“Come on! What does it say?” Alith pestered Sofia, leaning above her shoulders from behind in ghost form.
“[Key-Ring of Zangdar] : Through the planes, mana shall lead the way. The path to the locked city is one without turns. Item level : 0. Grade : Forgotten.”
“Is this one of your jokes again? It says that? It’s just a dirty old quartz ring.”
“That’s what [Identify] shows, for real, there’s nothing more either.”
She had finally managed to learn the skill, after which the scroll had promptly crumpled and turned to dust.
“Do you know about Zangdar or this locked city?”
“Nope.” Sofia threw her hands up in the air in defeat.
“Weren’t you the same girl that reads a ton of books, and you’ve never heard of it?”
“I don’t think you understand just how big the world is, Alith.”
‘“What about the headband then?”
“Give me a second to empty the sand… Alright, so [Saint’s pride] : A Saint is already above mere mortals. Halves the Saint’s aging speed. Part of a seven piece set. Item level : 20. Grade : Ancient.”
“Halves aging? Hey, I think maybe I will take that.” Alith stated, slowly turning corporeal and reaching for the item.
“As if I’d let you! Ghosts don’t even age! And you’re not a saint, you probably can’t even wear it.”
“What if I can!”
“Why would you want it even! Stop acting like a kid already!”
“You’re the kid! Your whole family is a kid! I didn’t want your dirty piece of gold anyway!”
Alith pretended to pout in an exaggerated fashion, puffing up her cheeks, and sat in the campfire, arms crossed.
“Hoy, you’re gonna kill the fire, do you know how hard it is to get it going?”
“Not my problem, eheheh, I'm just a kid anyway, a dead kid even, can't make me listen,” she said, wiggling her butt to find a comfortable sitting position amidst the flames.
“Pfft, here, you can have the ring if you want. I can’t get it to work anyway. Besides, it also says your class must be [Saint] for the headband,” she tossed the ring towards Alith, who fumbled a bit but managed to catch it before it fell in the fire that burned up to her chest. I still think it’s weird how the immunity to heat works for her clothes too.
"I mean... I didn't 'really' want it. It's a lot of gold though..." Alith muttered as she examined the ring.
They had been traveling eastward for almost a week, only stopping once in a village to resupply and whenever the horse got too tired. Sofia had discovered that she didn’t need to sleep as much anymore, only five to six hours a day were enough. Probably a perk of being high level, that or a hidden benefit of my weird class.
Three more days like that and we’re out of Skyreach. What should we do in Red Winds… maybe go for the capital. I wanted to go there from the start but it could be better to try hard to lay low for now, at least until we reach level 100. Even if I managed to find a summoning expert in Drakron he might not be able to help me… In the end my best choice is always to get strong enough that they won’t even try to summon me back to them. I need to level up fast. Who knows how long they’ll take to raise another Magisterium.
Alith was still sitting in the fire, but in ghost form, her right hand was inside her abdomen. She looked really happy about it.
“What? You figured a ghost can pass through themself and that made your day?”
“... Hey. I know I play it up but can you not take me for an actual child? I’m older than you." Now... Okay. That's awkward... "I wanted to show you how I activated the ring,” Alith continued after a short silence. I'm too used to being around kids...
“Really? Well show me then...”
“I am showing you, did you not see my hand?” Alith said, waving her hand from inside her torso, she was indeed wearing the ring, it seemed to be glowing ever so slightly, it was hard to see in the flames.
“Come out of the fire first. Is it related to being inside you?”
“The description of the item did say ‘through the planes’ and the thing you killed was brought there by the elf wearing the ring. I figured he summoned something from another plane to activate the ring. So I put it through me and sent some mana, and here we are. I have to say, I would not have thought that up were it not for [Human form] mentioning switching to the spiritual plane, ” Alith explained, then put on a smug smile, waiting for a reaction.
“Who are you and what have you done to Alith?!”
“Oh come on!”
“Hey, hey, I’m joking, I get it, sorry. Alright, well done then. Don’t think I would have figured that out by myself, honestly. Maybe you’re not a wasted skill slot after all…”
“Pfft, keep acting, Sofia. You never recover from it if I stop cooking your meals for you now, then you'll be really sorry," she retorted with her smug smile again, "Anyway, I know the direction to the locked city now, and we are absolutely going, I decided,” the girl in the fire stated.
