Aldrich and his undead moved through the Necropolis floors with utter ease for the first five floors. These floors lay in the multi-story crypt located at the very bottom of the Death Lord's royal tower, and here, only low-level zombies came out to fight them.
The difficulty of these lower levels was in the sheer number of zombies. They came out in small waves at first, but then their numbers increased until it seemed like there was an infinite amount of them.
The point of these floors, Aldrich realized, was to find a dimensional exit gate up to the next floor before the zombies hit a critical mass.
However, no matter how many zombies there were, they were no match for Aldrich.
Dynamite Girl and Fler'Gan wiped out the zombies with utter ease. Fler'Gan, especially as a level 20 boss that retained all his heightened stats, annihilated weak zombies with his powerful fire magic.
During this time, Aldrich obtained more information about the quest to obtain the Death Lord's Obelisk.
He needed to reach the fifteenth floor to obtain the Obelisk.
Aldrich never knew what the Necropolis held in it. In the game, the Necropolis had been destroyed by the goddess of light and life Amara before the player character came to it. And, as the Death Lord stated, Amara had isolated the Death Lord in a pocket dimension that was the twelfth trial quest for the player to defeat.
But so far, Aldrich was not impressed.
The zombies of the first five floors did not exceed level 10. However, on the sixth floor, the crypt fed out into the first proper floor of the Necropolis, and here, the enemies upgraded from zombies into death knights.
Death knights were at the minimum level 15. At max, they could hit level 40, though thankfully, he did not see death knights at this high of a level range.
Again, Aldrich relied on Fler'Gan heavily to abuse undead fire weaknesses, but the fight became increasingly harder and harder until by the tenth floor, Aldrich found himself walking into a room full of level 20 death knights headed by a level 30 vampire crimson knight.
Seeing that, Aldrich used the Sign Stone he received from the Death Lord to exit the Necropolis, manifesting back into the Nexus.
Aldrich had not expected to clear the trial as he was now. He simply used the first attempt he was given maximally to analyze and observe how much stronger he needed to get to reach the 20th floor. He estimated about level 30 to 40.
This made sense. In the game, liches that were not mindless started out at level 30 at the minimum, indicating they too had been around the 30-40 range by the time they were strong enough to obtain an Obelisk.
But Aldrich was just level 11 for now. He needed to get much stronger.
Or he needed to find a strong enough party to join him.
Aldrich's first instinct was to immediately rule out the idea of a party. His power was a secret known only to him. Trying to recruit some top hero to help him would blow his secret wide open. Yet, he felt that it was a massive waste not to use all the resources given to him.
Aldrich mulled this over for later and went up to the System in the Nexus. The System sat at its crafting table, awaiting Aldrich.
"Crafting," said Aldrich.
"Ye got it, lad!" the System.
"Specifically, a Fusion," said Aldrich. He looked through his inventory and selected Fler'Gan's lantern. The [Lantern of Old Flame]. The lantern granted significant fire resistance, enough to completely neutralize Aldrich's weakness to fire. It also granted Aldrich massive bonuses to fire based spells, but he could not learn any.
However, by upgrading the lantern by fusing it with certain materials, it was possible to change the properties of the lantern to better suit Aldrich.
"Fuse the [Eye of Azoth] into the [Lantern of the Old Flame]" said Aldrich.
"Got it!" the System received two orbs, one containing the icon of the purple Eye of Azoth, and another containing the red and orange icon of the lantern. He stacked the orbs atop each other and smashed them together with a strike of its stick figure hand.
[Eye of Azoth] + [Lantern of the Old Flame] = [Lantern of the Accursed Eye]
Unlike crafting weapons and equipment from scratch that functioned off a roll-based system, fusing existing equipment with materials yielded far less variability. For example, if Aldrich obtained say, the skin of a fire salamander, and he wanted to fuse it with his grave reaper's mantle, then he could know with near 100% certainty that he would get bonus fire resistance.
The only downside to this was that items could only be fused up to a limit of three times.
[1x Lantern of the Accursed Eye obtained]
[Stats: +10 Magic
Protection of the Old Flame (Passive) - The wearer receives half damage from all fire type damage.
