Home > City of the Dead (The Alchemist Book #1) : LitRPG Series

City of the Dead (The Alchemist Book #1) : LitRPG Series
Author: Vasily Mahanenko




THE BLIZZARD BROUGHT with it driving winds, but Farmer-883-PR8 wasn’t giving up. He pushed on relentlessly toward the temple. With one hand held out to shield his face, in his other he held the dearest of burdens: a rosy-cheeked little boy sleeping peacefully despite the cold, gusting air. The father wasn’t worried about his son’s health—he was under the protection of the god. No snow, wind, or even stray arrows or spells could have hurt the child until it was initiated. The few passersby turned and stared, surprised to see the naked man carrying an equally naked child. It was only the snow-white underwear created by the god that covered their shame.


“Where are you going?” The guard statue at the main gate came to life and held out a threatening hand. A blue light enveloped its fingers as it prepared for combat.


“I want to ac-c-ctivate my so-o-on.” Unlike the child, Eight, which was what everyone called the man, felt the snow, wind, and cold, sharp rocks under his bare feet all too keenly. Already down to ten units, his shield level was slipping lower with each passing minute. He had to make it in time.


“Access confirmed. Welcome.” The glow left the guard’s fingers as it stepped to the side and turned back into a lifeless statue. Unwilling to leave the job to humans, the god always protected its temples.


The man walked stiffly inside. It was his fourth time there. The first had been when he was little, when they’d brought him in for activation. Since his parents had been poor, they hadn’t been able to afford a bonus to get their third son a good roll, though to be fair, they wouldn’t have gone for it even if they’d had the money. All they owned had gone toward their oldest, though he’d died a year before Eight had been born. His roll had been unlucky—less than twenty. That wasn’t even good enough to pick out a name, so they’d had to go with the randomly generated one. A good half the people in the small town of Culmart had similarly random names.


The other three times he’d been there had been with his wife to bring their elder children. Three times, they’d bought a +5 for the roll. The eldest had rolled a 13 and become a hunter. Ten years later, he was killed tracking boar in a local forest. Both daughters had rolled a 45, giving them a great shot at solid attributes, only there had been a raid. It was unexpected—there had been no way of knowing it was coming. Ringold’s green lixes had swept in to grab all the initiated girls. And by the time the baron’s forces had burst into the town, it had been too late. The whole thing was over. The lixes had disappeared into a portal, their captives disappearing along with them. Eight’s wife was beside herself. Her grief wasn’t for long, however, as she found herself pregnant once again that very same evening. But the god turned its back on her that time—even with her chances of dying during childbirth just 2%, she got incredibly unlucky.


Left alone with his son, Eight got to work. He took any job he could find no matter how much it paid and even if it meant leaving the child alone for weeks. That was fine—the god’s servants took care of children. And after living as ascetically as possible, Eight had come up with an unheard-of amount: a hundred and two gold. Of course, he had to sell his house, not to mention the clothes off his back, to pick up even that little bit extra. But there he was in front of the altar, resolute in his determination to do everything he could for his son.


“Farmer-883-PR8, welcome to the temple. What brings you here?” the god asked lifelessly. Eight shivered. The voice, bereft of emotion, raised the hackles on his neck, giving him the urge to fall down on his face before the god’s majesty. But he couldn’t do that without losing the blessing. There was something else he was there to do.


“My son’s initiation.” Eight held out the year-old boy. Lithe silver snakes appeared, wrapped themselves around the child, and pulled it toward the shimmering film by the wall. The locals called it the eye of the god.


“Your initiation request has been approved. Would you like to modify the initial data?”


“Yes,” Eight replied decisively. “I’m giving all my coins for the bonus as well as…”


The man faltered. Saying the words turned out more difficult than he’d been expecting. Back home, as he’d practiced his short speech, it had been easy to get out. But there, in front of the god, Eight stopped short. Who was he to ask something like that?


“One hundred and two gold were deducted from your account. The current bonus is +10. Would you like to modify the initial data?”


“I give my life for my son!” Eight blurted out, finally gathering the courage. His body shook. That time, it wasn’t from cold; it was the fear. He’d just doomed himself to certain death.


“Offer received, currently processing. Note! Confirmation needed. By sacrificing yourself for your uninitiated child, you don’t just give him additional bonus points. You also spawn a monster whose main goal in life is to kill the child.”


Eight hadn’t heard about that. Actually, it hadn’t been that long before that he’d found out it was even possible to sacrifice his own worthless life. Busy cleaning some animals, he’d overheard a conversation between two traders who’d somehow found themselves in his neck of the woods. One of them had been boasting about buying his son two victims, having paid their families large sums. The move had significantly boosted his son’s initial chances. Eight liked the idea. And while he couldn’t afford any slaves, what he was able to give for his son was his own life, doing everything he could to make sure his son’s was anything but the one he’d been cursed with. Death was worth the reward. Of course, he hadn’t known about the monster, but that wasn’t bad enough news to give him pause. If it took creating a monster, so be it. He had confidence that his son would be equal to the task.


“I confirm it!” he said as he hit the green square in front of him. When the god demanded confirmation, mere words didn’t cut it. Action was required.


“The life of Farmer-883-PR8 is valued at +22 to the bonus. Current bonus: +32. Initial settings accepted, the monster was generated. Rolling now. Farmer-883-GGN43 rolled a 71. Applying bonuses. Note! Farmer-883-GGH43 was renamed Tailyn Vlashich. Note! Tailyn Vlashich rolled better than 100. Mana initiating. Village elder informed. Tailyn is released from paying taxes until sixteen years of age. Between sixteen and twenty-one, the tax will be one crystal a year. Beginning at twenty-one, the tax will be adjusted to account for his achievements. Tailyn Vlashich’s activation is complete.”


But Eight heard none of that. His body had crumbled to the ground, a black dust that seeped away, after he’d done everything he could for his son. At the same time, somewhere deep in the Black Mountain, a black lix opened his eyes. His mother gone, the child was alone. If he was strong, he would survive. If not… His dozen brothers and sisters also needed food. Before she’d left the cave, his mother had glanced over at her youngest child and grinned. She knew which of her children would be leaving the cave they’d been born in. The newborn had a mana bar below his life meter, the first of the black lixes to have one.

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