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113. Experiments

[Skeleton Warrior - Lvl. 103]

[Skeleton Warrior - Lvl. 100]

[Skeleton Warrior - Lvl. 101]

Three Skeletons surrounded Edithe. Each of them was armed with a weapon of some kind. One had a sword and shield, the other wielded a spear, and the last one had a rusty short sword.

It was completely different from the [Unarmed Skeletons] we had fought before; those were strong. They could be deadly. However, as long as you did not take a direct blow, you would be mostly safe.

This was different. Edithe lay on the ground, her stomach bleeding as she fumbled for her staff. They must have gotten the jump on her— otherwise she would have called for help.

I growled as a Skeleton raised its weapon, before erupting into a guttural shriek.

[Title Skill: Zealous Call]!

Bounding forth, I drew the attention of all three Skeletons towards me; they were not just slow moving corpses which would have taken a minute to kill her. These were Level 100 undead who would have ended her life in an instant. Fortunately for me, [Zealous Call] did not rely on the primal fear that was inherent in anything with a semblance of intelligence.

It just made them attack me.

The Skeletons charged, almost as if they had forgotten Edithe was even there. [Barrage of Cinders] took over. My clawed hands were wreathed in flames. The first came and I struck it in the head, but it did not reel.

It took the blow and struck back. [Ember Core] activated, concentrating on my chest as the short sword sunk itself into the blue fire. But the next [Skeleton Warrior] came up behind me, its spear coated in black and green. It thrusted its weapon at me as I dodged away—

And a cut formed on my skin. The flames were not ripped apart, the magic from my Ring of Lesser Protection still there. My eyes grew wide as the ring around one of my fingers flashed. The one Adan had given me as a gift.

A curse?

An offensive curse.

I circled around the Skeletons with a single [Flame Burst] as they pressed forward. Once Edithe was out of my line of sight, I inhaled deeply. [Flaming Breath]!

The fiery attack consumed the three [Skeleton Warriors] completely. It was like they were wrapped in a cyclone of flames. An inferno that brightly lit up the cave.

When the fire let up, the three Skeletons stood, their bones slightly burnt, but still standing. I growled.

“Why won’t you die?”

“That’s because they’re already dead!”

There was a blur. A flicker in the air. Daniel struck the first from behind, his sword wedging itself onto the spine of the Skeleton with the spear. He grunted as he threw a kick, sending it flying to me.

“Salvos!”

“Right!”

I caught it as it landed on my chest. Hugging it tightly with all four of my arms, my body burned and I slammed it by the neck against the hard ground. Its body was smashed into pieces of bones, rolling on the ground and bouncing off the walls.

Defeated [Skeleton Warrior - Lvl 103]!

More experience is awarded for defeating an enemy at least 30 levels above you!

Less experience is awarded for defeating an enemy with the help of others!

“Two left.”

Spinning around, I faced the pair of Skeletons flanked by Daniel. I conjured a blade made of fire, staring them down as I took a single step forward. The Skeletons ignored the intimidating gesture and split up, one going for my companion and the other coming for me.

I blasted a [Scorching Wave] its way as the Skeleton came my way. The fire was even less effective than against the [Unarmed Skeletons]. These were Level 100s. They did not even register the attack.

It reached me as a scowl came across my face. I parried its sword swing with my own, and my three arms laid out three subsequent strikes, each after the other, in a combination that rattled its entire body. But the [Barrage of Cinders] could not finish it. Not on its own.

I side stepped the next swing and shouted.

“Edithe!”

Going diagonally around the Skeleton, I watched it stumble as it missed me. And it ran right into the Lightning Ball Edithe had been charging up. The Skeleton exploded into thousand pieces. Its death notification— despite being an undead— ringed out in my head, while Daniel disposed of his own opponent.

Defeated [Skeleton Warrior - Lvl 100]!

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!

Defeated [Skeleton Warrior - Lvl 101]!

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!

“Are you alright, Edithe?”

I hurried over to the red-haired woman as she uncorked a healing potion and drank it down. Her bleeding stopped, and she glanced up at me.

