Ch112-Would Smell As Sweet
It was the small things like this that always made Sylver feel right at home.
No matter the realm, the place, the city, the civilization, the race, the level of technology, magic or lack thereof, culture, dictator, republic, it didn’t matter, everyone everywhere always loved watching two people beat the ever-loving shit out of each other.
Violence is a universal concept, Sylver had yet to see or hear of a single community that managed to survive its entire existence without once having to result in violence.
There was that one place, but living in a natural impenetrable fortress and never having to defend it from attackers, doesn’t count.
Not to mention it wasn’t as impenetrable as they thought.
Sylver penetrated it.
Quite easily actually.
Once he figured out how their fancy crystals functioned, he walked right through their defenses as if they weren’t even there.
Sylver was briefly blinded as the large doors fizzled out of existence and a bright light shined directly into his face. It was one of those floating metal spheres. Which thanks to Grant Sylver now knew was called a drone, and had some sort of flying mechanism inside of it that allowed it to ignore the effects of gravity.
Grant wasn’t very good when it came to explaining things, but Sylver appreciated the effort, and even more so appreciated that if he let him talk, Grant would eventually tell him something he couldn’t have asked about.
Like that “The Flip” happened only 1,180 years ago. And that “The Tides” wasn’t just one event, but something that happened somewhat often. Although Sylver couldn’t tell if it occurred every year, or once every 10 years. The Garden was built before “The Flip”, and that the people in the highest layer “Flowers” were all direct descendants of the Gardener.
The blinding light dimmed slightly as Sylver tried to block it out of his only eye, and he got to see the arena.
The floor was made out of some odd-looking fabric, and by the way it held Sylver’s weight, there was something like sand or soft wood underneath it. The area he would be fighting in was sectioned off via a large glass dome.
It wasn’t too dissimilar from the one Sylver had fought in at the adventurer’s guild, save for the fact that he didn’t get the feeling digging through the fabric was an option.
The glass dome somehow illuminated the area inside itself, without allowing any of the light to escape out into the oddly spaced stands that were filled up with people.
They sat in sections, but it wasn’t strictly by color. There was a green, a red, a yellow, and a blue section, although apart from the blue section, the others were mixed up a little.
Sylver saw that some of the greens sat in the red area, and vice versa, while the yellow area was exclusively yellow, but with some yellows mixed up in the red and green area.
Sylver flinched as the drone flew around him without moving the air, and heard a short murmur of laughter from the audience. When he came inside the arena, he could see that high above the area where the blues and yellows sat, there was a large hanging room with a television screen showing Sylver’s face on it.
The drone moved away from Sylver and light flickered beneath it until a thin woman wearing a bright red suit and bowtie appeared. Grant explained that this was an illusion, hologram, although he struggled to explain how it was made in a way that Sylver could understand.
The woman said something to someone on her right, and as she reached out towards whatever she was speaking to, her hand disappeared. The hand reappeared a moment later holding a large bright red top hat, that the woman put onto her head and then clapped her hands.
Sylver’s eye once again hurt from the sudden shift in brightness. A perfect circle of light was right around him, while every other source of light had been snuffed out. The woman in the red suit disappeared from the middle of the arena and appeared right next to Sylver.
“Ladies and gentlemen! To start, a round of applause for the newest challenger who has decided to try his luck in the tower!” the woman in the red suit said in a booming voice that came from the walls surrounding the arena, rather than the drone that was creating the illusion.
Sounds of clapping and cheering came out of the walls, but it wasn’t anywhere near as enthusiastic as the woman’s voice was.
“Fair enough ladies and gentlemen. At level 100 this young man has to face battle-hardened veterans, dungeon divers, monster hunters, and our very own Barks and Thorns!” the woman in the red shouted.
The soldiers and guards in the Garden were called “thorns” for the guards that left the Garden, the ones who captured Sylver, and “barks” the ones that defended the Garden from… stuff. Grant seemed to think Sylver was well aware of what was outside the Garden and didn’t go into specifics.
The woman in red leaned out of the range of the illusion for a bit and returned a moment later holding a tablet in her hand. Iris was a type of tablet and more of a nickname for the devices that were built specifically for her to be inside of.
“As always ladies and gentlemen, you have been wise to hold onto your cuts. This young man is a stranger to our humble tower, an unknown variable, he could go the route of Dereck the Grey Lance,” the crowd booed at the name, “or, he could surprise us all and end up being the next Gold Giers!” the woman in red said, as the crowd cheered at the name.
“Young man, what’s your name?” the woman in red said. Sylver was so engrossed in her speech it took him a couple of seconds to realize that she was talking to him.
There was a painful silence as Sylver tried to figure out how loudly he should speak before he spoke in his normal volume.
