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A note from KingKennit

Alright, this isn't a book recommendation but if you have the money you should consider getting one of these.

The World Builder's Journal

It is as the name implies a journal for world-building. Nice leather cover, nice metal rings, and one of the guys who made it is a cool dude, and I strongly believe in helping cool dudes who do cool dude stuff.

It says it's meant for DND stuff, but honestly, it's just a good journal for writing, which is what I'm going to be using mine for. It turns out Kickstarter's don't actually give you anything if they're not fully funded, and I would like it to be funded. I also want the cover at the 50k goal, because it is extremely sick-looking.

Enjoy the chapter!

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Ch123-Pride Goes Before

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Estus cried and hyperventilated to the point of nearly passing out, before gradually calming down and patching himself up.

Runnel flinched hard enough that Sylver almost fucked it up and would have had to start over, but otherwise didn’t complain.

Bigs stood perfectly still and didn’t so much as bat an eye as Sylver sliced the mark into his skin.

He made a mental note that [Kindred Spirit Mitigation] didn’t work on any of them, although that could be more to do with the fact that part of Sylver’s curse stopped it from healing than lack of trust.

Given that they were all seasoned veterans, ish, by the time everyone was back in gear and ready to leave, Estus was the only one who complained about the uncomfortable feeling of the wound seemingly moving around.

But despite Sylver’s best lie that it was his imagination, Estus continued complaining about the curse mark moving around. Normally when Sylver said something regarding curses, especially his curses, people shut up and listened.

Sylver carried a few of the worms that had managed to crawl away from the burned foot in a sealed glass jar and spent most of the time they walked trying to decipher the curse they carried.

Despite earlier claims, the curse was quite potent.

Not relative to the Silver Lich, but relative to Sylver the necromancer? In sheer strength alone it packed a much bigger punch than anything Sylver was currently capable of. Even with Igri’s ring.

Which normally wouldn’t be that big of an issue, sorcerers and magically capable monsters were almost always significantly more powerful than mages, but not in a realm where dark energy was so scarce.

Or scarce on the surface.

Deep underground, in a dungeon that very likely hasn’t seen the light of day in centuries, it wasn’t impossible it had either sucked up all the dark energy being actively pushed away from the surface.

Part of the reason mages with a higher dark energy ratio tended to favor either liquid or solid-based specializations is that dark energy favored those two. Light energy preferred gas and plasma, according to popular theory at least. Sinking heavy dark energy, versus floating weightless light energy.

Hyper concentrated light energy on the surface, and dense dark energy beneath the surface.

Although just water and ice wouldn’t be enough to work as a barrier between the two, but a metallic maze that turned into a dungeon was just short of perfect.

The worms sitting in Sylver’s beaker started to move around a little more wildly. Before they simply pointed their eyeless heads towards his face and barely moved, but now they started wriggling around.

Spring sent a shade ahead of them, and sure enough, a group of somethings was hiding behind one of the doors on the right. Sylver’s robe fluttered open for a moment, as 12 daggers, accompanied by several shiny bright red darts, flew out of it and lazily moved ahead of the group.

“I have a question,” Sylver said, as he hid the beaker in his robe and moved it to his side and out of the way.

“Something’s coming, isn’t it,” Estus asked quietly.

“It is. But my question is why don’t any of you use guns?” Sylver asked as the three marked men huddled into a small group, with extra care being taken to defend Estus.

“You get a tiny amount of experience when you use a gun. We didn’t come in here expecting to be trapped and one nick away from certain death,” Runnel explained, while Sylver spread out the [Coat Of Carrion] to line the floor, walls, and ceiling further out towards the hidden monsters. He glued his floating bag in the corner behind him.

“I’ve seen people with gun-related classes though?” Sylver asked.

