Light novel online for free

Because we are making use of some free resources, the reading page can be opened on another domain or shown as a new tab (you have to allow pop-up if you're not using Chrome). you can find out why here.

Chapter 18

Tip: You can use arrow left, arrow right, A and D keyboard keys to browse between chapters.


please keep reading on n0velBin.COM

"So much for having a month\'s supply," I grumbled and pulled my blade from the boar-sized rat I\'d just skewered, waving the weapon to clear it of the blood and grieving my dwindling supply of Infernal Wash. It was dark, and the dimly lit area around me was littered with rat corpses of varying size.

Either my memories of the reports were wrong, or the Network hadn\'t recorded the whole story. There were only supposed to be Level 1 rodents in this area, but I\'d encountered multiple Level 2 beasts within the tunnels. My sword style could handle numerous enemies in an open space, but it hadn\'t been designed to handle battles in a tunnel no wider than three or four men.

Dark stains had already tarnished the lower parts of my uniform, the blood having sunk in so thoroughly that the wash couldn\'t sear it out. My face twisted as I thought about the germs and diseases these hairless rats had to be carrying. I\'d spent enough of my life nauseous and indisposed, and I wasn\'t planning to do so again.

I unstoppered another bottle of the wash and dripped the content on my skin, cleansing away the splattered blood and giving me further peace of mind. The uniform couldn\'t be helped, but at least the wash kept the damage to a minimum.

Thanks to Pull, I didn\'t have to dig through the corpses to secure the Essence. With a wave of my hand and a bit of concentration, I managed to Pull all of the shards within a few feet at once. My Level 1 Intelligence increased my range slightly... it was easily one of the most convenient Cards I\'d owned in either of my lives.

Even with the Spell, obtaining all of the Essence took several minutes. By the time I was done, my head was aching from overusing the Card. I really needed to get my hands on the Wisdom Foundation to avoid this backlash... And I really wanted to speak with David.

With a sigh, I glanced at the wall behind me. This tunnel had been the third dead end I\'d run into. At least my memory had been mostly accurate, and I\'d smoothly made it to the final fork. Where I\'d been mistaken was the number of tunnels at the leftmost junction. Rather than three, there had been four, and my luck had been shit enough that each one I\'d chosen led to a dead end.

"What a bother," I shuffled my bag so the light from the Ball Spell exposed more of the area in front of me and trekked back the way I came. My cane echoed in the narrow tunnel, the monotonous tapping fading into nothing as I became lost in thought.

Since I\'d returned, there had scarcely been a moment to slow down and think. For the moment, I was at ease in this quiet, rat-infested cave. If the pattern persisted, I wouldn\'t see another rat swarm until halfway down the next tunnel. My hunch was that critters spawned from the darkness at certain intervals, as I couldn\'t find any traces of burrows or hidden passages along the walls.

Now that I had time to consider my circumstances... The changes that were sure to come because of my meddling were starting to worry me. First, now that Crook\'s prescription scheme had been foiled, he wouldn\'t be caught by the guards. It wasn\'t something I felt to be a big deal, and if what he said was true, his backer had put him up to it.

Second, and only slightly more troubling, were the Skull Brothers and their gang of mercenaries. It wasn\'t hard to imagine what would happen if some of their more nefarious targets weren\'t killed, but what about the exemplary ones? I wasn\'t too concerned since it was likely that the original contractors would just hire another group, but I needed to consider the possibilities.

Third, and the most problematic of the current changes... David. There were reports of at least a few dozen Climbers having spoken with him. That was close to forty Origin Cards that wouldn\'t get that boost. How would this change affect the clearing of the upper Floors in the future?

That wasn\'t all. My Memory Enhancement might not be helping with recollections of my previous life, but I could almost swear that there were only supposed to be a handful of rats in this cavern. Coupled with there being Level 2 rodents as well... There was no way I didn\'t remember that correctly. The revelation of the Secret Achievements had been a massive deal.

My pace slowed and my pondering ceased as I crept closer to what should be the halfway mark of the final tunnel. A light click echoed from the walls as I slid the sword from its sheath. I checked the ties on my pack, making sure the Ball was firmly in place, before turning and treading slowly backwards.

One... Two... Three...


Right on cue, the rats started scampering out of the shadows where I\'d been moments before, just beyond the reach of my Spell\'s area. The first time I\'d been swarmed, it had come as a surprise and resulted in a few nasty wounds. After experiencing the same ambush twice more, however, I was ready.

Desperate to snuff out the light encroaching on their domain, the first pair of rodents leapt forward, soaring toward the glowing orb on my back. I bashed the closest back with my sheath while skewering the second using Pierce. The Ability left behind a glowing wisp as it penetrated the back of the beast\'s throat.

