Ch084-Big Words, Little Man
Sylver waited until Sophia had put her teacup down. The suns were about to start setting, but the garden patio was already beginning to light up with artificial balls of light.
“I’m going to cut to the chase. That cave that that man promised you, isn’t available,” Sylver said. A cruel smile crept onto Sophia’s face, which did little to hide the anger in her eyes.
“I will make it available. And I don’t remember asking you. Why do you care anyway? Is the Cord after it? What is this? Why?” Sophia asked, firing one question after another as her body tensed up and threatened to unleash all its force directly onto Sylver.
“It isn’t available, because there’s a very good chance the man will lose the perk in the process of me removing the curse,” Sylver lied. It wasn’t a very good chance; it was a certainty. The ritual was generally used to pass on bloodline abilities, Sylver was more than certain a perk would fall under that.
Sophia looked like he had just slapped her across the face, even if her expression hadn’t changed a whole lot. With the amount of suppressive jewelry she was wearing, trying to get a read of her soul wasn’t possible, even for Sylver. Soul reading as a whole was an educated guess, Sylver simply had enough experience with it that he had it down to a science.
“Is it money? Time? What’s the issue, what do you need to cure him without making him lose his perk?” Sophia asked, earning a small smile from Sylver at the fact that her first response was trying to find a solution.
“A philosopher’s stone and the blood of an elder dragon? But in all seriousness, if I had the time I could do it slowly and carefully, and if I felt like he was about to lose his perk I could stop. Except whoever cursed him was smart enough to make sure no one would be able to stop the curse or slow it down. Even if you had someone who could suspend him in time to give me months instead of weeks, his curse would react to the time magic and would spread and kill him. There’s also a trigger in the curse,” Sylver explained. The best lies were always the kind that had some truth in them.
“A trigger?” Sophia asked.
“The curse is set to react to something. As far as I can tell, if a specific kind of magic were to be used on him, the curse would accelerate to the point of instantly killing him. My best guess is there’s some kind of healing magic that would be able to cure him, that’s been taken into account by whoever cursed him, so it couldn’t be used,” Sylver explained.
This wasn’t even a lie, technically speaking. Although he doubted the monks that could cure anything short of death were around anymore.
Considering Sylver was the one who killed all of them.
The ritual he was using now was partially one of theirs, their “cures” often involved transplants and using newborns as curse sponges. Quite gruesome, but as with most dark magic, effective.
Sophia leaned back in her chair, and then let her head roll back. It was lucky that her choice of dress today didn’t have an opening at the front, because everything would have spilled out from the way she was bent.
She took a deep breath.
Then her whole body shook for a moment.
She then made a sound that was close to a sob, and then she lifted her arm to cover her face and promptly disappeared. Sylver crossed one leg over the other as he poured himself some more tea and dipped a ginger-flavored biscuit in it.
Sophia returned by the time Sylver was done with his third cup of tea. Her dress was different, her eyes were ever so slightly bloodshot, and she spoke with the kind of professional forced positivity healers tended to use when telling someone they were going to die.
“Could you cure him enough that he could use his magic?” Sophia asked. Sylver put his cup down and locked his fingers together over his stomach.
“As in, you want him to be well enough to transport a couple of you into the cave, without caring if he lives or dies as a result of it?” Sylver asked. Sophia answered without skipping a beat.
“Yes. I’ll pay you double, triple, however much you want if you do that for me. Anything you want, I’ve seen the way you look at me, just swear to me you’ll get my people there and I’m yours to do with as you wish,” Sophia said with increasing speed. She teleported and stood a mere inch away from Sylver. Even bloodshot and on the verge of tears, there was still something breathtaking about her.
Sylver stared into her eyes in silence for a few moments.
It would be so easy.
He didn’t even need Nautis, he could get inside Tuli and could just as easily get Sophia and whoever she wanted inside as well.
It was so tempting.
Sylver could see it now, going on adventures with her, helping him handle the few things his dark magic couldn’t touch. They would spend the days walking, flying, and then share a meal and then a tent as the suns went down.
