Chapter 217: The aftermath.
Loreena L 204
T3 Divine Swordmaster L54
T2 Radiant Sword Dancer L50
T2 Aura Swordsman L50
T1 Blade Acolyte L25
T1 Sword Warrior L25
The monster was dead and the battle was over. The accountant by the name of Melaina had managed to deliver the finishing blow while the monster was distracted by Roland’s magical blast. Her clothes were in taters and revealed a body fit for a warrior with many muscles and scars.
Yet this was not what Roland was looking at this point in time. His gaze was on the status screen of this woman that had been updated. Loreena was her true name and her classes were quite interesting. Probably the item that kept her status screen had been destroyed along with her clothes during the battle which allowed Roland to take a peek.
Loreena had certainly been blessed with good swordsmanship, even her first class was a Sword Warrior. This class was usually taken by people trying to rank up into tier 2 swordsmen down the line. The Blade Acolyte was unknown to him but it indicated the relationship with the church.
That was nothing new as during the battle the woman brought up her relation to the church a few times. The golden aura blade was also a dead giveaway that she was related to some kind of deity. The coloring would be dependent on the god they were involved in. The cultist for instance would probably have a more darkened blade either pitch black or dark purple.
This battle also gave him a bunch of experience. He delivered two large blasts to the high level tier 3 monster. Even without delivering the killing blow he was rewarded with three level ups and was fast approaching the tier 3 threshold.
Roland Arden L 129
T2 Runesmith Lord L50 [ Secondary ]
T2 Runic Engineer L4 [Primary ]
T1 Mage L25 [ Tertiary ]
T1 Runic Mana Scribe L 25 [ X ]
T1 Runic Blacksmith L 25 [ X ]
Besides getting some new stats his dexterity was pushed past two hundred which gave him another trait. It seemed that he would not need to worry about fumbling when working with his hands even less.
|Dexterous I||Increases the nimbleness of a person's hands allowing them to perform tasks faster and with grace.|
While his old Runesmith Lord class was more equalized in all fields his new Runic Engineer seemed to put strength and agility into the backburner. This was fine as he could bridge the gap with the help of his armor, the more mana and intelligence he possessed the more his spells would scale of them.
No new skills were unlocked which was normal. Usually, new skills would be unlocked every ten levels or so, sometimes it was even rarer. Nothing was a guarantee and some classes required the person to unlock the skill themselves by some kind of revelation.
A skill book was the best way but an individual could acquire a skill on their own accord if they managed to figure something out. It was similar to gaining a climbing skill just by going up a tree a few times.
“You have my gratitude.”
“I didn’t do much, just distracted it for a moment.”
While glancing between the interface he saw that the woman from the church regained her footing. Even now her breathing was erratic and the glistering aura blade had crumbled into dust with only a sword hilt remaining in place. He had to give it to this weapon, it was quite fascinating and compact.
Could he create a magical version of it that would not consume all of his mana at once? An Aura blade was considered to be equal to something like Mythril. While this was not the strongest metal out there it was from the top shelf. Yet it would still be damaged while a blade made from Aura could be recreated multiple times.
A sword hilt wasn’t even needed, if a person’s aura blade skill was high enough they could even create it from thin air. Yet the more space it covered the more resources it burned up. A hilt was not as important thus most master swordsmen used separate items made from similar alloys. The one this woman was using looked to be high quality with various gems placed on the sides that perhaps augmented the blade in some way.
“Don’t sell yourself short Mr. Wayland, you were able to cause damage to an abyssal creature you will have my eternal gratitude”
The woman did something surprising as she bowed her head before someone of a lower level. This caught him off guard as most people with power would most likely brush his involvement to the side. Yet now came another problem, what was this all about. What started as a regular rank-up test for a silver grade adventurer turned into a cult eradication mission.
“Don’t worry about it, more importantly, Ms. Melaina… are you feeling alright? I saw what those cultists did to the people, your eye…”
Roland could see the woman’s legs shaking, even though she was standing up there were many wounds on her body. Then there was also her left eye which seemed to have been occupied by one of those tiny leech-like monsters.
While he seemed concerned about the woman’s wounds in reality he was somewhat prodding for answers. If she was from the church she probably knew what this was all about, perhaps he could finally figure out what this Abyssal cult was after.
