The Chains she Chose chapter 2 part 3
“Is that girl in the image the necromancer?”
“The one with the undead bowing to her.”
Marian gave a slight giggle as she shook her head. “Did you notice the young man supporting her?”
“Huh?” In response to this Casandra quickly did a double take actually walking several steps backwards. “How could I have missed him?”
“No that's not my mistress. That's someone the mistress touched.”
“Just what is going on?”
“If you want to know you can read the entire story.”
A sigh escaped Casandra as she shook her head. “If I have time to do so I suppose I shall.”
Ilmvrae set quietly waiting for her guest to arrive. She'd felt their intent long before they'd even set out on the journey and had a good idea of when they'd arrived. She'd intentionally finished up all her projects early for the day though some continued without her assistance. Marian had been allowed to greet them as she didn't want to give the wrong impression. It made her happy whenever Marian remembered her manners and knocked on the door. “What is it Marian?”
Marian knew Ilmvrae was aware of who was in her home. A fly couldn't enter the garden without Ilmvrae's knowledge. She still kept up appearances though. “Mistress, you have two guest. One of them is known here before the other is new.”
“They may enter.”
In response to the comment Marian gave a quick nod and turned to Oshgun and Casandra. “This is where I must leave you.”
“Huh? But she just said.”
“She said you may enter not that I may enter.”
In response to this Casandra gave a slight nod suddenly remembering what she'd been told by Oshgun. Realizing that Marian wasn't going to open the door Casandra stepped forward turned the nob and very carefully pushed it open. She didn't know what was on the other side but she didn't want to upset her. As she stepped inside she was a bit surprised by what she saw.
Ilmvrae was clearly not a human. Her ears were longer then a humans and pointed, her skin a deep black as any coal that could be found while her lips were a bright red contrasting heavily with her skin. Her eyes were a bright blue while her hair was solid silver. Physically she was clearly in superb shape as while her clothing hung loosely on her form her muscles could be seen moving under the cloth with even the slightest motion. It was Casandra's first time gazing upon a Drow.
While Casandra was caught off guard by the site of Ilmvrae she did remember her appearance. “Good day Madam, my name is Casandra Gale and I have come here hoping to make a trade.”
“Oshgun it's been a while since I last saw you. You've clearly developed your abilities to far beyond what they were the last time we spoke with one another. It's good to see you've continued to improve.” After addressing Oshgun Ilmvrae turned her attention to Casandra. “So Princess Casandra Gale you may call me Ilmvrae you don't need to know my last name.”
“Thank you Ilmvrae.”
“You should not give thanks so readily. Please take a seat.”
In response Casandra took a step forward. She remembered what Oshgun had said however it was hard for her to think there could be any double meanings here. After all she'd asked for her to take a seat. As she approached Ilmvrae though Casandra was surprised. From a distance she hadn't been able to tell how tall Ilmvrae truly was however as she neared her it became clear the Drow was even taller then Oshgun. “I was told you might be willing to make a deal.”
Ilmvrae waited until both Oshgun and Casandra were seated before she spoke again. “I see that you're studying the same techniques as Oshgun. I take it that he's your teacher. You must be special for him to agree to give you lessons for so long.”
“What do you mean?”
“Oshgun here isn't the type to teach students he felt would abuse his teachings. I doubt he could stomach the mightier then thou attitude of most royals as well.”
“So you two know one another well?”
“Ah well. I imagine I know him better then he believes he knows me.”
In response Casandra gave a slight nod. She had already mentioned to Ilmvrae she wanted to talk to her about something and she didn't want to repeat herself. “I've been training under him for a few years now and I have to admit the training is hard. I doubt I'd make it if I didn't have a little help.”
“OH? What kind of help?”
“Well I have some good motivation and this.” As she spoke Casandra reached under her shirt collar and lifted up her medallion so Ilmvrae could see it.
The magics contained within the medallion were clear to Ilmvrae's eyes immediately and she couldn't help but grin. “Did you come up with this yourself or was it suggested to you?”
“Well I was inspired by some stories.”
“It's quite an interesting little. Hm I don't think the word trinket applies here it's far more valuable then some trinket or bobble. Yet so benign in its immediate uses. A very clever little item you have there.”
“Now what did you want to ask me about?”
“I'm interested in developing an alchemical method to absorb the spiritual energy stored within the body of another person. The alchemist I'm employing for the project told me that it was related to necromancy and could be done but he didn't have the exact knowledge. I was hoping you'd be able to provide the information he'd need in trade.”
“Casandra you don't seem to realize how vague of a request you just made. Tell me what are some of your alchemist accomplishments?”
“Well he's currently making potions to permanently augment the strength of my body, he's also been making stamina restoratives from items the guards find on patrol.”
