Ch068-When The Lion’s Hungry…
“So, what exactly did Igri do? The memories you gave me aren’t clear on that,” Spring asked, as the shades ahead got into position and readied their sledgehammers.
“He was the first necromancer. Not philosophically, but in the practical sense. Priest of a long-forgotten deity, he specialized in some sort of extremely specific healing magic. Necromancy existed before him, some warlocks and sorcerers could raise a dead man back to life to an extent, but Igri turned what was a candle into a blazing and blinding bonfire. He was the first to ever cast a sixth-tier necromancy spell. Necromancy is the only magic that came from a mortal man, every other comes from an elemental, a fae, a demon, or a god. Pyromancers pay their respects to their ‘Red Phoenix,’ Hydromancers have their ‘Sea Serpent,’ and Necromancy has Igri. He might not have ‘created’ necromancy if you want to be technical about it, but he’s the person most necromancers tend to pray to for good luck or inspiration,” Sylver explained as he continued to walk down the dark tunnel.
The shades hit the walls’ in perfect sync, and hit the proto zombies hiding inside directly on the forehead before they could even react.
[??? (???) Defeated!]
[??? (???) Defeated!]
[??? (???) Defeated!]
[Due to defeating an enemy 10 levels above you, additional experience will be awarded!]
[Necromancer] has reached level 55!
[??? (???) Defeated!]
“At some point, he was found out by his temple and had to run away. He changed his name and studied under swamp witches, changed his name again, studied under a demon summoner, changed his name about 11 times, maybe more, and finally returned as Igri the immortal. He allegedly beat the head priest of his temple into submission with his bare hands, before leaving to settle down far away in the northern tundra,” Sylver explained, as the shades gently picked up the fallen over proto zombies and placed them back into their holes, as best as they could.
“And he stayed there, for an estimated 300 years. Just wandering around the frozen wasteland, learning, tinkering, experimenting, trading, fighting, and one by one building what was later called “Igri’s Lost Legion”. According to legend he found a city made entirely out of gold there and had all the corpses he could want to experiment on,” Sylver continued, as the corridor split into two, and Sylver turned left, as the demon had drawn on the map.
“Now here’s where things get vague. He had students. No one knows how many exactly but the number is estimated to be in the 20s. And they traveled to every corner of the world, according to legend, building crypts such as these, for the rich and powerful, and in return getting live subjects to experiment and refine their craft on. Out of all those students, Faust the Flesh Fiend and Berna the Bone Baroness were the most prominent,” Sylver said, stepping over the tripwire and turning into smoke for a few seconds to avoid the pressure plates scattered all over the floor.
“You lot really love alliteration, don’t you?” Spring asked, as Sylver materialized and continued to walk.
“It’s more of a mage thing, than a necromancer thing. You need to have a certain way of thinking to use magic, or at least you did in my time. And while it is varied among the various magics out there, pattern recognition is an incredibly important and valuable skill no matter what kind of framework you’re working with. And mages, or at least all the ones I knew, love when things have a flow to them. Fen the Fencer, Reg the Rogue, Spring the shade. What was I saying?” Sylver asked, looking around as the corridor started to slowly expand and become taller and wider.
“Faust and Berna were the most prominent of Igri’s students,” Spring answered, sending shades ahead to find the next trap.
“You forgot what you were going to say.”
“Completely. But it’s for the better, it’s pointless trying to describe Igri and everything he and his students have done without literal books of context. Not to mention the only fact about him that isn’t heavily debated is that he existed. Everything else is legend and myth. And you’re still not even halfway done processing all the information I’ve given you when I made you. Scraps of memories aren’t going to do you any good. To cut a long story short, Igri’s research went beyond anything anyone could ever imagine. He split it up amongst his students, but took a large portion with him when the anti Igri alliance finally killed him,” Sylver said, as he stopped walking and stared at the empty corridor in front of him.
“They called themselves the ‘anti-Igri alliance’?” Spring asked.
“It’s just what they ended up being called. Igri took every single one of them with him. Not a single member of whichever temples went against him survived. And when his students found out, they took it several steps further, and ended up killing an estimated 600 thousand people as revenge,” Sylver mumbled as he reached out with his hand and felt the air.
“600 thousand? Why?” Spring asked, disappearing into Sylver’s shadow and spreading the other shades out to get ready.
“Husbands, wives, children, relatives, towns, cities, clans, they made sure Igri’s death was something no one ever forgot. Allegedly one of his students hated the thought of something like this ever happening again, and joined together with several other gifted individuals and formed what later became known as the Ibis. So that no single brilliant individual ever had to worry about getting killed for trying to advance magic, and so that the world wouldn’t have another massacre like that,” Sylver explained, as he took a very small step forward and kept squeezing the air with his hand.
