Sylver paced back and forth inside the room, while Bigs just calmly followed him with his eyes.
This isn’t Earth…
It can’t be.
Aside from the two suns…alleged, two suns…
Bigs isn’t lying, but he hasn’t seen it himself, he’s only ever been told about it.
With barely a flick of Sylver’s finger [Necrotic Mutilation] crept up to Bigs’ nose and forced his mouth closed. He continued to try to talk, but Sylver didn’t even attempt to listen.
Alright, let’s say this is Earth…
It would have to be Earth so far into the future that it might as well be an entirely different realm. If the Earth gods were still around, they would have destroyed me the moment I arrived.
Unless whatever is going with the needle is stopping them from recognizing who I am… Which might be the reason the woman in white told me not to use my real name…
Alright, let’s say this is Earth, but a bit of time has passed. Enough time that the humans that lived there evolved into these weird elf-like creatures, and a second sun appeared…
How long would that take?
Evolution, assuming a god is involved to speed things up… 200 generations? Maybe a bit less?
But a second sun…
I mean, it isn’t impossible…
The magic here is about on par with Eira’s, but that doesn’t really mean a whole lot, considering the system is doing most of the heavy lifting.
Her exact words were “familiar with the area.”
Did she mean that I could speak Elvish, or that English is somehow also important in this realm?
That I could pass for an elf if you ripped my ears off?
Or is the fact that I know how to protect people from darkness-based monsters, the part that makes me familiar with the area?
If this is Earth…
What does that change? Other than the fact that I now don’t have to worry about [Hero]s from Earth showing up in Eira?
Some of the mages here would be quite powerful if they came to Eira, they’re all nearly pure lights… But they wouldn’t be anywhere near the level of danger even one of those lead saturated humans would be…
“Are you going to kill him?” Ria asked, through a tiny wire that stretched from Sylver’s arm up into his ear.
“Probably. I asked for 5 people that no one would miss when I came here. Partially because I don’t like watching people I like suffer or die, but mostly so that I wouldn’t feel bad about killing them to make sure they didn’t tell anyone that I don’t know extremely basic things about this place. I’m going to save this one, Estus, he’s a good guy, the other two I’m just going to make disappear,” Sylver explained in English, with a finger pointed at Bigs, Runnel, and then Estus.
He saw Bigs’ eyes go wild for a split second, but Sylver couldn’t tell if it was because he understood what Sylver had said, or because the man holding his life in his hand was talking to himself.
“This seems… wrong. Cruel, this seems like something a cruel person would do,” Ria said, to which Sylver nodded along.
“The word you’re looking for is “feels.” As in “this feels cruel.” And you are right to feel that way,” Sylver said, as he walked over to Bigs and stared him down.
Literally in this case, given the large height difference.
The silence lingered for a few moments, while Sylver waited to hear what Ria was going to say.
“Doctor Abel said we should help people,” Ria said, without a whole lot of confidence.
“I see… Yes, I imagine a man born in France would. But that was a different time, Ria. The circumstances have changed, and the current circumstances dictate that to survive and thrive a person must put his own wellbeing before the wellbeing, and even life, of others. If I remember correctly, there was a universal declaration of human rights, something like that?” Sylver asked.
He had to be careful with what he said to Ria, but she didn’t seem to react to Sylver using the word “human” while looking at a man who was anything but.
He also wasn’t entirely sure he wasn’t talking out of his ass, he couldn’t remember the last time he had spoken to someone about this. After a certain point, Sylver just stopped attempting to debate [Hero]s into understanding his point of view.
If they didn’t like what he was doing, they were more than welcome to attempt to force him to stop. It very rarely worked out well for them, but it was infinitely easier to beat them into the ground than it was to try and make them understand that a different realm, meant a different system of morality.
Sylver gave Ria a long while to think it over, but she didn’t say anything, so he continued.
“Look… There is something called a ‘monopoly on violence.’ Back during doctor Abel’s time, the monopoly was owned by the government. The government of France could force people to act in a certain way because if they didn’t, the government could kill them,” Sylver explained.
