The dam broke. Hundreds of monsters spilled out from both sides of the two-dimensional Gate. In the wake of the first cyclops ten more followed after it and monsters of all shapes and sizes filled up every gap between. The Hunters responded with their own deafening war cry. Hunters and monsters collided, with the S Ranked in the lead, taking on the cyclops.
From my post, the fight drew closer to me like a ripple in the water, ever-expanding toward the edge of the crowd. Some Guilds worked together in flawless teamwork with beautiful strategies and coordinated moves between the melee and mage Hunters, taking out groups of monsters at once. Some Guilds broke into smaller groups that worked together to take on larger monsters, most had good teamwork, while others were obviously just working together. Other Guilds didn’t band together at all, but let each individual Hunter fight alone with a random helping hand for aid.
Monsters continued to spill out of the Gate. If they could be killed with a single blow, the stronger Hunters took out weaker monsters while fighting the stronger ones. If they couldn’t, the stronger Hunters didn’t even bother with the small fries. They just left them to the next Hunter down the line and concentrated on the one they were dealing with.
The air filled with sounds of battle. Monsters roared and howled. The screech of claws on metal grew louder than the city sirens. Men and women yelled in fury or pain, and the names of spells echoed in a deafening swell. Flashes of brightly colored magic snapped overhead — some as fast as strobe lights, others slower and beautiful against the horror of death.
“Here it comes!” I called out to anyone who’d listen as the monsters breached the E Rank line. I pulled out my kindjal and focused on a goblin weaving between Hunters, it’s short legs pumping as it giggled evilly. I pushed off the light post and launched myself at it.
I lost track of time. All I knew was the fight. Dodge attack, counter with weapon, repeat. As soon as one monster fell, I turned around and came face-to-face with another. I couldn’t even pick up the item drops because after the second monster was killed, my Items Bag was full. I might have agonized over it more if I hadn’t been too busy trying to stay alive.
[You leveled up!]
[You leveled up!]
That was how I kept track of things. With each level, I could feel myself getting stronger, even though there wasn’t time to assign my bonus Stat Points. That would just have to be taken care of when the madness ended. Even though I got a boost of health when my HP went up with each level, I still lost HP and fatigue began setting in.
With a yell, I stabbed a giant spider between its eyes. My kindjal nicked one of the eyeballs and it popped like a cherry. I grimaced and recoiled, pulling my short sword out. Breathing hard, I glanced at the window flashing in the corner of my vision.
[HP is low. Please seek healing.]
Another monster came at me. Instead of taking it on, I dodged around a healthy looking Hunter behind me. He scowled but attacked the monster anyway. I turned and ran to the clear space where Healers were on stand-by. I pushed through the line of Hunters keeping them safe and approached the strongest healer that wasn’t busy.
“Holding up?” The Healer took my hand and started to channel golden magic into my body.
I nodded, breathless. The fatigue that had been building inside me smoothed away as my HP started to fill up.
“This is something, isn’t it?” he muttered, looking around at the chaos on the other side of his protective circle. “But, god, look at the S Hunters!”
I looked at the huge explosions and flashing lights on the other side of the crowd. For good reason, the S’s were given the most space. The cyclops lay dead, replaced with a handful of Hydra. As I watched, I saw a familiar Hunter in a shining blue and steel suit of armor leap into the air and slice a Hydra in half. So strong.
A gruesome scream of pain rang out beside me and I turned just in time to see a D Ranked Drake throw a Hunter into the air. The Hunter landed hard on the ground and didn’t move. The reptilian monster was twice the size of a horse and covered in dark blue scales. Its square head was topped with huge, scaley antlers that dripped with blood. It roared then charged forward. With a toss of it’s head another Hunter was thrown in the air and the Drake disappeared down the street.
“No!” I bolted after it.
It turned through the streets somehow finding its way toward the entrance to Garden City — it was like it was drawn to the smell of humans. I couldn’t let it leave Eden. It was a D Rank monster, true, but my System labeled it as level 13. It was five levels above me, but that didn’t matter right now. It could be a level 1 monster and humans would still be helpless against it.
