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A note from MelasD

Announcement in author's notes at the end.


118. The Scale Guard

Xidra woke up not too long after she went to sleep. It was still night outside— beyond the cave entrance— however we decided to get moving now that we were both rested. I did not sleep. I was not weird like Kobolds or Humans!

However, I received a rather surprising notification that night.

 

General Skill [Rest] Level Up!

[Rest - Lvl. 3] -> [Rest - Lvl. 4]!

Experience is awarded for the leveling of a General Skill!

 

Huh, that hasn’t happened in a while. I narrowed my eyes as they drifted towards the pouch on Xidra’s waist. Is it because I took that cleansing flower? Or because I’m recovering from the blight? I did not really know, but gratefully accepted the General Skill level and experience regardless.

“Today, we shall depart from the Dead Zone.”

The Kobold woman spoke as she got to her feet. I cocked my head.

“Do you know the way out?”

“I do not. However, I have a Skill that lets me feel the land. Sense where the blight grows thinner. Where the vegetation grows thick. Where the plants are alive and not dead and rotting like in here.”

I raised a nonexistent brow.

“That’s a cool Skill.”

“It is why my captors took me.”

She started for the cave entrance, and I followed after her. I faced her, listening to what she was saying until we reached the outside. Something went off in my head just as we took in the night sky.

“They needed my Skill. Of course, they wanted me gone too. As I am a rather influential member of the—”

“Watch out!”

I grabbed her and leapt to the side. Fire blasted the cave entrance. It engulfed the entire area, melting the rocks and forcing a collapse. Dust and debris was sent flying into the air as the flames continued pluming forward. It trailed after us— only my [Flame Burst] keeping us from being incinerated by it.

The wall of fire eventually dissipated, revealing three figures standing behind the smoke. Three Kobolds. The [Cultists] of the so-called Old Gods.

“How did they find us?”

I asked, exasperated. Xidra’s eyes spun in her head. She was still discombobulated, taken entirely by surprise. I inhaled and sent my own [Flaming Breath] at the Kobolds. Two of them darted off to the side, while the third simply braced for the attack.

The blue fire engulfed him, burning the ground and lighting the death earth ablaze. It whirled around him like an inferno as Xidra snapped back to reality.

“They’re here.”

“I noticed!”

I panted as the Skill ran its course. The Kobold man standing at the center of the wave stepped forward. His scales were slightly charred, smoke wisping over his body. But other than that, he simply looked mad.

“Return Xidra the [Herbalist] to us, Demon! And maybe we will give you a quick death!”

I stuck my tongue out and activated [Self Haste].

“Who would want to die, stupid?!”

A figure rushed me from the side. One of the two Kobolds jumped at me, slashing for my leg. I twisted out of the way before kneeing him in the stomach. I followed it up with a [Barrage of Cinders], the combination of strikes sending him reeling back.

The dark sky suddenly lit up, and my eyes widened as I saw a pillar of flames crashing down at me. I threw myself to the side just in time as half of the hill was set ablaze. I glared at the first Kobold— the one who was Level 105. And I bellowed.

“Leave us alone!”

There was a loud step from behind me. I glanced back, seeing the third Kobold backing away from me with an open jaw. The second Kobold also seemed to be struck with fear. I nearly sighed in relief as I watched the first Kobold hesitate. Then his face was overwhelmed with rage.

“Such tricks won’t work on me!”

He roared and snapped his mouth shut. He seemed to form a small hole with it, and I felt my [Passive - A Hunter’s Sense] blare a panicked alarm. I conjured some chains and dashed back, past the third Kobold who just regained his senses. He reached for me just as a cone of smoke left the first Kobold’s mouth.

A small sphere of fire shot out. It propelled through the air, leaving a trail of smoke as it rapidly made its approach. The ground was scorched where it flew over, coming with the intensity of a fire storm.

I threw the chains at a nearby dead tree, tugging at it as [Flame Burst] carried me a step further. The fiery sphere missed me, but I felt its heat burning at my back. Xidra almost screamed in pain as her scales were shadowed with ash, while a blood curling shout could be heard behind me.

Defeated [Cultist - Lvl. 98]!

More experience is awarded for defeating at least 20 levels above you!

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

He killed his own companion? I frowned, disgusted by that. He’s wild too. Like the horned Demon. I heard the hissing snarls of the remaining two Kobolds. They called after us, cursing like Edithe did whenever she stubbed her toe on a doorway.

I did not slow down. I continued fleeing from them as the blanket of night took over them. They vanished from sight, and Xidra and I made our escape.