“They stagnate at around level 200. Maybe 250 if they’re really smart about it, but that’s the main reason everyone serious about getting strong avoids them. There aren’t any skills that enhance the amount of damage a bullet does, most I’ve heard of are to do with handling, maintenance, and reloading, and such. Swords and magic scale upward forever, a bullet is a bullet,” Estus explained.

“Good to know. Runnel, I’m going to assume you can cast ice magic?” Sylver asked, and got a nod from the man.

“Great. Can you make a wall of ice in front and behind you, so I can focus on the fight and not have to worry about one of you getting splashed?” Sylver asked.

“I know we-”

“Also, I have a perk that lets me see in the dark, so could you turn all the flashlights off?” Sylver asked.

He didn’t look back as he leaned down and stretched but heard a murmur from the three before Runnel spoke.

“I’ll make the ice dark enough that no light will pass through, but we’re not going to turn the flashlights off,” Runnel offered.

“That works. Scream like bloody murder in case something happens,” Sylver said, as he drew Mods’ sword out with his right hand, and coated his left in a thick layer of [Coat Of Carrion].

A sphere of ice appeared in Runnel’s hand, before a mirror perfect sheet formed directly in front of him. The sheet moved forward towards Sylver and left ice behind itself. As it grew thicker and longer, it grew darker and dimmed the light in the corridor.

Sylver was done stretching and was ready, by the time the ice was so thick and dark that Sylver was certain they couldn’t see him, or even hear him.

Sylver silently walked ahead along the corridor and summoned 2 archers behind himself, and Fen and Reg directly in front of him. Both shades crouched as if they were a reflection of the other, and without a single step making noise, quickly moved down the corridor and stood outside the soon to be opened door.

Sylver was about 5 steps away from it when the door attempted to open. The sound of the rusted metal hinges scratched against Sylver’s eardrums, and the hissing screeching noise the monsters inside produced certainly didn’t help. Dai and Sho materialized directly in front of the door, and in a single fluid motion, both muscle-bound shades pressed their bodies up against the door and forced it to remain closed.

Bones crunched and liquid burst and dribbled on the floor as the door crushed the monster’s unlucky enough to have been caught between the heavy and sharp metal door and the solid and angular metal doorframe. Sylver stayed a few steps away, as the monsters inside tried to scratch Dai and Sho, but found their faintly glowing bodies as hard as polished metal.

Sylver’s darts and daggers crept in through the opening, some spun like a wheel, others like a drill, but all shredded whatever limbs and pieces they could find and funnelled into the room.

The door made an exaggerated and heavy groaning noise as it was forced to fully close, but the sound was somewhat muffled by the sound of the monsters behind it being stabbed, crushed, and slashed, by barely visible and impossibly fast enemies, mixed up with floating darts and daggers.

[Sam Sam (???) Defeated!]

[Sam Sam (???) Defeated!]
[Due to defeating an enemy 20 levels above you, additional experience will be awarded!]

[Sam Sam (???) Defeated!]

The nearly deafening mixture of screaming, hissing and barking, metal dragging on metal, bones shattering, and a myriad of other sounds of fighting, came to a very worrying and sudden dead silent halt.

Both Dai’s and Sho’s feet scratched against the metallic floor as the door was slowly pushed open.

Both shades dematerialized and fled into Sylver’s shadow, as the figure leaned down so as not to hit its head on the doorframe and walked out into the narrow corridor.

[Sam Superior (Rogue+Warrior+Rogue+Warrior) – 155]
[HP-10,000]
[MP-0]

It was just tall enough that at its full height its head didn’t touch the ceiling, but the amount of space was less than the width of a finger.

Eyeballs of various colors and sizes lazily moved in and out of view on its face, as if they were bubbles in a boiling cauldron. Its body was humanoid, save for the fact that the arms were long enough to touch the floor, and its torso was almost comically spherical. Bloated, but the rolls of black-brown skin folded in and on top of each other, like watching someone kneading dough.

Sylver looked it right in the face area as he ever so slightly bowed.