“I am immune to the abyssal influence… but what did you just say? You saw the cultists perform their dark ritual, could you explain yourself?”
The woman seemed to react strangely to his question. After thinking for a moment he realized the mistake he made.
Loreena was part of the church and was here probably to hunt down the Abyssal Cultists. This meant that she should be somewhat aware of how they conducted themselves. Roland did not know if the church actually knew about the runic items they were using to evade detection.
Considering that this high level tier 3 swordmaster had a strange creature inserted into her eye socket, they probably didn’t. This made his involvement in the cult peculiar, perhaps it made him look like an accomplice. The information about the cult was really vague but if someone knew something it would be this knight from the church.
“That’s what I would like to know, weren’t you already fighting these bastards when we were in that smelly temple?”
Senna appeared out of the blue between the two, right behind her Orson and Dalrak were already arriving with a somewhat mean-looking barbarian.
“That’s true, it took some time to awaken you from that Illusion.”
“Yes, you probably remember coming to this village and experiencing many various events, I’m sure if you ask the others they will give you a different recount of their experiences.”
Loreena started nodding while listening to Roland, while his innocence was probably not proven he could quickly clear up the misunderstanding. What he needed now were allies that would help him against the Abyssal Cult. What better way to keep them off his back than sending another large force their way.
‘If I give this woman enough information then perhaps the church could take care of the cult for me…’
“Can you see that large double helix-like tower?”
“Hey… wasn’t there a large tree inside the village instead, how did that thing get here…”
Senna replied while looking at the ominous-looking thing. All of them saw the initial village scenario with the dancing women and festivities before their own imagination and cravings took over. The large tree was the center of the illusory world and without accessing the core rune or destroying it there was no way out. Without his debugging skill that showed him the runic structures, it would be impossible for even him that was already a skillful high level runesmith.
“That's the symbol of the Abyssal cult, it represents the evil god’s twin tongue and you say that it was responsible…”
Loreena commented while looking at the tower in the distance. While he wanted to ask her a few things, there was a barrier of levels between them. The woman was tired but she would probably be able to take care of all of them in a flash. While he was fine giving her some information, it would be better to get something in return without getting forced to go present a lecture to the church.
“So it’s this evil relic, you must tell me what you know about it!”
Soon the woman stepped toward Roland while putting the sword hilt to the side. Yet she didn’t seem to be in quite the condition that he expected. The moment that first step was taken she tumbled forward and fell onto her face. The display was quite comedic as right after getting a bloody nose she quickly got back up. Her face was emotionless as if she was trying to make everyone ignore what had happened and it worked.
“How about we mend our wounds first?”
Roland proposed while looking around. About a quarter of the caravan travelers had been killed by the monster and cultist. Then another quarter had fled in all directions during and after the monster was killed. The merchant owner was nowhere to be seen and there were still many injured people everywhere.
“Are there more of those bastards around? Should we make a run for it before more of them appear?”
Orson asked while Roland quickly replied.
“That’s a possibility…”
“There won’t be any more coming.”
Loreena shot down the answer quite fast and explained even quicker.
“They only summon that monstrosity if they wish to cleanse the area. They would not have done it if any meaningful support was coming.”
“So that thing was supposed to destroy the whole area along with us?”
Loreena nodded while stumbling forward and rubbing her head. It seemed that she was dead set on getting information out of him but at her current state even he would be able to make a run for it. There was no reason though, she didn’t seem as much of a zealot as the other church members.
“Hey blondie, get a grip of yourself you did enough, what good will it do if you pass out?”
Surprisingly Grisalde was the first one to walk over to the swordmaster and give her a shoulder to rest on.
“You have my gratitude…”
The two women looked at each other and it seemed that the Divine Swordmaster took up the offer. Soon enough they all headed towards the caravan where people were gathering. After the monster was dead all of the tentacles turned to dark sludge that started to quickly evaporate. It was as if the cultists were never there to begin with.
Everyone gathered around the remaining wagons where they had their supplies and healing items. Some of the merchants had escaped, this included the main one that took off with the cart Roland once occupied. Regretfully there was no priest among them and Loreena was poised for combat.
