The battle was finally over.
Even when remaining troops of enemy knew they don't stand a chance, none of them ran and fought to the last. Only a few hundred were captured. A few hundred out of ten thousand.
The reason behind this was a pride of elves. They wouldn't flee nor surrender, and would rather die, than bear a shame of what they considered as a coward.
Even with monsters taking most of the damage, our side has suffered many losses too, and the number was close to a thousand.
I was glad none from our party was among the fallen. Wind barrier of Miriel managed to redirect some of the spells, and Jax with Jack covered others with their shields when that wasn't enough.
"Are you really alright?" asked Phoenix while looking at me with a worried face.
"Yes, turning into a stone was very unpleasant, but I am fine now. I should be able to gain immunity shortly... Oh, and don't worry, I am still madly in love with you. Seems that even having a new heart wasn't enough to escape from your clutches." I finished with a smile.
"As if I would let you." smiled Phoenix in return. "I..."
"Are you sure they won't attack once you are not around?" interrupted us guild master while looking at the dungeon entrance.
"If I am too far, I can't stop them from retaliating if attacked, but I can guarantee they will not leave the dungeon." I answered a bit annoyed that he interrupted us.
After the battle was over, I ordered monsters to head back to their usual floors. Some adventurers even started to quarrel among themselves if hunting them is still right. Those were just a few in number, but I was surprised there was any at all. None of monsters shared the sentiment, and only my command prevented them from attacking.
"I will take your word for it. Make your preparations, we will leave shortly. We still need to deal with her and there is much to discuss." finished Averon, and after one more glance at Aurora walked away.
Because of her, our return to the city will be on foot. With a captive like her, it was too risky to use teleportation. It might be just a split second, but the moment my devour soul isn't preventing her from using magic, she might escape.
|Petrification Resistance has reached maximum level.|
|Devour Soul has reached level 6.|
I sighed in relief.
With each level of petrification resistance, I had to spare less and less of my attention to negate it. But I wasn't content with that in the slightest.
I was afraid.
Afraid that being from beyond will find me before I finish. I doubt there was any victim that lasted as long as I did.
I hope that with my body no longer reacting, it is enough to avoid it...
After I managed to grasp the process beyond transmutation turning me into a stone, it was easier to rise my resistance. Devour soul on another hand became much harder with each new level.
Now I have this skill too. Well, maybe not the same as that entity.
At my current level, transmutation is a bit similar to synthesis.
With 'mana sphere' created between arms, I can alter any substance Inside.
I can say with certainty that any scientist from my old world would kill for such ability.
With my mana alone, I can check and rearrange bonds between atoms! As long as I have necessary ingredients and know the formula of what I want, I can produce any substance I desire. If wanted I could create even a diamond. Hell, by extracting carbon from carbon dioxide, I could probably make it just from the air...
'I am rich!'
I grinned while looking at a growing diamond floating between my palms. I really can make it just from the air.
|Arcana Alchemy has reached level 3.|
Explosives, plastic, rubber... there is nothing I can't do.
I suspect that with transmutation at higher levels, something like nuclear reaction might be possible as well. In my old world, alchemy pursued creating gold from other metals... without any success. How ironic that I might be able to do so in near future.
Though I suspect that mana cost for that would be much higher, maybe even to the point where it's not worth the trouble.
I frowned and after looking around, stored the diamond in my pocket dimension(it was now at the size of a fist).
At first, I paid no attention when men around us were getting restless.
But that was a mistake.
Apparently, Aurora was releasing pheromones through her pores and they had a similar effect to an aphrodisiac. Even my devour soul couldn't prevent her from doing this, as it was neither magic nor mana based ability.
In the end, I countered it by releasing pheromones of my own... They were specially made to chemically react to hers, negating the effect.
|Scent Manipulation has reached level 4.|
That is not to say there was no damage.
While many of men eyed Aurora, who was the source, none of them made a move. I was near her and the memory of what I am capable of was still fresh in their minds.
But quite a few of them redirected their lust to their female companions. Some had to be stopped by force, others were beaten to a pulp by said women. Most of them have regained their reason after receiving a good slap.
"Kyaa.. mhmmmhm." screamed Tia when Elmor suddenly grabbed her by the waist, and after raising her up, so their heads are at the same height, planted a kiss.
