86. The Inner City
For the next week, Daniel and I resumed our strategy from before, waiting for a Mindreaper to leave before attempting to sneak our way through the Brilsum Ruins. I was warier now than before— I had known it was dangerous from the very beginning, but after nearly dying to the collective attack of hundreds of monsters, it changed my perspective slightly.
Not only did I choose to raise my [Vitality] by a little more than usual from my levels, I also made sure to stay away from anything that looked like it could be fragile. Which meant… everything, really. Everything here is so old and weak!
Salvos (Death of the Destroyer)
Species: [Greater Demon]
Subspecies: [Midday Changeling] - Lvl. 59
[Advanced Mana Manipulation] - Lvl. 4
[Identification] - Lvl. 5
[Racial Skill: Universal Language Comprehension] - Lvl. 1
[Racial Skill: Mortal Form] - Lvl. 2
[Rest] - Lvl. 3
[Title Skill: Zealous Call] - Lvl. 2
[Available Stat Points: 0]
[Vitality]: 66 (+5)
[Strength]: 40 (+5)
[Endurance]: 63 (+5)
[Wisdom]: 79 (+5)
[Agility]: 119 (+5)
[Available Skill Points: 2]
[Advanced Fire Creation] - Lvl. 20
[Charge of Embers] - Lvl. 10 (Maxed)
[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
[Charge of Embers] was maxed now too, which meant I had far shorter cooldowns between each use than before. It served to my advantage when it came to running away— I hadn’t even tested out how much more useful it was as an attack since I didn’t think I was ever going to charge into that horde of monsters.
Not as long as the Mindreapers are there.
During this period where we continued searching through rubble and broken homes, we never made the same mistake as the first night we tried entering the Brilsum Ruins. That meant that we never got into a battle… except for the one time a Mindreaper flew our way.
It hadn’t even noticed us, hiding within the canyon during the dead of night. It was so focused on bringing whatever monster it had caught in its mind magic its way, I managed to get the drop on it with multiple [Fire Strikes]. Then before it could flee, I dragged it down with the chains from my kusarigama and finished it off.
Defeated [Nightmare Mindreaper - Lvl. 78]!
More experience is awarded for defeating an enemy at least 10 levels above you!
Daniel tried to help, but being a non magical fighter, he couldn’t really do much. Only a few of his Skills even had any magic to them, and he didn’t want to waste them on a fight we could have easily won since some of them— like his [Hero’s Slash]— could only be used once a day.
As such, his efforts in helping take down the Mindreaper was so minute it netted him barely any experience— not enough for me to lose any experience from defeating it.
After our search through the Brilsum Ruins outer city proved to be fruitless, Daniel and I had a discussion. The suggestion I had made to him after the first deadly night. We had to try it. So after spending a full day convincing him and planning out what we were going to do, he finally acqueisced and went to sleep.
Daniel and I returned to the Brilsum Ruins the next day after the Human man got his night’s rest, before daring to tackle the Platinum Rank Dungeon once again.
Now Entering [Dungeon: Brilsum Ruins].
We didn’t jump straight back in— the plan was risky as evinced by how much damage I had sustained from the horde of monsters after I used [Zealous Call]. So, the first thing we did was get a good view of the topography of the city, and sketched out a rough map of the area.
We marked down the basic outlines of the route we had taken and how we avoided the Mindreapers there— jotting down the places where we thought we could hide and take cover in case a patrol passed by. Then with that in mind, we turned our attention fully back to the city and waited for the opportunity to show itself.
We weren’t just going to have me charge right up to a Mindreaper and activate [Title Skill: Zealous Call]. That was how I got myself killed. Instead, we decided that it would be better for me to wait for the exact same scenario as before to show itself— the one where a Mindreaper left its horde along to bring a sleeping creature to the Dungeon— then we would act.
I would force all the sleeping monsters— the abandoned monsters— awake, before making a run for it with Daniel. It would cause chaos unbound, and was sure to attract the attention of all the nearby Mindreapers.
While I would have preferred to simply scour around the area and check each individual building as we had done for the past week, it just didn’t seem like something that was efficient if we had a distraction. Nor did it make sense, according to Daniel, for the Fairy temple to be located anywhere in the outer city.
