World of Karik: A Game of Villains Chapter 33: FINAL ARRANGEMENTS


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We returned just in time for dinner — today was Vlada's turn to cook. I never noticed her culinary skills before; it was a surprise that she decided to make dinner for everyone. However, it was probably on Petrovich's order.

We all ate in silence. Our settlement had been divided into factions but we were still forced to continue living together, so there was some tension. It was as if members of once a big and friendly family suddenly stopped talking to each other. Although, we couldn't have really been called friendly even before.

"How are you, Cat?" Petrovich asked complacently. "Ready for tomorrow's fight?" He laughed, looking at all of us.

"I'm always ready," I said cheerfully, eating the rich soup. At least Vlada turned out to be a good cook. I could thank her for that.

"Ready to lose?" Seriously, Dasha, must you always try to provoke me? Didn't she understand that she only laid herself open to ridicule?

"I could ask you the same," I replied calmly. Let her be angry. "Thank you, by the way, for the skillbook, I'll definitely use it for the glory of Light."

Dasha's face darkened, but she said nothing. Petrovich was watching our exchange with obvious interest, probably waiting to see where it'll go. But I wasn't going to indulge him.

"The tournament will begin at six p.m.," the lancer announced in a slightly bored tone when he realized that there would be no more exchange between us. "So the slowpokes still have a chance to get ready."

I said nothing, showing that I had nothing to do with being slow and, having finished the soup, went to my cave. Tomorrow, my paladins would prove their strength and importance. Was I nervous? I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't. But there was no reason to panic. We were going to use the next day to the maximum. Lena and Cyril would level-up even more and face their enemies head-on. The only Chaosite, Yegor, with whom my paladins were to fight tomorrow, had not posed any danger so far. But the minions of Darkness — there were more of them, and Dasha's surprises, given her attitude at dinner, were anything but over. However, if Lena and Cyril do their best and don't forget about each other, they'll be able to handle anything.

With these thoughts in my mind, I fell asleep, and woke up at dawn. Lena and Cyril were waiting for me outside, awkwardly shifting from foot to foot.

"Are you ready?" I asked, nodding instead of greeting them.

"I don't know," Lena answered quietly.

"Of course, we're ready," Cyril smiled and hugged the girl. "Lena just feels like that this morning."

"You must always be sure of yourself," I said sternly. "Morning, afternoon, evening, night. Winter and summer. Hot and cold. This is the only way you can freely know the way of Light. Power is what will allow you to reach true Light."

The Testament of Light

You told your followers the third maxima of the dogma of Light.

You will receive 10 Deception points per day.

Pretentious speeches were slowly becoming a habit. I probably would've made a notable politician.

"I know, Cat," Lena finally looked up. "It's just... I'm worried... Is that okay? I'm not afraid of Yegor; we can easily deal with him. But the Darks... There are more of them, they're strong and…"

"That's enough," I stopped her abruptly. "Don't think about what can happen in case of failure. Think about how to prevent it."

Hell, I should write this shit down. I turned around and walked confidently in the direction of the cave. We had some time until the tournament — Dmitri still needed to strengthen their armor, and for that he'd need at least three hours. So, the most obvious thing to do was to let my guys train on their own, while I farm alchemical ingredients. If they can get Elenite, I would handle the Pieces of Black Rock.

"Well," I began when we came to the entrance of the cave. "Today is an important day, so I'll leave you alone."

"We'll be fine," answered Cyril. Lena nodded after a short pause.

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"Cheer up," I said, trying to encourage her. "We can't lose, because our path is that of Light. While others are wandering in the Dark, we can see the solution to any problem. Including the one that stands before us tonight."

I didn't notice when I got carried away.

"You're standing at a crossroad," I started, "wondering where to go. Do you take the path that's well lit? Or the one that's in the dark?"

"The well-lit one, of course," Lera declared.

"Exactly," I nodded, knowing that all that I was doing was digging my own grave deeper. "But even though you haven't chosen the dark road, you can still see it. And you know that you shouldn't go there. Had you been standing at the crossroad in complete darkness, you would've seen only the well-lit path. It would've been the right way, but also the only one. You wouldn't have had a choice. The light that surrounds you and that you carry within you allows you to see all the paths. And to choose not blindly, but consciously."

The Testament of Light

You told your followers the fourth maxima of the dogma of Light

You will receive 10 Deception points per day.

Your followers can now improve their skills.

I was wondering how I would get out of the hole that I've dug myself into with these long speeches, when I suddenly happened upon another treasure. Not to mention that my paladins got the opportunity to improve their skills.

The gray stone of the cave lit up with a sudden flash. A plate, with glowing letters on it, materialized in the air in front of our astonished faces. The letters soon formed into familiar words, the words into sentences, and the sign read as follows.

The mind makes you suffer.

Getting over pain makes you stronger.

Power allows you to reach the true Light.

All ways are visible in the Light.

"Wow," Cyril gasped.

"I see it now," Lena perked up, the dark shadow disappearing from her face. "We won't lose. Come on, Cyril!"

She quickly ducked into the cave, dragging the guy with her, and I remained standing rooted to the spot, trying to understand what just happened.

"Hey!" I called after them, waking from a sudden stupor. "Come back!"

Lena's surprised face appeared from the cave immediately.

"What happened?" she asked anxiously.

"You shouldn't blindly rush into battle when you can improve your skills beforehand," I said in a deliberately casual tone.

"Can we improve our skills?" Cyril asked curiously, coming out of the cave, too.

I nodded, reading the message that appeared before my eyes.

