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A note from KingKennit

Good news everyone!

The dude who wrote Wizard's Tower, released a book!

It's called An Old Man's Journey.

The gist of the story is that it's about an old man, and his journey.

And as I've said previously, characters are what make a story. A magic system can be the most advanced to ever be created, while inside of a world that has 50k years worth of lore and history, but if the characters are bland, it doesn't matter.

I read this story when it was a web serial, and I've reread it as a book (because I tricked him into thinking I know what I'm talking about when it comes to storytelling to get a free book) and a lot for the nitpicky issues with the web serial isn't there when you read it as a book. 

Pacing is perfect, the characters are fun and make sense, and the humor isn't forced, and done well.

Anyway, me and the guy have a similar style (in a good way) so if you like this story, you might like this book to.

At the end of his life, Charles was left with one question: What was it all for?

After his tour of duty and an unremarkable post-Army business career, Charles spent his twilight years watching old movies and waiting for his grandkids to call. He'd lived a good life, been a decent man, but now that his wife was gone he was... Lonely.

Until his old friend Bert introduced him to Crossroads, the new VR sensation. In this virtual world he can move without pain, explore new lands, and most importantly - see his family again. For as long as he can hold their interest, in this fast-paced modern world of instant gratification and VR thrills.

The solution: Build a place his family wants to visit. Armed only with a magic stick with game-breaking powers that should be nerfed, Charles sets out on a journey to find a place to call his own. Along the way, he will be mistaken for an NPC quest giver, become the antagonist in epic questlines, and attempt to teach the next generation proper behavior - even if he has to beat it into them.

This is the story of one man's search for belonging in his second virtual life. A search for a place to belong, and what it takes to get there. It's also a hilarious romp through online fantasy cliches that will appeal to fans of Ready Player One, The Wandering Inn, and slice-of-life comedies.

Because at the end of a man's life: What's more important than family?

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Ch119-Prep Work

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Sylver remained perfectly still, embedded into the grassy dirt, and with both of his hands in the air, while the gun remained pointed right at his face.

Sylver didn’t get a whole lot of time to think through his options, as his stomach, and the faint whirring noise coming out from the gun made his decision for him.

The armored man holding the gun was on Sylver’s right, which was very fortunate for Sylver, but unfortunate for the man.

Sylver kicked his right leg upward, caught the gun by one of the metallic coils sticking out of it, and pulled it towards himself. Sylver felt hot air pass right through where his right ear used to be, as he pulled the gun’s barrel towards the ground, and caught it between his head and his right shoulder.

Sylver felt the barrel pressed to the side of his neck shiver for a second, before once again piping hot air escaped from the hole the gun had fired into and licked the side of Sylver’s head.

The next set of actions occurred in what could be described as a blink of an eye.

Sylver gripped the gun as hard as he could with both hands, as he pressed both feet up against the man’s chest and kicked as hard as his legs could handle. The man was surprisingly heavier than Sylver had expected, but due to being in an unstable position, he stumbled backward, and into the man holding the anti-magic device.

Sylver slammed his right hand onto the grass and dirt and created a blunt pillar underneath the man holding the oversized flashlight. Sylver was roughly a millisecond too slow, and the light already began to shine out of the box-shaped device, even as the man lost his grip and could only watch as it was flung upwards into the air. It spun wildly, but thankfully fast enough that Sylver didn’t feel the full effect of it.

With a weak flick of the wrist, a hole opened up directly below Sylver and he fell down into it.

As the Sylver-shaped hole closed up, it rumbled for a moment, before it exploded with a giant puff of dust, and lowered the already poor visibility down into nothing.

In the 5 or so seconds it took the 3 men to recover their bearings, Sylver was already long gone.

*

*

*

Between the mask, the blood, and the fact that Sylver was covered in a layer of darkness, he had no doubt that none of those 3 men had seen his status or his face. So they wouldn’t go looking for a level 104 necromancer, courtesy of his [Faceless] trait.

Unless they heard him saying out loud “I’m a necromancer.”

Not that it really mattered, considering that the couple of seconds Sylver had spent under the influence of their anti-magic device had made his left arm and leg disappear.

Sylver wasn’t alone in missing a few body parts, but he was alone in the fact that he hadn’t had an electronic replacement installed.

