The Runesmith - Chapter 256: Freedom![Updated at: 2022-09-22 17:17:35]
Chapter 256: Freedom!
Roland Arden L 160
T2 Runesmith Lord L 50 [ Secondary ]
T2 Runic Engineer L 35 [Primary ]
T1 Mage L25 [ Tertiary ]
T1 Runic Mana Scribe L 25 [ X ]
T1 Runic Blacksmith L 25 [ X ]
\'Doesn’t look like much but it’s become harder now…’
Roland glanced at his level that had reached a hundred sixty. There were only fifteen levels left which didn’t seem like much but he had caught up to the monster levels of the creatures inside of this dungeon. It would probably take a while until he maxed out his class but even then it would be much faster than what a regular person needed to go through.
‘It feels like I’m on vacation when I’m here… at least I can offset some of the leveling with crafting.’
“Yeah, I’m coming.”
Agni wiggled his behind side to side while looking towards the wall where the exit was. They had stayed here for another couple of days but more work had to be done. He had just finished outfitting the city gates with the turrets but the lord wanted more. Now came his private estate and then perhaps more orders for armor enchantment or weapon enchantment.
Ever since he returned from the gold rank test mission he felt like he was working constantly. He wasn’t even able to enjoy his and Elodia’s nights together as he had to get up early. This of course caused all of his work-related skills to go up. Stress Resistance was already at level six while Resilience was at level five.
He was not sure how this happened but it seemed that he was under the constant stress of the deadline which worked wonders in leveling these skills. Then the little sleep he got continued to boost the resilience skill that helped him recover. With it around, there was no need for stamina potions or coffee.
‘After I get to tier 3 I’ll take a whole month off…’
It was time to leave this place and the spider drones would take care of it. The strange Lich that appeared once never graced him with his presence again and even when he used the secondary opening it was not there. It seemed to be in a different kind of sequence than the other undead monsters.
This was something everyone knew, dungeon monsters seemed to have specific programming that they needed to follow. Sometimes it would get changed but most of the time the monsters stuck to the exact same routes. This was used by adventurers to set up various traps or get themselves into favorable positions like getting the high ground. This might have sounded like an easy cheat but it had its downsides.
The monsters tended to look exactly the same so a person never knew on which exact route they mostly were. Only the rare field bosses were mostly the ones getting documented. It was the same for the 10th-level boss that had its fighting patterns and variations all written down. It made fighting it much easier even for an under-leveled party.
“Yeah I’m coming, you really don’t like to be bored, Agni.”
Roland didn’t experience much trouble after getting back from his last expedition. The weeks continued to pass and he was slowly progressing towards his end destination. It would probably take at least another half a year or perhaps more to get those fifteen levels. This was already an astonishing speed not normally achieved by people with no backing.
‘I wouldn’t be surprised if there aren’t that many people within my age bracket that are over level one hundred and fifty…’
While opening the hidden exit and waiting for the mule golem to get through it he glanced at the closed dungeon opening. Without this discovery, it would have not been possible. There weren’t many places in the world that were this tailor-made for his advancement. In a regular tier 3 dungeon, there would not be a place where he could place a giant cannon and just constantly kill powerful monsters with them.
Due to the experience point split, people were unable to power level. If a noble brought many bodyguards that did too much damage they would not gain much even if they delivered the final blow. Disabling a monster or knocking them out by a strong fighter before the kill would also lower the experience gain dramatically. The only way to really counter these limits was to use powerful magical tools. As long as the skill or spell came from the person holding the tool it would count.
‘What’s up next? The turrets are ready, I should probably make more golems and start looking into that geothermal generator blueprint.’
After achieving his goal Roland was ready to give this place up. There was a limit to what he could gain from it. It would probably be better to just allow people to discover the tier 3 dungeon. Later after it was somewhat mapped out he could just enter it to farm the powerful monsters himself. When he achieved his own tier 3 class they would probably not pose a big threat anymore.
