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Ch104-Keep Calm

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It was a lot like turning a dial and then hearing it snap.

For a gut-wrenching 5 seconds, Sylver was frozen in place and all he heard was the deafening sound of his heartbeat in his ear. His chest felt like it was about to implode from the pressure, and his heart felt like it had dropped down to his stomach and was currently trying to go even lower.

He was stuck inside a sinking ship, with no way out.

And his foreseeable future seemed to be to either get crushed by the water pressure, or through some tormented miracle, survive and have to slowly rot away into nothing.

And given that he was undead, even when only bone and dust remained, he would still be around to experience it all.

But just as suddenly as the fear had set in, it just as suddenly completely vanished.

If anything, Sylver felt calmer than he had felt in a very long while.

Blow it open?

No. I won’t be able to fight the water current and by the time I’m out and swimming, it’ll be too deep and I’ll get crushed and sink.

It could be shallow?

Could be, but let’s assume otherwise.

If the water is deep enough there won’t be a whole lot of light coming through, I could use the shades or just get out via [Shadow’s Soma].

But if I’m too early I’ll get fried and then crushed, but if I’m too late I’ll just get crushed.

I could…

Sylver turned into smoke to stop himself from falling and materialized on the new floor, which was the left wall a second or two ago. The items the shades had been holding clattered around as they hit the floor, and then splashed Sylver with ice-cold water as they slid down into it.

“Find all the leaks and have a shade stand next to each one,” Sylver ordered via [Auditory Illusion] as he quickly but carefully glued his feet to the floor and walked towards the lowest point of the ship.

When in a life or death scenario, or death or eternal imprisonment from which there is no escape but suicide, the most important thing is to remain calm.

A skill that many preached, but few actually possessed.

It was the bane of all demi-gods, every “immortal,” and just about every single mage capable of 9th tier or higher magic. It took a lot to get them off balance and make them panic, but once you did that, they were as good as dead.

Sylver was the same in that regard.

Except when he panicked, very few survived long enough to take advantage of his panic.

The only thing worse than a panicked Sylver was a Sylver that just barely managed to protect someone close to him.

An assassin that came after him confessed that she was warned multiple times not to try anything while he had someone with him. In fact, most groups that had enough firepower to have a chance at killing him were incredibly strict about never attacking him unless he was alone.

Sylver was a busy lich and if he didn’t feel that someone was a huge problem he might delegate them to be dealt with by someone else.

But if they got anywhere near one of his apprentices or anyone under the Ibis’s protection, he cleared his schedule and gave them his full and undivided attention.

Sylver slipped as his foot was glued to a piece of ice and his weight caused it to crack and shift, but he caught himself and carried on speed walking down the flooding corridor.

He split his attention and summoned flesh and bones from the creature he had killed, and converted it into bright red [Coat Of Carrion] gunk and made it follow him using [Dead Dominion].

Spring silently told Sylver there were 61 points that were leaking and informed him that a shade was standing right next to each one and pointing at it.

Sylver reached a point where the water was up to his hips and he crouched down into it. The top half of his makeshift robe pulled itself apart so Sylver had direct skin contact with the ice-cold water, while the floating blob of churning flesh dropped down to the floor and began to send paper-thin tendrils out in every direction.

A droplet of blood fell out of Sylver’s nose and floated in the water while tiny bubbles began to form around Sylver’s right hand and on his torso.

Worst case scenario, at least it’ll be a quick death.

The bubbles started forming faster and faster and ran up Sylver’s arm and floated upwards once they joined the other small bubbles.

Although, with the ribcage and all, this might not be enough to properly kill me. It’ll just hurt.

The splotch of gore changed shape slightly as it became less fluid and more solid, and the tiny needle-width tendrils gained girth as the pile of gore deflated with each passing second. A tendril passed between Sylver’s legs and traveled down the flooded corridor towards the caged human corpses.

Sylver would have liked to dissect them to check if they were as fucked up as the half-elves, but right now he needed raw flesh more than he needed the information. He could disguise himself as a half-elf, no one was going to open his chest up to check how many sets of lungs he has, or what his heart looks like.

Sylver closed his eye shut and concentrated on the two tasks at hand.

Gathering enough material to use [Coat Of Carrion] to plug up as many leaks as possible.

And turning enough water into gas to make the sinking ship buoyant. The spell wasn’t anything fancy, it was the same thing he used when creating his blue fire.

Minus the fire part.

Just pure and simple water to hydrogen and oxygen conversion. With some of the plugs acting as one way valves to let the created gas out. It was the equivalent of using a bucket to get water out of a sinking ship, except with a necromantic twist.

The tendril that was between Sylver’s legs and stretched out to the dead humans found them and started digesting them. It pulled the digested matter into itself via the tendril, and spread it out once it got to the main “body.”

