Broadly speaking, a month of sneaking around wasn’t going to give you special-ops agent level sneakiness. Having your life depend on it, however, did wonders for your motivation.
Ed and Noel moved about sneakily, moving in between shadows cast on by the ruined buildings and the setting sun.
They were looking for goblins to ‘hunt’, and definitely did not want to run into any orcs or the other horrors. Frankly, this was probably the riskiest thing Ed had done since the apocalypse, but his mind clearer, he knew that there was an opportunity here and that he couldn’t afford to just sit around.
Ed had been looking the opposite way when Noel stopped in her tracks.
“I think I hear goblins. A group of them getting closer.” She said.
Ed stopped and slowly began to inch closer to Noel, who was crouching behind the rusted remains of a Jeep.
If he hadn’t used the Dao on her secretly while scouting, he wouldn’t have trusted her senses, really. But he had used it on her, as well as her axe. Just to test the extent of his Dao, and also because he didn't trust her completely yet. It didn’t tire him out too much, but he figured he could use it sporadically without exhausting himself to the bone.
Noel’s status had looked a bit similar to his. No Classes, or even Daos, but she did have a higher Body grade than him.
|Noel - (Blessed by Enyo)||Class - (No Class)|
|Body: D-||Spirit: D-|
Ed had been puzzled by her stats, as she hadn’t seemed that much stronger than him. The blue box that had popped up when he'd examined her axe solved his curiosity.
War axe of Enyo (B grade weapon)
Grants it’s wielder increased strength and senses (Raises Body by 1 Grade).
Opens path to ‘Berserker’ class once requirements are met. Other functions locked.
It seemed items could also increase the grade of stats. It was likely that the increased senses granted by her axe was what had allowed Noel to detect the goblins.
A couple minutes passed as they crouched behind the car, and Noel and Ed held their breaths as a group of five goblins walked into view. None of them had a blood-red dagger.Steadying his breathe, he observed them sniff the air and seem to catch a scent. Their scent.
Before they could get too close, Ed activated the Dao of True Sight for a quick look.
|Goblin - No Title||Class - (Scout)|
|Body: D||Spirit: D-|
|Mind: D||Traits: Acute Smell, Voracious|
The stats of other goblins all seemed to average around D as well and had the same Traits, whatever they were.
His own stats were lower, and yet he had still killed multiple goblins over the past month. Meaning he could reasonably be sure that training and technique could overcome pure stats. It was a slight reason for hope in this apocalypse.
He silently signalled to Noel that he would take the three goblins approaching from the right, and that she nodded, raising two of her fingers and jerking her head at the two coming in from the left. This would work. Hopefully.
Noel gripped her axe as Ed adjusted his own grip on the dagger. They made eye contact and came to an unspoken agreement, and they simultaneously jumped out from opposite sides of the Jeep, rushing at the group of goblins who started at their sudden appearance.
Adrenaline rushed through his body as he activated his Dao once again. He wasn’t looking for any blue screens this time, but rather relying on it for the hyper-focus that he’d noticed came with it. To his pleasure, he began to see in vivid detail. The three goblins nearest to him came into hyper-focus, and he could see their balance shift, pupils widening in surprise.
He maintained his top momentum, running past and slipping by the first one and it’s upraised arms, dagger in reverse grip as he slit it’s throat. Blood sprayed, seemingly in slow motion.
Just as the other two was beginning to react, Ed stopped in front of the smaller of the two, converting all his momentum into a sudden pivoted on his left foot, right foot whipping out and crashing into the second goblin’s head with the force of a hammer. The goblin fell onto the ground.
He snapped his leg back and adjusted his stance just as the third goblin was rushing towards him, yellow teeth and spittle flowing. Fast and vicious, it jumped, and its teeth snapped around the air where Ed’s neck had been a split second ago. To his own surprise, Ed had been able to see the way its balance shifted, muscles clenched in preparation to jump, and its eyes hone in on his throat. It'd been almost too easy, how he'd known exactly when and where it would jump.