Eye of the Watcher (Passive) - Any unit revealed or targeted by this item continually attains stacks of a debuff that reduces resistance to curse type damage. The debuffs stack up to ten times, requiring a total exposure time in this light of 30 seconds. This debuff lasts for three seconds after the unit escapes the light of the item, at which point the stacks will rapidly decay. In addition, any unit suffering this debuff is Revealed, preventing them from entering stealth.
Gaze of the Accursed (Active) - The eye within this item fully opens, shooting forth a cone of destructive light that deals a strong burst of disintegrating type damage with a 5% chance to instantly kill.
The higher the affected unit's vitality, the higher their resistance to this instant death effect.
If this skill affects a unit with ten stacks of the Eye of the Watcher passive applied to them, it is guaranteed to instantly kill unless the affected target possesses a minimum of 80 vitality. If they posses more than 80 vitality, they will still be Maimed, losing a body part and taking significant damage.]
"Thanks," said Aldrich as he absorbed the [Lantern of the Accursed Eye] into him and then equipped it for it was far better than the [Staff of Stilling Pollen] he used. In fact, this item was so good that Aldrich was willing to use it all the way up to level 50 using the Rank Upgrade function.
Rank Upgrade allowed the player to upgrade the rank of their equipment by sacrificing five pieces of the same equipment type of a higher rank. This normally was too costly to consider most of the time as it meant losing five higher rank pieces of gear just to bring one piece up.
However, for rare pieces of gear like this lantern which had multiple passives and good skills, it was highly worth it.
[Coin: 520 ] 20]
Aldrich ate the massive coin cost for the Fusion because this lantern was worth it. It covered his fire weakness and made instant death magic massively better. And instant death magic mastery was what he was building towards.
"I have failed you, master, but we are almost there," said Valera. She clenched her fist as she remembered their failure to get to the fifteenth floor. "We must reach the fifteenth floor of that hideous snake's den, is it? All we need are a few more levels."
"Levels, yes. That's a simple solution. We could find more Variants to hunt. Move around to Variant Nests in the Wastelands and clear them," said Aldrich. "Or alternatively we could clear the quest with party members.
The only issue is getting party members that won't ever reveal the secret of my powers and are also strong enough to make it worth recruiting them.
But at that point, why don't I spend the time to just level up and raise stronger undead?"
"Indeed," said Valera.
Aldrich tapped existed the Nexus and when he entered the real world, he heard Fler'Gan murmur in wonder.
"Where-where is this?" said Fler'Gan. His three red eyes were wide with surprise. "I had heard you talk of a new world. Is this it? An entirely new realm of existence? Truly?"
"Yes," said Aldrich. "How is it? Must feel nice to be free from however many decades you spent in that study."
Fler'Gan breathed in deeply and curled his mouth tendrils in disgust. "The air here is tainted. Smoky. Unclean."
"And here I thought global anti-pollution policies were doing well," said Aldrich.
"Anti-pollution policies? Global? The peoples of this realm are united across the entire world? This-this is a wonder," said Fler'Gan. His mouth tendrils wriggled excitedly as he rubbed his hands together. "There will be an abundance of new knowledge to absorb. Knowledge that has never before been analyzed!"
"That's right," said Aldrich. He stared at Fler'Gan. He was a Mind Eater. He had basic racial abilities that included mind control and memory absorption. He came to a realization. "You…you will be the key to this quest."
Aldrich stared at the new quest he had registered.
Quest: Ritual of Eternity
Time Limit: None
Attempts Remaining: 2
You have begun the path to become a lich. To undergo the Ritual of Eternity, you must fulfill three objectives.
1. Construct a Phylactery [Completed]
2. Sever all personal bonds [Incomplete]
3. Obtain an Obelisk by reaching the 15th floor of the Necropolis [Incomplete]
Aldrich realized immediately that step 2 was not complete. Sever all personal bonds: he thought he had done this already. Adam and Elaine were no longer truly here, and his parents were long dead.
What more was there left for him?
However, Aldrich did not have much time to think about this. The Evil Eyes he had left behind to scout the forest and Blackwater picked up on movement heading towards them, towards the clearing where he had killed Ghost.
He saw through their eyes and saw a search party. An entourage of Hovercars roving up the main road.