75. Giant Ape
The [Prima Saeve] loomed over us, raising his gargantuan arm back from where he had intended to crush Sophia. He missed— mostly because I had spotted him sneaking up on us. Now, how could a monster nearly twice the size of Lucerna with arms as long as his body possibly come close to us without being noticed?
Probably a Skill.
He had camouflaged himself amongst the trees somehow. Even though the hair that covered his entire body barring his chest had a vibrant orange tinge to it now, it had been nearly green just moments before. And it was not like it was the first time I fought a monster like him.
In fact, he was probably mad because I kept killing his smaller companions whenever they tried to attack us at night. It was not my fault they were weak— only Level 40 to 50— yet they thought they could fight me!
I had only told Daniel of those encounters so as to not worry the Silvers, but… apparently they were unhappy about that? I was slightly confused. Or, well, very confused.
But I put those senseless ruminations aside for now and focused on fighting the Level 72 monster ahead of me. Because that made far more sense to me!
I placed Sophia down on the ground and tried creating chains to attach to the sickle. I failed and sighed.
“Stupid kusarigama. I should’ve just taken Jaakko’s!”
The Human woman glanced over at me slowly. She opened her mouth, but I didn’t wait for her to speak. [Self Haste] was already activated and would run out soon.
I leapt at the [Prima Saeve], throwing the flaming sickle at his face as I created a spear. [Weapon Mastery] told me that it was probably a far better weapon to use in this situation. Not like either even pierced the skin of the monster.
He roared once more, beating his fists on his chests causing the air to shake and sweeping the fallen leaves on the ground up into the air. My sickle nicked the side of the monster’s face as my spear plunged lightly into his shoulder. He looked down at me with two black eyes and I waved nervously.
The [Prima Saeve] smashed at where I had been, but I was already gone. I stumbled onto the ground right as Daniel dashed past me, charging with a glowing blade. His sword sunk deep into the gargantuan ape’s feet. He did more damage than I could have in ten minutes with a single Skill, cutting deeply, drawing blood—
And lodging itself into the very angry monster.
Daniel pulled and found the blade to be stuck inside the bone of the [Prima Saeve]. But before he could let go, the monster raised a leg, carrying my Human companion up into the air.
“Let him go!”
I bellowed, sending a [Scorching Wave] into the [Prima Saeve]’s face. It splashed harmlessly off, doing nothing more than drawing the ire of him towards me. He swept a hand across the ground, barely missing me and instead knocking aside a tree that was in the way.
Daniel failed to dislodge his blade from the monster, but he did finally decide that clinging onto the leg of a walking monster was less helpful than doing… anything else.
A blast of magic struck the [Prima Saeve] from the side and I blinked. That’s… I glanced over at Cless as he readied another spell.
“What are you—”
He shot a Fireball out at the monster’s face. The blast rocked the lumbering creature’s head back. Then drew his attention to the Human man.
The [Prima Saeve] roared and smashed both his hands down at Cless. Dust and debris blew out of the ground as the earth broke open. Cless coughed as the flames around my body dissipated.
“That probably hurt you a bit. But I couldn’t get to you in time without using [Charge of Embers].”
The [Mage] spat out some blood, blinking. I helped him up as I heard Daniel scream. My companion punched the monster. And to my surprise, he actually sent the [Primae Saeve] stumbling back for a moment.
Of course, Daniel is strong. But— that gigantic monster is stronger!
Although, the [Prima Saeve] was only a little bit bigger than an [Arachne]…
Arrows bounced off the face of the creature and I sighed.
“Sophia now, too? Ugh, do you want to get yourselves killed?!”
I sputtered, turning back to Cless with a scowl. He bit his lower lip, but spoke up anyway.
“We don’t want to die, Ms Salvos. We just want to prove ourselves to the company.”
Looking him over, I remembered that angry speech that preceded this. I shook my head, creating a blazing blue object in one hand and faced the angry [Prima Saeve] as he knocked Daniel aside, and was now chasing the lone [Archer]. Humans… why are you always so weird!
I rushed forward and created a bow. I nocked the Blazing Bolt as the threads of mana finished weaving into itself and aimed at the giant ape’s ear. I loosed the projectile and it zipped straight at its target.
The arrow flew straight and fast— but the [Prima Saeve] did not lay unmoving. He walked forward, turning his head and the Blazing Bolt struck his cheek instead. I let the bow dissipate as I threw myself out of the way of an oncoming fist.
I leapt right next to Sophia who was struggling to load an arrow onto her bow. Her hands were shaking— her eyes were wide. But still, her body moved.
I spoke sharply, breaking her from her focus on the monster.
She stared at me for a moment and dropped her arrow. She cursed and bent over to pick it up. But the [Prima Saeve] was already behind us. I grabbed her and carried her out of the way of another earth shattering attack.
