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In hindsight, Sylver should have seen this coming.

Their whole thing was sharing information, so of course, the mages here knew how to use ice magic.

Sylver started working the moment he felt the spell starting to form. The zombies submerged in water were grabbed by [Dead Dominion] and were thrown high into the air. In mere seconds torrent of water had been reduced to absolutely nothing, as every single warrior inside of the cave was standing on top of the suddenly frozen ground.

There were no questions, no promises, no monologues, not even greetings or threats.

Just a dead silent, save for the roaring of the warriors, battle between two opposing groups. Sylver lost three zombies in a single swipe of one warrior’s sword, and four more went down when an arrow skewered them through the head, and made a turn to the right and skewered two more.

A woman warrior wielding some sort of spiked ball at the end of a chain kicked the ball through the chest of a particularly large zombie, and then made the ball expand while inside of the zombie, and then sent the zombies standing nearby flying, using the zombie’s body as a weight.

The ice crunched beneath Sylver’s feet as he ran towards the two mages. He used [Dead Dominion] to grab hold of the zombies around him and pushed them backward, and propelled him forward, to the point that he was just barely touching the ice. Sylver saw the mana moving through the frozen solid ground and moved 4 floating daggers in front of him.

As the ice spike started to sprout from the ground, Sylver’s daggers dived down towards the source and embedded themselves into it. It wasn’t enough force to stop the moving enchanted ice, but the daggers caused it to curve to the side, and away from Sylver. The needle-fine tip of the ice spike missed the edge of Sylver’s mask by less than a finger’s width, as Sylver turned into smoke for a fraction of a second and passed right through it.

Glowing yellow arrows flew past Sylver’s head and the wall of arrows had a Sylver-shaped hole in them, as they shattered against an invisible barrier erected by one of the mages, with a couple of the shade archer's arrows embedded the slightest amount into it.

Sylver kicked against the ground, or tried to, as his boot went into the suddenly liquid ice, and nearly caused him to trip and fall. He caused three nearby zombies to disappear under the liquid ice, as Sylver used the opposing force to send himself flying into the air, and away from the volley of icicles directly in front of him, and the red hot glowing arrow on his left.

He used his [Mana Perception] to get a feel for the ceiling, and found it covered in blunted stalactites. One of Sylver’s daggers flew upwards and sat flat against one of the larger rock formations. Sylver tried to push it away from him, and as the dagger pressed against the heavy rock, Sylver was sent flying away from it instead.

Sylver saw the two mages’ figures become blurry for a fraction of a second, while one of the zombies buried in the now solid ice shimmered and exploded as its carved body phased through the ice.

Sylver’s robe lifted his chin up, as a silver-tipped arrow passed so close to Sylver’s neck that he felt his skin sear from the momentary contact.

That small movement caused Sylver to react too slowly, as the ice below him turned into slush and exploded up into the air, towards him. He felt, more than saw, the razor-sharp ice blades mixed into the slush, and turned into smoke to avoid getting cut up by them. They passed through him without any issues, as did the oddly thin layer of slush.

Sylver’s smoke form had just enough time to condense into a sphere, as the slush suddenly froze over and formed into a clear as glass ice bubble around him. Sylver made his bony fingers as straight as an arrow, as he stabbed them at the ice bubble, and felt them threaten to splinter from the force.

Sylver saw that both mages were standing perfectly still, with both of their hands open, and pointed towards Sylver, while the zombies and shades nearby disappeared one by one, some managing to take a warrior out with them.

Sylver locked eyes with the mage on the left, an elf with a shaved head and a missing right eye. The bomb appeared in Sylver’s hand, as he pressed it up against the bubble wall and covered it with his hands. Sylver felt his mask shatter as he sent a spark through the trigger.

The bubble held on for a terrifying half a second before it couldn’t handle it and sent Sylver flying backward, away from the two mages. He was glad to see one of them was bleeding from his nose from the effort of keeping him contained. Sylver turned into smoke midair, and used the dagger embedded in the rock ceiling to push him forward and towards the two mages.

Sylver felt his robe react behind him, as a lead-lined sword traveled towards it. Sylver kicked off from an invisible platform and leaned backward until he saw the top of the attacker’s helmet. It was made of thin steel, with three horns on the top. Sylver grabbed the man by the middle horn near the front, and as he pulled the helmet back, a [Coat Of Carrion] coated dagger descended downward and disappeared into the man’s neck.

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

Sylver felt his soul connect to the suddenly dead body. He felt the still red hot muscles in the man’s arms tear as he forced his sword to stop mid-swing, and threw it towards the two mages. As the man let go of the sword, Sylver simultaneously kicked off his head and used [Dead Dominion] to send him flying backward, propelling Sylver ahead.

