Jake observed as Eron stood before the Cursed Monarch unbothered as flames wormed across his body. The Monarch took a step back as he asked: “What are you?”
“A rude welcome followed by a rude question. I have had not the best time these last few days, so please excuse my own rudeness… but I have never seen a more disgusting spark than what glows within you,” Eron said as he looked visibly upset while looking at the Monarch.
“Broken and flickering like the wind can snuff it out at any moment, you burn out your very essence and need to consume the sparks of others to keep yourself alive… disgusting beyond belief. Truly your existence itself is cursed, Monarch or not.”
The white flames exploded out of him as the Cursed Monarch was pushed back, or rather, chose to fly back. He didn’t take much damage from the flames but was still left disturbed. As Jake already knew, then the flames were more eerie than dangerous. A bit of exposure did nothing but some damage to health, but with enough time, Jake could see it becoming lethal.
Jake also learned for the first time today that Eron could also actually heal people. He wasn’t just an immortal wall but a wellspring of health. One that would make this battle even more one-sided as now they also clearly had the advantage in durability and had the resources to outlast the boss.
It was clear to see that the Cursed Monarch hadn’t learned this yet. Perhaps he didn’t believe Eron was truly unkillable, or perhaps he just couldn’t comprehend it even being possible. Without any hesitation, the Monarch attacked the healer that had just called him disgusting. He opened his palm towards the healer and sent out a red wave of energy.
Flying out, it touched Eron’s body and made it erode, yet the man just kept standing there staring at the vampire. A second after the wave passed through, obliterating his body, he was back. This made the Monarch frown even more.
Jake totally got the frustration. He had been faced with it himself. And he was sure the Monarch could figure something out with just a bit of time, but that time wasn’t something anyone else present planned on giving him.
An arrow was nocked and released, a sword brought down, and a fist smashed forward. Black lightning fell from above, and Sylphie attacked with blades of wind, having been told to relax it with her powerful dive attacks.
Once more, the Monarch was on the back foot.
For a while, he tried to keep up the same tactic as before, but the arrival of Eron made that plan unfeasible. Jake noticed how Eron didn’t use any shields or buffs or anything like that; he only healed people. In many ways, his white flames were a kind of reverse healing, too, making it clear the guy really was the purest form a healer could take, with a bit of immortality sprinkled in for good measure.
When it became apparent this passive approach wouldn’t work, the Monarch switched gears. He took a step back after blocking a sword swing and turned to mist.
Jake felt a sense of danger as he stepped down on the platform of mana he was standing on. He appeared on another one a hundred meters away just in time to dodge a red claw trying to penetrate his chest. The Monarch had clearly chosen to switch the focus from the melee fighters and take down Jake first or incapacitate him. Jake felt that the claw the Monarch used wasn’t like any attack used prior. Instead, it gave off a very familiar and much-hated feeling: it was a curse.
One had to remember, this Cursed Monarch was born from the remnants of what had once been an A-grade King of Blood specialized in curse magic. So for him to retain some knowledge and abilities to curse people was only to be expected.
Turning around, Jake fired a potshot that missed as the Monarch turned to mist again. Jake, in turn, dismissed his bow as his scimitar and Nanoblade appeared. Just in time, too, as he blocked a claw coming from behind.
He was still sent tumbling back, being outmatched in strength, but was otherwise unhurt. The Monarch had hit his Nanoblade, and Jake quickly saw the result as black veins began spreading on the sword. Not good.
Jake was forced to block again as the Monarch didn’t let up. The others tried to get to him, but the Monarch purposefully made Jake retreat away from them as he repeatedly attacked. Each time the Nanoblade was hit, he felt it become more and more damaged, but the scimitar took the blows without any problems. In fact, it felt almost like the blade enjoyed the power of the cursed claws.
“Once more, this is not personal,” the vampire boss said without letting up for a second. Jake found it funny the guy was still worried about Jake getting mad from this entire situation, but even more funny that the Monarch seemed so sure of this victory.