Blood dripped out of Sylver’s nose and fell into the now boiling water and continued to fall until it landed on the tendril and was sucked up by it. Sylver crawled about half a step forward as the amount of water around him decreased, and he continued to adjust his spell while Spring handled directing [Coat Of Carrion] towards the places it needed to plug.

Sylver had no illusions about small bits of bone and solidified flesh and blood being strong enough to hold back the pressure of an entire ocean pressing down on it, but he didn’t have a whole lot of alternatives. If the ship sunk too deep, he was done for.

There was a falling feeling inside the ship, but Sylver could see by the way the water was moving and leveling out that it was working. He slowed it down at the very least.

All that he needed now was for it to start moving up.

It didn’t have to be sail-worthy, but at least close enough to the surface that he wouldn’t die.

The situation was tense.

Sylver couldn’t deny that, but at the same time, it was what it was.

Sink or swim, he went all in, and all he was doing now was waiting for his opponent to reveal their hand. There wasn’t enough time to try something else, especially since Sylver couldn’t think of any alternatives.

Creating some sort of lift by filling the lower half of the accessible area with bombs would just as likely incinerate Sylver, as it would work as some sort of propellant for the ship.

Covering his body in [Coat Of Carrion] or making some sort of cocoon out of it wouldn’t work either. Even if Sylver had enough time to build a proper solid structure, the pressure of the water would still tear it apart in seconds.

Any magic related solution wasn’t an option because of the sun potentially leaking in and scrambling the spell, killing him from the backlash alone.

Fond memories filled Sylver’s head as he kept his eye closed and just waited for one of the plugged-up holes to tear open, or for him to fuck up and run out of mana, or accidentally blow himself up.

He had lots of fond memories. Fights that no one but him knew about that would have made him an even bigger legend than he already was, people he’d defeated that everyone told him he didn’t stand a chance against, even the time he found a way to become a lich without murdering infants.

But the memory that came to mind right now wasn’t any of that.

It was the most average of nights. Oska, Helca, and Sonya sat near the large fireplace in his tower, while Sylver watched them from a distance and lost against Nyx in a game of chess. Someone was supposed to be coming over, but Sylver for the life of him couldn’t remember who.

Aether wasn’t born yet, Nyx hated Cirin back when Oska still had both of her arms, and Henra wasn’t speaking to her at that point in time.

All he remembered was the warm feeling in his chest and an indescribable sense of comfort and safety that he’d never quite managed to achieve once he became the arch necromancer. By then he knew too much, was aware of the constant danger around him and the Ibis, and knew that they weren’t as invincible as the world at large thought them to be.

He only ever got close to that feeling when he was around Aether.

The boy would just look at him with the most peculiar expression on his face. As if he were playing a game and he had already won, and all that was left was to finish moving the pieces.

Sylver didn’t breathe out a sigh of relief as he heard a sound that sounded a lot like water rushing off the ship’s surface. The reason he didn’t breathe out a sigh of relief was that he didn’t want to get any highly explosive hydrogen inside of himself, which is what most of the “air” inside the ship right now was.

That and pure oxygen.

But he did smile as he continued to crawl towards the ever-decreasing water. Sylver opened his eye and very slowly looked around. The giant pile of bright red gore had been reduced to barely a stain on the floor, while the tendrils stretching out of it appeared dried up and dead.

Every visible surface was slick with water, as the hot gasses melted the frozen ice and the resulting water flowed down towards Sylver and was converted into even more gas to be pushed out. Sylver stood up from where he was sitting slowly and carefully and made his makeshift boots disappear. His foot wasn’t doing too well, on account of the frostbite and that he’d lost his small toe at some point but hadn’t noticed it.

But in such a hydrogen and oxygen rich environment, all it needed to turn into a bomb was a tiny spark, the kind static electricity tended to produce in these exact situations. The ship moaned as the metal warmed up and warped from the sudden increase in temperature, and Sylver could feel through his connection to the [Coat Of Carrion] spread over the floor that the plugged up holes weren’t under as much strain as before.

The ship had resurfaced.

Somehow.

The whole ship lurched to the left and Sylver very nearly lost his footing, before he turned into smoke and very gently wafted towards the exit door. He had been worried about sunlight coming in through a crack, but he had sealed all of them.

The floor was littered with things Sylver didn’t recognize, but he stored them away in his bones all the same as he moved towards the exit.

The front door had folded slightly from breaking Sylver’s ax when it closed, and now only a thick scab-like material kept it sealed closed.

If Sylver made a hole, he could theoretically funnel his way out of it. It would only take him a second or two.

But during that second he would be spread so thinly that he wasn’t 100% certain if he would be able to move after the sun had a chance to scorch his insides and outsides. And then he would either sink, or something would find him and eat him while he was immobilized.

Sylver-

A very faint clink echoed through the boat’s interior.

