Chapter 22: A Chilling Voice
Another monster outbreak was a disaster—one that might have welcomed for the opportunity to fight while surrounded by people stronger than me. But the quest’s difficulty had increased a whole rank. Even those 2 evolution points weren’t enough to make me risk my life like that.
I got up as the purple pillar appeared in the middle of the plaza and shot up to the sky, colliding with the barrier.
Everyone else around me was still blinded by the light, trying to get up and prepare for what was coming.
My eyes landed on Jair and the others as they flailed their arms around hitting each other and yelling incoherently. By the time they regained their sight, monsters might be swarming around them already. There was nothing I could do for them since the ungrateful bastards had abandoned me and Brian was dumb enough to not think of healing his eyes with his skill. The temporary blindness surely counted as an injury his skill could heal.
“Fuck…!” Then why was I running towards them without hesitation? They didn’t deserve my help or pity…
“Get up, shit-heads.” I put my hands on Brian’s eyes and accelerated their regeneration. The piece of shit resisted at first and even punched me in the face. “It’s me, for fuck’s sake.” I gritted my teeth, containing my urge to punch him back. “Go to Ronel’s group and help them out,” I told him after a few seconds, considering enough time had passed for his vision to recover.
Then as the dumbass stared at me with his mouth agape I moved to Jair and put my hand over his eyes as well. Probably because he heard me talking to Brian he didn’t try to resist or do useless stuff. “Grab your bolts and prepare to escape,” I told him as I released his eyes and moved towards the most ungrateful wench I knew.
She remained silent and unmoving as my skill’s power entered her eyes. Then, wanting to be far from her as soon as possible, I moved my other hand towards the girl fiercely rubbing her eyes just a few steps away and slapped her hands away, clenching her stupidly cute face and also healing sending a stream of my skills accelerating magic towards her eyes. I figured if I could use both hands to double my skill’s healing output on a huge wound, then I could also heal two people at the same time.
I tightened the grip on the girl’s face as she tried to push my hand away, feeling how soft her skin felt against my hand. Not now, teen hormones. I clicked my tongue and tried not to think about anything weird.
A few seconds later I let go of both girls.
I looked into Veronica’s eyes. She blinked several times as she clenched her teeth and her eyebrows twitched. “This changes no-”
My expression soured and I turned around immediately. What was I expecting? I scoffed at myself and ran towards Ronel’s group. There was no need for me to go there, though. Brian had already taken care of restoring everyone’s sight. At that point, it was just a matter of a few more seconds before everybody else also recovered their sight, so it didn’t matter that much anyway. “You read I, right?” I asked Ronel. “We need to get out of here immediately,” I said without waiting for a response.
“We can’t leave so many people behind.” He shook his head, but there was clear hesitation in his eyes.
“Decide quickly,” I said as I pointed at the pillar of light. “Because I’m getting the hell out of here right now.” Some creatures had already begun coming out of the pillar, beginning the bloodbath with the unfortunate few that were too close to them.
“But we won last time…” Ronel insisted.
“Last time we had 50% more people and the difficulty of the quest given by the system was lower.” I began moving. “You can’t expect fewer people to win against stronger monsters. We’ve not gotten that powerful during this week. Not me.”
I headed towards the place where I kept my things, which thankfully was a little away from the fountain and the pillar of light right in the middle. I picked the weapons I had foolishly left behind, put my backpack on and grabbed a single bag of canned food. I could not afford to be slowed down too much by taking everything.
Ronel was making his group lead away some of the blinded people. He’d decided to run but still held onto that naive goodness of his.
I would have liked to escape alongside them, but thanks to those idiots slowing themselves down, some monsters were already onto them, slowing them down even more.
My only comfort was that Jair and the others were smart enough to stay at the front of the group, avoiding the brunt of the attack.
Other people still had not noticed that a big part of the fighting force had already begun their retreat and still resisted the monsters, likely buying enough time for Ronel’s group to get rid of the monsters chasing them.
I still left the plaza as fast as I could, though. My legs felt as fast as always despite me carrying a small load—a result of my increased agility, no doubt.
