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Ch133-Power Up

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The two guards, Bean and Tulip, were quite agile for people wearing at least 200kg worth of extremely dense armor. As a result, the bottleneck in the speed at which the group could travel ended up being Estus and Runnel.

In Runnel’s case, it was more to do with stamina, than physical ability. He ran out of breath after barely 5 minutes of what Sylver would call jogging, while Estus simply wasn’t used to having to run for more than a couple of seconds.

In his own words, he normally just stood there, and people ran up to him to get healed up.

Sylver had attempted to carry them using his robe, but even with his impressive quantity of mana, and his equally impressive regeneration, the magic he used to control his robe simply wasn’t meant for this. The structure of the spell was wrong, it was meant for very fast and very powerful hits, not for constant strain.

Carrying them with [Dead Dominion] came with its own headache. While the weight wouldn’t translate directly onto Sylver, if he wanted to carry the two men on a boat coated in blood and bone, he would have to use at least an equal amount of dead matter to hold the weight of Estus and Runnel.

A 1-kilogram chunk of flesh could move 1 kilogram, without Sylver needing to boost it with his mana, or without the weight transferring over to him as a counter. He could hold up 10 kilograms using a 1-kilogram chunk, but the extra 9 kilos would transfer to Sylver’s body and would make him heavier by 9 kilograms.

Which normally wasn’t an issue, Sylver generally walked on solid ground that he could easily reinforce so his feet didn’t disappear into it. But on fluffy white snow? While under the magical scrambling effects of the sun?

[Advanced Water Manipulation] certainly made it possible, but the mental and physical strain required to layer 3 different spells every single time he took a step forward was worse than just walking a little slower.

The Spring half Sylver could feel wasn’t moving. It didn’t mean there wasn’t a chance he wasn’t going anywhere, but this was one of those moments where it was better to take it slow. If Sylver had to fight, he’d rather do it while he wasn’t exhausted, and burning from the inside for using too much mana too quickly.

Not to mention it gave him some time to get his attributes sorted, as well as choose his 3 perks.

Sylver preferred doing it all in batches for 2 main reasons.

The first was that there was a bit of a rush when one of his stats increased by a large amount.

When [Genocider’s Gift] doubled his MP he came dangerously close to doing something that would have forced him to change his robe, and likely burn it. Spilling your own blood and guts onto it was one thing, but this and that were very different.

The second reason he waited to do everything all at once was because thinking about the system and the way it would help or hinder him, without actually thinking about it, was like trying to not get pricked while inside of an iron maiden.

It certainly didn’t help that Sylver’s mind tended to wander, and very often wandered right into an awful headache. He’d been quite good about not messing with the system too much.

Which was degrading in a way he couldn’t quite put into words. That something would have the power to force him not to think about something. Sylver barely ever kept his mouth shut, the very idea that someone could force him not to even think what he couldn’t say?

But as much as Sylver’s pride got in the way, he wasn’t so blind as to not see that right now he simply had to play along. Considering this thing was providing him with the tools and power to save Edmund, and possibly more of his family, made the humiliation bearable.

With that thought in mind, Sylver took a look at his status.

Total Level: 117
[Koschei-5]
[Necromancer-100]
[Swamp Lord-12]

CON: 125
DEX: 100
STR: 41
INT: 235
WIS: 170
AP: 110

Health: 1,250/1,250
Stamina: 625/625
MP: 9,141/9,400

Health Regen: 14.58/M
Stamina Regen: 9.68/M
MP Regen: 3,595.50/M

The trait [Arcane Growth] will add 1 point to INT and WIS every time I gain a level. So if I don’t add any points to them right now, by the time I’m level 200, they will be 323 and 258…

A faint tingling in Sylver’s knee reminded him of the fact that he nearly broke a leg just from jumping too hard.

Sylver ran his right hand down his face and groaned as he once again had to do something he knew was the correct choice, but very much didn’t feel like it.

He dropped the 59 points into strength before he could convince himself more mana would somehow benefit him more than being able to move without having to worry about his tendons ripping every time he jumped a little too hard.

Unlike with his other attributes, it was difficult to say that something had changed. There was no rush of power, no sudden pumping in his muscles, he didn’t even feel like it was easier to walk or anything.

It was subtle.

[Dead Dominion] kept Sylver’s primal energy sensing ability on an extremely tight leash. He only felt it when he pulled at it, wherein he would learn that not only was the chain made out of unbreakable metal but that there were spikes inside his collar to hurt him.