“What does he use in making the strength augmenter?”
“I don't know everything but I know trolls blood was a major component.”
It was impossible for Ilmvrae to keep from chuckling as she shook her head. “This won't get us anywhere. Tell me have you drank any of the potions he made?”
“Good. I'll just examine the composition of your body. I should be able to learn all I need to know from there. If not I'll get enough information at least. Just come here.”
“Um are you going to damage my body in anyway?”
“My. That's an interesting question to ask. Why didn't you ask if I was going to hurt you?”
“Hurt is temporary damage may not be. Also I could endure some pain for this.”
“Hm well then. As you asked me such an interesting question I'll be nice. Your body won't be damaged in the least and there won't be any pain. Now come here and give me your hand.” As she spoke Ilmvrae extended her hand out towards Casandra.
Upon receiving her answer and Ilmvrae offering her hand Casandra stood up and made her way over to the Drow. She then proceeded to place her hand in Ilmvrae's and immediately felt a slight tingle run throughout her entire body. It was hard to resist the urge to pull away but she didn't want to slip up now so she stayed still. “Is there anything I should do?”
“Just keep your hand in mine. This won't take long.”
“Okay Ilmvrae may I ask you a personal question?”
“Yes but it doesn't mean I'll answer and I don't promise I won't respond.”
“I see. I was just wondering. What are you doing on the surface?”
“I was forced to leave the building some would say was my home very long ago. It was in my best interest at the time.”
“Why were you forced to leave?”
“I'm half human. Mm your alchemist seems to be fairly proficient at his craft though I wouldn't say skilled. He's going to need quite a bit of aid if he is going to fulfill your request.”
“What would you like in trade?”
“Before I can decide that I need to know why you want this information. That way I know what to charge.”
“I'm surprised you didn't just read my mind.” As she spoke Casandra withdrew her hand.
“Who said I didn't? Maybe I'm just seeing if you're going to lie to me.”
“Well you have a point. As you noticed earlier I've been training under Oshgun. Recently I've hit on a snag though. I can keep myself going mentally and physically for far longer then my spiritual energy can hold out. I thought I found away around it by using energy restoratives but that didn't work out. That's when I learned that the energy from another human being could be used. I want to be able to use the spiritual energy of those who aren't currently using it but I don't want to harm them.”
“Ah I see. So you want a method by which they can transfer there energy to you?”
“Um well. I'm not sure if I'd just want a transfer.”
A slight giggle escaped Ilmvrae as she shook her head. “So you want to be able to take it! Now why is that?”
“Well it isn't like criminals need that energy for anything. Even if they could no one would want a mage using magic to break out of jail. That and I'm sure I can find those I can pay for the energy. Perhaps I could borrow energy from five of the guards daily and give them the day off. That way they'd get something in return.”
“Mm.” Before speaking Ilmvrae slowly brought herself to a standing position. “You know I can't just give you this information. There must be a trade for it.”
“I also want to see how badly you want this information. Oshgun, Casandra the two of you are to come with me now.” As she spoke Ilmvrae began walking not even bothering to look back to see if the two were following her. She didn't need to check behind herself to know that they both were.
Oshgun took in a deep breath as he sped up his pace and proceeded to walk in front of Casandra as he walked he glanced over at her. “I hope you're ready for this. I don't know how she's going to test us but I doubt it's going to be enjoyable.”
“I believe I'm ready.”
“Casandra I find your ideas to be interesting if a bit blunt. Using that medallion to keep yourself from growing fatigued of training so rigorously and now seeking to make use of outside energy sources to train longer. However, I wonder if you've become too accustomed to these paths and haven't sought out other methods to hasten the learning process.”
“I've considered other methods and tried a few but. Using the energy seems to be the absolute best way to learn especially whenever I'm using it under the watchful eye of another.”
“Casandra how much time have you devoted to learning to see and feel out such energies?”
“Well, I tend to work on it after my energy reserves are rather low if I don't have other studies to perform.”
“I've found that the better you can see what is happening the better you can understand and the more quickly you can learn. Oshgun what do you think of Casandra's priorities?”
“I find them to be satisfactory. She's progressed far more quickly then anyone I've ever scene thanks to her hard work. She's made very effective use of the resources available to her and has spiritual reserves that allows her to work far more intensely then I ever could have hoped to.”
“So you find that working on her awareness is secondary to her current efforts?”
“Indeed I do.”
A slight chuckle escaped Ilmvrae as she shook her head. “I don't have many people that are willing to disagree with me. Very well we'll have to disagree on this subject. Casandra if you plan on truly entering the battle field I suggest you learn to see such energies soon. Knowledge is very important in battle.”
“I know but I have several obligations I have to fulfill. If I were to allow myself to fall behind in my lessons I'm afraid my training would be put on hold.”
