Sylver put his robe on top of his clothes and absorbed them into his [Bound Bones] storage. Due to his newfound usefulness, he had been moved to the back of the group, next to Estus.
The robe felt extremely comfortable against Sylver’s skin. As the tailor had explained there was a thin layer of a very strange fluffy material woven into the robe. The man had explained that if Sylver was to be shot, the soft fabric would react to the force and become stronger than steel, and would then become soft again, dispersing the force in the process.
It wasn’t magical, Sylver could tell that much, but the exact science of a thing was a bit of a mystery to him. Apparently, people normally had it woven into clothing that wasn’t as loose as a robe, but Sylver had insisted and had the money to pay for it.
Sylver placed the fabric bag that the robe had come in, into his pocket, and started the relatively slow process of binding the robe to his nervous system.
With his ring, his multiple mana increasing perks, and the fact that Sylver was significantly more used to Ciege’s body, the process was over within a few minutes. Every inch was connected to where it should be and Sylver almost regained the balance he always had to adjust for due to his missing foot and arm.
Sylver was very careful to keep the layer of bullet stopping fluff in the shape it came in and used the slits the tailor had so that the layer of the robe that touched his skin and blood had a direct connection to the layer on the outside.
Sylver breathed out a few small tendrils of darkness from his nose and weaved them into and through the robe. It maintained its slick and oil-like appearance, but now the sleeves and edges on the bottom were unnaturally thin and wispy.
The wispiness intensified and with each step Sylver took, his feet and shoes became more and more lost in dark smoke until the movement of his feet stopped being visible altogether.
“Much better,” Sylver said while he moved his head left and right and relieved the tension that had built in his neck, and heard the cracking noise travel down the long metallic corridor.
“Does it do anything other than looking scary?” Estus asked, while he moved his flashlight up and down Sylver’s body, which didn’t do a whole lot to illuminate his shadow-like robe.
“It makes my leg and arm stronger, not quite as strong as the flesh and blood version was, but not that far off either. The main thing is the defensive properties,” Sylver explained and could see that Mods and Bigs leaned in to listen.
“How does a robe defend you? I could understand something sturdy like leather, but this thing is moving all over the place, I don’t think you’ve got any plates in there or anything,” Estus asked.
“You wouldn’t be able to see them even if you had a magnifying glass, but there are nearly invisible hairs all over the robe. They can sense the mana and air around them, and in the event of an attack, harden the area they’re attached to, or move me out of the way,” Sylver answered.
“Huh… Have you considered selling it? I wouldn’t mind having something like that, even if it was black and kind of creepy,” Estus offered.
“It burns through mana at an insane rate. And I would have to surgically connect it to your nervous system for it to work. Which I’m willing to try, but it’s very likely your body wouldn’t be able to handle such an extension of its senses,” Sylver said.
“Wait… So you can feel through the robe?”
“Not exactly. It’s more like… like a thousand little hands? I don’t feel anything if someone cuts it, but I’ll be aware of it. You know how insects know to run away before you’ve even started trying to hit it?” Sylver asked, defaulting on the explanation he normally used when speaking to nonmages.
“Same thing. Except it’s a robe, and it will move me out of the way instead,” Sylver said.
“What if someone shoots you in the head?” Mods asked, with what Sylver had discovered was his usual oddly relaxed tone of voice.
“It will lean my head out of the way. Although I’m not sure how well it will work with bullets. Fingers crossed I never have to find out,” Sylver said with a smile on his face. Mods shrugged his shoulders but didn’t say anything else.
They walked quietly for a while, up until there was a distinct sound of something scurrying along the rusted metallic walls. Spring was unable to say what exactly was coming towards them, other than that it was quite flat, and about the size of a large cat.
The ambient mana in the air wasn’t anywhere near as intense as it was in Arda’s dungeon, but Spring’s method of seeing while in the shadows was too delicate to function.
