Chapter 35 Outclassed
Not too far along Ilea suddenly stopped. The smell of blood was in the air and it came from one of the houses to her right. Sneaking up on the wall, she tried to determine what was inside with her sphere skill but whatever caused the smell was simply too far away.
Walking inside, the mechanical noises seemed to heighten as her eyes spot what lay just outside her sphere’s range. Five bodies, and more blood than seemed possible for them to possess. The ivy and walls were painted red, the smell of the scene reaching Ilea so late a testament to the dwarves ventilation systems.
Ilea listened to the room but couldn’t make out anything extraordinary. Approaching the bodies, she kept her senses on high alert.
‘There...’ she thought, a click sounding a bit different than the monotone noises before. She dodged to the side before a dull sound could be heard from her left. Something impacted the wall behind where Ilea had just stood and cracked the rock.
Movement could be seen on the wall from where the noises came. A fast moving creature walked upon the wall with six metal legs. On top of the legs was a metal cube with a round opening sticking out, not quite unlike a gun barrel. Even higher up extends what looked like a spine made of metal with a mask quite similar to the one Ilea had found just moments prior.
The legs clicked on the walls before the creature’s torso angled towards Ilea, the barrel aimed at her head. A dull noise echoed through the room as a quick flash of light exited the barrel. Ilea sensed the bullet and slightly leaned to the side. The metal slug glanced her armored shoulder only to harmlessly enter the wall behind right after.
Ilea spun with the force and blinks next to the creature, her movement continued into a kick to its head. The creature’s head slightly wobbled before its torso turned back to face Ilea.
Another blink brought her behind it before she delivered a punch to the metal cube. There was a loud noise upon impact but nothing else seemed to happen as the creature turned around again in a fluid motion.
At the same time its legs moved away from Ilea and while she knew the thing was made of metal, the movements were too smooth, too animal like to accept it.
Ilea blinked back outside, taking shelter behind the house’s wall. A slug impacted where she had been before. Looking around the corner, she identified the creature.
[Taleen Guardian – lvl ??]
‘Well as always, identify is just rather underwhelming…,’ she thought as a slug impacted the wall she was hiding behind.
Failing to get any reaction from the creature with the next five attacks to its head and torso, Ilea changed to the next obvious target. Blinking next to the creature, she stomped down on one of the spider like metal legs.
Again there was no obvious reaction but she still felt like this was the only way she could win. Escaping wasn’t an option yet as she was still nearly fully stocked on all her resources.
She continued to alternate her attacks between the six legs until finally there was a change. The machine started to favor one side a little more and became a little slower in its movement to the other side.
‘There is also no change in its behavior…,’ her thoughts were interrupted by a slug barely dodged with another blink. ‘...if it had an actual AI I’d probably be dead already…,’ her stomp finally broke through as that leg dangled uselessly from the creature’s side.
The Guardian wasn’t inhibited by the smashed leg much and continued its merry shooting. To Ilea though her victory was certain, just postponed. Ten minutes later, she finally disabled the creature’s last leg, the machine now resting on the ground. Its torso was still frantically turning to find its enemy.
“It even looks a little sad…,” she said as she blinked behind the machine and grabbed onto the moving torso. Punch upon punch rattled the Guardian as it spun around itself, trying to attack the foe on its back.
The execution dragged on for nearly another ten minutes. Ilea even paused for a while to steady herself, her head growing more and more dizzy at the constant spinning.
Truly with some funfair music this scene would look quite a bit different. The corpses nearby didn’t paint a very fun atmosphere though.
Finally the last punch landed, a wave of destructive mana fried whatever laid within and the spinning slowly glided to a halt.
The noise in the room reverted to the monotone sound of gears and steam, only Ilea’s breathing remaining to contrast the mechanical sounds.
‘bing’ ‘You have defeated [Taleen Guardian]
‘bing’ ‘You have defeated an enemy seventy-five levels or more above your own. Additional Experience is granted.’
‘bing’ ‘Azarinth Healer has reached level 76. 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘bing’ ‘Azarinth Healer has reached level 77. 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘bing’ ‘Fire Enhancer has reached level 51. 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘bing’ ‘Fire Enhancer has reached level 52. 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘bing’ ‘Fire Enhancer has reached level 53. 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘bing’ ‘Fire Enhancer has reached level 54. 5 Stat points awarded.’
‘bing’ ‘New skills available for Fire Enhancer’
‘ding’ ‘Blink reaches 2nd lvl 15’
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth Sphere reaches 2nd lvl 2’
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth Perception reaches lvl 19’
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth Perception reaches lvl 20’
‘ding’ ‘Body of Flame reaches lvl 12’
‘ding’ ‘Body of Flame reaches lvl 13’
‘ding’ ‘Body of Flame reaches lvl 14’
‘Now this is what I call power leveling!’ she thought, looking at the battered machine below her. She sat down next to it and relaxed while activating meditation. Her sphere and auras were still up, considering how quiet the machine had been before.
