Drake looked at Iznock. Even though his head was a flaming skull, the expression of annoyance was clear on his face.
“We were misled,” Vandal said, sighing. After turning away, the young boy rummaged in his pockets and removed several small pieces of meat and tossed them into his mouth. Instantly, his expression turned blissful.
Drake’s hackles raised, but he hid it well. Vandal harvested the flesh of those he defeated, monsters or men, and used it to cook varying dishes. When consuming those foods, his body would be transformed, taking on some of the strength of whatever he was eating. There was even a rumor that he was experimenting with combining different monsters, finding more and more power.
It was an intimidating thought, the way he could increase his power, and after seeing Vandal defeated, Drake had a lot less patience for the boy. Even as Drake watched, Vandal’s body shifted slightly, his arms growing longer, the hair around his face going wild.
Luckily it didn’t appear to be the type of creature that would have emotional instability, but considering Vandal’s temperament… It was very frustrating dealing with such unreliable pieces around him. Following orders became that much harder. And all of the responsibility lay on Drake’s shoulders to keep the men in line.
Coppernicus looked around at the plains in front of them, tapping his jaw. It was clear that at one point, there had been some sort of grand tent set up here. The tracks of hundreds of monsters was in the area, and piles of manure, several days old. The hangers on of the Wild Rider following their master’s free spirited wanderings.
Finally, Coppernicus spoke. “If it isn’t here… where is the Wild Rider?”
Iznock just grunted, raising his hand. A giant axe, made of black, rippling energy formed. Then, with a series of sharp blows, Iznock began to scar the landscape, tearing wide swaths of the ground up, destroying all of the remnants.
“And people say I have anger problems,” Vandal said, giving Drake a look.
Drake ignored it. In this case, he agreed with Iznock’s sentiment, even if it was inefficient. Others would be looking for the Wild Hunter, if it truly had moved. To send the message that the move had been done out of fear… most would naturally make the connection to the servants of the Skeleton Knight.
Sewing fear, confusion, and panic among those out here, fawning after the Wild Rider, was for the best. It would get the civilians scared enough to stop throwing themselves in danger's way.
Both of his hands moving through several strange positions, runes forming in the air, then falling to the ground around him in a circle. Vandal continued to give Drake sharp looks, but the two of them stayed silent while Iznock destroyed, and Coppernicus cast his spell.
The runes on the ground flared brightly, and Coppernicus turned to look.
“Southwest…” He said softly, but he was frowning. “But there is something else there… something… dangerous.”
Iznock straightened, the huge axe dissipating. “Then what are we waiting for? Let’s go kill it.”
Randidly moved quickly, delighting in his now healed Empower, and Physical Fitness, which he had struggled all day to get it down to a single piece of Aether embedded in it. It wasn’t ideal, but the pain was manageable. Thea remained behind with Simon, but would be ready to rush forward if they finally found the enemy. It was annoying, but while they were under the effects of the bonuses, none of them were able to contact others through the System.
They were on their own. Which wasn’t exactly true, because they had come across human tracks, a group that appeared to be between 4 and 10 people, patrolling, likely from the Refuge.
Then they had found the blood.
Due to the danger of victims, Randidly ran ahead, his eyes blazing. Perhaps there was a bit of guilt to this, but Randidly felt profoundly motivated to hunt down and kill this Raid Boss, especially as he was absent while the other one assaulted Donnyton and the surrounding area.
A small bird, badly shaped, almost warped to the point that it was nowhere near being flight worthy, formed in the air beside Randidly. It moved quickly, flapping its wings as just a habit, while moving with impossible speed.
It opened its mouth and spoke. “I can’t get a good sight on them, but there is definitely something moving in that quarry to your west. They look small, so watch for ambushes.”
Randidly remained silent. Honestly, Simon’s growth was a good thing, but the speed of it was insanely fast. The skill level improvement was so rapid that even Randidly was impressed. Some of it could be attributed to the bonus they had from chasing this Raid Boss, but over the past 24 hours, Simon had gone from barely being able to form anything while in his Astral form to this pseudo bird that could communicate.
It didn’t seem like its combat potential was high, but it was incredibly useful for guiding Randidly.
When Randidly reached the quarry, he paused, considering. He didn’t really need to, because the monsters in front of him were clear, skulking in the shadows of the rocks. And these, unlike most others that Randidly had encountered since the arrival of the System were truly monsters. They had a squishy, fleshy purple blob as their core, and from that about a dozen limbs spread outward. Some were legs, somewhere feet, some where scythes, some were mandible, insect like limbs.
As Randidly arrived, they all turned, and he saw that each had a large eye at the center of their blob, staring at him.
There were about 7, and 3 fled away, while 4 more rushed towards him, half rolling, half bounding from limbs to limbs, their multifaceted bodies letting them move with surprising grace through the quarry towards him.
Snorting, Randidly jumped, streaking towards the creatures. Immediately, he felt something was wrong, as a headache was already beginning to form. Did he accidentally activate a skill, or…?
But then Randidly was among them, lashing out with Talon Strike. Their bodies didn’t really bleed when he struck them, but chunks of flesh were ripped off, debilitating them. Within 10 seconds, Randidly had torn them to pieces. Those pieces quivered on the ground, somewhat unwilling, but Randidly moved past them, intent on following the escaping ones.
At the last moment, Randidly sensed it, and hopped ot the side. One of the strange monstrosities careened past, scythe flailing, aimed for his neck. Spinning around, Randidly was surprised to find that the 4 monstrosities were completely whole once more, and were rushing back towards him.
Randidly growled, and he moved again, Talon Strikes methodically annihilating their bodies, leaving not even a shred behind. All the while, his headache was getting worse. This… was not a good sign.
His gaze very focused, Randidly watched the destroyed bodies on the ground for several seconds. When nothing happened, Randidly started to back slowly away. The air in front of him twisted, and that queer bird formed once more.
“Why aren’t you finishing them off?” It asked, its voice sounding so tiny. “And your attacks keep missing, why-?”
Randidly spun around, moving out of the way of the scythe, but he could feel the long, thin trail of blood down his back. Which… gave Randidly paused. They were able to wound him…? With his Endurance…?
The level they displayed was 26, which was… powerful, Randidly supposed, but these monsters possessed no extremely raised skill levels like the individuals back on Shal’s world, that allowed them to fight evenly with Randidly. These monsters…
His headache grew more intense.
Cursing slightly, Randidly jumped directly upward, around 10 meters into the air, just to buy himself some time. Then he turned his attention inwardly. Mental Strength and Curse Resistance were activating, just slightly, but it was enough to very quickly raise the pain to serious levels.
Considering Simon’s statements, too…
Fucking illusionists. He was fighting illusions.
The 4 monstrosities below threw their bodies upwards towards him.