Chapter 282 Decisive Battle
Ilea crouched on all fours, spears rushing past her before her ashen limbs dashed out, each hit delivering Wave of Ember. Blinking, she appeared behind one of the Centurions, moving her head to the side as it tried to backhand her with a quick blow. She grabbed onto the arm before she kicked at its legs, getting in two clean hits before she had to jump away, her wings taking her over the spear thrown after her. A moment of silence as she hovered over the black mist of ash, a big part of the hall now covered in it, ready to move at her whim.
Blinking back inside, she closed in on the Centurion she deemed most heavily damaged. The ash around her formed walls to slow down the other two machines, her arm deflecting the sharp spear blade it thrust at her before she delivered another hard blow to its torso. She noted her mana had reached nearly half, the eight limbs each attacking taking a toll on her resources coupled with all her other buffs and attacks, no time or breathing room left to use Meditation. Knowing they likely had no way of regenerating, Ilea stopped using her ashen limbs and simply focused on Destruction, the added physical damage from her blows using up only Endurance, of which she still had plenty to spare.
While the three were learning to deal with her better and better, they became increasingly defensive, going so far as to give her time to recover some mana. Of course they were machines but to what extent they could think or make decisions, Ilea didn’t know. Were they prioritizing their own life or the destruction of the enemy? She knew that once they reached a certain level of health, they focused on attacks only. She just had to get one of them to that level and perhaps the blast from its exploding core would damage the others. A quick burst of attacks from her ashen limbs after she had appeared behind the most damaged one brought it sufficiently low. Ilea added a dented leg to its injuries with a hard kick when its core started to crack, white light escaping from within.
The Centurion was about to blow and she wanted to make it count. Stepping under its attempted grab, she twirled to dodge an incoming spear throw and grabbed one of its legs. Ashen limbs swirled around her arm and onto the metal to give her even more stability. The core was brighter now, Ilea turning before she cried out, the body thrown towards the two machines looking on with uncaring green light shining in their eyes. Ash rushed in front of her, the blast partially blinding and deafening her before her healing took care of both.
The explosion happened outside her range of perception, her Veil burnt through but her high Heat and Blast Resistances negating most of what had actually managed to get to her Stonehammer steel armor. The coating was burnt off in the front, showing the silver steel below. Ilea grinned ear to ear when she saw one of the Centurions bent and broken, trying to crawl towards her, one arm holding onto its spear, using it as a crutch to move. She turned her head towards the other machine, slowly starting to advance towards it as her Veil reformed, ashen limbs on her back coming back to life before her wings spread.
Half of the Centurion was scorched, the greenish metal black and smoking when Ilea sped up, her fist blocked by the machine’s spear. Its arms worked hard to keep her at bay, the spindly legs moving back when her ash delivered a set of her invasive mana. Ilea turned and caught the spear thrown by the damaged machine, blinking towards it and smashing the weapon down with all the power she could muster. The blade glanced off and dug into the stone, getting stuck before Ilea stomped down onto the machine’s head. Three blows she could manage before the other enemy appeared again, the broken one now trying to pull its head out of the floor. Ilea noted with a smile that its core was starting to crack, the part connecting its slim torso to the six legs lighting up the dim surroundings. The remaining foe circled her carefully, its spear held in the middle, ready to defend against her attacks. She noted it circled away from its damaged counterpart, the machine still trying to pry its head out of the ground, failing with only one arm and two barely working legs.
The explosion rocked through the hall, fire and shrapnel clashing against her walls of ash. Ilea used the moment to blink, advancing on the defensive Centurion that desperately tried to pierce her with its spear, neither speed nor power quite enough to break through her defenses, Ilea’s full focus on it alone. Ashen limbs delivered destructive payloads of mana, more and more of its body showing dents and scratches before it suddenly changed its behavior. Moving quickly, the Centurion gave her a lot of openings, attacking more quickly and with wider range. Ilea was anticipating it and dodged under the attacks, one thrust glancing past her side with minimal impact.
One. Her fist smashed into the core, all the weight and power of her body and buffs crashing against the metal. Her bones groaned before she blinked, dodging the counter attack coming as a response. Two. This time she used her left arm, hitting in an uppercut motion to maximize the strength she could put into it. A full does of Destruction and Wave of Ember crashing into the machine, four of her ashen limbs smashing into its torso in the meantime, the other four cut through by the Centurion. When it tried to grab her, Ilea simply blinked away, her wings flapping and bringing her high above the monster.
Its green eyes focused on her, the thing crouched and jumped, hands outstretched before a blinding light enveloped it. Ilea blinked backwards, ash forming in front of her as she crossed her arms, the blast sending her into the wall behind her. Her Veil held, her back a little injured from the impact, pieces of the wall falling down when she pried herself out of it a moment later. Meditation and Healing magic flowed through her, Terok appearing right next to her.
“Are you ok?” He asked a second time, Ilea’s hearing returning healing mana reached the unimportant organs.
She gave him a thumbs up and looked around the room. “Check if more are coming, warn me.” Blinking towards the elves watching from the balcony, she spread her wings and quickly closed the distance.