I activated Feather Step and sped up, coming up it’s right side. The Drake noticed me and spun its antlers as it turned. I dropped and slid under it, barely dodging the attack. The bottom of the antlers grazed the stray hairs on my ponytail. I whipped out my kindjal and slashed at the Drake’s ankles then rolled to my feet.
The Drake roared and lashed out with its thick tail. I gasped and raised my arm bracers as protection. The tail smashed into me. My arms took most of the hit. For a second they were just numb, then the pain set in. I didn’t even have time to gasp before I was thrown back from the force of the hit.
I slammed against the wall behind me, knocking out half of my HP. My mouth opened in a breathless scream as all the air was knocked out of me. The back of my head hurt just as badly as my arms and my vision blurred. I slid down the wall until my feet touched the ground. Blinking furiously, trying to get rid of the gray dots in my vision, I looked up just in time to see the Drake charging.
Instinct took over. I leaped with all my might. The Drake’s antlers smashed into the wall beneath me, brick crumbled to pieces. I landed on the Drake’s head. Using my fall as momentum, I thrust my kindjal down as hard as I could. The blade glanced off the top of its head plunging into the monster’s neck. The Drake howled and threw its head back.
I careened through the air, but maintained enough control to land on my feet. I stumbled back and resisted putting a hand to my aching head. The Drake turned to me and bared its huge teeth, hissing low.
I glared back and brandished my kindjal at it. The monster bled from its neck and left ankle, but that barely seemed to matter. The damn thing was just too strong and fast. If I could dodge faster, gaining the upper hand would be easier. If only it couldn’t …
A thought came to my mind. Right as it lowered it’s head to charge, I thrust out my hand and cast Mist. A two-foot diameter cloud of thick mist formed around the Drake’s head. I hadn’t read the instructions yet, so I didn’t really know how Mist would work. I was probably using it wrong, but it was exactly what I needed.
The Drake roared and charged blindly, the mist remained attached to its head. I dodged to the side and the Drake charged past. Unlike before when it missed me by inches, my actions were now completely calm and controlled. I twisted and stabbed it’s stomach. My kindjal caught inside and I was dragged with its momentum. I grimaced as the motion wrenched my shoulder. I skipped my feet to keep up with it’s speed. The Drake smashed into the opposite wall head-on and left another hole.
It twisted its body and tried to pin me against the wall. I jumped and landed on its back then released my kindjal to avoid crushing my hand. The hilt of the kindjal hit the wall with the force of the Drake’s attack and jammed deeper into its flesh.
Effective, I guessed, but now I didn’t have a weapon and the monster still had half its HP left. What do I do now?
Its thick tail whipped up at me. I jerked out of the way and slipped off its smooth, scaly back. The Drake’s hind leg kicked out and caught me in the chest. I flew back five feet before I landed in a crouch. Huffing for air, I stood up. Jeez, every time it hit me, it took out a third of my HP. Since I wasn’t even at full health before, I was down to twenty percent now. Another hit would kill me.
The Drake turned towards me, its mist-covered head weaving in the air.
Suddenly, my kindjal appeared in my right hand. I was so shocked that I almost dropped it — the bloody hilt slipped in my grasp. My eyes widened as I remember the description. ‘Cannot be lost, stolen, or sold.’ So it kept coming back?
The Drake roared, bowed its head and charged. I activated Feather Step, leaving only 4 MP left, and jumped. I stepped one foot on the top of its head. The moment I touched it, it jerked. My foot slipped and I fell. I twisted mid-air and ended up straddling its neck. It howled and flailed, trying to throw me off. The last thing I wanted to do was to fall and take another hit. I reversed the grip on my kindjal and put my blade against the base of the right antler then locked my other arm at a ninety degree angle with my bracer on the blade. I clamped my legs around its thick neck. It was a desperate move, but it anchered me to the monster as it tried to throw me off.
