No matter where Zac looked he was met with a frenzied onslaught of sharp teeth and claws, and he didn’t even need to aim as he methodically swung his axe. He was long since drenched in gore and viscera, his two black orbs of eyes glimmering with finality as he kept killing rats by the scores.
The area around him was like another world, with turquoise mists wafting about, and an enduring desolation had taken hold of the den of the rats. A slow whirlwind of miasma had formed around Zac by now, continuously imbuing him with energy.
But the rats were truly relentless and had no disregard for their own lives, and kept desperately trying to tear Zac apart. As the sizes of the rats surrounding him grew, the wounds on his body got worse as well.
Zac blocked one strike after another, and even his sturdy shield was starting to show signs of tear from innumerable claws slamming into it. But he couldn’t put it away. Zac could not clear a large number of critters at once since he didn’t have access to [Chop], so he needed something to stave off some of the rats while he cut others down.
But Zac had no plans to switch his class to Hatchetman. First of all, he didn’t have the luxury to pass out for a couple of minutes mid-battle, but even if he did he didn’t want to let go of this opportunity. He hadn’t encountered this great a leveling-experience even during the beast waves, and after another two hours of fighting he gained another level.
Besides, [Verun’s Bite] wasn’t the only thing doing work. All around him, particularly behind him, ghastly specters of rats kept popping out from nowhere, maiming and killing their living twins. It was [Deathwish] with its damage reflection that was dishing back far more than he got hurt.
It was only three hours and one level later that only six rats and Zac remained. The rest of the burrow was covered with thousands of rat corpses, and it was impossible to take a single step without stepping in a pool of blood.
The remaining rats were the six largest specimens in the cave, and the ones that Zac suspected might be E-Grade earlier. Now that they were right in front of him he realized that it likely only was true for two of them, whereas the other four were very close to that stage.
However, it was clear to Zac that even the four lesser rats in front of him were different from the mindless hordes that had swarmed him the past hours. They had silently observed Zac from the distance, making no move to approach him. Each of them was enormous, the smallest of them at least as large as an elephant. The largest rats, one of the two that Zac suspected to be E-Grade, was at least 8 meters long, with its tail adding just as much length.
Zac was panting as he stood and observed the last remaining rats as well, welcoming the opportunity to take a breather. He was completely caked in blood from the fight, and he thanked the stars he was in his undead form.
His sense of smell was a bit different, mainly smelling life rather than other scents, and he could only imagine that the stench of thousands of dead rats was beyond putrid to a human. Apart from the blood and gore, he was also marred with tens of wounds that dripped some of the black ichor that sat in his veins instead of blood.
It was from this fight that he understood the function of the black substance. He had thought it was just a remnant of the blood in his human form, but after having lost a pint of the stuff he realized that wasn’t the case.
The black ichor wasn’t just putrified blood, but it was also needed for the storage of miasma somehow. The more of the stuff he lost during the fight, the less miasma he was able to store in his body.
That meant if he was bled completely dry of the ichor he would probably turn back into his human form, whereas a real undead would die. Of course, simply expelling all miasma was a far simpler method than draining himself of his blood.
Suddenly two of the rats started to move, clearly trying to flank him. With rats this powerful Zac wasn’t comfortable to let them attack him from behind, so he instantly hurled his axe with a grunt, imbuing it with the Dao of Sharpness.
The axe ripped through the air and slammed straight into the head of one of the rats, instantly killing it. A huge surge of energy entered Zac, far higher than he had got from anything before, immediately giving him another level.
These things were clearly superior compared to their brethren judging by how much energy they rewarded, and Zac was relieved he managed to down one with a surprise attack. He had held back on using his Daos apart from his initial entrance since he wanted to keep some cards for this fight.
He immediately pushed forward, aiming to retrieve his weapon, but one of the rats moved to intercept with a screech. But Zac held nothing back as he imbued his fist with the Dao of Heaviness, slamming it straight into the temple of the rat before it managed to bite into his torso.
A loud crack could be heard and another surge of energy entered him, but he didn’t stop as he ran toward his axe and ripped it out of the head of the rat. Suddenly a sense of danger erupted in his mind, and he unhesitantly threw himself forward.
A sharp swish could be heard right behind him, and he looked to see one of the E-Grade rats having appeared right behind him somehow. It had attacked with its claws, but Zac also sensed the familiar feeling of the Dao of Sharpness.
The corpse of the rat he killed with his axe was cleanly split into four parts from the swipe of the rat, and even the ground the following ten meters had four deep gouges from the attack. Zac frowned at the large scars from the claws since it showed that its attack was a bit similar to those of the fiend wolf.