The place I chose to hide in was the peace mart, that small grocery store that provided me so much food. It had only been a day, so it was possible no monsters had settled in there yet. If they had they should be weak anyway, since the store was still pretty close to the plaza. I didn’t know if by luck or because I had to stray from the main streets to get to the store, but I didn’t encounter a single monster on my way there, as if they had completely vanished.
It wouldn’t be surprising since monsters seemed to appear from thin air anyway. After the first outbreak, everyone together had probably killed the number of monsters that had escaped from the plaza several times over. It was possible that the monsters disappeared to give way to stronger ones.
My theory was proven wrong pretty quickly.
The ground began to tremble and the more I ran in towards the store, the stronger the tremble got and even a booming rumble began echoing through the streets.
Whatever caused that was moving right towards me.
Did I really need to go to that store? The food I brought could last me for days if I stretched it thin enough and that store wasn’t too safe anyway.
Before I encountering whatever made the ground tremble, I chose to enter a house that still had its walls standing and an almost complete door covering the entrance. The windows were broken, but at least it seemed safe enough to hide for a while.
I closed the crumbling door behind me and put my stuff down on a table by the entrance.
It turned out to be a bad idea.
Just as my backpack and the bag fell on the table, a small cloud of dust rose to the air, entering into my nostrils and eyes. That was not something I could heal with my skill, so I rubbed as hard as I could until I recovered some of my vision.
With teary eyes, I began searching around the house.
Every single surface was coated in dust as if no soul had entered that place in years.
Thanks to that at least I could rest assured no monster had made the house its lair yet or the dust would have been stirred and scattered by it.
The trembling continued to grow stronger, to the point that it made the dust inside the house begin to scatter, forcing me to squint my eyes and cover my nose.
I peeked out the window and my heart almost leaped from my chest when I saw a dark mass moving through the streets to my left.
Those are monsters. I pressed my back against the wall below the window. If they looked like a blurry mass from afar, then there had to be hundreds of them gathered.
If they got to the plaza it would be an instant death for everyone there.
Ronel and the others should prostrate before me in gratefulness for convincing the stubborn guy to escape. If they had remained to defend the plaza that would have been the end of them.
The dust in the house formed a cloud inside the house by the time the horde began marching in front of the house.
I feared for my life as the whole house groaned with each step the horde took, but at least there were more hopes of surviving if the house fell on me than if I went outside.
The monsters were eerily quiet for how many of them were there, only growling, squeaking or making other tame noises. I looked outside through one of the holes on the door and saw the horde was conformed of all kinds of monsters that didn’t mix together. Monster cats walked next to raccoons and rats and even goblins marched behind spiky boars and demonic apes. I even caught sight of a few pairs of golden branch-like horns rising above the horde.
“… long enough, sir.” I flinched when I heard human speech. “Even if they are sorely outmatched, those guys are strong enough to make a stand until we get there.” That voice sounded familiar. “They should be ripe for your taking by the time we get there.” It was that damn traitor Alan. He and whoever he talked to walked on the same side of the street as the house was located. The guy’s voice got pretty close by the end of his last sentence.
“You promise and promise, Alan the betrayer of kinsfolk, but remember I have yet to see any results.” A chilling voice that sounded like the hissing of a snake and the roar of a lion at the same time reprimanded Alan. It made all my hairs stand on end.
My heartbeat accelerated so much I feared Alan and that thing would hear it. I squeezed my eyes shut, clenching every single muscle on my body as I tried to make my heart slow down in vain.
My body trembled with each step Alan and the thing took.
“I will not fail you this time, sir,” Alan answered. “This time there is no random factor that could affect the outcome like those kids from last time. Those ignorant beings should have been caught off guard and forced to fight or die against the stronger opponents. Your might will only grow stronger as they fall before you.”
The thing did not say anything else as Alan’s voice got farther away from the house.
But still, I did not dare to move an inch or breath too much until the whole horde had passed by.
Only after the rumble from their steps was far away did I let out a sigh of relief and relaxed my tense body.
My whole body was drenched in sweat, from my scalp to my feet.
“What the fuck…” I exhaled.