The Goblin Lord stumbled to a stop ten feet from me, as if the cracking sound physically affected it. It dropped the giant war axe and turned its body to look for the source of the sound.
I couldn’t resist looking too. I gasped, the small sound lost when the rest of Hunters cheered.
Kesstel stood in full shining armor, a fracture webbing out in the barrier between him and the Josu Rainforest. It was the first time I’d seen him in full armor, and the first time I got a chance to see the crest depicted on his left breast with tiny royal blue magic stones. It showed a howling wolf and a rose-like flower behind an extravagant looking N looped with a crown. Looking at the old fashion design, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was his family’s actual crest.
A frown marred his apathetic face as he looked at me through the barrier.
A smile pulled at my mouth as our eyes met. Yet another being my Stealth doesn’t affect.
The Goblin Lord roared and hoisted its axe in the air, aiming at me.
Kesstel thrust his palm out and hit the barrier. The crack in front of him splintered out at a rapid speed. Suddenly, the entire barrier shattered and exploded into pale, white glitter that faded away within seconds.
The Goblin Lords howled and collapsed to the ground.
Kesstel walked into the rainforest, not bothered at all by the drizzle that fell on his armor and dripped off the tip of his bastard sword. His aura spread out, thick as wool. The Goblin Lords growled, their black eyes narrowed on Kesstel, but not one lord moved off the ground. The Goblins curled into balls, whimpering and clutching their heads.
The Hunters weren’t nearly as affected as the monsters, although some of their knees gave out, making their companions hold them up. Other Hunters took advantage of Kesstel’s entrance and started killing the monsters around them. The Goblins didn’t even fight back.
I gasped, Kesstel’s pressure not helping my headache at all, but still, I struggled to my feet. Somewhat dizzy, I walked over to Kesstel. He came towards me, looking like the Duke he was. It had been so long since I’d seen him like this, stone faced and apathetic, it was a little weird. And funny. What wasn’t funny was the way that he so casually killed the Goblin Lords with a dismissive flick of his wrist. His stride didn’t even pause as he beheaded them.
Kesstel reached out and took my elbow. As soon as he touched me, the pressure from his aura vanished. I sighed as the lightheadedness eased up enough to see straight. My knees threatened to give out, so I braced my arm on his bent one as he cupped my elbow.
“Are you okay?” He looked at me.
I nodded. “Mentally strained, but I’ll be okay after a rest.”
A Hunter still up in the air on one of my mist blocks looked at his teammate. “Who is he talking to?” he whispered, but the area was so quiet, it was impossible not to hear.
The other man shrugged.
I couldn’t help but give a tired smile. “You might be labeled as crazy, talking to an invisible person.”
Kesstel shrugged. “Like I’ve ever cared what anyone thought.” He looked over to the Hunters, chin high and in obvious command. “Evacuate through the transportation circle now. The Hunters Association is waiting on the other side. Assist your injured, leave the dead.”
Right, the magic circle was working again now that the barrier was broken. Hunters rushed to the transportation circle. Some tried to push through the crowd, but the stronger Hunters and groups leaders wrestled everyone into order.
Since they weren’t needed anymore, I dissolved my mist and the Hunters that were still in the air dropped to the ground. Some of the Hunters didn’t bother going first. They were still enjoying taking revenge on the Goblins that had laid down to die.
“Why aren’t they fighting back?” I asked Kesstel quietly.
“They can’t,” he said simply. There had to be more to it, but he either didn’t want to tell me or wasn’t going to talk about it in the presence of so many others. He glanced at cowering Goblins, disdain wrinkling his face. A blue glow flashed in his eyes then it was gone.
The Goblin’s huddled into balls even tighter.
I stared up at Kesstel’s face. There was something odd about that light. Sometimes when a strong Mage does a powerful spell, their eyes will glow. Kesstel has strong magic, and it wasn’t my first time seeing his eyes glow. But there was something … sinister about that flash of light. It was an emotion I’d never seen on his face before.
“Your eyes,” I whispered. “Why—”
“Wait!” A familiar voice, Pink’s voice, rang out. “What about the Josu Ghost?”
I turned my head and found that Pink was staring right at me. There weren’t many Hunters left that needed to leave. In fact, the last remaining ones around the Goblins were in the process of walking towards the transportation circle.
Purple’s hand was on her shoulder. “Hey, we gotta go.”
