81. Brilsum Ruins
Edithe woke up to the sounds of a bookshelf falling over. She jumped to her feet and glanced around the room, hand raised and a spell ready to fire. She paused as she saw the little girl standing, backed up against the rightmost wall, barely a feet away from the collapsed pile of books.
Rachel turned apprehensively towards Edithe and opened her mouth.
“I… I’m sorry.”
She squeaked and braced herself. The red haired woman blinked and slowly lowered her hand.
Edithe asked, walking forward slowly. The little girl began mumbling out a response.
“I was just trying to— I saw a book about… it was about Demons and…”
She trailed off. Edithe stared down at her, and a gentle smile spread across her face. Patting Rachel on the head, she spoke softly.
“It’s fine. There’s nothing to be worried about. You just made a small mistake, that’s all.”
“But… but… it’s ruined.”
The two cast their towards the splintered wooden frame and the spilled books. Edithe laughed.
“Honestly, that had been an old bookshelf. I’m surprised it took that long to break under the weight of all my damn books.”
The red haired woman winced— she probably shouldn’t have cursed in front of Rachel. Apparently, Salvos had learned how to swear from her. It was… not a good example to set for someone so immature. And Rachel, while a little more mature, was still a child.
Edithe swore to herself that she’d mind her tongue better in the future, knowing full well she’d probably fail the very next day. But that wasn’t important now. Right now, she was stroking her hand through the little girl’s crumpled hair.
“You need a bath. When was the last time you washed up?”
“...I don’t know.”
“You mean Daniel and Salvos didn’t bring you to one once you… you know?”
“No. I… don’t think Salvos knows what a bath is. Whenever Mr Daniel says she smells, she just burns it off with her [Ignition] Skill.”
“Figures. And I assume that’s why Daniel gave her that jacket, huh? Cause she kept going through her clothes.”
Edithe got up and slowly picked Rachel up by the waist. She met the amber-eyed girls’ gaze and grinned.
“Well, unlikely Salvos and Daniel, I’m going to get you all cleaned up. Because I think you’re smelly. And little noble girls like you shouldn’t be smelly.”
Rachel pouted. But she hesitantly glanced over at a doll sitting on the bedside table.
“...can… can Princess bathe with us too?”
Edithe took the doll too and started out of the room. They made their way through the wooden corridor of the Valiant Dreamers’ headquarters and down the stairs to the first floor. As Edithe reached the exit just ahead, she halted as she heard a conversation from just beyond between Paige and Ian.
“Hey, has there been any news?”
“On Sophia and Cless? None at all.”
“They shouldn’t take this long to find Gabriel, right?”
“Nope. They should have returned by now.”
“Think they’re ok?”
“Hopefully. But the two Gold Ranks that accompanied did not seem too reliable. I don’t know what Hadrian was thinking, sending them instead of one of us.”
“He’s too young as a leader. The Motharis Mountain Range is dangerous. It may be classed a Gold Rank area, but it has many unknown monsters and creatures in it. If Baris weren’t—”
Edithe suddenly pushed the door open, cutting off their conversation. She simply smiled and nodded their way as she carried Rachel through the gates and out into Viechester. The red haired woman found her jaws unclenching as she felt a tug come from the little girl.
“Ms Edithe… do you think they’ll be alright?”
She paused in the middle of the cobbled street to stare at the girl. Then slowly, she nodded reassuringly.
“They’ll be fine. I’m sure of it.”
The Edithe raised a handle and lightly pinched Rachel’s cheeks.
“Also, just call me Edithe, alright? I’m not old enough to be called a Miss all the time by a child like you.”
Now entering [Dungeon: Brilsum Ruins].
Grinding to a halt, the words echoed in my mind, causing me to glance about for a moment. Other than the collapse building ahead of me, I saw no Dungeon— no destroyed city— within the vicinity. It was all the same canyon— orange rocks and a quiet river.
I decided not to mull over that thought for now, focusing on what was ahead of me. There were two figures hiding in the darkness. Daniel and the monster that was partly controlling him. Finishing his climb to the top of the rubble, he now stood next to the other, more ethereal figure.
Should probably use [Zealous Call] now, but… I had no idea what level this monster was. I had to get a little closer. I needed to identify him or her or it before I planned my next course of action.
Creeping up to the base of the decrepit and ruined building, I finally could use [Identification] on the monster. The words resounded in my head and I… smiled.
[Nightmare Mindreaper - Lvl. 77]
That was one powerful monster. And apparently the source behind the mind magic keeping Daniel asleep. However, it was also 20 levels above me. So it was risky, but—
[Title Skill: Zealous Call].
I let out a piercing, growling shriek. The prolonged cry would have reached any throng of monsters or animals nearby, drawing their ire towards me, but it also would break Daniel out of the nightmare he was in.