He felt Bigs doing something inside his cocoon, but couldn’t figure out what.
“Laws are only followed if they are enforced, and as the word suggests, to enforce a law, you have to be able to force a person. The only “right” a person has, is whatever they can stop other people from doing to them. And right now, there is no one around who would be able to force me to not kill them. Might makes right, if I were to simplify it,” Sylver explained.
Going by the way Bigs’ soul was reacting, he couldn’t understand a word and was just worried that Sylver was babbling in a foreign language.
English sounded weird, compared to all the other languages in Eira. Like someone was talking while holding a spoon in their mouth.
“I apologize for attempting to force my morals onto you,” Ria said meekly.
“There is absolutely nothing to apologize for. If you ever feel that I am about to do something you disagree with, talk to me. I know this may be hard to believe, but I am a very reasonable person. Try it now, say that you don’t want me to kill these two men,” Sylver offered, with a gesture at Bigs and Runnel.
“I would like it if you didn’t kill these two men,” Ria said. Despite it being a statement, Ria said it in a way that made it sound like a question.
“Good! See, now we can discuss it. I will explain why I need to kill these two, and you will attempt to convince me to let them live,” Sylver said, as he turned around and walked away from Bigs.
“Doctor Abel said you should only ever kill in self-defense,” Ria offered.
“Think of this preemptive self-defense. If I let him live, and he tells someone about the fact that I didn’t know about the Flip or the Tides, it will lead to people figuring out I’m not from here. Which will very likely lead to people attempting to capture me, to torture me for information. And by very likely, I mean this has happened to me 15 times in the past,” Sylver explained.
“Preemptive self-defense… I can see the logic in that…” Ria admitted.
There was definitely a bit of fear in her soul, or at least that was the way Sylver was reading it. Very likely she just wasn’t sure what would happen if she pressed the issue.
“Ask me to not kill these two, because you don’t want me to kill them,” Sylver offered.
English was one of those languages that made whatever Sylver said sound slightly crude, and forceful. And because he wasn’t perfectly fluent in it, he didn’t know how exactly to alter his tone to make himself sound friendly.
“What will you do if I ask you to do that?” Ria asked.
The start of any relationship was always awkward and rocky, it was important to set the boundaries and such as early as possible.
“I will do my best to accommodate your request, even if I do not agree with it,” Sylver explained.
“That seems like going too far for a person you just met,” Ria argued.
“Reading a soul is more art than it is science. A little like listening to a piece of music. You can break it down into its individual components, explain this and that, but most people can tell in the first couple of seconds if they like the song or not. And I like your song. I would like to have you be an equal part friend and an equal part ally. I can’t promise I won’t do something that would make you uncomfortable, but I can promise to always do my best,” Sylver offered.
“So if I say that I would prefer it if you didn’t kill anyone?” Ria asked.
“See, now that’s too broad of a request. Narrow it down, be specific,” Sylver said.
“Please don’t kill these three men?” Ria asked.
“Good. Now the second part is offering an alternative. You can certainly ask me to do something, or not do something, as a personal favor, but in the future when things start getting into grey areas, you should always have an alternative for me to do instead. In this case, you could have said, “please don’t kill these three men, just put them in a coma until you leave.” Or wipe their memories, but that’s not something I can do,” Sylver explained, as he felt Ria sort of nodding along.
“Since I only spoke to this one, I won’t do anything to the other one. Once we get back to the city, he will lose consciousness, spend however long it takes for me to get what I need and leave, and then will wake up as if nothing had happened… But this does bring me to another topic,” Sylver explained, as he walked over to Bigs and had some of the [Necrotic Mutilation] that was wrapped around his spine partly so he could see the back of his neck.
“Thank you,” Ria said. As grateful as she was confused.
“That’s what friends are for. And this isn’t important right now, but more along the lines of something to keep in mind for the future… I take no pride in it, but I can be a weasel sometimes. If there’s something I think I need to do, and you ask me not to do it, you need to choose your words very carefully. Because I am not above adhering to the letter of the request, as opposed to its spirit. Again, I need to emphasize that it is extremely rare that I do this to a friend, but it has happened in the past,” Sylver explained.
