Chapter 21: A Reckless Charge
“You better not be wrong this time, Alan the traitor.” The inhuman creature declared to the pitiful man groveling at its feet.
“Yes, lord. Those fools are too full of themselves to realize what’s coming for them. They’ll stay behind and fight like the ignorant balls of vanity they are.” Alan kept his gaze low, not daring to lay it anywhere above his lord’s feet. “Tomorrow you’ll feast on those idiots with powers too big for their feeble minds to understand and will become the strongest creature alive.”
“I trust your words, Alan the betrayer of kin. I would dislike it very much if I have to wait for another 21 cycles to get what I want.”
"You can rest assured, my lord." Alan shrunk his shoulders and bowed his head at the creature.
The next morning, I allowed myself some leeway and got up a little late. I’d worked very hard last night and I deserved it.
Unfortunately, just in time to see Ronel’s group gather to head out. 12 people in total, 4 more than usual. Jair’s gaze landed on me while he followed Ronel and he held it as he walked. His gaze wasn’t mocking me or hostile. It was just… firm. And determined. Then the person next to him didn’t bother to hide the blatant animosity in her sight. Veronica glared at me as she walked along with the other girl, Luciana.
I couldn’t help but feel bad and avert my gaze even though I knew I had done nothing wrong to warrant such hostility.
I clicked my tongue and began picking up my stuff to leave them with Mr. Rivero. I gave him only a single bag of chips this time since the size of my food had reduced quite a lot and the man charged according to the size of what we left with him.
Getting food was the main goal of the day, well maybe the second main goal. My main main goal was practicing my charge against monsters and leveling up.
I warmed up against some monster rabbits and then grabbed a metal bar lying around to use while charging.
My first attempt was against a pair of raccoons. I charged the moment I laid my eyes on them and screwed up by swinging the bar too late. I almost fell due to that, but I managed to stay on my feet and the momentum allowed me to get a little far from the raccoons.
Not enough, though. I was forced to fight normally after that and wait for the next fight.
Two fights later I finally managed to land a proper hit on a monster cat.
The metal bar flew off my hand and my wrist almost broke but the monster cat’s head had exploded, spraying blood, bone, and brain everywhere. The sight made my stomach churn but I still got myself to finish off the other two monster cats as they bit and scratched me with their sharp claws.
“Fuck yeah!” I clenched my fists and had a wide smile on my face despite my bleeding wounds and the gruesome sight. The charge’s power was definitely enough to one-shot any monster I had encountered so far, including the elite goblin.
Well, not every monster. I was not sure about the goldhorns. Their skin had been really hard to pierce even while twisting my knife.
I would leave them badly wounded at least, no doubt about that.
I continued practicing my charge until my mana ran low, which didn’t really take too long. A single charge cost 2 mana points regardless if I hit my target or not.
After that, I continued hunting monsters at a slower pace and with utmost care. I only needed 16 more ether to finally level up, which I slowly obtained as I combed the ruins surrounding the plaza for a store with food.
There was a place with a sign laying on the ground that read ‘Peace Mart’. From what I could see the building had not collapsed entirely, except for the entrance that was destroyed by debris from the building next door.
I decided to check it out, clearing the entrance one rock at a time.
After a while of removing rocks, the rest collapsed and almost fell on me, but that had cleared a way to enter the mart.
Inside was a treasure trove of food. The store was not that big, closer to a grocery store than a mart, but everything inside was untouched by monster or human. Some of the racks had been crushed by part of the ceiling, but there was still enough to last for days, even if everyone from the plaza also ate from there.
I filled my backpack with canned food and looked for bags to stuff with all other kinds of food.
I left the store with the biggest haul of food yet.
My first thought was to return to the plaza and leave my stuff there but I was just so close to leveling up. So I went through the pain of having to leave my stuff on the ground when a fight began and continued hunting.
The honor of granting me the last ether points for my level up went to a group of three boars.