She sounds serious. She wants us to just go and follow the directions of an old ring?
“I only have two questions. Why? You do know I’m the one suffering on the horse’s back, right?” Sofia asked, pointing at her butt.
“Oh, you misunderstand, we’re leaving the horse here. We should probably release it actually, or it might die of thirst. As for why, well, first, using the ring gets you away from the church very fast. And secondly because this trip is horrendously boring, and I want to explore an ancient city, right now,” Alith explained, she was already unleashing the horse from the small tree it had been bound to.
“I see… I don’t think I like where this is going… Are you sure we can come back afterwards, is it safe?”
“The ring can take us back anytime, as long as we can set up the ritual. And if you’re worried about safety I can always check by myself first, I’m already dead anyway.”
“Ok then, go for that, the horse is already leaving… If it doesn’t work out you’re walking with me to the Red Winds Empire. Walking,” she insisted on that last word.
Sofia packed all that they had left laying around on rocks and near the fire, mostly cooking utensils, and observed as Alith used a stick to draw five concentric circles in the dirt.
That’s a pretty simple ritual circle for what she insinuated it could do. The ring has to be doing most of the job.
Alith stood in the center-most circle “I’ll be right back!” she gingerly said.
“Wait!” Sofia cried out.
The banshee cocked her head to the side.
“Take Pareth with you. I’ll order him to follow and protect you.”
“Sure, thank you.” She grabbed onto Pareth’s hand when he stepped into the ritual circle with her.
A flash of blue light later, they had disappeared.
There she goes. Did I summon someone that’s very impulsive? Well, at least she’s a good cook… And friend. Can’t have it all.
Sofia kept monitoring her summoned Heroes’ status, that was a privilege that Saints had, she could check her summons’ health and mana in real time. Usually she could also know Pareth’s precise location but from the moment they were gone it had been unresponsive. Her commands couldn’t reach him either. At least they’re alive and uninjured.
[Holy Skeleton] had gained a few levels during the trip, all of Sofia’s mana was getting dumped in this skill. Although Pareth’s level was stuck at 49 since he had nothing to fight, he had gained a new ability.
[Holy Skeleton] : Allows the Saintomancer to control Pareth, the Holy Skeleton wielding the Holy light of Gods. Pareth will keep experience when switching host bones. Physical and magical capabilities are influenced by the current bones.
Blessing : Pareth gains bonus strength and health proportional to their body weight.
Lv.1 : The Saintomancer always knows where their Holy Skeleton is.
Lv.10 : Pareth boasts a glorious [Halo] empowering Holy related skills.
Lv.20 : Pareth can create and wield a sword of Holy light. Proficiency depends on the host bones.
Lv.30 : Pareth’s bones are 58% (1*Skill Level) denser.
Lv.40 : Pareth’s movements are 58% (1*Skill Level) quieter.
Lv.50 : Pareth can cast [Consecrated grounds], granting all allies in a 29m (skill level / 2) radius and himself a 20% increase in all physical stats. Bonus doubled for skeletons.
(Next function unlocks at Skill Level 60)
Some few seconds later, they reappeared in the circles.
“Already back? How was it?”
“Well, not exactly safe, but not dangerous either, we should be fine if we’re careful not to fall. You won’t believe the place until you see it. Come, quick, I can’t wait to explore the whole city!” She was gesturing for Sofia to join her in the circle.
“You sure we’re coming back fine even if this flimsy ritual circle you drew gets erased?”
“Our current location is saved in the ring, we can come back right here as long as we draw a circle on the other end. And there’s one already carved on the floor,” Alith reassured her. “You worry a whole lot for someone chosen by God. Someone on E̴͙͉̖̓̈́á̵̈́̅͌r̴̒̎t̷̨͍̲͍͉̺́͋ȟ̵̛̊ with a title like that would be parading around like a king. You don't have the faintest idea.”
Sofia entered the circle with her summons, she didn’t have time to blink, everything around her had changed.
[You have entered the dungeon : Zangdar outer ring - Lv. 100+]