Chapter 256 The Blue Reaper
Not finding any sign of life, Ilea walked into one of the adjacent tunnels at random. A couple minutes of walking later, she noted there was blood on the floor. Somewhat dry but her sphere picked it up in the pitch black darkness. No corpse either but that could mean anything. There was however no trail leading anywhere so she kept walking onward. A clicking noise soon started resounding as she walked farther.
Stopping near the opening at the end of the hallway, she was pretty sure whatever was causing the clicking resided inside the room or hall beyond. Alright Jalapeno monster…, Her wings taking her upwards, she floated in when a hard push of mind magic smashed against her mental defenses. A blinding headache made her stumble before her healing repaired the damage. Another wave washed over her, bringing her to one knee as she breathed hard, blood flowing from her nose when she heard a shrieking noise coming from ahead.
Taking a stumbling step, her healing mana flowed through her brain. The next step was more steady and now the creature was in range of her sphere. Six legs ending in sharp bone, two legs held up and a sparkling ball forming between them. Its head looked a little like a mantis, two antennas growing upwards. The blue lightning illuminated the creature like an ominous predator in the dark, its bony carapace interspersed by blue color before a flash of lightning zapped towards her. Ilea dodged to the side, quick enough to avoid the scorching beam.
Her mind heated up again as she saw the creature recoil, screeching in pain as it scuttled backwards. Another ball of lightning formed and it would have certainly made for a dangerous look were it not for the fact that the monster was barely as big as a dachshund.
[Blue Reaper - ??]
Lightning zapped her way, ash forming a wall before her. It barely managed to penetrate the wall of ash and her Veil behind. Muscles tensing up, Ilea felt the energy course through her, some of it converted to mana and stamina, the rest burning through her skin and organs. Healing the wounds, she decided to dodge the blasts again. It wasn’t enough to incapacitate her but a series of attacks would be dangerous. That small little fucker is more powerful than Trian…,
The concept was somehow hard to grasp but it was the reality of things. Ilea decided not to take anymore attacks, the testing phase over and she had learned what she had wanted to know. Can she take the attacks and stay alive. The mental note was ticked off while she blinked next to the creature. Landing on it, she spread ash around, her limbs crashing into it with Wave of Ember as she held it down with her hands and body. Lightning coursed through her from the panicking beast as her mind was rattled by the powerful magic.
Her fist landed on the monster’s head, damaging one of the antennas as it screeched, trying to get out of her grasp. It had a surprising amount of mana stored in that small body, Ilea’s healing barely keeping up with the ridiculous damage it put out every second. The second hit of her fist onto one of its legs broke both the bone and the stone floor below. The mental attack subsided somewhat but the lightning continued. Ilea repeated the attack on another of its legs, the creature still trying to get away from her, clawing at the ash with its sharp arms.
Another crack resounded and then another, the monster screeching as a massive mental attack blinded Ilea’s senses for a moment. Her body locked up, the creature crawling out from her grasp in the short time. Three of its eight legs broken, it still moved rather quickly but Ilea still heard it, saw it in her sphere as soon as she had control over her senses back. She saw one of its eyes had blown out, likely from the feedback of the mental attack it had just used. A blink brought her right back next to the beast, her ashen limbs smashing into it, Ilea stomping down as hard as she could.
Lightning flashed in the dark, the smell of burnt skin in her nose as she stomped again. The exoskeleton was tough but nothing compared to the knights in Tremor. A third kick broke another leg, Ilea now kneeling down and wailing on the creature as it spend the rest of its mana to send out waves of lightning and mind magic. All taken in by Ilea, resisted and healed. A final crack resounded, the back of the creature breaking and killing it instantly.
Ilea coughed and rolled to the side, breathing hard as she noticed the pain in her throat and eyes. Blood had ran down her face and several of her organs had been damaged by the lightning. Resistance my ass…, It was no wonder scavengers feared them as much as they did.
‘ding’ ‘You have defeated [Blue Reaper – lvl 363] – For defeating an enemy ninety or more levels above your own, bonus experience is granted’
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth First Hunter has reached lvl 256 – Five stat points awarded’
Ilea coughed as she lay there, pain turned off now that her adrenaline wore off, eyes reconstructing in the bloody sockets left behind after the energy had popped them. She felt alive. Another level had been gained. Probably five to ten of them for a level… maybe less. What they lacked in defense, they certainly held in magic power. For Ilea the difference was that these enemies she could kill in a couple minutes while knights even at her own level took hours to take down.