It sounded good in theory, but as it turned out, every single piece of tech in this city used lead as part of their circuit boards. They used a metal alloy to connect their wires to one another, which was partially made up of lead.

Sylver had asked Grant about making him an arm and a leg without using any “solder” in it, and Grant had several fairly good ideas... that were all made pointless when he remembered that the processors they used also contained lead inside of them.

And when Sylver asked about having a custom-made processor built, Grant just stared at him as if he had grown a second and third head.

It wasn’t an issue of money, but more of an issue of building an entirely brand new production line, which was so complex that only 2 existed in the entire Garden. Grant didn’t even know where he would start if he wanted to make it.

The result was that electronic limbs were a lost cause for Sylver.

Even if it would have been kind of cool, and meant Sylver could focus on healing his tongue and eye.

Sylver lowered his head down beneath the showerhead and spent a minute or two just letting the warm water run over his bald scalp. The damage to his head was minimal, the creature had barely pierced the skin, it didn’t get anywhere near the bone.

Which meant that it wasn’t that much stronger than Sylver.

Which was as reassuring as it was worrying.

Because it shouldn’t have been able to touch him that way, let alone get through the layer of darkness and touch Sylver’s skin underneath it. This spell worked on a similar principle as when Sylver first entered his haunted mansion and Misha and Masha tried to kill him but all of their illusions were nothing more than illusions to Sylver.

When it came to creatures that were made of darkness, or used darkness, they had to either overpower Sylver, or they had to use their mana more efficiently than he did.

In the same way, only a diamond can cut a diamond, Sylver’s darkness could only be pierced by an equally efficient darkness. Which he didn’t think was possible by anything less than a demi lich equivalent.

In this case, it was more like simply applying enough pressure, until the diamond cracked.

I should have brought a lead dagger with me or something.

Actually, with all the lead they have available, why are these things considered a threat? If you shoot them they’re out of the fight for a few hours at the very least.

And if they have that gun that fires positive energy, along with the flashlight and anti-magic thing, why are there any creatures of darkness left in the city at all?

Sylver ran his right hand over his head and checked to be sure the cuts had all been sealed and hadn’t become inflamed. His face might look a little paler than normal, but Sylver doubted anyone would notice. He moved the blood that would be circulating through his scalp down towards his slowly regrowing left leg.

Among other things, Sylver hadn’t realized how dangerous his situation was.

If those three came after him specifically, would Sylver be able to win against the flashlight that makes it impossible to use proper magic, a device that shuts down magic, and finally a gun that seemed to fire a beam of pure positive energy?

In his heart of hearts, Sylver knew the answer was “yes”.

He’d find a way to win, even if he didn’t have his shades or his usual magic.

But the more Sylver thought about it, the dumber the idea of exploring the city during the night became.

In Sylver’s defense, he did get what he was looking for. Or a part of it at least.

Sylver threw the blood-soaked towel into the hole for trash, after which he rinsed his body off in the shower again, and dressed up for the day.

Even if those three didn’t see Sylver’s face, and he was lucky enough that the angle was wrong for them to notice his two missing limbs, there was still the issue that Iris quite possibly recorded that Sylver had 7 claw marks on his face when he came home.

What options did Sylver have if that were the case?

In hindsight, he should have hidden somewhere and waited until he got all the blood off him, and closed up the wounds, but he was worried that the black fire creature would find him.

And now Sylver could do nothing but wait for the guards to come and get him, under suspicion of being one of those fake shade creatures.

That is, assuming those 3 were guards, to begin with.

Their uniform wasn’t like anything he’d seen the guards here or at the Tower wearing.

If it was a specialist force, Sylver might be fucked.

And if it wasn’t then who the fuck were they? Had they been tracking him, that black fire creature, or were they merely out for a stroll and decided to help a guy out, before shooting him in the face.

Because of the lead interference from their tools, Sylver hadn’t even had a chance to feel their souls.

There were so many unknown elements in this that Sylver didn’t know what to do about it.

For the time being, he would go back to his normal routine of trying not to think or worry too hard about it.

He could always leave the Garden.

Try his luck outside with the supposed monsters that had surrounded it.

