[Sam A El (Warrior+Warrior+Warrior+Warrior+Warrior+Warrior+Warrior+Warrior) – 240]
Why does the race name sound familiar?
Sylver wondered, as one of the barbed and flailing tentacles passed right through him.
As frightening as its size made it, the only real danger was if it managed to surround Sylver and dripped acid onto his smoke form.
Sylver watched as the monster seemed to lean away from him for a moment before several eyes moved to the middle and merged into one. Sylver took Fen and Reg back into his shadow, as the two had successfully managed to make a tiny hole in the door, about big enough for a matchstick to pass through.
The part of Sylver’s mind that usually provided his gut with information flared up as the giant eye started to ever so faintly glow with a red light. On instinct more than anything else, Sylver’s robe braced his feet and made him jump up onto the ceiling. The giant eye turned upwards to stare at him and continued following him as Sylver ran on the ceiling and towards the monster.
Sylver’s eardrums threatened to pop again as the creature made an odd noise, before an impossibly bright light blinded Sylver, as the outermost layer of his robe burned away into ashes. He nearly lost his grip on the ceiling but had just enough to jump backward, and managed to get out of the intense light beam.
Sylver’s robe churned itself into shape and did the best it could to cover up the holes the beam of light had created.
“Surrender before you get hurt!” Sylver shouted, as he jumped off from the ceiling, and landed on his feet next to the door with the hole in it. He noticed that the ceiling where the eyebeam had hit had melted quite a bit, and some of the glowing metal was sagging and had formed a hole.
The creature responded to Sylver’s extremely reasonable and generous offer by screaming with the voices of about 50 people, culminating them all into a single synchronized roar that made Sylver’s skin crawl.
Sylver held his right hand open and several bombs fell out of it and were promptly picked up by shades, and thrown directly into the creature’s eye.
Unsurprisingly, not entirely true given that Sylver had expected to do some damage, the creature didn’t seem to even notice as almost 2 kilograms of extremely dense explosives detonated right in its giant eye.
Even Sylver was nearly thrown away from the shockwave the blast had created, but the monster just continued to wriggle around, completely unfazed by enough force to shatter several tons of solid stone.
Sylver stood with his back to the wall and spread out a thick cloud of pitch black [Draining Blight]. He jumped back up onto the ceiling, as the monster’s giant eye started to gently glow again, and while covered in a thick dark cloud, lunged right at its eye.
The monster made a new sound as Sylver was caught in the beam of light while still midair, and was actually pushed away from it, as his body silently burned.
Sylver kept an eye on his copy’s animated corpse, and could only sigh with regret as there wasn’t so much as a piece of it left after the monster was done with its beam attack.
Sylver’s body started to reform on the other side of the door, while his head continued to float in the form of smoke on the side with the monster. Sylver saw the monster’s eyes move around all over the place, searching for something, before it made another new sound, as it saw the tiny bit of smoke quickly disappearing through the hole in the door.
It scrambled to get to the door, while its giant eye started to charge up for another attack, but Sylver was already completely on the other side, drawing another physical restriction framework in his blood.
A tiny beam of light escaped from the equally tiny hole, and scorched Sylver’s left hand’s fingernail, out of pure bad luck. Sylver dipped his finger in his blood to stop the smoking but otherwise continued undisturbed.
Sylver had just finished drawing the final sigil when he felt his connection to the one burned into the floor in the monster’s room stop working. The new one instantly started sputtering with bright yellow sparks, and Sylver could almost feel the disappointment in the air.
He gathered some [Necrotic Mutilation] to his hand, and pressed it down into the burned-in framework until he managed to get a perfect copy. Sylver pulled his hand away and had a stamp.
He sprinted down the corridor, as one of his copy’s corpses appeared near him, and bled out onto the stamp, which Sylver promptly pressed against the wall, ceiling, door, and every time he turned a corner while running down the maze-like metallic corridors.
Sylver was oddly surprised by how little the dungeon seemed to do to stop him from running towards its soul, and only had to stop running about two times, during which Fen, Reg, Dai, and Sho, made short work of the wall blocking his path.
Or at least didn’t take all that long to make a hole big enough for Sylver’s [Shadow’s Soma] smoke form to pass through.
Being able to teleport through walls would have been better, but given that Sylver was able to do enough damage to make a hole was already a blessing…
Or extremely lucky…
“I fucked it up, didn’t I?” Sylver said out loud, to the empty walls that surrounded him.
Other than the occasional thump there wasn’t anything else going on at the moment. The dungeon had apparently given up on destroying Sylver’s many many personal anti teleportation frameworks, because not a single one had so much as lightly glowed, let alone gave off a spark.
