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131. Zombie Horde

I ran through the brown smog. The blight billowed up from the field of flowers, creating an unending curtain— a vast nebula that spread out in every direction I could see. I tried to send small bursts of flames out, just to help clear the way for my vision. But the blight snuffed out my fire.

It did more than just blot out my sight. It drained at my mana. My health. My stamina. It was like a curse, if a curse slowly ebbed at your very soul. I was certain the reason why my fire was so ineffective was because the blight unraveled the strands of mana keeping the magic together.

“Do you see them behind us?”

I asked Edithe, who was still held over my shoulder. She coughed once before replying.

“No— I don’t know if they’re giving chase to us, Salvos.”

Daniel could not run as fast as me. He followed us, trailing slightly behind. But he did not seem to be in a panic— or at least, I did not hear him shouting and screaming for us to come back to help him.

I was just about to sight in relief, glad that the immediate danger of the [Wights] and the Ghouls were gone, when a figure appeared before me. I came to a stop, narrowing my eyes and identifying it.

[Zombie - Lvl. 81]

“Yep. Not sure why I expected anything else.”

The lumbering undead snapped its head in our direction. It revealed a green face, with parts of its cheeks eaten away. One of its eyes was missing, and it had no hair. The [Zombie] let out a screech—

And I tore right through it. My claws were engulfed with [Barrage of Cinders] just briefly. I felt my mana drain in an instant. The strain of both the blight and my already low supply of mana was too much. Edithe must have noticed something because she handed me a mana potion.

“Take it!”

I quickly uncorked the vial and downed it in a single gulp. My body felt like it was full for just a moment. Then the drain of the blight returned. I grimaced, wiping at my mouth and tossing the vial ahead of me.

I heard the glass crack, and saw a shadow fall just ahead of me. Apparently I must have struck a [Zombie] by accident. However, the figure picked itself up immediately. Or wait…

I narrowed my eyes. The [Zombie] had not picked itself up just yet. It was slowly getting to its feet, but struggling with that simple task. It was another one of its kind that took its spot. And there were more. They filled the gaps ahead. They popped up, like a wall being sprouted from thin air.

“Daniel! A little help?”

But no. The Human man was too far behind me. His fighting-style relied on closing in on the enemy anyway. Only Edithe could be of help against this oncoming horde.

“Edithe, get ready.”

A ball of charged lightning struck out in a flash. Edithe spoke through gritted teeth.

“Just go!”

I burrowed through the wall of [Zombies]. Green flesh and ichor burst out around me as I once again let [Barrage of Cinders] activate. With a single [Flame Burst] I propelled myself through the ranks of [Zombies].

Defeated [Horde Zombie - Lvl. 79]!

Experience is awarded for defeating an enemy!

Defeated [Horde Zombie - Lvl. 84]!

Experience is awarded for defeating an enemy!

Defeated [Horde Zombie - Lvl. 74]!

Less experience is awarded for defeating an enemy at least 10 levels below you!

Their gore splattered everywhere. I bounded through them as Edithe flung spells around us, keeping the undead at bay. There had to be dozens of them. All gathered around here. They were closing in on us, and I scowled.

“There’s too many of them! And I don’t have any of my good Skills except for [Radiant Slash]!!”

I felt at my blue jacket. There was something here I could use. But should I really use it now? Edithe grabbed my hand.

“Not yet.”

She spoke simply. She cast her gaze behind us. Daniel was still trying to catch up to me; he was only now just crashing into the first rank of [Zombies]. The red-haired woman raised her staff and pointed at him.

“[Beacon of Guardians].”

A warm glow overcame him. A ribbon of light wrapped around him, shielding him with a yellow aura. Suddenly, Daniel’s speed doubled. Almost tripled. His weapon swings were not faster. His strikes— the arcing slashes— that ripped apart the [Zombies] were no different.

However, when he ran at us, he moved fast. Like he was gliding through the air. A pillar of light streaked through the air above Edithe, and Daniel followed.

“Just keep going, Salvos.”

I blinked, caught off-guard by the Skill.

“Woah.”

I breathed, and a [Zombie] threw itself at me. I growled, flinging it aside and stomping on its head a few times.

Defeated [Horde Zombie - Lvl. 87]!