After two minutes however, the smell of blood became a little too irritating to ignore. The woman got up and walked to the corpses.
There were two men, two women and a lizard man. ‘Or lizard woman, not gonna check...’ she thought as she knelt down and started to go through their gear. All of the armor was heavily damaged. There were holes that she attributed to the guardian she’d just fought but there were also dozens of cuts all over the bodies.
‘That thing couldn’t cut...’ she thought and became a little more wary. The corpses were once adventurers, Ilea found tags with golden and crystal markings.
Three of them were warriors, one was a mage and one a ranger. ‘No healer...’ she thought and continued her search.
She found three gold coins and ten silvers that she added to her pouch, making her have just around forty one gold coins.
The rest of the gear was either heavily damaged or simply useless to her. She closed the people’s eyes and arranged them in a bit of a more dignified manner before moving on.
There was no earth here where she could bury them and digging into the stone with her hands seemed even less appropriate than leaving them as they were.
The rest of the road, Ilea checked every house and every corner for guardians or other beasts but nothing showed itself. Six houses later, she came up on the next square. ‘Or rather bigger room...’ she thought.
The square wasn’t as big as the one with the fountain from before. As Ilea approached, she could see movement in the corner of her right eye. From a bigger house on the square, another Guardian moved out. It had no box as its torso but simply a thick spherical base with six legs. A spine extended upwards and ended in the same insect like mask on top.
The spine itself was noticeably bigger and had six appendages that moved in an eerie skeletal manner. ‘It’s just a machine...’ Ilea steadied herself, pushing her buffs to the max and letting her backpack fall to the ground next to her as she moved into a stance.
[Taleen Guardian – lvl ??]
It was the same message she had seen before, which was both good and bad. The creature stopped around ten meters before her and straightened itself. The six appendages extended outwards to reveal metal arms ending in nearly a meter long blades.
A moment later, the creature was upon her.
Fluid movements let the Guardian close the distance in under two seconds, a flurry of attacks from six different angles immediately assaulted Ilea. She could only blink away, unable to process all the attacks at the same time even with her enhanced senses and all skills.
Using the same tactic she’d applied for the other Guardian, she blinked close to the creature and kicked at one of its legs, only to be immediately cut deeply into her right arm. She winced and blinked away again, the wound slowly staining her clothes red with blood.
The bleeding stopped with a pulse of healing as the creature rushed her again. Ilea blinked away and looked at the creature that upon her disappearance immediately started to slash in every direction with seemingly random strikes.
Finding her, the creature stopped and focused again.
‘Well that isn’t going to work...’ she thought but wasn’t quite ready to give up yet. Blinking again, she tried to see where the creature attacked but after four more tries, she couldn’t find a blind spot. The guardian changed the strikes up in all of the four tries.
Seeing how the machine easily cut through her armor and deep into her arm, it seemed too risky for Ilea to try and approach it further.
A dull sound coming from the alley behind the machine sealed the deal, as Ilea narrowly dodged a metal slug, quickly followed by blinking away from six blades on their way to reap her life.
She grabbed her pack with her uninjured arm and blinked another two times into the closest building behind her, getting back into the alley where she had come from. Not stopping, she blinked again and again until she sat behind a wall on the first floor of the big building with the pole in front, overlooking the fountain square.
Breathing heavily, Ilea waited while using Reconstruction on her arm. Looking down on it, the creature’s bladed arms had cut through it like a sushi knife through cheesecake. ‘Pain tolerance is good and bad eh..’ she winced as she looked at the clean cut that is slowly closing.
A minute passed, then two. Ten minutes of waiting and listening later, Ilea looked out onto the square but there was no sign of the creatures.
She sat back down on the wall and breathed out. The wound had closed after a minute of healing, still the blood on the ground would give her away with the smell at least. She blinked again, going even further back into one of the houses in the first alley.
‘That thing is too much...no wonder those adventurers were sliced apart...’ she thought. Even the long ranged Guardian would be too much for her if she couldn’t teleport in quick succession to close the distance.
With the sword guardian having a way to counter that tactic, there was no way for her to win, not with how little damage she did.
‘Fucking ridiculous… I can punch a hole into a wall but can’t damage some creepy insect RC...’ she put 10 stat points each into Vitality, Intelligence and Wisdom. ‘At least I can avoid fighting them easily enough, although...’ thinking of the sliced up corpses, she shuddered, thankful for her evasion skills, speed and ability to heal.
