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Ch088-Staring Match With The Abyss

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“You know you’re going to lose points if it takes you too long to get to the quest, right? Doing things in a timely manner is part of being a high-ranking adventurer,” Lorn repeated, as Sylver continued to walk a few inches above the treetops using the [Bracelet Of The Aurai].

Lorn in turn just floated right next to Sylver, sitting with his legs crossed and reading a book without a cover. A gust of wind sent leaves flying through the air, that stopped just short of touching Sylver and flew down and passed right through Lorn.

“My wyvern needs room to take off, I can’t just sprout wings and fly whenever I want to,” Sylver explained.

They continued to walk/float through the air for a while.

“So how does a young man like you end up becoming a necromancer?” Lorn asked.

Sylver walked up an invisible set of stairs to get over a particularly tall patch of branches.

“It’s a long story,” Sylver said.

“I’m sure it is. But while I’m like this I’ve got nothing but time,” Lorn said.

Sylver tried to look at him but went back to looking where he was going a moment after.

Lorn was a short, red-haired man, with a matching bright red beard, who carried a mace on the left side of his belt, and a lute on his back. His skin had a strange dark tone to it, too even, almost as if it had been painted on.

Right now, however, he didn’t look like anything. His face was see-through, to the point it looked like camouflage whenever Sylver tried to look at him. The same was true for the rest of his oddly motionless and floating body. Even trying to look directly at him was akin to trying to spot something at the very edge of your peripheral vision.

“My first guess would have been astral projection if I hadn’t seen your body change into this with my own eyes. Then there’s the question of how exactly you’re able to follow me like this,” Sylver wondered out loud, as another gust of wind caused Lorn to disappear for a moment as leaves passed through his body.

“It’s a long story,” Lorn said, with a slight smile on his face.

The corners of Sylver’s mouth twitched but he kept walking in silence. The forest stopped dead where there was a tall cliff, but Sylver just kept walking on thin air and got further and further away from the forest and cliff’s edge.

“I was born in a brothel to a lady of the night. For one reason or another, the woman who had given birth to me abandoned me when I was 2 years old. I was raised while working for the Madame of the house and found out I inherited some of my father’s skills and perks when I gained access to the system at the tender age of 7,” Lorn said, as Sylver looked around and decided Will had enough room.

“Inherited?” Sylver asked.

“It’s rare, but not unheard of. Several noble families go out of their way to introduce inheritable skills and perks into their bloodline. Especially ones as useful as mine, I don’t mean to pat myself too hard on the back, but in terms of information gathering, I have no equal. Even you mage types with your clairvoyance can’t hold a candle to someone who can waltz into an impenetrable fortress and take his time writing down the class and level of every single soldier and dog hiding inside, while they can’t do a single thing about it,” Lorn explained.

A long-jawed head came out from beneath Sylver’s robe and exploded downwards as if it were a falling boulder. The shadowy creature uncurled two massive wings that appeared to be a chasm from Sylver’s perspective before they began to rhythmically move. Its scaled back curled as it twisted in on itself, and began to glide downward.

A moment before crashing into the trees below, the creature flapped its wings so hard that it sent a wave through the bright green treetops. It quickly gained height as it gained speed.

Sylver stopped using the [Bracelet Of The Aurai] and began to fall. Gravity had a hold on him for a mere 3 seconds, before Will flew under him and Sylver’s robe grabbed onto the wyvern’s spinal spikes and attached his feet to Will’s back.

“I actually ended up becoming part-owner of the brothel I was born in. It’s called the Dungeon of Delights; you’ll get a discount if you mention my name. So that’s me, now tell me about yourself. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you were born into it?” Lorn asked, as Will gained altitude and adjusted his course.

“Not exactly. My father was a butcher, and my mother was a goat herder. I had 2 brothers and a sister, and I was either the oldest or second oldest. My-”

“You had a twin?” Lorn interrupted.

“No, I just don’t remember them all that well. I lived with them at our farm for a while until one day something that I don’t talk about happened, and then my master took me in and started teaching me magic. I wasn’t particularly talented, but I was smart and driven enough to make up for that,” Sylver said, as his robe fluffed up to insulate him from the cold wind.

“Why become an adventurer though? And one focused on combat of all things? Mages tend to go into either support or some sort of specialization, less than a quarter are actually capable enough to hold their own in a fight,” Lorn asked. Sylver thought about it for a few seconds while Will passed through the layer of wispy clouds and began to glide above them.

“The concept of might makes right was introduced to me very early on in my life. And my master not only agreed but demonstrated the truth of that ad nauseam. She also always liked the idea that it’s better to be a warrior tending a garden than it is to be a gardener in a war. In my case, the two weren’t mutually exclusive,” Sylver said.

“How so?”