The increase in strength felt a little bit like that, but more along the lines of the chain being significantly extended. Sylver was already stronger than Ciege was when he owned this body, he had been for a long while. But Sylver’s strength came from puppeteering his bones the way he did when he was a lich, his muscles helped, but the base of it was always his bones.

Now though, he felt as if the muscles were finally in sync with his bones and metaphorical mana threads. He wasn’t stronger than he had been before, or at least his limitation was still the same, but the amount of force he could use without injuring himself was now not that far from this limitation.

Sylver slowly released [Necrotic Mutilation] from his [Bound Bones] storage, and made the dark green liquid gore crystalize around his feet. He took more out and armored his knees, thighs, and pelvic area. He made it gather on his chest, like a scaly plate mail, and carried on until it was up on his shoulders.

Even though he should have snapped both of his heels from the empowering armor, Sylver felt perfectly fine. Even when he completely encased himself, his head and hands included, he felt only the tiniest amount of strain.

But he could tell from a few exploratory jumps and swings with his armored arms that nothing was going to break just from using the armor. His muscles might be a little sore, but it was a small price to pay.

The armor appeared as if Sylver had gained a second layer of muscles on top of his original ones. Except then someone glued razor-sharp fish scales on top of them.

They flexed and contracted when Sylver walked and moved, and covered his head with a helmet that looked like a piranha’s interlocking teeth, with the barest vertical slits near Sylver’s eyes, that due to their color, were completely invisible.

When he took a deep breath, Sylver felt the [Necrotic Mutilation] around his chest and back inflate, and fill up with air. Without even having to finish the thought the slits near Sylver’s eyes shut closed, and his body became completely encased.

Sylver found that even though he should have been completely blind right now, he could see the world around him as clear as if there wasn’t a layer of armor covering his face. He opened the slits up again.

“It looks quite nice; in case you were wondering. Could be downright terrifying, under the right circumstances,” Spring tapped out inside of Sylver’s armor.

“When did you have time to get 11 levels?” Estus asked, which caused all the others to turn around.

Understandably, they all jumped away from Sylver and landed in a battle-ready stance. Luckily, for them, they recognized enough of Sylver underneath the armor, that they didn’t attack him.

“When I was running away, I injured a number of monsters. Apparently, the system decided that I did enough damage that they counted as my kill,” Sylver lied.

The real reason, or more accurately the reason that made the most sense to Sylver, was that the system didn’t regard Ria as someone who could earn experience. Either it couldn’t see her at all, or more likely, it considered Sylver’s companion as just a tool.

The same way a sword doesn’t earn experience just for being swung, apparently Ria doesn’t get any either for rigging her home to explode.

Sylver released the armor around his head and hands but kept the rest of it wrapped around his torso and limbs.

“Did you get anything that could get us back to the Garden?” Bigs asked after he had retracted all of his wires that had spread out underneath the ice they were all standing on.

“I did not,” Sylver said.

It took everyone a couple of seconds, but eventually, they got over Sylver’s armor and carried on walking on the ice bridge Runnel had created.

CON: 125
DEX: 100
STR: 100
INT: 235
WIS: 170
AP: 61

Alright, now there’s a nice round base.

Ideally, I’d get constitution, dexterity, and strength up to 150, or even 200, but it’s good enough for now.

Does more MP even matter at this point? I’m not that far off from regenerating more MP than I can use in a second. After that, unless I find a way to increase my conductivity, I’ll be able to use all the spells I want, but they’ll all be too weak to hurt whatever I’m fighting…

There were 2 rituals Sylver knew that could theoretically increase his mana conductivity.

The issue with both of them, aside from the fact that he’d need about 6 weeks to recover, is that he couldn’t perform them on himself.

He needed someone else to do it for him.

Preferably someone with a very high negative energy ratio, but there were ways to get around that.

The one Sylver could perform on himself…

Wasn’t what he would refer to as finished.

Or tested.

Calling it a “prototype” felt like giving the ritual too much credit.

When Sylver first took over Ciege’s body, he wasn’t aware the one critical component that all the viable conductivity increasing rituals needed, plain and simple, didn’t exist on Ciege’s side of the Asberg.

He thought it would be hard to get, but it never once crossed his mind that, not only did it not exist, it apparently never existed. Lola couldn’t even find a reference to it.

