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Running quickly in the direction where the yelling was coming from, I noticed that most of the trees ahead us were cut down to the stump, but the cuts weren’t clean and some even had burn marks on the stumps. We then arrived at a scene with 2 partial bloodied armoured people, a man and a woman, protecting 2 other bloodied people on the ground, a woman screaming out in pain from what looked like a freshly torn off leg, and a man trying his best to heal the wound. They were all surrounded by 4 bear-sized monsters, and one more that was ravaging through an already dead body of a man, and another that was gnawing on what I assumed was the missing leg of the woman.

“Blood Stalkers, that must mean those adventurers have some really tasty smelling blood if that many came out of hiding just to hunt them.” Odelia commented, as we watched the armoured people barely fending off the attacks from the 4 monsters.

Taking note of their appearance, I saw that monsters had strange skinless and bone faces, only exposing their frontal bone structure, having orangey yellow coloured eyeballs with black pupils, and showing the several long and sharp teeth they had. The rest of their body however had leathery scaley looking skin, the same blood red colour as the leaves and the grass in the area, and had bone spikes protruding all down their back and stopped just before their thick tails. On their tail and back was some red hair that looked exactly like the grass. And as they circled around those people, I saw that they moved on all fours, but having muscular arms and strong hind legs, I could tell they could easily stand if they wanted to. The monsters also having sharp bone claws on their hands and the feet.

“What do you think Eyes, can you take one down?” Odelia asked for what I thought, but before answering, I took a look at the monsters’ levels. They all had different levels, each being one level higher than the other, and the highest being a Lv 53 Blood Stalker.

After seeing their levels, I was feeling very nervous about my chances only using the Combat Style, but pretending to be confident, I said “Sure, I think I can, but I want that one.” Picking the lowest level one, and pointing at the Lv 48 gnawing on the woman’s leg.

“Looks like you can already accurately identify the weakest enemy out of the bunch, you have some great instincts Eyes, I am impressed.” Grabbing her bow from her back. “Now just give me a moment to capture all of them, and take this.” Removing the satchel she brought and passing it to me, “There are a few Healing Potions in there if you want to help those adventurers out, but I was really just planning to save them for you in case you needed them and got injured.”

Being overwhelmed, the armoured man wielding a strange looking two-handed battle axe got pincered on both sides by the 2 monsters he was fending off, and was able to dodge the two claw attacks coming from the front, but not the ones coming from behind. The claws were so sharp and strong that it cleanly ripped through the decent looking armour he wore, leaving a huge bloody 5 clawed gash on the man’s back, and causing him to scream out in pain almost as loud as the woman missing a leg. The same thing was about to happen to the armoured woman, but she yelled out “Safeguard!” And a visible magical blue aura surrounded her armour and her shield. Blocking the front claw attacks with her shield and countering with a stunning hammer strike, the other claw attacks struck her back, but unlike the armoured man who wore the same looking armour, these claw attacks only left a huge scratch on the armour instead of ripping right through.

Knowing that they wouldn’t last for much longer, Odelia rushed towards them, and I followed. Then leaping over the monsters and the people, Odelia immediately shot 4 consecutive mana arrows at each of the monsters surrounding the people, but the arrows didn’t look ordinary to me. Flying with 10 mana rings around the arrow shaft, 3 of the arrows hit onto the backs of the slow reacting Lv 49, Lv 50, and the Lv 51 Blood Stalker, but the last arrow was noticed and dodged by the Lv 52 Blood Stalker. Odelia landed and the missed arrow disappeared, while the other 3 stayed, and the 10 rings around the arrows disappeared. Though reappearing instantly, 4 of the rings bound the wrists together, the other 4 bound the ankles together, and last 2 bound all of them together. The 3 bound Blood Stalker fell to ground struggling to break free.

When I reached adventurers, they were all surprised and relieved to see us, and the armoured man said “Oh thank god people heard us, I really thought we were gonna be goners.” As he collapsed to the ground, and crawled himself next to the woman who lost her leg.

The one-legged woman shouted in irritation, “God damnit Dig, there’s still more of those Blood Stalkers around us, why are you acting so relaxed!” Slapping the bloodied gash on the man’s back.

“Fuck! What the hell Hive!?” The armoured man shouted, sitting up and turning his back away from her. “I know you lost your leg, but I didn’t think you lost your senses too. Can’t you tell these Npcs are clearly stronger than us?” Pointing to Odelia who was drawing all the attention of the Blood Stalkers, and trying to capture them unharmed.

