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23. Unwarranted Attack

“Good shot, Joe.”

“My name’s not Joe, boss. It’s Nazzareno.”

“I’m not pronouncing that, so you’re Joe to me.”

The Level 25 [Archer] sighed, lowering his bow as the Level 31 [Warrior] heaved a maul off his back.

“The [Mage] was able to set up a barrier in time, but you did get her. Although it seems the other two weren’t as close to the blast radius and survived.”

“It’s only a Low Grade Explosive Bolt, boss. It wouldn't have killed anyone who wasn’t standing right on it. Especially not a Level 45 [Mage].”

The man called ‘boss’ turned to another Human behind him. There were a dozen other Humans standing there, but this one was by far the largest.

“Well, all we have to do now is finish them off. Hebert— use your [Draw Attention] on the [Mage], get her to attack you while we take care of the two others. The [Rogue] might be a problem, but the [Warrior] is weak. He’ll probably try to run away once he sees us and our levels.”

“You sure, boss? She’s more than 15 levels higher than me—”

“Don’t sweat it. You just have to use it at the beginning of the battle. It’s not like it lasts longer than a couple of moments anyways. Once we kill them all, we’ll have lots of good, expensive loot to share and I’ll make sure you...”

“Wait boss!”

The [Archer] called out, pointing at the small crater where the dust of smoke had just cleared from.

“The [Rogue]— she’s gone!”

“Huh—”

[Fire Strike]!

I lashed out at the boss with a fire dagger, aiming for his chest. The Human man recoiled, trying to swing at me, but he was too slow. The blade plunged into body, drawing blood as he tried to back up. I clawed at his face, ducking under the maul as it swung over my head. He roared as he tried to grab me, but I grinned.

[Double Step].

I nimbly slipped away from his reach, putting a large gap between me and the group that had attacked us. I had waited just long enough for the Skill to make itself available for us again, before I attacked them. After all, I used it the moment Daniel gave me the warning.

The boss backed up, clutching at his wound as he grabbed for something at his belt. I knew what it was— I had made the mistake before to let it happen, so I was prepared for it this time. I flicked my wrist as the other Humans tried to gather in front of him. The dagger darted between all of them and plunged into the head of the boss as he uncorked the vial.

 

Defeated [Maulwielder Warrior - Lvl. 31]!

Experience is awarded for defeating an enemy!

 

He dropped, dead. I grinned, creating another two fire daggers as the group approached me.

“You— you killed him!”

The [Archer] pointed out the obvious. He pulled an arrow out of his quiver, nocking it onto his bow. The group charged as he aimed at me—

And a bolt of lightning struck Nazzareno before he could loose it. Edithe raised her staff and shouted as Daniel ran up behind her.

“Bandits! Damn brigands, trying to capitalize on the destruction of a village? Have you no shame?!”

Her fingers sparkled with electricity as she sent a smaller bolt of lightning at the group. A [Mage] raised a small stick— a wand— and aimed in the direction of the oncoming attack.

“[Rock Wall]!”

The spell met the barrier Skill and was dispersed to its surroundings. Edithe clicked her tongue as Daniel charged ahead, running up to help me. I whirled around as a woman quickly approached me, holding a dagger in each hand.

She slashed at me with her first blade as I backed up. I swung at her as she lifted her other blade.

“[Double Stab]!”

The blade blurred as I parried the first swing, but a second hit nicked me on the shoulder. I growled, headbutting her away from me. She was fast, but not nearly as fast as me. And she was weaker than me too. I was about to follow up with another attack, but suddenly I felt compelled to turn my attention away from her.”

“[Draw Attention]. Come at me!”

I ran away from the [Rogue], heading straight at another [Warrior] as he held up a huge shield and a short sword. I dodged and ducked under the swings of the other bandits, countering them as quickly as I could. Something made me run towards the [Warrior], but I realized that I didn’t have to attack him.

I reached him eventually, running past the [Mage] and an [Archer] embroiled in a long ranged battle with Edithe. Daniel clashed into the bandits behind me as I struck at the [Warrior]. He blocked the attack with his shield. He pulled the large object back.

“[Shield blow]!”