Experience is awarded for defeating an enemy!

“Keep them off me, Edithe. I’ll focus on running.”

“Got it!”

[Ember Core] formed an armor on my body. I tried to make it more jagged, with sharp edges that would cut at any undead that tried to touch me. The horde came as we spearheaded through them. At one point, Daniel actually caught up to us thanks to Edithe’s Skill.

He had his [Aura of the Sentinel] active, fending off the [Zombies] at the side. I glanced back at him, speaking through gritted teeth.

“You know, a really powerful Skill would be helpful right now.”

The Human man looked over at me, the hesitation evident on his face. I shook my head, and Edithe pointed.

“Watch out!”

Half a dozen [Zombies] tried to bar my path. My claws were overcome with a brilliant glow, as I lashed out with a dark light.

“[Radiant Slash]!”

All of them fell in an instant. The ones close to them recoiled from the impact. I eyed Daniel, getting annoyed.

“Something like that?”

He did not respond to my prodding. Now was not the time for that, but—

“[Lend Skill: Restore Skill].”

I felt my body tense up; something inside of me became more. It was temporary. I knew it would not remain forever. But my Status was different now.

Skills:

[Available Skill Points: 2]

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

[Barrage of Cinders] - Lvl. 15

[Ember Core] - Lvl. 10

[Flame Burst] - Lvl. 12

[Flaming Breath] - Lvl. 5

[Intimidation] - Lvl. 5

[Radiant Slash] - Lvl. 12

[Self Haste] - Lvl. 10 (Maxed)

[Passive - A Hunter’s Sense] - Lvl. 5

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

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

[Borrowed - Restore Skill] - Lvl. 1 (Maxed)

A new option made itself available to me. A Skill I did not previously have. I looked back at Edithe, hanging on my shoulders with a weary face. She downed a mana potion and a stamina potion at the same time, giving me a nod.

“Use it.”

I was not sure how long I would have this Skill available to use. But there was no point in waiting. I clenched my teeth, mentally activating its effects, focusing on the Skill I needed.

[Restore Skill: Radiant—

I paused as another Skill’s cooldown ended. More undead popped up from the side. They filled my peripheral vision. [Zombies]. A horde of them were chasing after us now. I knew we could never take them all at once. Especially not when caught in the blight.

The brown cloud we were caught in seemed unending. I grabbed a charging [Zombie] and crushed its head, before sweeping my gaze around me. The [Wights] and Ghouls were truly nowhere to be seen. We had to have lost them in this thick haze.

While they were undead, probably unaffected by the blight’s effects, they still relied on their vision to see. I think. Shaking away those inane thoughts, I focused not on what I could see with my regular eyes, but with magic.

“Cover me for a moment, Daniel, Edithe.”

I stood still as my companions obliged. The red-haired woman unleashed her [Storm of Ice and Fire] at our surroundings, stalling the [Zombie] horde for Daniel to slice apart. His [Aura of the Sentinel] was running out— I could see the wavering of the glow around him. Wisps of it came off him, vanishing as his Skill depleted.

But I had to concentrate. I had to pick out the strands of mana that was not warped by the blight. The blight flower’s magic was not typical spellwork. Unlike regular spells which were woven intricately with a large amount of mana, the blight simply muddled everything. It was as if a ball of yarn— or dozens of balls of yarn— had been tangled up and tossed to fill a room.

Now all I had to do was find the exit. I came to a stop as my eyes picked out a single thread. One that was uncorrupted by the blight. I followed this string of mana— climbing it like a rope— until I saw the wall of pure, untouched mana.

“There!”

I raised a hand, pointing. Edithe and Daniel stared past my clawed hand, both exhausted. I kicked a [Zombie] back and spoke to the red-haired woman.

“Can you cast [Beacon of the Guardians] again?”

She hesitated, chewing her lower lip. She muttered softly to herself.

“I can now.”

“Huh. That’s a really useful combination of Skills, isn’t it?”

“It is. Now what?”

I turned back to Daniel as more shrieks cut through the veil, reaching for us.

“Just keep up with us. We’ll have to make a break for it.”

He nodded, pulling back from a decapitated [Zombie]. I got down on all of my limbs. Taking a deep breath, my companions and I readied ourselves. Edithe drank another mana potion and activated [Beacon of the Sentinel], while Daniel returned to my side.

