62. Bounty Hunters
The gray-brown stone walls of the tunnel turned blurred around me as I hurried my way out of the cave. I wasn’t sure why I was rushing— I didn’t know what I was running into. But that ‘Demon’— the Devil— told me that Daniel and Rachel were in trouble.
So, I moved. Impelled by my desires to save my companions, my feet quickly pushed off the ground and propelled me forward.
I turned a corner, then another corner, and I finally found myself entering the outside world; light blinded my vision momentarily, but I quickly acclimated to what I was seeing. To what I was hearing.
There was fighting. The Devil had been right. Someone was attacking my companions. No— not someone, someones.
Multiple shadow figures darted out of the trees, leaping around and at Daniel. He blocked their attacks, swinging wildly back at his attackers to keep them back. His sword shone for a moment and a blade of white light shot out, slicing one of his attackers in half.
He stumbled, panting from whatever energy that Skill took out of him. In that moment, a [Rogue] kicked him from behind. Losing his balance, Daniel fell to the ground and dropped his weapon. Rachel screamed and rushed to his side, but the [Rogue] was already on him.
The [Rogue]— a masked figure dressed in a dark hooded robe— raised a double bladed dagger—
And pounced on him from behind. I tore into him with [Fire Strike] after [Fire Strike]. My claws dug into his skin as I bit and scratched him. He struggled, trying to push me off, but he was too weak.
I knocked away his haladie and pinned both his arms down. I opened my mouth wide and aimed for his neck. But [Deadly Instincts] told me not to go for the kill. Instead, I kicked myself off the ground and bounded away back to Daniel and Rachel. Not too soon after, a hail of ice spears rained down where I had been, killing the [Rogue] without so much of a scream.
Defeated [Harkening Hunter - Lvl. 53]!
Less experience is awarded for defeating an enemy with the help of others!
They… don’t care about their companions? It reminded me of the horned Demon— the one who attacked Haec and I back when we were still Infant Demons. Not wild or mindless, but calculating.
Rachel ran up to me and hugged my leg; she did not even hesitate despite seeing me outside of my Mortal Form. Daniel lurched up, holding his longsword with one hand and grasping his shoulder with another.
“What’s going on? Who are these people?”
“Bounty hunters. And from the looks of it, they’re the Harrowed Vindicators.”
“The Harrowed Vindicators?”
I cocked my head. A [Mage] landed next to the dead [Rogue] and a [Warrior] walked up behind her with a saber in hand. Another appeared behind us— an [Archer]— but he did nothing but stand there. They all wore dark hooded robes with a sigil of a red hand on it, but their faces were obscured. Cloak of Shadows?
Before Daniel could respond, the [Mage] pointed a finger at the [Rogue] and he stood up. I blinked and the Human man hissed.
“[Necromancer]! Salvos— take care of her!”
I bounded after the [Mage] but a glint caught my eye. A volley of glowing arrows came flying at me— the [Archer] loosed bolt after bolt. I weaved through the incoming projectiles, hopping and leaping before clashing with the [Warrior].
The arrows halted as I heard a loud grunt come from Daniel. But I couldn’t turn around, suddenly flanked by an undead [Rogue]. The [Warrior] and undead [Rogue] lashed out at me— but I burst into flames.
The [Warrior] simply stumbled back, however the undead [Rogue] screeched. Huh, it doesn’t like fire. I sent a scorching wave at the undead [Rogue]. The [Mage] spoke a quick word and the ground before the [Rogue] shot up, protecting it from the attack.
In that moment, I threw myself onto the [Warrior] with the saber. He thrusted his blade forward, striking my shoulder. My Ring of Lesser Protection had been depleted, so it pierced through my skin with little resistance. And if that wasn’t painful enough, I felt another five cuts appear on my body— in places he didn’t even come close to touching. A Skill?
I lashed back at him, but he nimbly stepped away from the attack. His saber began to glow red and he swung it, sending a blade of red energy in my direction. Now a spell?
I dodged the attack and avoided a lightning bolt from the [Mage]. The [Rogue] was now locked in combat with Daniel, alongside the injured [Archer]. If Daniel can hurt them, I can too!
I swung and missed the [Warrior] as he backed up. I stupidly lashed out one more time, but he quickly countered it with a stab— and I moved out of the way from the slow attack.
I grabbed his arm mid strike and clawed his face, tearing off his hood. The [Warrior] convulsed as I chomped down on his neck. He was dead before the [Mage] could react.
A [Warrior] should be strong and durable, not fast and using magic.
Defeated [Arcane Spellsword - Lvl. 48]!
Experience is awarded for defeating an enemy!
I turned my attention to the [Mage] now. She spoke a single word and the undead [Rogue] came back to her side. I expected the two of them to attack me. But instead, she spun around and began attacking Daniel while her minion charged me.
He had been fast— I saw him sneak up on Daniel from behind when I first burst out of the cave. But as an undead… he no longer had any Skills.
It took me a few moments to finish off the undead [Rogue] before I continued on to the [Mage]— the [Necromancer]. Daniel finally struck down the [Archer], turning his attention to her as well.
The two of us surrounded her— all her companions now dead. She glanced between us, then spoke the first word since she first appeared.
“Oh my. A [Hero] and a Demon working together. How… ironic.”
I cocked my head and I heard Rachel gasp. Daniel grit his teeth and aimed his sword at her.
“What do you want from me, bounty hunter? If the Elutra Kingdom sent you, go back and tell them I would rather die than go back there.”
“The Elutra Kingdom?”
The [Mage] cackled.
“No, we were not sent to bring you anywhere. We were sent to kill you.”
The Human man’s eyes widened. He slowly lowered his sword and worked his jaw.
“...what? Why would they—”
“Don’t you understand? We weren’t sent by your summoners! We were sent by those you were summoned to fight against! And we will never stop coming until our contract is complete!”
The [Mage] brought two hands up and I readied for whatever magic she had. What I wasn’t prepared for however, was the [Mage] combusting into green flames. I ran forward to strike her down— in case it was a trick. But the notification resounded in my head as her clothes flopped to the ground and burned.
Defeated [Reanimated Harkening Hunter - Lvl. 53]!
Less experience is awarded for defeating a reanimated enemy!
Defeated [Necromancer - Lvl. 61]!
More experience is awarded for defeating an enemy at least 10 levels above you!
Less experience is awarded for defeating an enemy with the help of others!
General Skill [Basic Mana Manipulation] Level Up!
[Racial Skill: Mortal Form - Lvl. 1] -> [Racial Skill: Mortal Form - Lvl. 2]!
Experience is awarded for the leveling of a General Skill!
Subspecies [Midday Changeling] Level Up!
[Midday Changeling – Lvl. 50] -> [Midday Changeling – Lvl. 51]
Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!
I scowled and kicked the ashen remains of the [Necromancer].
“She killed herself so we would get less experience!”
I shook my head, turning back to Daniel.
“Can you believe that—”
I paused mid step, realizing how Rachel was staring at the Human man. At the dark look on his face. The girl squeaked.
“Mr Daniel… are you really a [Hero]?”
He glanced down at Rachel, then up at me. Sighing, he nodded.
“Salvos. I never wanted to tell you this, but… I am a [Hero].”
The little girl gasped again, and I stared at him. He slowly averted his gaze as I opened my mouth.
“Uh… I knew that?”
“Wait, what? For real?”