Daniel’s eyes darted over to the red-haired woman, sitting to his left, twiddling her thumbs around the tip of her staff. She was nervous, he could tell. Anxiety was on the rise— the light tapping of her foot was audible in the empty tavern room.
He couldn’t blame her. Daniel was certain he was as overwhelmed as her— maybe even more. His heartbeat resounded loudly in his head. The flow of his blood through his body was a constant, monitoring the amount of time that had passed.
It was almost noon. The sun was high up in the sky. Ghostlight was bustling with life outside. The [Innkeeper] boy was cleaning a mug— the squeak of the cloth rubbing against the glass the only other sound in the silent room.
“She’s not back yet.”
Danel finally spoke up. Edithe nodded.
“I realize that.”
He hesitated, biting his lower lip. Taking a deep breath, he continued.
“Do you, uh, think she’s fine?”
“She probably got lost.”
Edithe sighed and leaned back against the chair.
“It’s the fucking Plaguelands. There’s no way she didn’t get lost in there.”
“But I even gave her a compass and my spare map!”
Daniel protested. He was not sure why he was even protesting. Edithe was probably— no, definitely, right. It was just hard for him to accept that he was stupid enough to let her go off on her own the day before.
He rubbed at his temples.
“So… what do we do now?”
He watched the red-haired woman grimace. She closed her eyes, as if steeling herself for her own answer. She stood up, and he met her gaze.
“Isn’t it obvious?”
Edithe snorted and started for the door.
“We’ll find her. And we’ll continue doing what we came here to do.”
Daniel felt his shoulders sag. He should not have expected anything else— in fact, he did not expect anything else. He had known this would have been the decision she would come to from the very beginning.
There was something about Salvos which inspired that kind of insanity in people. Especially Edithe— with how hotheaded she had been since he met her. With Salvos rubbing off on her, she was now just a little bit hotter.
“Let’s just be a little less reckless, please?”
Daniel felt the urge to plead with Edithe. She turned back to him and crossed her arms, snorting.
“Who do you think I am?”
He stared at her.
“That’s exactly why I’m begging you— you tried to kill a Greater Demon 20 levels above you, remember?”
I was lost. There was no doubt about it at all— I had no idea where I was.
I mean, sure, Daniel had given me some things just in case I somehow ended up losing myself in the Plaguelands. He told me to follow the direction of the sun when it rose, take a look at the map with the compass to get to Ghostlight, and maybe even shout and run around so they could find me if I ever lost my way.
However, what he did not— and I did not— account for, was how difficult it was to navigate through the deeper parts of the Plaguelands.
“Leave me alone!”
I yelled and breathed a plume of brilliant, blue flames. The [Skeletons Warriors] recoiled, backing away from the fire as it scorched their bones. I got down on all my limbs and began bounding forward, [Flame Burst] propelling me away from them.
But an arrow zipped in front of me. It narrowly missed me, traveling through the air even faster than me! The [Skeleton Archer] strung back its blow as I glared at it, conjuring my own bow.
“Take this, stupid wild thing!”
I loosed a Blazing Bolt at it. The [Skeleton Archer]’s head snapped back. Its skull came clean off and it collapsed into a pile of bones.
Defeated [Skeleton Archer - Lvl. 102]!
More experience is awarded for defeating an enemy at least 20 levels above you!
Subspecies [Asura Changeling] Level Up!
[Asura Changeling – Lvl. 77] -> [Asura Changeling – Lvl. 78]
Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!
“Yay! Now to run!”
I fled from the horde of undead. They swarmed after me, stopping their pursuit only when I activated [Self Haste]. I was about to head into a forest of dead trees when my [Passive - A Hunter’s Sense] stopped me.
I narrowed my eyes, catching sight of what almost seemed like wisps of mist coming from a tree. A [Wight], I sighed and turned around.
The Plaguelands was a vast place. And it seemed that whenever I tried to start in a specific direction, I would get sidetracked and thrown another way completely. I passed by another field of blight flowers— there were no [Zombies] here. It seemed they only gathered around ones where the miasma was so thick it became almost physical like a blanket.
“I wonder if they burn?”
I cocked my head and sent a small ball of fire into the blight flowers. The flames were snuffed out almost in an instant. I narrowed my eyes and tried again, this time with a stronger fire.
The flowers burned slowly— almost like they were not made of leaves like normal flowers. The blight engulfed the flames, trying to put it out, while the fire ate slowly away at the petals themselves. A small section of the flower field was scorched off the earth. It took some time, and I was not going to waste any more attempts trying to purge them after this test.
I spun around… only to face a [Ghoul] standing behind me. I leapt back.
“Blegh! Leave me alone!”
I hurled a Sickle Grenade at it, but it knocked the explosive aside. The blast resounded behind the [Ghoul] as it rushed me. It snarled— the only undead to have made a sound. It swung at me once— but I ducked under the attack and used the chains to trip it.
It fell to the ground as I ran off. The sun was now high in the sky. It cast an eerie glow over the Plaguelands. Not that I particularly thought it was eerie. That was what Edithe and Daniel thought.
“They’re also probably very mad right now.”
I sighed as I left the [Ghoul] far behind me— its group of Skeletons dragging it down in terms of speed. I had tried fighting one earlier. It was too powerful for me to defeat, even if it was alone.
I was certain I was headed in the right direction. But for whatever reason, it felt like whenever I was derailed, I ended up even further from my destination than when I stated. I caught sight of ruined structures up ahead. It was larger than the rubbles I discovered the night before.
Extending for at least a mile, I tried to approach it without getting too close to be caught by hiding undead. I stayed far from the pile of bones sticking out of the earth. I would not be fooled by them.