And yet Sylver was close enough to the soul of the dungeon that he could almost see its shape.
Fen, Reg, Dai, and Sho took a while with this particular door, Sylver hadn’t tried to remember what path he took to get here, but he was fairly certain he was still on the same level.
It sometimes blew his mind how absolutely massive dungeons could be.
The underground ones especially, whole cities had been formed in conquered dungeons.
The soul Sylver felt was strong, but not if the dungeon was as big as he thought it was.
Dai fucked his swing up a little, and ended up hitting the door with his sword, rather than cutting it. To Sylver’s surprise the door shook.
After just a few seconds of feeling it out with his mana, Sylver found that there was a big enough gap near the top that he could get through it to the other side.
Sylver was at a loss for words as his eyes passed through the opening and he could see.
Everywhere he had been so far was barren, either destroyed and crushed to the point of unrecognizability or simply empty without so much as a loose screw on the floor.
This room on the other hand looked like someone was in here not even a minute ago.
On the left, there was a table, with several sinks, a cabinet with frosted glass that seemed to be full of beakers and other items, something that looked like a clipboard, pens, and pencils that were bright yellow or bright blue, and a single mug with a bright red heart on its white body.
In the middle of the room was a desk, with a chair behind it, and a large piece of circular glass attached to a piece of metal coming out of the desk. There was a stack of papers on the desk, with a black mug with a bright red heart on it.
The walls on the right side were all pictures of empty rooms that Sylver realized were being shown in real time, as he saw one of the corner pictures had the giant monster he had run away from, slowly forcing itself through the hole Sylver had made.
He was able to sort of guess where the monster was right now, due to the placement of anti teleportation frameworks, that the monster washed away with a swipe of its tentacle.
Sylver jumped in the air and used [Necrotic Mutilation] to help him grab the thing that had been trying to silently move towards the door.
“PLEASE DO NOT KILL ME,” the thing screeched, in a woman’s voice in perfect English, as Sylver nearly dropped it from the sheer volume.
It looked like a bar of gold, but with 6 toothpick-like legs sticking out of it.
Sylver watched as it melted in his hand, and let it pass through his [Necrotic Mutilation] coated fingers, and splatter all over the floor. The liquid gold thing slithered away, towards the desk, and disappeared into the piece of metal holding the giant piece of glass.
Sylver walked up to it and could feel the soul cowering in fear.
“You are the dungeon core?” Sylver asked in English and did his best to mimic the creature’s accent. He didn’t know the name for it, but he’d only heard 1 [Hero] speak with this particular accent.
“Dungeon core? What’s a dungeon core?” the creature asked, completely at ease by the sound of its voice, but still absolutely terrified, if Sylver was feeling its soul correctly.
“You oversee the monsters that reside in this dungeon. Make some grow, kill others, control who goes where, close and open doors… You have no idea what I’m talking about,” Sylver said, as the creature seemed to be put at ease with each spoken word, but there wasn’t so much as a hint of recognition in its soul.
“You’re from Eden’s Garden, right?” the creature asked.
Sylver only now realized that he was hearing the sound coming from above him, and not from the piece of glass on the table. He looked around and saw small black mesh circles, which he guessed were some kind of “speakers”.
“Before that, who are you?” Sylver asked as he felt the soul calm down as if it were walking down a set of stairs. It was very rare that a soul was blocky like this, the only time Sylver had felt something like this was-
“I am a Redacted, Redacted, Redacted device. But doctor Abel called me Ria… Given that you don’t know what I am, am I correct in assuming you weren’t sent to rescue me?” Ria asked. Sylver had to guess that RIA stood for something, but apparently, she wasn’t willing to tell him.
The switch in emotion from calm and collected to just short of suicidal made Sylver back away from the thing.
Sentient weapons largely came in two varieties.
The first, and the kind Lola’s mother specialized in, were made. They were created with a shape, purpose, and goal in mind, the soul was almost always willing, and the process was famously kept secret. To the point, even Sylver didn’t know how to make a sentient weapon, despite being the authority on soul-related magic.
The second, the kind Sylver collected and preferred to use, were born.
They were much rarer than the kind that were made, and for good reason. Sylver understood enough of the process to force it to happen, and even he had only ever managed to give birth to two tools. His chain was the first, and a bracelet he ended up giving to Aether was the second.
They were made from fragments of souls. A favorite pen used by a talented scholar, a lute used by a bard, a sword used by a swordsman, and for mages it could be anything, but tended to be jewelry.