When we landed, I dropped her to the floor and held out a hand.
“Give me your bow.”
She paused and clenched her fists.
“You want me to get out of the way, don’t you? You think I can’t do anything, just like everyone else.”
I spoke simply, eliciting a confused look from the woman’s face. I held out a hand.
“Give me your bow, then I’ll ask you to do something very important.”
Sophia hesitated, but the ground shook once again. Daniel was trying to fist fight the monster five times larger than him. And he was losing, of course.
I waved my hand in front of her, waiting. After a final pause, she acquiesced and gave me her main weapon.
“What do you want me to do now?”
I grinned as I threw the bow around my shoulder, then clasped both my hands together and felt powerful, more refined magic surging between my palms. I turned fractionally to the Human woman and told her what to do.
“You think you’re fast, don’t you? Just draw his attention for a minute. Or else Daniel dies, and I’d rather that not happen.”
“You wanted to prove yourself, didn’t you? Prove you can survive by hitting the [Prima Saeve] and running from it. Then I’ll kill him.”
Sophia blinked as Daniel went flying through the air and crashed into the ground. I nodded at her and she took a deep breath.
“Fine. I will show you what I can do.”
The [Archer] drew a dagger from her belt pocket and ran out, waving and screaming for the monster’s attention. The giant ape paid her no mind at first, focusing only at me, until she threw her dagger at his face. It struck his cheek and drew his ire.
Aiming for the eye, huh? She knows how to fight, why is she so obsessed about being proven or whatever. I shook my head. Weird.
Sophia dashed through the trees, running from the [Prima Saeve] as it waded its way through the thicket like it was a bunch of pebbles on the ground. It roared and grabbed a tree trunk, hurling it at her, but she rolled out of the way.
It loomed over her, a mad look in its eyes, but she did not falter. She slid in between his legs, shouting a curse as it barely missed her.
“I knew I didn’t miss you when you tried sneaking up on me. I sensed your presence! My stupid Skill told me you were there, but I was too mad to notice!”
The ground shook and Sophia got back to her feet. But before she could continue fleeing, the monster struck the ground, knocking her off balance. It stood before her, raising an angry fist as she struggled and panted to get up—
And I leapt in the air, propelled by [Self Haste] and [Charge of Embers], turning to a blue ball of fire in the sky. I flew over the monster, aiming Sophia’s bow at him.
I nocked a nearly white arrow with blue embers wisping off it onto the bow, and immediately felt the wooden shaft start to burn. The Refined Blazing Bolt shot forward at an incredible speed as the [Prima Saeve] blinked.
The monster raised a hand to cover his eyes— but I was not aiming for his eyes. The Refined Blazing Bolt bore a hole straight through the giant ape’s forehead, breaking through his skull and drilling through his brain in an instant.
The [Prima Saeve]’s body stopped moving. Then slowly, he collapsed to the ground with a thunderous boom.
I landed lithely next to the body of the monster as the notifications went off in my head.
Defeat [Prima Saeve Progenitor]!
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 [Midday Changeling] Level Up!
[Midday Changeling – Lvl. 51] -> [Midday Changeling – Lvl. 52]
Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!
Subspecies [Midday Changeling] Level Up!
[Midday Changeling – Lvl. 52] -> [Midday Changeling – Lvl. 53]
Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!
I blinked. Then I felt a grin sweeping through my face. I triumphantly held up the still-burning bow and exclaimed.
“I leveled up twice! Did you see that Daniel—”
The [Hero] lay unconscious on a small crater in the ground. Cless was tending to him, uncorking a healing potion, about to pour it over my Human companion. Sophia glanced between the dead [Prima Saeve], Daniel, and I.
“He shouldn’t have tried punching a giant monster. He’s not Haec.”
We left the dead [Prima Saeve Progenitor] where he fell— neither Sophia nor Cless were too keen about dissecting him for his parts. The Silver Ranks were neither good at dismantling monsters nor were they willing to waste any time trying to cut his skin open.
“Its skin would make for good armor. But on the flip side, it will be hard to even turn it into armor. So, it would be best for us to leave it. Maybe we can mark this spot on the map and return for it in the future.”
“Why don’t we move him— I mean, it— to somewhere where it would be hidden? Like under a rock!”
I helpfully suggested. Cless and Sophia exchanged a look.
“We can’t move him. Can you?”
“Daniel can… but he’s still unconscious.”
“Yeah. I think we should just move on. Before it gets dark.”
Cless nodded at me and turned around. Before leaving, he patted his companion on the shoulder and whispered something to her ear. She flinched, averting her gaze to the side as he went to pick Daniel up.
