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34. Centinels

The Centinels came at me fast.

I immediately spun around and used [Double Step] to put as much distance between myself and the high leveled monsters as possible. Perhaps if it were only a single one, I would have tried to fight him. However, there were too many for me to handle.

Over a dozen Level 50 to 60 monsters pursued me down the stone hallway. These creatures moved at incredibly fast speeds, nearly catching up to me more than once. Some of them had some kind of speed Skill— their mandibles nicking the back of my cloak as it lit up in flames.

I turned a corner and saw the opening up ahead. Daniel, Edithe, Mistshard, and Druma were lying in wait there, but even with their help it wouldn’t have been enough to win. I cupped my hands around my mouth and shouted as loud as I could.

“Run! Get out of the Dungeon! There’s too many of them!”

A head peeked around the corner; Daniel blinked as he took in the elongated monsters with dozens of dark segmented parts of their body, and a hundred horn-like crimson legs. These Centinels almost reminded me of the horned Demon— only they had a far longer and larger body, with terrifying mandibles the size of my forearm that threatened to shear me in two with each snap.

The Human man paled. He whirled around and yelled at the rest of our party to flee.

“Centinels! [Junior Centinels]— we can’t take them! Shit—”

He made a break for the rope still dangling down the crevice from above. But it was a long way up. And these monsters could climb up walls.

I burst into the room just in time to see Mistshard grabbing Edithe and flying up and away, while Druma waited for me by the rope. My mind raced with my body as I formed the only plan I could at the moment.

“Druma, carry me and climb as fast as you can!”

The [Yaksha] paused, looking at me for a moment. He might have been conflicted, because he wasn’t ordered to listen to me by his master. And yet, his life probably took precedence over all else.

So the tree-like creature grabbed hold of the rope and stayed just a moment longer as Daniel climbed further up, casting a quick, hesitant glance at the two of us. But he continued the moment he saw the Centinels come scuttling out of the tunnel.

I leapt onto Druma’s back and he immediately began climbing as fast as he could. The first of the Centinels reached us a moment later, jumping up after us as we ascended. My [Fire Blast] knocked them back onto the ground.

The others skittered out of the way as they landed, wriggling on their backs for a moment before righting themselves. The monsters glanced up at us, seeing our party make our escape. Then they charged up the walls.

I looked around me; Daniel was pulling himself up the ropes as fast as he could. He could not help— he had no ranged attacks. Mistshard on the other hand, had magic. But she was distracted.

“Just fly! I’ll keep them off you!”

Edithe yelled as the [Elemental] carried her by her shoulders, slowly flying upwards. Mistshard was capable of flight, but it was more of a hover— she could not speed up and out of the Dungeon.

The Human woman aimed her staff at the closest Centinel scurrying up the rock wall and unleashed a streak of electricity. The monster stopped, falling down as his entire body writhed and wriggled, the discharge running through his body. Then he picked himself up and continued his pursuit.

It was up to Edithe and I to hold these Centinels off. No one else could do anything.

I clung onto Druma’s back, blasting flames at the closest ones leaping off the walls for us. The [Fire Blast] barely singed the shell of the Centinels, but it was enough to keep them back.

I watched as a cluster of them gathered together and ran up the wall parallel to us. They were trying to attack us as a group, so my magic wouldn’t be able to knock them all back. I created a ball of fire and flung it at the Centinels before they had the chance to even jump in our direction.

The Centinels fell. Some of them broke their shells. Blood leaked out and oozed onto the floor below. But they picked themselves up and ran back up after us.

“They won’t stop coming! What do we do?!”

Daniel shouted down at us right as we saw light leaking down from above. We were close to the top of the pit. The Dungeon was behind us entirely.

 

Now Leaving [Dungeon: Silkfall’s Crevice].

 

Yet, the Centinels came; they charged mindlessly at us, never giving up no matter what we did.

“If these monsters attack a nearby town— hundreds of people are going to be killed!”

