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A note from KingKennit

Do you like stories with undead protagonists?

Because I do!

Try Unliving, if you haven't already!

It has necromancers that don't all walk around with a permenant scowl, while torturing newborns for the fun of it, and treats them as people who simply use a slightly off putting kind of magic.

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Ch137-More Questions

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“We’re safe to talk,” Kass said, before Sylver had even managed to start knocking on his door, or could say a word.

“I’m glad to hear that,” Sylver said, as he walked over to the small chair opposite Kass’ desk.

Kass in turn sat in his slightly too large chair and did his very best to appear calm and collected as he locked his hands together and had to repeatedly remind himself to relax.

“Considering you’re somehow making the future so blurry I can barely see it, I’m going to guess you think I can’t be trusted,” Kass asked, as Sylver nodded slightly.

“Bigs and Runnel came back alive. I’ll skip the bullshit and tell it to you straight. I made a mistake. The names I gave you were purposely wrong. Because when you asked Pecan for them, he would have pulled very specific strings, that would have ended up with 5 completely different names arriving at the Lyon,” Kass explained.

“I see… This is one of those “if I told you about it, it wouldn’t have worked,” kind of situations, isn’t it,” Sylver asked, as Kass seemed to relax a little.

“Yes. But as I said before, I made a mistake. There’s a… There is a third party involved that got in the way of my plan. It should have been dead simple, you asked Pecan for those 5 names and then he cashed in a favor with person X, who talked to person Y, who talked to person Z, it’s a domino of events that finishes with you having 5 bloodthirsty party members. Whose deaths would have further increased your reputation, and would have had no repercussions,” Kass explained while staring at the top of his hands.

“But somewhere between me giving you those 5 names, and you arriving at the Lyon, the third party I previously mentioned got in the way. The uh… I would have to explain exactly how I can see the future to explain how the third-party managed to change things,” Kass said with increasing tension in his shoulders.

Sylver waited for a few seconds while he thought it over, while Kass just quietly sat in his overly large seat and fidgeted with his hands.

“Alright. I believe you. Mistakes happen, no one is perfect. But… in the interest of keeping things civil, I would like your word that you won’t ever do this to me again. I don’t like working with people I can’t trust, and even though I fully understand why you did it this way, I never want to be in this position. Do I have your word?” Sylver asked quietly and calmly, while several beads of sweat appeared on Kass’ forehead and started to gather in his eyebrows.

“It uh… Yes… Yes, yes, you have my word, this was the first and last time. Mods was a monster; in case you were worried. I’ve got a list of everything he-” Kass explained as he reached down underneath his desk to grab a stack of papers, but was interrupted by Sylver before he could finish.

“It’s fine, I don’t really care. The issue isn’t that I could have killed innocent people, it’s that you made me doubt that I can trust the things you say. This matter is settled, there’s no need to further discuss it,” Sylver said, as he slowly uncoiled the mass of primal energy he was using to fuck with Kass’ clairvoyancy.

Sylver saw Kass breathe a deep sigh of relief as his hands stopped shaking and what Sylver imagined to be an extremely painful migraine dissipated.

“I’d like to talk about the Gardener,” Sylver said and saw Kass’ eye go wide again.

“In what sense?” Kass asked.

“I’d like to know what you know about him. He built the Garden, he’s the father of the Flowers, but I’d like to know as much information about him as possible,” Sylver explained, while Kass stared at him.

“Why?” Kass asked.

“Because I want to know as much information about him as possible. What he looked like, the things he said, if his body was burned or buried, how exactly he built the Garden,” Sylver explained, while Kass just continued to look at him with the most peculiar expression on his face.

“You do know the Gardener isn’t real? He’s just a story people tell their children. He’s… Why are you asking about the Gardner?” Kass asked.

“Tell me what children are told about him. The stories about him, I just want to know everything there is to know about him,” Sylver repeated.

Kass tapped his fingers on his desk while he attempted to figure out what exactly the angle was here. Sylver could almost see the moment his blood pressure spiked.

“A Serpent spoke to you, didn’t it? What did it say?” Kass asked as he sat up in his seat.

“What’s a Serpent?”

“No, I remember now. Someone was spotted being attacked by one a few days ago. The Cherubs managed to scare it away, but then the person they saved attacked them. I thought it was someone else, I didn’t…” Kass said, while he closed his eyes and furrowed his brows. “Last night… It was you, wasn’t it?” Kass said, with his eyes now wide open and staring right at Sylver.

So I’m not the only one walking around at night… And apparently, Kass misunderstood my question back when I was attacked by those three armored not guards. He did look quite so haggard, did he assume he knew what I would ask, and didn’t bother looking long enough into the future to hear the full question?