“Here we are.” As she spoke Ilmvrae stopped and gave a pair of massive doors a quick push. As they opened it was clear just how massive they were. Each door was nearly a third of a meter quick and quickly slowed to a stop after Ilmvrae had removed her hands from them.
Instead of walking into the room immediately Casandra took a moment to glance inside. She saw a lot of open space. “Just what is that room for?”
Instead of answering right away Ilmvrae continued into the room and began to remove various parts of her clothing. The first to come off was the heavy robe that covered her entire body revealing her arms from the shoulder down as well as her legs starting from the thigh. “It's just a little room I had made for sparring I want to see just how capable you truly are.”
Immediately Casandra drew to a stop and took a moment to look at Ilmvrae. The Drow was massive. As Ilmvrae curled her arm Casandra couldn't help but notice how the biceps swelled and seemed to rival the size of her head though when she relaxed they smoothed out. Her thighs were so thick Casandra imagined Ilmvrae had more mass in just one of them then she had in her entire body. Her abdominal muscles could easily be made out as eight separate sections while each of her breasts seemed to surpass the size of her head.
“So just what are your intentions?”
Once again Ilmvrae was silent as she hung her robes on the wall. The only clothing she was wearing now seemed to be made from strips. It covered the middle section of her breasts though it left her cleavage and the sides of her breasts exposed. The strips tapered down into a v shape that covered her crotch. “I thought you and Oshgun would spar with me so that I could see just how far along the two of you are.”
Casandra was made to give a slight jump upon hearing this news and would have immediately declined if she hadn't been forewarned by Oshgun about Ilmvrae. “Are you sure that's really necessary? You were able to tell what type of potion was used to alter my body easily enough surely.” Casandra didn't get to finish.
“I'm certain that it's necessary.”
“Well then. Could you give us your word that you won't kill or permanently injure one of us?”
“Mm I promise that I won't kill either of you and if I injure you badly enough that you don't heal from it naturally I'll heal it myself. I'm quite proficient at fixing bodies.”
“Would the repairs come with a price?”
“Paranoid little thing aren't you?! No, the repairs will be free of charge however keep in mind this doesn't mean I will or won't help you.”
A sigh escaped Casandra as she shook her head. “Could you please tell me how this would help determine whether or not I need such information?”
“Your alchemist could use the information but whether or not you could make proper use of the product I don't know yet. I want to insure that I'm not casting pearls before swine.”
“Very well then I'll spar you though I can't speak for Oshgun.”
Oshgun gave a slight sigh as he stepped forward. “Why do you wish to spar with both of us? Casandra is the one that desires the knowledge after all and the one you wish to teach.”
“Oh? Oshgun are you telling me that she's not worth helping by action?”
Immediately Oshgun gave a slight groan. “She's worth helping and that's while I'll help her if that's the way you're going to be.”
“Hm good to know. However, how much do you really wish to help her? Let's find out. Please come inside both of you.” As she finished speaking Ilmvrae turned away from Oshgun and Casandra and began to make her way further into the room. It was impossible for her to keep from grinning as she noted the two of them following her. “Don't be alarmed when the doors shut.”
Even as Ilmvrae's words hit her ears Casandra heard a resounding thud and was suddenly engulfed in total darkness. She felt her heart rate quicken as she waited for some form of light to appear. She didn't know what it was but something was making her very nervous. She was actually made to jump when she felt a hand on her shoulder but relaxed when she heard a familiar voice.
“Try to see her energy.”
Apparently Ilmvrae wanted to prove her point about needing to learn to see the spiritual energies of others. In the total darkness of the room Casandra couldn't make out her own hand in front of her face. At least she did have some training in seeing energies. As she listened to Oshgun's voice Casandra began to focus on her spiritual energy using it as a starting point to see Ilmvrae's. She was both surprised and horrified by how easy it was.
Ilmvrae could easily see the shock on Casandra's face as she looked her over. “Now we need to all know when we're going to begin. Casandra I'm going to let you call out when to start at which time the match begins. The fight is over whenever someone surrenders.”
In response to this Oshgun chose to speak up. “What if they're knocked out?”
“Only a surrender counts.” A slight giggle escaped Ilmvrae as she noted the look on Oshgun's face to. Apparently he realized how bad of a situation they were in.
Casandra could hardly believe what was standing before her. While she could see Ilmvrae's energy now she couldn't make out where the Drow was. Her energy filled the entire room to the point that it was simply blinding to her level of awareness. She was no better off then what she'd been before hand still she needed to start. “Okay let's begin.” The moment the word begin left her lips Casandra felt Oshgun's hand leave her shoulder at first she thought he must be leading the charge then she heard a savage impact. “Oshgun?!”