Edithe launched a volley of ice arrows at a weakened Centinel. I saw his shell crack— I watched him bleed as he ran through the hail without a care in the world but to kill us. He threw himself at the Human woman—

And my fire arrow struck him middair. The bolt was weak, but it hit the exposed part of his body. Then the Centinel fell.

 

Defeated [Junior Centinel – Lvl. 56]!

More experience is awarded for defeating an enemy at least 20 levels above you!

 

He splattered onto the ground, no shell left to protect him from the fall. I grinned, looking around at skittering Centinels.

“We don’t have to run. We can fight!”

Daniel pulled himself up to the top of the crevice. He looked down at me dubiously for a moment, then his eyes widened as he realized my plan. Edithe saw it too. She had Mistshard set her down across the hole in the ground from Daniel. The [Elemental] simply hovered above.

“Knock them down! Every time they reach the surface, send them tumbling back down to their Dungeon! They will fall and die, or they will give up! Either way, we will win!”

The Humans nodded as I hopped off Druma, landing on solid ground with a momentary stumble. I righted myself and glanced down the crevice— into the Dungeon— as the monsters came skittering up the walls after us.

I grinned and sent a [Fire Blast] down at the closest one. He fell, but no notification came. The next came quickly after, and again I did the same thing.

More Centinels came— too much for me to handle— but Daniel stepped up next to me, carrying a large rock on his hands. He hurled it at a Centinels face, knocking it loose off the walls and down back into the Dungeon.

 

Defeated [Junior Centinel – Lvl. 54]!

More experience is awarded for defeating an enemy at least 20 levels above you!

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

 

I exchanged a glance with Daniel. He gave me a reassuring smile and ran for more rocks to throw. I sent blasts of flame down the hole— occasional fireballs needed to knock down a group of them— while Daniel supported me with his rocks. Edithe, Mistshard, and Druma stood on their edge of the crevice doing the same thing. Although it seemed like the two Spirits were doing most of the work. Edithe seemed exhausted, having to boost her two summons as well as directly participating in the combat.

A few times, a Centinel would scurry past the [Fire Blasts] and the rocks we threw on them, blurring at high speeds upwards. They would breach out of the Dungeon, pulling themselves up onto the surface. But we were prepared for that. A [Fire Strike] kick or a [Quick Strike] from Daniel would knock them off balance enough for us to throw them back into the crevice.

The Centinels continued their mindless endeavour as time passed, before eventually, they stopped. Whether they all perished or they gave up didn’t matter. We won.

 

Defeated [Junior Centinel – Lvl. 61]!

More experience is awarded for defeating an enemy at least 20 levels above you!

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

 

 

Defeated [Junior Centinel – Lvl. 55]!

More experience is awarded for defeating an enemy at least 20 levels above you!

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

 

Subspecies [Zelus Imp] Level Up!

[Zelus Imp – Lvl. 34] -> [Zelus Imp – Lvl. 35]

Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!

 

I sprawled myself onto the ground with a triumphant sigh. Over a dozen kills and over 20 levels above me but only a single level, huh? It wasn’t the best gains I had gotten in the Dungeon. However it felt good to level so soon after a previous level up just the day before.

So I didn’t let it bother me.

Daniel panted in relief, letting his sword dig into the ground next to me.

“That was dangerous.”

“But good for experience.”

I straightened and shot him a smirk. The Human man shook his head, murmuring under his breath.

“Not if we died.”

“We didn’t die.”

Edithe spoke simply as she strode over to us; Mistshard and Druma were gone— the Human woman unable to sustain them after the battle was over. It took a bit of time for her to use the [Return Summon] Skill, but now it was done and she took a seat next to me in our makeshift camp from weeks ago.

“The experience was rewarding, however we didn’t do it just for that.”

She nodded at me.

“Thanks to your quick thinking, Salvos, we were able to take out those Centinels here and now. If they had reached even a city like Hazelbury— there would have been a lot of innocent lives lost before they would be taken down.”

“Huh.”