‘What should I tell Alice...’ Ilea sat there for another ten minutes before slapping herself lightly on her cheeks. ‘There’s still another street...and there was a destroyed guardian there. Maybe some of the people she sent made it through. If I can find and help them with healing or distracting machines, then it’ll still be good enough.’
Having found another target to work towards, Ilea checked the square again but it was a empty as before. She blinked down on the ground and approached the remains of the guardian at the start of the other side street.
‘That one has sword arms...’ being able to discern the parts better now that she’d seen the guardians in action, she was sure. ‘Which means they have the ability to power through That.’
A slight smile formed on her lips as she walked down the street, checking every house for guardians.
Her map grew in size as more and more streets joined her sketch, as well as more and more trashed guardians which she marked as points of interest. The metal they were made of was impressive enough to consider taking some of it with her outside.
Nearly five hours of walking and three pages of her notebook later, she decided to call it a day and hid away in one of the houses. Eating some bread, dried fruits and meat later, she decided to sleep for an hour or two.
She chose the top floor of a building and closed up the stairway with some very old furniture that started to pop up more and more as time went on.
Apparently whoever or whatever was killing those guardians didn’t care much about moving furniture around.
She woke up undisturbed two hours later and continued on, refreshed and topped of on all resources.
Three hours of walking later, she finally came upon something new.
A bunch of adventurers were walking in the distance in front of her, at a bit of a slower pace than her. Two women and one guy, what she could see of their equipment was rather impressive. She didn’t get close enough to the three to identify them when one of the women suddenly turned her head while walking and waved her right arm slightly.
In that moment Ilea’s thoughts froze, a surge of mana erupting next to her neck followed by an incredibly thin line of air. She immediately blinked away, clutching her neck as Reconstruction started working on the wound.
Blood flowed down into her shirt and armor as she tried to move as little as possible, her mind in a bit of a haze. The wind blade had entered nearly five centimeters into her neck before her Blink skill had activated. Slowly the wound closed as she stared at the three people in front of her.
They had stopped and the man was talking to the woman that had attacked Ilea. She seemed embarrassed about it and simply nodded to whatever the man was saying. For some reason Ilea didn’t hear a word of what they were saying.
The other woman looked Ilea’s way and smiled, pointing towards her while saying something. The two others stopped immediately and looked her way. The man’s eyes turned apprehensive but his stare was overshadowed by the woman next to him running Ilea’s way while talking loudly, tears falling from her eyes.
Suddenly Ilea could hear them. “…….waaaaaaa I’m soooo sooo sorry!!! Are you alive??!” the woman yelled and came to a stop a meter away from Ilea. “Can you heal it??! Please tell me you can…,” she said in a rushed tone, sounding like a teenage girl that had accidentally made a scratch on their father’s car.
Ilea didn’t make a move to run away, figuring it the best to hope for a friendly resolution. With her neck cut halfway through she wouldn’t have moved anyway. The other two reached her at that point, the man again looking at her and checking the surroundings with his deep black eyes.
“Oh wow, she got you good! You’re the first one in a long time to not lose their head from that!” the woman that didn’t attack her said in a happy tone and with a big smile.
‘Why don’t I feel like celebrating...and that guy looks like he’s deciding on murdering me...’ their eyes met at which his gaze relaxed a little.
“Your speed and healing is rather impressive. Instant spacial movement? Not long range though as you wouldn’t be here in that case...disappointing...” the man said and continued “Fel, apologize to her...for all the people you beheaded because you were startled.”
The woman that had attacked her, apparently called Fel nodded and bowed to Ilea “I, Felicia Redleaf apologize for cutting you a little.” she went for a hug that Ilea didn’t stop.
‘If she did that twenty seconds ago I’d have lost my head...’ she patted the woman on her shoulder.
“S...” talking was a bad idea as a part of the internal wound opened up again. She gestured with her hand to wait for a while to which the others complied.
“Not as good a healer as I thought. Although for level 77 that isn’t bad. You’re a peculiar one.” the man kept analyzing her. “Aliana, we’ve been fighting for a while now, why don’t we rest here. I feel obligated to at least get this healer woman a meal.” he said while gesturing to the woman not currently hugging Ilea.
The wound closed then and Ilea finished up with the internal damage. This time she did manage to talk. “S...So t...this happens often?” she asked the man in front of her, studying him for the first time.
He had cold black eyes and matching hair. Armor that looked both like metal and leather with complicated symbols carved on it. A tattered cloak covered the armor, all in black.
‘Only the helmet missing for a true black knight...’ she thought while looking at the two sheathed swords on his back.
“Not that often, no. Rarely is it someone without the intent to kill us though.” the man said “I’m Edwin. Would you join us for a meal?”
The green light illuminated them in an eerie manner and Ilea asked herself why she didn’t leave after being so outclassed by the guardian.