“My name is Tod; I am a Necro-”

Sylver’s very recently acquired, and even more recently bound robe, yanked his feet from under him, and made him do a front flip without the buildup, shoving him face-first towards the floor.

The small corridor was lost amidst the sudden cloud of shredded rust, with a single deep and shiny scratch stretching from one wall to the other, connected by the mirror-like black ice wall. One of the archers behind Sylver was a single moment too slow and was popped.

Sylver spared the wall of ice a single glance and saw a small chunk had been ripped off but was being replaced before the flying shaved ice even had a chance to touch the floor. Sylver’s robe pushed his feet up from behind him and kept his shoulders in place.

He flipped with his head being a mere inch away from the floor and was now flying feet first towards the many-eyed monster.

Sylver could tell by the way it placed what could be described as blobby feet that it was readying another powerful attack.

Sylver was about to use [Shadow’s Soma] to turn into a cloud of smoke and allow the manaless strike to harmlessly pass through him. That was the plan at least, but he realized that if the creature found out it couldn’t hurt him, it would move its focus over to the three people hiding behind a thick layer of ice.

Instead, Sylver had his single remaining archer appear at the other end of the corridor, behind the many-eyed monster and had it start shooting as fast as it could. The creature spared it a glance and shot something at the archer that popped it.

[Sam Superior (Rogue+Warrior+Rogue+Warrior) – 155]
[HP-9,971]
[MP-0]

22 arrows hit, and only shaved off nothing... 29 HP…

Sylver’s feet touched the monster’s stomach, and he realized the problem.

It wasn’t a monster.

The thing that had just grabbed him by both legs and was now going to hold them in place while it used its clawed arms to rip him to shreds was multiple monsters sharing a body.

Dai and Sho appeared on Sylver’s left and right and grabbed the monster’s claws, while Sylver spread his arms up and took a deep breath. Both shades bought less than a second, but it was enough for Sylver. The explosive in Sylver’s left hand shook as [Coat Of Carrion] formed a cylinder around it and made a squelching noise as Sylver sucked all the air around the makeshift cannon, and compressed it inside the bright red bony barrel.

Sylver’s reaction and the monsters was very likely similar, given that he wasn’t entirely sure as to how this was going to work. Sylver’s left hand, which was normally made of darkness, was replaced by a cylinder of bright red and white, filled with one of Lola’s explosives, and enchanted as much as possible to direct the blast in only one direction.

Sylver placed his right hand’s palm on top of the [Coat Of Carrion] made cannon and further reinforced it.

Simultaneously, Sylver felt the monster’s body attempt to clamp down on his legs and rip them away from him, as his makeshift cannon, or rocket depending on how you chose to look at it, ignited and blinded and deafened Sylver. The fingers on his right hand were seared from the heat the explosive produced, but the majority of Sylver’s face and body had been protected by his robe.

He crashed through the ice and had gone so deeply through it that he could see the nervously moving flashlights. Sylver crawled out of the ice and saw that the top half of the monster was missing. Every inch of the floor, walls, and ceiling was covered in wriggling chunks of dark brown flesh, with most of the eyeballs scattered on the ceiling.

[Sam Superior (Rogue+Warrior+Rogue+Warrior) – 91]
[HP-4,177]
[MP-0]

Huh… So they’re individually low level? The system just adds their level up when they’re “one”, Sylver thought, as he brought his smoking right hand up and pointed his open palm towards the monster.

A cloud of dimly glowing darkness appeared in Sylver’s hand and extended out towards the slowly reforming monster. It spread itself thin, like a puff of smoke.

Sylver felt one tiny soul “die”, then felt the next, then the next, and in a few short seconds the wriggling masses of worms and flesh stopped moving and simply either slid down the walls to the floor or dropped down from the ceiling.

The pair of legs that had been attempting to stand up again fell over and did something similar to a split, but with fewer muscles involved, and more indistinguishable muck making it hard to see where the leg started or ended.