I looked at her, then at the broken body of one of the few Centinels that crested to the top.

“Are they that dangerous?”

“Anything above Level 50 is dangerous. Even those Giant Spiders we’ve been fighting are dangerous to any of the nearby towns. That’s why it’s wrong for the Iron Champions Company to keep a Dungeon such as this hidden. And Centinels too?”

Edithe sighed and rubbed at her temples.

“They’re especially dangerous because they can dig through the ground. They’ll just go under the city walls and attack anything they see. If there really is a nest or a Lair of them down in the Dungeon— we need to return to Hazelbury and notify the authorities. These may only be Juniors, but Seniors wouldn’t even have to dig under a wall to get through it.”

I nodded.

“Dangerous then.”

“Right.”

“There’s probably a Lair, I think. There were a lot of them— they were attacking the Giant Spiders. Dozens of them.”

“Then all the more reason we should return to Hazelbury as soon as possible. Come on.”

Edithe hauled her sack over her shoulder and looked over at us expectantly. Daniel sighed, gathering his things.

“Why didn’t they burrow through the earth? I mean, you said they can do that, right?”

“I’m not really sure—”

“They wouldn’t.”

I spoke simply. The two Humans exchanged a glance as we started away from the Dungeon. Daniel raised an eyebrow.

“Why not?”

“Because they’re stupid. I saw the way they acted. Other monsters— like the Giant Spiders— they would only protect their territory. Most would give up chasing me after a while. But these Centinels? None gave up. They didn’t think whether a dozen of them breaking away from the rest to attack me was worth it for them. They just saw me and wanted to kill me. Like wild Demons.”

Edithe smiled.

“You really have a thing against these ‘wild Demons’, don’t you?”

I folded my arms across my chest.

“Of course! They’re mindless Demons! They just want to kill me! I have no reason to like them.”

The Human woman nodded. Then she lightly placed her hand on my head.

“Well, Salvos, it’s a good thing you aren’t like them, aren’t you?”

I paused, staring up at the Human woman, then at Daniel. They both looked at me with a soft face— completely different from when I first met either of them. And I felt as if they were finally looking at me.

Slowly, I smiled.

“Yep!”

 

—-

 

“—and that’s why you came to hate wild Demons?”

“Yes! She was just there one moment, then it crushed her!”

“...the Netherworld sounds like an incredibly harsh place. Why do you even want to go back there?”

Daniel turned to me, his brows were creased and a grimace plastered onto his face.

“Because Haec is there.”

I spoke simply. Daniel blinked, but Edithe just laughed.

“You know, Salvos, you’re actually quite simple aren’t you?”

“Hey!”

I looked over at the Human woman with a glare, however she didn’t blanche. She didn’t step back in fear or wariness. Instead, she just waved a hand off lightly.

“It’s not a bad thing, really. Honestly, us Humans are often so complicated, it gets really tiring sometimes.”

“Yeah, you can say that again.”

Daniel muttered with a sigh. I glanced between the two Humans, my lips curled up as I shook my head.

“I agree. You Humans are weird! But that’s not really a bad thing.”

“You think?”

The Human man eyed me dubiously. I nodded eagerly.

“You’re not like rocks at all.”

“I… don’t even know where to start with that.”

“Well, it’s a good thing you don’t hate us. You’re going to be around lots of us again soon. Come on, Hazelbury is just up ahead.”

We continued walking up the dirt road; neither Mistshard nor Druma were with us since Edithe had no reason to summon them. The three of us had been traveling at a slower pace than it took us to get to the Dungeon, and after a few days, we had finally arrived, cresting up the tall hill a few miles from the city.

I stopped as the two halted midstep. Edithe’s eyes bulged out of their sockets while Daniel just stared in shock at the sight before us. I blinked as I took in the state of Hazelbury.

The gates of the city lay broken, the walls covered in ash. Smoke billowed up from the city ahead.

So as the sun rose from the horizon, my companions and I returned to Hazelbury only to find the city had been attacked.

By Lucerna.

 

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