He could even teach her dark magic.
When a woman like her said, “I’m yours” she meant it in every way imaginable.
But Sylver had been down this road before and knew what was at the end of it. Even if it was beyond tempting, he wasn’t going to make the same mistake for the 14th time.
“The sheer amount of painkillers he would need to be loaded up on to use his magic, in any capacity, would kill him. This is the only thing I can do; in the time he has. And I don’t mean that if you came to me a week earlier, I mean if he found me a day after he was cursed. This is very intricate magic, you would have more luck trying to cut him down the middle and hoping that the curse in one half is weak enough for you to grow a new arm, leg, lung, stomach, kidney, liver, and brain half. Even then, I’m all but certain you’d be back where you started,” Sylver explained.
Sylver learned from his mistakes. There was a reason he went with flesh and blood.
Sophia’s face scrunched up with each word, her head now close enough that Sylver could feel a faint tingling from where one of the silver ornaments in her hair brushed against one of his stray hairs. Sophia’s eyes widened for a moment and then narrowed.
“You were there,” she said, as Sylver slightly cocked his head but kept his features perfectly neutral. “It matches, you returned almost at the same time as the other’s did,” Sophia said, each word barely a whisper as she slowly moved away from Sylver and straightened her back to her full height. He was sitting down, she was towering over him.
“Bald head, always had a mask on, you had to hide your hair color and your eyes, it makes sense… Your hair was shorter when you returned, I’m sure of it,” Sophia explained. She reached out with a hand as if she were about to grab Sylver’s hair, but she stopped before that.
“What are you talking about? Bald head? Why would I ever shave my hair, look how beautiful and lush it is?” Sylver asked, in an attempt to derail the conversation and her train of thought. Sophia took another step back and then disappeared.
Sophia returned a moment later clutching a bundle of faded pages in her hand. She snapped her fingers and made everything on the table disappear as she spread the papers out on it, and dug through them without saying a word. Sylver barely needed a glance to understand what she was going through. The cats all had slightly strange handwriting, it was hard to mistake it for anything else.
“There!” Sophia shouted, momentarily elated as she found the tied-together bundle of pages she had been looking for. She nearly ripped them apart as she read through them.
“It fits, the timing, bald head, everything fits! You’re Melo, the real Melo,” Sophia shouted, so loudly that Sylver could only hope that no one was around to hear her.
“Sophia, calm down and take a deep breath. What are you talking about?” Sylver asked.
“The duke that visited me two days ago… Novva of Pere, he’s one of the ones who returned, I’m sure of it. Tell me right now that if I were to ask him, he’d be a good enough liar to fool my [Sense Lie]. Or any one of the adventurers you allegedly partied up with during the time you were gone, it would be dead simple to make one of them talk. Or if they’re with the Cord, Kitty would step in and stop me, which would confirm the fact that you’re Melo,” Sophia shouted again. As she continued to read through the papers in her hand and Sylver could only hope whatever was written on there was close enough to the official story that he wouldn’t trip up over the details.
“I don’t understand what you’re talking about. Why are you being like this? I’ve been nothing but helpful and supportive, why do you think I’m suddenly trying to go against you?” Sylver explained. He gently got up from his seat, but Sophia didn’t stop staring at him for even a moment.
“I’m going to have Novva come here, and I’m going to ask point-blank about the cave. And I might not be able to tell when you’re lying, but I’ll know the moment he so much as bends the truth. Let alone when I ask directly if you’re the one that got everyone out of there,” Sophia said. Sylver suppressed a reaction, but Sophia saw something despite his best efforts. She grinned with her pearl white teeth showing.
“I’m going to get him here even if I have to commit treason to do so, and you’re going to tell me everything. I don’t care what it costs me,” Sophia said, again with the kind of tone that Sylver understood meant she meant it.
It felt like a big overreaction to something she didn’t know about until a month ago. Or whenever Nautis made contact with them.
