Jake was aware that the vampire weapons could fuse, but he had kind of assumed that would happen when he got all nine and not with just three of them. He wasn’t going to complain, though, as he summoned all three of them on a wooden table he had also just tossed out.
Instinctively, he felt the three weapon’s desire to devour one another. He just had to permit them… so he did. Jake had to choose a weapon to absorb the others, and he chose the blade over the dagger or rapier, as he was more used to using swords.
The three weapons acted almost magnetic as they attracted each other and clashed when he gave permission. The moment they touched, their black metal became liquid, and within a few seconds, all of them had turned into a weird glob of what looked like black mercury. It did kind of keep the shape of a sword throughout this process, but it didn’t exactly look stable.
He observed the entire process closely as he felt them slowly become one. Throughout, it became clear that they were made for this. Their Records fused, and the metal itself gladly mixed and consolidated as the size of the weapon didn’t increase.
Around a minute after it began, the blade returned to the shape it had before he began. It did not look any different at all but was just a simple black metal sword, but its aura had been amplified significantly, and Identify also confirmed the changes.
[Count’s Vampiric Transforming Blade (Epic)] – A weapon created fusing three weapons wielded by Counts of Blood, all of which have been soaked in the blood of countless enemies throughout the ages. Crafted using a special type of steel, the blade can absorb the lifeforce of vitality-based lifeforms to repair itself. The combined Records of the three weapons have allowed the blade to evolve and transform even further, allowing it to steal a portion of the lifeforce of anyone injured as well as change form between a sword, a dagger, and a rapier. This blade was originally crafted in a set of nine using the unique environment of the hidden world and can absorb the weapons of other Counts of Blood to enhance itself. Three have now been fused, and six remain. Note this functionality is only available within the Treasure Hunt area and will disappear once the event concludes. Enchantments: Hemoabsorbant Self-Repair. Vampiric Weapon. Transformation.
Requirements: lvl 130+ in any humanoid race.
The level requirement had gone up by five, and the rarity increased to epic. Those were the most obvious changes. Besides that, the only real change was the ability to transform.
Jake picked it up, and with an easy mental command, the entire weapon changed into the shape of a black metal dagger. The entire process took less than a second, but that still made him frown as it meant it wasn’t something he could do in live combat. He had mastered the art of fast weapon switching using his inventory already, and it was far faster just to do that. He also fast discovered it could only transform into the set shapes of a dagger, a sword, or a rapier – in other words, weapons he had used to fuse it.
This led to the ultimate question… would he switch using this blade over any of his other weapons? Jake honestly wasn’t sure yet.
The Scimitar of Cursed Hunger was in a weird place, in that Jake couldn’t determine exactly how powerful it was. It looked to be made of black steel or iron, and the metal itself didn’t strike him as anything significant. What was significant was the curse on it. The weapon grew with every fight he was in as it absorbed excess vital energy, so even if it was Soulbound and didn’t have a level requirement, if it did have one, he guessed it would be around 115 or 120 by now.
He also had to admit he had a bit of an emotional attachment to it, as it was the first weapon he created using Touch of the Malefic Viper that was actually worth a damn. It would also be a waste not to keep improving it. The power curses could hold was also evident to him, especially after exploring this Treasure Hunt.
Curses were essentially just emotions, willpower, magic, and possibly other stuff mixed oddly together to create something he didn’t fully understand. No two curses were the same, and there didn’t seem to be many rules or standards to how curses functioned either.
So he wasn’t going to replace his scimitar as he saw too much potential in it, which left his Nanoblade. The Nanoblade had a lower level requirement and even a lower rarity than this vampiric blade. All the statistics would make one believe it was weaker, but… it just suited him too well.
It was a no-nonsense weapon. All it did was to be unbelievably sharp and durable and make his arcane energy better when Jake coated the blade in it. Perhaps the vampiric blade would be better, but there was also something to be said about familiarity, and Jake had to admit that he just liked using the Nanoblade. Meanwhile, the vampire weapon didn’t sit well in his hand when he held it, and he just didn’t click with it. Was it more powerful? Perhaps. Would he use it? No.
Not yet, at least. If Jake got his hand on more vampire weapons and upgraded it again, his chosen weapon could very well change.
With everything done in the chamber, Jake left. Now, one may wonder how he found another tower so readily available without anyone getting in his way or messing up the fight. The reason for this was the same as why he didn’t steal the gate.