“He's fine Casandra, he's just against the wall over there.” As she spoke Ilmvrae pointed towards the wall she'd knocked Oshgun against moments earlier. She wasn't disappointed when in Casandra whenever the young girl responded to her words.
Instead of talking to Ilmvrae Casandra quickly spun around and thrust her fist out towards the Drow. Her punch didn't reach her though as she felt something press against the side of her fist and push the blow aside as if it was the fist of an infant. In response to this she quickly brought her leg up and tried to slam it into Ilmvrae making use of the stronger limb in hopes of preventing the same easy deflection. Despite her legs greater strength though she once again felt it pushed aside.
As Ilmvrae used her index finger to push Casandra's attacks aside she was impressed with the young girl. She had indeed come a very long away for one so young. At least her raw abilities had been developed to a large extent. In order the test the others though Ilmvrae would have to play with her a little. Upon deflecting Casandra's third attack Ilmvrae quickly thrust her head forward and slammed it against the young girl's head the result was immediate.
Casandra gave a sharp gasp and felt her jaw go slack as she felt the impact. She felt the blow impact with her head and reach down into her legs. Her vision grew blurry and she found herself toppling to her knees under the force of just one head but. Pain flooded her mind as weakness seemed to grip her body as the impact drained a massive amount of Casandra's energy reserves. Even as she felt her legs buckling though Casandra tried to drive her fist into Ilmvrae.
“Not bad! That had to hurt and you're still trying to hit me.” Ilmvrae had chosen to dodge the punch instead of deflect it this time and had moved several meters away.
He had developed his abilities far beyond what they had once been. He was many times more powerful then when he'd first met Ilmvrae and his ability to see spiritual energy was far sharper. Why hadn't he been able to see her move though? One moment he'd been speaking with Casandra and the next he'd felt something slam into his chest. On top of that the force of Ilmvrae's punch felt exactly like it did all those years ago.
Would Oshgun attack her again? Ilmvrae was certain he'd realized how much more powerful she was then him. The fact that she had been holding back when they first met and was probably holding back now wouldn't be lost on him however the only way he could help Casandra was by attacking her. “You know I probably shouldn't just use my body I am a mage after all. Perhaps I should employ a little magic.”
By now Casandra had regained enough of her composure to speak and notice something moving over her face. She wasn't sure what that something was yet though she had a guess. “If you want to go ahead.”
Casandra's response was quite well received by Ilmvrae as was Oshgun's actions. Even before he'd fully recovered he'd once again moved to attack her. At least he could see his target as he neared her and tried to drive his fist into her stomach. Instead of deflecting the blow though Ilmvrae thrust her leg forward and slammed it into his stomach. She held back this time so it was just enough to stop his forward motion and stun him for a few moments but not sending him flying.
As the kick sent him crumbling to the ground Oshgun tried to work through the pain. This wasn't a matter of working through the pain though Ilmvrae had actually hit him hard enough to lock up some of his muscles. His body would need a few to adjust before he could move again. At least she didn't continue smacking on them while they were both on the ground. He was a bit surprised though whenever he saw Casandra appear behind Ilmvrae and try to strike her.
Casandra couldn't see where Ilmvrae was her energy filled the room to the point that she was blinded to her location. She could however see Oshgun's energy and had used that to guide her to Ilmvrae's location. There was no way for Casandra to know exactly where Ilmvrae was so she chose a sweeping kick in hopes of striking the Drow for what good it would do. She was rather disappointed whenever all her leg met was air. She didn't get to dwell on it though as she found herself suddenly flying skywards.
Ilmvrae had ducked below Casandra's kick when the girl had tried to hit her. As she stood up once again she brought her head up and slammed it into young girl sending her flying skywards. Less then a second later she heard the sound of flesh on stone as Casandra was made to impact with the roof and quickly moved out of the way so the girl wouldn't land on her.
Compared to her impact with the roof the impact with the floor was quite gentle to Casandra. As she met the ground she was concerned. Already she could feel her energy was nearly spent and Ilmvrae had only hit her a few times. With the power contained in those blows she'd been drained in just one more strike. At the moment she was in too much pain to realize Ilmvrae could have killed her with anyone of those strikes if she hadn't been holding back.
“Hm this isn't going to work out. Okay let's have some light.” As she spoke Ilmvrae held her hand out. The moment the word light left her lips a radiant spear burst into existence hovering just over the palm of her hand. It then quickly moved to the roof filling the entire room with light. Ilmvrae then took a few steps towards Casandra.