Instantly, the two figures— Daniel and the Mindreaper— snapped their attention at me. They charged mindlessly, a blare of mind magic instantly hitting me. My head felt like it was a well swelling up with water, bursting and ready to explode.
But I fought through the pain and sent a [Scorching Wave] pluming into the air. It distracted both Daniel and the Mindreaper long enough for the [Hero] to snap out of the Skill and gather himself back to normal. The Mindreaper, too, broke out of the trance it was in. It had been climbing down the rubble before, but now it slowly floated up and flitted in the air above me.
It looked just as ethereal as it had been before. A pale, purple creature with two clawed hands hovered up next to the rubble. It crossed its arms as it cast its green eyes around— it furrowed its brows, although there was no hair in its wrinkled and granular forehead.
It also had no mouth and no legs— a jawless face that had only an indent where its lips should have been. What replaced its legs were half a dozen slim appendages, each one reaching out and curling into itself. These tentacles were not that much longer than its arms, however there was something about it that allowed it to float— some kind of evolutionary Racial Skill?
The Mindreaper seemed almost translucent in the thin mist veil hanging over the canyon. But before it could get a good grasp of its surroundings— parse what happened to it— Daniel found his bearings first. Swinging his long sword as he shouted a Skill, a glowing blade shot out of his sword, slicing the air in half, and barely missing the monster.
It glared at him angrily, before I leapt up at it, clawing for its face. The fiery strike actually tore through its skin, however it almost felt like I was tearing through nothing. I landed back down, frowning.
I glanced up at the Mindreaper as my Human companion ran up next to me, his weapon in hand.
“I’ve heard about this monster— of Mindreapers. They’re powerful magical beings, mostly made of mana. But they still get hurt by physical attacks. Just less so.”
“Huh. Well, good thing my attacks all use magical fire.”
“Not such a good thing for me. And I’m the one who’s supposed to be dealing more damage in our team.”
“We’re barely even a team— there’s only two of us!”
“That’s not the point.”
I shook my head as Daniel sighed.
“It means you’ll have to be the one hurting it, and I’ll try to lure it in.”
“Now you know what it feels like, using your all to hit someone, only for them to shrug it off.”
“It’s not my fault my [Strength] is—”
A wave of mind magic silenced him, sending the both of us reeling. We grasped at our heads as words suddenly appeared to me; thoughts that weren’t there before.
The question seemed to be directed at Daniel, but I heard it too. I narrowed my eyes.
“It can communicate?”
“Some monsters can— and Mindreapers are extremely smart.”
“Well, if it’s very smart and it decided to attack us anyway, it’s nothing more than a horned Demon!”
Blood ran down my nose as I bounded ahead, activating [Self Haste] to propel me towards the Mindreaper as fast as I could. It saw my approach, and suddenly the mind magic bearing down at me doubled in intensity. My body felt sluggish, even with my speed Skill pushing me forward.
Leaping up in the air, I let [Charge of Embers] take effect. I reached the Mindreaper in an instant and once again dug my claw into its body. It let out a silent scream as more of its body was sheared away, my [Fire Strikes] too much for it to handle.
The Mindreaper raised its own clawed hand and struck me across the face, knocking me back down to the ground. Gathering itself, it began to focus its mind magic on me once more—
And a large rock struck it in the chest.
It reeled back as Daniel dashed forward, carrying another rock in one hand and hurling it at the Mindreaper. He bellowed a Skill as his sword swung in an arc, going for its tentacle-legs.
Dodging the attack, it flew up, only to be met with a wave of blue fire, burning its entire body. The Mindreaper shelled up with its arms, trying to guard itself from the attack. But a burning fire chain caught its arms and yanked it straight down to the ground.
I used the kusarigama to pull the monster towards me, a savage grin spread across my face as it came closer and closer. It was almost weightless— perhaps that was how it was able to float. Not unlike Mistshard even as a Lesser Spirit.
I readied the sickle part of the kusarigama as it came closer to me, frantically sending waves of mind magic my way— trying to both hurt me or impel me to sleep. I shrugged off both the attacks and swung the kusarigama up.
The Mindreaper’s body was torn in half. A final, magically communicated, scream left it as it fell to the ground.
Defeated [Nightmare Mindreaper - Lvl. 77]!
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. 56] -> [Midday Changeling – Lvl. 57]
Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!
I slumped over to the ground and heaved a sigh of relief.
“That was tough! I almost died!”
I felt my shoulders sag, exhaustion flowing through me. Reaching into my bag, I produced a healing potion. I chugged it down, slowly feeling the pained feeling my head disappear— although the blood pouring out of my mouth and nose remained.
