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Ch086-Bone Voyage!

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The woman was small.

If not for the correct human proportions, Sylver would have guessed she was a tall dwarf.

But despite being small, and speaking so softly that she was almost whispering, Sylver was on full alert. Similar to Wolf, this woman’s presence caused the hairs on the back of his neck to stand up straight. Despite Novva towering over her in strength, status, and height, Novva never once turned his body away from her as he spoke.

“It’s not so much as being unwilling to speak, he’s willing, very willing, but he plain and simple doesn’t know. Faun found him and gave him a guard to help him. From there the guard organized meetings with various temples until the temple of Ra found someone to heal him, and now he’s here. The guard was the one who suggested he offer the cave in exchange for healing,” the woman interrogator explained.

She wore a bright green suit, with shiny black boots that looked slightly out of place.

“So he lied about being alone? When did he meet Faun?” Sylver asked.

He felt stupid that he had missed that when he had been touching Nautis, but Sylver was caught off guard by the god brand at the time.

“Right after the witch called their contract off in Torg. Less than a day after. He was staying in an inn near her and simply cried and went to sleep after she left. He woke up from Faun knocking on his door. You said not to ask about what he did while working for the witch, so I haven’t, but he’s told me some things I think you would be interested in,” the woman interrogator said, this time looking at Sylver.

Predatory, is the way he would describe the way she was eating him with his eyes. There was something terrifying and oddly exciting about the thin smile on her face.

“I’m not. And I would prefer it if you forgot about everything he says regarding that. Especially names, I don’t want to know a single thing when it comes to the witch and what she has been doing, only the things right after she left him” Sylver said, leaning backward the slightest amount as the woman seemed to stare at him harder with every syllable.

She nodded and left.

“Are you scared of the witch?” Novva asked after the interrogator had closed the door behind herself and went back to “interrogating” Nautis.

“We have a deal not to meddle with one another, and if she kidnapped one of my old associates and tortured them for information about what they did while working for me, I would consider that meddling. I would advise you against finding anything out about her as well, she’s nothing but trouble,” Sylver said, as he and Novva walked towards the stairs and started walking up them.

“I’ll keep that in mind… She’s staying at Holton’s by the way,” Novva said.

“Who is?” Sylver asked.

“Miranda. Or Mira. The interrogator, she’s your type, right?” Novva offered, with a toothy grin.

“What makes you think she’s my type?” Sylver asked.

“The fact that you had the same look Melo gets on his face when Sherry’s around. And that-”

“I appreciate the concern, but my personal life is complicated enough as it is. I don’t need to add a woman who tortures people for a living to it… As fun as it sounds,” Sylver explained, as he waved away the question with his hand.

“I knew it. Oh, right. Leke was it? You still haven’t talked to her? I thought you would have sorted everything out by now?” Novva asked. He teleported into his room, while Sylver entered as smoke through a hole in the wall.

“She’s busy with tournament stuff. And other excuses aside, I’m not looking forward to talking to her about it,” Sylver offered, as Novva sat down into an armchair and poured himself some tea from an enchanted pot. His hotel room was quite small; given that he was still staying here largely incognito. Sylver sat down on the bed opposite him.

“I do understand that on a personal level. But you’re leaving for a quest, you never know what can happen. What if she spends the next 10 years waiting for you to return? I’m overjoyed that my wife waited for me, but on the other hand, it wasn’t a good time for her while she waited. It’s only good that she waited because I eventually returned. If I was dead, like you might be, no offense, she would have wasted her life waiting for me, with nothing to show for it,” Novva said, as Sylver couldn’t help but smile at the odd comparison in his head between Novva and Ciege.

Both of them did things other people wouldn’t even consider for the ones they loved. In Ciege’s case he gave up his life, and Novva did what he had to to survive and go home.

“One could argue that she will be happier if she’s uncertain, than if she knows for sure,” Sylver said.

“One could argue that, but you know better… I don’t think you’re doing this because you’re afraid of confronting her… But have you considered writing a letter? Have it delivered after you leave?” Novva suggested while Sylver’s eyes widened as he stared at him.