What was going to happen now? Casandra wasn't certain so far though Ilmvrae hadn't struck her while she was down. Casandra worried this was about to change when the Drow once again reached for her however the feeling of Ilmvrae's palm on her head was surprisingly gentle. She soon began to feel tired as she felt a warmth wrapping around her body and focusing on her forehead fortunately the exhaustion left her whenever Ilmvrae removed her hand. As the fatigue left her Casandra couldn't help her surprise. “You healed me?”
“That and gave you a bit of a recharge. I suggest you get to a combative stance before I decide to kick you.”
It was odd but Casandra felt that Ilmvrae was deadly serious despite her having just been healed. Casandra was back on her feet quite quickly though she didn't take on a defensive stance rather as she stood up Casandra quickly pushed off the ground and tried to slam her fist into Ilmvrae's jaw. She wasn't too surprised though when the Drow quickly leaned her head to the side avoiding the punch only to drive it forward moments later slamming into her stomach and sending Casandra flying.
A slight giggle escaped Ilmvrae as she came to a standing position. “You're really something else! I just healed you and you try to take my head off.” Before continuing Ilmvrae crossed her arms and took a moment to look Casandra over. “You're really trying to get on my good side.”
“You said you wanted me in a combative stance you didn't say defensive stance.”
“Indeed I didn't!”
Once again Casandra tried to bring herself to a standing position however as she began to bend at the knees she was made to convulse. A sharp gasp escaped her and she was made to cough violently splattering the floor with her blood. “What?”
“Don't worry I healed that wound. It was from when I slammed you against the roof.”
Oshgun had already recovered but chosen to hold his ground as he listened to Casandra and Ilmvrae speak. He hadn't been using this time wastefully though rather he'd been focusing his energy into his right hand only as he felt it reaching the max he could handle did he move. He didn't bother sparing his energy as he charged forward and drove his fist towards Ilmvrae.
As Oshgun approached her Ilmvrae kept her eyes focused on Casandra. Clearly he was doing his best to actually injure her or at least hurt her despite the difference in their abilities. As he neared her though she reached back with her right hand and gave his arm a quick nudge and stepped to the side. There wasn't a second between her tapping his hand and a massive impact that caused the entire room to shake.
It was hard for Oshgun to believe what had just happened as he found himself staring at the ground. His hand was currently sunk into the heavy stone up to his elbows. There wasn't too much time to look though as he felt a powerful impact strike his chest. He didn't hear the stone shatter as his arm was tore violently throughout it however he felt the affects as pain engulfed the entire limb.
“Nice try Oshgun but if you want to hit me you're going to have to move faster then.” Ilmvrae was made to go silent as she noted Oshgun manage to adjust his position in flight. She heard his legs impact with the ground and watched as he bent at the knees instead of crumbling though he managed to push off the ground and quickly rushed towards her.
He had managed to do it. He had kept control of his body despite the power of the impact. There was no way of knowing how much Ilmvrae was holding back but at least she hadn't managed to doubt him. As he once again closed the gap between himself and her Oshgun once again drove his fist towards Ilmvrae. Despite all his accomplishments though all he received was a swift smack to the back slamming him back to the ground as Ilmvrae side stepped his punch.
“Oshgun did you really believe that would work? I'm impressed that you were able to recover so quickly but there was no way you could attack me with the same speed you'd done previously. Your time would have been better served trying to think of a way to defend against me. As for you.” As she finished speaking Ilmvrae reached above her head and caught hold of Casandra's leg. She promptly pulled the girl downward slamming her into Oshgun. “You need to quit trying to conserve energy.”
Casandra gave a slight groan as she looked up at Ilmvrae. Oshgun had provided some cushioning at least. She knew she couldn't touch Ilmvrae by now she was just too fast and too strong. To make the situation worse Ilmvrae wasn't using any of her actual magic. That didn't mean Casandra was ready to give up she'd continue until the ride came to an end.
While they were down Ilmvrae took the time to put some distance between herself and Oshgun and Casandra. “Okay Casandra, Oshgun I have a pretty good idea of what you two are capable of. Casandra I'm willing to give your friend the knowledge he needs if you can pass a little test.”
“What's the test?”
“I want you to at least strike my clothing. If you can strike me or either my clothing you pass the test. This can go on for as long as you're willing to endure the pain and I'll heal you and restore your energy as many times as it takes. I may work defensively or I may go offensive so far I've only defended myself. Is that a deal?”
So far neither of them had even come close to actually hitting Ilmvrae, Casandra could easily recognize that. However, a few bits of her clothing were indeed loose just not as much as Casandra would prefer. “Huh, so it looks like I get two things out of this then. How could I pass up such an opportunity?”
“I'll get the knowledge Dean needs for him and I get an intensive training session.” As Casandra moved off Oshgun and stood up she couldn't help but notice that Ilmvrae's smile had grown until her lips had parted.
“My you are getting on my good side!”
