Chapter 268 Bloody Mess
The barrier it turned out, was just a layer of stone without any enchantments or further tricks or traps. Just a separation between the apparent third layer they had crossed and the fourth laying beyond. Whoever had built this had just felt the need to decorate the entryway in the dark tunnel. “To think they had an escape route straight to the second layer.” Austin commented while Baron prepared the drill head for one of his arms.
Compared to Terok he needed quite a while to switch it out. At least he had a storage item of sorts to keep the massive thing. The ranger had looked at him a little too long when he had summoned the jagged extension. “Why did you help us?” Seath suddenly asked Ilea, the two of them leaning on the wall to give the dwarf space.
Ilea looked her way and back to the dwarf who seemed to have difficulties screwing on the bit, cursing about roaches and incapable smiths. She shrugged, smiling when the dwarf started to smash the wall, trying to just force it on. “I guess I didn’t want to see people eaten by roaches.”
“We’re more dangerous to you alive…,” Seath added.
Finally getting the extension on, Baron laughed as it whirled to life. Ilea couldn’t help but notice the thing wasn’t exactly fitted evenly but with the size and quickly increasing torque it would hardly be an issue, “I survived worse, even if you suddenly decide to jump me.” Ilea simply said, thinking it a little bizarre that the woman told her as much. “Are you a danger to me?”
A sly grin, “I doubt it. It’s just rare you know… to find someone willing to help without anything promised in return.”
Lack of sleepless nights over your screaming as you’re eaten alive by huge insects is return enough. Ilea thought, not voicing it as the sound of the drill hitting stone started to reverberate around them. Her hearing was reduced to the lowest she could go. She wondered how long her search for a way down would have taken without the help of these three. Probably not much longer but the third layer was supposedly full of water and she’d be thankful for skipping that one any day.
Stone cracked, pieces of debris flying off to the side. One chunk of rock was caught by Ilea before it could smash into the healer next to her. Forming a wall of ash, she heard Austin complain before he jumped on top of the dwarf’s machine, blood dripping down from his forehead where a pebble had hit it. A loud rumble after a couple minutes of boring made Ilea spread her wings, ashen limbs holding on to the healer before the ground collapsed entirely, the dwarf laughing loudly before he smashed his arms into the walls. Austin grinned, holding onto the mech’s head.
“Down we go.” Ilea said, falling past the dwarf before stopping a couple dozen meters farther down. Dim lights illuminated the hallways around them, her wings fading away a moment later before the two stepped a couple meters to the side. Baron landed on the stone, cracks forming where his heavy weight pushed into the floor. Austin hopped off and looked around expectantly. Ilea threw him the map, the thing hitting his shoulder and dropping to the ground. The man whirled around and fumbled for his bow, Ilea squinting at him while Baron literally snickered.
Ilea just shook her head with a smile as the man took the map, looking at Baron with a bit of embarrassment showing on his face. “This is the fourth layer, we should keep as quiet as possible.” Seath said.
“Probably traps all around too.” Baron said, cracking his metal knuckles. There was no crack of course.
Maybe with another ten thousand points in Strength. Ilea thought as she took in the surroundings. Compared to the natural look the first layer had, the hallway looked similar to the city below Hallowfort. Of course that was technically the first layer of the Descent, it simply wasn’t considered that. Ilea wondered, “Hey, do you guys think the city above the first layer was always a dungeon?”
It was Austin who replied, “Who cares, city, dungeon. Treasure’s around and monsters as well.”
Ilea rolled her eyes. “Why build a city in a dungeon? Probably turned into one after it was abandoned or its peoplekilled.” Baron suggested.
Just seems kind of similar to Tremor. City turned dungeon. Maybe I’ll find another live king and queen here. She grinned. The light illuminating parts of the hallways was magical, cold and flickering in places. The walls and floor were simple stone, nothing extraordinary like the marble in the palace of Tremor or the white stone Taleen dungeons usually seemed to have. A worn carpet in a dark red color lay in the middle of one of the hallways. Ilea’s senses in her sphere were sharpened now instead of reduced. A familiar scent was immediately picked up. “Blood.” She said simply.
Austin nodded absentmindedly as he studied the parchment, “Of course there’s blood.” He murmured, “Fucking rookies, coming to the fourth layer and complaining about blood.” The man went on before he walked off.
Baron shrugged, the movement rather spacious with his massive suit but he followed Austin, his flashlight checking through the corridors. Seath checked as well, closing her eyes as she likely tried to hear if anything was nearby. Ilea walked next to her, all senses checking their surroundings, “What’s in the fourth layer then?”
“A bunch of nasty things.” Seath replied, talking in a whisper, “Pure Blooded, disgusting creatures that look like deformed humans. They’re pretty fast and venomous, usually around…,” Her voice froze as she stared forward.