He swung it at me as I ran stupidly at it. I went flying back, rolling on the ground. I was still lying on the ground when the [Rogue] reached me. She stabbed for my face as my body wanted to run at the [Warrior], but I grabbed her hand mid strike.

My claws dug deep into her wrists as she screamed, dropping the first blade. I pulled her with me as I ran at the [Warrior]. I threw her at him and his eyes widened. He lifted his shield.

“Jess—”

I slid under his defenses, sweeping him off his feet as he pushed the [Rogue] away. The man fell to the ground as I followed up with a [Fire Strike], aiming at his unprotected face. He yelled in pain as my claws dug into one of his eyes, half-blinding him. And as that happened, I felt his Skill’s effects wear off.

The [Rogue] tried picking herself up, but I kicked her back to the ground. She fell forward, landing flat on her face before I nailed it to the ground with a fire dagger.

 

Defeated [Rogue - Lvl. 27]!

Experience is awarded for—

 

I ignored the words as even more popped up in my head from Daniel fighting three of the bandits at once. He jabbed one of them on the chest with a [Quick Strike], knocking her back, before swinging at the other two.

“[Crescent Blade].”

His sword went down at the legs of the first, before slicing upwards at the chest of the other. The first fell to the ground, reeling from the attack, but the second managed to parry it. He fell a moment later as Daniel stabbed him through the chest.

I glanced back at the [Warrior] with the shield as he tried to pick himself up. He shook his head, reaching for his short sword before I leapt onto him. The man yelped, trying to push me off him. My claws dug on firmly into his skin as I bit at his face.

He screamed, now missing an ear and an eye. And in that moment his mouth went wide, I jammed a fire spike into his throat. He limply stopped struggling as I heard another sound in my head in addition to defeating him.

 

Subspecies [Zelus Imp] Level Up!

[Zelus Imp – Lvl. 23] -> [Zelus Imp – Lvl. 24]

Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!

 

I distributed the points as I usually did.

 

Stats:

[Available Stat Points: 0]

[Vitality]: 21

[Strength]: 16

[Endurance]: 34

[Wisdom]: 41

[Agility]: 52

Skills:

[Available Skill Points: 2]

[Basic Fire Creation] - Lvl. 15

[Double Step] - Lvl. 10 (Maxed)

[Fire Strike] - Lvl. 10 (Maxed)

[Fire Blast] - Lvl. 11

[Flame Coat] - Lvl. 3

[Passive - General Tool Proficiency] - Lvl. 3

[Unused Skill Slot] x1

 

Then I quickly got up and ran to help Daniel. He finished off another bandit, but was getting overwhelmed by three more as they surrounded him. He hesitated, holding up his blade as if about to use a Skill. But I charged in, pointing at the two closest to me.

“[Fire Blast]!”

One was knocked back by the Skill, while the other shouted his own.

“[Steady Stance].”

I jumped on him as he stood there, extending both my legs out as flames appeared on my toes. He took the brunt of the hit head on, but groaned in pain from the hit. He tried to swing at me, but the blade glanced off my cloak as I spun around. It ignited into flames, causing him to stumble and fall to his feet by himself.

I threw two fire spikes at him and finished him off with a [Fire Strike]. I turned to Daniel, seeing him finish off the two he was fighting. These members of the group had been slightly lower leveled than us, only reaching the low-to-mid 20s. So I was dissatisfied with the experience they gave me.

I looked up, seeing the last man getting up. He looked between me and Daniel standing over the bodies of his dead companions, mouth agape. He turned to run. I rushed after him.

“Wait, Salvos— we need to help Edithe!”

My claws dug through the back of the last man as I tore into his body. Daniel pulled back, turning and dashing to help the Human woman as she was overwhelmed by the remaining three bandits.

I picked myself up, seeing Edithe finish off a [Mage], before being struck by an arrow from an [Archer]. Another [Mage] conjured a ball of fire and hurled it at her.

“[Fireball]!”

“[Ice Shield]—”

It exploded on the barrier, sending shards of ice flying in all directions. Edithe staggered back, hurt and tired from the fighting. She had no summons— no Spirits— to help her. She could only rely on her magic, and she was injured from the initial Explosive Bolt.