On Sylver’s side of Eira, half the nobility kept one of the trees as a decoration, the Ibis had like 20 of the god damned things, and now Sylver couldn’t get his hands on even a drop of that gravity-defying tree sap.

I can still use 2nd tier magic if I spread it out through the shades via [Shadow’s Agent] so it isn’t exactly the end of the world.

15 points into intelligence to get it to 250, and 30 to wisdom to get it to 200…

And the remaining 16 points?

16 into constitution I guess? Might help with all the positive energy in the air, the armor will be enough to make up for the strength and dexterity for the moment.

Sylver waited for a while, as his armor and robe worked in tandem to keep him perfectly balanced, and tried to see if there was a better way of arranging his attribute points.

He liked that everything was rounded now, multiples of 5, but the fact that every level would increase intelligence and wisdom by 1 point meant that he would almost always have an uneven number.

In the end, Sylver decided that considering his new class granted him access to a new branch of magic, pun intended, he would be better off having more mana to experiment with. He was a mage after all, regardless of what anyone else said.

The 16 points in constitution would help with healing and would give him a slight stamina boost.

Sylver could “live” without his skin, or eyes, or what have you, but he liked being “alive” and the extra couple points of HP would help with that.

If there was some smarter way of handling this, Sylver couldn’t see it. Truth be told, he wasn’t in the best of mindsets at the moment, but considering he was about to face whatever was keeping Spring captive, he wanted to be as ready as possible.

Total Level: 117
[Koschei-5]
[Necromancer-100]
[Swamp Lord-12]

CON: 141
DEX: 100
STR: 100
INT: 250
WIS: 200
AP: 0

Health: 1,410/1410
Stamina: 705/705
MP: 9,903/10,000

Health Regen: 16.45/M
Stamina Regen: 10.58/M
MP Regen: 4,500/M

Sylver suppressed a very faint moan as he cracked his neck and felt like lightning ran through his bones, and jumped out of the ends of his fingers and toes. Apart from the obvious capacity increase to his relatively sizable pond of mana, his ears tingled, as did his eyes.

It was difficult to put into words, but everything became a tiny amount sharper, and louder, but not in a bad way. Sylver cracked his knuckles and flexed his fingers until his newly added mana channels settled in properly. He helped them along while he looked over his choice of perks.

Oddly enough there were several explosive-related perks.

But the bombs weren’t a long-term strategy, they worked for now, but it would be a waste of a perk to simply get a 50% protection from his own explosions, or gain the ability to concentrate the force of an explosion in a specific direction. He could already do that, even if it cost a considerable amount of mana.

There were other, better, perks.

Out of 72 available perks, there were a few that caught Sylver’s eye.

[Perk: Shadow’s Storage]
-Store an item/items inside a shadow.
-Amount of MP required for storing an item/items inside a shadow will depend on the volume and mass of the item/items.

[Perk: Carefree Cannibal]
-Any flesh, bone, or blood that is consumed will provide the user healing relative to the mass of flesh, bone or blood consumed.
-The closer a creature is to the user’s race, the greater the amount of healing provided.

[Perk: Damage Redirection]
-Heal the damage in one region, at the cost of damaging a different region.
*Amount of healing gained relative to damage dependent on proximity and healing complexity.

[Perk: Mark Of The Beast]
-If a creature is successfully marked the user will be able to know the exact location of the marked creature.
*Up to 1 creature can be marked at a time.
*The mark can only be removed when the marked creature has been killed.

[Perk: Soaring Smoke]
-Become a cloud of dark smoke.
-Instant materialization, regardless of how the body is spread out.
*HP, MP, Stamina regeneration will be decreased by 40% while in use.
*Weakness to Positive Energy increased by 50% while in use.
*Weakness to Positive Magic increased by 25% while in use.

[Perk: Deadly Darkness]
-The user will be able to manipulate and solidify their shadow.
*Degree of manipulation dependent on proximity, skill, and knowledge of the user.

[Perk: Broken Bargain]
-Increase the MP cost of raising all undead by 400%.
-Decrease the XP cost of raising all undead by 20%.

Sylver did a double-take as he reread the last perk.

There’s an experience cost when raising undead?

Sylver started to laugh so hard and so loud, that he could hear his barking laughter echo back to him. It was the laugh of a madman, the kind of laugh Sylver had laughed maybe 2 times in his whole unlife.