“Sophia, calm down and think it through. Even if you’re right, so what? What difference does it make? What are you going to do? Try to force me to do the impossible? Why would I purposely try to make him lose his perk? Just to fuck with you? What do I, or anyone, stand to gain from his losing something that’s apparently so valuable, that you’re willing to commit treason over it?” Sylver asked, keeping his voice relaxed and quieter than necessary.
Sophia took a very deep breath as if she was going to say something before she once again teleported away.
How rude it was aside, Sylver couldn’t help but envy how easy things would be if he could just disappear whenever he needed a moment to collect himself. A flowing cloud of smoke just didn’t have the same effect. Sophia returned before Sylver had had time to sit down, and calmly collected the pages scattered on the table into a neat stack.
“Does the name Sobek mean anything to you?” Sophia asked almost casually. Sylver very carefully considered the name before he shook his head no.
“Right… Please forget you ever heard that name… I apologize for the outburst. Is there any way you could hold off the ritual for at least 2 more days?” Sophia asked, with a slightly off-kilter tone that suggested the outburst wasn’t over and was simply on pause.
“Apology accepted. But why? What are you going to do?” Sylver said. Truth be told he had enough samples of Nautis’s flesh, blood, and bone that Nautis could run to the edge of the world and Sylver could easily track him down.
If Nautis decided something was wrong and ran away, Sylver would simply sell Novva and the other nobles the trackers, and then the best bounty hunters money could buy would all collectively start chasing a mage that can’t use magic.
“I need to… Consult some people over this, to say this is bad is a massive understatement. I’m sorry for shouting at you, but you can’t imagine how much is at stake here… Please see me before you start the whole thing, I’ll let you know if something changes before then,” Sophia said.
Sylver looked her right in her beautiful green eyes and tried to puzzle something out of them.
“Sure. But in two days, ready or not, I’m going to attempt the ritual,” Sylver said. The day the woman in white arrived last year wasn’t that far away, Sylver needed to wrap this up quickly and cleanly.
“I’ll look into it, but it’s going to take me a while. Have you checked the book of Ra?” Lola asked as she hid away the piece of paper Sylver had given her.
“Spent the whole night reading it, and nothing. Not even a mention of Sobek. But on the bright side, I understand her a bit better now. Most of the book is regarding what to do once you’re dead, the rest are tales of Ra and other various gods, and only a small portion has anything that could be interpreted as “laws” to follow while alive. As long as their bodies are burned and their ashes are spread somewhere with direct sunlight, there isn’t much else they have to do. There’s a thing here about their souls being weighed against a feather and that they should live guilt-free lives, so I understand why they’re so open about drinking, gambling, and whoring. They do enough ‘good’ that they don’t feel guilty for the other stuff,” Sylver explained. He put the recently printed book on Lola’s table.
“Sounds about right,” Lola said.
“Sophia never mentioned this?” Sylver asked.
“We have an unspoken rule not to get into the specifics. I keep the magic-related talk on the low and she doesn’t attempt to convert me into her religion. She also thinks I’m lying about being a high elf, but I can’t exactly explain to her that I am a high elf in body, but not in core. Because that would require explaining the fact that you’re able to resurrect people and then I would need to tell her about one of the high elves' best-kept secret, that you for some reason know far too much about,” Lola said. She snapped her fingers towards one of the chests, and it floated over onto her table.
“Everything is ready. I’ve checked, even if it’s just a vein touching the rune, it will work just fine. It might take a little getting used to, but you can summon the explosive anywhere you want, provided there’s enough space for it to get summoned. So if you want to insert it into the ground, you’ll need to make a hole first, it doesn’t displace anything when it’s summoned. You already know about the trigger mechanism, again just play around with it until you get used to it. But keep in mind it’s already primed and fully functional,” Lola said. She tapped the chest twice and it popped open.
Inside the velvet coated interior lay a black ribcage, polished to a shine and with the appearance of seamless onyx. A thin mesh lay around it, with small paper stickers indicating what went where, as well as the points of contact. The whole thing had a very delicate-looking appearance, some areas were full of holes and looked like they would snap under their weight if he lifted them up.