The two mages nodded their heads the tiniest amount as Sylver practically flew towards them. Sylver extended his hand out and felt the ice spike below him enter his belly. Sylver’s robe grabbed hold around the slippery and sharp spike and made a crying sound as it kept Sylver’s body from bending from the force acting on his stomach, and stopped the spike from skewering him.

Sylver was nearly sent flying once again before he pulled at the zombies buried deep beneath the ice to keep his body in place. As he saw the mages get ready for another attack Sylver decided this was close enough, and with a flick of his hand made three spikes appear between his fingers.

The spikes glowed so brightly that they looked like they were about to melt before they disappeared from his hand.

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

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

[Necromancer] has reached level 98!
+5AP

The two mages barely reacted as the overcharged spikes passed through their heads and came out cleanly on the other side, splattering the wall of ice with blood, bone, and brain.

Sylver’s robe caught him before he hit the icy ground and placed him on his feet. He looked around and saw that there were dead bodies everywhere, some were Sylver’s zombies, some were untouched. Three warriors remained, with their backs against the wall of ice, and wielding oddly curved swords.

Sylver could barely see what was happening, as one of them would block a zombie’s sword, and the zombie would then topple over-sliced to pieces.

[Human (Warrior+Warrior) – 144]

[Human (Swordsman+Warrior+Warrior) – 131]

[Human [Warrior+Warrior+Warrior) – 140]

The shades had no chance, they were destroyed before they even started materializing. The arrows the shade archers fired just disappeared into thin air. Sylver cocked his head at this as one of the warriors turned towards him and locked eyes.

He raised his left hand towards the man.

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

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

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

The man was about to say something, as morning sunlight suddenly blinded Sylver from the hole he had created in the ice. His hand was glowing white-hot and the skin near his elbow was steaming, as he got onto one knee and pressed it against the quickly liquefying ice. The ice turned into water and bubbled and sputtered as it tried to handle Sylver’s heated hand.

Sylver looked up as the three bodies toppled over, all cut horizontally in half, through the heart, as was the wall of ice directly behind them, leaving a slightly slanted hole. The morning light spread out through the cave, as the light reflected and refracted all over the place. The smooth walls slick with blood further reflected the light, and the small hole made the whole cave sparkle.

Somewhere in the background, Sylver heard the sound of Lorn dry heaving, as he stood up from the now barely solid ice, and stepped onto an invisible platform. Sylver’s left hand was charred and black and smoking, and it squeaked as he tried to close it into a fist, charcoal rubbing against charcoal.

Sylver walked over towards the three dead warriors and placed his hand on the area that used to be their chests. Sylver’s left calf had at some point been cut off, but he couldn’t recall when or who had done it. He flexed his leg as the muscle regrew, and was careful to absorb the warriors’ health slowly and without wasting any.

Sylver continually opened and closed his bony hands as his nerves and blood vessels crawled up his forearms and knit over his fingers. His muscles followed closely after, moving up in layers and followed closely by his skin. Sylver waved his left hand around as the charcoal fell off his bones as if it were dirt, and fresh clean white bone revealed itself.

The wall of ice that Sylver had initially come through fell and began to flush the cave out into the river, trying to drag all the dead bodies along with it. Sylver calmly walked over to the entrance and as the ice that stopped the river from working full force broke down completely, used [Dead Dominion] to catch each and every piece and corpse, and made it float a short distance above him.

Very gradually Sylver’s heart calmed down and stopped threatening to rip itself out of its indestructible confines. His eyes stopped glowing too, as the zombies and chunks of flesh rose out of the foaming red water and floated upwards into the ball of gore.

Sylver saw everything darken for a moment, and very quickly ran out of the cave and towards the solid ground. The corpses and zombies fell around him as his concentration wavered and he lost his grip on them. The few shades that remained grabbed them out of the water and threw them near Sylver, as the large ball of bodies broke apart and fell down and turned into a mound of corpses.

Sylver got on all fours and looked down at the earthy ground, as he tried to fight the backlash off. He made a noise that might have been interpreted as a burp before he began to violently vomit.

The vomit was darker than it had any right to be and had bits of shriveled red flesh mixed into it, along with a discolored liquid that was far too watery to be called blood. Sylver’s whole body shuddered and he lost the strength in his arms and nearly fell face-first into his own vomit. A nameless shade appeared right before his face made contact, and helped him stay as he was.

Sylver continued to vomit for a long while, expelling far too much material for a man of his size. The skin on his left hand turned grey and leathery before Sylver tried to lift it up to inspect it and found that most of it stayed glued to the ground. The bones that were left were brown and full of small cracks and leaking a sickly yellow bone marrow from in-between the cracks.

