Home > City of the Dead (The Alchemist Book #1) : LitRPG Series(4)

City of the Dead (The Alchemist Book #1) : LitRPG Series(4)
Author: Vasily Mahanenko

 

The area where the thorn bushes were growing looked firm enough, only looked was the key word. Before he’d taken two steps, Tailyn felt the stone give way beneath his feet. The fear kept him running, unable to swing his arms, but there was nothing left in front of him. It was empty space. Tailyn was hurtling downward, not even noticing the whip’s last futile attempt to grasp hold of him.

 

Darkness and uncertainty came up to meet him.

 

Hitting the ground practically did Tailyn in. His head spun, and he saw stars, but his shield held up. Landing on an earthen mound, he tumbled down the incline. And with his crazed mind still pushing him to run, he leaped to his feet as soon as he stopped rolling, picked up speed, and hurtled downward without paying any attention to where he was going. There was barely time to watch where his feet were landing. All he could think about was putting distance between himself and the scary person who had killed Dorn.

 

It was the fear that saved Tailyn’s life. He wasn’t watching where he was going and didn’t even notice that he was running like a crazed stallion—all he did was push on ahead. The earthen mound ended. His feet found their own way, jumping from rock to rock. The light barely filtering in through the hole was enough for his subconscious to just make out the boulders. But he had to slow down, one final leap taking him over to a rough stone wall. Noticing a slight glow, the boy ducked into a recess and stopped still. His body shook, and he wanted to gulp down air, but the fear had taken him from flight to freeze. And while his head spun from the lack of oxygen, the boy held on, trying to breathe as infrequently as he possibly could. The stranger’s shadow blocked out the sun. Tailyn stopped breathing entirely—it was time to play dead.

 

The crystal fence carefully made his way over to the crack. It was an unlucky break, exactly the reason he hated the old cities. There were tunnels and gaps everywhere, all formed as the buildings left behind by the ancients millennia before had crumbled and decayed. Everything that could rot had rotten, metal included. All that was left was the stone and some unusual structures the ancients had made by mixing stone and metal—stone blocks had somehow been fitted right around iron cables. In a word, all that was left of the ancients were the rare items given them by the god that had managed to survive the thousands of years since.

 

The man listened intently. Nothing. Looping a rope around some nearby rocks, he carefully made his way over to the very edge. It was a deep fall, at least five stories. Presumably, the boy’s body had shattered on impact. It wasn’t visible, but that was probably because it had rolled off down somewhere among the rocks. Still, there was a reason the crystal fence was still alive and kicking—if there was any doubt, he had to see for himself. There was no way he could leave behind any witnesses.

 

Tugging on the rope to make sure it was knotted tightly, the man tossed the other end into the gap, eased himself over the edge, and started down. He had to find the boy.

 

Tailyn watched the assassin as he descended, the boy somewhere between living and dead. He’d done everything he could—run, hide, almost die. But it hadn’t been enough. The dangerous enemy was coming for him. Coming ever closer. Coming to end the life of the nobody who sponged off everyone else, which was how Master Isor put it. Tailyn shoved himself deeper into the niche he’d found, finally stopping to make sure the strange glow was completely covered. Presumably, he was sitting on some mushrooms. He needed to get rid of them, as they were going to tell the assassin exactly where he was, and so Tailyn twisted slightly. But he froze just before his foot kicked at the treacherous glow.

 

There were no mushrooms.

 

Instead, three strangely shining items were lying on the ground—gifts from the god. One looked like the same kind of bag Mistress Valanil had, only with more compartments and pockets. The second was a bent metal device fitted with a button. Tailyn had never seen anything like it before, the same true of the third item. It was a square with something you pushed. His hands were reaching out on their own when a message popped up:

 

You found the place where Lavr Nalin, a level 23 human, died.

 

Virtual inventory with 36 slots received.

 

KORT-II ray pistol received.

 

Last Statement recording received.

 

Everything inside Tailyn went cold—it was an ancient. The spot was presumably the grave of one of them, and the little idiot had just disturbed it. A thousand calamities were going to come crashing down on him, the god was going to turn its gaze away, and… To be fair, the god had already turned its gaze away. What could have been worse than the assassin making its way down the rope? The stranger had just gotten to the earthen mound and was looking around to find the boy’s tracks. Tailyn swallowed and pinned a hand against his stomach as he felt the spasms beginning. But suddenly, the god decided to begin talking with him.

 

Would you like to integrate your virtual inventory?

 

The usual square buttons appeared in front of the boy, who tapped yes. Something changed. Next to his status table, there was a new picture the god used to open a large field full of cells when he hit it. That was a surprise, and it told the boy that nobody had turned their gaze away from him after all. The god was still there regardless of the fact that he’d found the grave. Apparently, the other kids had been shooting hot air—there was no punishment for finding the ancients.

 

With newfound confidence, Tailyn picked up the L-shaped device. There was only one way to press the button, and when he grabbed the device the way it was supposed to be held, it began modifying right in front of him.

 

KORT-II adapting to new user.

 

Tailyn squeaked in surprise.

 

“Ah, that’s where you are!” the stranger called happily when he noticed the boy. “You’re a hardy little guy.”

 

Tailyn turned and pressed himself deeper into the niche. Fear began to cloud his mind. It wasn’t every day a terrifying assassin wanted to squash you like a bug, and so he cowered, holding his shaking hands up to shield himself.

 

While it wasn’t a great spot to use his whip, the crystal fence didn’t particularly need it. The boy was right there. He was alone, defenseless, holding…

 

“Hey, what’s that?” the man asked in surprise. “Where did you find it?”

 

The boy was definitely clutching something from the world of the ancients. It would go for a good hundred gold in the Zarila market, maybe even more. Heading down had turned out to be the right decision—besides the five crystals, he was going to be picking up a mysterious device. It was the kind of great day he was going to celebrate with a nice bottle of booze.

 

Through the haze of fear, Tailyn saw the stranger getting closer and closer. He cursed the moment he’d decided to head into the ruins looking for flowers, the moment that damn pebble had fallen over the edge of the ridge, the moment he’d slipped into the hole in the ground. All he wanted was to be home listening to Master Isor yell at him.

 

The stranger’s hand reached out, and Tailyn closed his eyes, squeezing himself into a tight little ball. It was the end.

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