Sylver flicked his hand and was now armed with one of his 12 daggers. With [Coat Of Carrion] wrapped around it, it looked closer to a short sword than a dagger.
The other 4 did much the same, a small sphere of grey colored ice appeared in Runnel’s hand, Bigs made some odd movements with his hands and thin wires hung down from his fingertips, Mods pulled a short sword out of seemingly nowhere and had a weapon that looked like a honing rod in his other hand.
Estus just sort of moved towards the middle of the group and reached with one hand into the pouch on his stomach.
[Sam Rat (Rogue+Rogue+Mage) – 77]
It was roughly shaped like a rat, but with a much longer torso. Its neck was almost as long as its body and it had shiny skin. Or lack of skin, if Sylver was being accurate because the thing looked like it was made out of dark gelatin.
Even in the shitty light inside the corridor, he could see the creature’s lungs and heart, moving and beating as it scrambled upside-down on the ceiling, and seemed completely unbothered at the bright light shining directly upon it by the small flashlights.
“Don’t let it touch you, it’s sick with something,” Estus said, from behind Mods and Bigs who were standing at the front, while Sylver and Runnel were behind him.
“Anyone got a ranged attack that doesn’t make noise?” Bigs asked, while he moved his left hand in a circular motion and made the strands coming out of his fingers coil like a spring.
“I do,” Sylver offered.
Everyone stepped out of the way for him, and he walked to the front of the group. The dagger in Sylver’s hand glowed with a weak yellow light for a moment, before it disappeared from his hand.
The rat creature hissed and yelped, as the dagger missed it by just a hair, and then became flat like a deflated balloon. It moved towards Sylver, each time narrowly avoiding the dagger trying to stab it without dragging along the metal and making noise.
The dagger grazed the back of the rat creature’s tail, which despite its size was not even as big or long as Sylver’s pinkie. The bright red dagger appeared to liquefy for a moment, before the red coating exploded with tiny tendrils and wrapped themselves around the creature’s back legs, and moved up its body.
Its front legs clung to the ceiling for a second or two, before the [Coat Of Carrion] tendrils got to them and tightened until both were pressed up against its body. It flopped to the floor and didn’t even bounce.
Sylver made a completely unnecessary gesture with his right hand, and the dagger that had been dragged behind the creature was grabbed by the handle and crawled up the struggling creature's body. It turned itself upright, and the tendrils yanked at it and pulled it into the creature’s head and through its skull.
Sylver waited for a moment before he made the gesture again, and the dagger was pulled out and stabbed it a little lower, through the neck this time.
“It’s lower level than you, you fucking idiot. There isn’t going to be a fucking notification for killing it,” Mods reprimanded, as the dagger moved a little lower and stabbed again.
“I know, but it’s still alive,” Sylver explained, while he used [Appraisal] on it.
[Sam Rat (Rogue+Rogue+Mage) – 77]
Sylver stabbed it 5 more times before Mods lost his patience and began to walk towards it.
“It’s still alive,” Sylver cautioned, even as his dagger lifted itself over the body and disemboweled it.
Sylver didn’t get to hear the rest of Mods’ sentence, as something exploded out of the presumably dead creature’s rear end. It looked like a freshly wrapped sausage, but instead of healthy-looking meat and pieces of fat, there was a sickly grey rat thing. It opened its pitch-black beady eyes and locked them onto Mods.
It tore itself out of its piss-scented cocoon and went after Mods.
Forget unharmed, it was somehow bigger than before, almost the size of a human child.
[Sam Rat (Rogue+Rogue+Mage+Rogue) – 97]
The creature scurried along the floor with an impossible speed, and Mods screamed so loudly Sylver was just short of stunned because of the noise. Blood splattered out of the leg the creature had bitten and was currently gnawing with teeth too big for its mouth.
Sylver waited for a total of 5 seconds, all while Mods did absolutely nothing but scream and very weakly hit the creature with his fist, as opposed to the sword next to him and well within arm’s reach.