Dean was getting more then a little curious about what was going on. While the majority of what he made was going to be sold by the Grove as had been planned the castle guards had been purchasing a larger and larger supply of the restoratives. Not only was it odd due to the amount they were purchasing it was made even stranger by the expense of such items and the fact that it was the same few that were purchasing more and more. “Criss is there any chance you could tell me exactly what you and your friends have been using those restoratives for?”
“Oh we've just been investing them.”
“Part of me believes I'm going to be upset if I learn what you're talking about. The other part of me knows that I should find out and yet another part of me is too curious not to ask. Two to one I'm going to have to ask. Just how are you investing the potions I'm making?”
“You're going to push this if I don't answer you aren't you?”
“Okay, we've been investing them in races. Just a few of us though.”
“How are you doing that?”
“Ah come on you don't need to ask that. It's easy.”
“I'm not going to ask what type of race you're talking about however I want to know how you're doing it. It isn't like people are aloud to slip racers or animals bottles while they're competing.”
“That's why you take it before the race! All we've been doing is slipping the potion into a small cake of sorts. Once enough of the outer layer has been eaten away the potion is released inside the stomach and no one is the wiser that anything was used.”
Dean was silent for a moment as he stared at Criss in an attempt to read him and see if he was being honest. He gave up after a minute. “Fine. Fine. Well it's making you enough money to buy more and more of the restoratives. If all you're doing is using it to cheat at gambling that's fine with me. People shouldn't bet money they can't afford to lose regardless.”
“So you're fine with it?”
“I can't support it but once you pay for the potions it's your choice what you do with them. You'll be the ones dealing with the consequences if you're discovered. On that note if you are discovered and try to hide here or Casandra finds out I suggest you tell her the truth or I will.”
“Sounds like we have a understanding then.
“On another subject. That's a pretty clever way to sneak the potion into someone or something without wasting it. Have you worked out how thick of a cake is needed for it to prolong release for an hour?”
“Not really. It seems pretty iffy. You don't want it so thick that it won't release in time to be of use yet you don't want it so thin that it's released immediately. We've pretty much resolved that it's better for it to release early then late though. Are you sure you don't want in on a bit of the action? We've been making a decent little bit of money on the side.”
“No thank you. Like I said this is your problem if you get caught.”
It hurt to move it hurt to the point that Casandra would have loved to give herself a suggestion from her medallion. However, her medallion was currently wresting on the floor and she hadn't been able to get to it. When she'd went to give herself a suggestion Ilmvrae had just flicked it out of her hands. Despite that she'd continued to work with Oshgun to try and land a blow on Ilmvrae or her clothing. So far the Drow had proven too fast for either of them to have any success.
“Oshgun, Casandra do either of you know how long you've been in here?”
While the question was addressed to both of them Casandra was the first to respond. “Not long enough.”
“Not long enough for what?”
“Not long enough to pass this test.” As Casandra moved to strike Ilmvrae she already noticed Oshgun moving. There was nothing about this time to make her thing they'd succeed though and once again they failed as Ilmvrae seemed to vanish into thin air only to reappear to deliver a powerful blow to either one of them.
“Hm that's one way of judging time.”
While Ilmvrae was speaking Casandra was drawing herself to a standing position. Her progress was slow though when she was made to cough violently a jet of blood being expelled from within her as she did so. Apparently Ilmvrae didn't mind damaging their organs when she was just going to fix them. At least this brought some relief though as she felt some healing energy running through her body and felt Ilmvrae's hand wresting lightly upon the top of her head. “You're good at not killing people.”
“Of course. I don't want to spend all my time alone.”
Before Casandra could respond she felt something slam into her side and was sent flying skywards a few meters. At least she didn't reach the roof this time as she relized Ilmvrae had given her a slight kick upon healing her. It was disorienting but as Casandra moved back towards the ground she twisted her body around so that she was made to land upon her hands and feet. As she landed though she wondered how long this was going on. It seemed that Ilmvrae wasn't going to let them strike her and she'd already proven that they couldn't. A great wave of dizziness hit Casandra as she considered these thoughts and came to a realization.
They couldn't communicate verbally there was no way Ilmvrae wouldn't hear them. Oshgun knew this so he didn't say anything to Casandra. He had hoped that Ilmvrae would have done something to make the challenge easier by now but that wasn't happening either. At least he and Casandra were getting good at sinking their attacks. It wouldn't be enough he needed to do something to better their situation. He'd already given up all attempts at defense though and focused entirely on offense what else could he do?”
“If you wo.” A slight chuckle escaped Ilmvrae as Oshgun and Casandra moved towards her. Apparently they'd realized that when she said that she was about to hit them.