“I’m insulted you think so little of me. I’ll talk to her tomorrow morning. I need to stock up on some components anyway, I’ll find out from Tera where she’ll be,” Sylver said, as Novva shrugged semi uncertainly and semi apologetically.

“Good. I mean, it’s bad that you have to do this, considering she’s the one that approached you first.”

“Right? Why do I have to be the one that breaks things off?”

“Because, as you’ve said before, you know how this will end, and you know this is the right thing to do,” Novva said.

“It doesn’t make it any easier.”

“No, it doesn’t. But you’ll get over it. And I want to say you’re overreacting, considering most of the time you two spent together was in bed, but I do understand that when you don’t have a whole lot, even the small things feel like they’re giant,” Novva said.

Sylver nodded.

*

*

*

The shades finished setting up the small tent and Sylver finished burning the grey hair off his chest and wiped away the soot. He was wearing only a towel to cover his lower half and had set the operating table in the middle of the now oddly empty workshop that was hidden beneath Ron’s rest. Lola sat in the corner with a wooden staff in one hand, and some sort of silver ball in the other.

“I’m going to avoid looking at your level and MP from now on because I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to look you in the eyes if I do,” Sylver said.

Lola grinned at him.

“Good idea, I would also avoid looking at my rings or my staff. I met a lot of interesting and highly specialized people while I was crafting your anti-teleportation umbrella. Everything else aside, the craftsmen here really know how to specialize,” Lola said, as her eyes wandered over towards her admittedly powerful-looking staff.

“Good to hear. Bit of a shame I can’t use anything they create, but that’s life. It wouldn’t be interesting if everything was easy and just handed to me. No offense,” Sylver said, as the shades moved the four barrels that held the four Krists closer to the operating table.

The lights that normally made the room bright enough to make every single speck of dust stand out like a giant eyesore, had all been removed, with only a very large lamp hanging off the ceiling and pointing straight down onto a polished metal table. The curtains hung off the lamp and diffused the reflected light, providing the otherwise dark room with a very soft light.

“Some taken. Other than sitting here, is there anything at all I could do to help?” Lola asked.

Sylver thought it over as he walked over to the large table and swirled a conical flask around, before drinking the sludge-like liquid inside of it.

“If I tell you to leave and tell Ron to lock me in, don’t argue with me, just do it,” Sylver said, after he drank from a different flask, this time with a green and slimy liquid.

“Why?”

“When I die, or when my body dies to be more accurate, I have trouble maintaining my long-term reasoning. I’m fine if it’s a couple of minutes, maybe an hour, once I’m strong enough I’ll be able to stay dead as long as I want without any problems, but right now I’ve got maybe 50 seconds.”

“50 seconds before what?”

“Before I forget why I shouldn’t kill you, and anyone I can get my hands on. I won’t do it immediately, but it will be purely because I told myself not to do it, I won’t be able to understand why I shouldn’t kill everyone, and even that will wear off after a certain point. I’ll become a feral zombie if that makes any sense. But a feral zombie with all of my knowledge, experience, and abilities. It happened once when Poppy killed me, but it wasn’t a problem because there were a bunch of zombies nearby for me to drain. In a city though?”

“I can see why that would be an issue... So what do we do? Just leave you down here to rot? Wait for you to tire yourself out?” Lola asked.

“Ideally you would leave a bunch of unconscious bandits in another room and have Ron open a door to let me get to them. But that’s assuming I’m unable to break my way out of here. Which I hope I won’t be, hence why I’m doing the surgery here and not in my home. Which reminds me, did you have any luck getting into contact with someone from Urth?” Sylver asked.

“I’ve had my people speak to some of the undead staying upstairs, and some of the ones that came for the tournament, but they’re… not very friendly…” Lola said, almost embarrassed by her words.

“Right… Alright, never mind, I’ll go there myself at some point. At the very least I’ll learn how exactly they’re able to make a healing potion that undead can use,” Sylver said, as he finished the last bottle and had to grab Spring to steady himself.

“Has it started?” Lola asked, as Sylver fell over and was caught by Spring and Fen and was lifted onto the table.

With how pale Sylver’s skin was, the dark patch that appeared near his stomach area looked like the world’s deepest bruise. Lola watched while the curtain was still out of the way as the black splotch moved around and started to travel up to his throat and mouth.