If Sylver was smart and didn’t feel sorry for Spring and how quiet he had become, he would have just slept during the night, and then fucked his way up the hierarchy until he ended up getting invited to lady Demor’s house.

But what’s done is done.

Absolute worst-case scenario, Sylver could offer them a way of dealing with the shadow creatures, assuming he isn’t executed on the spot. But once he was under suspicion and scrutiny, someone would surely end up figuring out he wasn’t from this realm.

This wouldn’t exactly be the end of the world, but it would complicate finding “The Story Of The Seven Suns” by a great deal.

Or it could make it very easy… Sylver had literally mountains worth of knowledge to trade… Since this wasn’t his realm, he could even offer the ones at the top immortality.

It would have catastrophic consequences with regards to whatever gods this realm had, but…

Does this realm even have gods?

They have healing magic so supposedly…

Grant knocked on the door and interrupted Sylver’s staring contest with his reflection in the mirror.

“It’s finished,” Grant said.

Sylver ran his hands over his bald scalp and walked out of the bathroom and down into the living room.

In the corner, the biggest fish tank that was available for purchase was currently filled to the very brim with distilled water and had three cameras pointed directly at it. One from the top, one from the front, and one from the side.

Sylver walked over to the tank and closed his eye in concentration for a moment. His two fingers pulsed with very weak yellow light, as a yellow crack appeared on his darkness-made arm and made the glowing fingers glow slightly brighter.

Sylver dipped his two fingers so slowly and gently into the water that it didn’t even create a ripple on the surface. A droplet of barely visible yellow light descended down into the water, and with a weak wave of Sylver’s hand stopped right in the very middle.

After a solid minute had passed without movement, Grant asked the question Sylver was thinking.

“Did it work? Is it working I mean? It’s locked on and tracking, but it hasn’t moved,” Grant said.

“Scale is an issue here. But I’ll figure it out after a bit. How much can this record it for?” Sylver asked as he pointed at the odd-looking camera and what used to be Grants laptop.

His new one looked nearly identical but was apparently leaps and bounds above the old one.

“25 years, give or take. What are you tracking anyway?” Grant asked with a slight smile.

Sylver turned back to stare at the barely visible droplet of yellow and tapped the glass with his right hand. The droplet released some kind of cloudy smoke for a couple of seconds, and then stretched out into the shape of a cone. The cone spun in place for a while, and then moved about 2 centimeters to the left, and stopped one more time.

“Someone took something from me, and I’d like to figure out where they’re hiding it,” Sylver said. He heard a sound and looked around. He opened his small Iris and saw an image of a single green line.

“If it moves it will send you an image of the tracked movement… There’s uh… Something weird happened today with the Deadmen,” Grant said, so quietly it was as if he had hoped Sylver wouldn’t hear him.

“What?” Sylver asked.

“Mills spoke to them. Asked them about who you are, what you’re doing, that kind of thing. They said… well they think Chen is about to make a move,” Grant explained, still strangely hesitant.

“Tell me the part you don’t want to tell me,” Sylver said after a few seconds of pause.

“Chen is the king of the Roots. More or less, you’ve been here long enough that you know what I mean… The uh… one of the people Mills talked to has a skill that… He saw what Mills was writing to Chen,” Grant explained.

“What are you afraid of? If you’re being threatened in any way shape or form, you know I’ll take care of it,” Sylver offered.

Grant stood up and as an afterthought closed his laptop and picked it up. Sylver noticed a while ago he would hold tech whenever he was nervous or panicking.

“He uh… He offered a trade. His eye and freedom, for information he’s certain you want,” Grant explained. Sylver narrowed his eyes at this, even the fake one.

“I see…” Sylver said as he looked down for a moment to adjust his shoes.

“And?” Grant asked.

“And what?”

“Do you accept his offer, do you reject it, what are you going to do?” Grant asked.

“I do understand how this sounds, but why do you care? I’ve since heard about some of the stuff most of them had done. I had very little empathy for them from the start, now it’s not that far off from complete apathy,” Sylver explained, with a slightly offended tone in his voice.

“I spoke to some of the friendlier ones during their breaks. And I didn’t want to say anything, but a majority of them did what they did because they were threatened into it. Or in some cases, because they had parents or siblings that they couldn’t abandon,” Grant said, gaining confidence in his words with each sentence. His fingers tapped on the laptop before he caught himself and stopped it.