Problems would occur when there were groups of them. She was fairly sure two she could handle. The mind magic at least but the lightning only started when she had touched it. It was surprising that their defense was as tough as it was considering the powerful magical ability. Has to stand against the monsters too, probably more often than any human or other sentient explorer. Calming down from the short but intense battle, she checked her health and found it topped off again, her mana recovering quickly thanks to Meditation. No pain remained and her resistances coupled with defensive skills and healing had prevailed.
Blue Reapers were on the menu. Grinning at her success, Ilea stood up and lifted the small corpse. Trying to smash its head proved difficult, the skull while tiny had insane resistance. So much so that the stone below cracked before the bone did. The joints in the legs were the weak spots and Ilea carefully checked where they were and in which way they could bend. Simply smashing them might be less effective than just bending them backwards with enough force.
After a couple minutes of testing, she found that holding them at a certain angle and then punching down was the easiest way to crack them. As soon as the creature couldn’t move as quickly, it would be a sitting duck. If it overwhelmed her, she could simply leave and heal up before coming back to finish the job. She considered even several of them could be manageable using such tactics. It had a way to see her, both in the ash as well as the dark hallway but as much was expected. Ilea assumed most higher level beings had some way to sense mana or living beings other than purely their eyes.
Otherwise more people would’ve used such a loophole to hunt blinded foes. Some probably did…, It would be the absolute jackpot to find an animal easily blinded by ash and unable to respond to her ashen limbs. Blue Reapers weren’t that but they were high level and quickly killed monsters. “Now to find your nest little bugs…,”
Storing the broken and bleeding corpse in her necklace, she walked on. Another positive of the reaper was that her armor hadn’t been damaged. The coating had heated up a little, small lightning forms showing where the magic had surged the strongest but otherwise the Rose Hunter set was perfectly fine. Ilea hoped she wasn’t murdering a perfectly sentient tribe of insect people or dark ones that simply couldn’t communicate with her. Maybe the clicking had been a warning. Not enough to justify attacking me with a killing blow to anybody with less resistances and defense.
More cave openings and tunnels as well as cracks leading to lower floors showed themselves to her as she walked onward. Trying to busy herself, Ilea used her wings to navigate through the small tunnel, keeping them a little tucked in at all times whilst heating up her body and ash with Embered Body Heat. Hunter’s Sight worked overtime as well, Ilea looking for any trace of Blue Reapers or anything else she could hunt. The goal was of course to get all her remaining skills to at least the second stage and level twenty. Resistances would get to whatever she could manage but considering that monster had managed to blind her with mind magic alone and she hadn’t even gained a level there, she wasn’t about to have her brain fried. Not if it was a wild beast doing the magic.
Half an hour passed before she heard another clicking, the grin on her face returning as she prepared for battle. This time she slowly floated towards the noise, her magic adding more and more ash to the swirling and writhing mass that surrounded her. A pulse of magic punched into her mind, her wings wavering as she lost control, catching herself a split second later as her ash surrounded the reaper. Limbs of ash extended and smashed into it, Wave of Ember coursing through the monster while its destructive power flowed through her mind. Ilea found that with meditation and her healing, the damage was controllable.
The lightning attacks it sent out where blocked by her ash and Veil, the damage that got through was healed as well, Ilea building up more ash than she could reasonably control but it made it harder for the enemy magic to get to her. Focusing on the eight limbs, she kept on attacking, dodging the lightning strikes whenever possible. Jumping closer right after it had missed an attack, she grabbed one of its legs and broke it just the way she had done with the corpse’s. Other than the lightning nearly locking up her muscles in the process and frying a good portion of her right side, there were no problems with the move. The leg cracked at the joint and Ilea moved back again, healing and meditating as the beast screeched in pain and anger.
Its magic continued to blast into her but she simply out healed whatever got through her defenses, a thick mist of ash clouding the whole area up to the ceiling. The mantis like head kept its eyes on her, broken limb uselessly dragged at its side as it continuously sent its destructive waves of magic power towards her mind and body. Again, Ilea blinked next to it and broke another leg at the expense of her own health. With two of its legs broken and more damage coming in from her ashen limbs continuously, it finally decided to try and flee.
Checking her health, Ilea found it well above half and simply appeared next to the running creature, grabbing on before she started smashing her fist into the carapace around its small frame. The dull sounds of bone hitting against rock resounded through the dark halls, only the thrumming of lightning occasionally adding to the noise. Ten hits later, something cracked and silence returned to the halls of the old city, leading farther down into the Descent.
