65. Eye for an Eye
Arrows exploded all around me. These enchanted bolts were bursting into flames, lighting, and ice as they flew over my head or landed behind my back.
One landed right ahead of me, shooting up dirt and debris up in my way. I covered my face as I ran through the tempest of magic and earth. But I could not lose track of where I was going.
I saw the [Rogue] running ahead. He was sprinting full speed in a vague direction— was it to Rachel? I had no idea where Rachel was. Nor did I know how he could track her down. But he probably had Skill for that. These were assassins, after all.
I actually didn’t know much about assassins. But from the context Daniel gave me, some kind of [Tracking] Skill didn’t seem too far fetched.
So I hurried after the [Rogue]. Even as my [Self Haste] finally ran out, I bounded forward on all fours, passing by trees and barreling through thickets to stop him from hurting Rachel. The arrows stopped firing for a moment, and I thought Daniel had bought me a brief reprieve. However, I suddenly found myself being pulled back by chains— the [Warrior] had thrown his morning star at me.
The metal almost wrapped around me. I threw myself to the side just in time to dodge it— but I wasn’t fast enough. The chains caught my cloak, pulling me back as I grunted. I watched the [Rogue] get further and further away. And I was being held back by… by… this stupid cloak!
I tore the cloak, shredding it in half on the spiked ball head of the morning star. I glanced back one last time at the [Warrior], sending a growl his way. Then I turned back and chased after the [Rogue].
He was getting away from me again; however, I had already used [Self Haste] to close the distance. And now, I was close enough.
[Title Skill: Zealous Call].
Both the [Rogue] and the [Warrior] immediately spun to face me. The soft growl, emitted like a high pitched shriek, called them to me for a few moments. And it was just a few moments. They came at me bearing the rage of a Greater Demon stranded in the Mortal Realm. Of a [Djinn] that had nothing else left to live for but destruction and revenge.
I gladly embraced that hatred and faced them head on. The [Warrior] flung his morning star, and once again the chains extended. I flipped over it and crashed into the charging [Rogue].
He whipped out five daggers on each hand, stabbing and cutting into my body. I grimaced and tore the weapons from his hand. I clawed his face and dug into his chest. I felt the heavy morning star strike my back and I nearly doubled over. I glared back at the [Warrior] and bared my teeth.
The [Warrior] glared back— a hate filled gaze plastered onto his face. Then he blinked. And he whirled around and ran. Effect wore off, huh?
It was fine. I had the [Rogue] apprehended. I just had to trust Daniel to handle himself; I held the assassin down as he tried wriggling out of my claws. I activated [Ignition] and my entire body was lit ablaze.
He recoiled, although he didn’t scream. Daggers shot out from under his feet and he cut at my leg. I winced, however I took the pain and headbutted him. His mask broke, then with a final [Fire Strike], I finished him off.
“You alright, Salvos?”
I picked myself up as [Ignition] ran out— it drained too much of my mana, even if it was useful. I slowly limped and turned to Daniel. I nodded slowly.
“Yes. He just cut deep into my leg.”
“That was dangerous. You shouldn’t have taken both of them at once. Your Ring of—”
“I took care of them, didn’t I? It’s fine that its protection was gone when we ran in. But you noticed it too didn’t you? Everything suddenly became quiet too quickly. Then my [Deadly Instincts] screamed danger to me. And we took out their highest leveled member.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
I sighed and reached into my bag. Out of healing potions— gave my last to Daniel a while back. I hobbled over next to him as I went over the kill notifications.
Defeated [Wiremaster Assassin - Lvl. 65]!
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!
Defeated [Hail Sniper - Lvl. 62]!
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!
No level, huh? I lowered my head, disappointed. But it should have been expected since I had just leveled up. Wait—
I turned to Daniel as his eyes widened.
“—take care of the [Warrior]?”
The two of us stared at each other for a moment. Then there was the clanging of chains. And a voice broke us from our stupor.
[Warrior - Lvl. 61]
“Let me go!”
Rachel squeaked as the last remaining Harrowed Vindicator held her by the neck. He had her chained by the legs with the extending metal links of his morning star. She struggled, but he lowered the spiked ball of his weapon against her face. She paused and eyed the weapon.
Daniel tightly gripped the hilt of his blade, although he didn’t lift it. He spoke through grit teeth.
“What do you want?”
“Isn’t it obvious?”
The [Warrior] tilted his head to the side. I narrowed my eyes, ready to activate [Self Haste] whenever it made itself ready. I thought Daniel speaking would stall him, but—
“Kill yourself. And the Demon too. Do it or she dies.”
My companion’s eyes widened and his long sword almost dropped from his hand. But he caught it and shook his head.
“No. I’ll kill myself. But Salvos gets to go.”
I glanced over at him.
“There’s no other choice, Salvos.”
He turned to me with an apprehensive look. Sweat was dripping off the side of his head— mixed with the blood from fighting. He tried to smile.
“T-take care of Rachel.”
I opened my mouth to protest, but the assassin snapped and smashed his morning star to the ground next to him.
“Did I say this was a negotiation? No— both of you end your lives. Now!”
