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129. Reckless

I did not get why Daniel was so upset even before he heard what I had to say. I crossed my arms, giving him an annoyed look as he went on.”

“—we don’t even know what level this Lich is, let alone where he is! We’re wholly unprepared for this excursion, Salvos. What made you think this was a good idea?”

Edithe yawned next to him; she had nothing to say, so she was just getting ready for the day. I rolled my eyes.

“I did think this through, Daniel the Grouch! That’s right! That’s your Title now.”

I shook a fist angrily at him.

“And when I said we should find the Lich, I did not mean we should do it immediately. I’m saying we should prepare for it. Level up more. Get proper equipment! Then we can find him, determine if he’s wild, and fight him if he is!”

Daniel went cross-eyed. Almost as if he was so surprised that I was actually capable of planning things. He took a moment to recover, before shaking his head.

“We don’t even know what level this Lich is, Salvos.”

“We can find out.”

I shrugged. He opened his mouth, but Edithe stalked past us.

“The sun’s rising. Let’s not waste any more time. We can talk and walk.”

I agreed with that. I followed after the red-haired woman as Daniel glowered. I crossed two of my arms across my chest as my third tapped my chin.

“Why are you so against this idea, Daniel? It’s not like we will be at this level forever— we’ll keep leveling and getting stronger!”

“First of all, do you even know where this Lich is?”

Tilting my head up, I saw the cloudy, blight-covered sky. I remembered a vague shape. One that was poking through the haze of miasma. I made a sound, snapping my fingers.

“I saw its castle! When I was searching for you two!”

He gave me a flat stare.

“Do you remember where it was?”

“Um…”

I trailed off, scratching my cheeks. I glanced down, and out of the corner of my eye, spotted a flash of white in the distance. I pointed at the group of Skeletons.

“Look! [Unarmed Skeletons]! Get ready!”

We worked as we usually did. Edithe flung spells at them from afar as I loosed the occasional Refined Blazing Bolts their way. When they got too close, I created a Sickle Grenade, tossing it and blasting the forefront of the group.

It was only then did Daniel engage them. I scurried around their sides and flanked the undead. The two of us would deal with as many Skeletons as we could, leaving a handful weakened ones for Edithe. This was clinical at this point.

We had been in the Plaguelands for a while. Of course we could deal with these lower leveled threats without a hitch.

 

Defeated [Unarmed Skeleton - Lvl. 96]!

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 [Unarmed Skeleton - 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!



“I’m just being cautious, Salvos. You get pretty reckless at times.”

“I know that! I’m working on it, ok?”

He narrowed his eyes. He was dubious. Just like he always was.

“I don’t exactly remember where its castle was, but I know some people who do.”

“Who?”

“Xidra.”

I replied simply. He raised a brow, and even Edithe glanced over at me disbelieving. The Human man spoke questioningly.

“You expect Kobolds to help us? We’re Humans, Salvos.”

“She’s my friend! And she doesn’t mind Humans— not like a few others, sure.”

“You barely even know her.”

I scowled.

“I saved her life.”

Daniel sighed, rubbing at his temples.

“You don’t just earn someone’s trust because you saved their life. There is no reason for you to believe anything she says.”

I glared at him.

“She helped me find the both of you, so I trust her word because she hasn’t lied to me or anyone I know yet. Unlike someone.”

He glowered, but said nothing else. Edithe blinked, glancing between us.

“Relax, guys. Come on— we shouldn’t be fighting each other. There are plenty of other things to fight here.”

I nodded at her, smiling.

“At least I have Edithe on my side here.”

She hesitated.

“...I’m undecided right now. Let’s focus on what we can first, alright?”

We continued through the Plaguelands, fighting as we always did against mostly [Unarmed Skeletons], a few [Skeleton Warriors], and even [Skeleton Archers]. I focused mostly on using my magic in this fight. I tried to avoid using any Skills, only utilizing them when necessary.

Perhaps I would even level my General Skills this way.

“I leveled again.”

Edithe blinked as we finished off a group of undead. I turned to her, excited.

“You did! Aw, but I didn’t. Although I feel like I’m getting close.”

It was an odd feeling. I did not know if it was just my mind playing tricks on me— perhaps over excitement? I certainly was eager. I acknowledged that.

“Should we go back?”

Daniel asked from the side, not really meeting my gaze. Edithe shrugged.

“If you think you’re going to level soon, Salvos, do you want to stay for a little longer?”