“Don’t answer that, I don’t want to know,” Kass said quickly before Sylver had had a chance to nod or say anything. “Wait, what did it offer you? Did it say it would give you the thing I’m looking for?” Kass asked.

“How am I supposed to respond to this without confirming that-”

“No, no, don’t say anything…” Kass stood up from his chair and started to walk to his right before he changed his mind and sat back down. “Who else knows about your nighttime walks?” Kass asked.

“Why?” Sylver asked.

“Because if they tell anyone, you’re dead. There are subroutines in place to make sure no one will be able to track you through Iris or one of the other AI’s, but if… Look, don’t go out during the night again. At all,” Kass warned.

“No. To be entirely honest with you, I’m sick and tired of sitting on my ass and waiting for something to happen. I’m not used to being this boxed in, don’t do this, don’t do that, keep this secret, don’t say this, I am this close to losing my patience,” Sylver explained, as he leaned forward and placed his elbow on the desk.

The distance between his thumb and pointer finger was barely visible from how tiny it was.

“You’re usually far more rational than this? What did it say to you? Don’t believe a word it said, it can read your mind and promise you whatever you most desire. No, wait, it attacked you… Ok, I think I’m starting to get it… You’ve got one of their skills, don’t you? That’s how you’re able to walk around during night…” Kass said while Sylver stared him in the eye.

“If we’re safe to talk, can we do away with this nonsense?” Sylver asked with an annoyed huff.

“No. Because now I’m worried you’re working for a Serpent. And if you are, I want to be able to honestly say I didn’t know anything,” Kass said.

Sylver smiled at him and then planned a series of actions that made all the blood in Kass’ body run ice cold. Sylver committed to his plans and was extra careful that his primal energy reflected this. He started to count to 10 in his head, and Kass spoke before Sylver finished counting “two.”

“They look like walking black fire. The Cherubs are the only ones who can kill them, but having said that, I’ve never heard of one of them actually being killed. They control the…” Kass actually looked over his shoulder and then whispered the word so quietly that even though he could feel Kass’ breath in his ear Sylver just barely heard it.

Angels,” Kass whispered.

“The Serpents promise you whatever you want, and in return ask you to do something for them. But it’s a trick, not a single person in the Garden has ever made a deal with them and lived to tell about it,” Kass explained, while cold sweat soaked through his shirt, and he spoke a little too loudly, on account of his heart beating so hard in his ears that he struggled to hear his own voice.

“As in they turn up dead, or they disappear?” Sylver asked, and did his best to sound as calm and relaxed as possible.

Sadly, the nature of the question was clear enough to Kass that it only made his heart beat faster, and further dilated his pupils.

“Disappear. There’s never a corpse, they don’t leave corpses, Serpent’s don’t leave corpses,” Kass said while he gently placed his hand over his chest and tried his best to take a deep breath to calm down.

Sylver nodded and stayed quiet while Kass breathed in and out, and closed his eyes as tight as he could. Sylver must have sat there for a solid 5 minutes before Kass opened his eyes again and managed to compose himself.

“Whatever you do, don’t believe a thing they said. Don’t make any deals with them, they’re here to destroy the Garden, that’s all they are after. They tried to drown the world so only darkness remained, and now they’re trying to finish the job. They’re the ones who caused the Flip, and they’re the ones responsible for the Tides,” Kass explained in an attempt at a calm and relaxed voice but didn’t quite manage to fully get rid of the quivering.

“I see,” Sylver said as he sat back in his chair.

There was a long silence that was broken by Kass.

“Are you working for them?” Kass asked so quietly that Sylver barely saw his lips move.

“I’m not working for them,” Sylver answered honestly.

Kass’ worried expression didn’t budge. He stayed dead silent for another full minute, while he just stared into Sylver’s eyes.

“I’m going to choose to believe you,” Kass said slowly.

“I’m glad to hear that. Do you have any news on the thing we don’t discuss?” Sylver asked. If he carried on with the topic of “Serpents” Sylver was all but certain Kass would have a heart attack. He decided to wait for a day or so, Kass wasn’t going anywhere.

There was an extremely brief glint in Kass’ eye as he did his best not to sound too proud with himself.

“I’m still waiting on the specifics, but I am just short of certain that it is in the Garden. It’s only a matter of time,” Kass said with a grin in his voice that didn’t quite match his emotionless mask of a face.

“Is there anything I can do to speed things up?” Sylver asked.

“There isn’t… It’s being handled, as long as you get invited into Lady Demor’s house, I’ll handle everything else,” Kass promised.

