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Ch094-Games Of Chance

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More than anything the reminder was the worst part of it all.

Sylver could tolerate having trouble casting magic on his left side, he could tolerate the pain, he could even tolerate the ammonia-like smell that dribbled out of the slowly healing cracks.

In the grand scheme of things, the physical damage was negligible, but the ever-present and never-ending reminder that he couldn’t even handle intermediate 2nd tier void magic infuriated him to the point even Spring stopped trying to cheer him up.

Sylver gathered the bones he had buried without saying a word, took Fyodor’s letter of recommendation without so much as a celebratory drink, had his quest marked as completed by the new town chief, as the old one had run away, and spent every moment while on Will’s back silently picking away the layers of dead bone.

The solution was dead simple.

Sylver was an undead that was damaged.

So all he needed to be fully healed was to have a necromancer heal him.

The fact that he was an undead necromancer, and couldn’t fix himself, was the equivalent of seeing a dentist with bad teeth.

Or a bald hairdresser.

Or a cobbler wearing boots that were split at the seams.

Sylver’s pride had taken a few hits since he had been reduced to a tiny metallic splinter. He did his absolute best not to dwell on it too much, there was no changing the past, so it was idiotic to worry over it.

But even for a person who was a master at not thinking about certain things, it was very difficult to do so while feeling the damaged limb attempt to detach itself from your body, and having to constantly focus on it to keep it in one piece.

At a certain point, Sylver saw the whole thing in a different light and almost started to laugh at his predicament. But then his ring finger cracked down the middle and exploded with a faint mist of ammonia-scented pus that, through some impossible luck, got into Sylver’s eyes and mouth.

On a rational level, Sylver knew this was a very minor hiccup in an otherwise extremely successful quest. He had near-perfect bodies and souls to spare, had gained a new skill, new perks, increased his level and power, was a step closer to figuring out how to combine shades and zombies into one, gained a massive advantage when it came to close-quarter combat, was still alive, was going to become a D ranked adventurer, had letters of recommendation that sounded like they would give him the guild master’s favor, and he now knew where a large number of retired legends lived.

Compared to all that, even losing an arm would have seemed like an acceptable price to pay.

Almost preferable even.

But as much as Sylver wanted to remove the source of his shame, he still had enough sense not to do that. Healing something this damaged would take a while, but growing a brand new bone would take far too long.

In an attempt to distract himself, Sylver lay on his back and sprawled out while he brought up his status.

Total Level: 103
[Koschei-5]
[Necromancer-98]

CON: 100
DEX: 100
STR: 41
INT: 185
WIS: 100
AP: 20

Health: 903/907
Stamina: 455/500
MP: 3,293/4,625

Health Regen: 10.58/M
Stamina Regen: 7.5/M
MP Regen: 809.38/M

Normally seeing all these large numbers brought an odd sense of pride, but in his irritated and pained state all Sylver could think about was the fact that possibly millions of idiots and morons had even bigger numbers than he did, with not even a hundredth of his talent or effort.

What made it all the worse was that even if Sylver made his numbers even higher, there was the simple issue of his conductivity acting as a bottleneck.

Some drugs could be taken to temporarily increase it.

But even if Sylver wasn’t undead and could take them, the side effects would be worse than just fucking himself up by going over his conductivity without using them.

Mages in general tended to use staffs, or wands, or bracelets, or amulets, or specially made swords or daggers, that were all completely and utterly useless to Sylver because he was a pure dark.

The only options Sylver had left required using his soul in a way he was no longer capable of. He fucked it up when he brought Ciege and Lola back, and then further solidified the damage when he made Spring.

Eventually, Sylver’s body will go back to how it was before he became a lich.

But given how weak his soul was, how weak his soul’s influence on this body was, Sylver estimated the required time to be somewhere in the realm of 8 or 9 hundred years.

If he was lucky.

The only currently available alternatives were… drastic…

And given that Sylver would paint the world’s biggest target on his back if he even attempted them, not an option. He’d seen this play out too many times to make the same mistake.

Even if he had it in him to sacrifice an entire city, and that was a big if, there was still the issue of the high king or one of the many S-class adventurers killing him before he was finished. And even if he was able to sacrifice an entire city, would that be enough for him to fight the high king?