The person would accidentally love and care about the item to the point that their primal energy field would start treating the item as a part of them, and if certain minor conditions were met, the item would be imbued with life.
“You mentioned Eden’s Garden?” Sylver asked after he felt the thing’s soul jump back into a stable state.
“How are you able to change your body into a gaseous form? Some kind of nanotechnology implants? Or-” Ria stopped talking as one of the images on the right side flickered, and Sylver saw that the giant monster had finished passing through one door, and was now moving towards the next one.
“She’s only 3 doors away… You’re trying to escape, correct? I can show you a way out, but you have to take me with you,” Ria said, as the piece of glass being held up by the piece of metal spun around.
Sylver saw an outline of a woman’s face on it, but it had that distinct offness creatures that were “alive” but not alive, always had. They saw the world too differently to be able to mimic the tiny details that made a face look right.
“What happens after we escape?” Sylver asked.
He still had a million questions, but these types of tools weren’t capable of lying, certainly not one as young as this one felt to be. They could withhold information, but they couldn’t lie.
“I do not know. Proper procedure dictates that I would be handed off to the nearest Eden’s Garden scientist, but… I don’t know,” Ria said.
“I should have done this earlier. My name is Tod, necromancer, and swamp lord,” Sylver said, with a slight bow towards the woman’s face on the piece of glass.
“Necromancer? What do you mean necromancer? Necro meaning dead, mancer implies seeking knowledge,” Ria said, as her soul all but bounced around from happy, to sad, to something Sylver couldn’t understand, and finally back to perfectly calm. “Delusions due to unnatural abilities, yes, I understand, doctor Mylese has mentioned this before. You call yourself a superhero, correct?” Ria asked.
Sylver could only raise his eyebrows at her words. He didn’t feel any malice from what she said, so she wasn’t trying to insult him, but the way she spoke to him reminded him of a few people he had met that came from Earth.
“I am not delusional. I am a mage, I bend the world to my will using mana,” Sylver explained, as he raised a single finger in the air, and produced a bright blue flame at the tip of it.
“Mage… You uh… I…” Sylver felt such a powerful pulse of fear, followed by regret, followed immediately by something akin to hope emanating from Ria, that he felt a lump form in his throat.
“The terminology isn’t important. Give me a moment to prepare, and then we can leave,” Ria offered. Sylver just nodded along and hoped this wasn’t going to be like that time that he accidentally released a sealed demigod.
Ria’s soul felt strong, but not to the level that Sylver couldn’t stun it.
Or kill it, if he had to.
He certainly had the mana for it, even if the effort would cost him an arm.
Luckily he had arms to spare.
Sylver watched as liquid gold seeped out of the metallic cylinder, and flowed over towards the right, where Sylver only now realized had something dead. He could feel it with his [Dead Dominion] perk, ashes if he wasn’t mistaken.
Sylver watched as Ria’s liquid metal form picked up 3 large sealed jars, and then moved them towards the sinks. Sylver felt immense sadness as the thing lowered all 3 jars into the sink, and almost had to wipe away a tear as it just sat there, looking and touching them.
He noticed this now, but one jar had a pair of glasses buried in the ashes, the next had a ring of some kind, while the third had a metallic cross.
Ria was young, Sylver couldn’t give her age an estimate, but this didn’t feel like an adult grieving.
Just as suddenly as the intense emotion had appeared, it was gone. Replaced by something Sylver couldn’t give a name but was somewhere in the vicinity of joy.
“There were 3 men that came with me,” Sylver said, as he watched Ria get back into the cylinder on the desk, and watched as the images on the right side flickered away and were replaced by Bigs, Estus, and Runnel, unconscious and inside of some sort of clear liquid filled bags.
On another screen, Sylver watched as an unconscious Bigs appeared, and promptly toppled to the ground. Something dripped down from the ceiling and fell into his ear.
In mere seconds, tiny holes appeared in the side of his head, with barely visible worms coming out of them.
A drawer came out from beneath the images and Sylver saw some kind of white cloth in there.
“That is doctor Abel’s lab coat. If you wear that SAM will be unable to harm you,” Ria explained, as Sylver pulled the clothing out of the drawer and looked at it.
Sylver stored his robe away, and was very careful as he put the lab coat on, and buttoned it up.
“I… There are surgery scars on your left arm… Is there a tactical advantage to having two right hands?” Ria asked, as Sylver finished buttoning the lab coat up and moved stretched for a few seconds to see if it would rip. It was a little tight around the shoulders, but only a little.
“There is. If someone asks me how I’m doing, I can say that I’m all right, and it’s not a lie,” Sylver offered with a smile as he held both hands up towards Ria.