“Alright. Since I’m here anyway, there are a few other things I wanted to discuss…”

*

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“I would like you to chaperone me to a meeting,” Pecan said, as his butler closed the door behind him and left him alone with Sylver. Pecan was dressed entirely in black, black shirt, black jacket, black tie, black trousers, black shoes, he even had black gloves laying off to the side.

“What about that woman that was with you when we first met? She seemed quite capable,” Sylver asked, as he looked around the oddly furnished room and saw that there was a thin layer of dust everywhere except the corner where Pecan was currently standing and changing.

“She is exceptionally capable; I couldn’t ask for a better bodyguard. She’s been with me for nearly 40 years, I’ve known her since I was a little boy. But this is a very time-sensitive matter, and she is presently otherwise occupied,” Pecan explained, as he inspected his tie and started to very gently pull it underneath his collar.

“Why me? I was told you had people level 400 and higher working for you?” Sylver asked, as he walked a little closer to Pecan and could see the man was making some sort of delicate knot with his tie.

“I do, but they are all… uncivilized. I need someone that can stop a sword, as well as stay still and quiet while I talk. Out of all of my available options, I believe you are the best person for both cases,” Pecan explained.

“I mean no offense, but why would you trust someone you barely know with your life?” Sylver asked. Pecan rolled his eyes in the mirror while he undid his knot and started over.

“I didn’t ask to meet with you simply because you forced the riff-raff in the Roots into being functional members of society. I asked to meet with you because I have an eye for people, and I am yet to be wrong,” Pecan explained, as he seemed satisfied with his 8 sided knot, but pulled it apart and started again.

“I can respect that…” Sylver said while he tried to find a polite way of asking about why he should do this.

Pecan beat him to it.

“On the matter of payment, I believe you currently employ a man named Minos as a bodyguard for an engineer named Grant. If everything goes well tonight, I will handle all matters regarding his protection. He’ll be as safe as any man can be, as will any future persons that you might decide to employ. Dungeon dives can sometimes last for months. Aside from that, I’ll also pay you half a million cuts to do with as you wish,” Pecan explained, as he once again made a perfect knot, and once again started over.

“More importantly, this will be a good chance for other Branches and Leafs to see you in person. The photos and videos don’t do you justice, you are far more handsome when you don’t have blood splattered across your face,” Pecan continued.

“What do you need protection for if you are going to be among friends?” Sylver asked as Pecan settled on a knot that somehow looked like a rose that had been pressed flat.

“These people are not my friends. You might not be aware of this, but competition between Branches, Leafs, and Flowers is so fierce that there were periods where our life expectancy was lower than that of even Roots,” Pecan continued, as he picked up an odd-shaped piece of cloth and started putting it on his head.

It was a kind of flat hat, that hung down low enough that both of his ears were hidden beneath it.

“What am I supposed to do if someone tries to kill you?” Sylver asked as Pecan gestured towards a small black-colored box that looked identical to the one he had pulled his clothing out of, save for the fact that it had a different 6-digit number on it.

“Ideally you would wait until the last possible moment to ensure that there is ample evidence of intent to kill. But your number one priority is to keep me alive. As long as you don’t instigate any fights, I have enough connections and influence to make certain that you are not accused or persecuted,” Pecan explained, as he nodded as Sylver started to open the box and saw nothing but layer upon layer of black fabric.

“Well, it’s not like I’m doing anything else anyway,” Sylver said, as he lifted his black shirt out of the box and found it to be tailored perfectly to fit his frame.

*

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*

Aside from feeling oddly naked without a dagger up his sleeve, Sylver had to admit he kind of liked this kind of clothing. It was slightly restrictive, but there was a certain charm to it. Pecan had to help him tie his tie, or rather, he wouldn’t allow Sylver to accompany him while having such a “basic” knot.

Sylver had discovered that the Branch level was nearly identical to the glass and mirror Trunk level, but with significantly more emphasis on the mirror part.

The other difference was the lack of mana in the air, which was instead being absorbed into sunflower-shaped lamps that glowed brightly enough that even during the “night” there was far too much light for Sylver’s shades to properly manifest.

Or for the Angels.

The big question on Sylver’s mind was how much of what Kass had said had been the truth.

Kass certainly believed it to be the truth, but what’s the point of propaganda if people didn’t believe it?

While Sylver doubted the dark elves could read his mind, and somehow fabricated a convincing Ibis-like framework, there was always a chance.

Although Sylver’s gut told him otherwise. As much as he would have liked it if it was a simple case of “good guys” Garden, versus “bad guys” dark elves, there was clearly something more to this story.