 

—--

 

The sun was up by the time I stopped running. I settled the Kobold woman to the ground, making sure that she was fine. She had been hurt during the battle. Burn marks covered her scales— and while they were not that bad, she winced as I tapped a finger on her arm.

“Thank you, Salvos the Demon, but I will be fine.”

She retracted her arm from me. I reached into the small bag slung over my shoulder. I did not have much— only what Daniel and Edithe had given me. But I still had some healing potion to spare.

“Here.”

I offered it to her. Xidra shook her head.

“That is for you, if we were to cross paths with Gexli again. He is strong, and you would need everything you have to escape from him.”

I glanced behind me.

“I think we lost him. Drink.”

I tried to insist, but the Kobold woman waved a hand off. She produced some red powder from her pouch and rubbed it on her arm. I watched the burn marks slowly disappear, but the wound remained.

“We may have lost him for now. But it seems his tracking abilities are far superior than I have thought. He found us far too soon.”

“Tracking abilities?”

I narrowed my eyes. Xidra nodded.

“He may have only recently gotten his evolution, but it grants him great benefits. He has not grown stronger, or faster, or wiser, or anything that would aid him in combat. But he is able to smell better. See better. Feel better.”

“That’s… a bad evolution.”

I pointed out. She shook her head.

“Not for him. It lets him find me. And it was what let him kidnap me in the first place.”

“Huh.”

I was not entirely sure what Xidra was saying here. However, it meant that we would be caught up to, eventually. This was just like the situation with the Harrowed Vindicators. I did not want a repeat of that— especially since the Kobold woman was not like Daniel who could survive a surprise attack.

“Why do they want you?”

I finally asked, curiously peering at her.

“For many reasons, Salvos the Demon. I am Xidra the [Herbalist], one of the highest leveled of my Class in Unarith. They needed me for my Skills. To find the treasures of the Scale Guard of the past.”

I raised a brow, and she explained.

“Back before the Dead Zone had still been ruled by Lilian, the [Necromancer], she protected the Human lands from our invasions. We could not cross through these lands without falling to the blight, and she would always bring back our own [Warriors] against us. So, the Scale Guard then created a powerful artifact that could repel the blight. It would cleanse the land entirely, letting them fight at their full potential.”

“Huh.”

I was wondering why the blight seemed thinner where I had found Xidra; I almost thought it was my imagination, or I was reaching the edge of the Plaguelands. She continued.

“However, after slaying Lilian and Zacharius, a Lich was born from their deaths, and it killed the Scale Guard before they could ever return with their artifacts. It was lost to the Dead Zone, and Gexli wishes to find it.”

“To fight off the blight?”

“Yes. And to go to the center of the Dead Zone and kill the Lich— finish the job of the old Scale Guard. Because Gexli and the faction he is under believe themselves to be their successors. That is why they call themselves the Scale Sentinels. They think that if they purge the world of all its heretics and sinners— of all the [Heroes], the Demons, and the Spirits— that the Old Gods will return and save us from the Apocalypse.”

“I… see?”

That was a lot of information for me to take in. It sounded like something maybe Edithe would be interested in knowing. However, I was more concerned about what was happening right now.

“So, he wants you because of your Skill, and he will keep chasing us? Why can’t he just go after someone else who can help him?”

“Because of the second reason.”

She stuck her tongue out— and I flushed, realizing that tht was how Kobolds smiled. I was smiling at them when I thought I was mocking them! I shook my head.

“What reason?”

“I belong to the opposing faction of the Scale Sentinels. The Risen Dragons. We oppose war with the Humans, and we refuse to see the destruction of other Species as a way to avoid the end. And so, he wants me dead as well. Once I’m no longer of use to him.”

“...well, that’s problematic.”

I pointed out the obvious.

“Indeed.”

Crossing two of my arms, I tapped my chin with a third hand.

“We can’t just keep running. They’ll keep chasing after us.”

I stated the obvious. Xidra murmured some kind of agreement, but I did not pay attention to it. Instead, my mind raced with thoughts— ideas— on what could be done.

I looked over my Status. I had been distributing my Stat Points mostly between [Vitality], [Wisdom], and [Agility]. However, my Skill Points had been mostly reserved. I had been apprehensive about spending it, especially since I was not sure which Skills I would keep.