Something he had wished he had the maturity to tell a lot of people whose trust he ended up breaking because he couldn’t be honest with them from the start. Knowing who you were deep down came with some very unpleasant truths being revealed.
Like the fact that you’re only brave when it suits you, and a coward when things get genuinely serious enough. About the only thing Sylver wouldn’t do to save himself was betray one of his own.
Although he’d come close, and they knew.
With a painful tightness in his chest, Sylver placed his right hand on Bigs’ spine and switched to Elvish.
“I’m going to put a curse on you. Once we get back to the Garden, you’re going to fall into a coma. When I leave, you’ll wake up, with no side effects. Maybe some minor muscle loss, but given your high level, probably not even that,” Sylver explained, as he traced a framework onto Bigs’ exposed back with the tip of his finger, and created a very faint circular scar in the process.
He leaned towards him until his mouth was right next to Bigs’ ear.
“But… If during the time from now, until we reach the Garden, you try to tell Runnel or Estus about what we spoke about, you will fall into a coma, and you will never wake up. If I die on the way to the Garden, you will fall into a coma, and your body will wither away into nothing, and you will be trapped inside it, unable to even tell someone to kill you. If you try to pass along a note, if I get the feeling you tried to tell someone about what we spoke about, you’re dead. Nod twice if you understand me,” Sylver said, as one of his daggers poked out of his robe, and he slit his thumb open over it.
Bigs’ back arched and he screamed into his forcefully closed mouth as Sylver’s blood entered the scarred framework, and glowed with a weak orange light.
Sylver walked to be face to face with Bigs and crouched down to be eye level with him.
“Do you understand?” Sylver repeated.
Bigs just glared at him and didn’t so much as shake his head. Sylver sighed for a moment or two, and after a quick glance at a confused Ria, lowered his voice so Bigs had no choice but to focus to hear him.
“Wanna know something interesting? The muscles that compose your small and large intestine are a lot stronger than you might think. It’s the reason that when you cut someone’s belly open, and their insides spill out, sometimes they start wriggling around like a bunch of slimy red serpents. Same with your stomach. Ever ate a bad piece of meat, and had everything cramp up in an attempt to force it out?” Sylver asked, as Bigs just continued to stare at him.
“I just need to think about it, and you’ll start feeling something coming up your throat. In case you weren’t aware, your insides weren’t made to be turned inside out. To say it will hurt is a massive understatement. And god forbid you accidentally bite down on it, oh no, oh dear god no,” Sylver said in mock worry, as he clicked his teeth together and got a small jump out of Bigs.
“Bleeding, infections, and that’s not even mentioning the hard to describe feeling of emptiness. Do you know how long a small intestine is? About 6 meters. 5 meters, 44 centimeters, in your case. Oh, and I forgot to mention the stomach acid that will burn away your lips, and will blind you if you let even a drop get into your eyes, which in my experience you definitely will. You’ll almost certainly breath some in, so your lungs are done for, but you would be amazed how long a person can live without a portion of their lungs working,” Sylver explained, gesturing at his lips, eyes, and then his nose, as Bigs just mutely stared at him.
“Now here’s something even more interesting. Did you know that you can live without a functional digestive system? You’ll need special medication for the rest of your miserable and blind life, but I’m all but certain I saw the things I’m thinking of being sold. You’ll wake up every day to a coughing fit that will make you wish you were dead, you’ll blindly stumble over to the many many machines that you need to keep you alive, and you’ll think back to this moment and think “Oh why, god oh why didn’t I just nod!” and so on and so forth,” Sylver explained, while Bigs just stared him right in the eye.
Sylver waited for a couple of seconds to let the image ferment.
“Or you can take a fucking nap,” Sylver finished.
“Is everything alright?” Ria asked, which nearly caused Sylver to jump at the sudden sound.
“Perfectly fine. I am just making sure he is fully aware of what I’m doing, and that I have his informed consent,” Sylver explained in English.
