Sylver was the Ibis’ authority on dead languages.
Partially because very few mages cared about old magic, and tended to focus on simply creating new “better” magic. Or simply making the magic their masters passed down to them more efficient and powerful.
Sylver had no such luck.
Necromancy was a “dead” magic. It was certainly much more prevalent back in his time than it currently was with the system around, but even back then there weren’t that many necromancers around that Sylver could learn from.
Not any that were alive anyway. Or undead.
Aside from Nyx, a great deal of Sylver’s magic came from digging up graves, stealing “forbidden” texts, gathering cursed grimoires, raising dead necromancers that didn’t quite figure out how to become undead, and trading with the few dark magic centered cults and covens that managed to survive through multiple waves of priests going on inquisitions.
Sylver didn’t have a problem with priests in general.
Well, he did, but only in the sense that he had a problem with anyone who could be accurately described as the closest thing he had to a natural predator.
But he only acted on his prejudice when they abused their powers and authority, and killed witches that did nothing wrong, or went after undead just for being undead.
Thankfully it only took the Silver Lich wiping out a couple of religious sects, before the others figured out that it was a bad idea to touch people who might have a connection to Sylver or lived near his area of influence.
Not to say they didn’t need a reminder now and then, but when Sylver sent a message, he made sure the message was clear, to the point, and was witnessed by at least 20 bards to make sure the message was spread out as far and as widely as possible.
You would think that would be enough, but the problem was that over the years the extremely gruesome and real event would become a “story”.
And then it would become a “myth”.
And before Sylver knew it, he was all but forgotten and considered a “fairy tale” priests used to scare their apprentices with.
Eventually, they would forget why they weren’t supposed to hunt undead for the fun of it, or would burn a witch at the stake after having their way with her, and then Sylver would be forced to remind the world he’s still around.
Sylver was a very uncomfortable truth, that people went out of their way to forget and ignore. It was so much easier to pretend he wasn’t real. In certain areas, Sylver had to remind people he existed every 200 years.
And every single time, everyone would be so surprised that he really did exist, and the zombie you captured and were burning to death using holy water wasn’t lying about having met the Silver Lich in person.
The card the dark elf had given Sylver was coded in a way Sylver was very familiar with.
Because it was the exact system he coded all of his grimoires with.
Sadly, all Sylver could figure out from looking at it was that it was a framework for dark magic and that it involved a nearly impossible quantity of mana.
Enough mana that someone could, theoretically, change the direction a planet was facing to melt the ice caps.
Or at least that was Sylver’s assumption, given that this card was only a fragment of the actual framework. There were tiny markings on the corners, which meant that this card was like the middle part of a puzzle.
That was assuming this was written by someone from the Ibis.
For all Sylver knew it was simply a coincidence, and Sylver was misinterpreting and misunderstanding what he was seeing. Given how desperate he was to find anyone from the Ibis, it could be that he was seeing what he wanted to see.
It wouldn’t be the first time he’d done this.
But now he didn’t have Nyx around to poke holes in his translation…
Sylver’s robe absorbed the card back into his sleeve and moved it up so it was pressed against Ria. She was wrapped around his right bicep in the shape of spring-like jewelry. Sylver hoped that if anyone was looking through his robe and saw her, they would just think she was just odd-looking armor or something along those lines.
“I take it you would like me to translate this?” Ria asked, as Sylver brushed himself off, and continued to walk towards his destination.
“You figured out Elvish in just a few hours. I’d like to know what you think is written on this card,” Sylver explained, as he waited for his heart to stop being so hard that it threatened to burst his eardrums.
“What language is this?” Ria asked.
“It isn’t that far off from Elvish. I don’t want to say anything else, because I need a second opinion, that isn’t influenced by me,” Sylver said.
He quite honestly didn’t expect Ria to be able to figure anything out, but this way he had an excuse to ignore the card and not spend every waking moment thinking about it.
Because even if the Ibis was somehow responsible for ruining this realm, what was Sylver supposed to do about it?
If the feeling he got from the card was to be trusted, this was highly advanced, highly specialized, and the top of 10th tier magic.
Sylver could barely cast 2nd tier magic without crippling himself.
Not to mention, even if he could do something about it, should he?
Mages with this much power never did anything for the fun of it.
The ones that were “insane” were killed around the time they got past 7th tier, the 8th tier and higher tiers were a club with extremely strict rules of admission…
At least back when Sylver and the Ibis was around…
With people potentially gaining enough power to cast 10th tier magic from killing a few hundred thousand monsters…
Sylver shuddered at the thought.
I’m overthinking this.
The important question is whether or not whoever wrote this is still alive.
