40th Floor of Haven Control Tower, Main Meeting Room
Aldrich sat at a round table in his Materius human form with his soulwoven suit on. The fortieth floor of Haven Control Tower was normally his office space, but in times of need, the office could undergo a 'Priority Meeting Mode' that sent alerts to any important personnel in the tower. It also folded his desk underneath the floor and raised up a large round table of segmented metal.
Valera stood beside Aldrich with her arms crossed. She was now outfitted with a new armor set from the Death Lord's personal collection after her original hound set had been destroyed by what Aldrich called the 'other dimension'.
Her new armor was wildly different in style. And wild was a good way to put it. Instead of the heavyset full plate that covered her completely from head to toe, she had on a strip of black-scaled leather that mostly just covered her chest, leaving her muscled stomach bare. It attached to a single shoulder strap on her right shoulder, and that formed the beginning of a series of rocky armor plating that stretched down to her fingers as if her whole arm was encased in form-fitting, craggy stone.
The visage of a fiercely open-mouthed dragon with a wide, snapping turtle-like jaw and a single stalagmite-like horn fashioned from stone formed a shoulder plate atop the strap. That was a Mountain Dragon a�" a formidable draconic creature that did not take to the skies but instead slept under mountains, claiming entire ranges of them as territory.
It was said that where winged dragons breathed elemental force, mountain dragons roved under the earth, their breath sundering earth into great caverns and tunnels.
A war skirt of similarly scaled material draped down from her waist to just below her knees, exposing her shins before meeting greaves made of what looked like blackened, jagged stone. The armor set as a whole was reminiscent of gladiatorial armor, fierce in its simple hardiness.
This was the Mountain Breaker Set. One that dramatically improved strength and, in spite of its revealing appearance, defense as well. The perks of having magical armor a�" you could show off skin and still be protected at the same time. It had a powerful passive called 'Ancient Stoneskin' that reduced the damage of sufficiently weak attacks to zero.
More powerful attacks had their damage reduced by up to 50%, though the stronger an attack was, the less effective the damage resistance was. Melee attacks made on the wearer also reflected some damage and stun back as well.
For a tank, it was one of the best sets out there, and a tank Valera most definitely was.
On top of that, the stony scale-covered arm could store mitigated damage, empowering its strength through mighty punches that could shatter the earth. In the lore, the Earth Shaping that Volantis and other strong orcs could use was derived from Mountain Dragons that shared their power with the orcs long ago.
'There is nothing more arousing than blood stained upon the bare skin of a fierce lover,' the Death Lord had said when she gifted Valera the armor. 'I wore this armor when I decided to amuse myself a little in the Battle Ring of Kazir. Hundreds, no, thousands fell in love with my blood-drenched ferocity and, of course, my killer figure. It shall be the same now for you.'
Valera had protested of course, but Aldrich was not about to let her pass up a perfectly good armor set just like that, and so she had ended up having to wear it. She had misinterpreted that as him wanting to see her in it, but because she thought that, she now wore the armor without complaints.
A win-win situation. And Aldrich did not mind seeing her in that either, admittedly.
The others around the table were Fler'Gan, the Geist, V, and Feather.
"Looks like we're all here," said Aldrich. He glanced behind himself. The glass wall started to blacken as metal covering slid over it, fortifying the already heavily fortified bulletproof, explosive-proof glass. As sunlight shut out and the room began to darken, the round table lit up with holographic blue, projecting a rotating hourglass a�" a symbol for it waiting to be programmed into something else.
"First off, I've got to say-," said V. She put her feet up on the table and shot a scrutinizing look at Valera. "I love the new outfit. It's got a fantasy barbarian class typa look to it. Kind of suits you. In a good way."
"Our leader likes it too. And so long as he does, I do as well," said Valera.
"Do you? That's your type? Warrior woman style?" V raised a curious brow at Aldrich.
"Let's move on from this topic." Aldrich waved his hand. He nodded over to Fler'Gan. "First off, how is she doing?"
"She?" Fler'Gan cocked his head.
"Ah, that one. She has fully recovered and suffers no ill effects from becoming undead. It is quite fortunate that the mechanism that aided her breathing had its own power supply. A supply that lasted long enough for your return."
"Yes." Aldrich had turned Hammerhead's daughter the moment he had returned from the Necropolis. He had spawned back in at Hammerhead's mansion approximately five hours later, and perhaps due to its remote wilderness location, perhaps because of Hammerhead's fondness for discreet isolation for his daughter's safety, there was still nobody there.
He found Hammerhead's daughter on her last breaths. Her condition was bad enough that there was no way to keep her alive long enough to get her back to Haven. So, he had killed her and raised her as an undead.
The process had, with his healing mist, restored her brain back to its state before her lung and gill-related accident had asphyxiated it. It also allowed her to breathe freely, though technically it was because as an undead, she did not need any form of oxygen to function.
"She is in healthy condition and housed in a residential room," said Fler'Gan. "However, though her physical condition does seem to be whole, I sense waves of disruption emanating from her mind. Emotions of anguish and despondence a�" thoroughly bitter emotions to taste for a Mind Eater such as myself.
She above all seeks to be alone for the time being."
"Let's give her the time she needs. The shock of waking up after years of dreaming must have taken its toll on her. As did waking up to everything she knew dead and gone."
"That does interest me, O Elder. Your disappearance that you say was caused by being submerged in a realm far separated from our axis a�" I do wish to investigate it further."
"Do not speak more of it," said Valera. "You know not what our leader has lost and suffered through it."
Aldrich shook his head. "It's fine. One of the perks of being undead: you move on easily. But you don't forget the lessons you learned, and in the end, that's all that matters.
Let's move on to our plans for Blackwater."