helping out with the hybrids I’ll soon be making. They’ve been bribed, if we’re being honest,” Bruno said.

“It’s not ideal, but considering the circumstances, it will have to do. I’ll come by when I have the time, but if you need something talk to Lola, she’ll handle it,” Sylver said. He stretched his legs as he walked towards the edge of the roof and looked down.

Sylver stopped before fully jumping off as he felt something strange in Bruno’s soul.

“What?” Sylver turned around and asked.

“Do you remember how I said that I could smell something on you? Like a god, but not a god?” Bruno asked.

“I do…” Sylver answered.

“The smell changed. It’s not weaker or stronger, but something is different. I can’t explain it properly, it’s like trying to explain how mana feels to someone who can’t sense it,” Bruno added quickly.

Sylver stood quietly for a while before he shrugged his shoulders and jumped off the roof. He turned into smoke a moment before he hit the ground and disappeared into the rain gutters.

*

*

*

Surprisingly, Ron was happy Sylver was leaving. Or more accurately, he was happy Sylver was happy, even if he enjoyed the pale man’s company. It was only after Sylver had packed up his belongings did he realize how little he had.

Most of his clothing was spread out amongst the shades, covered up by armor, and assimilated into them. Weapons, tools, and other small items were similarly hidden with the shades, either in backpacks, or satchels. Given the way their bodies worked, no one could open the bags, the effect would be the same as trying to rip their heads off, they would just burst into a cloud of smoke.

As a result, Sylver’s room was barren, a bed, a table and chair, bathroom, and that was about it. In place of a window was a wall that had a chest full of gold inside of it, that Sylver hadn’t touched a whole lot after getting money from Poppy. The majority remained at the adventurer’s guild, and whenever Sylver needed a large sum, it was usually just transferred via Lola or Shera.

Sylver looked through the small booklet inside of the chest and was surprised to see that Salgok had almost repaid the entirety of what he owed. Ron had closed Sylver’s food tab a couple of times, and Sylver had taken out 10 gold coins now and then.

If Sylver’s math was right, the chest held 22,541 gold, 11 silver, and 8 copper. With another 100,000 something gold in his account at the adventurer’s guild.

There was a limit to how much Sylver could rely on the Cord and the cats, and he didn’t want to become completely dependent on them. Lola was in a tough spot at the moment, but she and her company were key to stop considering money as an issue.

“Why do you think the smell changed?” Spring asked. Sylver looked up from packing up small vials of various bone ashes. Ron had left to handle something and Sylver was dismantling his workshop.

“I don’t know. I’m still on the fence regarding if a god is involved with me being here. It’s possible, plausible even, but at the same time, the question remains the same. Why?” Sylver said as he went back to carefully wrapping the vials up one at a time and gently tucking them away into their respective cases.

“You think that if someone went through all the trouble of bringing you back, they would at least tell you to do something?” Spring asked. He directed the shades to put the boxes into a pile and swapped out Sylver’s now full box with an empty one.

“First you would need to find my soul and piece it back together. Simple enough, assuming you have an absurd amount of mana and time, I’m flexible enough that you would only need a small piece for my consciousness to form. Then you would need to repair the damage I had done to it, difficult, but hypothetically possible. Then you would need to move my soul across the Asberg, something people I held in high regard couldn’t manage, and without me knowing about it no less,” Sylver counted out, as he carried on packing away vial after vial.

“Sounds like something a god would do,” Spring offered.

“Sure, but then you would need to find a perfect vessel for me, a feat impossible unless you go around checking people one by one. The amount of luck required is mind-boggling. Putting that aside, you then have the other big question, why a needle of all things? And how is magic so intricate and so small that I can’t even sense it possible? And then the thing I’m not going to say or think about. Is it related to me, or am I the result of it?” Sylver continued, as he stood up from his crouch and got to work dismantling his alchemical grinder. After passing out on Will, Sylver had become slightly more careful about thinking, let alone mentioning, the thing.

“You think the thing we’re not talking about somehow is the reason you’re here?” Spring asked.

“If you see two giant fires in different places, it isn’t exactly wrong to assume they’re somehow connected. But then the timing is off, it didn’t start when I appeared, it has been going on forever according to Faust and Bruno at least. But then, why can Lola and I remember when it didn’t exist? Is Lola connected to me, or am I connected to Lola,” Sylver said.

“Could just be one giant coincidence. Or a series of coincidences. Maybe that’s why you’re so weak and leveling up so slowly, you have a giant debt of improbability to pay off,” Spring offered. Sylver laughed sarcastically before he gently removed the grindstones from the alchemical grinder.

“Could be whoever put me there, forgot about me. Repairing soul damage is a slow process, it’s like trying to speed up healing, there’s a limit to how quickly it can be done. And let’s not forget that the only way to cram my soul into something this small would involve, not just bypassing the Gellmann constant, but about 8 more laws of magic that I can’t even begin to describe to you,” Sylver said, his tone gradually became angry as he listed of how impossible it was for him to be standing here right now.

“There is one easy explanation,” Spring said.

Sylver huffed to himself.

“Easy might be the wrong word, but it explains everything,” Spring continued.

“I don’t like saying that something is or isn’t possible, because I’ve been proven wrong far too many times. But a different world? Moving between realms is one thing, I’ve been to the demon realm and earth, but this would be moving between realities. Different laws of magic, but somehow I’m still able to use the magic I’m familiar with. It’s the difference between visiting a neighbor’s house, and traveling across the world to a different continent and city,” Sylver explained.

“So it’s just a matter of time and energy?” Spring asked.

“Everything is a matter of time and energy, given enough of either of them you could do absolutely anything. What I’m saying is that no one would spend so much on me without good reason. But then that brings up a better question, if they have enough energy to bring me back, what do they need me for? That I know something important? If they can move between realities, what’s moving between time to find the person I stole what I know from? Why me specifically?” Sylver asked.

Spring didn’t have an answer for that.

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