"We're being watched..." Lukrut noted, a hand on his jeweled dark short sword.
They had left the Carne Village about over an hour ago. They were moving at a snail's pace, walking, taking their time. There was no rush to get back to the City, at least in Cipher's case.
Glancing over at the ranger, Cipher raised a brow slightly.
"Really? How many?" He questioned the one of three blond men, observing the dirt under his nails. In the game this never happened, yet now his nails were sullied.
"At least twenty, it's not monsters. Their movements, they're sophisticated. Far more than that of a Goblins." These observations made the lich nod in agreement. This adventurer wasn't all that bad.
Peter glanced over at Cipher then over towards Lukrut. A frown printed over his lips. "We should pick up the pace."
"If we do that they might think we're on to them and pounce. We're in the middle of a lot of flatland, they could've set traps ahead." Dyne advised as he walked beside Ninya who was moving along in the back of the group of six.
Ninya nodded, agreeing with Dyne.
"They're on foot. No horses. They reach of bloodlust and..." The corner of Cipher's lips twitched slightly. If the group watching them knew of Ninya's sex, she would wish they'd just kill her.
"And?" Peter smirked seeing the facial expression on Cipher's face.
Using 「Telepathy」Cipher called upon Momonga. "We're being watched by militants. I don't think they're with either Country. Be advised. I'm sure they're part of a larger group."
"Eh-- Cipher? Another group...? Thank you, we'll look into this quietly. Do what you see fit."
"Thank you Momonga."
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Ending their conversation, Cipher began to scratch under his chin, before looking over at Peter. He could leave them all here to die, but that wouldn't fit his personality. Leaving people to needlessly die, it didn't feel right.
"Something wrong Cipher?" Ninya asked as she peered passed her friends towards the man.
"Debating on what?" Peter's smirk disappeared when he came up with the assumption Cipher was debating on whether or not to leave them to their fate.
"To kill them or not." Cipher's eyes locked with Peter's, a dull look in them.
"Do you really have to think about it?" Lukrut asked as he appeared a bit relaxed as they were with someone who was potentially several times stronger than any known army. "You didn't hesitate to kill those knights back there. Even though they weren't really Imperial Knights to begin with."
"You have a point," Cipher retorted with a snicker of his own. "Self-Defense is a must."
"Plus, you're only wearing enough armor to protect your chest shoulders and neck. How do you expect to defend against all of them" Peter asked with a brow raised, only for the group to look at him as their defense wasn't all that much different. If anything, they had less armor than him.
Cipher didn't give his commentary much of a response, even though he was right in a way. The only difference though was that his armor was Divine-Class while the rest of the party's was surely lacking in class. It wasn't something he enjoyed to think about either. This meant if he wasn't paying attention, they'd die. He couldn't have that.
As everyone was slugging their thoughts into the back of their minds, a single bolt from a crossbow clashed with the ground in front of the group.
Cipher and Sir Gallifrey who were in the front came to a stop and just observed the bolt. It was made of wood and iron. It was virtually useless against the two of them, which made them chuckle.
Grinning to the side, Cipher looked to the approaching unit of twenty or so people. Each of them had a weapon, some of them even had pickaxes. Each one varied in wealth and prestige.
「Greater Identification」As he looked over the people, he could see how much weaker they were than himself. He saw their names, their professions, past professions and their skills. If he was actually looking for a fight, he'd be disappointed. However, it was clear they were much more powerful than the silver ranked Adventurers accompanying him.
"Handover all that you're worth!" One of them shouted, "And you just might leave alive!"
The men flanked the entire group, eventually surrounding and encircling them within minutes.
"I'd like to tell you to do the same." Cipher's gaze was even more hollow than before. His capacity for murdering these people were growing, just as they're in his presence.
"Oh!? AHAHAHA! Is that so?" The man stepped forward from the bandits, licking his lips.
Peter leaned towards Cipher and whispered, "These guys. They're the Death Spreading Brigade. They're wanted for a profound amount of gruesome crimes."
"They're not very good at coming up with names... Are they?" Cipher frowned, not really caring for the crimes. He mostly cared that they were getting in his way, and obstructing his path.
Seeing his reactions to the bandits, made the Swords of Darkness smile faintly. Did this mean he could take them on, or was he just being a brat? They were hopeful though they would be wiped the floor and rid of.
"Boss, those four are adventurers. These two, I don't see a rank on them." One of the men reported aloud, chuckling. Thinking they got it good, believing the two were nobles or something along those lines.
"Hm... Then you must be nobles? Being escorted by Silvers, pft... Pathe--"
Cipher began to raise his hand from his side, his open palm facing the sky. The man had been cut off by the sudden feeling of energy and dust rising from the ground. Blue light began to rise up from the ground around them. Before they knew it there was a large blue circle surrounding the bandits. The center where Cipher and the Adventurers were, had no such circle.
"What... What is this?"
"「Necrotic Zone VI」"
Before another word could leave the lips of the bandits surrounding the seemingly helpless group of companions, screams were all that could be heard.
Their skin, their eyes, their internal organs. They felt like they were on fire, being eaten away by magic itself. They grabbed at her faces, their arms. Some of them even tried to cut off their infected limps, but it only quickened their deaths.
"You... YOU MONSTER!" The man who had just been threatening them shrieked, stomping towards the man as his muscles were beginning to turn to goop. His skin was gone, his insides were beginnign to become visible. Multi-colored tissue, ripping tendons and fat.
