This time, Jake actually did as he intended when he called it a speedrun. An hour after leaving the tower, he was already within another, with a new Mark of Blood in hand. Well, in his Hunter Insignia. Whatever.
He stormed up the tower, noticing many others already within it. There didn’t seem to be a singular faction that dominated, but just many smaller forces and parties, which was perfect. This was one of the towers still not consumed by mist, and it would contain a Count from the looks of it.
When he made it to the upper floors, he saw a great number of people grouped up before the gate. There were around thirty in total, and Jake saw that their levels ranged from 109 to 116. There were two people Jake couldn’t Identify without squinting a bit and penetrating whatever they used to hide their levels. Needless to say, their puny skills were nothing before the might of the mega-perception build.
Jake’s appearance wasn’t exactly unknown at this point, and everyone turned to him when he appeared.
Being a recognizable figure, a few people backed away, while others seemed to take up semi-defensive positions. It was a bit useless as neither of those would help anything if Jake had come to rob people. Luckily for them, he hadn’t, but that didn’t mean he was just going to leave them be.
”I’m here for the Count. Leave.”
To his surprise, more than half of the people there just looked at him for a brief moment before leaving without any arguing. A good bit of people did stay, though. It was the ones at higher levels. Fourteen people remained; all of them were above 112.
”Lord Thayne, do you have a Stake?” a man from the group of fourteen asked him. ”If not, we can offer one and work together on taking down this Count. You can have the key; we just wish to split the rest of the loot.”
”No thanks, just leave,” Jake said as he walked closer to the gate.
”Would it not be better if-”
The man looked at Jake with an open mouth, clearly not entirely sure what to say. A party of five among the fourteen people behind him exchanged looks before they left. Half of the remaining eight beside the leader seemed to take this as their cue to bail, leaving only four behind him – probably his party members.
Jake threw him one final glance before he just summoned the Mark of Blood and the gate began to open. The man saw him do this, his eyes wide as he yelled for his party to run. While retreating, Jake heard him mutter something about Jake being an ”unreasonable asshole.”
He wasn’t really going to disagree on that one. But it only made sense. It was foolish to expect a hunter to be nice when you come between him and his prey.
As the door opened, Jake spun a web of arcane strings that he attached to each side of the gate, keeping it at the ready for when the time was right. It was ready just in time for the gate to fully open and a relatively small form appeared from the silver coffin with long tendril-like hairs expending from all over his body.
”Who are you? How dare mere livestock awaken this Count? I-”
”You’ll die,” Jake answered as Limit Break activated at 20%, his presence blanketing the entire chamber, blades, and arrows, poisoned, as he went forth, holding nothing back.
What followed was a lot of explosions, a vampire with oddly stretchable limbs and the ability to grow out hair that tried to grasp him and consume his blood – that one turned out well for Jake as the Count got a good slurp of Jake’s poisoned blood. In not that long, the Count was already on its last legs.
The Count tried to run, but Jake was ready. He activated his arcane strings, and the gate slammed shut in the face of the fleeing vampire. The hairy bloodsucker screamed and fired off magic to try and tear off the strings and keep Jake away, but that wasn’t going to happen.
Jake caught up to the vampire and gripped his head from behind, and slammed the vampiric face into the gate as he began channeling Touch of the Malefic Viper. The Count tried to pierce his hands with his long hair, but Jake had already infused his gloves with arcane magic, making them incredibly tough.
The Count struggled, but Jake kept smashing his foe’s head into the hard metal gate over and over again as blood splashed everywhere and the head of the vampire became more and more squishy from the Touch. The long hair tried to penetrate his body over and over again, but Jake either shrugged it off or avoided being hit in any vital places.
Ultimately, the Count of Blood was too weak, and with a final smash, the entire head popped like a watermelon fired from a cannon into a brick wall.
*You have slain [Count of Blood – lvl 155] – Bonus experience earned for killing an enemy above your level*
*’DING!’ Class: [Avaricious Arcane Hunter] has reached level 135 - Stat points allocated, +10 free points*
Second Count down.