Ignoring Goldie’s hissing, she extended her ash to the injured brown haired elf with leather armor. Noting that the wound hadn’t reopened, she gave the red haired one a quick nod. One of her ashen limbs extended towards him as well, the warrior not stopping her. Raising her eyebrows, she gave him a quick look and pushed healing magic into him as well. “Impressive that you’re still conscious.” She murmured.
“We didn’t need your help.” Goldie said, stepping a little closer before a quick hit from Ilea’s flat hand sent him back and into the railing. He would’ve fallen were it not for his teleporting ability. Again he hissed, his claws growing in size and thrumming with magic.
Ilea didn’t react further, “I’m healing your friends.” She stated, “You should think very carefully about your next words hunter.” She was honestly surprised to see him actually listen to her, disappearing before he started clawing into the stone walls of the hall, screaming and cursing.
“We appreciate the help.” The red haired one said, sighing as he relaxed and closed his eyes. He still stood, only slightly leaning on the nearby wall. Ilea gave him another nod, quickly checking her messages as she meditated and pumped healing mana into them. Both were nearly dead, meaning it would take a while.
‘ding’ ‘Your group has defeated [Taleen Centurion – lvl 312] – For defeating an enemy forty or more levels above your own, bonus experience is granted’
‘ding’ ‘Your group has defeated [Taleen Centurion – lvl 315] – For defeating an enemy fifty or more levels above your own, bonus experience is granted’
‘ding’ ‘Your group has defeated [Taleen Centurion – lvl 305] – For defeating an enemy forty or more levels above your own, bonus experience is granted’
‘ding’ ‘Azarinth First Hunter has reached lvl 264 – Five stat points awarded’
‘ding’ ‘State of Azarinth reaches 3rd lvl 8’
‘ding’ ‘Blink reaches 3rd lvl 8’
‘ding’ ‘Veil of Ash reaches 3rd lvl 7’
‘ding’ ‘Blast Resistance reaches 2nd lvl 2’
Ilea smirked at the Blast Resistance level up when Terok landed on the balcony. “Clear. I checked a couple dozen meters into the next hallway but it’s quiet. Other than the angry one down in the hall we’re good.”
She nodded, “Thanks for checking.” The elf on the ground was slowly opening his eyes then, coughing a little. He groaned and sat up to see the group. The white haired one was still raging below, at least channeling his anger issues into something productive like tearing down the Taleen dungeon’s walls. The red haired one didn’t so much as move, eyes focused on her. “I’m not attacking you if you don’t do anything stupid.”
To her surprise it was the elf sitting on the ground who spoke, “Define stupid. Thank you for saving us human. Unnecessary but appreciated.”
His blue eyes stared into her own, his long brown hair braided and falling to his back. It was his voice only that outed him as a male, his features delicate and sleek. You’re staring. “Like attacking us instead of the dungeon walls.”
“I doubt even he would chose to act that impulsive.” The elf replied, laughing a little nervously.
He definitely would. Neither spoke of it. “You’re Cerithil hunters are you not?” Ilea asked, the blue eyes elf looking into her eyes again. God he’s dreamy. I feel like one of those romance novel protagonists.
He coughed and looked away, Ilea noticing that the red haired one was smirking, albeit damn near imperceptibly. “We are. None of us expected to find so many Centurions here. The dungeon was rumored to be dangerous, even in the northern territory.”
Goldie appeared again then, brushing off the dust from his thin metal armor, dented in several places. “Thanks for saving his life. Now leave, this dungeon is our burden.”
Ilea just shook her head and smiled, Terok laughing before she could hit the elf again. “You’re living dangerously elf. I’d shut up if I were you.” The dwarf said.
Ilea stepped closer to the elf, “Your burden… what if I claim it then. Let’s have a bout then elf. You against me. If you win I’ll leave you alone and you can go die against the next group of Taleen. I win and I get the dungeon, maybe I’ll let you help out if needed, maybe you’ll get one or two helpful pointers along the way.”
Heranuur smirked at the suggestion, knowing full well that Seviir would die were he to accept the proposal. The smirk was of course in part because he also knew their leader wouldn’t hesitate to fight the human. The human who had saved them, healed them and took out three Taleen Centurions on her own, surviving not just their combined efforts to kill her but the explosive blasts the group had tried so hard to prevent from even happening. It had taken him all to stay awake but he didn’t want to miss the fight. Neiphato would want him to become the new leader, a bad decision but Heranuur wouldn’t deny the responsibility. They would be less efficient with only two hunters remaining. It was an honor to fight alongside you. He thought, nodding towards Seviir.
“I accept human. To death.” Their leader said. Wasteful of course but it couldn’t be anything else, not with him.
Heranuur watched the human, her facial features hidden beneath the silver armor. The black coating had been blasted away, revealing the sturdy steel beneath, at least her front half. An ash creator, the limbs swaying on her back, ready to strike at her whims. Perhaps a worthy class for myself.