Sylver stood perfectly still in the darkness, while every single shade split up to the point of absurdity and spread out throughout the boat to find the source of the noise.

Sylver saw a bright red metallic cylinder rolling down the corridor towards him, with a rusted-off handle at the top scratching against the wet floor with each roll. One of the Spring split offs ever so gently materialized near the thing and held it in place to stop it moving. With all the ice having melted away and turned into water, a lot of previously unmoving items had been freed from their icy confines.

There was a strange-sounding noise from outside the ship, followed by the whole thing lurching so hard to the side that the wall became the floor for a moment. Spring kept a tight grip on the red cylinder and managed to somehow stop it from falling anywhere.

Sylver became aware of the fact that just about every room was filled to the brim with shades holding things down to stop them from hitting the metallic floor and causing a spark. The white paint had survived being frozen for who knows how long, but seemed to have a big issue with being heated up by hot gas and had peeled away.

Sylver very briefly saw a giant yellow-tinged tooth pierce the top part of the corridor near the end of the ship before he saw a faint spark then heard a sharp pop and then-

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[Kraker Polaris (Warrior+Rogue+Rogue+Rogue+Rogue+Rogue+Rogue) Defeated!]
[Due to defeating an enemy 90 levels above you, additional experience will be awarded!]

[Necromancer] has reached level 99!
+5AP

[Coat Of Carrion (I) Proficiency increased to 67%!]

[Physical Endurance (II) Proficiency increased to 100%!]

[Physical Endurance (II) rank up available!]

Sylver opened his eye and was quite honestly surprised to have something to open. His whole body felt painfully hot and stiff, and his [Dead Dominion] was frazzled to shit as all the tiny pieces of [Coat Of Carrion] armor floated around him.

He found that he was covered from head to toe in deep-fried flesh and bone armor, and had to liquefy it to move his arm and leg. When the helmet came off, Sylver was looking right at the sun and was almost blinded by it. He turned over and very slowly his mind realized that he wasn’t lying in the snow, but was instead mid-air and falling.

Beneath him, the land extended out as far as the eye could see, an impossible amount of perfectly clean and untouched snow.

Save for a bunch of cracks that looked very recently made.

Directly below Sylver was a…

It was hard to put into words…

It looked like a noodle soup mixed with a sickly green sauce. With gigantic puffs of pitch-black smoke escaping from within the folds of the noodles, giving them the appearance of being alive like a bowl of worms.

Sylver spread his arm out and tried to find a comfortable position to stop himself from spinning around.

All around him were pieces of the metal ship flying away from the source of the explosion, trailing black smoke behind them as they landed on the snow and ice, and disappeared beneath it.

The noodle soup directly below Sylver appeared agitated for a second, and Sylver saw an eyeball three times as big as he was rolled over in the frenzied mass of black noodles before it disappeared.

So either A: I’m very lucky to have survived this.

Or B: I’m very unlucky that something decided to chomp down on the ship just as I finished filling it with very volatile and highly explosive gas.

Was the ship moving what attracted it? Am I lucky that it died from the explosion, or unlucky that I got its attention in the first place? If it hadn’t died just now, would I have had to fight in the open and affected by the sun?

Sylver used [Dead Dominion] to force what remained of his robe to spread out and become flat so that he could glide a little bit, and hopefully land somewhere that didn’t look like it was filled with stomach acid and highly toxic blood.

It wouldn’t necessarily kill Sylver, but it sure as shit wouldn’t help his current situation.

Being swallowed alive and slowly digested was also one of the few things that terrified even the most fearless of the undead.

Luckily Sylver had been swallowed enough times that he had become desensitized to it.

Most creatures were a lot weaker if you cut from the inside out than if you tried cutting them from the outside in.

Most being a very important distinction, considering Sylver found out the hard way that some creatures were just as tough on the inside as they were on the outside.

Sylver saw that some of the tentacles below had suction cups on them, while others had odd-shaped scales that sort of looked like hooks. Sylver was so focused on the bubbling piles of tentacles that it was Spring that noticed the small boat falling down a little bit behind him.

Sylver changed the angle of his makeshift glider and moved towards the bright orange and almost completely unharmed vessel. It had a large scorch mark near the side of it, and a jagged crack down the middle, but otherwise it looked fine.

Sylver completely liquefied his armor and attached it to the boat, as he sat down inside of it and pondered how exactly he was going to make it land without breaking.

It was surprisingly light, but it also felt very brittle.

[Dead Dominion] worked a bit like having a personal magnetic field, except instead of metal, it moved dead organic matter around. So while Sylver could move the coated boat up and down, it would be relative to him.

Sylver floated out of the falling boat and covered his back in a thick layer of his fluffy white, and now slightly scorched, robe, and relaxed his body as much as possible to increase the surface area for when he landed. He turned the boat over so it was upside down and would catch some air and would slow down slightly from the added air resistance.