“To use magic with any degree of competency requires a great deal of research, effort, and understanding. And it’s a lot easier to put down a sword and pick up a pen than it is to pick up a sword after only using a pen all your life,” Sylver explained, as he walked towards Will’s head and made himself comfortable in the crook of the wyvern’s shoulder blade.

“You’re too negative. The world isn’t such a dangerous place that everyone needs to be a warrior to stand a chance. Warrior’s need to eat and drink too, and when you have enough gardeners in a big group, the warriors start to be willing to put their lives on the line to defend them. Being a gardener is better, it’s safe. And it’s not like it matters which you are if there’s someone stronger than you,” Lorn argued, closing his book and moving it behind himself.

“That aside, there’s the simple matter that I’m not going to get what I want by being a gardener. I have someone doing all my gardening for me while I go out and handle the warrior stuff my gardeners aren’t capable of. We specialize. I’m not incapable of gardening, but I have to be the warrior because I’m a better warrior than my gardener would be. Do you get what I’m trying to say?” Sylver asked as Lorn cocked his head to the side, or at least that’s the way Sylver felt, considering he couldn’t properly see Lorn.

“Not really. Gardeners get to stay home and fuck the warrior’s wife while the warrior goes off to die in a ditch somewhere. The thing you don’t talk about aside, was your master a traveling hermit, or is there some underground cult? Where did you get the corpses to practice on?” Lorn asked, with a hand behind him appearing to be rummaging through something.

“Bandits for starters. A renewable resource considering how many people think stealing the labors of others is easier than actually making something themselves. In my master’s case though, she had a deal with several towns and cities that would send her their dead in exchange for protection or favors,” Sylver said.

“I would have heard about something like that… How not from around here are you?” Lorn asked.

“So far away that you likely wouldn’t believe me,” Sylver answered.

“That certainly explains the odd mishmash of an accent. I tried learning magic when I was young, but the mage that maintained all the spells to prevent pregnancy and diseases tested me and told me my class compatibility is just short of zero. It’s part of the reason I’m almost untouchable while I’m like this, there’s not enough mana in my body for any magic to get its hooks on me,” Lorn said with unmistakable pride in his voice.

Sylver was tempted to send a shockwave through Lorn’s soul just to fuck with him, but the idea itself amused him enough that he didn’t act on it. Sylver smiled to himself as his robe made him a pillow to rest the back of his head on.

“Speaking of which. I’ve heard from other adventurer’s that I’m supposed to feed and defend you and the like and that you would help me out and-”

“Good on you for reminding me. I’d like it if you pretended I wasn’t even here. I can maintain this for a little over a month without any breaks, so until then I need neither food nor water nor sleep. And given that the extent of my combat prowess is shouting “look out!” I believe it’s for the best that you just do what you would normally do and pretend you’re alone. I can make myself visible and heard to others, but considering you’ve got some sort of stealthy assassin thing going on, I’m just going to observe,” Lorn explained.

He pulled out a lute from behind the space behind him and started to work on tuning it.

“What makes you think I’m an assassin?” Sylver asked.

“The daggers? The garrote? The fact that you’re dressed all in black, and that I can’t imagine you used anything other than stealth when you defeated a group of giants when you were only level 4,” Lorn explained, humming a note as he played with his lute to match it.

“I’m a mage. But more honestly I’m whatever I need to be. I’d love to say I’m a necromancer before anything else, but if I feel like a fistfight will give me better odds of winning, I’m not above that. As for the daggers, it’s because if I have to fight against someone in close combat, I’m a firm believer that speed trumps strength. The best kind of fight is the kind you can watch while drinking tea, but things very rarely work out so well for me,” Sylver said, as Spring spotted a landmark and made Will adjust his course.

“Truth be told, my mace is mostly decorative. A sword is too common, people will see it and think I have one or two sword skills at best. A mace on the other hand is the kind of thing you use when you have five skills or more related to it. Not to mention, who would carry around something as heavy and uncomfortable as a mace if they could have a light sword or a dagger?” Lorn said, gesturing at his side that Sylver couldn’t properly see.

“As far as deterrents go, it’s a pretty good-”

[??? (???) Defeated!]
[Due to defeating an enemy 40 levels above you, additional experience will be awarded!]

[??? (???) Defeated!]
[Due to defeating an enemy 10 levels above you, additional experience will be awarded!]

[??? (???) Defeated!]
[Due to defeating an enemy 10 levels above you, additional experience will be awarded!]

[Necromancer] has reached level 71!
+5AP

[1 perk available for [Necromancer]]

[??? (???) Defeated!]
[Due to defeating an enemy 30 levels above you, additional experience will be awarded!]

[??? (???) Defeated!]
[Due to defeating an enemy 30 levels above you, additional experience will be awarded!]

“-idea. Have you ever had to use it?” Sylver asked with a huge grin on his face, and a faint chuckle emanating from his shadow.