If they’re already dead and gone, then it doesn’t matter if the Ibis is responsible or not. Trying to “fix” whatever was done to this realm would take more time than I’m willing to spend on a realm full of interfering sunlight, and lead-firing guns.
If the author of this card is alive…
Then I would have the help of a 10th tier Ibis-trained mage.
This is assuming this is simply someone who was in a different realm when the Ibis was destroyed, and not a thief, or one of the rogues…
Sylver stopped walking as he felt a chill tear its way through his spine.
The woman in white said not to use my real name.
The only reason to do that is if there was someone here who would recognize it.
Like an extremely powerful mage who knows me…
There was a number that I never managed to track down…
Even more, if the ones Nyx couldn’t find were to be considered…
With the time dilation, who knows how long they’ve been here? Anyone powerful enough to know me by name would probably be powerful enough to rule this whole realm if they wanted to…
Sylver stopped walking again and turned his head towards the ceiling. With the glass blacked out as it was, he couldn’t see it right now, but the Flowers lived at the highest point in the Garden.
Which was built by the Gardener…
“Motherfucker,” Sylver accidentally said out loud, as he closed his eyes and added another couple of drops to his ever-growing bottle of undiluted rage.
He crouched down and made to grab for his hair, but found nothing but shiny smooth scalp.
How possible is it that someone enchanted the fucking SUN to weaken me or Nyx in the event we managed to follow them into this realm?
“Familiar with the area,” the fucking cunt must have known from the start.
Is there an enemy of the Ibis at the heart of this city?
Someone capable enough to escape either me or Nyx…
Sylver suppressed his ever-growing worry and forced it down into a simple question.
What can I do about it?
If the Gardener really was an ex Ibis member who managed to survive being executed, there was absolutely nothing Sylver could do about it. If they found him and decided to kill him, the only thing he could do was hope that the woman in white didn’t touch his pot.
On the other hand, if the Gardener was dead, and Sylver had the corpse of a 10th tier mage…
If they had apprentices, I doubt they’d let me just walk away with it. Not to mention they might have told them enough about me that they could somehow figure out who I am.
Considering I look nothing like I did when I was the Silver Lich, and my soul isn’t anywhere near as big or powerful, the chance of being recognized is slim to none.
But it isn’t zero…
Sylver grabbed the bars that stopped people from continuing down the pipe he was currently standing in and very carefully bent them out of the way so he could pass. Sylver had [Shadow’s Soma] and [Soaring Smoke] so he could have easily just turned into a cloud and passed through without breaking anything, but he decided to stay on the safe side and keep as many abilities hidden as possible.
Even though Kass had said the cameras didn’t work during the night, Sylver didn’t know to what extent that information was trustworthy. He should have asked the dark elves, but in hindsight, Sylver should have done a lot of things.
The tracker Sylver had left with Grant had done its job.
Sylver didn’t find exactly what he wanted, but there were 3 spots that the creature seemed to visit suspiciously often. Currently, Sylver was on his way to one of those spots and was now walking waiting for Spring to map out some of the area before proceeding.
But what if they’re not looking for the Silver Lich specifically?
What if they’re looking for someone who knows about the Ibis?
What if the dark elves are in on it? And the fact that I had any kind of reaction to the card was proof I’m involved with the Ibis? What if they knew since the start? Is it just a coincidence my stage name is “Silver” when they know me as the “Silver” lich? What about-
Among Sylver’s exceptionally large arsenal of skills, spells, and mystical and magical knowledge, his greatest strength was his ability to not think about the things he couldn’t control.
Which is what he did the moment he felt his paranoia flare up.
There was nothing wrong with being paranoid, especially when there really were people out to get you, but there’s a difference between being irrationally afraid of what could be, and preparing to face a potential danger.
What Sylver was doing now was connecting dots he wasn’t certain existed.
And then metaphorically shitting his pants over the results this potentially false picture produced.
So instead Sylver chose to focus on what he could do.
Like deciding between which perk to pick for advancing past level 10 in [Swamp Lord].
After not all that much thinking Sylver picked [Morbid Mushroom]. He could explain his choice in a calm and rational manner, or he could be honest with himself that he was curious and that was all the reason he needed.
[Perk: Morbid Mushroom]
-User will be able to cultivate and manipulate fungal matter.
-10% decreased MP cost for all fungus-related plant magic.
*Degree of manipulation dependent on affinity, proximity, skill, and knowledge of the user.
Truth be told, even though he knew this was going to happen, Sylver had expected a bit more fanfare when he accepted the perk. He had thought that-
[Perk [Shadow’s Soma] has been removed!]