Before the effects of Pierce could wear down, I Dashed forward, using the sudden momentum to impale two more rats that leapt behind the first. The skewer of rodents acted as a wall while the acceleration of Dash pushed me forward, stopping the momentum of the incoming mob. My style may not have been ideal in such a cramped setting, but the swarm of beasts crawling over one another wasn\'t faring any better.

As Dash reached its limit, I kicked off the ground and forced the skill to send me back, leaving the three-rat kabob as a barrier between myself and the horde. The trap had been set, and it was time to reap the rewards. I used Rend, coating my blade with a dim red light and lashing out at the first rodent that dared to scale the barricade.

With the split second that bought me, I dismissed the light on my back and cast Ball again, tossing the Spell onto one of the corpses. Chaos ensued. The beasts attempted to clamber over the remains of the fallen to get at the Spell, leaving me free to attack.

The edge of my sword Rended their flesh and Pierced their skulls with little resistance as they died on the backs of their brethren. The light would vanish from time to time, only to appear in another location. With every flash, another of the rodents would squeal and collapse, and soon enough, it was over.

It was a night and day difference from my first battle with the creatures, and I found it a shame that I\'d only come up with this method now that I was on the right path. A pile of at least thirty bloody corpses lay strewn across the tunnel. Who said you can\'t teach an old hound new tricks?

I breathed deeply, soaking in the adrenaline as the last began to fade away. Climbing the mountain, diving into deep waters, exploring the unknown... it had been many years since I\'d felt such a rush. It left me wanting more.

With a few casts of Pull, I added another 50 Essence to my growing pool of wealth and turned to finish my task. According to my timepiece, it had been close to seventeen hours since I\'d entered this place. The hike out would take another three hours, meaning I\'d make it out around noon. The sooner I returned to the town, the sooner I could begin my preparations for the final task.

After a quarter-hour of walking, I reached the end of the tunnel. This time, no herd of hairless rodents appeared to assail me, but neither did the expected Card appear after nearly five minutes of waiting.

"Wait... Travel to the darkest point of the Floor..." I cancelled my Spell, drowning my surroundings in darkness. Ten seconds later, I had my answer. A brilliant light shined from the furthest wall of the cave, blinding me as I reached out to grab hold of my prize. With bated breath, I summoned the glowing Ball and tapped my Demon Glass to the surface of the new Card.

[Card Name: Illumination]

[Class: Spell]

[Rank: Blessed]

[Level: 1]

[Essence: 0/1000]

[Foundation: Intelligence, Will]

[Effect: Can be cast on any non-living object. Causes the target to glow, lighting a 10-yard area for 5 minutes. Reveals any person, creature, or entity in the area using a concealment skill. No cooldown, but Wielder can only have one active at a time. Intelligence influences the range of radiance. Caster\'s Will must be higher than the Will of any concealed entities to reveal their presence, or the Level of Illumination must outrank the Level of their concealment]

"Oh? This is the higher Rank variant of the Shine Spell I had in my previous Deck. Having it would have made this trip much more tolerable," I read over the information again before deciding to equip it. This was a Spell that I would permanently want in my repertoire.

I closed my eyes and focused on the new Card I had placed in my Deck Box. A sense of warmth washed over my being when I made the connection, and I could feel the Spell becoming part of me. With a thought, I cast the new Spell, targeting the watch on my wrist.

"Bloody hell!"

The light that filled the tunnel wasn\'t as bright as the sun, but after spending almost a full day in this darkness, it might as well have been. I blinked my eyes rapidly while chuckling at my mistake... I should have known better.

When my sight adjusted, I was pleasantly surprised to find the tunnel lit clearly for at least 11 yards, the 10% increase from my Intelligence Foundation showing its worth. Unlike the Ball Spell, where Illumination\'s range ended, there was no overflow. The light just stopped, and darkness took over.

"Ahh... Might as well get that over with..." I reached down to the leatherbound Deck Box on my side, flipped the top, and thumbed through the Cards until I found the Ball Spell. With a deep breath, I concentrated on the Card while removing it, this time willing away the attachment I felt.


The thread connecting me to the Spell snapped, and the ache that arose in my mind and body left me feeling cold. I sat on the ground and leaned gently against my pack. It would take about twenty minutes for the pain to fade, but I was safe enough here.

I smiled through the pain, "Just one final task."

"This must be the place..."

A small group of young men and women rounded a long cliff face and found themselves standing before what could only be called a mountain paradise. A waterfall spilt from a ridge, colliding with a small pond and showering the sandy valley with a beautiful rainbow mist. Hanging moss and white flowers grew from the mountain walls and some of the more enormous boulders in the clearing.

Around thirty of their peers were already in the area, diving into the watering hole and lounging about on the sand and boulders. Though on the surface, it may have looked like the young adults were on vacation, there was an ocean of tension in the air. Several small groups stayed to themselves while a few individuals argued about who would take the next dive. Of course, some were carefree, just lazing about, patiently awaiting their turn.