Her hands flailed a bit as she feigned resistance but very quickly stopped doing that and hugged him in return.
If she really was against it, could just order him to stop or at least shadowstep away.
When Jack saw what happened, at first he rushed to stop him, but then noticed tail of his cousin swinging back and forth. In the end, he looked another way while pretending he didn't see a thing.
"I am sorry, Master." said Elmor after he finally released her.
"Ah .. ah, it..it's fine." she said while catching her breath. "No, wait... I mean... at least ask for permission! And shouldn't your collar prevent from doing something like that? Is it broken?"
Elmor looked at her surprised and then grin appeared on his face.
"Next time I will do just that, Master. And no, the collar is working, but a bit of pain will never be enough to stop me."
"Next... time..." whispered Tia while looking at him in trance.
"Amateurs..." said Aurora while looking at them.
I noticed that Miriel was looking at Darson with anticipation, but the self-control of the elf was much greater. In the end, she turned red from embarrassment when Turion with Derea patted her head to comfort her.
When Harbinger spotted Derea, she quickly averted her gaze in disgust. I noticed that she couldn't stand a sight of any orc.
"Should I pretend it affected me as well?" whispered Phoenix while embracing me from behind, but before I could even answer, guild master interrupted us...
"We better start going. Red you will take care of things here..."
Not counting guild master and our party, there were ten more people accompanying us to the city. Three adventurers, one templar and four soldiers. The rest were prisoners like Aurora.
As we walked, she looked at her clothes with displeasure. While she was still unconscious, I used my Space Time Magic to dress her in my spare clothes. While I don't care if she walks stark naked, I don't want her to do that in front of Phoenix. I also created handcuffs from mithril and they were binding her arms together in front of her.
"Hey, I have nothing against a bit of tentacle play, but it's not fun if you just hold me." looked at me Aurora.
I looked at my tail coiled around her neck and shudder ran over my body. Even after my skills changed, if wanted I could still summon only claws or tail. But the tail looked a bit different now. When I concentrated, I could reshape it into a sharp whip... just like before. But normally it was now a part of phantom beast and really reminded...
Now I feel like a pervert.
"Could you let me use Space Time Magic for a moment?" continued Harbinger. "I swear, I will just get my clothes and nothing more..." but my cold gaze was the only answer she got.
"I'd rather walk naked than wear this. I look like a man. No wonder my charm wasn't working..." she said after one more look at her clothes.
I looked at her annoyed but said nothing.
I really hate her!
First, she flirts with Phoenix during the battle, now insults me and my clothes...
Should I make them more feminine? If there is a battle, I could always change into practical ones with Space Time Magic...
"Stop it, Tia!" shouted Jack and interrupted my thoughts.
"I don't know what you are talking about, Cousin. As you can see, I am not doing anything..." said Tia with a smile.
A dark hand was again reaching for Jack's back from behind.
"Seriously, stop it!" shouted Jack, and with a quick turn almost caught the offender.
"You are like a child!" he complained while looking at a black silhouette provoking him with various gestures. It was pitch black in color and only its form reminded Tia.
"Why don't you go play with Elmor?" he suggested in the end, which finally made Tia blush.
A smile appeared on my face. Tia always managed to raise the mood. That silhouette was, of course, her shadow clone. A new skill she has obtained after we leveled up after the battle.
It has most of her skills, and if needed can swap places with her as if using shadowstep. Nothing other than magic, or mana imbued attacks can harm it. The only drawback is its high mana cost and direct control.
While direct control will be a huge advantage once she gets used to it, for now, it's only a distraction. It's like having two bodies with one mind. If concentrate too much on one, another is neglected.
"You are no fun." pouted Tia and then looked at her shadow clone. "I still can't believe that I am level 39! Just yesterday I was 22."