“Alright… So?” Sylver asked, he could already tell where this was going, but he didn’t want to just wave Grant away.

They were friends.

Or at least close enough that Sylver wanted to be sure they were both on the same page.

Watching Sylver’s slaves wasn’t part of their agreement, and yet Grant did it without a word of complaint.

“So… Maybe we could let some of them go? The one who saw what Mills wrote barely did anything,” Grant offered.

Sylver very nearly started his sentence with “we?” but decided on a different approach.

“You do remember they tried to kill me? They had guns and everything. The first few might have planned to just rough me up, but the last 100 came in guns blazing,” Sylver explained.

“I uh… I kind of forgot about that… They shot up the old house… And you nearly shot yourself in the leg when you were picking up their guns from the second group,” Grant said, mostly to himself as if the memories were slowly being unlocked.

“First of all, I did shoot myself in the leg. But it was my fake leg, it doesn’t count,” Sylver said.

“Sure.”

“Second of all… Despite my boyish good looks and youthful timbre, I’m a little bit older than you,” Sylver said and saw Grant’s eyes open up a little.

“That certainly explains the odd accent,” Grant said. Sylver flinched but carried on talking.

“So here’s some advice I wish someone gave me when I was your age… Be selfish. Pick who and what you care about, and disregard everything else,” Sylver said while he leaned down and picked a piece of rock that had found its way into the sole of his shoe.

“The fuck happened to you that you seriously consider that good advice?” Grant asked, not quite shocked, but not that far away from it either.

“I did my very best to care and help everyone and everything, and it never once worked out well for me. Since then I found that I don’t really care about the things I don’t know about or can’t see. Perfect example; you barely 2 minutes ago. Did you care that I nearly died at the hands of the very men you’re asking me to let go?” Sylver asked, without expecting an answer.

“But you made them build houses? Even made them take jobs that paid nothing but needed to be done? What you say and what you do, don’t match,” Grant said.

“Because what I said was “be selfish” and what you heard was “be an evil selfish asshole”. You can be “selfish” while helping people out. The trick is to know when to stop. With the guy you said wants to trade, if you ask me to free him, I’ll do it, no strings attached. But you’ll need to remember that from this point on, anything he does is on you. Every beating, rape, and execution would be on your hands and your hands alone,” Sylver said, with a finger pointed at Grant.

Sylver had been around Grant long enough that he had a rough understanding of his soul. But whatever he was feeling right now was a bit too complex for Sylver to grasp properly. All the ambient lead in all the electronics spread around the room certainly weren’t helping either.

“…”

Sylver adjusted his sleeves and turned around to look at the fish tank with the floating tracker. The screen on the laptop showed that it had moved back into its original spot, and then kept going for a while, before stopping again.

“I understand where you’re coming from Grant. And I don’t think you’re stupid or naïve or anything of the like. You spoke to them and their identity in your head changed from “guy who tried to kill Tod and probably beat someone half to death a week prior” to “guy who has the same hobby as I do and has tons of funny jokes to tell”. And the worst part of it all, is that you’re not wrong,” Sylver explained.

“How much older are you?” Grant asked.

“That’s not important. What is important is that you at least think about what I’ve said. I’m a hopeless optimist, I always do my best to look at things and people in the most positive light I can find. These guys aren’t “bad” for wanting money and power, it’s what everyone wants. They simply picked the faster but more dangerous path,” Sylver explained, while he watched the cone move around and then move downward.

Probably a pipe going down…

How deep is the Garden? Is it floating or is it on land?

*

*

*

Grant ended up asking for Sylver to wait before doing anything, but Sylver managed to convince him that something involving him and Chen and Mills wasn’t something he could just shrug off.

Well, he could, but Chen was either ignoring him or was being too cautious. Neither of which Sylver liked, the first for pride-related reasons, and the second for tactical reasons.

He never liked being up against people smarter than him, it never ended well, and when it did the fact that he had to resort to something a barbaric moron would use left a bad taste in his mouth.

Sylver didn’t like fighting as a whole.

He enjoyed getting to test his skills, with a lowercase s, and new experiences gave him ideas for more and better magic, but if he could attain that without killing someone, he would have preferred it.

