As Leah cleared the car, ensuring that she wouldn’t have to sit in Dwarf blood, Loralei applied the best first-aid she could to the sleeping Daniel. His wounds were many and serious; he wouldn’t live long without treatment. Although Loralei could use medical magic her mana capacity was simply too low to handle injuries of that extent. Leah on the other hand had more than enough mana, but didn’t have the patience to learn any kind of magic other than her natural breath attacks and simple body strengthening.
That left them with a problem, neither could save him. There best plan wasn’t particularly great either. They’d stabilise him as best they could, drive to the nearest tower, and either level Loralei up to the point where she could heal him or earn enough tower power points that Leah could buy an ability that let her transfer mana.
While Leah had raided several towers before, even survived a couple solo raids, she hadn’t ever tried one with a time limit and a dead-weight. Towers were dangerous things and rushing through them would only lead to making fatal mistakes. However, she resigned herself to the fact that she didn’t have much of a choice. Daniel saved her life when she was in that cage. Her pride as a warrior wouldn’t let him die ‘till she repaid that.
Once the seats were cleaned and Daniel was bandaged, their luggage was loaded into the back of the large black car. Its engine roared with the ignition as the inefficient design of the motor converted crystal energy into fuel rather than directly into kinetic energy. Despite the far worse energy cost, the design was favoured by Dwarves as it helped them to navigate and co-ordinate in groups. The car’s wide wheels were fitted with scooping, paddle like tyres and it moved smoothly through the sand.
With the quality of the tyres, they made great time and arrived at a nearby tower that Leah had been aware of. The tower was a rare type; it only had three floors, all of which were beneath the sand. Leah had found it by chance when she was camping, shortly before she was captured in Fallen Tower. In the morning when she went to bury her camp fire, she dug up a section of the roof. As she was busy at the time, she simply made note of the location and promised herself that she would be back.
Although a buried tower didn’t have a safety net, the fact that it was a small tower, and close by, served their purposes nicely. Brushing aside a thin layer of sand, Leah revealed a few meters of the cement roof. With a deep breath, her considerable chest started to swell. Moments later she exhaled with incredible force, almost like a passing storm. The cement that was hit by the breath broke apart into dust within seconds of coming into contact with her fearsome acid breath.
Pink Draconian ruled the lesser Draconian variants for a very simple reason; without a neutraliser or shield, nothing could withstand their acid breath. Their higher variant, the amethyst Draconian, was arguably more powerful than a gold Draconian, though they ranked lower due to rarity. It was said that amethyst Draconian were the only variant were the child of the lower variant, in that case a pink Draconian, had zero chance of being born an amethyst. Even the child of a yellow Draconian had a slight chance of being born a gold, but no such occurrence had ever been recorded for pink.
With a hole in the roof, sunlight filled to top floor of the buried tower and Leah attached a rope to the car. Although the roof would eventually fix itself, it wouldn’t do so while a thick rope dangled through the hole. With a pistol and knife drawn, Leah spread her wings and jumped down the hole. Landing softly against the carpeted floor, she swung her knife at a fur covered snake that lounged at her. As the blade sunk deeply into the creature, its florescent yellow-green blood burst from its body and dyed the surrounding area. Glow snakes were a popular creature amongst tower raiders; their blood could absorb light and heat to glow for several hours. As a non-magical, renewable light source, bottles sold very well. As Loralei finished climbing down, Leah drained the snake’s blood into a plastic bottle.
Loralei drew her revolver enviously from her heavy coat and waited quietly for Leah to make a move. She seemed to be scouting the room cautiously, expecting there to be more than just one snake. Leah’s caution was somewhat contagious, and Loralei could feel anxiety build in her small stomach. With the room secured, they didn’t spend any time searching for supplies. The experience was the goal and they would pass through there on the way out, so there was no reason to bog themselves down.
With no elevator, there only choice was the stairs. The door to the stairwell was oddly secure, with extra metal protection the joints and bracing the frame. The protection seemed out of place with the rest of the room and Leah hadn’t encountered that in previous towers, but she also knew that there was an incredible amount of variation between towers and encountering something for the first time was in no way rare. Since the door wouldn’t open, Leah once again let out her acid and watched it melt way into the floor. Her mana had been reduced to the halfway mark as generating that quantity of volatile mater required an amount of energy that, in crystal terms, could power all of Fallen Tower for half a day.
With the door out of the way, they moved through the gap with their weapons ready. The tower’s lighting seemed to be broken and strangely, didn’t seem to fix itself. With no small sense of annoyance, Leah pulled out her newly acquired glowing blood bottle and, insuring that the lid was on tight, rolled it slowly down the stairs. As the light moved and bounced, the pair scanned the path with unbridled focus, looking for any sign of danger.
The light stopped against the door one floor below and they used that as an opportunity to advance. As they approached the door, Loralei realised that they hadn’t sent out a will. Since she knew Leah was experienced with tower raids she became curious enough to ask her why they skipped that tradition. Leah’s response was far less noble then she had expected.
“Huh, broadcast a will? Yeah, I skipped it since anyone that heard it could trace it and find this place. I found this tower and I’m the only one who knows where it is. As it stands, everything in it belongs to me and I can even turn it into a base; why would I want other people taking my stuff?”