He side-stepped to let the goblin past, and instinctively stabbed the dagger towards where it would land. The dagger found the goblin's neck, and it fell to the ground with a surprised gurgle of blood as he quickly wrenched it out. The goblin he’d kicked was struggling up when he walked over, and he kicked it down again. Clamping down with his foot, Ed finished the job with a quick slash across its throat.
His own battle over, he looked towards Noel to see if she needed help.
Thankfully, she didn't.
She was panting over the mangled remains of the two goblins she’d killed, bleeding from a couple scratches but otherwise unharmed and victorious. It looked like she could definitely hold her own in a fight, and would be able to watch his back. He'd seen multiple people panic and get mauled by a single goblin.
He deactivated his Dao, feeling the energy that sustained it drain out by the second. He'd noticed it cost him both physically and mentally as well, but he was more than happy with how it had made the fight that much easier. Choosing the Dao had definitely been the right choice. It didn't exhaust him too much, allowed him to see the stats and information of other beings and items, and also apparantly gave him something close to hyper-focus in a fight.
He definitely wouldn't have known that the blood red dagger he held in his hand was the dagger of Hekamuth if he'd chosen Loki's dagger.
“Damn. Really, really not bad, Ed. You should teach me how to move like that.” She panted out. Apparently she had caught bits of his fight.
“Years of getting the shit beat out of you by your father, along with a healthy dose of divine blessing. You didn’t do too bad yourself.” Ed grinned, slightly less tired than her.
He was more drained by the usage of the Dao than anything else. Ed was strong and quick, but above all he was efficient, taking out each goblin with a move or two. The third one might have given him more trouble without the Dao of True Sight, but with it, he’d been able to take it out with a sidestep and a simple stab of the dagger.
She chuckled and examined her axe, taking out a rag to clean the blood.
“I used to play baseball, so I’m pretty used to swinging things around.” She said.
Before he could respond, another blue screen popped up as if it had just been waiting for the battle to conclude.
The battle has left your body, mind, and spirit minniscully stronger.
Hm. He guess did feel a tiny bit... stronger? He brought up his status to check whether it has changed, but unfortunately, ‘minisculely’ apparently really did mean ‘minisculely’, because nothing had changed. The same blue box had popped up for Noel as well, but her stats had apparantly also remained the same.
Ed swore. It seemed that they would have to hunt a lot more goblins for anything to change.
Before he could even get too discouraged, Ed felt something bulge out from the pommel of the dagger. He looked down to see a slot that had been previously been empty now filled by a red crystal the size of a small grape.
He took it out and held it in his hand, bracing himself as he activated his Dao yet again.
Blood Crystal (76 Humans, 13 goblins)
A crystallization of blood essence of multiple beings.
Low chance of gaining a ‘Trait’ when consumed.
His initial elation at the notification subsided as he read the description more closely. He felt bile rise from his stomach. The goblin who’d had the dagger before had apparently killed close to a hundred humans, and around a dozen of its own kind with it.
He quietly slid it in his pocket, deciding he’d eat it later when he was somewhere safer and less exposed. He felt revulsion from eating the product of a massacre of humans, but he couldn’t possibly rely on killing dozens or even hundreds of goblins to have his stats inch from F to D-.
His first priority would be to get stronger. He couldn’t help anyone if he was weak. He'd be using the dagger to hunt demons now, and not the other way around.
He steeled himself and turned back to Noel, who had finished cleaning her axe and was now checking the streets for any signs of demons that might've heard the sounds of their battle. She seemed oblivious to Ed's small distraction.
He’d been walking towards Noel when another blue screen popped up. It didn’t even surprise him anymore, but as he read its contents, he felt another headache begin.
As Blessed who have proven themselves in multiple battles, you have been deemed worthy to undertake Quests given out by the System.
A goblin tribe has settled nearby, and has been capturing humans as livestock. Investigate the camp and rescue them.
Reward: 5 Spirit Crystals each.