“Wait, Npcs? These guys are Players?” Taken by surprise. “I got too distracted by the new monster that I didn’t even bother to check their names and levels.” Quickly checking all them. The armoured man was Lv 35 How Do I Get Home, he looked human with dark brown skin, completely bald on his head, but had a black scruffy beard. The one-legged woman also looked human, having simple tied up brown hair and slightly tanned skin, wearing a Mage looking robe, and had Lv 35 Ahhhhh above her. Lv 34 Cure, the healing man, looked to be the only different Race in the Party, being a High Elf with short blonde hair. And the armoured woman who was Lv 36 Jane Doe, wearing a helmet that surrounded her head but had the face uncovered, and who I assumed was also human being way to short to be an Elf. “People are already at the level 30s? Well I guess it makes sense since I was Lv 26 two weeks ago and haven’t leveled since. But leveling must be harder than I thought if they only got to the mid 30s in two weeks, or maybe these guys haven’t leveled a lot.” I wondered.

“Shut up Dig, if you and Fletch didn’t insist on collecting more wood than the request asked for, we wouldn’t have been in this situation, Fletch wouldn’t have died, and I wouldn’t have lost my leg!” The woman’s eyes began to tear up.

“Don’t blame him Hive, you know it was a Party decision to keep going.” The healing man said, continuing to heal the wound, and slowly healing it into a stump at the woman’s thigh.

“I know Cure.” The woman sounded so defeated.

“If you really want to blame someone, blame me Hive, I’m the Party Leader and I should’ve noticed the Blood Stalker hiding under the ground, and I should’ve protected you.” The armoured woman said, putting away her shield and hammer.

“No, I didn’t notice either Jane and neither did Fletch, and he had the highest Sense out of all of us.”

“Do not feel bad about not noticing the Blood Stalkers, they do specialize in hiding and blending in the terrain after all. You just have to get used to spotting their bone faces as they hide, and make sure that you get rid of the scent of blood as soon as possible or even more of them will come hunting for you. I recommend a strong perfume.” Odelia suggested, dragging 6 bound Blood Stalkers behind her, and now with a mana ring each that bound all their mouths closed.

Instinctively their whole Party backed away, but they all relaxed after seeing that Odelia had complete control. Their Party Leader Jane then said, “Thank you for saving us, and for giving us such good advice for the future, but if you’ll let us, may we know who our saviours are?”

Odelia gestured for me to answer, and I thought “She’s clearly being polite and nice because she thinks we’re both Npcs and wants to make a good impression, and is probably hoping for us to give them a quest at some point, but why don’t I play along.” Then quickly thinking of easy aliases, I said “Sure, my name is Elias and this is my friend Migniyl.” Odelia nodded and smiled going along with it.

“Well Elias and Migniyl thank you for saving again, I hope we can be very good friends and repay the favour of saving our lives somehow.” Jane smiled, holding a hand out.

“I would like that.” Shaking her hand, and smiling back.

“Pssst, Cure.” Dig whispered loudly, not wanting to interrupt. “Now that you're done with Hive’s leg, I could use some healing too, my back is killing me with this wound on it.”

"Sorry Dig, but I ran out of mana so you'll have to wait a bit." Cure replied.

“Oh, if you need some healing, I can help a little bit.” Using a First Aid on his back, and the rest of the Party who still looked injured.

First Aid increased by 1 level.

“Ooo, not bad, my health is already almost back to a quarter full. Thanks man!” Dig gave me a thumbs up, with the others thanking me as well.

Odelia then said, “Uhhh...Elias I think we should be moving on soon, it is already about to be sundown and we wouldn’t want to fail our delivery of Blood Stalkers, now would we?”

Understanding what she meant, “That’s right we better be moving on now, but can I ask you a question before we go Jane?”

“Sure, go ahead Elias, I’ll answer if I can answer it.” Jane allowed.

“Then not to sound rude, but why is it that your Party is in the Elven Kingdom? I only count 1 Elf amongst you, would you not be better treated in the Human Kingdom?” I asked, wanting to know why they are here.

“Well we did have 2 Elves in the Party before today...” Looking to the mangled and half eaten corpse. “And we’re here just to visit and get a feel for the City of Ven’Thyl and the Guild work done in the area, all to help us pick a place we can call our home.” Sounding truthful.

“Ohh, I get you.” Then thinking, “So they're just looking for a Home, I’ll have to remember their names and find out where they’re living later so I can call in a favour if need be. I should also look up their names in the rankings and see where they stand.”

We then stayed a few more minutes protecting them while they buried their friend, and not wanting anything bad to happen on their way out of the Dungeon, we helped guide them safely out. Saying and waving goodbye, we watched as they walked in the direction of the city, and went out of sight.

“We don’t have a lot of time, are you ready Eyes?” Odelia asked, still dragging around the 6 completely restrained Blood Stalkers.

“Definitely, let’s go.” Heading back into the Dungeon, and looking at the time limit one last time.

Time Limit: 4 hrs, 42 mins, 11 secs

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