[Draining Touch (III) Proficiency increased to 4%!]

[Physical Endurance (III) Proficiency increased to 31%!]

[Biological Manipulation (I) Proficiency increased to 93%!]

[Coat Of Carrion (I) Proficiency increased to 98%!]

So the system considers that spell to be the same as [Draining Touch]... Well, that’s good news for once.

The smoke spread out all through the corridor turned a deep dark red, and funneled down to the floor, and seemed to disappear into Sylver’s left leg.

Sylver’s robe pulled back so he could see his leg, and in three short bursts of bone shooting out, stringy blood and nerve vessels crawling down, and finally muscle, flesh, and skin following closely after, Sylver now had a fully formed shin and a heel! He even had a bit left over to restore his ruptured eardrums and most of his face!

Sylver pulled his robe further up and saw hundreds of tiny worms sticking out of his hairless pale leg, like tadpoles or leeches, but small enough that they almost looked like leg hair. With a snap of his fingers, Sylver’s left leg became engulfed in bright blue flames, with each worm making a popping sound as it was incinerated and destroyed.

Sylver did the same for his right leg and brushed off the ones trying to dig through his enchanted robe with a wave of his hand.

Could have gone better…

Sylver gave his body a moment or two to calm down and catch its breath before he started allocating mana into healing his shades. He ran his finger along the wall as he walked, and left behind a trace of [Coat Of Carrion] from the dead worms.

The red-colored liquid spread out as Sylver tried to walk on his left foot but quickly learned that just the heel wasn’t quite enough to not have to use darkness to support it. Dai appeared near the door that had been slammed shut and pulled it open.

Sylver walked inside.

There was dead… stuff… everywhere, slashed open and somehow torn apart far past the point of recognition. Sylver wasn’t even entirely sure if the pieces of skull he was holding in his hands were elves or some rat or something else, everything was warped, like wet wood.

So not just infection and possession… Augmentation too, that’s a little too advanced for simple mindless natural monster magic…

So, either something smart is behind all of this. Or maybe this is technology-related? The curse is quite advanced but almost feels like an afterthought.

Could be that it’s just the way natural magic evolves in this realm. In Eira, this would normally be at least partially undead, and yet the worms themselves are very much alive.

The [Coat Of Carrion] that was spreading out and eating the dead worms in the corridor seeped in through the open door and joined the mass slowly eating its way through all the dead chunks littered around the room.

Sylver’s daggers and darts were bent and chipped and one dagger had been snapped into two pieces. He absorbed the hilt into his [Bound Bones] storage and left the blade floating around in his robe.

Only 11 left now… Salgok can always make more, it’s not a big deal. Sylver thought dismissively, even as he let one of the chipped daggers float into his hand and ran his finger over the missing metal fragment. He felt a lump start to form in his throat, but forced it down and continued inspecting the littered remains.

On the bright side, since this monster was made out of small individual monsters, Sylver could use a spell akin to instant death magic on it. The only problem was the surface area and the fact that it would take a while to get through all the layers of monsters.

This thing was fast, it could have ripped an arm or a leg off easily.

And that bladed strike, the one that chipped the ice, Sylver’s only option was to dodge it or turn into smoke because blocking it was not an option. Unless he blocked it with his ribcage, but even then he didn’t like the thought of it somehow breaking apart against his indestructible bones and leaving fragments of itself inside of him.

Nothing would happen, if I can’t overpower a few tiny worms, I have no right calling myself the Silver Lich…

Sylver stepped out of the room and looked at the sign next to the door that had been uncovered due to the rust being ripped off due to the explosive blast.

“EML” Sylver read out to himself…

Emergency Medical Lab…

So is this realm Earth but something happened? Or did someone from Earth build this thing that would become a dungeon?