At the head of the new arrivals stood a young man with shoulder-length brown hair and a wild look in his eyes. He grinned boyishly as he looked out over the scene, even taking a running step toward the small lake before a hand pulled him back.

"Alden, mate, you can\'t go running off like that. We only followed you here because you grabbed the last of the leaflets!" The speaker was a tall and thin man with glasses and had been friends with Alden for years. There weren\'t many who dared to speak with a member of the Windawn Family in such a way.

"Oi! Don\'t get yer knickers in a twist, George," Alden complained. "I was just going to have a bit o\' fun! Look at those falls. Just imagine diving off of \'em!"

Alden calmed down and pulled out the pamphlet he carried in his pouch, finding a flat rock about waist height to unfold it. He smoothed out the paper and pointed between the map and the instructions.

"See here, chaps," he waved them over to look. "It\'s the same as the big tree. We just swim to the bottom o\' that lake and venture into the depths of that cave behind it, and boom! Done! For those who don\'t have Shine or something similar in your Decks, my pops sent me with one o\' our old Relics."

He reached into his bag and pulled out an odd-looking lantern, but instead of a wick in the centre, it had a pedestal with purple markings extending out from it. Placing it on top of the pamphlet, he pulled out a large shard of Essence and arranged it in the centre before closing the lid. Once sealed, a bright purple glow radiated from the lamp, clearly visible even in the daylight.

"I don\'t mind sharing this with you blokes, but not until we have a map of the innards. Ya got that?" he glanced around to ensure the others understood. "It shouldn\'t be too dangerous. The report here says we\'ll only see some Level 1 Albino Rodents."

The youths standing behind him nodded, and he rolled up the pamphlet and slipped the Relic into his back, "For now, let\'s go for a dip!"

Nathaniel leaned against a boulder not far from where the leading group had been talking. He hadn\'t purposely followed them, but the company arrived at the top of the mountain around the same time as him, so he had to wait patiently for his turn. They waited until he\'d finished his climb before descending the slope, so he tagged along, hanging back a short ways behind the group.

This Alden Windawn was someone he\'d heard about. From what Nathaniel knew, the younger man wasn\'t malicious like most of the younger Descendants, but he was reckless. With a sigh, he shook his head and strolled toward the lake.

His mind wasn\'t present, as he was still mulling over the final task that had been presented. Alden was to be part of that group, yet he didn\'t seem at all put out by the news. Killing a dozen defenceless people before ascending? Sure, they were already slated for death, but it didn\'t feel right.

"Haah," Nathanial breathed out and shook the thoughts away. These were hardened criminals, and if being their executioner would further his goals, so be it.


Nathaniel looked up from his musing to see that Alden had made his way back. He held out the Relic with an expectant look and spoke in a low voice, "Would you lead a small group to map out one section of the cavern? George already has the Luminosity Spell, so it would be better for all of us if we split up. We are on a bit of a schedule, after all."

"Hmm..." Nathaniel considered this. Alden was the last person he would have expected to think this far ahead, given his reputation. Working with other Descendants was something he didn\'t care to do, but primarily because of their arrogant attitudes. It seemed Alden was different. "I suppose..."

"Hey! Someone\'s coming out!"

He was interrupted by a sudden shout near the cave entrance. The pair looked up to find a single figure walking out of the cave. It was a young man with long black hair wearing the robes of the Academy. His uniform was scarcely tarnished, with only a few bloodstains around his boots. A cane could be seen tapping gently against the stone as he walked.

"Rowan..?" Nathaniel raised an eyebrow and started toward the man, but not before a small crowd had gathered around him. Once might have been a coincidence, but twice? He had to admit that he was curious.

When I\'d reached the first fork of the cavern, my Tracking Enhancement picked up on a few pairs of very dull, blue footprints heading in different directions. If it weren\'t for Illumination having worn off, I likely wouldn\'t have seen them. This meant that either they\'d passed quite a few minutes ago or were already in possession of a Will Card, and I\'d only just missed them.

"It seems the Families have arrived," I sighed and shifted my pack slightly, ensuring my belongings were tightly secured. There was no way to know how they\'d react. It was likely that most would think I was one of them... but there were always exceptions.

The tapping of my cane echoed as I strolled casually toward the light, the sounds coming from the end of the tunnel a cacophony of inconsistency. There were sounds of laughter and yelling, and someone with a horrendous voice was singing in the background.

I\'d dealt with occasional Descendants from the lower Families in my time as an advisor, but I\'d never witnessed a scene like that in the valley. When I stepped from the mouth of the cave, I was greeted by a peculiar sight.

There were young men and women of all shapes and sizes prowling around the lake. More hair colours than I\'d seen in both of my lives combined were laid bare before me. Reds and blues and purples and... white?