 

Salvos (Death of the Destroyer)

Species: [Greater Demon of Pride]

Subspecies: [Asura Changeling] - Lvl. 78

General Skills:

[Advanced Mana Manipulation] - Lvl. 5

[Identification] - Lvl. 5

[Racial Skill: Universal Language Comprehension] - Lvl. 1

[Racial Skill: Mortal Form] - Lvl. 3

[Rest] - Lvl. 4

[Lesser Enhanced Wisdom] - Lvl. 1

[Title Skill: Zealous Call] - Lvl. 2

Stats:

[Available Stat Points: 0]

[Vitality]: 84 (+5)

[Strength]: 56 (+5)

[Endurance]: 80 (+5)

[Wisdom]: 120 (+5) (+5)

[Agility]: 171 (+5)

Skills:

[Available Skill Points: 9]

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

[Barrage of Cinders] - Lvl. 3

[Ember Core] - Lvl. 5

[Flame Burst] - Lvl. 10

[Flaming Breath] - Lvl. 1

[Intimidation] - Lvl. 5

[Self Haste] - Lvl. 10 (Maxed)

[Passive - A Hunter’s Sense] - Lvl. 5

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

[Passive - Refined Casting] - Lvl. 1

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

 

It made me have to think wisely about what I was going to do— I could have just wasted my Skill Points entirely if I gave it to a Skill I did not want. But now, I had an inkling of an idea in my head. There were two Skills left for me to choose. I had already acclimated myself to [Passive - Refined Casting] at this point. It would have to go, and it would hamper me a little bit. Perhaps it would have weakened me as much as being afflicted by the blight— that was what made it the most difficult to fight in the Plaguelands…

I narrowed my eyes, turning to Xidra. An idea formed in my head. I knew what to do. But first, my main focus was on deciding between what I had: [Horror’s Flare] or [Radiant Slash]. And I just so happened to have quite a lot of Skill Points to expend.

I grinned at the Kobold woman.

“We fight.”

 

—--

 

I was not going to let us get snuck up on like in the morning. We were going to decide the location and when we would battle, rather than being caught off guard. There was a small valley right by a field of blight flowers. That was the location I chose for our battle.

I held a cleansing flower petal in one hand, just waiting for the two remaining Kobolds to show up. Xidra was not with me. I had her hide closeby, away from the battle that was to come. She did not have anything else on her that would help me— she already aided me by helping me find this spot.

Gexli and his companions showed up as the sun began to set. I watched their shadowy figures trek down the horizon. Their scales were ragged and worn, as if they had to fight their way to get here. And perhaps they did. There were a lot of undead here that I had to fight myself.

I chugged down on the last of my healing potions before we settled between the valley. I stood at its entrance now, and crunched on the cleansing flower.

“Hey!”

I called out to the two as they made their approach. Gexli stepped forward, opening his mouth—

And he responded to my comment with the same attack as before. A small sphere of blazing fire burst out towards me. It burned everything in its path, but I was prepared for it. I tugged the chain I had already prepared and tied to a rock, pulling myself away with a boost from [Flame Burst].

The second Kobold was already running after me, even as the attack lit up the dark valley behind me. I glanced down at him and created a bow made of fire. I nocked a Blazing Bolt and aimed at him— only to quickly switch targets and fire at Gexli.

The attack missed. It was not meant to hit him. Just to draw his ire. His eyes burned as he took a deep breath, before releasing a cone of flames my way. I ducked under the attack, landing right next to the other Kobold man, who was desperately moving out of the way of his leader’s blast.

[Ember Core] burned brilliantly, encasing me in my own flames as I struck at him with [Barrage of Cinders]. He snarled at me and tried lashing out, only to be consumed by Gexli’s fire as I hurriedly bounded away.

He screamed as the fire turned his scales black. He was not dead when the flames let up— not until I loosed a second Blazing Bolt, this time, aimed directly for him. The white arrow snapped his head back, and he collapsed.

I turned to Gexli.

“You don’t care about your companions, do you? You’re wild, even though you pretend to be smart.”

“Quiet, Demon.”

He spoke the word like it was some kind of a curse. It carried the same tone Edithe used to direct it towards me. Unlike Edithe however, there was no one stopping him from trying to kill me. So, I had to try talking to him myself.

“What’s so bad about being a Demon, huh?”

I bent over, placing two of my hands on the ground and sputtered.

“Look, sometimes I think you Mortals are weird. You need to do things like sleep, eat, and also wear clothes for whatever reason! But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Nothing’s bad about being a Mortal— so what’s so bad about me being a Demon?!”

Gexli’s face twisted. He panted out smoke— the eddying flakes of cinder leaving his mouth in thin trails.

“I do not care about what you can or cannot do. Your kind is a scourge to the Mortal Realm! You bring the end! The Apocalypse! There is no place for you in this world.”

I stared at him. The reasoning made no sense— I was not doing anything of the sorts! And yet, the accusation in his gaze did not leave him. The fire that blazed around him as he walked my way. I sighed.