The first was when he realized what he had done when he finished spreading out those demon summoning grimoires. It was obvious in hindsight, but he only really understood the consequences of his actions when it was far too late to do anything about it.

The second was when he found a miscalculation in his lich ritual spell. It was a very tiny error that should have permanently crippled him, and had increased the material and time cost of the spell nearly 50 fold. The only reason Sylver had managed to live through the ritual was that he reacted quickly enough when it had started to go awry.

Even though he had gone out of his way to make the ritual as safe and efficient as possible, he ended up effectively turning into a lich the way one of Igri’s first students would have done. He might as well have not bothered with the literal tons of catalysts and components, and simply stabbed himself in the heart and hoped for the best, for all the good his preparations did him.

Now, granted, the experience cost oversight wasn’t anywhere near the same level, but he should have guessed it.

Sylver all but lay down onto the nice and cool ice, as he did some very basic mental arithmetic and realized that his experience hungry [Koschei] class wasn’t the reason he’d been leveling up so slowly.

It was because he likely lost a very large portion of however much experience he gained when he raised his undead.

No wonder everyone thinks the [Necromancer] class is so shit!

What other class penalizes you for doing exactly what the class is made for?

It took Sylver several minutes to compose himself.

It wasn’t exactly the revelation that had gotten to him, it was that it was one thing after another, all the time, the closest he ever came to catching a break was when he ran into Nautis and managed to sell him off for an exuberant sum.

Sylver sometimes considered the fact that his family had sold him and his siblings off to be vampire food as the worst thing that’s ever happened to him.

Then Nyx took him as her apprentice and explained to him that he was the magical equivalent of a cripple, and even if he spent his entire life training, a child with a single drop of positive energy in their spell would be able to easily overpower him.

Then Sylver found that he had to create his own style of magic to be able to use even the most basic of the most basic spells.

Then Sylver learned that, unlike the rest of his peers, pure darks couldn’t naturally become immortal, and he had to commit unspeakable acts to keep himself alive long enough to figure out the key to undeath.

Then Nyx and Cirin disappeared without a word and left him with a 5-year-old Aether to raise, that Sylver had absolutely no idea how to handle. He did his best, but if it weren’t for Adema stepping in to help, Aether would have been fucked.

And then the civil war with the dragons, the high elves, and their bullshit bloodline nonsense, and then more loss and betrayal than Sylver thought possible.

And it all culminated in everything Sylver ever loved or cared about being, not just destroyed, but allegedly erased.

And now he was in the middle of nowhere, in another realm, cold, tired, miserable, with dead worms slowly getting pushed out of his left arm, and all of that for the possibility of learning where Edmund was.

Sylver took a very deep and very long breath as he decided there was absolutely nothing he could do about it now, and that he wasn’t going to get Edmund back by feeling sorry for himself.

The situation wasn’t great, granted, Sylver wasn’t going to argue on that account, but it was what it was, the important thing was finding the book, and then finding Edmund.

He’d cry about how unfair life was later when he had Salgok to drink with and Lola to complain to.

Sylver stood up and brushed the snow off his face, and was glad to see all 5 members of his party understood it wouldn’t be a good idea to ask him what that was about.

They trudged on, towards the direction Sylver had pointed to with unwavering confidence a few minutes ago.

Out of the available perks [Shadow’s Storage], [Soaring Smoke], and [Deadly Darkness] were the most useful in the long run.

[Shadow’s Storage] was useful for utility-related reasons, [Bound Bones] had a limit, and if one of Sylver’s bones were to be broken, all the corpses and miscellaneous items would explode out of him. [Shadow’s Storage] would mean he wouldn’t have to worry about something important getting stolen from him.

[Soaring Smoke] would be a huge upgrade to [Shadow’s Soma] and it was the perk Sylver had an excellent gut feeling about. Partially because in a certain way it would allow Sylver to effectively teleport.

Sure, Sylver would still need to be able to physically access wherever it was he wanted to materialize, but he could run right at a wall, turn into smoke, move the tiniest tendril through a gap, and instantly appear on the other side. It would make fighting him a nightmare, he could turn into smoke, tiny tendril on the floor and between the opponent’s legs, and materialize on the other side, dagger in hand.

[Deadly Darkness] would be the perfect pairing with Sylver’s fighting style and current limitations. Above all else, it was a perk he wanted.

Combined with [Necrotic Mutilation] Sylver would be basically untouchable at close range. Further paired with [Soaring Smoke] Sylver would have the upper hand in running away and fighting.