It was the same move they'd used before. Oshgun recognized this. If they didn't try something though Ilmvrae would go on the offensive and then things got very painful. For once in his life though he wished his opponent would play with him instead of downing him in one punch. As he drew closer to Ilmvrae though he suddenly found himself routed to the ground as Casandra stopped her attack and quickly changed directions. He didn't know what was going on. Surely Casandra realized that they could quit at any moment. She didn't need to try and run away.
Ilmvrae was finding it all too easy to keep track of both her opponents and even considered limiting her awareness a few times. She immediately knew something was up though whenever Oshgun stopped his charge and was made to convulse as she struggled to keep from laughing. Instead of striking Oshgun she looked strait at him. “Bang.”
Oshgun was more then a little stunned. Nearly the moment the words left Ilmvrae's lips he heard an impact but neither him nor Casandra had been hit. Of course nothing had touched Ilmvrae either. As he looked past the Drow he found Casandra had driven her fist into the wall and something else.
For a moment all Casandra did was stair wide eyed as she looked at her hand. Her hand had met enchanted stone but not before it met one other thing. It had met cloth. Slowly she felt a grin spreading across her face which soon broke into a smile that threatened to split her face in two. Slowly she glanced back at Ilmvrae. “I pass.”
At this point Ilmvrae couldn't help herself. Her chest was made to shudder and her composure broke down as she began to openly laugh. “Indeed you did! Congratulations!”
This was far from what Oshgun expected. However, as he managed to focus he noted what Casandra had done. When Ilmvrae had entered the room she'd hung some of her clothing on the wall. She'd then started sparring them in total darkness, then in light then she'd changed the rules so that hitting her clothing wouldn't count as a pass. He'd forgotten her robes the moment she'd first started the match though.
Casandra felt more then a little strange as Ilmvrae began to walk towards her. There was a sense of triumph but the Drow made her nervous. She didn't bother trying to evade her though it'd been proven dozens of times that she couldn't. She was made to sigh in relief whenever Ilmvrae stopped and extended her open palm towards her.
“Let me heal you now. Oshgun come over here and I'll heal you as well.”
“You knew we'd never been able to touch you physically.”
“Indeed I did.”
“You were doing several tests this entire time. You first forced me to see how powerful you were by starting in total darkness, you then tested to see how long I'd keep going when you allowed light finally you were testing to see if I would remember your robes and if I could think during combat.”
“You think I did all of that?”
“You probably did more I'm too sore and excited to think about that right now though!”
Before speaking to Casandra again Ilmvrae glanced back at Oshgun. “I like your student.”
“She is something else. I have to ask though. What would you have done if I had been the one to realize what was going on?”
“Oshgun there is a way to fail any test and often they're several ways. Now the two of you are to come with me. I believe it's time the both of you had something to eat and you'll want to wrest after that. Then I'll give you the information that I believe your alchemist could make use of it.”
At first Casandra hadn't said anything but now she couldn't help herself. “His name is Dean please don't call him alchemist.”
“Oh? Does my doing that bother you?”
“I see. Very well, I'll gather the information that Dean requires. Tell me Casandra how long has Dean been practicing alchemy?”
“Just three years longer then I've been learning to unchain myself.”
“So he's quite young?”
“Well two years older then me.”
“Hm I take back what I said about his alchemical skills previously. For his age he's quite a skilled alchemist as long as he continues to progress at this rate he could really become something.”
“How old did you think he was?”
“I presumed he was at least thirty years old. Most alchemist that the nobility would higher are quite accomplished. Of course, you have personnel feelings for him so I suppose that helped in his employment. Perhaps you can tell me more about your reasons over dinner?”
Was this another test? Casandra didn't know but he didn't think it'd be a good idea to deny this request or lie to Ilmvrae. “I'd be glad to but in exchange can I ask you some questions about your past?”
“Yes you may.”
“Thank you a few of the works on the walls got my attention and curiosity.”
“Wonderful aren't they?”
“Well I don't know the stories but if you're talking about the carvings yes. They're wonderfully done.”
“Would you believe that they were done by the hands of golems? Well not all of them for a long time I had living servants making them but the most recent ones are the work of some golems.”
“What? I've never seen golems produce such wonderful work. I didn't even think it was possible. Did you make them as well?”
“No I can't say I did. The golems were part of an exchange between me and another.”
“What did he get out of it?”
“I let my human and dwarf servants go free.”
Immediately a shiver was made to run throughout Casandra as the implication of Ilmvrae's words immediately hit her. “You mean. You had slaves?”
“Oh I came to own them in a variety of ways. The most common are adventurers that come into my garden and try to either steal from me, kill me or destroy my work and refuse to make amends. Oh and before you go off on how slavery is evil. I would normally kill someone for doing that.”
“How do you know they wouldn't prefer death over slavery?”