A piece of metal that was shaped like a conical seashell sat next to a similar-looking part, that had been twisted and turned until the opening was just barely visible. Sylver was almost afraid to touch it.
“I took a bit of a guess as to how you’re going to get these into yourself, but assuming the dimensions you wrote down are right, everything should be a perfect fit,” Lola explained. Sylver ran his finger along the piece that would be connected to his spine and gently closed the chest’s lid.
“This is all amazing, thank you. I don’t say this enough, but I’m really glad I have you here,” Sylver said. Lola had a blank look on her face for a moment before the tips of her ears turned a very pale shade of pink, as she looked towards another wall and made a thin and long box float towards her.
“Is this what I think this is?” Sylver asked, staring at the box as if it were alive.
“Your first instinct is going to be to laugh. But let me explain myself. It is covert and discrete, and while it’s inactive, even someone with Leke’s eyes wouldn’t be able to tell what it is,” Lola explained, as the twine that kept the box shut slowly began to unravel and untie.
“I like the sound of that,” Sylver said.
“And here’s more good news. Because of all the enchanting I’ve been doing, and supervising, my class changed. I am no longer a simple [Mythical Crafter]. I am now a [Restless Enchanter]. I’d say use [Identify] on me, but I don’t want to spoil everything by showing you the massive difference in mana between us,” Lola said, placing both hands on her hips and posing, for lack of a better word.
“I’m really glad to hear that. I’m proud of you Lola, and you should feel proud too. You were put into a very odd and difficult situation, and you not only survived but thrived. You’ve more than lived up to your name, and went above and beyond any expectations I had,” Sylver said.
Lola’s ear tips continued to change color into a brighter shade of red before she turned on her heel and used her sleeve to wipe away at her eyes. When she turned around again, Sylver was already holding the device in his hand.
The handle was made out of dull white metal, with faint black cracks that ran through it. The shaft was a perfect cylinder of polished wood, while the canopy was a very simple and stylish-looking black fabric. The end tip was the same as the handle, a white metal that had been sharpened like a pencil.
“You made an umbrella,” Sylver said, his voice completely devoid of any kind of emotion.
“When I finished it, it looked so similar to an umbrella I thought “why not make it look like an umbrella?” What do you think? And don’t ask me how much it cost, you don’t want to know. Salgok helped with the handle and tip, and the wood is imported and with a name so long and complicated, I didn’t even bother writing it down. The whole thing is as indestructible as something can be. But having said that, don’t try using it to block a sword, it will very likely break. There’s a ring on the handle, twist it to the left,” Lola said.
Sylver silently did as she asked, and the meter and a half umbrella folded in half, and then shimmered, as a sleeve of the same color as the canopy appeared over it. The previously curved handle turned into a small wooden stub.
“I have a perk that lets me… Long story short, don’t worry about lead or something touching it and making it explode while it’s hidden on your person. It has an internal battery that lasts for almost 250 charges. Instead of time, you can now block individual teleportation attempts. Amazing I know, but here’s the best part,” Lola said, as she gently took the folded-up umbrella from Sylver’s hand and turned the ring the other way, which caused it to change into its original form.
[Staff of Infernal Interference- ??? - Exotic Quality]
[Any creature inside the area of effect will be unable to teleport.]
[Charge Remaining: 249/249]
“Why can I only see one effect? Are there more?” Sylver asked, as Lola turned the ring again and the umbrella opened up. Except it kept opening and turned inside out. It flashed a deep red for a moment before Sylver felt the magic coming out of it surround him. He attempted to turn into smoke, but couldn’t. As Lola moved the point away from him, he felt it linger, before it disappeared.
“You can adjust how concave it is, if you make it as close to a cylinder as possible the range is about 300 meters. Opened up like this, anything within about 50 meters will be unable to teleport. It doesn’t require any magic to be used, you could have one of your shades hold it for you… The question marks are because there are a bunch of behind-the-scenes effects and enchantments that I’ve hidden away since they aren’t all that important. If you had some positive mana in you, you’d get a few small boosts, but I didn’t want you to think about that too much, so I hid everything irrelevant away,” Lola explained, as she closed the umbrella again, and twisted the tip.