You can enhance your followers' skill, Lay on Hands.

Turns 1 HP into 3 HP. Impossible to use on yourself.

Duration: 1 second

Cooldown: none

Distance: 2 inches

Activate the boost? Yes / No?

Price: 60 Deception points

I had no doubt that this would be worth it even if it would cost me almost all of the points that I had accumulated over the past three days. I confirmed my choice. The difference was only one point, but even that could save one, or both of their lives in a critical situation.

"Thank you, teacher!" Cyril saluted me with one of his daggers and smiled.

"Don't forget to go back to level five and don't you dare die," I reminded them just to be on the safe side and let them go train. "And keep an eye on the clock; start farming at noon, even if you don't get max endurance, by four p.m. you have to be back at camp and be at least level ten."

"Got it," Cyril nodded and looked at his battered plastic watch. He was one of the few in our settlement who possessed such a thing. The rest, as most people did, used to keep track of time on mobile phones, which were absolutely useless here.

They disappeared in the cave once again. I followed soon, not hesitant to let them go on their own. Somewhere in there was a Piece of Black Rock that I really needed. Elenite could wait; finding and mining it was not so difficult.

After ten or fifteen minutes of searching, I finally came across the granite, battle ready caricature of a man. Fighting alone, I couldn't really stand on the sidelines, but fighting it didn't prove too difficult. I was forced to run, so the fight took a bit longer than usual. After a while, I ended up owning another Black Rock. It took me almost an hour to track down another golem — these monsters turned out to be quite rare. And another hour to find the third.

Little, way too little, I repeated to myself. I needed eight more for my plan to be successful. Helmet, armor, gloves, bracers, greaves — five amplifiers for each piece of armor. Given how often I came across these creatures, I was at great risk of not fulfilling the deadline set by myself. So, it was necessary to adapt to the situation and make best use of what I had. While I was wandering through the confusing corridors in search of the damn things, I slaughtered a bunch of snakes and Mud Slugs that I saw for the first time. No loot fell out of the latter at first, so I began to consider them useless opponents. However, the tenth or eleventh Slug surprised me in a very pleasant way.

From shapeless thick puddles left of the killed creatures, I got a dim, dark brown mineral that threatened to fall apart, but managed to keep its shape. Well, it's something.

Piece of Brown Rock, Alchemical Ingredient

Weak amplifier used by alchemists in a time of need. Possibility of successful enchantment is no more than 80%, so keep as much of it as possible in stock.

In a time of need, huh? Sounds about right. When the time had come to return to Dmitri, I already had seven Black Rocks and a heap of shapeless samples of Brown Rock. Fortunately, the size of my inventory allowed me to carry all of this without any problems. I just hoped that no one would ask too many questions if they saw me dumping it all on the ground.

I replenished my stocks of Elenite on my way back and made sure that the guys managed their task of returning the level five without losses, and then hurried back to the camp. I had an urgent order to place.

"Man, you're cool!" Dmitri wiped the sweat from his forehead, examining the stuff that was neatly laid out in his supply room. "Are you hiding something from me?"

Did he think I'd share my secret about how I was able to carry all of that on my own? How naive. To be honest, I wanted to say that I carried it all from my cave, but then I thought that showing him my secret would secure our alliance. It'd be a sign of trust — trust, not stupidity.

"We'll joke later," I said, and he nodded in response. Good, so he got my hint. "We're running out of time, I left the guys to level-up, and we need to prepare some items for them.''

"Yeah, having cool gear is the key to victory," the redhead waved the hammer clutched in his hand. "I'm sure no one will expect that."

He looked at the neatly arranged minerals and laughed.

Making sure that there was nobody near us, he beckoned me to come with him.

Intrigued, I followed him into an inconspicuous little room, hidden from prying eyes. And when he removed a dirty rag off a shining piece of armor, I realized that he wasn't joking — our rivals were in for a really nasty surprise. And not just because of the enchantments.

Each piece of armor was forged with obvious love and diligence — Dmitri's creations were modest, but they were real masterpieces. The metal was polished to a mirror shine, all the armor plates were tightly fitted, and the helmets were decorated with fluffy plumes of deep blue color. In my opinion, it was all a bit pompous, but he worked so hard, and I had no heart to complain. Besides, I didn't want to offend him. apparently, the silver-blue combo was to become our official palette.

"What do you think?" asked the blacksmith quietly.

"Well done," I said.

"Now we have to enhance them using minerals," he continued, "Lena and Cyril will be armed from head to toe. I've been experimenting a little bit with what I had... I now know how to use catalysts and amplifiers."

"We have a little less than an hour before they return," I said. "Will that be enough?"

"Sure!" Dmitri nodded confidently.

"Enough for what?" A familiar female voice made us both jump.

I turned around, hoping that I was wrong. Alas, Vlada stood smiling in the doorway.

"I think Petrovich will be interested in what you're doing here," she said.

"Vlada, you know that you can't enter without my permission," Dmitri said, turning pale.

"Sorry," she said sarcastically. "I couldn't resist the temptation. So, what are you doing here behind everyone's backs?"

I tried to keep a straight face, but I was boiling with anger. This wasn't the first time that I was blamed for putting my interests above everyone else's. And I was always being blamed by the people who didn't give a damn about the interests of others. And my God, were they successful. What now? Should I send her away? She won't leave, and I can't use force. Should we continue while a representative of a hostile fraction is watching? I've been given a clear hint of where this is going.

I wasn't going to reveal all of my cards so early. So, she's here to keep us from enchanting? Seems that Petrovich finally decided to make his move.

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