Or is this just the bleeding effect? Most realms have some version of Eirish, I’m fairly certain I remember Nyx trying to brush up on her English before going to other realms that weren’t Earth…

Behind Sylver there was a giant sphere of flesh, blood, and bone, digesting itself and churning the bones into smaller and smaller fragments, up until they were indistinguishable from the specks of white fat mixed into the ball of gore.

Sylver noticed that he could feel a resistance from what was rightfully his to command. It was insignificant, but it certainly explained why he stopped being able to control the [Coat Of Carrion] coated daggers once that large monster appeared.

So [Dead Dominion] is not going to be much use probably… [Coat Of Carrion] should be fine if I maintain physical contact with it.

So when the worms pull all their individual infected into one body, they pool their primal energy together too? Or is someone using the worms as relays?

The ball of gore flattened itself against the ceiling while Sylver walked underneath it and back into the corridor. If this room had been the emergency medical lab at some point in the past, all traces of any equipment that may have made that obvious had long since rusted and deteriorated into nothing.

Or were swept away by all these infected monsters moving around the place.

Sylver walked up to the ice and rapped his knuckles against it three times.

“Everyone alright?” Sylver asked, as the ice split down the middle and formed a passage for its occupants to walk through.

“You uh… You’ve got a bit…” Estus tried to stammer out while pointing at his face.

Sylver raised an eyebrow at him and realized what he was trying to say when he felt his skin pulling far too tightly against his jaw.

“Don’t worry about it, I can’t feel a thing. But don’t make your ice shiny anymore, I don’t want to accidentally look into a mirror. It will heal by itself, just… No mirrors, and no metaphors or similes either, don’t say a word, I don’t need to know,” Sylver said, with a pointed gesture towards Estus, who dropped his slowly building description and chose to just quietly nod along.

Sylver didn’t touch his face, because he knew on some level what he would find, and didn’t need the headache of missing his face, on top of everything else.

Arm, leg, ear, tongue, even his eye was one thing, but Sylver’s face was an entirely different matter.

Even if it wasn’t technically his face, it was the closest thing he had to a face right now.

Even if he could feel a cool breeze chill his skinless scalp.

Breeze?

Spring sent a shade out to check and…

A clear path outside… Just around the corner, and a few minutes of walking and they would be out…

“Does anyone else feel that?” Estus asked, and got a nod from both Runnel and Bigs.

“Did you accidentally blow a hole that connected to a corridor that leads out?” Bigs asked.

“No, my explosion didn’t do a whole lot to the walls… This might be a trap…” Sylver said, as his shade discovered a staircase that led down and another passage that went the exact opposite way from the corridor currently leading outside.

“What’s the alternative?” Runnel asked.

Aside from Estus, Sylver couldn’t help but enjoy the quiet, calm, and professional atmosphere.

Quite honestly Sylver was struggling to see under which circumstances either Bigs or Runnel would try to kill him. Estus was the odd one out, given that he wasn’t supposed to be here and had replaced someone, but Bigs and Runnel were both on Sylver’s list.

Did Kass fuck it up? Or do they have a problem with necromancers, but recognize that they can’t kill me just yet… I can’t feel any hostility from them, but that’s more to do with not being familiar with their souls…

So we get back to the Lyon and go home…

That would make this whole thing a massive waste of time. I came here to level up and interrogate someone about the common knowledge of this realm, without being afraid that Iris or whoever, would know what I was doing.

But if one of those monsters manages to trap me and spend a few days eating away at me, I might actually die. Even if they couldn’t get to the needle, at some point my primal energy would start getting affected…

“There’s a staircase going down, and a passage leading away from the source of the breeze,” Sylver answered honestly.

“I vote-”

“What do you mean vote?” Bigs interrupted as Estus tried to speak.

“Bigs is in charge, there is no voting,” Runnel added.

And there it is.

“You two do understand that without Estus and me, you’re done for. You’re right that there’s no voting, but you’re wrong about being in charge,” Sylver said, as both Bigs and Runnel turned towards him and made their flashlights temporarily blind him by accident.