“I am very glad to hear that,” Ria said, with a definitive note of approval in her voice and soul.
“So Bigs? Are you going to spend the rest of your days a mute and blind cripple, I forgot to mention that I’m going to shred your vocal cords into a fine paste, or are you going to keep quiet, take a nap, and go back to doing whatever it is you do?” Sylver asked.
It went without saying that Sylver wasn’t 100% certain Kass hadn’t just handed him a list of random names, so he wanted to at least wait until he could ask the man.
Sylver’s questioning revealed that Bigs never tortured, raped, or killed an innocent person, but it wasn’t like Sylver’s lie sensing ability was infallible on a good day, let alone when he was dealing with an unfamiliar culture and a person who felt to be a very good liar.
If it turned out that Bigs and Runnel were despicable bastards…
It wasn’t exactly that Sylver cared, but it would give him all the excuse he needed to completely cover his tracks. Nothing would happen if someone in this realm found out Sylver was from another realm, and even if they did, Sylver would be long gone, and it wouldn’t be his problem.
If they came to Eira…
Eh, not Sylver’s problem either.
If they come in peace, great!
If not, good fucking luck to the idiots trying to create a problem in Sylver’s territory. If nothing else, all the ambient negative energy in Eira would kill them before their eyes finished adjusting to the suns.
Bigs seemed to be waiting for something and was close to finding out what happened when Sylver ran out of patience, but he turned out to be smarter than he appeared, and he nodded with his head twice.
Estus coughed up more clear liquid but thankfully stopped screaming.
Runnel just quietly emptied his stomach onto the floor but didn’t say anything.
“How!” Estus repeated, and Sylver went back into attempting to explain himself.
“So I found this lab coat, and accidentally found that this thing won’t attack me while I’m wearing it. You’re safe while in the same room as me, so as long as we stay together, we’ll all be fine,” Sylver explained, as Estus leaned down to heave but found that his stomach was empty.
Sylver’s left side felt kind of heavy.
Likely because there were 61 corpses of Sylver hidden away in his [Bound Bones] storage, along with a very large jar full of blood that contained quite a large number of trace chemicals.
Ria didn’t quite understand why Sylver wanted so many dead clones of himself, or why he would clone a small beaker full of blood, mix the two together, and clone the slightly more concentrated beaker of blood until it looked like a snowglobe, as Ria described it.
She was still iffy regarding whether magic was real or not, but Sylver knew when an issue needed to be pushed, and when he just had to give someone time to process everything.
Somewhat literally in this case.
Similar to how Sylver had to lie and bullshit his way when he was leaving the dungeon where he found Bruno and Faust, he slowly but surely led his three companions up many many flights of stairs, until they arrived at the entrance and could finally go home.
“Black eye is staring at me,” Tulip said with a very obvious note of disgust in her voice.
“Shouldn’t it be “black eyes” now? Or do you think the second one is just an illusion?” Bean asked.
“He’s smiling. You know he nearly ripped a man’s heart out of his chest, right?” Tulip asked.
“Yeah, try to ignore him. HQ says he might have some sort of mind-reading skill, there have been multiple instances where he dodged out of the way of weapons and bullets without once looking at them,” Bean answered.
“He’s still staring,” Tulip repeated.
“Maybe he can sense you’re hot underneath all that armor? Four layers of poly carbon alloy or not, but when I see that ass sway I-”
“Can you shut the fuck up, please? He’s creeping me out, move him to the other side or something,” Tulip interrupted.
“You know we can’t interact unless they do something first. Lifeless androids and all that, stupid idea if you ask me. It’s not like everyone doesn’t know,” Bean argued.
Sylver heard a quiet “eep” as he adjusted himself in his seat, and continued to stare at the guard named Tulip. Ria tried to explain to Sylver how the whole wireless signal thing worked, but ended up just letting him listen in, through a tiny wire in his ear.
She was hidden away, underneath Sylver’s robe, wrapped around his left arm.