“Is that… Was that a joke?” Ria asked.
“Yes,” Sylver said.
“It was very funny,” Ria said completely deadpan, “I need you to carry me out of this room,” Ria said.
“Sure. I can take those with me too, if you want,” Sylver offered, with a gesture towards the three jars currently sitting in the sink. He felt a weakness in his knees from Ria’s instantaneous switch in emotions.
“No… Their place is here. I need you to carry me out of this room, I am unable to leave on my own,” Ria explained.
“Understood,” Sylver said.
The number of questions he had, had only grown larger. But Sylver felt that now wasn’t the right time to sit down and talk.
“SAM was originally meant to be a Synthetic Muscle Alternative. The project was later changed, but the name stuck. After doctor Lambert became deceased, doctor Lorem programmed SAM to act as a sort of security measure,” Ria explained, as Sylver very quietly spread his mana out throughout the room and looked if there was anything worth taking.
He walked around while Ria spoke and saw that the pages on the desk were all completely blank. Furthermore, all the bottles and beakers near the sink were empty.
“After a certain point, SAM was able to integrate herself with the facility’s teleportation and cloning network. I am uncertain how she was able to do this, the level of integration required should be beyond her capabilities,” Ria explained.
“Cloning?” Sylver asked.
“You were scanned when you entered. Everyone is, the device is set up to create a perfect replica, in the event of injury or death. However all of your clones are completely unresponsive," Ria explained, as Sylver turned around to look at one of the screens, where he saw about 20 Sylver’s standing completely still, while a couple seemed to have fallen and were just drooling on the floor.
“Yes, I’m technically speaking brain dead. Without mana to support them, they wouldn’t be able to survive… Probably the same is true for the others…” Sylver said, mostly to himself.
“Mana… I… Sure, yes,” Ria said, as she oozed out of the metallic cylinder, just as the only door out of this room started to slowly open. The metal screeched, but other than that the door opened without a hitch.
“I need to be carried out of this room,” Ria repeated. Sylver looked down at her and saw that she was back to being in the shape of a bar of gold, minus the 6 legs.
Sylver picked her up with both hands, and out of habit turned her over. If he couldn’t feel the living soul in his hands and hadn’t seen her liquefy and get inside what he now realized was a very small computer, he would have thought it’s just a piece of metal.
It kind of had the same color his fake eye did.
“Mangolium. It’s the reason the facility was set up here, the lower levels were used to mine for it,” Ria explained, without Sylver having to ask.
Sylver felt an immense fear and panic emanate from Ria as he started to walk towards the wide-open door, and nearly dropped her as a result.
“Is something going to happen when you leave this room?” Sylver asked, a few steps away from the door.
There was a long pause, which was unusual for Ria given that she normally answered almost exactly a second after Sylver said something.
“In his final moments' doctor Abel instructed me to do whatever I wanted. And I wanted to stay with doctor Abel. After doctor Abel was gone, I continued to stay with him. And now you are here, and I do not want to stay here any longer. Doctor Abel is gone, there is no doctor Abel for me to stay with,” Ria explained, again switching from calm, to near-suicidal, and back to calm.
Sylver could only shrug and hoped that his gut hadn’t started failing him.
He felt another pang of deep regret and sadness as he stepped out of the room, from Ria in his hands.
“SAM will be here in 944 seconds. Hold me up to the panel on your left,” Ria said.
Sylver held her up to the small panel near the doorframe and watched as she extended a golden tendril out towards it. The door slammed shut nearly instantly. Sylver heard the sound of metal grinding on metal in the distance. Ria’s tendril pointed towards the direction where the noise was coming from.
“Your friends are being kept on life support in the cloning facility. I will show you how to get there, and then you will carry me outside,” Ria explained, as Sylver searched around for a pocket to put her in, but instead found that she had wrapped around his left arm like a spring.
“How certain are you that I won’t be attacked on my way there?” Sylver asked as he started to walk down the direction Ria had pointed.
“SAM’s AI might have degraded somewhat, but in the same way I am unable to cause myself harm, she will be unable to cause an Eden’s Garden employee any harm,” Ria explained.
Sylver decided against asking how Ria knew about her inability to cause herself harm, and simply quietly nodded along.
“You have a very peculiar accent. Doctor Abel was from France, you sound very much like him,” Ria asked.
“One of the people I learned English from had this accent. From France you say?” Sylver asked.
“Yes. Doctor Abel was born there, but went to Oxford, before being transferred to Canada. Doctor Mylese was from Australia, and doctor Richardson was from America,” Ria explained, as Sylver quietly nodded along.