I narrowed my eyes, glancing between my companions. It was not late— not just yet. The sun was not edging towards the horizon. Although it would soon.

“It’s fine. We’ll go back. We’re quite deep into the Plaguelands, anyway.”

We were more daring than usual today. Probably because we did not exactly run into too many Skeletons at once. The groups they were in numbered no more than half a dozen. Whereas in other days, we could fight over a dozen Skeletons— both [Unarmed Skeletons] and [Armed Skeletons— multiple times in a row.

I started in one direction, then paused.

“Too much blight there.”

I could not see the miasma, but I could tell by the concentration of mana in the distance. There was probably a blight flower field that way. Edithe nodded.

“We’ll have to go around. I’m already exhausted as is— the blight would cause me to collapse.”

The only other way was to traverse through a dead forest. It was not that much of a danger to us, since we would be able to spot any [Wights] standing out in the middle of the night.

All we had to do was avoid the occasional traps of Skeletons hiding in the dirt. And with all the dead branches littering the ground, it was not super easy to spot. However, I was here, and I had rather good eyesight.

“There’s a pile of corpses up ahead.”

I frowned.

“I’m… not sure if they’re Skeletons or real corpses. They look real to me.”

We still went around it, not wanting to take a risk. And yet, I held up a hand no more than five minutes later.

“Another pit. I’m pretty sure this is a Skeleton trap though.”

“Do we go around again?”

Edithe asked with a raised brow.

“Yep.”

I spun back, only to see my companions paused, staring at a figure behind us. It was not a Skeleton. Neither was it a [Wight]. It was burly, with dark skin and glowing eyes. I recognized it immediately.

“A [Ghoul].”

I bared my teeth as my companions drew their weapons. But before I could activate any of my Skills, I heard the sound of bones rattling. It was only then I realized what was going on.

“We’re surrounded.”

I glanced back, seeing the Skeletons crawl out of their hole. The [Ghoul] was commanding them. It had lain this trap for us. Or at least, for someone to eventually run into it. They were smart— even if they were wild.

“Salvos.”

Edithe spoke through gritted teeth.

“It’s Level 108. The Skeletons are mostly armed. We have to run.”

I shook my head, stepping forward.

“If we run, we’ll be chased down until we lose sight of them completely. And I’m tired. Trust me. Even if I pick the both of you up and make a break for it, they’ll catch us eventually.”

Daniel gave me a doubtful look.

“What do you suggest we do, then?”

“We fight.”

I felt magic gathering around my legs. But it was not a spell. It was an enchantment.

“We’ll have to deal with the [Ghoul]— it’s controlling the Skeletons. You two hold them off. I’ll take care of it quickly and easily.”

“Wait, Salvos—”

I did not listen to the Human man’s protest. My Greaves of the Wanderer activated in conjunction with [Self Haste] and [Flame Burst]. The combination of my Skills and equipment propelled me forward.

I crossed the distance between myself and the [Ghoul] in an instant. Flames shot out behind me. A cone of smoke trailed at my back. Dead branches and leaves shot up into the air as my claws were engulfed in blue flames.

I slammed the first claw to its chest. It tried to react— it was not slow. Not at all. But I was just too fast. It could not block the attack.

The [Ghoul] stumbled back, making an odd groaning nose. Then I watched as its arm blurred. [Ember Core] flared up, covering my body with a flaming blue armor.

It took the brunt of the [Ghoul]’s strike. If I still had an aura of protection from my Ring of Lesser Protection— but no, it was used up from a previous battle. I stumbled back from the undead as it readied a follow up attack.

I grinned as I watched it leap at me. Then I activated [Flame Burst] again, intercepting it mid air. A voice cried out at me as I met the [Ghoul].

“What are you doing—”

My claws were overcome with black flame. [Radiant Slash] glowed its eerie light as I dug into the [Ghoul]’s body. Its attack was met by mine. But it was not matched.

I sheared through the right side of the undead’s body. It let out a guttural scream. It still sounded like a weak groan, but this time its pain was evident. I landed on the ground, frowning as the [Ghoul] collapsed with a thud.

I looked back at Daniel, seeing him give me a worried look as he held off the Skeletons. I stood tall.

“Daniel.”

My voice called out came out raspy as smoke wisped from my mouth. The [Ghoul] slowly climbed back to its feet, a red glow covering its body. A curse. One that drained me of my health.

I breathed out a brilliant blue fire. The [Ghoul] stumbled back.