Walking out, he smiled and dispelled his mask as he gave the person waiting for him a wave. “Count is officially down for the count.”
“That was bad, and you should feel bad,” the person standing outside answered.
It was a man clad in a black robe with a thin metal pole with an orb at the end floating behind him. He looked a lot like Jake, but that was to be expected, considering it was his brother.
“Oh wow, are you judging me for my humor?” Jake shot back, grinning at Caleb.
“You are getting awfully close to a declaration of war here.”
“You won’t even take me to court first?”
Caleb looked at Jake before cracking a grin himself. “I apologize for my impoliteness, oh glorious Champion of the Malefic Viper, Progenitor of Earth, and the true chosen one and hero of our age. Please show mercy upon this lowly mortal.”
“This one forgives thou transgressions,” Jake joked back, refusing to see himself beaten by his little brother. Well, he did make some concessions. No way he was going to burn off the gate with Caleb staring him over the shoulder while judging him for taking it.
Caleb chuckled as he turned a bit more serious. “Any issues with the Count of Blood?”
“Nah, it was a great match-up for me,” Jake answered, giving Caleb some quick details about the Count and how he had beaten her. There was no one else present, and Caleb was at the gate just in case the vampire made it out. While he had admitted to Jake he didn’t think he could kill a Count; he was confident holding one back long enough for Jake to reengage the vampire.
“That does sound like a tough enemy for any regular group,” Caleb noted. “We would have needed a Stake for sure.”
The reason why the Court of Shadows hadn’t killed the Count was that they didn’t have a Stake. They were still in the process of getting it, but they had gotten very unlucky with the kind of method they had to use to open the gate it was hidden behind. It required them to correctly craft several special metal keys to open the puzzle, and while their crafters had been hard at it, it still took time. Of course, they were still going to open it, but now Caleb could just keep the Stake.
“Yep, I could see those illusions cause some issues,” Jake agreed before swiftly changing the topic. “How is everyone? Do you have any problems or need any help?”
Jake hadn’t asked before but just rushed for the Count, also by request of his brother just to get the boss done… but now that it was a silent moment, he had to ask.
“They’re doing well, and I got things handled. Just focus on what you need to do. Your presence alone is a shield,” Caleb answered with a comforting smile. “We named him Adam. Just like Maja had been talking about.”
“Mom was also a big fan of that name; she must be ecstatic,” Jake smiled, remembering a simpler time. A time so simple it appeared gray and dull in his mind… it was cruel to think. But he couldn’t lie. He had to admit he had just been bored before the system. Even when he spent time with his family, there was a cloud of boredom hanging over him.
“She is,” Caleb answered, throwing Jake out of his thoughts. His brother’s smile slowly faded as he turned a lot more serious. “Jake, after the Treasure Hunt, you’re coming to visit. I’m not asking. Got it?”
Jake sighed. “Got it.”
Caleb returned to his usual smile. “Good. Here, take this Mark before heading out. You may be lucky and snatch another Count before all of them are slain. From all the info we have gathered, this is the sixth key to be claimed. The Noboru clan has two, Holy Church one, you three, and last I heard, the last three are under heavy contention.”
“I’ll keep that in mind, and thanks,” Jake answered as he got handed the Mark of Blood.
“No problem, isn’t that what family is for? Helping each other hunt down vampires in some separate dimension?” Caleb joked.
“Naturally,” Jake said with a teasing smile. “I am surprised you guys don’t have a key; you seem to enjoy stealing stuff related to the Counts.”
“Yeah… that moron will be heavily reprimanded when we get back. But, seriously, he once stole a damn uncommon-rarity dagger and refused to give it back until his dad told him to. I am not even joking,” Caleb said, shaking his head in utter disbelief.
“Sounds like a grade A member of the Court,” Jake kept teasing.
“That’s the issue… he is. The guy is damn talented at stealing stuff and even more capable at making tools to steal things,” Caleb said with a large sigh.
“Tough being a boss. You should just delegate everything and only do stuff when you feel like it,” Jake shrugged.
“It is what it is. Anyway, I think you should get going if you want to get another Count before others do,” Caleb said, adding on a final warning. “Be careful of the Sword Saint; he isn’t simple at all. The man named Eron also isn’t to be taken lightly, though he seems to have little interest in the keys. I heard he fought a Count before it went on a rampage throughout a tower consuming everyone it came across, and the Sword Saint ended up putting it down. And somehow, Eron still walked out of that tower unscathed.”
