Sylver had to respect it.
It was creative, simple, and effective.
Even if it did fuck him over, and ruined his plan, he couldn’t help but respect something so brilliant.
They figured out that the shades couldn’t handle pure positive energy, and in mere seconds figured out a way to alter one of their healing spells to fill the area up with ambient positive energy. One mage was healing a dead body, while the other somehow tore open the healing spell’s framework and caused it to leak pure positive energy.
There were only 2 mages left inside the cave. There were more initially, but in the 2 minutes, Sylver’s shades had free rein about 30 people were killed. With the torches being snuffed out, the band of rebels were left in complete and total darkness, with creatures that spent their entire lives in darkness attacking them and biting at their ankles.
It would have been wrong to call what happened during those two minutes a fight, even a massacre felt too soft of a word for it. Sylver gained 3 whole levels from it and was currently sitting at a very concerning total level of 99.
Total Level: 99
Health Regen: 11.67/M
Stamina Regen: 7.5/M
MP Regen: 281.25/M
Concerning because Sylver didn’t like that Bruno couldn’t tell him what would happen once he hit level 100. It was the same thing with Lion, a soft as a feather sound would appear out of nowhere and make whatever Bruno or Faust was trying to say sound like gibberish. Bruno even got a nosebleed and a migraine trying to write it down.
The system seemed to be determined to make sure someone below level 100 never learned what would happen once they reached a total level of 100. Which worried Sylver, because he felt like it was a big deal, and he was right on the verge of crossing it. What if it made him stop what he was doing in the middle of the fight to make a decision?
What if it knocked him out?
The amount of what if’s surrounding it were mind-boggling and extremely worrisome. Down to the point, Sylver genuinely considered sending the shades out to kill monsters until he reached level 100 while in a safe hiding spot.
But on the other hand, the rebels were making headway. Lorn had a hard time judging how thick the ice was but doubted it would take them more than a couple of hours to break their way through it.
Their weapons would be blunted and they would be exhausted, but they would get out eventually. Sylver guessed that there were people in there that couldn’t teleport out, so the ones that could were staying inside and waiting for them.
Or maybe the rebels just didn’t want to leave anyone behind. Or maybe they knew they couldn’t handle Sylver if they fought alone, so they wanted to get everyone out to outnumber and overpower him.
The reason didn’t particularly matter, it all boiled down to the fact that Sylver had an unknown amount of time to handle them. The secret exit had collapsed in on itself and no one seemed to be interested in trying to dig their way out.
Which left only the gigantic wall of hard as treated steel ice.
Or the third option that Sylver was currently in the process of exploring.
One unbelievably useful part of [Dead Dominion] was that there wasn’t any pushback whenever Sylver moved dead matter around. Or at the very least Sylver could pick and choose when there was. And while it looked incredibly stupid, it meant that Sylver could ride on Will and could have a giant sphere of corpses floating all around the wyvern, without adding any extra weight onto him.
Hypothetically speaking he could get a bunch of small boats, cover them in liquid gore, and then carry as much weight as his soul could handle in the boats. Dexterity wasn’t an issue, Sylver might not have used this ability a whole lot back when he was a lich, but the training he undertook to cast magic with his soul provided him with everything he could need to utilize this ability to its maximum potential.
The only limiting factor was range and strength.
The range would be solved as Sylver increased his wisdom, while the strength was a problem for the future. There were ways to force a soul to grow, but it wasn’t worth the risk at the moment. Sylver needed someone significantly more powerful than himself to perform the ritual, but the people that he trusted with his life were relatively weak.
Lola might have been capable of doing it.
If not for her abilities not being up to par, and her distaste for all kinds of dark magic. Save of course for the dark magic that Sylver used to bring her back into the world, but that was something they never talked about. Not that she ever said anything outright, but Sylver had been around her long enough to tell when she was suppressing a grimace of disapproval.
Sylver walked up to the edge of the hole and looked down into it. The rushing water below should have filled the area with a deafening roar, but some odd quirk of the shape or the material had muted it to just barely louder than a trickle.