“They haven't killed themselves yet. I haven't taken away their ability to end their own lives after all. They performed an act that I would normally have killed them for but instead I gave them a choice. Serve me or die. They choose to continue to serve me but the option to kill themselves is always there.”
“Do you give them any chance of freedom though?”
“Indeed I do.”
“May I know what that is?”
“If they can develop in such a way that I begin to respect them then they're free to leave. Few manage to do this though.”
A sigh escaped Casandra as she shook her head. “I don't think I'm going to ask anything more about that subject.”
“Fair enough after all you didn't put them here. It was their own choices that brought them to this result.”
As Casandra looked at the architecture of the dining room she didn't know if she wanted to look harder then she already was. The art work was wonderfully done being both precise and artistic. However it seems that every time she went to look deeper then the surface image and truly examine a scene as a whole there was something there she didn't find as pleasant.
“Casandra is something wrong? You've hardly touched your food.”
“Huh? Oh I'm fine Oshgun just thinking. Ilmvrae you said I could question you earlier.”
“Yes I did. I also said that there was no guarantee I wouldn't or would respond to a question.”
“Yeah. I don't mean any offense but I want to ask. How did you get so powerful?”
“Oh lots of ways. Too many for me to really list. Suffice to say I'm very old and I've worked very hard with my sister to make use of that time.”
Immediately Casandra noted the mention of a sister but she chose to ignore it. “How old are you then and how did you come to live for such a long time?”
“I'm older then your fathers kingdom. As for how I came to live for such a long time I'm not going to tell you everything but I will tell you somethings. First of all I am half Drow and that alone prolongs my life far longer then a humans would normally be. Of course even with that I'd been dead long ago if it weren't for other augmentations. Casandra have you ever heard of soul burning?”
“No I can't say I have.”
“Most beings are made up of three parts. A body, a soul and a spirit. The soul is what binds the spirit to the body and is tremendously powerful. In soul burning one utilizes the energy contained in the bond to augment their ability to affect the physical world. Of course, doing such things shortens the life span considerably as the soul grows weaker and is very hard to reverse. Do you understand?”
“I believe so but surely you didn't do that. You just said it would shorten your life.”
“Indeed I didn't. Rather when I first felt time had too much sway over my life I began to provide a service. The energies of the soul can be folded in on themselves so to speak this allows the spirit to put more power into the flesh and thus increase one' abilities. However, this has an effect similar to soul burning in that it damages the soul and causes it to burn out even faster especially if the fold is done poorly.”
“You did this for people?”
“Exactly, that and all I asked for was a bit of the energy for myself as a sort of fee. They gained a tremendous boost to their ability to affect their world at least compared to what it had been and I got to extend my life for a few years. It worked quite nicely.”
“Didn't you tell them it would shorten their lives?”
“Indeed I did. Cassandra, how many people do you believe would prefer to go out in a blaze of glory rather then have a shot at a long life? After all by compressing the soul I shortened their life spans however they could have been killed by a bandit, beast or taking a bad fall the next day.”
“Enough for you to greatly extend your life span.”
“Indeed of course, I was well over two hundred by the time I started using such methods.” A slight giggle escaped Ilmvrae as she shook her head. “Wow two hundred. I was just an infant back then.”
Whether or not Ilmvrae was being serious Casandra didn't know. The idea that someone could be so old didn't seem possible but the Drow's power sure felt reliable. “Ilmvrae what were you using while we were sparring?”
“Hm? My bodies natural strength and speed.”
“What?! You weren't using magic to increase your abilities?”
“Now I didn't say that. I've modified my body a lot over the years though. It's actually become something of a hobby for me and my sister to work on ourselves. You're having trouble believing me.”
“It is well rather hard to believe.”
“That isn't really surprising.”
For a moment Casandra expected Ilmvrae to do something to prove how old she was. However, as she took her third spoon full of soup it became clear that wasn't going to happen and she wasn't going to ask her to do so. “I was wondering. Whenever I came in here I noticed the image of a young girl she looked really sweet but there was a bunch of undead bowing down to her. She also had a young man that seemed to be supporting her.”
“Tricia and Aaron they were quite an interesting little couple.”
“Just what happened there?”
“Ah long story short. Tricia was born near the end of a three hundred year long war. Mind you both sides weren't fighting feverishly throughout those entire three hundred years but there was some killing going on all the time. Tricia was extremely well attuned to the magics involved in the use of necromancy and soon began to practice a very advanced form of necromancy. She fed off the battle fields and managed to build up a small army of the undead. She was terrible at tactics though fortunately she picked up Aaron from one of the battle fields.
Aaron was quite adept at tactics due to his upbringing and experience as a soldier. Together they brought an end to the war.”