[Perk [Soaring Smoke] has been removed!]
[Perk: Fog Form]
-User will be able to become a colorless cloud of fog.
-User will be able to generate and manipulate fog.
-User will be able to instantly materialize.
*HP, MP, Stamina regeneration decreased by 50% while in use.
*Weakness to positive energy increased by 25% while in use.
Sylver just stared at his status and looked at the place [Shadow’s Soma] used to be.
It was gone.
As was his very recently acquired [Soaring Smoke].
Is this the Mage messing with my perks?
Or is this because I had 2 perks that did the same thing, and the system…
What? Merged them into 1 perk?
The Mage did say he would have sorted out my perks too if he wasn’t interrupted…
Is this him trying to get on my good side or something?
Or is this normal?
Sylver was still cautious of Iris watching him, but he wanted to make sure the information the system had seamlessly implanted in his mind was right.
Sylver’s robe fluttered slightly, as barely visible wisps of shimmering air escaped from the bottom folds of it. Sylver squinted his eyes as he focused on the vapor, and suddenly had trouble seeing the metallic floor he was standing on. It was blurry and somehow refracting what little light there was down here.
With a bit more effort, Sylver made the fog rise to cover his whole body. Sylver waved his hand a short distance away from his face, and even with two perfectly functional eyes, struggled to see if the hand was close or far away from him.
He channeled more mana into the fog, and it turned grey and Sylver stopped being able to see his hand completely.
More importantly, he could somehow tell it was doing something other than just filling up space.
Sylver spread the fog away from him, and could very vaguely feel through it. He did it almost accidentally, but Sylver suddenly found himself standing 10 meters ahead. He forgot himself for a moment and was back to his original spot.
With a laugh, Sylver appeared and disappeared within the small pipe, moving backward and forwards without taking a single step.
Sylver’s voice didn’t even echo within the metallic pipe, as the thick vapor in the air muffled his voice.
He wasn’t limited by how far he could stretch a tendril while in the form of smoke, now he could preemptively create fog, and could travel anywhere within.
As long as Sylver had enough mana to create and sustain the fog, he could teleport!
Albeit with far more restrictions than even the weakest warriors and mages were provided, but he was still teleporting!
In a significantly better mood than he had been earlier, Sylver continued walking down the pipe, while he left trails of fog behind him.
The change triggered when I accepted [Morbid Mushroom]. So does that mean that the system replaced my 2 [Necromancer] given perks with 1 [Swamp Lord] perk?
Was it because [Fog Form] is a [Swamp Lord] perk I could have chosen at some point in the future?
Sylver had to put his hypothesizing on hold, as he arrived at his destination.
Or rather, where his destination should be.
Like the tracker had shown, it was an incredibly large open space, with hundreds of pipes coming out of it. Sylver walked out of the pipe he was standing in, and slowly walked towards the center, with every step leaving behind a just short of invisible tendril of shimmering fog.
The space was separated into two halves, with a mesh flooring separating the top half of the sphere from the bottom half.
Some sort of filtration?
To catch large chunks while allowing water through?
Sylver put his questioning on hold as he looked up and saw a man-shaped creature covered in slowly moving pitch-black flames. As Sylver looked around, he counted 14 more of them, all standing in a circle, with him at the center.
Sylver had made his robe close up around his head when it had become “night”, so only his pitch-black eyes were visible through the thick, bulletproof, fabric. He wasn’t sure how well his smile translated as he did his best to appear as non-aggressive as possible.
Sylver moved the card Ria had just short of encased and pulled it up into his hand.
He had hoped for at least a nod, but not a single one of the black fire armor wearing men moved a single muscle.
Spring had told Sylver that he followed the shadow creature, and had no idea as to how he ended up on that underwater boat. His memory wasn’t missing, it was more like he had simply been teleported directly into the boat and cage.
Sylver thought about what to say, whether to speak in English or Elvish, but without him noticing all 15 black fire armor wearing men had disappeared. Sylver was confused for the briefest moment before he lunged towards the pipe he came through and felt both of his feet disappear while he was still airborne.
The explosion of light was so bright and so intense, that Sylver was fairly certain whoever had fired it had managed to see his skeleton from how bright the blast of light had been. Sylver landed on his shoulder and rolled while he created 2 feet out of solid darkness, and was bounced up and down inside the pipe by his robe.
Sylver didn’t look back but could feel faint vibrations in the metal, and Spring confirmed that 3 men were chasing after him. For whatever reason, the one holding the coil-covered gun decided against using it, and instead Sylver simply nearly toppled over from the sudden interference created by the man holding the inverted umbrella.