“I’m ready if you are. I’m not a geology expert, so it’s an educated guess that this will work. Although, absolute worst case scenario we just use twice as many bombs as initially planned. It’s not solid rock on the left side, so if you’re stuck you can just dig your way out and then dig upwards,” Spring said, as Sylver walked into the hole and stood on an invisible platform directly above it.
“Did I ever tell you that I’m claustrophobic?” Sylver asked in a mumble as his night vision kicked in and he saw the sharp rocks covered in foam down below.
“Is it really an irrational fear when being buried alive is one of the few things you genuinely need to be wary of? Or buried undead in your case,” Spring asked, as Sylver just stood above the giant gaping hole and didn’t take his eyes off it.
“There’s also [Xander’s Waystone] for precisely situations such as this. Although I really should have tested it out first. Will it still work if my body is in pieces and being crushed by the sheer weight and force of the water pressing me down against a rock?” Sylver asked with a faint chuckle that even Spring barely noticed.
“We could go back to the wall of ice. Wait them out, even with the difference in levels, it shouldn’t be that hard to take them all on,” Spring offered. Sylver shook his head as he walked back onto solid ground and rubbed his hands together.
“You’re seriously underestimating how big of a role the element of surprise played in our fights. This isn’t a well-organized militia like Bonny’s was, but they’re not stupid. I’m a long-range fighter, I send my summons to fight for me, the best way to deal with me is to occupy the summons and get in close enough to kill me in one hit. The umbrella has a limited range, so if they just attack me with a pincer, I’m more or less fucked. Sure I could fight off a warrior, maybe two, but even with all the floating daggers I have blind spots you’ll be too busy to cover. This doesn’t work if they’re prepared and have a plan,” Sylver explained.
Bright yellow sparks sprinkled down onto the rocky ground as Sylver continued to rub his hands together, and slowly allowed pitch-black darkness to escape from the sleeves of his robe. The darkness was just about to start spreading out on the armored-up corpses when Spring coughed into his fist and interrupted.
“You sure you don’t want to assign your attribute points and choose a perk first?” Spring said. Sylver closed his hands and the yellow-edged darkness dissolved into thin air.
“I got sidetracked, thanks…” Sylver said as he looked at his status.
[Skill: Optical Illusion (III)]
Skill level can be increased by creating optical illusions.
I - Create a false image using your mana.
II - Create translucent illusions.
III - Illusions cost 10% less mana.
*Quality of image depends on the caster’s skill and understanding.
Well that’s one thing out of the way. Kind of disappointing, didn’t even give me anything to choose from. Still useful though.
If I put all 35 points into intelligence, I’ll get about 500 more MP from it…If I follow the plan and put it into strength, I’ll be able to wear a few extra pieces of [Coat Of Carrion] and my body will be able to handle more speed and strength enhancements.
But on the other hand, this close to getting to level 100, having intelligence be an outlier could be a good thing. From the way Bruno talked about it, the system liked it when people specialized.
Plus, more intelligence means more mana to heal the shades, and it might be enough to start using 2nd tier spells in a fight. Not to mention-
“You’re trying to convince yourself that you should just put all your points into intelligence to get more mana, aren’t you?” Spring said, with his arms crossed over his chest.
“You make it sound like there’s a right answer to this. With my unique class who the fuck knows what matters and what doesn’t?” Sylver reasoned, as Spring just looked at him with a calm and blank look on his face.
“Hypothetically, let’s say I place all 35 points into strength. That gives me a total of 76. I can run faster, I can jump higher, I can hit harder, my body can handle more strain, and by the end of the day I only need a few more levels until all of my attributes are at 100,” Sylver explained.
“Yes. Like you planned since the start, you need a solid base from which to grow,” Spring said with the kind of tone normally reserved for small children. Very few people knew Sylver well enough to speak to him in such a way.
“See, I do understand that you’re saying this because you want me to be strong enough to handle anything that comes my way, in those rare times where you’re preoccupied or just disadvantaged. But on the other hand, I’m a mage, not a warrior. Here’s what I’m thinking… Both my classes gave me extra points towards intelligence and wisdom. Neither gave a shit about my strength or dexterity,” Sylver said, as he felt around with his soul but couldn’t feel Lorn anywhere nearby.