Pitch black smoke pooled in Sylver’s open mouth and began to slowly seep down onto the floor. It spiraled around the operating table and kept moving in a slow swirling circle around him.

Spring mumbled to himself as he picked up a small pouch made out of linen and swallowed it whole.

His whole body became see-through as it lost shape and nearly disintegrated, before the lazily moving smoke on the ground climbed up his legs and up to his head, and covered him completely in mere seconds. The smoke made a rustling sound as it fell off Spring’s body, and revealed a different person’s body.

The man had short combed hair that glowed with a bright yellow light, and there wasn’t a single yellow crack anywhere on his body. The way his muscles pressed against his skin made Lola think for a moment that the man didn’t have any skin. The man’s shoulder’s somehow looked relaxed and under great strain all at the same time.

Finally, the man moved his head to the side and cracked his neck.

“Haven’t done this in a while, forgot how odd it felt,” the man said.

“Syl?” Lola asked, standing up from where she had been sitting.

“Who else? But look at that, even after a year of using Ciege’s body I still see myself as my old body. Although this doesn’t feel quite right either,” Sylver said, as he flexed his fingers and the muscles on his forearms seemed to flow with the movement. He adjusted Ciege’s body on the operating table and turned Ciege’s to either side.

“I’ve really done a number on this thing. I don’t even remember getting hit that often, and yet it looks like someone ran his arms through a meat grinder,” Sylver said, as he lifted Ciege’s arm and turned it around before he let it flop back onto the table.

“It doesn’t look that bad,” Lola offered. Sylver turned to look at her for a moment and returned his attention to Ciege’s body. He made his hand flat and reached through Ciege’s chest, and pulled out a small grey piece of metal.

Sylver held it up to the light and looked at it. With his eyes no longer being bound by physical limitation he got a really good look at it.

“Originally liches used a small wooden box to store their souls. You would then need to feed other people’s souls into it to sustain yourself. Very similar to vampires, but with souls as opposed to blood. Then for some reason, most would be liches figured out how to make the process slightly more streamlined. Elves, if you would believe it. It makes sense, immortal souls are an excellent fuel source, one elf is the equivalent of around 800 humans. If you mix high elves into that, the numbers start to become astronomical,” Sylver said, as he slowly turned the needle over in his hand.

“Are you trying to tell me you sacrificed high elves when you became a lich?” Lola asked. There wasn’t any anger in her question, at best she sounded tired.

“Not high elves. Worse. Much worse… I sacrificed 7 demigods.” Sylver said. The needle glinted under the bright light, as he slowly lowered it down onto a nearby table.

“That’s impossible.”

“In my defense, I was already immortal by that point in time. I just… it wasn’t enough. I was always up against people who were born powerful and great, and then put as much effort as I did into getting even more powerful, I didn’t have a chance. There wasn't anything special about me, my claim to fame is that one of my ancestors was a witch that was burned at the stake next to Lost Gytha, White Jane, and Old Agnes,” Sylver explained.

“Who?”

“They were local fortune-tellers, of a sort. In the sense they tended to force the events they foresaw to happen. One of them would have a dream that a village would burn to the ground while everyone was mysteriously locked inside their homes, and wouldn’t you know it, that’s exactly what ended up happening. Or a noble family would find all of their servants missing, only to later return with their eyes, tongues, hands, and feet cut off. The short version is, they all went insane from overusing dark magic. When exactly my ancestor found the time to give birth and somehow not eat the infant, is a mystery to everyone,” Sylver said. Lola walked back to her spot and sat down.

“Where did you even find 7 demigods?” Lola asked, clutching her staff so hard that Sylver heard a faint crackle from the wooden thing.

“It took a while, but as I said, I was already immortal. Or unkillable, if we’re being accurate. Stealing immortality from 7 separate demi gods wasn’t easy. But it isn’t as amazing as you think, all the demigods I caught didn’t have a god backing them anymore,” Sylver explained, as he picked up a scalpel and looked down at Ciege’s shaved chest.

“Why though? I’m not even going to try to understand how you did it, but why?” Lola asked.