Jake looted the key that dropped as well as the heart, and instead of a sword, this Count dropped a dagger. The dagger and key were all items he already knew about, as the knife was the same as the sword, in pretty much all ways.
The only interesting drop was the heart - another beautiful red gem.
[Starved Hilsic Vampire Heart (Epic)] – The heart of a severely starved Hilsic Vampire. This type of vampire is a rare variant with high agility and controllable hair that is more durable than most metals. The rarity has been downgraded due to the starved state of the vampire the heart has been claimed from. Has many alchemical uses.
“Hilsic vampire, huh,” Jake muttered, the name meaning absolutely nothing to him. He was impressed with how many different vampires there were, though. It was pretty neat. He did wonder why the Viscounts didn’t drop any hearts, though. Was it because they weren’t rare enough variants? Or just system-fuckery? Either way, now Jake had two epic-rarity hearts.
Next up, he looted the altar and coffin, finding them both identical to the ones prior. He had no idea what he would use two damn altars and coffins for, but now he had them.
With everything done, he began another important job… stealing the gates. Now that wasn’t very speedrun of him, but the gates were awesome.
Jake spent the next twenty minutes burning off the first door and only eighteen for the second one. He was getting better, that was for sure. It did look a bit funny with the gate completely gone, faint marks as if something had torn it off from where it had been attached to the walls.
Gate in his inventory, he chugged a mana potion and headed onwards to get another Mark of Blood and kill another Count. He summoned his wings and leaped up as he took flight, feeling like going by air this time around. He went over the battle again in his head as he flew while also sending a few mental messages back and forth with Sylphie.
“He’s just some stuck-up arrogant piece of shit who thinks he’s better than everyone else,” the man complained loudly to the dozen, or so people gathered around him.
“Why are we even staying here when the dude is probably already dead?” another one chimed in, sounding equally mad and annoyed.
“Yeah, is the seal still not reactivated?” the first guy said, turning to someone in the group with a small compass-like item.
“No, it’s still down, so he is probably still alive somehow,” the one with the compass answered with a shrug. “I guess the vampire is taking its time getting a good meal.”
“I hope that fucker dies and doesn’t leave like a coward.”
“A damn narcissist is what he is. If he had just teamed up with us, the Count would be dead already. It’s been over a fucking hour, for fuck’s sake,” the first dude cursed as he paced back and forth.
“Maybe he will have weakened it, and we can capitalize?” the second guy came in again.
“Perhaps. He did kill one before, but let’s not risk things more than-“
It was at that moment a figure flew by, coming from the direction of the Count’s chambers. They saw the black wings and for a moment thought it was the vampire, but soon realized it wasn’t… it was Lord Thayne.
He flew by them without even acknowledging their existence. What’s more important was that they didn’t see any hints in his movements that he was heavily injured.
The twelve people who had stayed behind looked at each other in disbelief before they all took off towards the Count’s chamber. When they got there, they were absolutely dumbstruck. The entire chamber was completely ruined, and there was blood everywhere… but more so than that…
“How… how did he destroy the gate?”
It was a question they all asked themselves as they saw it gone. They had all encountered that black metal and knew exactly how tough it was. None of them could even leave a noticeable mark on it. And yet Lord Haven had blown it off during his fight.
“He… is he human?”
“I… I think I’m gonna leave.”
“Do… do any of you think he heard us? What if he holds a grudge?”
“What a monster…”
While their responses differed, one thing was certain… none of them dared shit-talk him ever again. In fact, they would prefer to never even meet him or get his attention.
Someone else that would agree that Jake was a monster was his next foe. Three hours after he killed his second Count of Blood, Jake was at it again as the entire chamber was covered in toxic mist, but it was not the cursed kind but the highly toxic variant from Wings of the Malefic Viper.