Sylver grit his teeth as he landed on exposed bone, and felt his skin crawl as raw bone scratched against rough metal, as Sylver continued to run on his two stubs, and waited to get around the corner.
Sylver’s robe started to fray and burn away as the man holding the flashlight activated it, but he was only 4 steps away now.
At 2 steps Sylver summoned a bomb into his hand, and felt something dripping onto the back of his neck, as the bulletproof layer melted and dribbled down onto his exposed skin.
Sylver felt his right leg’s femur split down the middle as he put too much weight on it as he jumped off the right wall to turn left, and disappeared behind the corner.
Sylver flicked the bomb down to the floor, and as his robe came to life, and regained control over his magic and summoned a few tons of water to turn into ice. Thankfully Sylver’s ice was thick enough that he just barely heard the bomb go off before the ice shattered and the compressed flames sent Sylver’s body flying through the pipe.
For a fraction of a second Sylver used [Fog Form] to not get shredded to pieces by the bars he bent to pass through, and like a bullet, was sent flying above the lake and buildings, and smashed his head against the glass above.
It didn’t shatter, but Sylver had done enough damage that the previously completely blacked-out glass turned crystal fucking clear and blasted Sylver’s semi-exposed body with highly concentrated magic interfering light.
Luckily, given the circumstances and his general luck, Sylver continued to fly through the air and landed in an alleyway that blocked out enough light that he could form his feet again. Sylver ran as fast as his weak feet would carry him and hoped against all hope he didn’t fuck himself over.
Sylver arrived at his house’s front door and for the third time today, nearly swallowed his tongue from surprise, as a man shaped black flame clad person stood directly in front of his house.
The figure gave such a small nod, Sylver wasn’t even certain it actually nodded, as it disappeared. He didn’t know if they were simply moving too quickly for his eyes to follow, or were teleporting without using magic, but Sylver didn’t care right now.
Lights in all the glass houses behind Sylver began to turn on as he very quickly entered the code into the door, and gently but quickly closed it behind him.
Sylver spent a few seconds panting and waited for his heart to calm down, as Grant grabbed his two guns and almost fell down from how fast he ran down the stairs.
“What is it! What-”
Grant very nearly shot Sylver in the liver as Sylver clasped his hand on his mouth and pressed down hard enough to muffle his words. They stared at each other for an incredibly uncomfortable second, before Sylver gently pulled his hand off and the two men just stood around in darkness as all over the place people woke up and looked to see was the commotion.
Sylver knew they weren’t waking up because of how loudly he ran through the streets.
They were waking up because there was an incredibly tall pillar of smoke in the distance, along with a hexagonal-shaped missing glass chunk that let sunlight through. The light bounced around the Roots and somehow reflected off enough surfaces that it was bright enough to see in the Trunk area.
“What happened?” Grant whispered as Sylver saw drones flying towards the missing glass chunk, and could have sworn one of them was looking right at him as it flew by.
“Shh,” Sylver said with a tense voice, as he fully stopped holding onto Grant, and walked towards the bathroom.
Sylver had to keep his fingers crossed that Iris wasn’t watching him right this very second, as he made two right feet appear within the folds of his robe, and lay on his back inside the bathtub. Sylver used [Necrotic Mutilation] to help him hold everything in place as he started stitching his feet onto his legs.
He was glad beyond words he had taken the time to have Ria clone him as he was back then. Otherwise, Sylver would have had two right feet, instead of a right foot, and a fucked up looking stitched together left foot.
By the time Sylver could walk again without having to create easily destroyable darkness, the hexagonal piece of glass had been repaired. Sylver limped over to the kitchen table and sat down onto one of the chairs, as Grant finished pouring him a tall glass of something strong enough to be used as a disinfectant.
“I’ll be honest with you… Tonight was not my night,” Sylver said, as he finished the glass in three quick gulps and watched as Grant started to refill it.
“On the bright side, you’re still alive,” Grant offered, as Sylver felt his charred skin fall off as it was replaced by clean and healed flesh. His robe collected it and fed it to Sylver’s [Necrotic Mutilation] armor pieces.
“Still alive. Meaning, not dead. I am exactly one step above the absolute worst thing that can happen to anyone, ever,” Sylver said, as he finished another glass.
“Better than being dead,” Grant repeated.
As Sylver closed his eyes and felt the alcohol start to slowly warm him up, he couldn’t help but agree.
He might be living in a city built by a man who knew him by name and would destroy him if he found out he was here.
But at least he was still alive.
Or, undead, in his case.
And who knows?
Maybe the Gardener is someone who would help and wasn’t one of the handful of people who hated Sylver and knew him well enough to recognize him even if he was in someone else’s body.