Although she was a little disappointed, Loralei could recognise where Leah was coming from. Most people in the wastes would probably make the same decision, but a part of her felt that abandoning a tradition for a reason like didn’t sit well with her Draconian pride.
Leah felt relieved when Loralei didn’t call her bluff. She actually didn’t care if other people knew about the tower and was fairly sure there was no-one within range of the transition even if she did. The real reason she hadn’t followed the tradition was because she had simply forgotten. However, her pride as an experienced raider wouldn’t let her admit that. That Loralei was willing to accept her explanation so easily made Leah a little bit happy. Having her there reminded her of when she was still with the Southwest Den.
Before the destruction of her den, the Lemann kin were the protectors of the den. Even before her rite, she spent most days with a weapon in her hands, and once she was officially apart of the kin she was in a tower for a week each month. The Southwest Den was built around a thirty floor Glass Tower and it was a tower that had never been completely conquered. Since new enemies would fill the lower floors after a few weeks, the tower was considered to be the best place to train. She had fond memories of being trained in that tower and even more of training others. She was recognised in her kin as a genius and they would brag about her even to other dens; Leah the Death Bringer.
When the Glass Tower system first activates on a person, they are analysed. Not only were their physical and magical traits recorded, but they were assigned a class based on their proficiencies. Leah had received the rare class Death Bringer, a point that marked her as a prodigy to her kin. Classes affected what the system improved when levelling and Death Bringer was a powerful combat class. Although her mana, prana, intelligence, armour and non-combat skills rarely improved, her strength, speed and health were beyond compare.
Leah slid the bottled light into her shirt, holding it in place between her breasts. She hadn’t thought to bring string or anything to hold a light, so that was the best solution she could think of without thinking. With the light raised higher, Loralei suddenly yelled “Get back,” as the hinges of the door broke from weight and strain. The door fell with a heavy crash as the metal and wood collided with the cement surfaces and echoed throughout the confined chamber.
Leah reacted to the warning in time and managed to move out of the falling door’s path by ducking to the side. However, avoiding the door was small comfort compared to what was inside the door. Tower Leaches; metallic, slimy masses of blades and teeth. The room was filled with them and no part of the floor could be seen. Suddenly the problems with the tower made sense; the building wasn’t fixing the lights because it was too busy fixing everything else. Furthermore, the people from before the fall had reinforced the doors in the hopes to seal them inside.
If they had started on the bottom floor and every door was similarly sealed, with the tower constantly fixing itself, it would have taken them scores of years to reach the surface. Luckily for them, they had all the time in the world to do so. Tower Leaches were extremely uncommon, to the point that some people could go their lives without ever hearing about them. Despite that, they were still one of the worst plagues in the wastes. They devoured metal, crops and energy. If someone tried to shoot them, the bullet would be eaten without hurting them in the slightest. The only thing that seemed to work against them was pre-fall concussive pulse energy weapons and hitting them with electricity till they overfed and died. Given the lack of advanced weapons, magic was their only real option.
The pair ran back up the stairs and started to prepare spells. Although Leah wasn’t particularly skilled with magic, she could at least draw simple double circle hexagrams fairly quickly. She sent bolt after bolt of lightning at the leaches, pushing them back at the bend in stairs, she knew her mana reserves wouldn’t hold out for long, but her regeneration rate seemed far higher than usual. She gained confidence as she realised the Glass Tower was supporting them and with a surge of confidence increased the pace of her attack.
That was a mistake, however, since while she had the mana to continue, she forgot about the mental strain casting placed on the body. As she was using more power than she was normally able to, and at a rate she hadn’t trained for, her mind was under incredible strain, as if she had been driving for a day straight without taking breaks. As her concentration broke, she slid backwards into a wall. She was confused and her vision wouldn’t focus. The leaches were getting closer by the second and she was struggling to remember how to put strength into her legs. As the hoard was almost within reach of Leah, Loralei moved in front of her and took a deep breath.
‘Ah, of cause,’ thought Leah, ‘a cold breath would slow them down enough that we can get away.’
To her surprise however, what came out wasn’t cold energy, but was instead the pure electric energy of a lightning breath. The energy spread throughout the stairwell, feeding the leaches till they dropped. Although there were still other levels to the tower, and only the youngest and weakest would be at the top floor, Loralei had managed to kill a floors worth of leaches with a single breath attack. It took a moment, either because of surprise or fatigue, but Leah had finally worked out what happened. Loralei wasn’t a white variant; she was a silver/white variant.
When a Draconian was born, their colour variant was determined by the colour of their parents. It would normally be the colour of the more powerful parent, but it could also be the other parent or the lesser, or higher, variant of either parent. More rare options were taking the variant of an extremely powerful grandparent or taking on a sub-variant. What that meant was they would take the traits of the stronger parent and some of the other parent’s traits. Daniel was an example of that and, as it turned out, so was Loralei. Sub-variants were apparently more likely when the two parents were similar in power.
With the number of opponents Loralei had killed, not only did the system activate, but she immediately rose to level 3. With her newly acquired mana capacity and Storm Mage class, she had everything she needed to heal Daniel. They quickly moved back to the surface, with Leah flying them out rather than wasting time with the rope, and rushed to heal their patient.