“I know. I already have a bet with the Sword Saint on who gets five keys first,” he nodded. “I’ll be off. Take care, and see you in the Mistless Plains for the big reveal!.”
With those words, Jake turned around to make his way towards the next Count of Blood, hoping he would make it in time.
Reika stood with her two followers, the Mark of Blood ready, and the path cleared. She still had the Stake from the Pure Ones ready, too, in her Hunter Insignia. She had sent the message to her great grandfather already, and her follower had used a skill allowing the Patriarch to pinpoint their location. Navigating the mist could still prove difficult, so it helped tremendously.
She waited with anticipation as she slowly got updates about the happenings of the Treasure Hunt. Reika sat down with her alchemy cauldron, making some potions as she needed some practice making stamina potions. She listened attentively as she heard the news that Lord Thayne, Jake, had killed another Count of Blood and was last seen entering a tower that had been claimed primarily by members of the Court of Shadows.
His level of power was something she had difficulty understanding. It was hard for her to see him as the powerful person he was. It wasn’t like her great grandfather, where she understood his power. Her time with Jake had not helped her truly comprehend him either, besides the fact that he was driven. Driven to a ridiculous degree. He also seemed to always just enjoy himself… it was very odd to see someone smile and not frown when they encountered a complex problem.
As she sat there in thought, she heard a sound. Soft footsteps echoed through the halls, and Reika instantly recognized the familiar way of walking.
She stopped her crafting and got up, just in time to see the Patriarch around a corner. His steps were immaculate, and every one of them made him slide oddly across the ground, making him travel far faster than his casual stroll would indicate.
“Patriarch!” she greeted with a bow as he came to a stop before them. “I have prepared the Stake and Mark of Blood as promised!”
Reika summoned the two items and held them out, one in each hand.
Her great-grandfather looked at her as he chuckled. “Good work as always, Reika. I thank you for the Mark of Blood, but do keep hold of the Stake.”
She looked up at him, a bit confused, her followers doing the same. “Do you already possess one?”
“No,” he answered, shaking his head. “It would simply be wasteful to use an item that provides extra rewards unnecessarily, don’t you agree?”
The implication was clear.
He didn’t need it.
Miranda, Carmen, and Sylphie were prepared as the reinforcement arrived.
A party of five walked through the hall towards them, making Miranda frown. At the front was Sven, the man that had primarily represented the faction of Valhal during the World Congress, and with him were four others. She recognized one of them as another participant of the World Congress, and she was certain of one thing… that party was powerful.
Carmen went up to them to meet them, and Miranda noted how they were all oddly respectful. It had to be noted that while Miranda had been in a group with Carmen and Sylphie for the last day and a half or so, they hadn’t exactly met any strong foes. In fact, it was Miranda who insisted they needed assistance with the Count. She had heard the Counts were powerful, and she truly didn’t want to unnceccesarily risk it.
Once Carmen was done talking to them, Sven turned his attention to Miranda. “I must admit, I was surprised when I heard the Rune Maiden was with the City Lord of Haven and a peculiar hawk. Is it yours?”
Before Miranda could react, Sylphie answered for herself with her usual loud “Ree!”
Sven looked a bit taken aback as Miranda answered, unfazed. “No, she is a member of this group like Carmen and me. I can’t reveal more; just know she is powerful and an ally. Also, I see nothing weird about us women spending some quality time together.”
Miranda said the last part a bit teasingly, getting a smirk from Carmen and another screech from Sylphie. She did think about the odd title Sven referred to Carmen by, though. Rune Maiden. Perhaps it was her class? Profession? Miranda had seen Carmen deploy some rune magic, but not much. Once again, their fights had been relatively easy so far.
“I see. Well then, are we ready?” Sven asked.
“Should we not strategize first?” Miranda implored. Sven should have brought a Stake to use, so he should sneak in first and stab the vampire before it awakened.
“Is that truly necessary?” Sven asked, directing this question at Carmen.
“Maybe, maybe not. Let’s see for ourselves,” Carmen just smiled as she, without further ado, summoned the Mark of Blood and opened the gate before anyone else could react.
“Wait, don’t we need to go in with the Stake first to make sure the Count doesn’t awa-“
“I HAVE AWAKENED! WAIT! LIVESTOCK DARE INVADE MY CHAMBER!”
Carmen looked at the rising form of the vampire before briefly looking back at them as she silently muttered. “I forgot?”