‘ding’ ‘You have defeated [Blue Reaper – lvl 329] – For defeating an enemy seventy or more levels above your own, bonus experience is granted’
‘ding’ ‘Inheritor of Eternal Ash has reached lvl 249 – Five stat points awarded’
Ilea smiled, much less damaged from this encounter than the last. Not overextending at first certainly helped. Blinking before the lightning hit her was preferable but having the whole area full of ash made it hard to get it all away from the moving critter. If the ash touched her and the enemy, she couldn’t blink. Next time I’ll do better. Still, it was much simpler than facing the knights. She was a little annoyed at how much experience these simple insects gave her just because of the high level and powerful magic. They were less of a challenge that was sure. Terok would be fried immediately though… as would many others. He could fight the knight and survive.
Of course she could see some logic in it all but already she was craving to fight two or three at a time to make it more of a challenge. I really am a nutty masochistic fighting crack…, She knew it already but thoughts like that still sometimes surprised her. She had reached level two hundred, had a house and thousands of gold pieces invested in a growing city. Ilea had the option to lie back, enjoy all the food in the world and maybe bring skiing to Ravenhall and Elos. A life of comfort and pleasantries, with friends and maybe even family at some point. Behind the walls of Ravenhall. One of the strongest humans and a power to fear.
Yet she was here, in the Descent, a pitch black tunnel somewhere in the north with blood dripping down her chin from the lightning blasts that had again nearly fucked up her eyes. And she loved it. Loved the thrill, the next challenge, the next monster to kill in a fight for survival. Considering the damage they each dealt to the other it wasn’t just a hunt, not a predator and prey, just two magic beings brawling until one was dead. Ilea refused the notion that she was simply doing this for power. It felt more like monsters acting on instinct. If she wanted to, she could already be an influence in human territory. She didn’t do this to become the empress of Lys, nor the head of the Shadow’s Hand. She did it because it was fun.
Storing the corpse, she continued onward. Next to experience she’d be gaining silver from the Blue Reapers as well. Not the reason she was there but it was a welcome addition. She noted that the hallway ended, a big chunk in the wall missing to reveal a cave like tunnel beyond. The marks and cuts on the walls as well as the size of the opening indicated that the reapers had carved it out. How long did that take to do?
It was likely the place or one of many they used to come into the Descent. Ilea crouched and moved into it, finding the opening just high enough to crawl. Were this a tunnel of Rhyvor, filled with Rose Knights crawling around she’d turn back and seal it with whatever she could find. Though a hyper aggressive behavior on her part coupled with the small space for reapers to escape, it might work. Ilea followed the tunnel, crawling through as she listened for the clicking noise.
Ten minutes later, she heard it. The tunnel wasn’t completely straight, allowing her to blink to safety, at least against lightning blasts coming her way. Either the reapers hadn’t anticipated a foe to do something like this or this was literally the stupidest way to engage them for anybody but her. She found the critter behind a bend, her mind immediately blasted with magic as soon as it heard her. The thing didn’t even need a line of sight. Just like me.
Listening carefully while she healed her mind, Ilea was pretty sure there was only one of them. Blinking behind the reaper, she wrestled it and resisted the lightning that immediately spread through her body. A crack resounded and then another before she let go and blinked back to her safe spot, at least lightning wise. The smell of burnt skin came to her nose as her tissue reformed and healed. Watching the beast writhe in pain at its broken bones made her focus on recovery for a minute before she blinked in again, all her offensive skills working in tandem. Another two of its limbs were broken, its central shell showing a crack before Ilea blinked back again. The tunnel was an even better way to fight them than the hallways from before.
‘ding’ ‘Mental Resistance reaches 2nd lvl 12’
Smiling at the news, she appeared above the creature and smashed her fists onto the carapace as well as the little space allowed. With her high Dexterity as well as perception it was less of a detriment than she initially anticipated. Another four hits and several sections of her body burnt and damaged, the reaper fell.
‘ding’ ‘You have defeated [Blue Reaper – lvl 341] – For defeating an enemy eighty or more levels above your own, bonus experience is granted’
Storing the corpse, she crawled on to find more. Meditation and Hunter Recovery worked hard to restore her to full health in the process. Her crawling speed wasn’t exactly spectacular, allowing her to meditate during her search.
Ilea grew a little frustrated after crawling for two hours and not finding a single enemy. The tunnels weaved into the stone, more and more ways to explore or get lost in. She tried to sketch it out in her notebook but made sure to cut into the stone as well. Little crosses to mark where she had been before with arrows to show where she had come from. The markings were perfectly visible to her sphere in the dark tunnels. Ilea had expected the claustrophobic and dark space to be at least somewhat of an issue but she felt like a crazed miner sure to find a new vein in the gold rush.
The only problem she saw was if the reapers repaired the tunnels, perhaps removed her markings but she had no idea to know. At least the critters weren’t that fast, her blink likely able to outpace them easily before she could heal and meditate. For a while at least.