A flash of white passed by me, and I felt a sharp pain on the back of my neck. I whipped my head back to the tunnel, but no one was there. Strange. I turned around to face the valley... and found a young girl standing before me.

I recognized the telltale signs of the Vladimir Family the second I saw her. She had long white hair and deep red eyes... eyes that were staring into mine with burning curiosity. Her skin was fair, and her head barely reached my chest. And on the corner of her bright red lips was... blood?

My hand shot to the back of my neck and came back wet and red. Had this girl really just-

"I don\'t recognize you," the girl said confidently, her words sounding more like they were sung than spoken. She didn\'t say anything else and only stared at me with those eyes, waiting for me to answer. I felt drawn to respond, to tell her who I was and why I was there. I opened my mouth to speak...

Ah. Some type of Charm Spell. The moment I realized it, the connection was broken, and I was free to move. With haste, I stepped around the girl... only to find a crowd of more than thirty young men blocking my path. When the hell had this happened?

"How dare you ignore Miss Kasimira like that!" one of the men shouted, glaring hatefully.

I glanced back at the young lass who just stood there, eyeing me with a smug smile. Ahh hell, what had I been dragged into? She didn\'t say a word, but three of the men stepped forward threateningly while I was trying to assess the situation.

One of them grabbed my shoulder, and I acted on reflex. There was a quiet click and a yelp as my sword left its sheath, and the point found itself on the lad\'s neck, the tip barely touching his skin. Another two blades were pressed against my own.

Bloody hell. This was not what I wanted. Whatever the girl had done to me, my mind was off. I\'d acted on instinct rather than reason.

"Hey! What\'s going on here?!" a commanding voice called from somewhere to my left, but I couldn\'t turn and look. Blood was already trickling slowly down the side of my neck, warning off any sudden movements.

"Vladimir," the voice said cooly, and this time, I recognized it as Nathaniel\'s. "Let him go."

"Oh, you know him?" the melodic voice asked, obviously in no hurry to resolve the mess she\'d started.

"Mm," I heard Nathaniel grunt. "Rowan\'s a friend of mine from one of the lower Families."

My features didn\'t change, but inside I was stunned. Why would Nathaniel say that? We both knew that it wasn\'t true. Well, if it got me out of this mess, I\'d have to thank the lad later.

There was a movement to my side, and one of the blades was pulled away. The girl, Kasimira, stepped in front of me and giggled, "So your name is Rowan, is it?"

"That\'s right, Miss Vladimir," I pronounced, shifting slightly to look down at the girl. She was toying with me... "Now, what\'s a pretty young miss such as yourself doing causing this kind of trouble?"

She smiled and reached out. I felt a cold hand touch the base of my neck, and the other blade pulled away. The girl pulled me down to face her, and the singsongy voice whispered softly in my ear, "Let\'s play again sometime when it\'s not so crowded. And don\'t fret, I\'m not as youthful as I appear, either."

She pulled her hand away and licked the blood that had trickled down her fingers. After tossing me a playful smile, she took a single step back and vanished. There was a change in the air, and I quickly withdrew my sword and sheathed it as every young man in the vicinity began to blink rapidly. My mind was reeling with what the girl had said, but I didn\'t have time to think.

Nathaniel walked over, shaking his head. By the time he reached me, the small crowd had dispersed like nothing had happened, "Why is it that every time I run into you outside of the Academy, you have a blade pointed in your direction?"

"That\'s a good question. It seems I always manage to find myself in a spot of trouble," I chuckled and rubbed my neck gently, casting Heal and closing the tiny wounds in one shot. "You didn\'t have to step in like that. Please accept my gratitude, lad."

Nathaniel raised an eyebrow, "You tell me why you talk like that, and we\'ll call it even."

"Hmm?" I looked at him curiously and then realized what I\'d said. Had I been doing that this entire time? I patted him on the shoulder, "Maybe I\'ll tell you one day. Now, what in Tara\'s name was that magic?"

"Vampiric magic, I guess," Nathaniel shook his head, seemingly okay with my avoiding his request. "Her Family is known for it, but I\'ve never seen anything like that. What are you doing out here?"

I shrugged and inclined my head to the cave while walking away, "Just remember that left is always right, and you\'ll be out of there in no time."

No one so much as gave me a second look as I left the valley, that encounter fresh on my mind. I\'m not as youthful as I appear, either... I wasn\'t sure how much she knew, but I felt that a whole new set of problems were made with that encounter.

"It seems I\'ll never catch a break..."

This chapter upload first at

So sad that you don't have an account. We save all your progress across device and show it on homepage. SIGN UP and try it. Or LOGIN.

Tip: You can use arrow left, arrow right, A and D keyboard keys to browse between chapters.