“He gained 4 levels, while the 3 got nothing. New class apparently too, mage type. I never understand those idiots that overspecialize, there are 3 class types for a reason, why stick to just one?” Bean asked as Sylver kept his gaze solely on Tulip.
“Lower elves don’t get as many choices as we do. Not to mention he’s fresh out from the boonies, you can practically smell the bear fat on him. And you know how mage types are, Hemet always goes on about how his magic will ultimately surpass everyone and everything, same for this guy I reckon,” Tulip responded.
Ria had decided to come with Sylver.
She didn’t give an explanation, didn’t talk it out, she didn’t even say goodbye to SAM.
It was… Sylver didn’t have a right to judge someone who decided to bottle up everything they felt, so he kept his advice to himself. Ria made a decision, and Sylver would respect it.
Even if he knew she was going to regret not saying goodbye to SAM. But he didn’t listen back then, and he doubted Ria would listen to him either.
Bringing her along turned out to have been extremely lucky.
Because aside from the fact that these guards spoke English for some reason, it was also incredibly odd that the software they were using was one Ria was extremely familiar with.
Not to mention the fact that Ria didn’t seem to react to the talk of levels, statuses, classes, and such.
Sylver wasn’t sure if it fell under the “magic is not real” category for her, or if there was something special about the weird liquid metal she was made out of.
“The report says they encountered enemies that were over 50 levels above them and wussed out. Think black eye took one out? He’s got that floating gore thing, probably just found a place to hide and whittled its health down,” Tulip said.
“No shame in using everything to your advantage. If anything-”
Sylver nearly flinched when Tulip started to laugh directly into his ear, without her armor so much as moving an inch.
“That’s right! I can’t believe I forgot that! Sniped it from 3 kilometers, and you were so proud of it too! How did I forget that?” Tulip asked, running out of breath after each word.
“Alright, alright, get it out of your system, I-”
“I have made a miscalculation,” Ria interrupted, and sent a chill down Sylver’s spine, partially because of her tone, but mostly because of the immense fear Sylver could feel in her soul.
Sylver stopped staring at Tulip and looked towards Estus.
“What?” Sylver asked the confused man.
“I didn’t say anything,” Estus answered.
“I forgot to account for the chain reaction the neutrino bombs would cause. We’re going to be in range, I should have made the delay longer,” Ria explained, while Sylver furrowed his eyebrows while staring at Estus.
“What does that mean?” Sylver asked Estus, who reflexively looked around to see if Sylver was speaking to someone behind him, despite the fact that there was only a metal wall behind him.
Apparently, Elvish was close enough to several languages that Ria knew that she could puzzle out what they were saying while walking up through the dungeon, and would be fluent in the language in a day or two.
“What does what mean?” Estus asked, doing that half-laugh thing that he did when he was afraid and confused.
“Brace for impact, I swear I didn’t mean for this to happen. I’m sorry, I’m so so sorry, please forgive me, I’m sorry, I’m sorry-” Ria repeated into Sylver’s ear, as he gripped the straps holding him in his seat very tightly as he thought about what to do.
[??? (???) Defeated!]
[??? (???) Defeated!]
[??? (???) Defeated!]
The messages passed so quickly through Sylver’s field of vision, that he couldn’t even begin to count how many things he had just apparently defeated. It was equally impossible to see where the [Swamp Lord] level-up notifications appeared, and all Sylver could do was focus on the last one.
[Swamp Lord] has reached level 12!
[2 perks available for [Necromancer]]
[1 perk available for [Swamp Lord]]
Sylver didn’t get to so much as glance at his status, as a deafeningly loud noise started to blare throughout the metal interior, overpowering even Ria who was still desperately apologizing right in Sylver’s ear. The previously dull-white lamps became an almost blinding red, flashing every second and very nearly causing him to tear up.
“Brace for impact,” a voice called out from both of the guards.
There was a single moment where the aircraft ever so gently went up.
Followed by a much less gentle tumbling, that caused every single item that wasn’t bolted down to the floor or the walls to fly out into the open, and bounce around as the whole sealed room spun at an impossible, and potentially deadly speed.
But the worst of it all had to be the sudden landing.