But more than that, Sylver wasn’t willing to throw everything he had gained on the possibility that someone from the Ibis was still alive to find. If he knew for certain that Oska was alive and well, but locked up in the high king’s dungeon, then Sylver would start summoning demons and making deals with gods.

But not while there was a high chance that this was it.

That the Ibis was dead, gone, forgotten, and for better or for worse, this was Sylver’s life now.

In either case, right now Sylver just needed to get ready with his meeting with the woman in white. As much as someone could get ready when facing a mage that very likely was capable of using 9th tier magic.

Lorn started to sing without any warning, and Sylver was about to ask him to stop before he found that the distraction actually succeeded in distracting him from his ever demoralizing thoughts.

It was a surprisingly upbeat and cheerful song.

About a boyish-looking necromancer and adventurer, that was followed by a band of jolly shades that were all warriors he had slain in honorable duels. The noble warriors all accepted their deaths and defeat and joined the necromancer of their own free will.

The extraordinary necromancer had a fierce battle with Lamb-Chop, the warrior of something or other, Lorn mumbled the words under his breath and sped up to get past who Lamb-Chop was before Sylver slew him, and did the same for Kap, and Zet.

Then the necromancer gave the villagers who had been killed by Bonny Ann the strength to rise from the dead and enact their revenge on their killers.

After that, the necromancer met a mysterious stranger who showed him the way to the source of the surrounding area’s troubles. The necromancer asked Bonny’s slain soldiers to join him in battle, in the hopes of righting their wrongs and strode towards the source of danger.

After a long and valiant fight with a mage that wielded ice, the necromancer came out victorious as did his army of undead who, one by one, turned into ashes while thanking him for giving them the chance to do the right thing.

“…” Sylver considered pretending to be asleep as he felt Lorn stare at his face.

“It’s a first draft mind you,” Lorn added as an afterthought, while Sylver kept his eyes closed. Spring whispered in his ear that they had another 4 hours of flying left.

Sylver sat up as he opened his eyes.

“It’s uhh… How do I put this?” Sylver asked, as Lorn moved his lute behind his back and made it disappear.

“That bad huh?” Lorn asked without so much as a trace of his previously joyful tone.

“I liked the tune. And you have a gift with rhymes, not to mention a gift with words, it almost sounded like poetry at one point,” Sylver said optimistically.

“But?”

“But what the fuck? Honorable duels? I stabbed Spring in the chest after lying directly to his face. Half the shades in my shadow were strangled to death, the other half had their throats slit without even seeing who had killed them. Not to mention-”

“Look, I’ve had a long and hard think about it, and you don’t work as a character. People don’t want to hear about someone walking around dragging corpses in their shadow, throwing metaphorical dirt in his opponent’s eyes, and then making them fight their friends as an undead monstrosity. You would work much better as a villain, than as a hero, so I had to make adjustments,” Lorn explained, as Sylver fully sat up and gestured at him with his right hand.

“You made Bonny Ann sound like some sort of psychotic cult leader. And Red-Eye as her trusty cannibal pet vampire. Not to mention you made it sound as if the whole rebellion was only in it for fun and money. They don’t sound like real people, you made them into caricatures,” Sylver complained as Lorn rolled his eyes.

“When you’re the main character I have to make everyone around you damn near demonic so people can root against them. And I know you’re about to get into your “there’s no good or evil, everyone is a hero in their own mind” speech, I get what you’re trying to say. But you have to understand I’m trying to entertain, I’m not trying to make people question their own morality,” Lorn nearly shouted, as he interrupted Sylver before he could start trying to explain himself.

Sylver didn’t say anything as Lorn huffed.

“Look… People like simple stories. Good guys, versus bad guys. “What if the good guy is using bad methods to do good?” “Are the bad guys really the bad guys if their hearts are in the right place?” “What does it mean to be good?” That shit doesn’t sell, you have to keep it simple. Necromancer with a heart of gold that defends the innocent and rescues the weak, and despicable rebels who kill and torture for the fun of it,” Lorn explained, quoting somebody that had likely explained all of this to him in the past.

“Why not just make shit up in that case? Why bother trying to tie it to me? Just sing about a swordsman who rescued a princess or something,” Sylver asked, as Lorn just rolled his eyes.