“Because I’m not the smartest, not the strongest, not the toughest, not the fastest, and not even the most magically capable mage. There are plenty of people that could have beat me in a fight. Maybe even twice. Maybe even three times. For one woman it took me nine attempts before I finally won. But half the fun of being a manifestation of an unstoppable force is having something immovable to bash yourself against,” Sylver said, as he made a perfectly straight incision along Ciege’s chest and down his abdomen.

“You’re talking about your fight with the Grey Witch… I didn’t think she was real,” Lola said, almost whispering the words.

“She was very real. A natural-born genius. She overpowered Edmund and even nearly broke the barrier around the Ibis. It was unreal how strong she was. My god she was amazing, I’m fairly certain even Aether wouldn't be able to beat her one on one…” Sylver said, putting the scalpel away with a giant smile on his barely visible face.

“So how did you beat her?” Lola asked after nearly two-minute disbelief filled silence passed during which Sylver had opened up Ciege’s chest cavity and was slowly closing off one blood vessel after the other.

“Oh… I used an artifact that created a dead zone around us, and just punched her to death with my fists. She was smarter than me, a better mage than me, but I was bigger and I hit harder than she did. Although to be completely honest, it was a damn close fight. It turned out she was a very competent martial artist on top of everything else. But her downfall was that she wasn’t used to fighting dirty. With all things being equal, the man that is willing to spit his blood into his opponent’s face to blind them is the one that will win,” Sylver said, with a look of confusion on his face as he ever so gently started to sever the blood vessels that connected to Ciege’s still beating heart.

“Every time I let you speak; you ruin yet another fairy tale I loved,” Lola said.

“I also threatened her daughter’s family and ended up killing them too when they decided to seek revenge,” Sylver added, as he carefully lifted Ciege’s weakly beating heart out of his chest and placed it in a carved and enchanted jar filled with a warm murky liquid. He waited for a moment and carried on once he saw that the heart continued to beat without any issue.

“Fuck’s sake… Should I even ask about when you rescued the Prince of Hearts?” Lola said after softly groaning to herself.

“Not unless you want to hear the story of me tearing someone’s face off with my teeth, and then using my own shattered rib as a dagger to kill a vampire lord. Things became a lot cleaner once I became a lich, I had shades to do my work for me, and I could use ranged magic, but before that the amount of fights that devolved into close quarter combat is ridiculous. It took me far too long to learn how to effectively use my limited mana. My path to lichdom was filled with blood, guts, gore, blood, and more blood!” Sylver said, as he removed his deflated lungs and placed them on a nearby tray.

“You said blood three times.”

“Because that’s how much blood there was! Everything bleeds! You make the wrong cut on someone’s neck and you’re suddenly absolutely soaked in steaming hot blood! It’s ridiculous! And it’s always the insane and reckless that try to attack the Ibis to become immortal when there are so many better alternatives! Even fucking [Hero]s came after us! Do you know how difficult it is to kill a [Hero]? Even now I shiver at the memory, I don’t believe in immovable objects, but fuck me that guy wouldn’t go down. Oh dear,” Sylver said, as his shadowy form backed up from his body.

“What?”

“Nothing… It’s fine, it’ll heal,” Sylver said, as he went back to cutting Ciege’s body apart, and started the process of removing his ribs to replace them.

“The Blue Demon?” Lola asked, as she sat back down and remembered all the stories she had heard about the Silver Lich.

“Oh, that was a really bad one. Creatures with a powerful regeneration are annoying to deal with, and nearly impossible when you can’t cast fire-related spells. I would cut him into two, and each half would grow a new body. But, funny story, the Blue Demon, wasn’t actually a demon. I ended up feeding him to an actual demon that I summoned. After that, I had to…”

Sylver continued to empty out his torso as he, one by one, ruined Lola’s perception of him, fairy tales, the Ibis, every [Hero] that Lola knew about, and then he finished it off by telling her about one of her ancestors, and what she had done to conquer the forest that would one day become Lola’s and her family’s home.

“The history people write down tends to leave out the part where all the corpses shat themselves, and then spent several days rotting in the open sun” Sylver said after finishing his retelling of the battle of Greenwater.

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