“That wasn’t that bad.”
Daniel remarked from the side, slowly making his way towards me. Giving him a half glare, I sprawled myself on the ground.
“It’s your fault it was even that bad! You started talking when it was right in front of us and let it get a free hit on us!”
“I was just trying to warn you about its abilities— you dragged it on by mulling over every tiny detail.”
I crossed my arms.
“Well, it barely attacked you. I could feel my life leaving me through my head! If you hadn’t attacked it when you did, I would have died.”
“Your Ring of Lesser Protection didn’t protect you at all?”
I raised my clawed finger with the magical artifact on it, showing it to him.
“It’s out of mana thanks to you. But even if it wasn’t, I highly doubt it would have helped.”
He scratched the back of his head, averting his gaze slightly.
“That fight went a lot closer than I thought it would have gone. Even if it was a Level 77 monster…”
“There was no way for me to dodge its mind magic. I just had to keep hurting to lessen the pain. But—”
I grinned, pointing a finger at myself.
“At least I leveled up.”
“Oh, I did too.”
I felt slightly disappointed, but was reassured too. If we’re going to be tackling this Platinum Rank Dungeon, we’re going to have to both be strong. I was excited, but I couldn’t lie and say I was not worried in the least. Especially if every monster we fight is going to be over Level 70.
I let [Rest] take over for a bit, regaining my stamina and mana naturally, rather than using the mana or stamina potions we had packed for this trip. While I did that, I quickly distributed my Stat and Skill Points to prepare for future battles.
Salvos (Death of the Destroyer)
Species: [Greater Demon]
Subspecies: [Midday Changeling] - Lvl. 57
[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]: 60 (+5)
[Strength]: 40 (+5)
[Endurance]: 63 (+5)
[Wisdom]: 79 (+5)
[Agility]: 115 (+5)
[Available Skill Points: 2]
[Advanced Fire Creation] - Lvl. 18
[Charge of Embers] - Lvl. 6
[Fire Strike] - Lvl. 10 (Maxed)
[Ignition] - Lvl. 5 (Maxed)
[Scorching Wave] - Lvl. 7
[Self Haste] - Lvl. 10 (Maxed)
[Passive - Blue Flames] - Lvl. 15
[Passive - Deadly Instincts] - Lvl. 7
[Passive - Weapon Mastery] - Lvl. 4
Just a little more [Vitality] to be safe, I thought as I finished. Sitting down next to me, Daniel began to rub at his forehead.
“So, I still didn’t get enough sleep.”
I agreed. He hesitated and chewed his lower lip as he made a suggestion.
“Do you think I can sleep now, or…?”
“Dunno. We are in the Brilsum Ruins, so maybe it’s fine?”
“Wait, we’re already in the Dungeon?”
Blinking, Daniel gave me a confused look. I cocked my head.
“Didn’t you get the notification too? Oh wait, you were sleepwalking at that point.”
“This is the Dungeon?”
He glanced around at the canyon ahead, then the rubble behind us.
“It doesn’t look like… much of a Dungeon.”
“I think we haven’t fully entered the Dungeon just yet. We’ll have to see where that Mindreaper was leading you— there has to be something over that pile of collapsed marble and limestone.”
“Alright, so we take a quick look around then… I sleep?”
I got up and began scaling the white debris until I reached the top of the small mound. However, as I got to the peak, something made me paused.
Now leaving [Dungeon: Brilsum Ruins].
It, however, wasn’t the words that appeared in my head that made me stop in my tracks. And Daniel, who was a few steps behind me, gave me a confused look as he made his way towards me.
“What’s wrong, Salvos— wait, why aren’t we in the Dungeon anymore…”
He trailed off as he saw what I saw.
What lay beyond the collapsed limestone and marble— the debris of what was once a building— was a deep decline that sunk even below the deepest gorge of the canyon. It was an expansive hole, almost like a crater, that spread out for miles in every direction.
The tall cliffs and plateaus of the canyon all ended here, forming a circle around this giant pit. And inside the pit was our destination.
The Brilsum Ruins.
A destroyed city, full of broken buildings and collapsed structures that had once been grand. The rubble flowed into the intersecting streets, turning the roads into spilled messes. Shattered limestone and brick wrinkled the ground like rocks on a mountainous path, but even this sight of a fallen city was not what had stopped me.
It was the myriad of monsters, lumbering through the Brilsum Ruins. Drakes, Saeves, Gatho Mammoths— many monsters that I had seen on my trek to the Dungeon and others I was seeing for the first time— they all littered the Platinum Dungeon before me, traveling in packs. Huddled in groups.
And the ones leading them— the dozens and dozens of creatures that floated above these Gold Rank monsters that were so numerous here?
They were Mindreapers.