The ruins here were far more intact than the previous one I ran into. There were even some buildings that were still standing— they had collapsed walls and entire sections fallen into itself. However, this seemed more like the Brilsum Ruin’s in how they appeared.
I glanced around, seeing no undead walking in the open of what was probably once a glorious city. The miasma here grew thinner. The closest blight field was not too far off. I narrowed my eyes as I noticed movement in the distance: in between some of the still-standing buildings.
I immediately took cover. I would not want to be caught by more undead. I was getting tired of running from every single encounter. This place was nothing like the Netherworld where I would spend so much time seeing nothing but a single Demon. And also, piles of Demon corpses.
However, when the figures got closer, I heard sounds that were not just the clacking of bones. It was not the heavy footstep of a [Ghoul], nor the gust-like noises the [Wights] made with each step they took. It sounded like… voices. Conversations.
I brightened as I thought I finally found some Humans to direct me towards Ghostlight. I was just about to transform back to my Mortal Form when the first of them became fully visible to me. My eyes widened as I saw the color green round the corner.
There was a tail. Patterned skin— no wait, that was not skin. Scales? They had a glossy look to them. They were a Kobold. I recognized that description from the books I read. With their long mouths and their claw-like hands, they were depicted to be rather vicious. Almost monstrous in their appearance. I did not think they were that scary— they seemed more like monster that was turned into a Human, and made cute-looking.
It was a small group of them. The one I saw was a… a she? I could not quite tell. Her body was not very different from the others accompanying her. The only noticeable difference was that her tail was shorter, barely poking out, while the others had tails long enough to wrap around their waist.
And they were wrapped around their waists. They walked slowly, carrying spears and shields, as if escorting the female Kobold in the center. I crept a little bit closer, excited to see these new creatures. If I recalled correctly, they did not like Humans. However, that did not mean they would hate me, right?
That logic made sense, however I was cautious before all else. I made sure to identify them before I did anything that would cause Daniel or Edithe to smack their forehead.
[Cultist - Lvl. 105]
[Cultist - Lvl. 95]
[Cultist - Lvl. 98]
[Herbalist - Lvl. 74]
Huh, they’re all [Cultists], except for the Kobold woman. I wondered what they were doing out here in the Plaguelands. The fact that they were [Cultists] emboldened me. Choosing not to approach them as an odd, naked Kobold, I decided to step forward as myself. [Cultists] liked Demons, right?
Apparently, I was wrong.
I called out, waving one of my four arms. I did not have my Necklace of Obfuscation on, so they could clearly have seen me as a [Changeling]. In fact, I was certain they knew I was sa Demon when they saw me, because that was what they cried out.
“A Demon in the Plaguelands!”
“Yes! I’m a Demon, and I—”
I was cut off before I could continue. One of them hurled their spear at me. I barely craned my neck out of the way in time. It missed me, piercing straight through a nearby wall behind me. The building collapsed, sending dust and debris up.
I narrowed my eyes as the Level 105 Kobold took a step forward. Smoke wisped out of his mouth as he glared my way.
“Old Gods give me strength, help me slay this Demonic beast who brings the end!”
“Oh, are you kidding me? You guys hate Demons too?! But you’re [Cultists]!”
I threw my hands up and sighed. Creating a Sickle Grenade, I braced myself for the Kobolds attack. He inhaled, and—
The [Herbalist] kicked him from behind, causing him to stumble. Fire breathed out of his mouth, striking the ground and blazing out. It burned brighter and hotter than even my [Flaming Breath]. I took a step back, staring at the fire engulfing him for a moment.
“What are you doing? Run!”
I blinked as I watched the Kobold woman hobble over to me. It was only now that I realized her hands were tied behind her back. There were shouts— no, barks coming from the three Kobold men she left behind.
The highest leveled Kobold was still reeling from his own attack hitting himself. I frowned as I watched three gather themselves. The [Herbalist] tripped and fell.
She gave me a pleading look. I felt my shoulder sag. Then I shrugged.
“Maybe I’ll get a [Hero] Class when I hit Level 100 instead.”
I tossed the Sickle Grenade at the other Kobolds. The blast did not kill them. But it did send rubble and smoke out, blotting their vision. [Self Haste] took me to the Kobold woman, and I picked her up with my bottom two arms.
I sent one of my own [Flaming Breath] at them, while they were still discombobulated from the first attack, before [Flame Burst] carried me back with the woman.
Explosions blasted out from where the three Kobold men were. One of them swung a claw in my direction, and the ground shot up. A claw mark cleaved through the earth in my direction. I managed to avoid it by ducking into a nearby building. The entire structure collapsed as I tore my way through the falling rubble.
The [Herbalist] stared up at me, her eyes wide.
“In my left pocket!”
She hurriedly speaks.
“There’s a vial of Shadow Dust. Toss it at them!”
I cocked my head.
More barks called out behind me. I quickly reached into her pocket and pulled out what was in there. There were multiple vials, pouches, and even a golden scale. I did not wait to sort through them. I just tossed them all back in the direction of the pursuing Kobolds.
Almost everything I threw dropped on the ground, worthless. However, one of the vials exploded into a cloud of black. It obscured my vision of everything within that cloud. And by the angry sounds I could hear through it, it was even worse for those inside the cloud.
“Woah. I need to get some of that for myself.”
“It’s very rare. Now let’s go!”
The Kobold woman tugged at one of my arms. I nodded and continued on, bounding on two arms and two legs, while my remaining two arms carried her close to my chest. We left the ruined city behind, soon disappearing behind a dead forest as the miasma of blight grew thicker once we left the area. I glanced back occasionally. But our pursuers were gone.