“Uh… Tod,” Sylver answered.
“Tod, no family name? Always found it strange that you lot never bothered with a second name. What do you do when there’s two Tods in a tribe? What’d they call you, Tod the bald?” the woman asked, with a big wide smile, that didn’t even come close to reaching her eyes.
Sylver heard a faint chuckle from the crowd. Before Sylver could cobble together an answer, the woman rolled her eyes and spoke again.
“What can you do Tod? At level 100 and entering the tower I would imagine you’ve seen your fair share of fights. What’s your specialty? Ragoons? Elkens? Krooks?” the woman in the red suit asked.
“Um… Ursa Polaris?” Sylver tried to explain.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it is too late to change your bets! But I will admit, I do share your enthusiasm. Not quite as impressive as Gold Giers, but Ursa Polaris! Tricky bastards those are. Look away for one second and they’re as good as invisible. How did you go about hunting them, Tod?” the woman asked.
“I uh… Just stabbed them in the neck and waited for them to bleed out,” Sylver explained. He was trying to keep as many of his abilities hidden as possible and summoning an infinite amount of explosives was a big one.
“Really? The adult ones have a perk that lets them fully heal themselves 2 times! How’d you get around that!” the woman in red asked.
“Stabbed them twice?” Sylver offered with a shrug.
He heard the crowd laugh a little, but the woman in red didn’t seem the least bit amused. She looked away from Sylver for a moment and had a thin smirk on her face.
“How about this Tod. If you win this fight, I’ll give you a bright and shiny name. Something that will roll right off the tongue, how about it?” the woman offered.
“Sure,” Sylver said.
Given that the woman in white advised that he not use his real name, he didn’t care too much what people called him. Plus, a name a native gave him would sound a lot better than the name he picked out.
“Fantastic, now then are you at all familiar with how things are done inside the tower?” the woman in red asked.
“I’m not,” Sylver answered.
He had tried to look up information about it from Iris and asked Grant, but Iris didn’t explain anything, and Grant only knew that people fought inside of it. Sylver should have asked around, but it was either fighting today or waiting for 3 months until his next chance to enter came.
There was a queue of a sort, and Sylver was at the very front for a very short period, due to arriving so recently.
“Of course you’re not. I’ll give you the short version. In a few minutes, the light will come back on, and you will fight the man on the other side of this enclosed arena. The rules are quite simple. In the event you kill your opponent, you will be permanently disqualified. The fight ends when one of you surrenders, is knocked unconscious, or if your HP goes below 5% of your total,” the woman explained.
“Other than that, everything else goes?” Sylver asked.
“You’re not allowed any outside help. Advice is perfectly fine, but if so much as a single HP is healed by someone, not inside the enclosed space, it will be an automatic win for your opponent. Other than that, you’re free to go hog wild. Biting, scratching, maiming, skinning, breaking bones, disemboweling, even cutting limbs off,” the woman said with a knowing nod towards Sylver’s left side.
Right they did poke and prod me back on that flying thing, she likely has seen the report they wrote.
“But if you want healing, it’ll cost ya,” the woman said, adding extra emphasis on the last two words, which made the crowd surrounding the arena snicker oddly. Sylver guessed it was some sort of inside joke or a reference to something.
“Now then… Tod… see, it doesn’t work! Too boring! Ruins the flow! Can’t get excited with a name like Tod! Tod doesn’t go into battle and come out covered in the blood of his enemies, Tod is a carpenter with a bad back!” the woman in red said, first in a calm voice, and then in a booming roar.
“I can’t believe I forgot the most important part!” the woman shouted, as she disappeared from Sylver’s side and appeared back in the middle.
“The weapons! What kind of fight would it be without any weapons!” the woman shouted, as a very brightly colored wheel illusion appeared next to Sylver, with barely visible writing on each segment.
The wheel slowly began to turn while a thin stick on the right side hit the poles attached to the wheel. They were spaced out so that when the wheel stopped the stick would land on one side or the other, with the weapon that was chosen being crystal clear.
Sylver saw an identical-looking wheel appear on the other side of the arena, and saw a man wearing full body armor watching it.
I did not think this through.
Sylver watched the spinning wheel but struggled to count how many segments there were on it, other than that there were a lot.
Sylver saw the man on the other side of the arena roll his shoulders as his wheel also began to spin.
Just give me something I can stab him with. Sylver thought as he watched his own wheel.
He had a fair amount of [Coat Of Carrion] hidden beneath his clothing, but he doubted it would be strong enough to pierce the odd fabric armor his opponent was wearing. According to Grant, it was a very popular choice of armor, since it was very light and partially bulletproof.
But the armor the man was wearing was thicker than the images Grant had shown Sylver, meaning it was a little bit tougher than normal bulletproof armor.