“I know we have been mostly sweeping through the outer city, but that’s because we couldn’t get near the inner city. Now we can. And I told you, Salvos, Spirits in the past were worshipped by Humans. They were seen as… forces of nature. Especially the Fairies. So it wouldn’t make sense for them to build a city around their temple— only to keep it at the peripheries of the city.”
“But what if they couldn’t do that for whatever reason?”
I posed the question to my companion. I wasn’t necessarily trying to disagree with him, rather I was trying to prod at him to understand his logic.
“That is possible, but less likely. And we’ve already determined that simply searching through the entire city is probably unfeasible.”
“If we spend enough time doing it…”
I trailed off, not really convincing myself there. I was willing to take however long it was necessary to find the Fairies here in the Brilsum Ruins, however that did not mean I was looking forward to doing it. In fact, I would prefer not to.
Daniel wagged a finger, explaining.
“If we want to be as efficient as possible, we can’t search every nook and cranny for something that might not even be there anymore. What we should do is search where it’s most likely to be found, and that place is the inner city.”
Nodding slowly, I cast my gaze to the white walls in the distance, half crumbled and only partially standing.
“Behind the anti magic walls. Where the Minotaurs are supposed to be.”
The Human man had a worried look on his face. I raised a nonexistent brow.
“It’s just… they’re supposed to be dangerous, Salvos. Mindreapers are powerful, but they don’t have high [Vitality]. Meanwhile, Minotaurs are supposed to be both strong and durable.”
“Hey, that’s just like Haec!”
“Your Demon friend, right. So, imagine if you not only had to fight just one of him, but dozens in their home.”
“Who says we have to fight them? They might not attack us, and if they don’t, I won’t attack them either.”
“As you normally do. But Minotaurs are just like Giant Spiders— they are very territorial.”
“I’m sure they have other things to be worried about.”
I eyed a Mindreaper as it came dangerously close to our side of the canyon, its patrol seemingly more diligent than before. I glanced back at Daniel and sighed.
“It’s dangerous. Of course it’s dangerous. Everything is dangerous!”
“That, I agree with.”
Nodding, my companion turned his attention back to the broken city. The Platinum Rank Dungeon was not entirely on alert. He noticed it too— the Mindreapers seemed more aware than before of an intruder’s presence, but they weren’t going out of their way to find us.
“Do you really think these monsters are intelligent?”
Daniel asked me after a while. I thought about it for a moment, not really sure what to say.
“Maybe…? They don’t come across as wild to me. In fact, they can even speak— to your mind.”
“Right, they did do that. But if that’s the case, why are they doing this?”
He shifted in his lying position, almost uncomfortably.
“I read through that [Cultist]’s book, you know. Well, not the whole thing since half of it was ruined and undecipherable. But the other half— it made it seem like whoever he was, he wasn’t here to do anything good.”
“So he’s a bad person then?”
“Very bad. They were trying to summon a Demon.”
I gave Daniel a blank stare. He quickly amended his statement.
“A bad Demon. An evil one to do evil things.”
“What kind of evil things?”
Scratching his cheek, Daniel averted his gaze and conveniently pointed out at something that was happening in the broken city.
“Look! That Mindreaper is about to leave.”
Sure enough, a Mindreaper in the western part of the city had abandoned its horde, leaving them at rest, before shooting off into the night sky. Daniel and I exchanged a look, the conversation from before forgotten, and the plan ready to be executed.
“Let’s go down there.”
Getting up, I almost found myself standing on shaky feet. The nervousness and trepidation running through me— it almost reminded me of the time I was attacked by the very first wild Demon I met, the large Demon that slaughtered the others.
Fear gripped me, but I shrugged it off. This plan of ours was going to be far safer without a Mindreaper around to constantly hurt me with its mind magic. And since we dictated the distance we’d be from them— I was prepared for it.
Daniel and I climbed our way down to the western part of the city, making our way through to enter the Brilsum Ruins under the guise of night. We stalked past the same collapsed buildings, the same fallen houses, and the same mounds of rubble. Until finally, we reached the sleeping monsters. The ones left behind by a Mindreaper, sent away to capture more targets.