Daniel’s eyes widened and I growled, getting on all fours. [Self Haste] isn’t ready yet, but [Charge of Embers]... if I hit Rachel—
Daniel spoke helplessly as I got ready to leap forward. The assassin raised his morning star and started to speak.
Rachel punched the [Warrior] in his nether region. He didn’t double over, nor did he scream. But he was caught by surprise. He let go of her for a moment, and that was enough for me.
“[Charge of Embers].”
I pounced on the Harrowed Vindicator, knocking his morning star off his hands. The two of us went flying through a tree as Daniel caught Rachel. I grabbed him by the arm and struck him across the face. The assassin screamed— and kicked me back.
I went rolling back to Daniel and Rachel. The Human man now had his sword drawn and ready for the assassin to come forward. I stood up—- on one feet and two hands since I couldn’t really feel my last leg any longer— and stared defiantly back at the [Warrior].
He looked between us, then at his fallen morning star to my left. He shook his head.
“It seems I lost this battle.”
I spoke simply.
“And don’t you dare kill yourself so we’ll get less experience!”
“Why ever would I do that?”
The [Warrior] tilted his head— his gaze behind his mask piercing into Daniel.
“Not when I can flee and tell my superiors of what happened here. I will be punished, but…”
He trailed off and Daniel took a step forward. My Human companion raised his sword dangerously against the assassin.
“What are you talking about? Doesn’t your organization punish you with death?”
“No. Not if I brought back something valuable to them. And I did.”
The Harrowed Vindicator smiled, slowly taking off his mask. What was hidden behind it was a decrepit old Human man— his skin was wrinkled and dark, and he stared at us with bloodshot eyes. He broke out into a maniac laugh, his crooked teeth looking like the rustling of the leaves during a storm.
“But everyone you care and love for will never be safe, [Hero]! You can never have friends, not without fear of losing them! You should’ve listened to me and ended your life there and then!”
[Self Haste]. I leapt after the assassin, but he jumped back. I pressed forward, ignoring the pain in my leg. His eyes widened as I clawed at his face— no mask protecting it any longer— and he kicked at me.
My claws dug into his left eye right as his legs came into contact with my abdomen. I was sent flying back once again, and as the world spun around me, I heard a blood curdling scream.
The spinning came to a stop anad the screaming went further and further away. I stared up at the orange sky for a moment, unmoving. Then I glanced up as Daniel and Rachel rushed to my side.
“Salvos, are you ok?!”
I saw the assassin now in the distance, hopping on the trees and whimpering as he made his escape. I just stared at him as he escaped. Slowly, Daniel spoke up.
“Hey, are you…alright?”
He trailed off, giving me a concerned look. I looked between him and the worried little girl.
“I should’ve gone for the neck.”
Daniel handed me a bottle of a strange yellow liquid. I glanced up at him and cocked my head.
“I don’t drink.”
“It’s not for drinking. It’s a stamina potion.”
“A stamina potion?”
“Yeah, it’s like a healing potion or mana potion. But for your stamina.”
I accepted the bottle and looked it over. Then I slowly uncorked it and drank it. I grimaced. It tasted terrible! But I chugged more anyway, because I hadn’t spent enough time for [Rest] to help me recover fully. When I felt more energized, I let my lips leave the bottle.
“I agree for once.”
He chuckled and sat next to me. I was in my Mortal Form. And it was night now— the sun had set and we hadn’t reached Warrington just yet. So we were camping out in the dark forest.
“She’s fine. She’s sleeping now.”
I commented simply. Daniel had given her some healing potion— he had given the same to the both of us too. It was only a single vial, but it was enough for all of us. Apparently that was how effective a High Grade healing potion. I wanted one for myself, but apparently he was running out.
The two of us said nothing more as we sat before the crackling campfire. He gave me a wary look for a moment, then mumbled something himself and produced a leatherbound book. He began scribbling something into it and I peered at him.
“That’s… your book? Your secret book.”
“Right. It’s… a diary.”
“Yeah, it’s a place for me to store my thoughts. I don’t write on it everyday, but if something notable happens I just… vent into it, I guess.”
“Huh. Can I see what you’ve written?”
I tried to peek over his shoulder, but he quickly closed the book and averted his gaze.
“Uh, sorry. It’s private.”
I sat back down to face the fire, and he nodded.
He slowly placed his diary back into his bag, then he glanced over at me. I turned back to him.
“Is something the matter?”
“I— uh, no. But your clothes. It’s… torn.”
“It’s not that bad.”
I looked down at the tattered shirt and pants. It still covered most of my body. It just had holes and rips in some places.
“It’s been like this for a few days.”
“But you’ve had your cloak to cover half of it. And that’s now… torn too.”
He pointed out the obvious. Nodding, I groused and crossed my arms.
“That annoying [Warrior]— it’s because of him my Cloak of Shadows is like this. And he almost hurt Rachel too! I can’t believe I let him escape!”
I was so close too! But at the end of the fight, I was tired so I couldn’t think properly. And for some reason, [Passive - Deadly Instinct] didn’t work. I speculated it was because my stamina was low— and after drinking some stamina potion, I was starting to think that was the case.