“I’m fine. I was just snuck up on.”

She sighed as she picked herself up. My gaze slowly landed on the Skeletons.

“How did they get here?”

“We’re in the Plaguelands. They probably just wandered in, I guess?”

“You mean this place isn’t safe?”

“No place is safe here.”

Edithe spoke simply, hobbling over to the belongings we had left behind in the morning. I stared at her, wide eyed, until Daniel passed me. He placed a hand lightly on my shoulder as he stood on his tip-toes.

“It’s a Diamond Rank location, Salvos.”

He shook his head and started over to Edithe.

“No place here is safe.”

“...huh.”

—--

It was like the Netherworld; I had already known that, however it seemed I had forgotten what the Netherworld truly was like. And that was— dangerous.

No matter where I went, I was under threat of an attack. A wild Demon could be hiding under a rock. Or over a rock. Or behind a rock.

They could be anywhere. Enemies were numerous. Only Haec was my ally. And I did not separate from him for one moment.

Not if I wanted either of us to live.

There was no sleep, either. That was the biggest downside to my two Human companions; they required their share of rest which made them vulnerable to attacks..

I gave them a judging stare as the pair snored in their bedrolls. Humans, I sighed and shook my head.

Daniel jerked, almost as if he heard me in his sleep, but he continued snoozing like the lazy Human he was. I was playing with fire with my two lower arms, shaping the flames into different objects. Kinds of jewelry I recognized and would like to wear.

I wanted to test out creating new, different kinds of weapons. Perhaps some kind of blade that was able to cut better than a regular sword. After all, my low [Strength] could only help me so much. Daniel was able to dispose of a [Skeleton Warrior] by himself because he was simply stronger than me and could deal out more damage.

However, to create something like that, it would require experimenting which would certainly wake up either of my companions. And they would complain or make their annoying Human noises until they convinced me to let them sleep. So, I could not.

With the free time I had, I finally decided to mess with my Skills. I decided today that [Scorching Wave] was no longer useful. It could just barely hurt an opponent, which was not something I needed out of a Skill.

I could do that myself with my own four hands.

Skills:

[Available Skill Points:9]

[Advanced Fire Creation] - Lvl. 30 (Maxed)

[Barrage of Cinders] - Lvl. 3

[Ember Core] - Lvl. 2

[Flame Burst] - Lvl. 3

[Flaming Breath] - Lvl. 1

[Intimidation] - Lvl. 3

[Scorching Wave] - Lvl. 10 (Maxed)

[Self Haste] - Lvl. 10 (Maxed)

[Passive - A Hunter’s Sense] - Lvl. 2

[Passive - Blue Flames] - Lvl. 20 (Maxed)

[Passive - Weapon Mastery] - Lvl. 20 (Maxed)

If [Scorching Wave] doesn’t work, I’ll try some of the Passives. The ones I can use now. With that decided, I replaced [Scorching Wave] with the one I was least interested in.

[Passive - Keen Eye].

I stepped to the mouth of the cave, blinking as the world around me sharpened. The darkness that blanketed the Plaguelands during the dead of night seemed less thick now. I narrowed my eyes, trying to pick out specific objects in the distance.

I could see the smattering of rocks piled up at the base of the hill. There was a [Vurat] flapping its wings as it headed in the direction out of the Plaguelands, avoiding the blight filling the air. It was… lackluster.

Sure, I could see better. But, it was not even that much better. Maybe if it let me see the rocks off in that thicket of dead trees, I would have thought twice of discarding it. However, it was just like a Skill an [Archer] would get at Level 40.

Meaning, it was not suited for a Platinum Rank like me. Which made sense— this Skill did not fall into the purview of what I usually did. I probably got it by accident or because I had been acting like some kind of [Hunter].

I replaced the Skill with [Passive - Refined Casting]. I felt a surge of energy run through my body. As if my understanding of magic suddenly became better, without actually becoming better. It was just an instinct now— one which would disappear if I removed the Skill.

My regular vision losts its sharp sight, only to be replaced with a better vision of the threads of mana weaving itself through the world. I looked up and saw the blight. The way an intricate web of magic was formed, diffusing through the air and corrupting the magic of whatever it touched.