I nodded at my companion and gestured for him to leave; he hurried off to a side street and waited in the far off distance. I followed shortly after him before turning my attention back to the mass of monsters lying in wait. Baring my teeth, I took a deep breath and let out a ferocious shrieking growl.
[Zealous Call] snapped the horde awake. They instantly charged me, their eyes still hazy from the long sleep they had just been in. The monsters did not even stop to think about why they were mad at me. They just… were.
It wouldn’t last long. It should have been only a few moments. And while it might have been a result of [Self Haste] taking effect, it felt like the longest moments of my entire life.
I dodged and leapt out of the way of incoming fireballs. Blades of wind shot out at me at incredibly high speeds, coming from the large [Flayer Vultures] that took the sky. [Charge of Embers] allowed me to quickly change directions, buying me a moment of relief from the incoming projectiles and magic.
Making a sharp turn down a side street, I saw Daniel’s back appear in view once again as the ground shook behind me. The horde of monsters followed behind us, still enraged—
Then the Skill ran out. And they came back to their senses.
Chaos broke out once again. Monsters of all kinds found themselves amidst different Species’ that they never met before. Amongst rival Species that they competed against. It was a storm of emotions— confusion, anger, fear— that resulted into a bloody tempest which I wanted no part of.
The gale from the fighting blew past me— and that was it. The rage of the monsters had been forgotten. I was nothing more than a speck in the distance to them. Why would you focus one me far away when an enemy was right next to you?
I bounded across the brick street until I was next to Daniel. The Human man slowed to a stop. We exchanged a nod before sinking into the darkness. Swimming through the shadows, we kept away from the solid main street. And when a procession of monsters— led by a Mindreaper— came to find the source of the commotion in this part of the city. They didn't see us.
All they saw was a massive battle. One which they quickly joined without any hesitation.
Daniel and I continued breezing through the city, unhindered by the many patrols of Mindreapers, their attention drawn by the distraction we had caused. I had gained no experience from doing this. All it gave us was time and the freedom to move through the city. Towards our destination for the night.
We stopped before the tall, white walls. The anti magic walls, made out of banclite. I took a moment to take in the view of the ancient monolith before pressing forward. I only stopped once more as Daniel hovered back.
I cocked my head, puzzled at his apprehension. Shifting in his feet, he spoke hesitantly.
“I… I’m not sure if this is the best idea, Salvos. We’re about to enter a Lair of Minotaurs. Many Platinum Rank adventurers have tried to clear it, and all of them have died.”
“You were prepared to do this earlier, weren’t you? You suggested going into the inner city. Why are you getting scared now?”
“I was scared too, then. I just…”
He trailed off and glanced back in the distance. A dozen Mindreapers were circling a single area in the sky. The battle was still ongoing, but it was evidently drawing to a close.
“I just don’t want to die.”
The Human man spoke simply. I stared at him for a moment, before happily agreeing.
“Me too! That’s why we should go in now, before the Mindreapers return to patrolling near us. We’ll try to avoid any Minotaurs too. Come on Daniel, we’re so close. Plus, we might learn more about whatever that [Cultist] was trying to do inside.”
I tried to give him as reassuring of a look as I could, although I knew it wasn’t very effective since I wasn’t in my Mortal Form. In fact, if I tried to calm him down while I was in my Mortal Form, he might have gotten even more nervous for whatever weird reason Humans had.
Daniel, to his credit, managed to steel himself after taking a deep breath. He nodded at me and stepped to my side.
“Right. This will help you, and it’s also the right thing to do.”
“Maybe. Now, let’s see what Minotaurs are made of.”
It was a Lair, after all. It was well documented by the many adventurers who dared this Dungeon in the past. A place where Minotaurs, powerful Platinum Rank monsters resided.
So when we walked through a hole in the banclite wall— as I traced my hands at the air over the white stone and felt my magic weakening just slightly— I was prepared to find some Minotaurs, to enter their Lair, and hear the notification telling me we reached it. But as we continued further and further into the inner city, the words, the Lair, the Minotaurs—
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