The man who had seen what Mills had written to Chen was reluctant to trade the information for a vague “maybe”.

But once Sylver very calmly and gently explained that he would skin him alive if he didn’t, and would mess with his cardiovascular system in such a way as to make it impossible for him to bleed to death just from having his skin peeled off, he changed his mind and told him everything.

And quite honestly, Sylver would have almost preferred not to know.

Because someone had asked Chen not to interact with Sylver. And if what Sylver knew about the power structure of the Garden was correct, that someone had to be either a Leaf or a Flower.

Leafs were the elves in charge of production at the highest level. Maintenance of the systems that kept the Garden functional and all that. Their power was that they were the beating heart of the Garden, it wouldn’t live long if they decided to quit.

The Flowers on the other hand were the brain of the whole thing. They delegated, organized, and were not that far away from what the upper ranks of nobility in Eira were.

So someone was maybe looking out for Sylver…

A very optimistic possibility, maybe one of the women who Pecan was arranging meetings with had looked into him and decided to help him out. To keep him alive for them to enjoy if nothing else.

A slightly less optimistic possibility, someone knew about Sylver’s nightly activities and was trying to minimize the damage Sylver could cause, before imprisoning or killing him. If he never met Chen, he couldn’t kill or cripple him.

As for going to Chen’s hideout and finding out the truth…

It wasn’t an option.

Not that Sylver couldn’t fight his way through hordes of gun-waving gangsters, but it was simply a case of no one plain and simple not knowing where Chen was.

Down to the point, not everyone working for Chen believed he was real.

Sylver rubbed the base of his spine with the palm of his hand and felt the shiver move down his back.

Unsurprisingly Kass opened the door before Sylver even thought about reaching for the handle.

“What’s wrong?” Kass asked, his normally annoyingly composed face showing slight hints of worry.

“You don’t know? Strange…” Sylver said.

Clairvoyants were annoying and dangerous.

Clairvoyants that were acting weird was normally a sure sign to get as far away from them as possible.

“It’s… It hasn’t been a good week. I made a mistake and paid for it,” Kass explained, as he led Sylver inside and gestured for him to sit down.

On his desk, there were a bunch of closed books using pens and pencils as temporary bookmarks, along with a laptop that was closed just enough that Sylver couldn’t see the screen.

He didn’t know I would be coming…

“Alright… I need you to answer my question without me asking it,” Sylver said, as he put a bit of effort into solidifying the next 30 seconds of his life.

Did a powerful clairvoyant do a city-wide sweep a few days ago?

Sylver watched as Kass closed his eyes and looked like he was about to fall asleep before they both opened and were a little bit more bloodshot than before.

“Don’t worry about it. It’s… Look, I can’t explain it without making it into a whole thing. It’s normal, and whatever you think you did, you didn’t do, got it? Nothing happened, and if you don’t do anything, nothing will happen,” Kass said, while he pinched the bridge of his nose with his fingers.

“Alright… Anything about the thing?” Sylver asked.

If Kass handed him “The Story Of The Seven Suns” Sylver would destroy it on the spot, and would put every ounce of effort into completing his end of the deal before going home.

“I’m working on it, but not yet. There’s something else you want,” Kass said.

Sylver looked uncomfortable for a moment because he wasn’t sure how Kass would take the request. Luckily the look of disgust was quite mild and was replaced by unmistakable apathy.

“You’re a sick fuck, you know that. But there are 5 that are exactly what you’re looking for,” Kass said, while he searched around through the many books and found a notepad and scribbled down 5 names.

“You should get some rest, you don’t look too well,” Sylver said, as he took the folded-up names and hid them away in his pocket.

“I feel even worse. I’ve had beatings that hurt less than this,” Kass complained as Sylver stood up from his chair and paused for a moment.

“You’re fine on that front. If something had come up, I would have known about it… I’ll look into it and tell you with full confidence when you come back,” Kass explained.

Apparently those three weren’t guards…

Sylver didn’t trust clairvoyants. He’d been burned far too many times by their promises and prophecies.

But sometimes the best move is to do nothing.

Not that Sylver was doing nothing, tomorrow he and Grant were moving up into the Trunk, and then Sylver would be flying into an underwater dungeon to raise his level.

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KingKennit

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