But he didn’t have time to formulate a plan as he was suddenly shrouded in darkness. His brows rose in alarm, but he didn’t have time to do anything but turn around as he was met with the huge maw of the other E-Grade rat.
But it didn’t try to bite him, but instead Zac was drowned in a deluge of bile. Zac was disgusted by it, but some puke wasn’t enough to do him in. He immediately moved out of the stream of the putrid liquid, and with a roar swung [Verun’s Bite] straight at the stretched-out throat of the rat.
The puking rat seemed surprised to be attacked for some reason, and it barely had time to register the incoming swing before it was almost fully decapitated by the powerful strike of the axe. Zac’s axe hummed in glee as large amounts of Blood flowed into it as the huge corpse fell into the ground with a thump.
The next moment the familiar Tool Spirit emerged from the axe, and it immediately leaped at one of the rats who had jumped at Zac from behind. It was clearly an uneven fight since the rat wasn’t able to target the spectral being, and in just a few seconds it lay dead at the ground.
Zac couldn't help staring down at the E-grade beast with some confusion. Its attack had been truly perplexing. But a sizzling sound quickly told him what was going on. A dozen rat carcasses had also been inundated by the huge torrent of puke, and they had turned into nothing but pools of goop in just seconds.
Even the floor was melting at a visible rate, and Zac’s brows rose in alarm as he looked down at himself. To his surprise, he saw that he was completely fine, even though his robe was slowly disintegrating. The liquid simply sloughed off his pale skin without leaving as much as a mark.
Zac apparently was immune to the attack, which the rat didn’t expect. That gave him the opportunity for an easy kill while it tried to register what was going on. But Zac didn’t have time to ponder on why the poisonous bile didn’t affect him as the other E-Grade rat was already upon him with an enraged screech.
It frenziedly swiped at him in an all-out effort to rip him to shred, forcing him on the defensive for the time being. He had already infused his axe with the Dao of Sharpness as he tried to cut off its arms, but the rat was extremely quick to intercept his axe with its claws.
The claws were truly sturdy, and even after tens of clashes there wasn’t a single mark on them. Zac was at a standstill since he didn’t have any stronger attacks to use. He didn’t dare use [Deathwish] against this opponent since he wasn’t sure whether he could actually take that much damage.
But the stalemate soon changed as Verun, the tool spirit of his axe, was in a rare form today. Three rats were remaining after Zac killed the first E-Graded one, but Verun pounced upon the remaining two smaller ones with gleeful abandon.
Less than half a minute later only Zac’s opponent remained, and a great growl echoed through the caverns as the prehistoric beast finally joined Zac in his battle. Zac suddenly changed his Dao Seed to the Dao of Heaviness, and with a growl he swung with all the force he could bear.
The strike wasn’t able to get through the quick defense of the rat, but the enormous weight behind the strike was enough to throw the thing off-balance. Verun knew exactly what to do, and bit straight through the throat of rat, instantly killing it before it had a chance to react. Yet another huge stream of energy entered Zac as well, pushing him forward at least one level.
However, his Tool Spirit wasn’t done there, as it kept ripping the corpse into shreds with frenzied glee. The blood from the beast started to float around the spirit as though it wasn’t affected by gravity any longer, creating a macabre spectacle.
The axe in Zac’s hand was suddenly vibrating in his hands, and he was barely able to hold on as it tried to fly away and join the spirit. Zac’s eyes glistened with anticipation as he let go of the axe, and it quickly flew to the side of the projection of Verun.
An ocean of blood suddenly gushed out of the axe, creating a crimson flood that swirled around the spirit. Zac guessed it was all the blood from the various beasts he had killed that was getting released all at once, forming a small sea of the stuff.
Verun howled with exultation, its roars echoing through the cave with such power that Zac couldn’t help worriedly look around. He had already spotted the path out of here, and he was afraid that the howls would attract even more beasts.
Then again, if nothing had come from hours of screeching and slaughter, then some howls shouldn’t bring any calamity to his doorstep either. But Zac grabbed the tail of one of the largest rats and started to drag it toward the only pathway out of here just in case. Soon he’d formed a wall of flesh that completely blocked the entrance.
While he was busy moving the bodies the storm of blood around his axe had calmed down, and the large sphere of blood kept shrinking as it encased [Verun’s Bite] within. When the sphere had shrunk from a diameter of ten meters down to three it started to look like the blood was congealing into a solid.
The transformed blood even turned translucent, and within a few minutes it looked like his axe was encased in a ruby almost as large as he was. Zac walked over to the crystal with anticipation since he had long realized that his weapon was finally evolving.