I looked at my status as well.
|<< STATUS >>|
|Race:||Cat Beastkin (Rare Variant)||Stamina:||2083/2084|
|Subclass:||Arcana Alchemist, Tailor, Leatherworker, Arcana Blacksmith, Enchanter||Mind Power:||483|
|State:||Healthy, Dungeon Lord(Enhara)||Unallocated attribute points:||0|
|<< SKILLS >>|
|Body Manipulation (Unique)||LVL 8||Mana Manipulation||LVL MAX|
|Dragon Claws||LVL 3||Scent Manipulation||LVL 4|
|Phantom Beast(Special)(NEW)||LVL 1||Sprint||LVL MAX|
|Phantom Shift(Special)||LVL 1||Synthesis||LVL 8|
|Devour Soul(Special)(NEW)||LVL 6||Analyze||LVL 3|
|Spell Steal(Special)(NEW)||LVL 1||Intimidation||LVL 4|
|Limit Break||LVL 4||Metal Manipulation||LVL 5|
|Though Acceleration||LVL 6||Heat Absorption||LVL 5|
|Lightning Armor(NEW)||LVL 3||Transmutation(Special)(NEW)||LVL 1|
|Eternal||LVL MAX||Nightvision||LVL 4|
|Corrosion Resistance||LVL 4||Enhanced Smell||LVL 6|
|Mental Resistance||LVL MAX||Enhanced Hearing||LVL 7|
|Poison Resistance||LVL MAX||Enhanced Sight||LVL 6|
|Paralysis Resistance||LVL MAX||Enhanced Mind (Special)||LVL 7|
|Heat Resistance||LVL 8||Enhanced Mana Pool||LVL MAX|
|Lightning Resistance (NEW)||LVL 3||Enhanced Mana Regeneration||LVL MAX|
|Petrification Resistance(NEW)||LVL MAX||Enhanced Spell(NEW)||LVL 1|
|Soul Awakening(Unique)(NEW)||LVL 2||Enhanced Health||LVL 2|
|Mana Perception||LVL MAX||Enhanced Stamina||LVL 1|
|Godly Accuracy||LVL 1||Unknown Martial Arts||LVL 9|
|Arcana Alchemy(NEW)||LVL 3||Lie Detection||LVL 3|
|Leatherworking||LVL 5||Bow Mastery||LVL 3|
|Tailoring||LVL 9||Handgun Mastery||LVL MAX|
|Arcana Blacksmithing||LVL 4||Acrobatics||LVL 5|
|Quick Cast||LVL 4||Regeneration||LVL 8|
|<< MAGIC >>|
|Space Time Magic(Special)||LVL 6||Enchantment Magic||LVL MAX|
|Dark Magic(NEW)||LVL 2||Fire Magic(NEW)||LVL 4|
At that time, still under effect of petrification, it was a bit hard to raise my stats with body manipulation... but I managed.
The biggest challenge was transferring my knowledge to Phoenix.
After reaching level 30, like always, the system has offered to raise two of our skills by one level and I choose body manipulation with enhanced mind. After which, I shared my knowledge with Phoenix by offering altered blood, once he learned, he selected body manipulation and enhanced mind with his own choice.
When he offered all his new knowledge to me as well(sadly this time only through the blood), both of us had our body manipulation and enhanced mind raised by two levels... instead of one.
This is how one should exploit the system!
As for other skills... when my mind power surpassed four hundred, I gained skill Enhanced Spell. It does just like what it sounds like. Spells are increased in power. Enchantments used in the creation of a staff were actually inspired by this skill.
I was so excited when learned this skill thanks to my Reaver class. Sadly it wasn't what I initially thought and can't learn new magic by stealing it. All it does is allow me to 'capture' a spell launched at me and store inside my dimension, which I can launch back or keep for later use.
I am probably the only one who isn't limited to one class. With my second class warlock, I could finally learn other magic. While my spells are activated differently from Phoenix, it was possible to apply his knowledge to improve my fire magic... to some degree.
When I had a choice to choose new magic, I picked fire without even thinking. It was definitely not because I was captivated by that impressive spell Phoenix used!
"It would be strange if we haven't reached the barrier. Our little 'dragon' has killed half of that army by herself." continued Jack.
Yes. It's not a coincidence all of us are at level 39. With the experience we gained, our level should have been way higher, but just like for everyone else, level 39 marks the first barrier of evolution. Until it is breached, none of us will gain experience.
To do so, one has to win three 'Sacred Battles'. At level 49 that number rises to six and nine at level 59...
As for what the Sacred Battle is... basically, you just shout 'I challenge you to Sacred Battle', and then beat the crap out of the enemy.
Well, maybe it's a bit more complicated than that... There are some rules and stuff.