I ran past Daniel, feeling my pace pick up. [Double Step]. The Skill could be used again, letting me reach the [Mage] just in time as he created another ball of fire.

“Wha—”

I flicked a small ball of fire at his face just before he sent it, causing it to shoot off to the side. I ignored him as he stumbled forward, grasping at the small burn mark on his face. The [Archer] fired an arrow at me, but I knocked it off the air with my claws. She reached for a dagger at her belt and I jabbed a clawed finger at her abdomen.

She doubled over, dropping the blade as I stood over her. I picked up the dagger and she looked up.

“No, please—”

The weapon lodged itself halfway through her neck as she sputtered. I did not bother pushing it through the rest of the way. I whirled around, dodging the flaming arrow as it whizzed past me. The [Mage] screamed as he hurled more projectiles as I ran at him.

I did not use any Skills. I did not use any magic. I was drained. But I was faster than him— I was stronger than him. He couldn’t do anything once I reached him, and he collapsed too. The last of the words rang in my head before I got up off the body.

 

Defeated [Fire Mage - Lvl. 26]!

Less experience is awarded for defeating an enemy with the help of others!

 

Defeated [Archer - Lvl. 29]!

Less experience is awarded for defeating an enemy with the help of others!

 

Subspecies [Zelus Imp] Level Up!

[Zelus Imp – Lvl. 24] -> [Zelus Imp – Lvl. 25]

Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!

 

Daniel slowed down, seeing that we had won. He glanced at the dead bandit bodies strewn all around us. There had been a dozen of them, and I had gotten experience for killing them all. Even if some gave less than others because I had only slightly hurt them— I still got enough to level twice.

I looked down at my exhausted and injured body, then up at Edithe. She was wounded— burned and cut all around her. Daniel was in better shape, but he was hurt too.

“That was…”

He trailed off, grimacing at the sight of the corpses. I ignored them, walking up to Edithe as she coughed. She looked up at me.

“I… you saved me—”

I punched her between the legs. The Human woman fell over, but did not scream in pain like Daniel or Blake had. I frowned, unsure why that was. Maybe it’s because I’m tired. I shook my head as she cursed.

“What the fuck is wrong with you, you Demon? What was that for?!”

I ignored her, kicking her on the stomach. She screamed as Daniel ran up to me.

“What—”

“I am Salvos. Not Lucerna, not Haec, and especially not one of those stupid, wild Demons.”

I pointed over at the bodies of the bandits and pointed at them.

“Do you see this? These people that tried to attack us? They were Humans. They were like you. They were like him.”

I glanced over at Daniel as Edithe stars, aghast at what I was doing.

“Every single Human I have met has attacked me or run from me so far. You, Daniel, these bandits, those people in Silverflower— but I do not treat you all the same. I do not approach every Human as though they would attack me. Because I recognize that you aren’t’ like a wild Demon.”

I eyed Daniel who averted his gaze, muttering ‘it’s not Silverflower’ under his breath, then looked back down at Edithe.

“If you want to treat me like some sort of object so much— like a rock among a pile of rocks— then I will do the same to you.”

I leaned over her, bringing my claws dangerously close to her face as I grabbed her by neck.

“I will use you to level. I will use you to evolve. I will kill you. I don’t care what your name is, I don’t care what you are. That’s what I will do— if I were a wild Demon.”

I pulled back, letting her go and fall back to the ground. She rubbed at her neck, staring up at me.

“...what are you saying?”

Her voice still held some of the hostility from before, but none of the strength behind it anymore.

“I’m saying that I am Salvos. I am not a Demon. I am not a monster. I am not an evil creature. So start treating me as me. Otherwise—”

I pointed a clawed finger at her, then balled it into a fist.

“I will make you.”

Daniel stared at me as I made my declaration, and Edithe slowly nodded. I did not care that it was a begrudging one— I got what I wanted. So I glanced between the two Humans, satisfied. I folded my arms.

“Good. Now let’s go to Hazelbury and get you your Spirits, find Lucerna and kill him together, then get me back to the Netherworld so we’re all happy.”

 

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