This left potions and other healing items to mend the various wounds that were sustained during combat. The monster didn’t manage to instantly kill everyone, some were missing limbs or had their body drained of most vitality while still surviving. In their current state, they could very well die before reaching the next destination.
Then there were also the people affected by the strange parasites. After a small break, Roland and some of the other adventurers decided to go back to the temple. These infected people were all still asleep even when the runic item stopped sending out signals. The only person that could help them now was the church member that seemed to know a thing or two about these cultists.
“So, it’s not an occult relic but a runic one?”
“Yes, it seems to be sending out signals via sound waves that affect anyone that gets within range, at first I thought that it was by sight but after examining the control device I realized that it wasn’t.”
While they were moving the people out of the temple Roland started talking. He disclosed some of the information about the large tower. How he found the core rune inside the illusion he did not mention but most of the things he told her was the truth. The medallion that he took from the dark priests he also handed to the golden order member that soon confirmed her identity.
“You can call me Loreena, as you might have realized I am a member of the church. I must thank you for your continued assistance. With this much information, we might finally be able to put a stop to these evil heretics! That they would use illusion magic by way of sound and that it would even affect me, this was truly a blunder…”
“Ms. Loreena, I have told you about the runic item and the way of interfacing with it but could you enlighten me about something.”
“What were you doing here and will I be able to pass my gold rank test?”
“Gold rank test?”
She stopped in her tracks while looking at the armored man that delivered the sentence in a monotone voice. Soon to Roland’s surprise, she gave out a resounding laugh that was heard by almost everyone in the vicinity.
“Hahaha, that someone would worry about a gold rank test in a situation like this… very well Mr. Wayland let me tell you a bit about my mission. It was not a coincidence that I found myself here, this area has reeked of abyssal decay. You have seen those little creatures, they call them Rift Larvas.”
“Yes, that I would have the joy of being infected by one. Worry not, we of the golden order are blessed by the goddess, such an evil creature will be burned away with time.”
This instantly explained how the woman was able to awaken while everyone else was still in deep slumber.
“We must get these people to the church before the curse spreads further.”
They continued with their task at hand while Loreena spoke about her secret mission. While she kept it vague and left out any names he continued to fill in the gaps himself. Some way or another she had received a tip about the activity of the cult here.
She had clearly worked together with the adventurer guild to get the position of an instructor. Her disguise was quite intricate as even the cultist didn’t discover her true identity. The larva would have burned away eventually, perhaps she might have been able to free herself from the illusion before they were sent back to the city.
“Can I ask you something?”
“Yes, Mr. Wayland?”
“What do these cultists hope to achieve by putting those rift larvae into people?”
“That is sensitive information that I can’t disclose, I hope you understand.”
Roland nodded while not being offended. He was still only an outsider that was not part of the church. Perhaps he had saved this golden order member here today but it didn’t mean that he was owed an explanation. There was already enough that he knew, with this much he could make his own theory that was probably not far from the real truth.
“Shit, does this mean that we won’t be paid?”
After the long talk about the cultists was finished everyone gathered at the caravan area. Senna was stomping on some dirt while shouting. With the disappearance of the merchant leader, their reward for the transport mission was debatable.
“That merchant probably went towards his initial destination, I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes straight to the guild or the ruling noble when he arrives there.”
Some of the wagons were missing but a lot of merchandise was still here. The merchant had made it out with his life and was probably going to try and get his wares back. It would have been surprising to Roland if they ran into a rescue party being formed in the next city they would visit.
“If we take these wagons to the guild they should take care of it, the merchant will have to pay one way or another.”
Dalrak chimed in as he knew the usual procedures. If the merchants didn’t pay up then their items could be confiscated as collateral. The guild would then just sell everything off and if it was enough give the adventurers their full salaries back.
“I hope you are right.”
“So does that mean I can drink all of the booze? There is a lot of it here…”
Orson called out from the back while holding a bottle of wine. He had rescued two bottles from one of the carts and was already drinking. The second bottle was tossed towards Grisalde that just smirked.
“Hah, we can just tell them that they were already empty when we got here!”
Soon enough all of the adventurers started shouting out and raiding the liquor-filled wagon. Roland just shook his head but was fine with it, everyone was tired. What they needed was some rest and relaxation before journeying towards the original city.