“I actually forgot about that…” Spring said.
“With just that alone, shouldn’t I invest more into my intelligence and wisdom? I’m fighting hand to hand because of my piss poor conductivity, and because I don’t know any good long-range spells that I can use at the moment. With [Dead Dominion] and [Coat Of Carrion] I’m more or less set on close combat,” Sylver reasoned.
“As long as you have a dead body or two,” Spring added.
“Which I will always have thanks to [Bound Bones]. Also… What does it matter if I’m physically weak? Strength only matters in the physical sense. With the you know what inside of me, I have absolutely nothing to fear from a sword or a dagger. The only problem is if it’s enchanted, in which case more mana will give me more room and more options to deal with whatever magic is being used,” Sylver reasoned, as Spring’s eyes opened up ever so slightly.
“That’s… Actually a fair point. But don’t pretend you hadn’t made up your mind the moment I opened my mouth anyway,” Spring said causally.
“I did, but I genuinely do appreciate hearing a second opinion. But at the end of the day, when was the last time I actually locked blades with anyone?” Sylver asked.
“A couple of hours ago with that copper knight?” Spring reminded.
“True, but if I could have just shot her in the face with an Abyssal Pillar I wouldn’t have needed to do that. Also… I think I’m not that far away from being able to use a really low-level 3rd tier spell,” Sylver said, adding the last part under his breath.
“How not far away?” Spring asked, trying to hide his excitement.
“Like a quarter of the way there? My conductivity is still an issue, but I have a plan for that. In the meantime, all the shades and zombies will be stronger, my range with [Shadow’s Agent] will increase, and it will open the door to a few minor rituals that might come in handy. The increase in strength would be useful but not as useful as getting more mana,” Sylver explained.
He could both see and feel Spring being slightly torn between sticking to the plan, and playing it by ear as Sylver was about to do.
“Like always, you seem to know what you’re doing,” Spring offered with a slightly defeated sigh.
It was easy to forget that Spring was a warrior, technically speaking. He was speed-based, sure, but his strength was important to him.
While Sylver thought it over, he checked what perks he had to choose from. It was more the same until he got to the very last one.
His eyes lit up as it looked too good to be true.
[Perk: Reaper’s Reward]
-Increase MP by 100%.
-Increase MP Regeneration by 50%.
What made it all the more suspicious was that Sylver couldn’t tell what the requirements were. Going by the name the assumption would be that it was due to killing over a certain number of people…
It’s another bribe, isn’t it? I’m playing along, keeping my mouth shut, not thinking about it too much…
Sylver read through the other available perks, but they came with conditions that he wouldn’t even consider, or so small and weak that they were pointless. Most of them were the same perks that he’d gotten when he crossed level 80.
Or am I finally getting the same perks every other mage seems to get when they pass level 10?
It could be that it’s a gift? And I’ll have to pay a price for it later? Hidden conditions?
Sylver’s face gradually changed into a sneer as he tried to get a feel for whatever angle the system was playing with him.
What if it’s the other way round? That this is normal, and what I’ve gotten before was unnaturally bad?
Sylver decided to do something useful while he thought it over and started working on the first zombie.
[Zombie (Common) Raised!]
[Raise Zombie (III) Proficiency increased to 73%!]
“So?” Spring asked, as the last zombie stood up from the floor and got into line.
“I’m thinking,” Sylver repeated. Lorn had informed him that the rebels were taking a break from hacking away at the unbelievably hard ice.
“Go with your gut. It seems things mostly work out for you when you do,” Spring offered.
“But what if-”
“No what if’s, we’re running out of time, 3, 2, 1 are you taking the perk or not?” Spring asked, as he clapped his hands in front of Sylver’s face and snapped him out of his trance.
“I’ll take it,” Sylver answered barely two heartbeats later. He checked with his gut one last time and didn’t feel like he was about to vomit.
He accepted the perk and dumped 35 points into intelligence before he could start trying to find an angle where there didn’t seem to be one.
If the system wanted to fuck with him, there wasn’t a whole lot he could do about it at the moment.