That complicated things… but it was a little too late to do anything about it now.
Quite frankly Sylver felt a little embarrassed about how unprepared he was for the whole thing. He was dressed in his dark blue trousers, his soft shoes, a blue shirt, and a dark blue jacket he had bought from Iris for 90 cuts.
The wheel stopped spinning at…
Whatever the fuck “nunchucks” were.
Sylver heard a collective intake of breath from the crowd, and could even tell by his opponent's shaking shoulders that he was laughing. He had to squint to be able to see where his opponent's wheel stopped.
But as two sticks tied to one another by a small piece of chain fell directly in front of Sylver, and a two-handed sword landed point first into the fabric floor in front of his opponent, Sylver got his answer.
“My word man. Did you use up all your luck getting inside the Garden?” the woman in red asked, as Sylver leaned down to pick up the odd-looking weapon. He felt like he had seen it before, but the feeling was very weak.
His opponent on the other hand kicked the pommel of his sword and made it fly into the air. He stared directly at Sylver as the sword spun right above his head, and came point side down towards his hand. The man made an odd gesture as the blade passed a mere inch away from his open palm, and he caught perfectly by the handle.
As he repeated the trick and made it spin and land in one hand and then another, Sylver used [Appraisal].
[Elf (Footman+Soldier+Fire Starter+Spearman+Bladesman) - 109]
[HP – 10,000]
[MP – 1,000]
Seems about right.
Sylver looked down at the two pieces of wood in his hand.
On the other hand, even if he bashes my brain into mush, I’ve got enough mana that I can still keep my body moving. Can I even be knocked out? I don’t think so, but that HP thing…
“What are the rules for bringing in my own weapon?” Sylver asked.
“You can bring whatever you want, but only what you can carry on you. You’ll be given a detailed explanation after this, don’t worry about it,” the woman in red said, somehow so quietly that Sylver didn’t think anyone but him had heard her.
“And magic?” Sylver asked.
The arena very gradually became brighter and brighter, until every inch was illuminated. Sylver felt an odd prickling on his skin, but nowhere near as strong as when he was outside. It would limit the range of his illusions by a few meters but that’s about the extent of it.
He heard a booming laugh from the man on the other side of the arena, as the sword he was holding began to glow a deep red, as it gradually became surrounded in flames. He also saw that the mana in the man seemed to be concentrated on his right side, down where Sylver had found that odd-shaped organ.
“Any other questions?” the woman asked.
Her illusion walked backward from the middle of the arena as she shouted “Three! Two! One! Fight!” before Sylver had so much as a chance as to open his mouth.
“I always hate fighting the newcomers. Hard to predict who’s a monster and who had their hand held as they gained their levels,” Sylver’s opponent shouted, as he slowly began to walk towards him. Sylver grabbed one of the sticks and let the other hang, as he felt like that was how he was supposed to be using this.
“Would you believe me if I said I’m the monster type? Surrender before you get hurt?” Sylver offered. The crowd around him booed so loudly he felt like the glass enclosure shook because of it.
“It would be bad form. Not to mention I’ve already got 3 losses under my belt, I don’t want my 4th to be from surrendering,” the man shouted, and Sylver just barely heard him over the sound of the booing crowd.
“Fair enough. You’ve been very polite, so I’m going to do my best not to hurt you too much,” Sylver offered, as he moved the thin layer of [Coat Of Carrion] up onto his forearms and down onto his shins.
“Likewise. I’m Ilkes, let’s have a drink when whoever loses recovers,” Ilkes offered.
Damn… I think I just got unlucky with Chen’s men, this place can’t be all bad if someone like this guy exists. Should I surrender now?
Would a loss mean anything? He’s got a sword and I’ve got two sticks.
On the other hand, it would impress any potential sponsors if I won this…
And Ilkes seems like a good guy, I’ll do him the favor of giving him some unique combat experience.
Ilkes raised his flaming sword over his head and brought it downwards with so much speed and force that Sylver just barely managed to see the moment between the sword being up in the air, and down near the cloth.
An extremely tightly compressed stream of fire in the shape of a sickle mirrored the path Ilkes’s sword took and came right at Sylver. Sylver raised his hand towards the fire, and it passed through him without so much as making his clothes ruffle from the wind.
Ilkes on the other hand seemed more surprised by Sylver appearing on his left and with an empty right hand going right for his face. Sylver got his hand out of the way right as Ilkes brought his sword back up and nearly managed to slice it off.
“Illusions! Should have brought my TIGs!” Ilkes said with a laugh, as he swiped his sword through Sylver, and could only shrug his shoulders as he didn’t feel any resistance.
“Invisibility and illusions! Or is this just a big illusion around me? Everyone, shout where he is if you can see him!” Ilkes shouted in a sing-song voice.