Five figures attacked Jake, each of them holding a black rapier. Jake ignored four of them and slammed his Scimitar of Cursed Hunger infused with arcane mana into the fifth one, sending the vampiric woman stumbling back. Yes, it was a woman, and double-yes, it was still called a Count of Blood.
Jake suddenly saw the entire hall in front of him shift and change as the walls collapsed in upon themselves, as if space was a piece of paper being crumbled, him caught within. He ignored it again, took out his bow, and took a quick shot into empty space.
He hit the Count of Blood, and she shrieked as she now had yet another poisoned arrow sticking out of her chest.
Next up, Jake felt like a hundred voices invaded his mind, and his vision shifted as everything suddenly became entirely red. But, once more, he didn’t really react but just kept shooting arrows at the vampire he could still see within his Sphere of Perception without any issues.
You see, Jake had found out that this next Count of Blood used some interesting magic. One part was mind magic. It reminded him a bit of the Minotaur Mindchief but was clearly a different variant. The essence was the same, though, as it aimed to make him fail to block blows properly. These blows would be delivered with a rapier, the damn vampire always going for his heart.
The second type of magic it used was illusion magic. It was quite the combo to not only mess with your opponent’s head but also actually change how things looked in the real world. A real double-whammy that one, and Jake could see many others have issues with this Count. It was the trickiest one so far by a mile.
Except it met Jake. It was one of those situations that weren’t really fair and proof that match-ups mattered a lot. If two people were equal in power, but one person countered the other, it wouldn’t really be a fight. Sure, the Count still had its usual magic, and it seemed quite potent at that too. Still, when her two strongest tools were utterly nullified by fighting someone with insane perception and a legendary-rarity ocular skill to see through nearly all her illusion… it just made it feel unfair.
The mind magic did little against his Pride of the Malefic Viper either, and considering how Jake was completely confident and barely breaking a sweat, he sure as hell didn’t despair.
Oh, and finally… none of those things would have mattered anyway, as his bloodline made both the illusion magic and the mind magic used to amplify the illusion magic completely useless. She could make the world look as fancy as she wanted, and Jake’s sphere or instincts still wouldn’t give a shit.
So… yeah. It ended up being a bit anti-climactic with Jake honestly just spending his time slowly killing her as he took his sweet time robbing the entire chamber of furniture. He even took the gaudy pictures this time. All of them of the vampire he was currently fighting. Him taking them had nothing to do with them depicting the scantily clad goth-looking vampire lady in various risqué poses. Not at all.
A bit over an hour after he entered the chamber, he killed his third Count of Blood.
*You have slain [Count of Blood – lvl 155] – Bonus experience earned for killing an enemy above your level*
He didn’t get a level for this one, and Jake wasn’t sure that was because the fight had been easier than the previous ones or something else.
Making his way over to the corpse of the Count – she was at the far end of the chamber as Jake had finished her with a Powershot – Jake passed the coffin and altar, putting both in his inventory. Which meant he had three of each now. He continued over to the ashes of the vampire to loot the three items she had dropped.
Jake first picked up his second heart of the day, Identifying it as he did so.
[Starved Nalkar Vampire Heart (Epic)] – The heart of a severely starved Nalkar Vampire. This type of vampire is a rare variant with extremely high innate abilities in illusion and mind magic and often possesses a larger reserve of blood energy than most other vampires. The rarity has been downgraded due to the starved state of the vampire the heart has been claimed from. Has many alchemical uses.
First of all, Jake felt vindicated. This heart confirmed vampires had a resource called blood energy, which he assumed was their form of mana. Or maybe their form of fused mana and stamina? Health and mana? All three? All of these and more were things he could likely learn if he read some of the books he had swiped. Anyway, the heart was as he expected.
Besides the heart, he also naturally got the key. The weapon this Count of Blood dropped was the rapier, and he picked it up and tossed it in the Hunter Insignia with the two other Count weapons… which is when he felt something.
A resonance came from within the Insignia, and as he had bound the three Count weapons, he instantly understood…
They wanted to fuse.