Pink glanced at Purple then shook her head. “But…” She looked in my direction. “Aren’t you going to leave?” she called, focusing on where Kesstel’s hand cupped my elbow. She couldn’t see me, but she could see where Kesstel held me. “You are there, aren’t you, Josu Ghost?”
The rest of her team turned in our direction, Green and Yellow looking flat out flabbergasted.
Kesstel shot me a look. His face was still expressionless, but there was a glint of teasing mockery in his blue eyes. Lord jerk-face.
I pursed my lips, suddenly hating that title. I guess it was better than others I could pick up. “I’m okay,” I called back to Pink. “I’m going to stay here. Take care.” I could leave, but since Kesstel was here, what did it matter? Nothing will hurt me, I thought and glanced at the flattened monsters.
Green gasped. “She really is over there.”
Yellow turned to Pink. “How did you know?”
Pink bit her lips and smoothed her battle crazy hair behind her ear. “Who else do you know that can turn invisible?”
Blue hurried his people ahead. “It’s almost our turn. Let’s go.” When Pink looked up at him, he put a hand on her shoulder and guided her over. “She’s with an S. What harm is going to come to her?” This time Pink didn’t resist.
Several minutes later, all the Hunters were gone.
I cancelled my Stealth and bent over, tired. “Should I leave too?” I asked. Now that everyone was gone, it wouldn’t look that out of place if a little E came out of the transportation circle.
I couldn’t help but look around. This was the first time I’d touched the Josu Rainforest ground and been safe. It was weird seeing everything from this vantage point. My eyes landed on the fifty-ish Goblins that still cowered on the ground amidst their own dead.
“Why are they like that?” I glanced at Kesstel. “It’s because of you. But I’ve never seen a monster act like that around a Hunter, no matter what the strength difference was.” Even an E monster will try and kill an S Hunter, although they normally would try to run first. But to just flop down and die, this was a first.
Kesstel pursed his lips, more and more emotion spreading over his face. “It’s because I told them not to move. So they can’t move.” He left it at that and turned towards the Portal. “If you would stay, I would appreciate it.” He motioned to the black arch. “I want to see what’s on the other side, but I can’t say that I want someone to stumble onto me going in and out.”
What a roundabout way to ask me to use my mist. I nodded. “Sure thing.” I frowned at the Portal. I thought after my trauma, I’d be more scared of the sight. But when the Goblins were attacking, I was too busy fighting to think about my past. And with Kesstel here, being scared was one of the last things I felt around him. “What do you think is on the other side? Do you think it’s a way to the parasite planet?”
Kesstel shrugged. “I hope so. But I doubt it. Either way, I’m going to kill the Boss inside so the Portal will collapse.”
My heart jumped to my throat. “Isn’t that dangerous? What if you get lost in there? Or end up somewhere else?”
“That’s possible.” He didn’t give anymore explanations as he looked out the tree line and across the neighboring area to the mountains that surrounded Gate Vale. From this distance the permanent portals that were attached to the valley weren’t visible, but that didn’t change the fact that they were there.
I thumped my fist nervously on my thigh. “What if the Boss kills you?”
Kesstel smirked. “I’d like to see it try. It’s not even strong enough to exit its own portal. I’d like to see what it can do to me.” He looked down at me. “Any more questions?”
Wow, confident, wasn’t he? Then again, I guess he had reason to be. I shook my head.
Kesstel nodded. With a flick of his wrist, a barrier appeared around the whole battle field and Portal. Then he turned to the Goblins still quivering on the ground and lifted his sword.
“Wait!” I gasp and reach out to stop him.
He paused and looked at me.
I knew what he was doing. He was going to get rid of the monsters so that I was safe. It was a nice thought, but … I turned and looked at the Goblins. All I could see were EXP points, just lying there for the taking.
I looked up at Kesstel. “Can I kill them? It’ll take me awhile.”
He frowned. “There’s a lot of them.”
“I’ll be fast.” I hoped that Kesstel keeping them pinned didn’t count as helping and I would lose out on the EXP. If that was the case, me killing them by myself was pointless.
I cast Mist, which drained my MP down to less than ten percent, and filled up Kesstel’s barrier with fog. Under the protection of my mist, I walked over to the closest Goblin. It felt a little wrong to just stand over it and stab, I’ll admit. I’d never been able to kill a monster this easy before. But it didn’t move as I thrust my kindjal into its stomach where the energy crystal was. The monster disappeared.