Because, if Kass was to be believed, apparently it was the dark elves who caused the Flip.

Drowning a planet and then making everything above the surface too desolate to survive is certainly one way of doing things. Sort of like salting the ground as you retreat, but on a slightly larger scale.

And the dark elves are able to control the Angels. So that part is certainly true, but what about the rest?

Is the card they gave Sylver a fake to get him to agree to a deal? He had the upper hand back on their boat, but here in the Garden? When they either moved fast enough that he couldn’t sense them or could teleport?

If they tried to force Sylver into a deal and he refused, there would be little to stop them from killing him when he attempted to take a step outside in the dark.

Sylver was certainly stronger than he was when he was attacked the first time, but there are at least 15 of them somewhere in the Garden.

If he could steal that gun that fired pure positive energy and had Ria replicate it, or possibly improve it, Sylver could-

“We’re here,” Pecan said, a moment before the horseless carriage stopped, and Sylver opened the door for him and waited for Pecan to jump down from it.

He’d expected that they would travel in a “car”, but the vehicle they sat in genuinely looked like a well-made wooden carriage that would normally be pulled by an animal of some kind. But this one didn’t have any animals, the front portion where the coachman sat was simply a little longer than Sylver would consider necessary.

Pecan gave the both of them one final look over and adjusted his hat, and then spent several minutes pulling Sylver’s hat over where his ears should be, and then fussed with his tie and sleeves.

By the time Sylver looked presentable enough to fit Pecan’s standards, there was already another horseless carriage arriving, and Pecan walked much faster than his short legs normally carried him.

There was nothing discerning about the place they were in right now, it was the same mirror-covered building as any other, the closest thing Sylver could see that could be considered a landmark was a large water fountain in the shape of a tree at the end of the road.

Sylver followed behind Pecan as the man walked past several identical doors and knocked a tune into the ninth one.

“Now remember. Be as polite as possible, don’t leave my side, and if someone offers you a card, take it and do your best to remember what the person who gave it to you looks like,” Pecan repeated, and Sylver passed down to Spring to handle.

Spring had split himself into 3 parts, the main half was within Sylver’s shadow, a quarter was in Pecan’s, and another quarter was talking to Ria and making the liquid metal creature tense around Sylver’s bicep at random intervals.

If it weren’t for the fact that Ria’s soul was genuinely happy for the first time since Sylver met her, just from talking to Spring, Sylver would have made the shade concentrate on the matter at hand.

After a little convincing that he couldn’t feel pain, Ria had sent a tendril up into Sylver’s ear through his skin. This way she could talk to him without needing to have a gold-colored string hanging out of his ear. Tapping worked too, but this way was quicker until she fully mastered the language Sylver used.

Pecan once again made sure his clothing didn’t have a single crease while he waited for the door to open.

A man opened the door and Sylver walked inside behind Pecan. He was ever grateful for Spring’s watchful and attentive eye as Sylver’s face blindness once again made itself known and he realized the man who had opened the door didn’t have the telltale pointy ears of an elf, only after Spring pointed it out.

Sylver stared at the man and hoped this wouldn’t be taken the wrong way as he used [Appraisal] on the very human-looking man.

[High-Elf/Elf (Warrior+Warrior+Brawler+Heavy Boxer+Gold Grappler) – 182]
[HP-40,550]
[MP-0]

The “High-Elf” looked like Sylver had just slapped him across the face, as Pecan gently but sternly turned Sylver away from the man.

“I apologize for my friend, it’s his first time seeing a high elf, he meant no offense,” Pecan said with a gentle and polite laugh.

The guard, dressed in a slightly lighter shade of black suit, glared at Sylver before he turned away from him and went back to looking through a small hole in the wall.

Sylver walked behind Pecan’s right shoulder as he led him lower and lower, and then through a maze of identical mirror corridors that were illuminated from seemingly nowhere.

Pecan stopped in the middle of an intersection of corridors, and pulled out a small metallic rectangle out of his pocket, and held it up against one of the mirror corners. Sylver very nearly turned into vapor, as the floor underneath his feet started to move up and the ceiling above them opened.

They continued to move upward until the wall behind Sylver disappeared. He turned around and saw something he should have expected, but quite honestly didn’t.

The main difference between humans and elves, aside from the arrangement of their internal organs, were their ears.

In this case, however, with everyone’s ears safely hidden away within their hats, all Sylver had to go on were their faces and body shapes.

And while he had horrible face blindness, he could tell at a glance that there were over 100 humans here, with barely 20 elves.

Why do I have a bad feeling about this?

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KingKennit

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