We proceeded to continue traveling until we could find proper shelter for the night. And I looked through my Status, deciding to spend my Stat Points mostly into [Agility], while giving some Skill Points between my speed Skills and passives.
Salvos (Death of the Destroyer)
Species: [Greater Demon] (Mortal Form - Human)
Subspecies: [Midday Changeling] - Lvl. 53
[Advanced Mana Manipulation] - Lvl. 3
[Identification] - Lvl. 5
[Racial Skill: Universal Language Comprehension] - Lvl. 1
[Racial Skill: Mortal Form] - Lvl. 2
[Rest] - Lvl. 2
[Title Skill: Zealous Call] - Lvl. 1
[Available Stat Points: 0]
[Vitality]: 55 (+5) (-6)
[Strength]: 40 (+5) (-6)
[Endurance]: 63 (+5) (-6)
[Wisdom]: 71 (+5) (-1)
[Agility]: 108 (+5) (-6)
[Available Skill Points: 2]
[Advanced Fire Creation] - Lvl. 15
[Charge of Embers] - Lvl. 5
[Fire Strike] - Lvl. 10 (Maxed)
[Ignition] - Lvl. 3
[Scorching Wave] - Lvl. 5
[Self Haste] - Lvl. 9
[Passive - Blue Flames] - Lvl. 12
[Passive - Deadly Instincts] - Lvl. 7
[Passive - Weapon Mastery] - Lvl. 4
We made camp next to a large rock— it was a boulder with a slanted tree resting against it. Daniel woke up by then, however he immediately decided to go back to sleep once he realized it was night. I shook my head, disappointed but not surprised.
The two Silvers had their dinners in silence, until Cless nudged Sophia before getting up to leave. Then it was just the [Archer] and I, sitting alone across the campfire.
She fidgeted where she sat, opening and closing her mouth a few time as if to say something, but remained quiet until I cocked my head.
“Is something wrong?”
Sophia nearly jumped. She glanced up and saw me staring at her curiously. I blinked.
“You’ve been acting weird the whole day. I mean, Hu— uh, people are usually weird. But you’re being extra weird.”
She sputtered, the saliva spitting out of her mouth visible in the fire light. Shrugging, I leaned back on both my arms.
“I don’t know why you’re acting this way. I thought you were scared of dying at first, but apparently you’re not? You want to prove yourself good enough to your company, or something?”
“Of course I do!”
Sophia snapped, standing up. Her eyes grew wide as she realized she was nearly shouting. She quickly sat back down as her face grew red.
“I just want to prove myself as a proper member of the Valiant Dreamers Company. Not as some kind of weak Silver Rank who can’t even take care of herself. I deserve to be Gold, but they won’t promote me.”
“You want them to recognize you.”
I nodded as she looked at me apprehensively.
“R-right. I want them to recognize me.”
“It feels good, doesn’t it?”
I smiled, leaning forward and began speaking excitedly.
“It gives you an epistemological sense of self. Distinguishing your acumen from others, making you more than just a pebble in an ocean of rocks. This ebullience of your actions holding gravity and knowing you are an actual thinking entity in this tumulous world that is not just a void of nothingness that entangled your inchoate existence before your birth.”
Sophia trailed off, no longer following my train of thought. I sighed, feeling my shoulders sag.
“No? Oh well. But you like being recognized, right?”
“And you believe that your own actions warrant recognition from others?”
She hesitated, mulling over whether she should give me a proper response. And after a moment’s thought, she nodded.
I clapped my hands together lightly and sat back down.
“Then that’s all that matters.”
Sophia stared at me, slack jawed.
I raised a finger knowingly as I explained.
“That means you recognize yourself. And that’s all that matters. Sure, having others see you too is a nice feeling. That’s why I have companions! But if you can’t live without your companions, then you are nothing. However, you aren’t nothing, so there’s no problem here.”
“I… don’t really get it.”
I sighed, rubbing my temples like Edithe would.
“I’m saying be confident in yourself. The Valiant Dreamers Company could promote you, but they also could not. But as long as you know you’re actually a Gold Rank, it doesn’t matter what your adventurer’s badge color is. Just don’t act recklessly, and you’ll be fine.”
“I think I get that…”
Sophia spoke slowly.
“But it’s easier said than done.”
I waved a hand, uncaring.
“As long as Daniel and I are here, we can make sure you don’t get yourself killed. Can’t promise anything about after we leave though. So you better learn to do it rather than just say it quick. Now go get your sleep so we can find this Gabriel. I want to go to that ruins place already!”
I got up and turned around. The brown haired woman waited a moment before calling out after me.
I turned back to face her. She bit her lower lip then bowed her head.
“Thank you. And sorry. For the way I’ve been acting.”
I stared at her for a moment, then laughed.
“I’m Salvos. Not Ms Salvos!”