“Neither is this,” Jake answered as he counterattacked. The Monarch had a sliver of hesitance within him to attack Jake. A faint opening. A weakness to exploit was blown right open as the infused presence of Pride of the Malefic Viper spread around him, attacking the vampire’s psyche.
For a brief moment, the Monarch hesitated. It was barely there, but that was enough. For the first time, Jake activated Limit Break at 10% and dove in. The Nanoblade was dismissed as the scimitar was stabbed into the arm of the Monarch, making him unable to attack. Meanwhile, Jake placed his palm on the chest of the vampire, channeling Touch of the Malefic Viper.
The Monarch reacted fast as the other arm attacked, but Jake didn’t stop. The claw was just in front of Jake’s face when a sword narrowly passed by behind Jake’s shoulder, stabbing the Monarch’s hand and pinning it to the vampire’s body.
With a groan, the Monarch freed the hand Jake was trying to block with his scimitar, but Carmen came in from the side, twisted the arm, and held it in an armlock. At the same time, Caleb attacked from behind by placing the tip of his staff on the body of the Monarch.
Jake kept channeling Touch of the Malefic Viper throughout it all, and he saw the chest of the vampire begin corroding and rotting away as black veins spread from the wound. The Monarch released a red wave of energy, but to the surprise of both him and the humans attacking him, it didn’t go as expected. Well, surprised everyone besides Caleb.
The red wave didn’t release in all directions but shrank instantly as black lightning ate at it, with Caleb’s staff consuming it. Jake’s brother was blasted back, but he had managed to buy them a second or so more before the Monarch could make another move.
At that moment, a loud shriek sounded out from behind them. Casper had come over, hundreds of Shades flying around him. Jake saw the eyes of the Monarch open wide as the many spirits flew towards him and wormed past Jake and the others to enter his body.
Casper directed them like a maestro as the many spirits entered the body of the boss vampire. The Monarch, in turn, groaned with a pained expression. The five strongest people on Earth were currently holding him down, with Sylphie and Eron also incoming to keep up the assault.
Yet Jake didn’t feel confident. He met the eyes of the vampire as he looked at Jake and smiled with a sinister smile. “Impressive.”
The vampire tore his hand through the blade of the Sword Saint as he also kicked away the old man, the freed hand aimed at Jake’s head. The arm Carmen held was twisted free as he willingly broke it, and his entire body began burning in a deep crimson flame as the ghosts shrieked – this time in pain and not delight at getting a chance to get revenge.
Jake watched the incoming hand as he narrowly moved his hand to the side and answered. “Likewise.”
Twisting his body around, Jake got to the back of the vampire, only taking a small claw attack in return. The Monarch was distracted by the descending blade of the Sword Saint, and a few wooden stakes fired off by Casper, allowing Jake to summon his Nanoblade again and stab it through the back of the Monarch.
Carmen punched him in the side, too, with Sylphie flying over and cutting his one arm deeply. The Sword Saint managed to land a few more nasty wounds, with Caleb now having regrouped with Casper, and joined him in making range attacks of wooden stakes and needle-thin bolts of lightning that seemed to pierce the Monarch’s body like a poison.
The crimson flames barely hurt Jake, clearly being focused on incorporeal beings and the vampire’s insides. With the shades still weakening the vampire, they all went all-out to deal as much damage as possible without revealing any of their most powerful cards, Jake going ham with his blades and plenty of poison.
Within a minute, the group had managed to leave hundreds of wounds, a few of which would be lethal to a human, yet the Monarch took it all. The shrieks of the shades slowly died down until suddenly they fell silent – a moment that served as a shift of momentum too.
The Sword Saint brought down his blade, but the clawed hand of the vampire flew with incredible speeds as he caught not the blade but the arm of the old man. The Sword Saint’s eyes opened with surprise, but he still reacted swiftly as he practically tossed his sword to the other hand and cut down in a fluid movement.
With a snicker, the Monarch just let go of his arm to dodge the blade as he opened his palm and fired off a blast of red energy, sending the unprepared Sword Saint flying back. Then, with both hands free, he pointed a finger above his own shoulder, aimed straight at Jake.