“I was so close to killing him. If only I went for his head. And not his eyes…”
“You did good, Salvos. You’re the reason Rachel is alive. You’re the reason I’m alive.”
“But I want to kill him! He tried to make you kill yourself!”
“...an eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind.”
“It’s… just a saying. About revenge. I mean, I’m not sure if I entirely agree with it. But I don’t think trying to hurt others just because they hurt you is a good thing.”
“You were fine when Edithe wanted revenge.”
He shrugged helplessly.
“I didn’t really know her then. And I didn’t want to piss her off.”
I scoffed and crossed my arms, turning away from him. He sighed, then paused.
“Wait. I have...”
I turned back to Daniel and saw him hesitate. Then he shook his head.
He reached into his bag once again and rummaged through it. I watched him look through it for a moment, when I noticed a small spike of mana coming from something on his hand. What was—
“Here. For saving my life.”
Daniel pulled out a piece of long sleeved garment. It was mainly black, with some blue decorated onto it. I blinked as he handed it to me.
“This. It’s a jacket.”
I took it in my hands and identified it.
“It’s mine. And it’s usually what you wear when you’re cold, but this is special—”
I jumped up and held the jacket with trembling hands. I stared at Daniel, working my jaw.
“Yep. It’s a Unique Grade item.”
“Because it’s from another world.”
I stared at the jacket and identified it again.
[Blue Jacket: Unique Grade Item - A jacket made from another world. Other than being a designer brand that cost Daniel an exorbitant amount of money, it’s nothing special.]
“Oh. It’s nothing special.”
“That was before it got enchanted.”
I lowered the jacket and faced the Human man.
“What do you mean?”
“It’s Unique Grade. First thing that means is that no one but the wearer can identify it. And secondly, even if it's worthless, the nobility in the Elutra Kingdom were captivated by it. So they gathered the best [Enchanters] in the country and had them give it a single enchantment.”
“And that is?”
I gave him a curious look.
“It repairs itself.”
Daniel smiled and waved a hand.
“It doesn’t repair instantly. But when it was ripped in half and burnt, I found it back intact the next day.”
I pounced on Daniel and hugged him.
“Thank you! You’re giving it to me, right? Right?”
He quickly pushed me off him and covered his face with one hand.
“Too close. Personal space, remember? And yes, I’m giving it to you. So if you lose your clothes… like you usually do… you’ll still have something to wear.”
I grinned and repeated myself.
I threw the jacket around my shoulder. I felt my torn Cloak of Shadows get in the way, so I tossed it over the Blue Jacket. I twirled around and inspected myself.
“What do you think?”
“Oh, uh, I-I think you look great.”
Daniel stumbled over his words and I giggled.
“I have a Unique Grade Item now.”
I continued giggling and laughing by myself until my Human companion raised a hand and gestured for me to sit back down.
“Alright, Salvos. That’s enough. Or you’ll wake Rachel.”
I plopped myself back to the ground with a smile. Then the smile vanished as I glanced over at the girl sleeping soundlessly by the campfire.
“What is it?”
“We need to talk about Rachel.”
He had been emphatically covering his face with one hand the entire time, but now he slowly straightened and blinked.
“Ah. About that.”
“She’s in danger.”
“Right. The Harrowed Vindicators aren’t afraid of hurting innocent bystanders to get what they want. Even if they are children.”
“We can’t leave her alone.”
Daniel spoke, undeterred. I protested.
“But they’ll come after her!”
“That’s exactly why we can’t drag her into this. If we bring her to Warrington and find her a home there—”
“They’ll still come after her.”
I met the Human man’s gaze; he hesitated, slowly clenching his fists.
“But she’ll be in more danger with us…”
I sighed, leaning back against a tree trunk and casting my gaze up to the starry night sky. Daniel spoke softly.
“She was scared for you, you know? After the fight, when I was treating her, she kept asking me about you.”
I turned to him in surprise and raised a brow.
“Yeah, really. I don’t think… she likes fighting. She grew up in a violent home, apparently.”
“We have no choice but to fight.”
I liked Rachel— she was fun! And I didn’t want anything bad to happen to her. I knew Daniel thought the same, however he was wrong in thinking she’ll be safe if we left her alone. Haec is still in danger in the Netherworld just because Lucerna and I aren’t there anymore.
“If… if we bring her with us…”
“She’ll still be in danger too.”
I agreed with him. So what we needed to do was bring her with us to some place safe. A safe place where we did not necessarily have to separate ourselves from her. A place I could meet her again, as a companion.
I paused and my eyes widened as I had an idea. I turned to Daniel with alacrity.
“But she doesn’t have to be in danger. Not if there are others— other high leveled people— to keep her safe while we weren’t there. Then it would be fine.”
“What are you talking about Salvos? What high leveled people would put themselves in danger to help us or a single little girl—”
Daniel stopped himself, making the same realization I did. I smiled, speaking the name of one of my companions.
Slowly, I stood up and spread my arms wide.
“And the Valiant Dreamers Company.”