But once he got powerful enough, there wasn’t going to be a whole lot the system could do about him.
[Perk: Reaper’s Reward]
-Increase MP by 100%.
-Increase MP Regeneration by 50%.
Sylver stood perfectly still as he felt every nerve in his body flare with feeling, and then scream mutely as Sylver quickly flipped the switch on his pain receptors. He tried to take a breath but the air already in his lungs felt as thick as honey and refused to allow anything else entrance. Sylver felt his chest vibrate and shatter the bones that touched it, and for a single moment worried his insides would melt from the intensity.
And just as quickly as the rush of pain and power started, it disappeared.
Sylver was left with not so much as a warmth in his stomach from what should have torn him into tiny bits and pieces.
If it weren’t for the gigantic river inside of his body that used to be a small stream he wouldn’t have known anything had changed at all. Sylver guided the still-growing river into every crook and cranny that he could find.
Once he was more or less done Sylver looked up at the zombies standing at the ready and walked over to them. He felt [Shadow’s Agent] react as if he were poking a raw wound before the perk’s pathways made way for Sylver’s significantly denser mana.
Starting from the zombie standing closest to Sylver, the skin around its face began to lightly smoke, as the dim yellow lights in its eyes became a gold-like flare. Where previously the zombie stood slack-jawed and with a slightly jagged stance, it now perked up and stood as if it were a soldier standing at attention.
The short sword in the zombie’s hand made a soft creaking noise as thin tendrils of yellow traveled up from the handle and wrapped around the edges of the blade.
Sylver leaned into his spell and the magic began to spread faster and faster. It took him a few minutes, but it would have taken him hours before. The more mana you had the less you had to use to kickstart a spell, Sylver’s MP might have only doubled, but what he could do had increased exponentially.
The glow faded slightly as Sylver stopped the flow of mana, but the effect was noticeable.
Sylver looked down at his hands and removed the layer of darkness covering them. He turned them over and could see the outline of his bones through his pale skin. His fingernails were so black they looked as if there was a hole in place of where should be.
Sylver flicked his hands and all at once all the skin and nails covering his bones disappeared into a faint puff of ashes, as his bones appeared to be on fire. He closed his hands into a fist and the fire-like effect became much stronger, now breaking away as the tips of the flames went too far away from the source.
As Sylver opened his hands again, the fire was sucked in and stayed around his bones as if it were skin. Sylver’s robe pulled back the remains of the sleeve and he could see the burning effect stopped right underneath his elbows. The bones were unnaturally white, with the skin directly below the elbows healed as if it had been gone for years.
Spring was busy looking down at himself and his body, as the faint glowing cracks of yellow had turned into deep golden tendrils. His previously wispy and barely solid shape had become hard and sharp as if a person with poor sight suddenly put on glasses and could see him clearly now. When Spring spoke a puff of bright yellow smoke escaped from his mouth.
“I feel like I’m about to burst. But at the same time, I feel as solid as a rock. This is incredible,” Spring said under his breath and while opening and closing his onyx-like fingers.
“It’s not enough for 3rd tier, but… I can’t express how much I missed this,” Sylver said, as he spread his fingers out and let sparks of bright yellow lightning crackle dangerously, jumping from one bony digit to the next.
Total Level: 99
Health Regen: 11.67/M
Stamina Regen: 7.5/M
MP Regen: 809.38/M
I doubled my MP, I’ve fucking quintupled my MP regeneration.
Spring looked up from inspecting his body and smiled with dangerously pointed teeth.
“No point standing around and talking about it,” Spring offered, as Sylver just nodded at him, and spread his arms out.
The zombies standing around the hole all jumped forward in perfect unison and disappeared into the deep dark well in mere seconds. Sylver counted to three and turned into smoke and followed them down into the pitch-black rushing water below.
When the makeshift dam that made the stream coming out of the cave a manageable speed exploded, the torrent of water smashed whatever formation the rebels were holding, and was quickly followed by zombies, shades, and a cloud of pitch-black smoke, that crackled with yellow lightning and had floating bright red daggers slicing through the water around it.