“You could say that if it weren’t for Igri, the Ibis wouldn’t exist. Although it was all so long ago, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the archmages just added that in at some point, to appease the arch necromancer at the time or something. But it does make sense timing-wise, even if I’ve never found any other evidence for it,” Sylver continued, barely hearing his voice as he focused on his hand and the yellow sparks falling from the tips of his fingers.
What is this?
Sylver took another step forward and pressed his ear against the invisible divide. The air started to smell like ozone, and there was a faint ticking noise coming from the inside.
Even after ten minutes of trying, Sylver couldn’t for the life of him figure out what this was.
It just felt odd.
But neither dangerous nor malicious.
Sylver flicked his hand and a dagger appeared in it. He tossed the dagger ahead and waited.
When nothing happened, he summoned a swordsman shade and had it walk through the barrier that wasn’t a barrier.
The swordsman hit the ground with his sword, he jumped around, did a backflip, and walked to the other side and back. Sylver even had four more appear with him and move around as much as possible in case there were any weight-specific pressure plates.
He consulted the map the demon had drawn him, but it just said to go in a straight line through here.
Stepping blindly into magic he couldn’t understand wasn’t something Sylver generally did. He would go as far as to say it was something he avoided and suggested everyone avoid. It was a stupid thing to do. But Sylver wasn’t in a position to sit around and wait, he had elves behind him, and a woman in white to meet.
Sylver’s robe expanded and stretched until it covered his body completely. He didn’t even check which mask Spring handed him and filled it with breathable air before locking it on. Sylver stood as a faintly moving mass of darkness, only his dark red mask giving any indication that he wasn’t just a trick of the eyes.
Sylver reached forward with his hand and now felt the division on his elbow. He waved his hand around and very slowly eased his whole body through the division. He had his left leg sticking out of it for a moment, before pulling it through as well.
Sylver stood perfectly still for several moments, waiting for something to happen.
But nothing happened.
He picked up the dagger off the ground and made it float in his hands for a few seconds to check if maybe it was impeding his magic in some way.
In his other hand, Sylver made a small ball of blue fire and found no issues there either.
“This could be some sort of analysis spell I haven’t seen before, but I can’t even tell where it's coming from. It’s doing something but I have no idea what-” Sylver said before his head snapped up to look at the sudden source of the sound of something clinking.
It wasn’t there before, but there was now a creature wearing a full plate of armor standing in the middle of the corridor. Shaking.
As soon as Sylver tried to use appraisal on the thing, it started to move towards him. It grew in size as its limbs extended and made several popping sounds, knees, elbows, fingers, spine, and all the rest dislocating. The plate of armor that initially covered its entire body was now evenly spread out, the gauntlets appearing as disconnected rings on its long-curled fingers, the plate armor on its arms and legs covering only the knees and elbows, and its torso flattened and spread to the point that the breastplate was floating vaguely at its center.
Black blood leaked out of every exposed limb and expanded as if it were foam, solidifying into more plates of armor, covering its entire body in barely three seconds. It now looked like a giant man covered in pure black armor.
Sylver took a single step backward and hit the back of his head on the wall. He glanced behind himself to see a solid black wall, as smooth as glass and as dark as Sylver’s eyes.
Sylver’s attention returned to the creature in front of him and watched as a ridiculously long and thin sword appeared in its hand. It didn’t have a guard, and the metal appeared to bend from its own weight before the creature flicked its wrist and caused it to disappear.
Sylver’s mind reacted even when his eyes betrayed him, and he lunged to the side. He felt the wall vibrate against his back, as the edge of the blade scratched against it, showering Sylver in sparks of orange.
The blade in the creature’s hand reappeared again, this time laying completely limp and flat on the floor. It flicked its hand once again, and Sylver could see as the blade flowed like a whip and disappeared before his eyes, too fast for his human eyes to follow. Sylver’s robe kicked his feet from underneath him, and he fell to the floor. Once again, the tip of the sword scratched against the wall and sent another shower of orange spark all over Sylver.
The robe pushed Sylver back on his feet, as two more Sylver’s appeared on either side of him. All three raised their hands towards the creature and were completely ignored as the creature looked up and locked eyes with the wide-eyed Sylver crouching on the ceiling.
Sylver dodged out of the blade’s way again but felt it run across his back regardless of the fact. It split the skin and bounced off the back of the ribs, scoring the bones.
He sealed the torn open flesh shut and let the robe soak up the blood that had exploded out of it. Sylver dodged left again, and the dagger in his hand just barely managed to redirect the whip-like blade from hitting him in the back. Sylver’s hand went numb as the blade somehow twisted and sliced along the side of his wrist.