Ilea followed her gaze and found Austin with a drawn bow, waiting. Baron’s light shined on a creature around fifty meters further down their way. About as tall as Seath but hunched over, a face that looked like it had melted and two arms propping it up, both ending in nasty spiked bone. Ilea appeared a little behind Austin to not get into his line of fire. The beast seemed uninterested so far. Being a little closer up, Ilea could see that its skin was torn, only bits and pieces remaining of what it had to have been at some point. A human, or at least a creature with an anatomy close enough. Blood dripped from its body, primarily comprised of muscle and bone.
Kinda looks like demon spawn. Ilea thought. She wondered if it was a coincidence or if someone summoned them here, maybe an experiment with demon magic or the runes Weavy liked to use. Her thought process was interrupted when the beast suddenly opened whatever was left of its mouth, a gurgling noise coming out before it tensed up and rushed towards the four of them. Before the beast could even take two steps, Austin’s arrow smashed into its waist, blue light flashing up before the thing smashed down into the ground.
It tried getting up but another pulse of lightning went through it, limbs spasming before a simple steel arrow smashed into its shoulder, cutting deep into its body. Austin held up three fingers, counting down. When his last finger came down, a dull noise resounded, some shrapnel digging into the stone floor. The man winced when one of the pieces cut into his leather coat. Ilea looked at him sideways and raised her eyebrows. Not bad. A bit like Philipp’s arrows. Maybe he’s an enchanter as well. The man’s arrows had even gutted her pretty badly. She wondered if Austin could live up to that. Level wise he was a little behind but not by much.
The man sighed, notching another arrow before that one entered near the other shoulder. Another dull sound. Austin gave a thumbs up after that and continued onward. “What was it’s level?” Ilea asked.
He had another arrow ready to be fired, “Two eighty. They’re powerful but fucking stupid.” He added.
“Why don’t you farm them then until you reach that level?” Ilea asked. She was also wondering why Austin was the one walking in front and not Baron who was quite literally the closest to an actual tank she had seen so far in Elos.
Austin smiled, “Because one, I’m not fucking retarded. Two, I just said they’re powerful. Do you want to see what they can do once they reach you? Well I don’t.”
I kinda do. Ilea thought, interested how their attacks differed from the demons. Spawn usually had clawed hands and these seemed to just have a single bladed arm. “Maybe we’ll find out soon what they can do.” Ilea said, hearing the noise coming from further down the hallway. Austin seemed to notice a moment later and lost a bit of the color on his face.
“What the hell are they doing? They shouldn’t react to any of that.” He grumbled, turning around and pointing to the back, “We’re leaving. Back to the shaft, wait them out.”
Ilea wasn’t about to leave without at least testing herself against them. If their level was around two eighty she’d at least try. “Ranged variants? Can they see without eyes? Level range?” She asked briefly, ash forming around her as the three others quickly ran towards the hall they had come from. Ilea blinked next to the running form of Austin.
“Gods lady. Usually no ranged, barely, they can smell well but mostly rely on sight, range between two fifty and fuck knows. I suggest you come with us.” He said and jumped up, bow on his back as he jumped from one side of the shaft to the other. Ilea watched in amazement as Baron bent his knees before jumping off, his heavy arms smashing into both walls before he dragged himself upwards.
Fucker is strong, or his suit is. She glanced at Seath who looked at her, frantic eyes darting to the hallway before jumping up into the exit with the most graceful movement out of the three. Blinking back towards the corpse, Ilea moved it a little with her ash, checking for possible weaknesses. The tips of its bone blades were poisoned, her resistance informed her about as much. It looked strong, fast and certainly dangerous but somehow Ilea didn’t feel very intimidated. Let’s see how you fare.
The noises from ahead definitely came from more of the creatures but after waiting for a minute, they seemed to have passed. Are you kidding me? Ilea thought and blinked towards them, her Hunter’s Sight immediately picking up the droplets of blood that marked their way. More corridors opened up as she followed, the noises growing again before a blink brought them into her Sphere. Six of them, running as if whips lashed behind them. Their movements were certainly not refined, feral almost. Ilea blinked next to the one closest to her. Identifying all of the creatures, none had a triple mark, some even identifiable. A fist sending destructive mana and physical force into the creature smashed it into the opposite wall, an explosion of ash dimming out the light coming from the magical lamps above. She would have to move away the ash around her whenever she blinked but if it blinded them somewhat, Ilea would still be at an advantage.
The monsters screeched, at least smart enough to quickly notice the intruder among them. Ilea blinked to the opposite side of the group, ignoring the one she had already damaged. Ashen limbs and a fist smashed into the Pure Blooded. It whirled around faster than she had expected, grazing at her Veil as she stepped back. Panicked. She thought, appearing again on the other side, continuously adding ash to the cloud blinding their vision. A quick grab and twirl sent one of the creatures crashing into the wall, its weight quite high but manageable for Ilea’s enhanced body. A series of screeches as the beasts slashed at an invisible foe, Ilea simply blinking to the wall, ignoring their attacks.
Observing the two she had struck, she found them back on their legs, not looking particularly damaged. Appearing next to one of them, she kicked instead at one of its legs, her ashen limbs attacking the other. Both attacks got through, the joint giving out against the brutal force. One downed. Grinning at the result, Ilea decided it was the easiest way to deal with them. The next five minutes were spent on braking legs, the creatures entirely overwhelmed by the ash around them, whatever hearing they had drowned by the cries of their brethren. Ilea didn’t even blink anymore, simply letting her ashen limbs cut into the downed monsters, delivering wave upon wave of her destructive mana.