The mist around its head encircled mine, but for some reason my vision wasn’t obstructed by it. I could even see perfectly when the Drake turned and charged another wall.
“Shit!” I gasped. I needed to stop it. Now. I pulled back on the antler with everything I had, trying to make it change directions.
The Drake growled and tossed its head, resisting my actions.
The pressure on my hand and arm locked on the kindjal was nearly unbearable. My hand wanted to give out and I could feel my skin starting to split under my bracer. I gritted my teeth together and pulled back with all my strength.
There was a crack and suddenly the antler cut right off. It fell with a thud to the ground as the Drake howled loud enough to make my ears ring, skidding to a halt feet from the wall. With my anchor gone, I wobbled on its neck. I grabbed the other antler with my left arm as it flailed around in obvious pain. My upper body landed on its head, my eyes just inches from the bloody socket where the antler had been.
I gasped. It was hollow inside, a direct hole to a spongy tissue. I whipped my kindjal around, aimed and stabbed through the hole. I felt the kindjal hit something hard that resisted for a second, then the kindjal cut through it.
The Drake exploded into little balls of light right from under me. I dropped to the ground, disoriented and confused as to where it went.
Several teal messages popped up simultaneously.
[Daily Task: Destroy 3 energy crystals — completed. +10 EXP]
[You leveled up!]
[Gained Skill: Throw.]
[Gained Skill: Critical Hit.]
I laid there on the ground, breathing hard. Now that my battle had ended, I could hear the sounds of the Gate Surge still going on, but I didn’t care. I was too tired and sore. But I was alive. I punched my fist in the air in a pathetic victory. “Yay!” I breathed. “Go me! I killed a level 13 monster.” And my whole body hurt for it. Man, the System really needed to add a fanfare when I defeated hard monsters.
After my short celebration, I focused on the messages. So that thing I hit in the Drake’s skull was an energy crystal? It was nice to know that I completed the daily task. Even though I’d killed a lot of monsters during the Gate Surge, I was too busy to destroy any of the energy crystals and I wasn’t interested in finding out what the punishment for not getting the daily quota was.
But the most important thing was that I survived and leveled up while I worked. Level 10. I never thought it would happen. Now that there was a moment of quiet I opened my Stats menu and received another shock. I was a D Rank.
I stared at the letter, with my mouth open. Slowly, I reached out. It wasn’t until my finger passed through the screen that I snapped out of my stupor. I wasn’t an E Rank anymore! This time when I threw my fists in the air, there was more energy behind it.
“I’m a D!” I yelled to the open air. “I’m a D Rank now!”
A screen popped up. [Please note, as part of the confidential nature of the leveling up system, other Hunters will continue to see your rank as an E.]
Even that didn’t kill the excitement. It didn’t matter what the other Hunters saw, as long as I was getting stronger.
[Getting Stronger Quest has leveled up. Congratulations.]
“What?” I gasped and sat up. My heart was pumping a million miles per hour as I opened up my menu. I didn’t even see the term Getting Stronger Quest. It was replaced with …
“Warrior of Mist?” I read aloud.
What was that? I opened it up, but the description was the exact same as the Getting Stronger Quest.
I flopped back onto the ground. So this whole getting stronger thing was turning me into a Warrior of Mist? What was that?
“System, are there other Warriors of Mist?” Was I supposed to find them and become a disciple there or something?
[There are no others.]
Which meant that I had to rely on the System to teach me everything. I guessed it was no different than right now.
I took a second to distribute my Stat Points and rolled to my feet. There were other notifications on my menu, but I needed to get back to where the fighting was. Not only just to get healed, but to keep getting stronger.
EXP to Next Lv 138
Stat Points 0
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I am an author, mother, wife, and jack of all trades. I mean, every mom is, but I’ve found that through my research for different stories, I’ve picked up a lot of random (and sometimes actually useful) knowledge and skills.
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