Sylver’s mind raced as the creature was somehow able to predict where his shades were and hit them before they could finish materializing. There was the faintest of delays between the shades being cut, and the blade looping around to get to Sylver.
Spring gave the signal and Sylver set off an explosion on his back and was sent flying towards the creature. It flicked its hand again, before it flicked it in a slightly different direction, and just barely managed to block the arrows shooting at its back.
Sylver landed directly on top of it and felt it tense up as its left long-fingered hand curled to grab him, and very nearly succeeded. A sheath fell out from Sylver’s cloak, as he drove the blessed silver dagger directly through the creature’s head. It exploded into a blinding cloud of black smoke, and Sylver fell to the ground on top of it.
[??? (???) Defeated!]
[Due to defeating an enemy ??? levels above you, additional experience will be awarded!]
[Due to defeating a ???, additional experience has been awarded!]
[Due to defeating a ??? solo, additional experience has been awarded!]
The plate armor clanked as it dispersed all over the floor and only a pile of flesh and bones remained. Blood vessels and strings of white nerves connected the disjointed limbs as if they were a poorly made puppet. Sylver sheathed the headache-causing dagger and stood up from the pile of gore.
“Good work back there. You saw the pattern and sent out decoys to distract it, so the archers could materialize and give me an opening,” Sylver said, as he reached down towards the creature’s torso and pulled up a blood-covered silver guild tag.
“I was wondering where all the bodies were. Marshal, C rank adventurer, Bladesman class,” Sylver read out loud, as he pocketed the tag.
As Spring attempted to pick up the whip-like sword, he instead watched as it turned into rust and was destroyed before he could even lift it off the ground.
“This was made recently. Very recently, it’s not even a week old,” Sylver said as he brought the skull up to his nose and smelled it. There was a very faint smell of fried meat. And citrus.
Sylver sent a pulse of mana through the skull, and could only watch as it crumbled into nothing in his hands.
“There’s something weird going on. Not just the question marks and my appraisal being blocked, this magic doesn’t feel right,” Sylver said, as he brushed the sand like dust from his hands and looked down at the body that had dissolved in thin air and was now barely an outline on the floor.
Sylver turned around to go back but found that the pitch-black wall remained where it was.
Sylver turned into smoke and tried to go into the bricks and travel underneath the thing, but found that it was below the bricks too. It was above them, and on either side, it wasn’t a wall, it was a giant box, with Sylver trapped inside.
Sylver placed both hands on the wall and concentrated on it. His hands glowed bright yellow as he tried to force his way through it, but instead found himself out of breath as his body collided with the floor. He got up just in time to see his handprints being blurred away.
The wall had very gently warned Sylver not to do that, by sending him flying so hard only his robe’s natural reaction prevented him from getting his skull broken from the impact.
“Hypothetically if I had enough time, I could figure out a way to bypass this. I would only need a tiny hole to get out, but I don’t know how long it would take me. Having said that, I am fairly certain my next attempt would result in my death,” Sylver explained, as he turned away from the wall and looked down the dark corridor.
“So now we’re being forced to do what you initially wanted to do?” Spring asked, moving the shades around for Sylver to heal.
“More or less. We could stay here and wait for backup, which should arrive anywhere from a week to a month from now. But with those four elves standing guard, I think it’s fair to assume they’re also waiting for reinforcements. Plus, considering Igri’s students built this, there’s a way out at the end of the crypt. And quite honestly, I’m more excited than scared to see what else is in here,” Sylver said, as he stepped through the pile of ashes and continued to walk.
“I’m a little confused, why would they make a crypt with an exit on the other side? Why have a path to the end, and not just completely bury it or something?” Spring asked as he walked along with Sylver.
“It’s an ego thing. The people buried here wanted to prove to the living that they were stronger or richer than them, even after they’re long dead and forgotten. And from a magical structural point of view, having a labyrinth full of deadly traps is a lot better than just a deeply buried room with no entrance or exit. These are all based on the same principle as dungeon cores, and go hand in hand fairly well together. The rich bastard lying dead at the end of this gets to die feeling happy that he’s going to prove how ‘strong’ they were, even after death, and the people making these make digging through the walls impossible. The only downside is that there is, as you said, a path directly to the end,” Sylver explained, coming to an intersection and turning left, where there wasn’t a giant wall of blackness blocking his way.
“I see. Is it possible to find the exit and enter the crypt through that?”
“Most of the time, no. Aether did it once, but even he had to spend 6 months chipping away at the crypt. But since the crypt is here, I think it’s more likely there’s just a teleportation gate at the very bottom, instead of a normal exit,” Sylver said.
Spring nodded slightly and went back to scouting ahead.
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