Being in contact with the ash around her allowed her additionally to pump reversed recovery into her enemies. If only I could use the third tier here, one quick flesh explosion. She grinned when the first one of them fell to her assault, her magic entirely castrating whatever danger they posed.
‘ding’ ‘You have defeated [Pure Blooded – lvl 269]’
‘ding’ ‘You have defeated [Pure Blooded – lvl 311] – For defeating an enemy fifty levels or more above your own, bonus experience is granted’
The last one had been the only one above three hundred. Ilea knew exactly which one it had been too. It took her considerably longer to finish it but in the end it died all the same, its senses overwhelmed just like the others. It hadn’t been enough to level up but if she could hunt these creatures for a while, she’d be golden. Damage output that can’t reach me, fucking blinded by ash and a trillion times faster to kill than Rose Knights. The thought was interrupted when a sloshing sound came from behind her.
Another one of the creatures came into view, Ilea’s ash floating back up right after she identified it.
[Blood Carrier – lvl ??]
“Came for them?” She asked, taking in the creature through her sphere. It was bigger than the others, its mass at least five to six times as much. Instead of sharpened bones acting as arms, this one had thick tree trunk like limbs, ending in big chunks of bone. A massive amount of mana suddenly formed around it, Ilea moving the ash a little, preparing to blink. The move was definitely smart as the creature’s speed increased, propelling it forward and making her teleport.
Appearing behind where the creature hat been, Ilea watched it come to a stop and turn around. I have a feeling that getting hit by that wouldn’t…, Her thought interrupted, she blinked again. The thing was slow to start but definitely one of the quickest beings she had ever encountered. With all that mass…, The concept was ridiculous but she was seeing it with her own eyes, or her sphere at least. Quickly thinking how to damage the thing, Ilea appeared behind it before it had turned towards her again, the woman smashing the sharp ends of her ashen limbs into its massive back.
The cuts were shallow but enough to keep her there as she punched it with all her related buffs and offensive spells. A dull crack resounded, Ilea having focused on the spine that jutted out. She doubted the tree trunk like legs would snap quite as easily as those of the weaker variants. A surge of mana and the thing proved her method of attack questionable, instead moving backwards before it smacked into her. Being connected with her limbs prevented her from blinking, the impact pushing out the air in her lungs.
Her bones held, groaning as the force went through her body. The impact sent her flying towards the wall but Ilea still found herself unable to blink, problem being the monster still moving as quickly as she was flying, faster even. Ash spread behind her as she braced for the impact. This time her bones gave, shattering and squashing her whole chest and stomach. The wall behind her was crushed, her form stuck within, armor bent inward. It had taken a part of the force but the hit had been direct, the wall too close for her to do anything about it.
The beast moved away a single meter, mana surging again when Ilea blinked as far away as she could. Storing her broken armor, she sacrificed a thousand points of mana for her third tier recovery. A yelp left her as her bones moved back into the right position, her organs reformed from the mush that was left, the muscles around her lungs healing before air reached them again. Spitting on the ground, she added to the sea of blood that was forming in the small hallway, a fresh set of armor appearing on her.
Now it’s personal. Sending away all the ash around them, she waited for the beast to move. The mana buildup was noticeable, even without a perception skill. Blinking was the only move she had that was quick enough to avoid it but this time Ilea waited for the last possible moment, blinking just far enough to hit it once. She messed up the first two tries, too far away to reach it with her fists. The third try however, her fist landed with grueling force, the spine further damaged while ashen limbs delivered their payload, further cutting into the already mangled back.
Blinking right after to avoid another hydraulic press experience, she made some distance between the two. The beast wasn’t stupid and quickly caught on, starting to delay the charges as well as charging closer or farther away. In the end though, Ilea blinked with reaction and it didn’t catch her off guard, its charge up for the attack too slow and noticeable for her to be fooled with any variation. A single mess up could cost her another thousand or more mana or even her life if she was unlucky but now that she knew what the beast could do, it had become prey.
It took the better part of twenty minutes to finally crack its spine, her attacks landing few and far between because of its changing behavior towards the second part of their fight. After that, the thing got slower, weaker, almost sluggish. It was a wonder the monster still stood and moved at all but Ilea could say the same about herself after being squashed against the wall like a bloody fly.
‘ding’ ‘You have defeated [Blood Carrier – lvl 382] – For defeating an enemy one hundred and twenty levels or more above your own, bonus experience is granted’
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth First Hunter has reached lvl 261 – Five stat points awarded’
‘ding’ ‘Inheritor of Eternal Ash has reached lvl 254 – Five stat points awarded’
She sank to her knees, panting hard as her helmet came off. Laughing reverberated through the hallway, interrupted when the woman spit another mouthful of blood onto the ground. Ten stat points were immediately put into Wisdom as her meditation picked up.