“Is that so?” Bigs asked.

The way he phrased it, Sylver had expected something to happen, especially going by the way both Estus’ and Runnel’s heart’s jumped up to their throat. But he just stood there. A short man with weird-looking gloves on his weirdly thick fingers.

“It is, yes. But I would like to hear everyone’s thoughts before coming to a decision,” Sylver offered.

The silence was so heavy and awkward, accented by Bigs’ increasingly heavy breathing, that Sylver was starting to consider beating the shit out of the short man to assert dominance and calm Estus and Runnel down.

But oddly enough Sylver’s stomach wasn’t giving him a great feeling when he thought about doing that.

Obviously Sylver would win, Bigs was a living being, one twist of the neck and he’s dead, while Sylver would need to be dismembered and incinerated, at the very least. Even if that somehow happened the shades would kill Bigs and piece Sylver back together.

“I-”

“If so much as hint at threatening me, I’m going to bash your head against the wall until you’re dead,” Sylver interrupted with the kind of relaxed certainty that very few people could muster.

Not “I’m going to try” but “I’m going to”.

Bigs looked Sylver in the eye for a couple of seconds, and Sylver could see something in Bigs’ eye. Not quite danger, but not entirely not danger either.

Sylver didn’t like it.

“I think we should follow the wind. I have a slightly heightened sense of smell, and I’m fairly certain I can smell the exhaust fumes coming off the Dandy-Lyon,” Bigs said with perfect calmness.

“I think we should follow the wind,” Runnel added quietly.

“If even one of those things gets to us, we’re dead, we should leave while we can,” Estus said finally.

Sylver looked at the three men and stopped on Estus.

How bad would I feel if I killed him along with the other two? Would he understand why I did what I did if I explained it to him? I doubt it…

I could have one of the shades roll around in the worms and pretend to be one of the infected creatures… Have it knock Estus out, I interrogate Bigs and Runnel, and then tell him they died to the monster?

Then what? Go back to the Garden, with only a little bit of common knowledge to show for it?

Kill Runnel and Bigs, escort Estus to the Lyon, and try to conquer the dungeon by myself?

Runnel and Bigs did it slowly, but they both changed their stance.

I might not have time to do this again…

The number one priority is the book…

If I get stuck down here, I can’t get invited into lady Demor’s house.

The main plan is still to fuck my way up the food chain, even with 50 extra levels the tower fights are so slow there’s barely any point in them…

On the other hand, maybe I’ll get something really special at level 100. Not to mention I still want to know why there are English words in this place…

Sylver lowered his hand from where it had been slightly raised against his torso out of habit.

No… Not worth the risk of getting trapped down here… Information and levels or not…

“Alright. We’ll follow the wind,” Sylver said and raised an eyebrow as both Runnel and Estus breathed a short sigh of relief.

*

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*

They followed the wind for a few minutes, with everyone silently glad for this whole awfulness being over and done with. Estus seemed like he wanted to run ahead, while Runnel kept glancing over his shoulder behind them, as Bigs just quietly walked while staring at the side of Sylver’s head, who was deep in thought regarding elven anatomy.

Sylver stopped dead in his tracks without any warning, and Runnel almost bumped into him but stopped just short. Bigs and Estus turned around to look back at the sudden lack of footsteps.

“What?” Bigs asked.

Sylver still had the same thoughtful look on his face, even as a very loud clang in the distance gradually became louder and louder.

“Just the usual. I’m right, and I wish I wasn’t,” Sylver said, as the clanging sped up.

In three quick clangs, everyone felt the floor beneath their feet shake and started looking around for the source.

Not that it did them any good, as the floor was somehow absorbed into the walls with a clang, and revealed an extremely deep drop. Sylver’s shades informed him that the corridor that led outside had closed a few seconds prior.

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KingKennit

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