What kind of amateur nonsense is this? Sylver thought, as the [Coat Of Carrion] wrapped around the creature’s shed body moved towards Mods and once again caught it and started wrapping itself around it.
Sylver’s robe fluttered as 3 more daggers flew out of it, and embedded themselves in the creature’s struggling body. The bright red [Coat Of Carrion] melted off the daggers and further encased the creature’s body. Sylver turned the inside into spikes and made them move around, slicing the creature’s body into bits and pieces.
Sylver felt the moment its soul stopped being alive but oddly didn’t get a notification. He released the coating and had it go back onto the daggers. They floated off the floor and disappeared back into Sylver’s robe.
Estus followed behind Sylver and approached Mods, who was still on the floor and was clutching his leg as hard as he could. Estus held his hands over Mods’s hand and wound.
“It’s infected. We’re going to have to ampu-”
Sylver’s elongated dagger hit the rusted floor and embedded itself into it, as Mods screamed even louder than before and clutched at his significantly bigger wound. Estus wordlessly forced Mods’s hands away and Sylver’s robe ruffled as if there was a strong wind, as Estus started to heal the stump.
Sylver walked around them and turned the cut-off foot over with the tip of his dagger.
He poked at it while Mods calmed down, and Sylver had the strangest feeling as he watched the tiny worm-like creatures slowly ooze out of the exposed flesh and fall to the floor. They wriggled around and were unresponsive to Sylver cutting them into pieces with his dagger.
He hadn’t realized it before, but now that he knew to look for it, he could feel something big communicating with all the tiny worms currently crawling towards Sylver.
“Alright, good news and bad news,” Sylver said, as he snapped his fingers and caused the infected foot and boot to burst into bright blue flames, along with all the parasites inside. Everyone looked towards Sylver.
“Good news is that these parasites are a kind of curse. Estus should have enough healing magic to get rid of them, assuming they’re not in the head or heart, in which case you’re simply finished,” Sylver explained, to a grim group of tower climbers.
“You have a very poor idea of what constitutes good news,” Estus said without looking up, as he rummaged through his bag and slathered Mods’ stump with something and began to cover it in bandages.
“The bad news is that we don’t have a way back to the Lyon,” Sylver said.
The silence was deafening, if not for the faint sound of the blue fire behind Sylver making a popping noise every now and then.
“Where there used to be an open corridor, is now something extremely thick and metallic. Kind of cylindrical too, I think we might have walked through an open door that was closed a few minutes ago. Not entirely sure if that and us getting attacked by that rat thing are related to the door closing, but that’s the feeling I’m getting,” Sylver continued to explain.
His voice echoed throughout the corridor, bouncing off the ancient rusted walls, and if the lack of reaction was anything to go by, not quite reaching the ears of his 4 party members.
“Why are you so calm about this?” Estus asked, with a perfectly calm voice.
Although his calmness came from pure shock, as opposed to Sylver’s.
“What’s there to not be calm about? This is a dungeon, there’s always a way in and out. All we have to do is follow this corridor and find a way back to the Lyon. Although as far as I can tell, we’re going to need to go quite a few levels down,” Sylver explained.
Not to mention these parasites can’t do shit to me. Even if they could survive my basically pure poison blood, they would need to be able to overpower my primal energy…
Which I don’t think they’re strong enough to do…
Unless I’m infected by a bunch of them…
Sylver had Spring inspect the wall blocking off their escape, and sadly there wasn’t enough room for a shade to pass through, let alone Sylver in his smoke form.
“If Estus can heal it, why did you cut off Mods’ foot?” Bigs asked from behind Mods and Estus.
“Because I have to curse you first and then Estus will be able to heal you if you get infected,” Sylver explained while Mods looked up from clutching his slightly bleeding stump, which was starting to soak the white bandages in blood.
His voice shook as he struggled to stand up and had to use the wall next to him for help.