“That’s not how it works, and it’s overdone. The twist here is that you’re a necromancer,” Lorn said.

“Not really much of a twist,” Sylver countered.

“Well, it’s a twist in the sense that you’re the hero of the story, as opposed to the villain,” Lorn explained.

Sylver was about to start talking about Igri and everything his students eventually brought to the world, before remembering that this land very likely only had warlocks that only called themselves necromancers.

For Lorn and the people who would be listening to his songs, necromancy was evil magic. And not even evil in the one rotten apple spoiling the batch kind of way, but in the most necromancers were corpse fuckers that raised the dead for their sick pleasure kind of evil. As Sylver thought about the cultural differences, he realized something and got an idea.

“I have a few minor suggestions,” Sylver said, as he sat down to see how “good” he could make necromancy appear, in the context of singing a song about a little over 200 people being murdered.

*

*

*

Sylver had made a small, and possibly significant, discovery.

The things he considered “cliché” and “painfully predictable”, didn’t exist on this side of the Asberg.

Meaning that while Lorn’s songs ended up becoming utter generic horseshit to Sylver’s ears, the soldiers he sang his edited draft to loved it.

They wept when the friendly necromancer gave a speech about what it means to be a hero, that Sylver stole from a story about a swordsman who defended his hometown from 300 attackers.

Looked awestruck when Lorn sang a slightly edited poem that the Ibis considered a timeless classic.

And cheered like wild animals when the necromancer killed Bonny Ann and said something so god awfully generic that Sylver physically recoiled when Lorn repeated it.

Sylver’s name would be… tarnished isn’t quite the right word, but he wouldn’t hear the end of it when Lola eventually heard the song. Even if he was never named by name, there was a very very small number of necromancers that went on adventures.

Shame isn’t quite the right word either, although that was certainly part of it…

Sylver actually felt kind of sick for committing a crime against the artists of his world, but ultimately decided it was for the best.

Lorn had a point about the general public disliking necromancy, so while this wouldn’t solve the issue overnight, it was a step in the right direction.

If all the songs and stories people knew about necromancers were about them killing and torturing children, regardless of how much Sylver achieved he would just be viewed as an anomaly. Granted this one single song wouldn’t be enough to completely replace hundreds upon thousands of years of somewhat understandable hatred of a specific branch of magic, but every little bit helped.

Lorn had given Sylver a dark red envelope that was so full that it just barely stayed closed. Thankfully once Lorn activated the magic in it, it sealed up without any issue.

Sylver enchanted the severed heads Lorn wanted for proof with a small amount of dark magic to stop them from decaying. All of them had bounties, but Lorn already mentioned them in his report so the adventurer’s guild would be covering them.

There weren’t any heartfelt goodbyes, because Lorn was almost immediately sent away to scout, and because Sylver was going to be asking Lola to find a way to hire him to keep as a permanent employee. First, he was a very competent bard, and because Lorn was as good, if not better than trying to create and bind a wraith.

Although Sylver would be doing that too, eventually.

Right now he just wanted to go home.

*

*

*

Sylver’s self-pity lasted for roughly the amount of time it took for him to buy a proper chest to carry bones inside of and fly away on Will.

Apart from Sylver’s toenails turning as black as his fingernails, nothing exciting happened on the way to Arda. No ambushes, no storms, no pack of ravenous griffins, and no nonsense or surprises. Just mostly clear skies, with enough clouds that Will had enough room to hide in the event of pursuers.

Sylver continued to flex his left hand as he stared at his status, and let the scab-like growths on it fall on their own. It currently looked like dark brown moss was growing on it, but the smell wasn’t as offensive as it had been a few days ago, and the pain had receded to a more manageable level.

It was healing faster than yesterday, given that its mana conductivity was slowly increasing, and Sylver was able to use more and more mana to manually force it to heal.

A mage’s mana conductivity wasn’t something most mages cared about.

Most is the keyword here.

Most mages never used a large enough quantity of magic to ever even find out that there’s a limit to how much their bodies can handle. And considering most mages used staffs to help their casting, they never had to worry about conductivity at all.

Mana conductivity was such obscure and largely useless information that most craftsmen that made staffs didn’t even know that the difference between a 1st tier staff and a 2nd tier staff was more than just how good of a catalyst it was.