The voice was gone for a while but it could feel that it was temporary. The strange mana that was absorbed previously wasn’t enough. Yet it didn’t want to risk death, the energy waves that were coming from the hidden wall continued to get stronger. For some reason, the moment the voice died down it became very protective of its own well-being. It was better to use the other empty puppets to siphon trace amounts of energy.
While it continued to seek a way out of this place it was unable to leave. There seemed to be another invisible wall keeping it from escaping. After going through all the corridors it could find, it discovered two flights of stairs. One of them was heading up while the other was down. Regretfully it was unable to pass through the threshold.
Whatever it attempted to do, it had failed. Only inanimate objects were able to get through to the other side while it and all the other similar skeletal beings were not. This was a prison that it couldn’t leave and the longer it stayed the more it could feel the pressure of the voice. Even though it was gone now it knew that it was only a matter of time before it returned.
The mana source that was keeping it going somedays vanished for a long time. A strange foreboding feeling kept crawling into the Liches mind. What if the mana that was helping it function outside of the voice disappeared? Without it around it would revert to the mindless drone like all the others.
But how could it go out? The Lich had tried to leave through all the openings it could discover. After a while, it decided to concentrate on the area through which the other mana types appeared from. In its mind, it was more likely to find a clue there. From the staircase, it could even feel the voice\'s influence being stronger which drove it back to where it all happened.
The mana attack ceased which the Lich used to get closer. It was somewhat able to predict when this unruly force would stop and never return. There was always a certain timeframe it used and didn’t go beyond it for some reason. Perhaps it needed to recharge itself before the next time?
Yet after another bout of hitting or scratching the wall nothing ever came of it. Without any new clues, it returned to the nearby chamber where something it had previously encountered remained. It was stashed in a safe location where the others couldn’t get it and still contained a bit of the strange mana pattern.
This blue construct that looked like an arachnid wandered into the chamber one day. The Lich was awakened that day and slowly reached this point where it was fully conscious. It cherished this strange wreck that was a mangled mess of metal now. Only parts of it remained which it tried to reassemble back into its original shape.
It was its treasure that allowed it to become what it is today. But it could feel that the dungeon’s corruption was running its course. In time this item would be polluted with the other mana and lose its original worth. The Lich was unwilling to let its treasure be affected by the annoying voice that commanded it to do its bidding.
Then it dawned on him, a plan that might actually work. It remembered the other similarly-looking metallic bug almost wandering into this place. It was able to pass through the hidden passage, what if this thing that he was holding could do the same?
The Lich quickly grabbed the busted-up spider drone and made his way to the place through which the beam of light shot through about half an hour ago. The mana in the air was still filled with the pattern which would probably make this the best moment. Instead of hitting the wall again this time around it pushed the blue scrap metal against it. To its surprise, the thing that he was holding was able to push through it. Only when the bony digits holding onto it pressed to the wall was the Lich unable to progress further.
A round of tests was started, what remained from the metallic spider was a damaged chassis with some legs dangling from it. The Lich could feel resistance when he tried pushing this rounded piece through the hole. When doing this it seemed as if the metal was vanishing inside the wall. Finally, it performed the task it came here for, by sticking its hand inside of the golem remains it tried to push its hand beyond the point it was allowed to.
Its eyes lit up with the green flames as it felt no resistance. It had to hold itself back from pushing its entire arm through the wall. It was sure that the moment its bony parts touched the invisible barrier it would be stuck there. Instead, it pulled out the rounded metal and started pacing back and through the room. Its mind was going wild with an idea that it was trying to justify. If it was successful then it would be free but if not, then it would surely die.
When trying to make a decision it spotted one of its unwoken brethren lumbering into this very area. It just looked at the Lich without reacting and slowly went on its way. The sight of that drone-like behavior put the nail in the coffin, the Lich needed to escape and it would rather die than be turned back into a mindless minion.