“I know that I am reckless. I know that, sometimes, I make stupid decisions. But that doesn’t mean I am incapable. That doesn’t mean I don’t know what I am doing.”

I brought a hand up, creating a bow out of thin air. Another hand began to conjure chains. My remaining two hands began to circle each other, like I was weaving something. And I was. With the strands of mana, I focused on refining a fiery arrow.

“Yes, I am reckless. No— I am not ignorant of that. I am trying to put you and Edithe in less dangerous situations, Daniel. But you can’t expect me to learn overnight. Nor can you always treat me that way.”

I loosed it, and it shot forth. It pierced the left chest of the [Ghoul] as it bumbled forward. It fell to its hands, but it continued, now bounding my way.

“I know how to fight. I know when a fight is too much for me. I know when I am outmatched.”

For a moment, I thought I saw Lucerna charging at me with his enraged, single eye. But no— it was a [Ghoul]. And even if he was here, I could defeat him with ease now. I flipped over the undead, landing on its back as I struck it with a [Barrage of Cinders] from each hand.

“If not…”

The [Ghoul] threw me off, and I crashed onto a tree. I got back up, eyeing the [Ghoul] as I felt the pressure on my body waver. The aura around it flickered. Its body was a mess, barely being held together, failing to stitch itself back into shape.

I yanked on the flaming chains in my hand. The Sickle Grenade came flying at the [Ghoul] in an arc from its back. It tried to dodge, but I bellowed.

“Kneel.”

The [Ghoul] stumbled. It halted for a moment, affected by [Intimidation]. Of course it would feel its effects. Even if minute, it would still slow enough for the attack to hit.

“If not, then how could I have survived all this time?”

And why would it not be affected? It was a [Ghoul]. Not a Skeleton. It was intelligent. So, it stumbled, and the attack crashed into it. The blast engulfed it entirely. The flames shot up above even the treetops. The explosion resounded along with the notification in my head.

 

General Skill [Lesser Enhanced Wisdom] Level Up!

[Lesser Enhanced Wisdom - Lvl. 1] -> [Lesser Enhanced Wisdom - Lvl. 2]!

Experience is awarded for the leveling of a General Skill!

 

General Skill [Advanced Mana Manipulation] Level Up!

[Advanced Mana Manipulation - Lvl. 5] -> [Advanced Mana Manipulation - Lvl. 6]!

Experience is awarded for the leveling of a General Skill!

 

Defeated [Ghoul of Despair - Lvl. 108]

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

 

Subspecies [Asura Changeling] Level Up!

[Asura Changeling – Lvl. 84] -> [Asura Changeling – Lvl. 85]

Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!

 

Subspecies [Asura Changeling] Level Up!

[Asura Changeling – Lvl. 85] -> [Asura Changeling – Lvl. 86]

Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!

 

I ran straight back to my companions. I was still moving at an incredibly fast speed. With [Self Haste] and my Greaves of the Wanderer, they barely even had time to react before I picked them up and darted away from the Skeletons.

The Skeletons did not give chase. Most of them didn’t, anyway. We avoided a few [Wights] before we finally arrived back at our small cave. It was almost like an alcove, really. But we returned, and I settled my companions down to the ground.

I collapsed with a sigh, completely exhausted. I lay there for a bit, until I saw a potion being held up over me. Daniel stood there, looking slightly reticent.

“Thank you.”

I accepted the stamina potion, downing it gratefully, before moving onto the healing and mana potions. He scratched the back of his head, glancing over at Edithe. She crossed her arms. He sighed.

“No problem— and uh, sorry.”

I shook my head, getting to my feet.

“I’m not asking for an apology, Daniel. I’m just telling you…”

I took a deep breath, explaining.

“I don’t know my way around because I’m unfamiliar with this place. I never had a reason to know in the Netherworld. But after I got lost, separated from you two, I tried to learn. I took measures and bought this horn.”

I tapped the item on my chest.

“I can adapt. I know you think of me as like… a Human child. But I’m not. I can differentiate between what is a game— what is just fun— and what is seriously deadly. That’s all I’m telling you.”

“Right…”

He trailed off, not really meeting my gaze. He steeled himself, meeting my eyes.

“I still think fighting the Lich is a bad idea.”

“You think everything is a bad idea.”

I snorted. Then I smiled.

“But we’ll learn more about it first. And we’ll get stronger. Then we’ll decide what to do from there. It was a suggestion— an idea. Not a final decision.”

 

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