Mana conductivity only became important once a mage managed to cross the 5th tier magic threshold, and even then most mages that were talented enough to get there already had a high enough conductivity to never worry about it.

It wasn’t that a person with low conductivity and a high capacity didn’t exist, it was that such a person would never be able to feel mana, let alone use it to cast a spell. It was the equivalent of having arms.

Not all people who had arms were capable of becoming competent swordsmen, but all swordsmen had at least an arm. Sylver’s current body didn’t have so much as a finger.

It was such obscure information that Sylver only knew about it because it was important when trying to raise something from the dead.

He knew rituals to increase an undead’s conductivity, but he never in a million years would have imagined that he would need to perform those rituals on himself.

Sylver raised his left hand into the air and held it up against one of the larger suns. His bones looked wet and slimy, and they were ever so slightly translucent. Sylver covered his hand in darkness again as he returned his attention to his status.

The big question was why nothing happened when he reached a total level of 100.

One likely answer was that nothing was supposed to happen. That the system kicked up a fuss over people over 100 talking to people below 100 for no reason.

Red-Eye had said he could somehow tell if someone was below or above level 100, but Sylver didn’t have that right now. His appraisal skill didn’t show any new information, and he didn’t even get a feeling for it, the way [Eyes Of The Royal Tiger] let him know if a creature had access to the system or not.

Another possibility was that the system didn’t count Sylver’s [Koschei] levels as part of his total, despite showing it in his status. It was a racial class, or at least Sylver didn’t get a say on whether he wanted it or not. There was no real point speculating he would have to wait and see what happens when his [Necromancer] class passed 100.

If nothing happened by then…

Then Sylver would worry about it, but for now, he had 20 points to distribute.

CON: 100
DEX: 100
STR: 41
INT: 185
WIS: 100
AP: 20

15 into intelligence, obviously, to get it up to a beautiful 200.

And a total MP of 5,000.

And the remaining 5?

A small boost in constitution and healing wouldn’t hurt…

Then again more mana is always an option.

No point putting it into strength or dexterity, 5 points won’t make a difference…

Wisdom maybe? It would get my mana regeneration 919MP per minute.

Then again, having my constitution higher would speed up my hand’s healing process.

Sylver continued to mull those measly 5 points during his entire journey towards Arda. When it came to a point where he considered flipping a coin to make a choice, he settled on putting it in wisdom and calling it a day.

With the number of shades he would be raising soon, even a little bit of extra regeneration would be a huge help. As Will descended down into the area Sylver usually used for take-offs and landings, Sylver put 15 points into intelligence, and 5 into wisdom.

Total Level: 103
[Koschei-5]
[Necromancer-98]

CON: 100
DEX: 100
STR: 41
INT: 200
WIS: 105
AP: 0

Health: 904/907
Stamina: 463/500
MP: 4,881/5,000

Health Regen: 10.58/M
Stamina Regen: 7.5/M
MP Regen: 918.75/M

Sylver had found out a while ago that if the wood was porous enough he could soak it in blood and move it around using [Dead Dominion]. It wasn’t a huge help in the grand scheme of things, but it meant Sylver saved time by not having to strap it onto Ulvic when moving around. He could simply ride on Ulvic’s back and have the chest float behind them without adding any extra weight or throwing off Ulvic’s balance.

When Sylver dismissed the wolf and walked towards the gate that allowed people into Arda something felt off in the air. It was the middle of the night so it was deserted as per usual, but Sylver had never seen it this empty.

Especially with the tournament still underway.

As several guards appeared a fair distance behind Sylver and casually blocked most of his possible exits, Sylver felt almost frightened. He continued to walk towards the gate and went through it without being stopped. He heard an ever so slight click as the metallic gates behind him was readied to be lowered.

When Marshal, the two-bit investigator who tried to threaten Sylver but ended up having to apologize for wasting his time, showed up, Sylver could only breathe a sigh of exhaustion.

His hand still hurt and was mostly slimy bone, he had a slight headache from being awake for so long, and his stomach was both empty and starving, and simultaneously on the verge of making him throw up.

“It would be best if you put down your weapons, and come with me quietly,” Marshal said, a fair distance away from Sylver, but somehow his voice carried as if he were standing right in his face.