One - your opponent must be in its top shape and accept the challenge. Two - the opponent has to be of at least the same level as you. Three - during the duration of a battle, you can't use the help of others or even be in a party with anyone. Four - the battle is won if your opponent is dead or admits defeat.
If one lost three sacred battles in a row and is still alive, his level at that moment is permanently set as a maximum. This is a level which most of the nobles don't bother to pass. Hiring people to do the job doesn't solve the problem and most of them are afraid to risk their lives.
Though it seems that doesn't apply to Champions, dungeon monsters and Harbingers. They don't have this barrier.
Wait a second! What did he just said?
I stopped walking and looked at Jack.
"I am not a dragon!"
"He he, I am just saying what I heard from others." grinned Jack.
"You will still be Kitty in my eyes." smiled Phoenix.
"You are not helping!" I glared at him.
"He is right. Everyone now is talking about you." joined Derea and Miriel only giggled.
"That's right! Let me tell you my favorite rumor." started speaking Tia. "Ehem. As everyone is 'aware', her 'real form' is a blue 'elder dragon'..."
"But my phantom beast looks nothing like an elder dragon." I objected. "And what do you mean by 'real form'?"
"Yes! No matter how you look at it, that was Catzilla." joined Aurora.
"Call me Catzilla one more time and you will start regretting you can't die." I glared at her with my eyes glowing.
"Scary!" feigned fear Aurora.
"No interruptions please." grinned Tia while looking at me and then continued.
"But why then she is called Red Beast?" she asked and after changing her voice started impersonating someone she heard.
"~She must be a red dragon. I heard their color is red only when they are agitated."
"~But she never was red."
"~Of course not! We are talking about elder dragons. She wasn't serious. Who would take a nap in the middle of a battlefield?"
"~Now that you mentioned she did that before too. Killed that guy and went to sleep. I wish I have seen her when she earned her nickname."
"~Believe me, you don't. A friend of a friend said that his acquaintance saw it personally and it wasn't pretty. Even the barrier of the arena was broken, and there was blood everywhere..."
'But the barrier was never broken!' I lamented in my mind. Though I couldn't rebut the part about sleeping in the battlefield. The bed Phoenix summoned, didn't help at all. It's scary how rumors leave boundaries of reality.
A suppressed chuckle attracted my attention from ahead, and when I looked who it was, guild master looked to the side pretending it wasn't him.
"Say, Darson, is it..." and just before I could finish he interrupted me.
"Impossible! Even if I paid people to spread counter story, it will only make matters worst. The scale is too big. Everyone will talk about you for days to come and facts get twisted fast after retold too many times."
"Oh, don't worry. No one will know it's you." pretended to comfort me, Jack, but a grin on his face was getting him away. "At least until they learn our party name. Ha ha ha ha!"
"It's your fault, Tia! If I knew it was my nickname, I would have never agreed to our party name!" I looked at Tia accusingly who only giggled in response.
When we entered the city, I saw many signs of battle. It was different from how I remember it when we left.
"What happened here?" I asked no one in particular.
"They dispatched a part of troops to destroy portals." said guild master. "It was a nice plan. Disguising as city guards cost us a few lives, but they didn't anticipate we had quite a few elite guards with Templars, and a few others surprises."
As we walked further piles of corpses started appearing in the sight. Some were just regular citizens, but there was quite a few guards as well. No, not guards, at least not all of them. Imposters. With identical armor, they really looked no different from city guards, but there was never more than a few elves among real guards.
I noticed that some of them were killed by roots or vines. Nature Magic.
With the distance from dungeon increased, I noticed that my link with dungeon was weakening as well. The amount of mana I gained through it was now only two-thirds of the usual. I could still order monsters. but I suspect that if I traveled even further, it will change. Still, even if I no longer could do that, they would still obey my last orders.
Well, it's not like I can't teleport back if I want to give new instructions or need a lot of mana.
"So Gabriel failed too?" whispered Aurora.
"Space time mage?" I muttered when recognized the name from Qin memories.
"Yes. That slippery bastard managed to escape." I heard a familiar voice, and when looked to the side, saw our old acquaintance.
"Orc." whispered Aurora with displeasure.
"I see you are still alive." said Magra with a grin while looking at guild master. "How... unfortunate."
"Likewise." said Averon and after a moment of silence both started to laugh.