[Carefree Cannibal] and [Damage Redirection] were both a kind of healing. Except Sylver didn’t get the feeling either would be able to heal the one thing he cared about, his mana channels. He had copies of himself to use to replace if he ever lost a limb in the future, and if he had [Deadly Darkness] he wouldn’t even be that handicapped if he lost an arm again.

[Mark Of The Beast] would be perfect for the woman in white.

But even if Sylver could track her, it wasn’t like there was anything he would be able to do to her at his current level of ability. Plus, he had a way to track her, if he really needed to do it, she even gave him the ring he needed to do it.

It wouldn’t be as precise or easy as [Mark Of The Beast], but Sylver only had 2 perks that he could choose.

Sylver read through all the perks one last time, and apart from feeling another bout of hysteria coming on when he read through [Broken Bargain] Sylver was certain this was the right choice.

He would have liked to see what his [Swamp Lord] perks were, but they wouldn’t open right now. Sylver got the sense he would only be able to pick them once he had picked the two perks for [Necromancer].

There were a number that would work better in the long term. Each came with its own cost and limitation, but until Sylver found a way to get rid of his mana conductivity bottleneck, they were useless.

And with his luck, who knows how long that would take?

Sylver felt like waving goodbye as his first class gave him the last leg up it could give. He’d been through a lot while being merely a [Necromancer].

Now he would see how he would fare as a [Swamp Lord]

[Perk: Soaring Smoke]
-Become a cloud of dark smoke.
-Instant materialization, regardless of how the body is spread out.
*HP, MP, Stamina regeneration will be decreased by 40% while in use.
*Weakness to Positive Energy increased by 50% while in use.
*Weakness to Positive Magic increased by 25% while in use.

[Perk: Deadly Darkness]
-The user will be able to manipulate and solidify their shadow.
*Degree of manipulation dependent on proximity, skill, and knowledge of the user.

As he had come to expect, the system might have a thing against necromancers, understandably, given how powerful the magic was, but when it came to integration, it had no equal.

Sylver had lost count of how many times he had made the numb third limb regaining feeling metaphor, but that was exactly how it felt. The ice he walked on suddenly stopped being slippery, as Sylver changed his shadow’s texture and now walked on something akin to sandpaper.

He felt his shadow moving around inside of his robe, and without even having to think about it, produced a blade out of the palm of his right hand. It was silent, deadly, and however short or long as he needed it to be.

Sylver was so preoccupied with his new perk and ability, that he very nearly bumped into Runnel.

They had all stopped to look at the small piece of metal sticking out of the water ahead of them.

It was a bent pipe with a piece of glass at the end, but Sylver could still feel that the Spring half was way ahead.

“Is this what we were looking for?” Bigs asked, as the pipe slowly started to rise out of the water and got taller and taller and taller.

Still a little bit giddy, Sylver couldn’t help but grin as he watched the pipe move so the piece of glass continued to be pointed at them.

He could feel that something was watching through it.

“Not exactly, but this will work too,” Sylver said. He heard, more than felt, the two guards with them shaking in their armors, and Sylver felt a similar kind of fear start emanating from Bigs.

“Run,” Bigs said in broken English. “RUN!” Bigs repeated, much louder, as he and the guards started to run away from the glass-tipped pipe.

Runnel followed after Bigs with barely a glance at Sylver, while Estus switched from looking at Bigs’ back, and at Sylver’s faintly confused.

“I know what I’m doing,” Sylver said, with as much confidence as he could muster in his current condition.

They had Spring, he wasn’t going to abandon his shade.

And more importantly, Sylver’s gut told him to stay.

Sylver could see as Estus weighed the odds in his head, and found that he was actually kind of hurt when the healer began to sprint after Bigs, Runnel, and the two guards.

Sylver cracked his neck and started to slowly walk towards the rising pipe.

Sylver’s felt it because of his [Advanced Water Manipulation] trait, as a very large area where there wasn’t any water moved upwards to the surface.

The waves the metallic boat produced as it came out of the water nearly made Sylver fall off the piece of ice he was standing on. He moved it towards the door and floated around the rising boat.

With a single leap, Sylver was on the boat and stood a few steps away from the door. He could feel souls moving around on the other side of it, and kept his daggers hidden, but ready.

The door made a painfully loud whistling noise as someone on the other side started to open it.

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