“I’ve used it three times actually. Once to break a pot of jam I couldn’t get open. I used it to crack a giant ostrich egg I bought on a whim. And I stalled a drunk man that could have made me a smear on the wall if he put his mind to it, while I waited for the guards to show up. Why are you smiling like that? Don’t tell me all your weapons are just there to throw your opponents off,” Lorn said, momentarily muting his lute to raise an eyebrow at Sylver.

“Everything I do is to throw my opponents off. I’ve also got darts and caltrops. And as you may have seen I’m not as alone as I appear,” Sylver said, gesturing at Will with his shoulder. He looked at his choice of perks and was surprised to count only 7 this time around. Sylver guessed that the two perks his [Koschei] class gave him had something to do with it.

He immediately spotted the perk he was absolutely certain was directly linked to [Iron Chest].

[Perk: Bound Bones]
-Bind an item/items to a bone.
-Amount of MP required for binding an item/items to a bone will depend on the volume and mass of the item/items.
-Unbinding an item/items will cost twice as much MP as was required to originally bind them.
-Breaking the bound bone will cause all the bound items to become unbound.
*No living creatures can be bound to a bone.
*No undead creatures can be bound to a bone.

It doesn’t mention if it has to be my bones or not, doesn’t mention a limit, doesn't mention what kind of item can be bound to a bone… Theoretically, I could carry around someone’s finger bone in my pocket and have everything I could ever need inside it… Or better yet, use the metallic bone in my chest, as an untouchable storage device. The [Rune Of Indestructibility] said it would remove all effects from whatever was tagged, but I’m getting a good feeling about this perk.

“I think I’ve heard that before, all war is deception,” Lorn said in a sing-song voice, slightly derailing Sylver’s train of thought. Sylver continued to look at his status while Lorn shrugged and went back to tuning his lute.

If I can use the bones of others, I could hypothetically get a corpse, load it up with explosives, have Will drop it right on top of my enemy, and then have an accompanying shade break the bone... I might be able to carry proper food around, and not just the dried-up stuff the shades can assimilate… Sylver thought as he read through the other available perks.

One was an upgrade to [Tools Of The Shade] called [Ether’s Equipment] that would let them create weapons made out of darkness, swords, axes, shields, all the stuff they already have that was specially made by Salgok or was looted from their own corpses. The perk mentioned giving them armor too, but what they had now was already overkill considering how Sylver used them.

It would have been nice to make all the zombies he raised become instantly armored and armed, but it paled in comparison to the possibility of stuffing a corpse’s skull with 50 explosives and then feeding it to a giant monster.

Two other perks either increased Sylver’s MP capacity or MP regeneration, but crippled his dexterity and strength by 50%. It would have been worth it with Sylver’s strength being only 1 right now, but he had a feeling the system wouldn’t let him get away with that. He had also planned to eventually get it to 100, but a 50% decrease hanging over his head would be more trouble than it was worth in the long run.

Even now, Sylver felt the extra weight his rib cage added, it was only a matter of time before he tried to jump and tore his achilles tendon into shreds.

The remaining perks offered a 20% resistance to positive energy, a 5% resistance to all types of energy, and a 100% resistance to frost magic, in exchange for a 150% weakness to fire magic. Which when added to the weaknesses due to [Unholy Blessing], would make one of the most common types of magic a death sentence.

Sylver gave himself an extra minute to think everything over one more time, as Lorn began to strum his lute and mouthed a song without actually saying anything.

In the end, [Bound Bones] was worth it for the sheer potential it had.

[Perk: Bound Bones]
-Bind an item/items to a bone.
-Amount of MP required for binding an item/items to a bone will depend on the volume and mass of the item/items.
-Unbinding an item/items will cost twice as much as the MP cost as was required to originally bind them.
-Breaking the bound bone will cause all the bound items to become unbound.
*No living creatures can be bound to a bone.
*No undead creatures can be bound to a bone.

Sylver continued to smile to himself as he moved the notification out of the way and focused on his status.

Total Level: 76
[Koschei-5]
[Necromancer-71]

CON: 60
DEX: 90
STR: 1
INT: 150
WIS: 100
AP: 15

Health: 600/600
Stamina: 300/300
MP: 1984/2250

Health Regen: 8.50/M
Stamina Regen: 4.5/M
MP Regen: 281.25/M

I have 15 points… 10 into dexterity so it gets to 100 and stops bugging me… And 5 into constitution to keep things simple.

As Sylver finished mentally moving his 5 remaining points into constitution, he saw erratic motion at the edge of his vision and heard Lorn start to shout “LOOK-”

Sylver’s robe burned away like tissue paper as the silver sword tore through its attempts to defend him, and for a moment Sylver was unable to move due to an uncontrollable animal-like panic. He felt Will’s form liquefy beneath his feet and bit a small piece of his tongue off as his body just barely held together as his rib cage was sent flying downward.

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KingKennit

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