“Y-You did this!” Mods said as he tried to jump towards Sylver on one foot but found just how difficult it was to keep your balance while missing a part of yourself.
“I thought you had it under control,” Sylver explained calmly, while he took a step back from Mods and had both of his empty hands slightly raised to show he wasn’t armed.
“N-No! Tw-Twelve times I’ve been in a dungeon, and-and nothing happened!” Mods shouted and managed to jump a step forward. He clutched his hands into fists and a short sword appeared in his left hand, and a honing rod shaped weapon in his right.
“You got me Mods,” Sylver said with both hands raised higher in the air in surrender, “this is all part of my master plan to lure you into this specific dungeon so that I might exact my revenge. Getting that rat thing to bite you was step 19 out of a 72 step plan to kill you. As opposed to just slitting your throat like a normal person,” Sylver said with an unspoken slow clap.
Mods was kind of pale in general, the white flashlights certainly didn’t do him any favors in that department, but now he looked almost as red as a tomato.
Sylver reflexively jumped back, as the razor-thin wires moved through the air without a sound and disappeared back into Bigs’s fingers. Mods’ body slumped down onto the floor, with his head landing half a second afterward.
“We are all going to remain calm and find a way out of this dungeon,” Bigs said quietly enough that everyone had to strain a little to hear him.
1 down, 2 to go.
“If we wait here, will you be able to map out the area and find a path that leads outside?” Runnel asked.
His voice was hoarse, but it fit the rest of his wrinkly and burn mark covered face. Either he had been smoking since he was 6 years old, or whatever fucked his face up had done the same to his throat.
“No. There’s a somewhat short range limit,” Sylver said.
Which wasn’t an outright lie. But there was a danger of one of the corridors closing up again and trapping one of the shades away from Sylver.
Not to mention he had shit to do, and didn’t want to spend several hours or days sitting on his ass twiddling his thumbs.
“How does the curse work?” Runnel asked.
“My curse, or the curse that almost killed Mods?”
“Both. I would like to know what we’re up against,’ Runnel said.
Sylver made a mental note that he said “we” not “I”.
“Well, the curse that rat creature was affected by is biologically transferred. The worms themselves aren’t the curse, but they’re carrying the curse. Think… Pollen being spread around by bees,” Sylver said.
Runnel, Estus, and Bigs all looked away and spit against the wall and gave Sylver the kind of glare usually reserved for when someone’s mother or wife is insulted.
“Bad analogy, got it… Guests tracking mud inside your house? Any problem with that? No? Good. Basically, the worms aren’t the danger, the danger is the curse on them. If you’re already inflicted by my curse, the curse on the worms should be diluted by it, and not work. But…” Sylver gave himself a moment to pick a better way of saying it.
“But there’s a chance your curse won’t be strong enough,” Runnel finished.
Now it was Sylver’s turn to look insulted.
“I’ve taken shits that were more cursed than these worms. What I wanted to say was that my curse might get triggered when it tries to dilute this curse. And the mildest one I can think of that’s still powerful enough to dilute the parasite curse will make your blood boil. Literally. On the other hand, if you die while infected by the parasite, and cursed, your corpse will automatically dispose of itself and prevent further infection,” Sylver said, initially pissed off at the doubt in his magic, and gradually calming down as he remembered that these people didn’t know shit about dark magic as a whole.
“Can’t you make a curse that doesn’t do that?” Estus asked, confused by Sylver’s anger, to the point it snapped him out of his initial shock.
“Only if I could make it be extremely specific to the parasite curse. Which I can’t do without a couple of tools that I don’t have with me right now. Not to mention it would take a considerable amount of time. Curses are my specialty but… But on the spot curse removal works for something someone made, not for something that formed naturally and had time to grow and evolve,” Sylver explained, as he took a step towards Mods’s headless body and paid close attention to the fact that Bigs flinched, but Runnel and Estus didn’t.
