Aldrich witnessed the villains start the fight against Volantis the Bone Tyrant and watched only for a brief few minutes before his invisible Grave Ward was destroyed by collateral damage from Volantis's area of effect bone attacks.
That Volantis would appear here was a massive surprise. He was a level 40 boss character and the weakest among five Deathguard that formed the inner circle of powerful troops that served the Death Lord.
But even then, he usually guarded the 30th floor of the Necropolis, so to see him so early down in the 15th meant that the Death Lord fully intended on not allowing Aldrich to pass the 15th floor.
At the same time, Volantis only needed the villains to reduce him to half health and from an initial survey of his moves, it did not seem like he was using the full extent of his move set. This way, the encounter was 'balanced' enough that Aldrich could handle it provided he was around level 30.
Of course, Aldrich was not even close to level 30. He had gotten around that level requirement by abusing the party system to its maximum extent.
Aldrich estimated that Seth Solar by himself could take down Volantis to half health if Volantis continued to handicap himself, at which point, this quest would just end.
Volantis might have been planted in the 15th floor to limit how much experience and loot Aldrich could obtain to just what he could scour from the first 14 floors, but even that was enough to boost Aldrich up massively.
Aldrich did not know exactly how much experience he had accumulated because he did not receive it until the end of the quest, and all the items he picked up - mostly suits of armor and weapons - did not go into his inventory but a separate space where like his experience, he would be granted everything at the end of this quest.
So far, the best pieces of loot that Aldrich had found were several grades of Reinforcement Shards that were necessary to upgrade or merge equipment into higher ranks. He also found a [Tome of Skeletal Mastery] and [Tome of Necrotic Carnage] specialized in bone-based spells and high damage necromancy spells respectively.
These tomes were too high level for Aldrich to use right now, but after this quest, they were all fair game. Even with conservative estimates, Aldrich figured he could reach level 30.
The only thing that disappointed Aldrich was that all the equipment here was for knights and warrior types, not spellcasters like him. He would have to find better necromancer sets from the trial quests he could unlock from gaining levels here and use reinforcing shards to upgrade his lantern to a higher rank as trial quest weapons did not get that much better than the lantern until past level 50 or 60.
Aldrich spawned another Grave Ward and sent it ahead of himself as he entered the tenth floor.
In his first attempt, this had been the furthest he could go with his own power before it became too difficult to continue. This floor was essentially a mini boss floor with its legion of death knights and its captain vampire knight.
But the villains had cleared it quite reliably with Seth Solar easily smashing his way through it. Here, Aldrich witnessed the carnage that Seth Solar had wrought. Countless burnt black craters on the ground stacked with the melted corpses of death knights all spoke of Seth Solar's overwhelming might.
Among these corpses was one that interested Aldrich. Evan Harker's corpse.
One of Aldrich's tormentors now reduced to a lifeless body lying still in a pile of blood pooling from several deep gashes in his stomach.
Aldrich put a finger on the back of Evan's head, and a green sigil formed on it. This marked Evan to be raised for later.
The Death Lord had promised that any units that Aldrich wanted to raise here, he could keep. His current units controlled limit was maxed out, but for this quest only, he could mark corpses to be raised for later.
After this quest when he gained more levels and attunement points to increase his unit count, he could sort through the list of units he marked for later and keep those best for himself.
Aldrich marked as many death knight corpses as he could for himself, and this totaled up to 15 knights. He also marked the Crimson Knight captain's headless corpse.
With that done, Aldrich moved on.
The eleventh floor consisted of puzzles that the villains had already solved or brute forced their way through. Any traps they did not deal with, Aldrich was smart enough to solve anyway. Here, the undead were not that strong, it was the traps that made this floor difficult.
Any A class Blackwater student corpses that Aldrich saw, however, he marked to raise.
The twelfth floor was also a mini boss room of sorts, comprising solely of a fight against a zombie giant. Here, the zombie giant had been felled by a laser beam to his head that completely bore through his brain.
Aldrich marked the zombie for raising. He also marked Blackwater students that died for raising as well. This included Alexis, the storm generator, and Simon Wells, another of Seth Solar's gang.
Aldrich repeated this process throughout the thirteenth and fourteenth floors, marking most of the Blackwater A class to raise for himself. The only ones he could not raise were those that had been utterly destroyed or their bodies lost to traps.
This raising spree also included the strongest monsters on the thirteenth and fourteenth floors.
The thirteenth floor consisted of tunnels where Bonewheels, masses of skeletons attached in wheel like configurations, rolled around at high speeds. Here, Aldrich raised a Deathwheel, the largest and strongest of them.
The fourteenth floor was a small forest of vampiric plants, and this place had been thoroughly burned down by Seth Solar's solar beams. Through the flames, Aldrich could not raise anything, but he did manage to salvage several seeds of vampiric plant monsters.
Past the fourteenth floor, Aldrich entered the hallway that connected to Volantis's boss room. Here, he sent the Grave Ward ahead to check how Seth Solar and the rest of the villains were doing. He saw Volantis still fighting, though his health was halfway down to the 50% threshold.
From there, Aldrich continued to watch the fight, replacing the Grave Ward several times when it got destroyed by area of effect abilities. At one point, he witnessed a development that made his mind race with possibility.
Volantis stated that so long as the Necromancer himself, in this case Aldrich, did not enter the boss room, the trial would not be counted.
That is, unless the villains actually managed to kill Volantis.
At which point, Seth Solar decided to use the Boost that Aldrich had intentionally let him bring in an all out battle to kill Volantis and end the trial.
That made Aldrich wonder about this fight. In all likelihood, with Boost powering him, Seth Solar could actually defeat Volantis, even if Volantis went into his full strength as he had already allowed the villains to reduce him nearly to half health.
This was perfect.
Aldrich had been mildly disappointed so far that the only items he had found were armor and weapons for warriors.
But if Seth Solar managed to kill Volantis, then would Aldrich not have access to perhaps one of the best armor sets in the entire game? The armor set that could be crafted from Volantis's dropped boss soul was immensely useful and perhaps the absolute best for a Necromancer that valued survivability and durability.
Yet beyond this, Aldrich could now raise the Living Armor Demon for unlike in the game, he had the ability to raise boss level monsters.
In the game, the player character could wear Volantis's armor set simply as just that, a piece of armor. Volantis himself was dead and could not cast any of his Shattered Bone necromancy spells.
What about now, though? If Aldrich raised Volantis fully, then did that not mean he could wear the living armor in its fullest power? With Volantis alive and casting his own abilities? Effectively doubling Aldrich's strength?
Volantis might even have the possibility to level up as by the end of the game, when the player character and a massive party of fellow heroes assaulted the Necropolis, Volantis had raised himself from level 40 in the first mid game encounter to level 80 as a mini end game boss fight prior to reaching the Death Lord.
The possibility of all this power coming to Aldrich rested, however, squarely on Seth Solar's shoulders. Would he defeat Volantis? Especially before the little surprise that Aldrich had put into Seth's Boost kicked in?
It was difficult to tell.
All Aldrich could do was wait and hope.
He did not just observe Seth Solar's fight, he also kept a keen eye on his controlled units status tab.
He could not link his sight to anyone from the real world from a different realm, but what he could do was keep track of his list of current undead, seeing their health, mana, and status and noting whether their health went down or up or their skills went on cooldown or so on and so forth.
Like this, he tried to stay on top of how the battle in the real world was going -