Jake’s danger sense exploded as he let go and jumped back just before a beam cut through the air, making space crack in its wake. The rest of the humans and the one undead were also pushed back, as several globes of blood were summoned and began sprouting tentacles of blood that whipped at them.
The vampire tossed a glance at everyone and chose his target. Out of everyone present, Jake had been the one to cause the most damage, and from his Sense of the Malefic Viper, he felt the poison burn through the Monarch’s body, but that did not mean he was necessarily the most dangerous.
Because he also felt how the Monarch had a harder time healing himself. The cause of that was clear as another energy mixed with Jake’s poison, not amplifying it per se, but making anything harmful to the Monarch more effective and harder to heal: curses.
Which is to say, the Monarch had recognized Casper as his first target to take down. Permanently.
Casper – to his credit – had predicted this too, and the moment the mist coalesced to his side, the area exploded in black curse energy as a pre-prepared trap triggered. For the most part, the Monarch ignored it, his claw ripping through the energy as he pointed towards Casper. The undead dodged back, but two red beams were released, one of them penetrating his chest and the other his stomach.
Everyone else tried to come to his assistance, and Jake glanced towards Eron and noticed something. The man didn’t even attempt to heal Casper but just frowned… Jake realized fast the guy wasn’t just being an ass. He couldn’t heal undead.
If Casper was forced to leave the Hunt, it would make things difficult, as the Monarch was still quite healthy, and Jake also feared the current effects of the curse would disperse.
Clearly, the Monarch was aware of all this and moved to finish off the man. The clawed hand descended towards Casper, cutting up his chest as a long deep wound was left, and the other hand penetrated his chest, his heart skewered and grasped in the hand of the Monarch.
Jake’s eyes opened wide, afraid Casper was at the risk of dying but saw that his friend just grinned. His undead friend pulled the Monarch closer and stabbed him in the stomach with a wooden stake, and the next moment the Monarch fled back in fright just in time as the locket on Casper’s neck released a ghastly light and gave off a powerful aura as something flew out.
A figure collided with the Monarch, sending him flying back in a bright explosion of energy, the vampire forced to block with a barrier.
“You aren’t simple either, huh? A servant of the Blightfather?” the Monarch said as he saw the ghost that now stood in front of Casper protectively. Jake also Identified her.
[Blightwraith – lvl 146]
Jake didn’t recognize her but knew from what he had heard that she was called Lyra and had also been in their tutorial. He wasn’t aware of everything that had happened but knew Casper had made a deal that ultimately resulted in her being resurrected as a ghost and was now residing in the locket. What he hadn’t known was how powerful this ghost was.
She was stronger than most anyone present, and from the energy she gave off, Jake had a feeling she and Casper working together was the primary cause of his strength.
“Not quite,” Casper answered as he took out an odd potion Jake didn’t recognize and chugged it down, his body healing at a visible rate afterward.
The Monarch looked towards the sky, muttering. “This is harder than I thought… you are a bunch of monsters aren’t you? Or has the average level of the enlightened races heightened so much? No… doubtful…”
Shaking his head, the Monarch just got back to the action, red energy burning around him as he charged Casper again. Lyra blocked him as she screamed and released a shockwave of blight energy. The Monarch turned to mist and avoided it, appearing right beside Casper, who reacted quickly once more and blasted himself to the side – in the direction of Jake and the others.
Carmen managed to get in front of him just in time to block an attack from the vampire. She managed to stay still as they clashed, using some skill to negate the impact, much to the annoyance of the vampire. Two red globes of blood still floating some distance away suddenly flew towards her and exploded as they hit her on the back, but a second later, her wounds began healing, courtesy of her own magic and Eron.
Seemingly having realized that Eron was too annoying, the Monarch finally decided to deal with him. He turned to mist and appeared right behind the man, who released a burst of white flames out his back. The Monarch ignored it as he turned to mist again and appeared right in front of Eron.
The Monarch stared into Eron’s eyes and spoke. “Sleep.”
He then turned to mist again to avoid a barrage of arrows from Jake – Eron falling to the ground unconscious.
The dude really needed to work on mental defenses.