“[Self Haste]! [Flame Burst]!”

I was catapulted forward, straight into a bumbling group of [Zombies]. I was about to dig my claws into them when a voice cut me off.

“[Arrow of the Flame Elemental].”

A blazing, golden bolt shot out. It blasted forward, almost like it was going faster and faster with each passing moment. It skewered the forefront [Zombies], with a powerful cone of flames trailing behind it, setting the undead it missed alight. Even the blight flowers burned briefly from the magic. It left an opening— a trail for me to follow.

Edithe pulled out another vial of mana potion as she coughed.

“Go, Salvos!”

And I did. I ran as fast as I could, barely impeded by the few [Zombies] that could catch me. They ran slowly after us, an infinite horde. Some even tried to block my path, but I could dispose of them just fine. At one point, I could use [Flaming Breath] again, and I incinerated a large group of [Zombies] in the inferno of blue fire.

Then [Self Haste] came to an end. My pace slowed, and so did Daniel’s. He was only keeping up with us thanks to [Beacon of the Guardians], after all. But I knew that. I expected that we would not make it far enough to leave the blight infested landscape with a single [Self Haste]. So, I gratefully used Edithe’s Skill.

“[Restore Skill: Self Haste].”

I instantly activated [Self Haste] once again. My body blurred forward as my stamina drained, both from the fighting and running, as well as the blight’s effects. I had to quickly down a stamina potion just to keep up the pace. But with Edithe supporting me, and Daniel watching my back, we were eventually able to break free from the blight flower field.

It was like I had burst out of a burning building. The pressure that was sitting on my shoulder seemed to slowly disappear, with only a lingering effect plaguing me. The horde of [Zombies] tried to give chase, but only a few had followed us this far. We were able to defeat the ones closest to us, halting their advance as we fully carried ourselves away from the undead.

Defeated [Horde Zombie - Lvl. 84]!

Experience is awarded for defeating an enemy!

Defeated [Horde Zombie - Lvl. 81]!

Experience is awarded for defeating an enemy!

Subspecies [Asura Changeling] Level Up!

[Asura Changeling – Lvl. 87] -> [Asura Changeling – Lvl. 88]

Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!

Subspecies [Asura Changeling] Level Up!

[Asura Changeling – Lvl. 88] -> [Asura Changeling – Lvl. 89]

Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!

I crested to the top of a nearby hill, overlooking the billowing field of blight flowers. It was night now, and the brown tint of the miasma turned into an eerie green under the moon’s light. Crawling to a stop, I settled Edithe to the ground before me and downed as many potions as I could.

My companions did the same. Edithe spoke through labored breath as she tried to gulp down a mana potion.

“The blight’s.... effects... will remain on us for a while.”

She chugged down on the mana potion as I faced her with a tired look. She paused, tensing up and coughing. I frowned, getting back up to face her.

“Edithe?”

“I’m… fine, I think.”

The red-haired woman shook her head, taking another swig of the potion. Daniel got back to his feet, his sword still held at the ready.

“We’re still deep in the Plaguelands. With how much blight we exposed ourselves to, we’ll have to fully leave the area and rest up for a while. Or else the blight will keep eating away at our abilities.”

“Come on, get only my back. You guys just [Rest] up, I’ll carry us out of here.”

I gestured for my companions to come over. Daniel did so slowly, but Edithe staggered and collapsed to the ground. I stared for a moment, in shock. Then I rushed over to her side.

“Edithe! What’s wrong?”

Her mana potion rolled onto the ground, spilling nothing. She had finished drinking the liquid inside of it. And yet, when I placed a hand on her arm, I realized just how dangerously low her supply of mana was.

She looked up at me with glazed-over eyes. She spoke slowly.

“It seems— I have consumed too many mana potions… and gotten myself mana poisoning. I… urk.”

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A note from MelasD

It's a cliffhanger, but guess what? You guys are getting a TRIPLE release today, which means no chaps until Thursday and Friday.

132 will be out in 3 hours. 133 will be out 3 hours after that.

I'd appreciate it if you voted for Salvos on RR in return. 

Seriously, pls vote. 


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