The plan was quite peculiar and for it to work it needed to make sure that there were no obstructions in the way. For this purpose, it stuck its hand into the golem\'s corpse and started pushing what seemed to be rocks on the other side out of the way. Only after it couldn\'t feel any resistance did the monster decide to go through with the risky endeavor.
A green crystal that was the source of its very being was usually placed behind its ribcage. This object when destroyed would mean its death so it was sure to place it in a spot that couldn’t be easily reached or breached. Now on the other hand it decided to guide it towards its skull.
This was the same thing it did when the beam of mana struck its body. The core could be similarly moved by the Lich like by slime monsters. The only restriction was the bones in its body. The opening through which the spine connected to its cranium was a perfect fit for the core to slip through and now that it was safe the monster dislodged its head.
It was a high-level undead that could even propel its bones with the help of its mana. Something like removing its bony visage was child\'s play and would not even hurt it. The head was then shoved into the remains of the golem. If the creature could it would surround its whole body with the metal and walk through but this was the next best thing.
The skeletal body without the head could still perceive the whole area even without the head. It was a creature composed of magic and the core was mimicking things like senses that allowed it to see and sense its surroundings. Finally, it was time to make the journey outside this prison. If the Lich was successful then what awaited it outside was the truth and freedom. If it was wrong then it would at least know what was out there before its flame was extinguished.
The skeleton’s body took on a throwing stance by holding the head in its right hand. Promptly it lobbed its central body part towards the wall through which the beam of mana always came through. When it came time to collide with the wall the mangled metal fazed through the barrier between dungeons and went through it without any problems.
It instantly could feel the loss of connection to the rest of its body that just crumbled to a pile of bones the moment it passed the threshold. The monster wasn’t aware of what was on the other side so it decided to use all of its physical power for the throw. This propelled it into the hidden mining area through which it collided with several protruding rock formations before slowly rolling before a pool of lava.
The Lich was instantly taken aback by what it was sensing. The Mana pattern from the previous home was gone and it was replaced by something similar but much weaker. This other voice attempted to interface itself with its core but was unable to get through as it was quickly repelled by the Lich’s magical power.
This new area it reached was different, the mausoleum-like esthetic was gone and replaced by various colorful minerals. It felt victorious, the freedom and truth it wanted were becoming a fact. Yet then noticed something peculiar, another creature was there and it was slowly rising from within the lava pool.
A being not of bone but of flesh emerged that this monster was not familiar with. The mana pattern was different from what it was used to and one thing was clear, this was not an ally. Before the Lich could react its head was being chomped on by an overgrown lizard. Yet the scaly enemy had misread the situation as instead of an easy meal it found itself unable to close its mouth. The skull of the Lich that it was trying to chomp down on proved to be too much.
Suddenly a burst of green flames escaped from the salamander. They came from the skull that quickly incinerated this low-level tier 2 creature into nothing more than black bones. This wasn’t quite the end of it as the darkened bones started to assemble themselves into something. They slowly floated towards the now free Lich to form its new body.
While they didn’t fit the human skeleton that this Infernal Lich was based on, they changed shape to slowly fill the desired frame. The monster was now standing on its own two feet while looking into the new area it arrived in. This regeneration process was something it was expecting but thanks to the appearance of the salamander it had been hastened.
A clattering of bones filled the entire area filled with strange minerals. There were no other living beings around for the skeleton to contend with but it could feel more of them outside of these walls. The range of its skill was limited but it could feel some strange mana signatures down the open tunnel it was staring at.
The monster was finally free, the voice that bothered it was no more. It quickly glanced at the opening it came from and could see the broken wall. The old dungeon was still there along with the corridor that it came through. From this place, it could see inside of it and it was in no rush to go back to its old prison.
Yet it was confused, where did that third mana pattern originate from? There were faint traces of it in this room but nothing that was as powerful as that blue beam of light. This whole room was filled with it but it seemed that the source was now gone. It wanted to study the source of its newfound freedom but it wasn’t here. Perhaps if it went through this new place it would find the thing that released it into this world…