To Sylver’s surprise, the crowd did just that. A couple tried to trick him by saying 2 o’clock, while most shouted loud and clear 7 o’clock.
Ilkes spun in place and lunged at Sylver, tearing through the cylindrical illusion he had created around the man. An odd reflex kicked in, and Sylver used the two sticks of wood to catch the giant sword coming right at him.
It did little to stop the flames, if anything it was like they were liquid, and Sylver stopping the sword caused his entire body to become engulfed in fire.
Sylver made an on-the-spot decision and let go of his two sticks, and leaned down as he spread his arms out and kicked as hard as he could towards Ilkes.
Ilkes for his part reacted the way anyone would, and brought his sword closer to his chest to guard. Sylver, still on fire, snapped with the fingers on his right hand, and both he and Ilkes were sent flying backward from the sudden decompression of air.
Sylver’s clothes had turned slightly purple from some of his blood leaking into them. Ilkes recovered in less than a second and was already swinging his sword around and sending compressed fire sickle after compressed fire sickle.
Sylver flicked his hand towards his weapon, and a thin tendril grabbed the wood pieces and put them back into his hand.
Sylver threw the wood bits at Ilkes.
Ilkes scorched it into nothing, just as Sylver finished ripping his jacket off his body. The jacket turned bright purple as [Coat Of Carrion] seeped into it and forced it into the shape of a long stick.
With a pointed end.
Sylver had to be careful not to put too much weight onto his left leg as he leaned back and threw the makeshift spear as hard as he could. Ilkes made his large sword flat and flicked it to the side, in an attempt to block the spear, but hadn’t expected the mass of tendrils that exploded out of it the moment it made contact, and then immediately wrapped themselves around his sword, his hands, and his face.
Or tried to at least, given that the tendrils dried up and turned to ash before any of them managed to get a proper grip.
Sylver threw the spear made out of his shirt next and had to close his eyes as the hot air Ilkes created from his fire. Sylver felt that he had maybe 3 more good puffs of fire left, but he was recovering his mana way too quickly.
Sylver’s left leg and left arm popped and lost substance, just as he reached Ilkes and in a single fluid motion grabbed the man and threw him over his shoulder.
It was a very bad throw, considering Sylver did it wrong due to missing the required left leg. Ilkes tried to recover mid-air, while simultaneously cutting Sylver with his sword, but he was busy trying to block Sylver’s shoe.
Which in this case was just a shoe, given that the real danger was that Sylver saw a small gap under his armpit and had stabbed his [Coat Of Carrion] coated fingers through it.
Sylver’s slightly sharpened fingers passed between Ilkes’s first and second ribs and exploded with blood as he pushed them deeper until he found what he was looking for.
Ilkes made a sound that words couldn’t describe as Sylver grabbed his beating heart and ever so slightly squeezed it.
“I SURRENDER!” Ilkes screamed, snuffing out his flames at the same time as Sylver slid his arm out.
Sylver’s hand was scratched to shit, burned, and he now saw that the material under Ilkes’s armpit had a metallic wire running through it, and had sliced off some of the flesh around Sylver’s fingers and knuckles. [Coat Of Carrion] had protected him from the worst of it, but it wasn’t great.
Ilkes was clutching at his left armpit as Sylver made himself a leg and got up from the floor.
Sylver flinched as the crowd around him went beyond wild, and damn near deafened him as the woman in red appeared by his side and gestured for him to lift his blood-covered right hand up in the air.
Sylver saw a flash of flames and then watched as Ilkes got up on shaking legs. He had seared his wound closed but hadn’t done a very good job of it.
“Ladies and gentlemen! You saw it here first, and you saw it here live! Ilkes has surrendered! 119 wins and now 4 losses!” the woman in red screamed as Ilkes used his left hand to hold Sylver’s hand up.
“You all didn’t think this bright young man had a slither of a chance of winning! 98 to 1 odds! A sliver! That was all he needed, the tiniest sliver of an opening, literally in this case,” the woman paused as some of the crowd laughed.
“I’ll grant you this, he’s no Gold Giers!” the woman shouted, as Ilkes grabbed at his side again and Sylver helped him stay on his feet.
“But you know what he is! He’s the Silver Sliver!” the woman in red shouted while gesturing at Sylver.
“Tell us Silver, what do you think of your new name? Rolls right off the tongue, wouldn’t you agree?” the woman in red asked, as Sylver was too focused on dragging Ilkes out of the arena and towards the white-faced healer standing at the ready.
The woman waited for a beat before spreading her arms out and shouting.
“Hear that ladies and gentlemen! He loves it! Give it up for the Silver Sliver!” the woman in red shouted, as the cheers of the crowd managed to drown out even her overly loud voice.