He would have hit the snow hard enough to break his neck, but at the last moment Sylver pulled the boat above him towards himself and canceled out enough of the force. He ended up landing quite softly, but as a result, the boat landed right on top of him and encased him as if it were a sarcophagus. The metal seat was close enough to his face that he could have licked it if he had a tongue to stick out.

Sylver stopped holding his breath and released a giant puff of hot air, filling up the boat completely and melting most of the snow around him.

He stayed like this for a minute or two and reflected on the decisions and choices that had brought him to another realm, where he created a gigantic bomb, and then killed something that was possibly level 200.

He was on the fence regarding if he was fortunate or not, but he didn’t feel very fortunate, regardless of the outcome.

The boat floated upwards and released Sylver, as he got out of his boat-shaped hole and once again enchanted the snow so that he would be able to walk on it.

An enormous tower of black smoke rose so high into the air that Sylver couldn’t see the end of it. Whatever was going on with the air in this realm, it seemed quite thin given that the smoke hadn’t diffused into it even a little.

Then again, it could just be because the source of the smoke was some kind of tentacle monster.

Sylver turned the boat over again and jumped up into it. The bottom of it was sort of flat, but curved, so it didn’t sink too much into the snow. If anything, Sylver felt it should have sunk far deeper than it did, but he wasn’t about to question it. It wasn’t exactly the strangest thing to happen to him today.

As Sylver watched the tower of smoke become ever taller and ever thicker, he closed his eye and looked through the things he’d managed to get out of the ship. Most of it was food trapped in a metallic can, with pictures of various fruits and vegetables that looked vaguely similar to the ones they had on Eira.

Sylver let them be for the time being and moved on to the next bone. A large amount of the things he stored away he couldn’t quite figure out the use or purpose of, so he ignored them and moved on. Sylver found a backpack that was sealed using a thin bright red rope, and inside was stuffed with some kind of odd cloth.

Sylver summoned the pack and opened it up to look inside.

A small cardboard card lay on top of the clothing inside and indicated in which order the layers were meant to be put on. There were instructions written in the same language that Sylver had seen on the boat, but the pictures were enough for Sylver to understand what he was supposed to do.

There were 8 steps to put the thing on, and Sylver was delighted by the fact that despite being so thin, even the first layer was already enough to keep him warm. The first layer was a pair of long underwear and a very tight shirt. Sylver was surprised to find that it was meant for a person much taller and wider than him, but it was close enough, even if it could end up chafing against his skin.

Layers 2 through 6 were just thin jackets that closed in the front and had little buttons to attach to one another. On top of his underwear, Sylver had 2 layers of pants, each attached to the matching layer of jacket. At the very bottom of the bag were shoes that were a bit too tight for Sylver’s foot.

But it was good enough for the time being. If anything his lack of a little toe made wearing them easier.

Sylver put the cloth mask on his face and everything but his eyes were covered by it. It was somehow able to keep his head warm, but at the same time allowed him to breathe through it. Finally, Sylver pulled his hood up and was supposed to attach it to something that went over his eyes, but the bag didn’t have it.

The color of all the clothing was mostly white, with some grey and dark grey splotches spread out without a discernible pattern. Sylver struggled with the gloves for a moment, before he checked the card and found that he was supposed to turn them inside out first. The gloves had only one split down the middle, so Sylver’s fingers were in one large compartment, while his thumb was in a separate one.

He could still make a fist, but grabbing or holding something would be difficult.

Sylver thought the whole thing looked incredibly stupid, but he liked how it covered up every inch of skin, including his head. If he managed to find the thing to cover his eyes, no one would know what he looked like underneath it. It also blended in quite well with the white snow around him.

Since the outfit protected his body from the sun, it was very easy to maintain his darkness-created arm and leg. Sylver could even use [Auditory Illusion] inside the space between his torso and the jacket to “speak”.

Sylver pulled 4 daggers out of his [Bound Bones] storage and used some of the [Coat Of Carrion] covering the boat to coat them in it. He considered going over to the giant dead tentacle monster to inspect it and gather some samples of it, or at least convert some of it into useable [Coat Of Carrion] but decided against it.

Undead were immune to toxins and poisons, but he still had to be wary of acid.

Plus, Sylver had no way of knowing if that thing was alone, or if there were more coming to see what the commotion was about, or were attracted to its corpse.

Sylver had food, he could make water, he had clothing and a sort of disguise, and he had a means of transport.

Sylver threw two daggers ahead of him, embedding them in the ice, pulled himself towards them, and by the time he reached the two he had thrown and pulled them out, he was already pulling himself towards the next two, with the boat sliding on the ice as he went.

All in all, he wasn’t doing too bad right now.

All that was left was to find some people who were alive, find someone or something to help him find the book, and then go home.

Easy.

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KingKennit

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