At one point Sylver heaved too hard, and his left eyeball fell out of its socket and hung loosely for a few seconds until he pushed it back into place.

After five minutes of continuous vomiting and breaking apart and forcing himself back together, Sylver slumped over to the side and lay on his back. One of the smaller suns had gone ahead of the others and now sat nearly at the apex, while the others were slowly catching up.

Sylver took very slow and very deep breaths, each time forcing his body to not start coughing. Each breath sounded hoarse and haggard and when Sylver tried to speak he found that his throat was clogged up with slime-like gunk.

He closed his mouth and breathed through his nose for a few minutes, watching the fluffy white clouds lazily move through the sky.

“I realize this is a stupid question, but are you ok?” Lorn asked, almost sheepishly appearing out of nowhere and being careful not to get into Sylver’s direct line of sight.

Sylver silently breathed in and out through his nose, before he chewed on something in his mouth and spat out what looked like pitch-black jelly. He took another deep breath and spoke in a low whisper.

“I’ll be fine. I overestimated what I’m capable of, but it’s fine. Just give me a minute, I’ll be fine,” Sylver said, as he healed Spring and for just a moment focused solely on himself to figure out where most of the damage had been done.

By the time Sylver opened his eyes and stood up, it was already nighttime. The corpses had been searched, prepped, and the useful ones had a bone of some kind laying on top of their chests. Sylver was surprised at how much Spring had managed to get done with only a few shades to command.

He started healing the destroyed ones in his shadow as he walked over to the river and splashed some water on his face. He hadn’t passed out, but it was pretty close considering how hard he had concentrated on himself.

As less water than he was expecting reached his face, Sylver looked at his hands properly.

His left hand was an odd grey, with a few small, but noticeable cracks near the tips of the finger bones. Sylver moved it through the running water and used his right hand’s nail to pick at the grey bones. A layer peeled away as Sylver pulled at it, and revealed a much thinner bone underneath. It was a paler, healthier color, but still not as white as it should be.

If Nyx saw me right now she would cry… What kind of low-grade undead nonsense is this?

Sylver covered his left hand in darkness and scooped up some more water and rinsed his mouth with it, before spitting it back out into the river.

“Are you alright?” Lorn asked, as Sylver stood up from the river and flicked the water off his darkness-covered hands.

“I’m fine, but I am going to insist that you never mention what you saw after I left the cave,” Sylver said, as he reached his hand out towards the floating bone and tapped it against the matching floating body and made it disappear. He put the filled-up bone into a wooden box Spring had found and prepared.

“Is your hand going to be fine?” Lorn asked, pointing at Sylver’s left hand that he was allowing to rest for the time being.

“It is, but I need you to promise you’re going to keep what you saw to yourself. For public image reasons as well as… etiquette reasons. Look, I can’t explain it unless you’re undead, but I am asking you as politely as possible never to tell anyone, and I do mean anyone, what you saw,” Sylver said, emphasizing his words as much as he could.

“You have my word. Or I swear on my name, as your kind would say,” Lorn promised. Sylver looked over towards the left and saw 4 severed heads that had been cleaned and had a bandage around their necks to make them as presentable as possible. One head belonged to one of the mages, two belonged to two of those warriors with the curved swords, and the fourth Sylver didn’t recognize.

“I take it you want them to be handed over along with Pork-Chop?” Sylver asked with a gesture towards them.

LAMB-CH… oh never mind. Yes, don’t mix them up please, otherwise no one is going to believe me. I don’t know if I should be happy that their stories ended with you, or pissed off that they died in such a… way,” Lorn said, as he tried to find a word that wasn’t a synonym of dishonorable but failed.

“Don’t worry, I’m keeping all of the heads in my skull,” Sylver said as he tapped his head. “And in my defense, or in the defense of people that die, you would be amazed at how many legends died in the most anticlimactic and downright depressing way,” Sylver offered, as the four heads floated over to him and disappeared as they touched his hand.

“Like what?” Lorn asked, with a strange mix of genuinely being curious and mock.

“In the same way these people’s names don’t mean anything to me, the names I could tell you about wouldn’t mean anything to you,” Sylver explained, as Lorn seemed to just nod along.

“Just to sate my curiosity, why exactly did… well the whole thing after you left the cave,” Lorn asked, being as gentle as possible with his words.

“In short it was a very grim reminder about the unfairness of the world. You can be the smartest and greatest mage to ever live or die, and all it takes is being born into the wrong kind of body to make whatever talent or skill you might have nearly worthless,” Sylver said, as the rest of the corpses slowly floated into the air and moved towards him.

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KingKennit

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