“Fine, then.”

I bared my teeth and let out a shrieking growl. [Title Skill: Zealous Call]. It was the only Skill I had used that worked regardless of level. Of course it would. Why would someone try and draw the wrath of a higher leveled being? They would die.

The fury in Gexli’s face did not change. He still came at me with the same, relentless anger as before. I released a [Flaming Breath] at him, only for him to tear through the blue fire with his own red flames.

His footfalls rapidly approached me. His webbed feet made little noise when it came into contact with the blackened dirt. Was that a trait of his evolution? I did not see those on Xidra or the other two Kobolds that fought against me.

I raised my claws— all four of them— and ribbons of fire began to cover them. It was not like the fiery effect of my [Barrage of Cinders]. Of course not. This was a different Skill. I only chose it because it sounded strong— like the [Hero’s Slash]. It was a gamble. A risk. But I poured all 9 of my remaining Skill Points into it, and replaced [Passive - Refined Casting].

“[Radiant Slash]!”

A blade made of light did not come over me. It was not a heroic strike— not a glowing attack which sheared the darkness with hope. I was not Daniel. I used weapons sometimes, but I did not rely on them.

Instead, my claws were overcome with black flames. They wreathed my entire forearm with a sable light. The black void that ate my hands were overcome with a white glow. It was a strange sight. The juxtaposition with utter darkness and the brilliance it shone. I struck forth at Gexli as he charged me.

His mind was overcome with rage. It was not like [Intimidation]. He would not snap out of it. He would charge at me mindlessly, and I would shear him in half—

My swing missed the Kobold man as he ducked under the attack. Spinning on his heels, he swiped at me with his own claws. I turned back just in time to crane my neck out of the way with [Self Haste]. I wanted to slash out at him again, but I could feel the effects of the Skill beginning to fade.

He would move out of the way. Just like he did before. There was only one way to stop him from dodging. To get him to hesitate for a split second.

“Kneel.”

He did not snap out of his rage against me, but for a mere moment, it seemed like he regained his senses and fought back against the fear trying to invade his mind. He stopped moving, then the anger returned.

[Intimidation]. [Self Haste]. [Radiant Slash]. [Title Skill: Zealous Call]. [Flaming Breath].

I found his scales resisting the slash. Even as it burned him. Five of my Skills had been chained together to achieve the best effect it could. But there was still one more I could use. [Flame Burst] propelled me forward as my four claws dug into his stomach.

And he screamed. Intelligence returned to his wild eyes as he let out a terrible cry. I went through the Kobold man, cutting him entirely in half with that strike carried me past his severed corpse. Gexli fell in twain, his death throes echoing throughout the Plaguelands as I tumbled on the blackened dirt.

 

General Skill [Title Skill: Zealous Call] Level Up!

[Title Skill: Zealous Call - Lvl. 2] -> [Title Skill: Zealous Call - Lvl. 3]!

Experience is awarded for the leveling of a General Skill!

 

Defeated [Cultist - Lvl. 95]!

More experience is awarded for defeating an enemy at least 10 levels above you!

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

 

Defeated [Cult Vanguard - Lvl. 105]!

More experience is awarded for defeating an enemy at least 20 levels above you!

 

Subspecies [Asura Changeling] Level Up!

[Asura Changeling – Lvl. 78] -> [Asura Changeling – Lvl. 79]

Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!

 

Subspecies [Asura Changeling] Level Up!

[Asura Changeling – Lvl. 79] -> [Asura Changeling – Lvl. 80]

Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!

 

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A note from MelasD

Announcement:

I will be taking a break next week from May 17th to May 21st for public RR Salvos chapters. It is not really a real break, as I would not only still be writing Tian and Melas, but I will also be writing Salvos chapters. Just... for patreon. My mid-terms and flying really messed with my schedule, so I am actually behind on the 20 chapters ahead I should be offering. I think I'm at around 15 chapters ahead? Anyway, that will all be fixed by the time I return from my RR break.  

When I return, I will only be writing 3 chapters a week for the next month. Until I fully graduate from University and move into my own place. I will likely be taking a real break during my Finals week to focus entirely on studying, so there will be no writing at all when that happens. I will be sure to let you all know a week in advance. I will also post a reminder on Monday.

I do apologize for the inconvenience. 

Thank you for 8,000 followers. 


Thanks for reading. For only $3, you can now read up to 10 chapters ahead! As always, you can read all 20 ahead for $5 which is the full backlog of one month. And you can read Side Stories and some special rewards for $10. There are other rewards at $15 and up too! Consider donating to my patreon here to support me and read ahead!

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MelasD

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