It did not directly damage the mana of whatever it touched. Instead, it interfered with it, murking its purity so that it would not be so easy to draw from. So, that’s how the blight works, I mused.

I kept the Passive Skill for now, although I shelved it in the back of my head that I should not get used to its guidance. But since I’m out here and I have it…

The biggest advantage, Saffron told me, to having a Skill aid your magic was how it got you acclimated to the feeling of casting magic you could not cast. Without the Skill, I would not be able to create whatever it was I would be able to create otherwise.

However, it would give me the understanding I needed to build my way back up to it, but better.

My eyes wandered back towards the directions where my companion slept. They were further inside the cave, not far enough that I would not know if they were attacked. I was right here, after all. And we had already checked the cave for any possible undead.

So, they were safe. A grin spread across my face as I raised a hand, creating fire and wonder.


Daniel woke up to an explosion. He jolted out of his bed, taking a moment longer than Edithe to fumble for his weapon.

The red-haired woman already had her staff in her hand, showing the difference in experience between the two. But of course Daniel would be a step slower; he was not from this world. He grew up living a mostly peaceful life.

“What was that?”

Edithe asked, a barrier already forming around her. Daniel narrowed his eyes, the realization sinking in from the lack of a presence.

“Salvos.”

The pair of adventurers walked slowly out of the cave. The sun was just starting to rise in the vast ocean sky, spilling its orange glow over the horizon. Right before the entrance, Daniel saw Salvos swinging around a kusarigama which seemed to burn a brilliant white.

“What are you doing?”

He crossed his arms, and Edithe sighed.

“I’m experimenting!”

“And I assume that explosion was from this experiment?”

“Yes!”

Salvos replied brightly. Which he would have thought was cute if she was not in her Demon form.

Spinning the kusarigama by its chains, she hurled it out away from the cave. The sickle edge flew a few feet, before detaching itself from the chains.

“Why is that—”

It exploded.

She beamed and turned back to him.

“Look, now I don’t need to create a bow just to attack enemies from a distance!”

Daniel stared at her, blinking. He raised a hand, trying to think of a comment to give. He felt his shoulders sag.

“What even inspired you to—”

He was cut off as a shoulder brushed past him. Edithe had turned around and was heading back into the cave. Daniel raised a brow.

“You’re not even going to question this? She woke us up because of this!”

“It’s not like we would’ve been sleeping for much longer, anyway.”

Shrugging, Edithe glanced back at him briefly.

“Plus, she’s doing this to help us. It’s not like she’s a kid playing with a new toy, right?”

Daniel paused. He felt his jaw move, trying to work itself. But nothing came out.

“R-right.”

He followed after Edithe. Salvos continued working on creating more of those kusarigamas in the background, testing how far she could throw them.

Daniel’s gaze fixed itself on the red-haired woman. He was surprised— after all, hadn’t she been the one who was very much against working with a Demon just a year ago?

Things change, I guess.

 

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A note from MelasD

This is a forewarning. Nothing concrete just yet. But just in case, I may or may not have to take a week off this month because school is extra hard right now. Again, I'll let you know a week in advance. But I am at the end of my ropes here. For the past 3 months, I have been back home in South East Asia while still attending online classes at US timezones. Which means, I have literally been living nocturnally with almost no social interaction other than discord since I can't exactly go anywhere at night in my country because it isn't exactly the safe plus lockdown so everything is closed.

And all I did was write and deal with school. So, I have been very, very stressed. 

Fortunately, I am currently flying (probs in the plane when this chap goes up) to the US because I'll be graduating in June, so I'll have to be there for commencement/walking. And that may actually be better for me since I'll finally be able to see people again and won't be losing my mind at 3am in the middle of the night because I have to attend classes. 

We'll see. If it continues as is, I'll have to take a break. But if things get better once I'm in the US, I'll happily continue posting 9 chapters a week.


Just a reminder, it is currently the best time to patron to get the best rewards! You can read up to a month ahead for only $5 if you donate to my patreon here

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