A soft mile touched my lips and I moved on to the next monster. Gaining EXP caused any tiredness to instantly vanish, and the thought of even more EXP drove me forward. Without the monsters fighting back, even though they were level 30-35, most of them were a one hit kills.
[You have Leveled Up!]
[You have Leveled Up!]
[You have Leveled Up!]
I couldn’t help but grin when the last Goblin vanished. I stood up, put away my kindjal and clapped the non-existent dust off my hands.
“Satisfied?” Kesstel asked from his location by the Portal Burst. He stared at me, obviously able to see through the water vapor.
I grinned and nearly skipped back to him. Three levels for an hour's work, what a haul.
Next to Kesstel was a carcass of a Goblin Lord. I paused at it and retrieved my kindjal. “Did you want this one?” I motioned to it with my blade.
Kesstel waved a hand in dismissal. “No.”
I nodded, found the spot where the energy crystal faintly glowed in its chest and stabbed down. It took three more tries to get through the monster’s tough body to the energy crystal. Finally, I hit it. The carcass vanished. I didn’t get any EXP or drop items for it, but I didn’t want the Goblin Lord’s energy crystal to get into Earth. I paused and looked over the battlefield. There were hundreds of monster carcasses — hundreds of dangerous crystals.
“So, that’s how you get stronger?” Kesstel said, drawing my attention. “By killing monsters.”
I glanced at him. “How can you tell?”
“I could feel it every time you got stronger.” His gaze fell to the short sword in my hand. “Energy from the crystals were pulled into your sword, and a portion of it was transferred to you.” Kesstel tapped his chin, thinking. “But the energy that made you stronger wasn’t like the tainted energy inside the crystals. It was … pure.”
My eyes widened and I looked down at the kindjal. The dim light from the sun coming from the forest edge to my right caused the crystal and steel blade to gleam. That’s what it was doing? It was transferring the energy to me and enabling me to get stronger?
I bit my lip and looked up at him. “It’s a little more complicated than that. But … I can’t tell you about it. I’m sorry.” I took a breath. “What about when I vanish a carcass?” I asked. “What happens to the energy then?”
“The tainted energy simply goes into the sword. Nothing else,” Kesstel explained.
It was frustrating that I had to settle giving half-explanations about what was truly going on with my own body. But the System didn’t seem to be answering anything lately. I wished there was someone I could talk to.
I couldn’t help but glance at the Portal.
He followed my gaze. “There should be another two hours before any more Hunters come here, since I told them I wanted time. The barrier will cover the whole battlefield. I’d appreciate it if you kept your mist going until then. If you want to rest, go ahead. If you want to take care of the carcasses, be my guest.”
I couldn’t take my eyes off the Portal. I’d become a Warrior of Mist by going into a Portal months ago … “What if there are more people like me in another Portal? Warriors of Mist, I mean.”
Kesstel was quiet for a second. “There aren’t.” There was a solid assurance in his soft voice.
I blinked and looked up in surprise. “Why not?”
His mouth opened and he paused before saying, “Because I personally made sure they were all extinct.” He stared into my shocked face. He reached out and gently slid his fingers through my hair falling from my ponytail. “I never thought that so many years later, another one would appear before me. And I’d let her live.”
Without waiting for me to respond, he walked into the Portal without a backwards glance.
Well, I totally just walked right into the EXP dump. Lol! That was completely unplanned — I didn’t know it was happening until Jyn stopped Kesstel’s hand … but necessary anyway. Jyn is actually pretty under leveled right now from where I wanted to take the story. And, as a ‘newbie’ at writing LitRPG, I still struggle with balancing plot and leveling up. But I’m trying!
EXP to Next Lv 2194
Strength 63 (+20)
Constitution 56 (+20)
Stat Points 0
Mist (Improved) (40 ft)
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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.
I’ve had a vivid imagination since I was a child. And as much as I wish I could actually live in the worlds in my head, the closest I can get is with the words I put on the page. These characters are like real people to me. The funny lines they say, their emotions that make my heart bleed, the amazing things they can do that I physically can’t, the adventures and sights that I can see in my head. I love sharing those things with my readers and hope that they can feel at least a part of what I do.
I do have other works that are published through Amazon. They are not LitPRG, but I'm still really proud of them. Check them out if you have the chance.