Me, not us.

“Would it now?” Sylver said casually, as he slowly turned around and made eye contact with all the guards that had surrounded him. Especially the ones he could feel were nervous and hadn’t expected him to see them while invisible.

“Best for you, is what I meant. I just want to have a chat, if you would indulge me. You’re free to leave right now if you prefer, but I would very strongly advise against it,” Marshal said, a little too confident in his words for Sylver’s liking.

Was Faun backing him? Did something happen to Lola? Were the cats betraying him? Was the Cord trying to get rid of him?

Sylver took a very long look at Marshal.

There was a glint in his eye that Sylver didn’t like, but his body language was all over the place.

In the end, Sylver decided that even if Marshal tried to pull a stunt on him while inside Arda, it was unlikely he’d try to kill him. From what Sylver had heard about the man he was relatively law-abiding. Ordering his guards to murder someone for him, wasn’t his style.

It was a gamble regardless of what Sylver chose, but he at least was somewhat safe with the guards around. Their class was very restrictive, there were very few rules that they could bend, and letting someone die while under their watch wasn’t one of them.

The smart thing to do would be to accept Marshal’s offer to leave, but Sylver didn’t like the way he said it. It felt like that’s what he wanted him to do, but it was impossible to guess why. It was more likely Marshal had a plan regardless of which option Sylver chose.

If time wasn’t a factor, Sylver would have left and waited for the cats to find out what was going on while he camped outside. But Sylver needed to fix his hand before it completely broke apart, and for that, he needed to get home. Not to mention he needed his army of shades for his meeting with the woman in white, and he needed to be home for that too.

Ron’s secret entrance was an option.

If not for the fact that none of them connected to Sylver’s house, and he would have to somehow get home while the whole house is likely surrounded by guards and clairvoyant capable mages.

Sylver decided that he might as well play along, for now, to see what’s going on if nothing else. As Sylver took a step forward with a polite smile on his face, Marshal raised his hand towards him with an open palm.

“For your own safety, I would suggest that you disarm and undress yourself,” Marshal said with a very poorly hidden grin.

The guards could be a bluff… They’re just here to intimidate me and try to bluff me into going along with him. Or it’s a double bluff, and the guards are here to capture me in the event I refuse to go with him. Or a triple bluff, Marshal knows I would see through his bluff, but he specifically mentioned that I’m free to leave…

If I leave now are there mercenaries waiting to ambush me? If he’s working for someone, that’s a very strong possibility… Even if he wouldn’t kill me, how likely is it the person he’s working for didn’t?

Sylver’s gut said talk to Marshal and then go home.

So Sylver shrugged his robe off, threw it on top of his chest filled with bones, and covered his lower half with a loincloth that left very little to the imagination, and most certainly didn’t have any extra room to hide any weapons. Sylver was undead, the cold night air didn’t bother him.

Sylver had all the weapons he could ever need hidden inside of his forearms and skull, not to mention his ax and explosives. Ambush or not, it didn’t make a whole lot of difference. If nothing else he was almost certain he could make it to his house, and he would be safe inside of it.

Marshal seemed completely unfazed by Sylver’s decision, or that his left hand didn’t have any skin or flesh, as he held the door open for him and followed him inside the walls. When a guard appeared behind him and clasped the lead collar around his neck, Sylver froze.

Marshal, on the other hand, turned around and looked like he was about to piss himself with joy.

“For a career criminal, you’re almost laughably gullible. You’re under arrest, Mr. Sezari... Or at least that’s what I would like to say. I think there’s a way for both of us to walk away from this as friends,” Marshal said, as the collar clicked open and was removed from Sylver’s neck. Sylver hadn’t moved a muscle since he felt the guard appear behind him.

“But before that, I need to take care of something first. If you would follow Olanda here, she’ll show you to a room you can wait in,” Marshal offered, with a gesture directly behind Sylver to the guard still holding the lead collar.

He looked like he was about to stick his tongue out at Sylver before he turned around and walked down the dimly lit corridor.

“No funny business,” the woman guard behind Sylver said almost under her breath.

Sylver turned around and saw her flinch and look away as he made eye contact with her.

“Do I look like I’m laughing?”

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KingKennit

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