Since I knew I would level up after that fight, I decided to do it with a bang.
As the three boars charged at me, I also charged towards them, holding a thick metal bar ready to swing.
I screwed up a little by miscalculating the force of the clash between my charge and a boar’s charge. The moment the metal bar struck the boar’s head it turned into chunks of bone, skin and brain and even its body was thrown back due to the force.
My arm, though, it snapped at the elbow and shoulder at the same time. My wrist shattered as well and my fingers all broke.
“Fuck!” I screamed at the top of my lungs as I backed away from the monsters, my right arm limping uselessly to my side.
The pain was probably the worst pain I’d ever felt in my life. Maybe the adults that beat me up had caused a greater among of pain throughout my body, but it was simply not as bad.
I continued backing away as I grabbed an ice pick with my left hand and prepared for the coming boars.
My useless arm became a huge obstacle during the fight and because of it the boars broke one of my legs and a few ribs as they crashed into me a couple times. I genuinely feared that my arm would fall off but I managed to avoid further damage to it by using other body parts as a shield.
After much suffering I managed to kill the last boar and with mixed feelings, I went to each boar corpse and picked my hard-earned ether crystals and consumed them.
|You’ve leveled up!|
“Shit…!” I sat on the ground and immediately began healing my arm, not even caring to distribute my evolution points yet. By the time my arm was back into working shape, my mana was almost depleted and with it I only managed to lessen the rest of the pain.
I laid my eyes on all those bags with food laying in the distance and unwillingly went to pick them up as my body yelled at me to stop moving.
‘Noo, don’t move that leg.’ It said.
That leg needs to move after the other one, buddy. That’s how walking works. I answered.
‘At least don’t use that arm to, ughh- why!’ It cried out when I began picking all my stuff back.
Fearing I was going crazy due to the blood loss and the ungodly amounts of pain I endured, I put doubled down on my choice to raise my agility as much as I needed to stop suffering so much from each fight. Both evolution points went into agility and I began to make my way back to the plaza while avoiding every monster I saw. It was a chore to deviate every time I saw a bush move or heard some noise, but thanks to that I avoided monsters and humans alike and got back to the plaza safely. In pain, but safely. I could hear my poor body thanking me when I finally sat down to rest.
I had 9 agility points—just 1 more to break through to the double digits. That felt like an important milestone.
I indulged in eating some snacks while waiting for my mana to recover and then finished healing myself. More than once I caught people looking my way with undisguised greed for my loot. I might not be the strongest, but I’m definitely above all those plebs. My chest filled with pride at the thought.
Having healed myself, it was still a little hard to begin training again, but as an illustrious poet once said, ‘no pain, no gain’. I sucked it up and thus the second round of hardships of the day began.
The rest of the day went by as peacefully as it was possible while trapped in a destroyed city by a magical barrier with hundreds of murderous monsters. Lisandro made some snide remarks as he saw me training, my ex companions gave me the cold shoulder, as usual. Some people came back injured due to their carelessness, some others died. The usual. I also caught sight of the guy that led the group of adults that beat us up. Just like the past few days, the cripple didn’t even dare to keep eye contact with me.
And so the day ended without my strength rising, but that was okay. Leveling up was enough progress for the day.
It was another quiet night without anyone taking Alan’s place and gathering people around.
The next day was just a duller version of the previous day for the most part. I went out to practice my charge, got a little hurt while doing so, hunted monsters all morning and finally returned to the plaza at noon.
The afternoon was the same as well, with me training myself, ignoring the animosity directed at me by certain individuals and then in the evening, when the sun was giving way to the moon, the pace was thrown off completely by the plaza lighting up with an intense and blinding purple light. One that was too familiar.
When I regained my vision, another familiar sight greeted me.
|The assimilation of the original ecosystem for mana creatures is 50% complete. Spawning fitting species.|
|New Quest: [Defend Home II]|