“What are you doing?” Runnel asked, as Sylver held his hands above Mods’s body and allowed some [Coat Of Carrion] to dribble out onto it.
“I need raw biological material for my magic. He’s going to be eaten by rats anyway, this way at least his death will help us out,” Sylver offered, as the 3 remaining men looked at each other for a moment. “It’s what Mods would have wanted,” Sylver finished, half saying, half asking.
Runnel and Estus both smirked, while Bigs just dispassionately looked away, towards where the rat had come from.
“Mods? He couldn’t give less of a shit if any of us lived or died. He… well it’s bad manners to speak ill of the dead,” Estus said, about to laugh initially, but then turning a shade of grey as he realized what he was about to say.
“So no one has any problems if I turn his corpse into a liquid that may potentially save our lives?” Sylver asked, just to be sure.
When no one had any objections, Sylver allowed the droplets of [Coat Of Carrion] to seep through Mods’s clothing and into his skin.
His torso caved in and all four limbs, and his head, appeared to get sucked into his body. Sylver made the bright red liquid with pieces of shattered bones spread out on the floor and moved it around until it covered the floor, both walls, and ceiling around Sylver. He was now standing in a square of [Coat Of Carrion].
Sylver gave his three party members a cursory glance as he leaned down and rummaged through Mods’s pockets and pack.
Some of the rings were enchanted with an insignificant strength, dexterity, and constitution boost, while the rest just showed [???] when Sylver tried to inspect them. He put them all into a small pouch and hid them within his robe, just to be safe.
As for Mods’s sword and blunt weapon…
[Elon’s Extender - N/A - Excellent Quality]
[Up to 4 times per day the sword will extend itself.]
[Maximum length available for current user: 55m]
[Amount of uses currently available: 3]
[??? - N/A - Rare Quality]
Sylver held the blunt weapon up to his eye and tried to force some mana into it to figure out what it did.
It sucked it up and refused to return so much as a drop.
Blocks magic attacks? It’s a little too slow for that…
Sylver found the scabbards for both of them and hid them inside his robe. The blunt one didn’t do anything to Sylver’s magic, if anything it felt a bit like his ribcage in that regard.
Sylver pocketed the rest of Mods’s items, some inside his robe, but most into his [Bound Bones] storage.
“We have 115 hours left,” Estus said, as Sylver stood up and brushed himself off.
“Really? It’s been 5 hours already?” Sylver asked. In his mind, they left the flying Lyon barely an hour ago. Estus pulled his sleeve up to reveal a small watch.
“Given that you’re the least likely to die from accidentally getting infected and cursed, and because this high up all the monsters should be relatively low level, I recommend you lead the way,” Bigs offered.
Although the way he said it made it hard to call it an offer.
“Sure,” Sylver said as one of his daggers appeared in his hand. “I need to carve a small sigil somewhere on your chest for the curse to protect you from the parasite’s curse,” Sylver explained.
He moved the dagger from Estus to Bigs to Runnel. He could have cast the curse he needed to do what he said with just a few seconds of physical contact, but a curse to instantly kill or immobilize Runnel and Bigs needed to be carved into their bodies.
Estus was just unfortunate in that regard since Sylver didn’t want to risk trying to come up with an excuse for why Estus didn’t need a carving. Maybe something about him being a healer and full of positive energy? But then he’d have to explain what-
“Fine, I’ll go first. I’m going to have to patch everyone up anyway, might as well get started on that so I’m ready for you two,” Estus volunteered and began to undo the straps on his back to get his bag off.
“Have you ever done this before?” Bigs asked, while he removed his top and very carefully folded it, and placed it on the floor.
“Curse someone to prevent a different curse from getting to them… A few times, yeah. Don’t worry, I have more experience carving flesh than anyone else you’ve likely ever met, you’ll barely feel a thing,” Sylver told the three seminude men.
They didn’t seem the least bit assured by his words.