Fifteen minutes… Elizabeth checked her internal clock as she turned around, and if she could survive another 15 or so minutes, her teleportation magic's passive cooldown would end. She didn't have the luxury to gently set aside the bag holding her precious egg and other sets of equipment. So, with as much care as would could put into throwing, Elizabeth tossed her bag into the densest bush around her.
Not ten seconds after she tossed her bag away, the first predator of the imminent horde made its appearance. An eight-foot-long vector black crocodile with uncanny speed shot at Elizabeth; its mouth wide open. For this crocodile to be the first animal to confront Elizabeth after all the running she did, it must not only be unusually fast, but there was also a great chance that the crocodile had started chasing her after she had jumped down the waterfall.
Yet, even with all that speed, to Elizabeth's eyes, all the crocodile's actions were easily followed. Elizabeth aimed down her gun at the pouncing crocodile and just awkwardly stood there with a bit of confusion as it looked like time had slowed down by several times its usual rate. Even with the crocodile being outside what she considered her "instakill zone" of two meters, with the amount of time she felt had passed aiming down her sights, it was hard to fight back the urge to pull the trigger.
However, even if this limbo-like state was exaggerated dozens, hundreds, even millions of times over, Elizabeth wasn't about to waste any of the eighteen bullets still in her guns; in the period of time running through the forest, she had loaded in the four extra bullets she had refined as well as the Iridium bullet. Her perception of time wouldn't change the fact that she was still a terrible shot, so after what felt like a minute and she judged that the distance to the crocodile was short enough for her to "not miss," Elizabeth pulled the trigger.
Boom! Sure enough, her bullet fatally wounded the crocodile as it passed from the top of its mouth all throughout the length of its body. Yet, before Elizabeth could celebrate this short victory, two more jackals showed up in front of her. These jackals were similar to the ones she had previously fought, only a bit larger and with a much more menacing aura. Their fur coats were also somewhat thicker and darker too.
The two jackals that arrived from the direction Elizabeth was facing didn't immediately attack her. They separated in a mirror-like fashion to cross her sides before one darted at her as the other kept circling behind her. Fortunately, to Elizabeth, the actions of the jackals couldn't be any clearer. Everything she saw was just so slow… and it didn't just end with sight. Her hearing, her olfactory sense, even the texture of the guns she held, everything was just so vivid.
Elizabeth wasn't complaining, as she started going on the offense in an effort to prevent getting overwhelmed as more and more animals would keep coming at her. Elizabeth moved towards the jackal that had already begun sprinting at her, and with her current hyperaware-state, she easily managed to shoot and kill it immediately after it entered the deadly two-meter mark.
Upon killing the first jackal, she darted at the other one, which was still trying to get behind her. As she did so, from her side, five monkeys entered the fray. Though as they did, instead of trying to split off and attack from different angles, all five charged in Elizabeth's direction.
Boom! Elizabeth killed the other jackal that she had been moving towards and as she turned her body. She cursed internally, wishing that her body could keep up with the absurd reaction time she was now displaying. She could see the entire process of how the monkeys arrived and kept rushing at her, but the sad truth was, by the time she was facing the monkeys with her gun aimed and everything, two of the three monkeys were already within her firing range.
Boom, headshot! The first of the monkeys she killed, had its killing shot graze another monkey behind it. And as its near obliterated head sprayed blood everywhere, the next shot killed the monkey nearest to Elizabeth with a bullet piercing through its heart. Though all this happened in a fraction of a second, it was enough for the three other monkeys to not just enter Elizabeth's instakill zone, the monkey in the lead was less than a meter away from her.
And as the three remaining monkeys moved to grab Elizabeth, five more of the stronger jackals along with a couple snakes and yet another crocodile entered. 'FUCK!!!' was the only thing Elizabeth could think as her body moved perhaps a tenth the speed of her racing mind. As Elizabeth shot and killed two monkeys, one with her Dawnbringer and the other with Chaosbright, she didn't have enough time to pulled her guns back down from the recoil and finish off the last monkey.
However, as if by instinct, her legs kicked at the monkey with near perfect Muay-Thai form. Surprisingly, her kick packed quite the punch as the monkey couldn't just tank the hit; it actually took two steps back. The kick granted Elizabeth enough time to execute another shot, and as she moved out to keep dwindling down the number of enemies, the unsightly frown on her face slightly improved.
Her over-performing mind took a moment to thank the gods for giving the beasts such low intellect as some had started fighting with each other. There were still a couple animals rushing with nothing but killing intent direct at her, but about half the animals had started separate battles, lessening the amount of stress placed solely on her.
Two of the jackals were embroiled in fights with several snakes, while the three remaining jackals had split off in a manner similar to what Elizabeth experienced just a couple moments prior. The crocodile had also shot towards Elizabeth, as two other snakes slithered on each of its sides.