His thoughts were interrupted when she spoke, “Not to death. Didn’t you listen to the terms? Do the others accept as well?” She asked, looking at Neiphato and Heranuur in turn.
He couldn’t help but laugh, “I accept. To death.”
“Oh fucking hell. Alright, to death then.” The human said, both Heranuur and the dwarf laughing at her irritation.
We will all die today. He thought, unable to stop himself. He had always known that his mouth would kill him one day or the other. Maybe with all three of them they had a chance. Her mana must be low after all that healing. Not as low as Seviir who probably forgot to use Meditation again. Fucking idiot.
“I don’t think this will be necessary human. We are grateful for your help. A simple battle to determine the winner will be sufficient.” Neiphato tried but Heranuur just put a hand on his head.
Both the human and Seviir were already down in the hall, waiting for the two of them to join. “Don’t hold back. She’s a tough one.” He said to his teammate, his fellow cursed one and hunter of Cerithil. To die against a human and not the Taleen, unexpected but exciting nonetheless. Few and far are they, of human blood and powerful enough to oppose us. He wished to write down his last thoughts but they had left their packs outside of the dungeon.
Jumping down, Heranuur grinned when Neiphato appeared next to him. The elf was stubborn and afraid but he was there when he was needed. Not something he could say about everybody. “Two minutes and we start.” The human said in Standard, the language learned early by every elf. Mostly just to insult their prey but Heranuur had found it to be quite a lot more expressive than their own crude tongue.
To think they had existed and cultivated their culture for millennia but nobody ever bothered to add nicer vocabulary. Sighing, he extended his claws, fire emerging from deep withing before he was clad in the element, the elf appearing where he had hit the wall previously, collecting the two daggers lying nearby. Good, the blasts didn’t destroy them. A lucky occurrence. At least he wouldn’t die without showing off his best. The buffs came to life, red lines forming on his skin, the color scheme fitting his hair perfectly. A fact he was proud of. Perhaps a reason he had chosen fire to be his ally from early on. “I am prepared.” He spoke. “Heranuur, cursed hunter of Cerithil. Thrilled to face thee in battle.” He brandished his blades and bowed a little, acknowledging her power.
[Warrior – lvl ??]
Seviir rolled his eyes, avoiding to look at him but Heranuur didn’t care. He would have his traditions, the young idiot be damned. “Ilea, warrior of ash. Thrilled to face you in battle too, Heranuur.” The human seemed intrigued, her blue eyes sparkling as ash formed around her, a shroud ready to devour them all. He couldn’t hold his excitement. The two minutes passed and he disappeared, his blades aimed at the ash when he reemerged. She was gone of course, his magic perception telling him she had chosen Seviir as her first target. Neiphato was moving too, two short swords at his side as they rushed at the human.
Even now, he’s not choosing his strongest weapon. A decision that might cost them all their lives but one Heranuur could at least respect. Seviir of course had tried to match her, not using his mobility to his advantage. His claws cut through air whilst the human’s fists smashed into his armor, denting the golden metal and cracking bones beneath. His magic flared up, his body turning as he saw blue eyes staring at him, ashen limbs moving towards him before he smirked, exploding in fire. The ash was blown away but the human moved on, ignoring his blades before her fists smashed into him.
The air was blown out of his lungs, his armor dented. She was smoking but the fire hadn’t done anything else. He grinned wide, another explosion blasting into her and another fist hitting him. His daggers scratched on her armor but didn’t manage to penetrate, her ash quickly reappearing and moving to block the weak points. This time she hit his head, his brain whirling as a part of his helmet dug into skin. Someone intervened, likely Seviir. The human was gone again, his sight turning as he got up again, blades in hand and looking for their foe.
He saw her grabbing onto Seviir’s leg before smashing him into the ground, ripping him out of the stone again, she threw him into the closest wall. The elf was out. So much for fighting injured and exhausted. He knew they were at a disadvantage but Seviir could do better. Perhaps this was the death he deserved for his arrogance. The human looked up to the ceiling and sighed, her form illuminated in the dull green light of the Taleen. Marvelous. He thought, To fight one such as her to the death.
Glancing at Neiphato, his eyes opened wide, feeling the magic built up in the hunter. Finally.
“We’re done here. Or do you wish to be knocked out as well?” The human suddenly spoke.
No! Why in this instant?! Heranuur sighed. It was of course the sensible decision. Neither would Neiphato’s change of mind would’ve changed anything.
“You have proven to be the stronger one.” Neiphato said, his magic calming down again. “We admit defeat and adhere to your terms.” The elf looked at him but Heranuur just shrugged.
“Fine with me. Can you tell me about your ashen class warrior? It seems powerful.” He commented, walking to the human while Neiphato went and checked on Seviir.
The woman looked at him and sighed, “Maybe later. You guys are teenagers right? How old are you?”
Heranuur hadn’t heard that term yet but he would add it to his dictionary after she explained the meaning. “I am fifty two years old warrior. A young one for my kind. Your must be very old, with your impressive power.”
The groan that followed from her was not something he could interpret. Humans usually died too quickly for him to learn about their mannerisms.