By the time he reached the edge of the spell's effective zone, he collapsed, his head rolling off of his shoulders and resting at Cipher's feet.
Their weapons, armors, tools and personal belongings were practically untouched by the spell. Valuables, anything that could be scavenged or worthy of being such, were intact.
"Well done my Lord," Gallifrey praised him without batting an eye at the suffering he had caused the humans who were ready to kill them.
Peter, Lukrut, Dyne and Ninya were all frozen. He had killed twenty people like they were nothing, though he hadn't smiled or appeared to enjoy what he had done, the airy feeling was clear he didn't care either.
Though that was far from the truth. He cared, he just didn't feel like showing it. He didn't feel regret for what he had done, nor remorse. There was nothing to be guilty for. These people were criminals and he did what no one else had done.
Turning his head, he looked over at the four.
Ninya was holding her staff close to her, held at a diagonal angle. Lukrut was just staring with his hands at his sides, gripping his bow absently in his dominant hand. Dyne wasn't making eye contact, he couldn't even look at the dead skeletons around them.
Peter on the other hand was staring through Cipher. Not only was he powerful, but he had necromantic powers. Something that he hadn't thought he would have as an Arch Mage. This made him think, was he really just a mage?
"So..." Peter cleared his throat to break the awkward fear induced silence, "You know Necromancy?"
"A few tricks," Cipher nonchalantly picked at his nails, removing the gunk from beneath them.
"Just a few tricks?" Peter turned his head to the side as he continued to look at him suspiciously. That was a pretty powerful spell from what he could tell. If it was an area effect and worked that quickly, it had to be a higher their than fifth.
They were all thinking of running, though that might not be enough to escape him if he wanted to keep with them. What could he possibly do? They all knew they couldn't fight him.
"Did you have to make them suffer that much?"
"They would have made you all suffer before you died," his eyes flickered to Ninya and then back to the other men in the party. "But if you rather not remember..."
"Get rid of the skeletons, collect the items, Gallifrey." Letting out a sigh, he looked over them. "「Maximize Magic, Greater Data Edit」" He called upon a spell to tamper with their memories. In a sense, he was using them as guinea pigs, being the first actual people to have their minds messed with via magic with this spell. This was originally used to control monsters, or nonessential NPCs, by editing certain aspects of their memories and affiliations.
After he did that, everything was black for them. They collapsed, unconscious.
He walked over and knelt down beside Ninya and the others. Laying them beside one another, and individually hovering his hands over their sleeping faces.
Information flooded into his own mind as he was changing their most recent memories. Altering what they had seen, what they had thought. To them when they wake up, he planned to have it so they'd never remember what he had done to the mercenary group.
This also made him take note that using high powered necrotic spells was a bad idea. One might see him and believe him to be a necromancer, or worse, a member of the undead.
It was very clear to him that this world was similar to the game where most believed the Undead to be Evil. If he were to be forsaken, his name would be spread and his to-be-reputation would be ruined.
He didn't want to hate the living, and he definitely didn't want to be hated by these adventurers.
If anything, he just didn't want to be hated by Ninya. In his eyes she was cute, in a way she was honorable and righteous. Her humble side though, her unassertive personality, lured him to her.
On top of that, her talent gave her the potential for great things and he wanted to see how far he could push that potential. It would mean he could design other powerful beings and his life here would be secure. Or in some way, so would any power and freedoms he would accumulate over time.
Whilst he worked on the Swords of Darkness however, his Head Guardian Sir Gallifrey went on to destroy the skeletal remains and to collect items left by the departed. Using a magic relic, he started using it to teleport these supposed items back to the Citadel for study.
They wanted to know the average quality of weapons here. As the average level for a trained warrior wasn't very high.
A few hours had past and they woke up, rubbing the sides of their heads. Looking around, they found themselves in the middle of a campsite.
Peter ruffled his hair to get some grass out of his blonde dapper hairdo. "What..."
Ninya's eyes traveled over the grasslands. Then over towards her friends, noting Cipher and Gallifrey were still laying down with their eyes closed. "Oh... They're still asleep."
Lukrut sat up and stretched his arms into the air, looking over at them casually. "You're right," he chuckled, "They must've been exhausted."
Peter glanced around the campsite, nothing seemed out of place.
Dyne who was asleep against a tree, open his eyes and took a gander at all the talking people. "We should let them... Nevermind," Dyne laughed a bit seeing Cipher's eyes flutter open.
"Huh, you didn't leave." Cipher's eyes were locked directly on Peter, who just shrugged at him.
"Didn't see the point in it. You'd make a valuable member of our team and you're helping us achieve our dreams from as far as I'm concerned."
Gallifrey slowly stood up from where he had been 'napping' and glanced looked over the adventurers. From what he could see, his Lord's power over them had been a successful test.
Cipher smirked though as he thought the same thing. Now they could go to E-Rantel without any problems, and Ninya wasn't going to run away. Not that she was before, but she definitely wasn't now.
On his own two feet, Cipher walked over and started collecting the campsite. Sir Gallifrey soon joined him and the adventurers helped until everything was packed into Gallifrey's bag.
"Gallifrey, you can head back to the Citadel. Have the construction Golems situate a wall around the parameter." He ordered with a light nod to confirm his own orders were true.
Gallifrey bowed his head, "Yes my Lord!" With that the man clumsily went shuffling off back towards the direction of Carne Village.
Cipher then turned his head to look in the direction of E-Rantel, "Almost there..."