A glint of danger shined on Elizabeth's eyes as she decided to double the range of her self-titled instakill zone, as she was already having trouble dispatching five enemies at a time. Boom! Boom! One of the jackals died instantly as a bullet shot squarely on its center mass. The crocodile also took a bullet, only because of the increased range it wasn't instant death. Rather, it would soon bleed to death as a grim hole pulsing with cold blood appeared through its shoulder.
For the two snakes that were running along with the crocodile, Elizabeth would wait until they got uncomfortably close, not only because of their small size, but also because they were irritably quick. In the meantime, the remaining jackals along with one of their companions, returning from a victory against a snake, would eat lead instead.
Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! As the four jackals fell, all sustaining fatal wounds across their bodies, Elizabeth cursed as the crocodile from before kept charging at her even after tasting one of her bullets; albeit much slower than before as it was critically wounded.
Regretfully, Elizabeth wasted yet another bullet on finishing the crocodile off, as she didn't dare think of using neither her blade nor Muay Thai while there were still animals around her. Boom! Boom! Boom! "..." Elizabeth didn't even have the wherewithal to curse as her third shot missed one of the snakes, mere dozens of centimeters away from her face.
At that moment, it seemed like the extreme overly-aware state she was in became even more defined, as the approaching figure of the snake took over almost all of her sensory functions. From its scent to that of the earth and air, its scaly near-black green skin, the sound of it whizzing through the air, and the of her own heartbeat… Time had essentially stopped. And in those moments of total clarity regarding her current imminent danger, Elizabeth could only think to jerk her body and head so that her Inferioria blade would block the snake.
The snake's mouth was aiming right at her neck and with evident venom in the form of a crystal clear pure yellow liquid, the feeling it inspired in Elizabeth was… nothing? She could clearly see it approach — moving at around a couple millimeters per second, in her slowed down reality — with all the danger involved in this exchange, death being just one mistake away. Yet, she felt as she back in the peak of her performance when she was a "no-life-ing true gamer."
The best plays of her gaming experience weren't when she was feeling uber excited about the performance of her execution, or when she felt obnoxiously confident in her abilities. No. This current lack of feeling, like nothing of importance was taking place, like she was just in the middle of an arbitrary game with nothing at stake… it was always this feeling that possessed her every single time; this complete apathy and focus.
Elizabeth didn't realize it as her cold and dead fish-like eyes seemed to dull over. Her head and body moving in accordance with the actions she envisioned in her head. She didn't just block the snake as her blade intercepted its mouth. As some of the venom the snake was ready to pump into Elizabeth splashed on her cheek, she actually followed through with the snake's momentum and used it along with her body's movements to bisect a good portion of the snake in half, lengthwise.
Elizabeth didn't seem to notice the awfully metallic scent on her as she was marked red all over. Even a sense of relief for having just avoided death seemed to just phase right through her, as the dead eyes of a demon looked at the remaining enemies that needed to be neutralized. Now, even more aware of the environment around her, with dozens of times her usual perception, Elizabeth could hear that the second, much slower, half of the beasts chasing her were fast approaching.
With only one round in the chamber, her Dawnbringer unfortunately empty of any pieces of ammunition, Elizabeth assessed what would be the best course of action and resolutely decided to run away once more. She had barely stalled for a minute and almost all her firepower was gone. She hadn't forgotten where she had tossed her bag, and with the remaining animals in her immediate vicinity still fighting, she managed to quickly get it and get a head start before yet another chase began.
Given that she hadn't sustained any wounds at all from the earlier confrontation, while the animals that remained had, she easily managed to keep ahead with no problems; even to the point, where she was gaining distance. With her constantly changing directions as she ran, Elizabeth even managed to lose a few more of the beasts chasing her as she heard the sounds of running behind her get quieter as she ran. She might have been running and gasping for air like a lunatic gone bonkers, but her speed barely died down even after minutes and minutes of sprinting hysterically.
Even when she couldn't hear anything but her own footsteps and the ambient noises of the forest, she didn't stop as she could never be completely sure she had lost her pursuers; especially since some animals like snakes barely made noise while chasing their prey. It was only after the cooldown of her Gateway magic had ended that the smile of victory appeared on her face. Yet even then, Elizabeth had learned her lesson and didn't grow careless, as she felt the need to keep running even after her body began the teleportation process once more.
However… almost as if fate was toying with her, the moment her body started turning illusionary, she saw a "predator." This animal she had chanced upon… it wasn't just bizarre, there was a tangible sense of death attached just in witnessing it. Before Elizabeth, there was an arctic wolf and it was emanating Inner Strength and Qi with the intensity and scope greater than even Atid…
Elizabeth didn't get to see much as she found herself slamming into the walls of her room almost at full force after having her mind momentarily paralyzed by the threat of death present in her heart. But, if there was something she knew fully well, its that if that wolf wished to kill her, in that short span of time the two of them had seen made eye contact, it very well could have...