The First Lich Lord - C.139


What is that, the third one? I grumbled, seeing an undead troll patrolling up and down the tunnel.

More like the fifth, Raven grumbled. He promised this place was dangerous, but its safe enough for a baby.

The path out of the dungeon to Tehomal actually quite well maintained. Despite Vitos warning, the undead monsters in the area were killing everything that wandered into the space. Seems a little overprotective of you, Maxwell chuckled.

I guess so, I agreed.

The initial tunnel leading from the dungeon spiraled down quickly before it opened into a series of tight tunnels and caverns that wove into a maze. Fortunately, Vito had clearly marked the path. I expected it to be nearly pitch-black, but various plants growing on the floor and ceiling provided ample natural light. The dim light was irrelevant to us.

Early on, we passed the tunnel that led to the altar of creation that Maxwell and my sister had used. It wasnt deep into Tehomal and was guarded by a powerful death knight left there by Vito.

I rode on Shadow. It had a long time since Id taken him out. Maxwell and Raven sat on the back of Snappy. Theyd thought about bringing their horses, but decided against it, worried about Vitos warnings. The giant kurmor, a death biome snapping turtle, would be a tough customer for anything that decided it looked tasty.

It took us half a day to reach Vitos fortress. It was built within a larger than normal cavern. Lichen growing on the ceiling gave it an eerie glow that cast faint flickers off the stream of water winding its way through the floor of the cave. We entered via a tunnel larger than the rest.

The castle was at the far end of the cavern. Though several months had passed, I was still impressed by the amount of work he accomplished. While the wall facing the cavern wasnt high, the fortress itself was built up onto the cavern wall behind.

In the cavern, which was the size of two soccer fields, I spotted various monsters both living and undead. The ceiling was supported in several places by large pillars of stone surrounded by stalactites and stalagmites.

The trail we were following wound its way through the center, where it joined up with the stream. As we approached the fortress, we crossed onto something I recognized. It was the mycelium network the micilium needed to exist. Vito had taken several who were strong enough to survive off the network with him and they had established a new colony.

I bet this is why Jessica could take that race, I said. Creatures inside of a dungeon dont normally count towards things like that.

I had thought it was a little strange that she had access to it because of the dungeon, Maxwell said. I had forgotten Vito had taken some with him and set up a colony.

The fortress wall facing the cavern was low, barely reaching my chest. The gate wasnt a gate, just a gap. Vito stood there waiting for us. How did the fights go? he inquired as I dismounted.

We recapped how each of the two fights went, Vito nodding along. If Abimelech is comfortable being the leader in battlefield situations, you should let her.

Abimelech stood a little back and to my left. I nodded to her to answer Vitos implied question. I am fine with this, Abimelech agreed. However, I would like Othniel to coordinate the magical and ranged fighters. Othniel nodded in agreement. I was certain they had been discussing this amongst themselves.

So, why did you want me to come down? I asked.

I wanted to show you what I created for you to take, though admittedly, I couldve just led them up to you myself, Vito acknowledged. I thought it would be a good way to test the thirteen. Theres a city close by ruled by a blood elf family. His smile was a little unnerving. I know you are needlessly squeamish about killing other intelligent races, but if it puts your mind at ease, I believe this city is where that slaver cult you wiped out in Maltis is from.

Vito gestured for us to follow him into his fortress. The micilium were moving around, working on different construction projects. Tell me about blood elves, I said. I cant say Im super familiar with them. I expected there to be shadow elves or dark elves of some kind down here.

An astute assumption, Vito said. Blood elves are the most despised of all elves, even more so than shadow and dark elves. Blood elves in large groups are found only in Tehomal, as they are hunted down by their kin and other races if seen on the overworld. freeweb

Thats understandable if they were behind the slaver group, I said.

Oh, thats mild compared to what they often do, Vito assured me. They are more similar to the blood nation Saltar, which Olattee destroyed. Though we know its not exactly true anymore, the comparison still stands.

Why do we need to take out the city? I dont want to pick a fight with something we cant beat, no matter how despicable they are, I explained.

There are multiple reasons, Vito said. One is that they have been pestering me, though admittedly I have traded with them some for monsters. It provides experience for troops and materials for new undead.

You want to start a fight so we have zombies? Maxwell asked with a chuckle.

That group was an exception. The entire city cant be like that, I protested.

Vito laughed. Youre right, in a lot of ways most of them are worse. The city and the slaver organization are ruled by a blood elf family. The place is filled with shadow, dark, and blood elves, as well as slaves.

Vito, I dont want to wipe out another city. I stopped, making Vito turn to look at me. We were inside a tunnel cut into the stone walls of the cavern.

We wont. Well just conquer it, Vito explained. Theyre not the only city in their nation, but they are isolated.

Now youre picking a fight with not just the city but with an entire nation? I glared at Vito.

Yes, Vito said flatly. I am securing a stronghold to serve as your refuge. He partly understood my hesitation, but he believed I was being soft. Maybe he was right.

I let out a long sigh. Okay, Vito, Im not going to massacre civilians, but if they resist us, then I guess it is what it is. Vito smiled at my words, his vampiric canines showing prominently.

I trusted Vito. He may not understand my dilemmas, but he respected them nonetheless. Ive reached out to the Order of Equinox as well. Vito gestured for us to continue following. They have expressed interest, at the very least in setting up a presence in your main base of operations.

How did you get a hold of them? Maxwell asked. Are they down in Tehomal?

I do not know that. I dont see why not, Vito said. I was able to get in touch with them because I know a vampire who is a member.

They let vampires be members? Maxwell gave Vito a surprised look. Arent you a little He paused, looking for the word before giving up. Not neutral.

Both Vito and I stopped and looked at Maxwell. Really? I asked.

No, youre different, Maxwell stammered. Vito isnt Im just goanna shut up.

Vito chuckled. It is a fair assumption. The man I know is a soul vampire, to be fair. I knew that the difference between regular vampires like Vito and normal soul vampires was not simple, regular vampires were devolved soul vampires. Vampires can be neutral like soul vampires, but its more challenging.

Maxwell nodded. I might have heard that mentioned before. Sorry for any offense I dealt, none was intended.

Worry not, Vito shrugged. It is a common misunderstanding.

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