It came off, with a very soft poof sound.
“Let me guess. Poison?” Sylver asked. Lola poked him in the hand with the tip, and Sylver felt something jolt through his body.
“Better. Stick that tip into something, and until they manage to get it out, no teleporting. I found a dagger that had this effect and transferred it into this. Pull the ring twice for the propellant to activate. It’s not powerful enough to stab through solid steel armor, but you could easily force it into someone’s arm, or leg, or back,” Lola explained, as she handed Sylver the umbrella and placed the tip back in place.
“It will recharge itself using ambient mana, but it will take up to a week if you use everything up. Again, if you had positive mana you could charge it yourself but…”
“Don’t even worry about it, it’s perfect. Thank you, seriously, thank you. It’s compact, unassuming, and doesn’t look out of place when I’m out in public. I’m just… I’m at a loss for words, I don’t even know what to say,” Sylver said. He continued to look down at the umbrella in his hands and shook slightly.
“Are you... Are you crying?” Lola asked. Whatever hesitation or nervousness she had at giving Sylver the umbrella was instead replaced by an uncomfortable shock.
“Yes,” Sylver said, as he wiped the forming tears out of his eyes with the back of his sleeve and let the umbrella get absorbed into his robe.
“So you like it? Really?” Lola asked.
“I don’t just like it, I love it. Do you know how much confusion I will cause when I pull an umbrella out in the middle of a fight? Mix that in with the confusion that comes from my opponent’s teleportation being blocked, and what you’ve given me is the equivalent of instant death magic, against teleporters. I’m almost giddy at the idea of fighting a teleporter now,” Sylver said, as he made the umbrella hidden up his sleeve jump into his hand and opened it with a single twist of the handle’s ring. Sylver dropped it as the handle changed shape and he lost his grip.
“I’m relieved to hear you like it. Also since you’re here, Tamay handled that thing you asked about. It’s rented in her name, but Novva already got in contact with the person they’re renting from, so everything is fine,” Lola said, as she walked over to her desk and placed a small sealed envelope on top of the chest that had Sylver’s ribcage and runes.
“Fantastic. I still haven’t heard anything from Sophia, so tomorrow morning I’m going to heal Nautis, and then I’ll become partially invincible, and then I’m going to confront the woman in white,” Sylver said, as Lola’s face changed. “What?” he asked.
“I’m just worried something will happen. I have a bad feeling about this whole thing. But I don’t see an alternative, so I don’t know what to do. You’re sending the guards and cats away so she doesn’t get scared away, but what if she kills you? What if she just runs away? What’s your backup plan?” Lola asked. She wrapped her arms around herself as she spoke and leaned back slightly.
“You are. If something happens to me, or if I have to chase after her, Ciege, Yeva, Benji, Faust, Bruno, Masha, Misha, will be under your care. You’re not just playing second fiddle here, I organized everything in Arda like this so if I’m for whatever reason gone, there’s someone I trust who will handle everything. We’re partners, just with different jobs,” Sylver said, as two shade swordsmen appeared and picked up the surprisingly heavy chest. Sylver hid the envelope with the address of the rented property in his robe.
“It’s bad luck to speak like this, but what about if you die?” Lola asked. Sylver considered her question for a moment and padded the chest as he spoke.
“How about this. After the surgery I’ll use the ribs and flesh I removed to make you a talisman. You’ll be able to track me down using it, and it will inform you when I’m gone. Not dead, I’m already dead, but gone. But I’m not going anywhere. I’m the greatest necromancer the world has ever seen, I’ve survived things far more deadly than some white wearing 9th tier psychomancer. You have a better chance of killing a true immortal than you do getting rid of me for good,” Sylver explained.
Lola’s fears seemed to be slightly alleviated by the overconfident answer, but she asked for the talisman regardless of the fact.
Not that there was much point to it, Sylver wasn’t going anywhere any time soon.