Glowing, almost translucent chains wrapped around me. I fell to the ground, trying to speak, but found my mouth muzzled by the same magical chains holding me down. I struggled, trying to get back up, finding the bindings to be too strong to break.
I let out a muffled noise as I watched figures creep through the trees. They were short— with clawed hands. It was obvious. They were Kobolds.
How? the thought crossed my mind in a panic. Then I remembered the feeling. The prick on my neck scales as I left the shrine. I was in a tunnel. In an enclosed space. I was certain no one was there. So, how did these Kobolds find me?
As the Kobolds drew closer, there was a stirring. Edithe sat up— did the thud from my fall wake her up? Daniel was still sleeping. It was just her. She opened her mouth and raised her staff, but another set of chains shot out.
They came from a Kobold at the back. He had a crooked stick— not a staff, per se. It almost looked like he was using it to help him walk. I glanced around, identifying each of the Kobolds approaching us.
That Kobold with the stick— a [Cultist]— was the highest leveled of the group. He was Level 104, and he had a single horn jutting out of his head, like a jagged spike. He turned to another Kobold— a [Rogue], the second highest leveled at Level 103.
“You… Tarba, you never told me she had allies with her.”
“I was under the impression she was alone, Res the [Cultist]. It seems I was incorrect.”
“And with Humans too? Disgusting.”
Res spat in the direction of Edithe. It seemed that their casual conversation finally woke Daniel up. The Human man sat up, scratching the side of his head, almost in a daze.
He blinked, and was immediately bound in the same chains as Edithe and I. I rolled my eyes as I saw how easily he was apprehended.
“You are fortunate there were only three of them, lest my Skills will be beyond its limits.”
I narrowed my eyes. Then I focused on the wisp of flame hovering over me. I still had control over it, which was good. Alright, now grow dimmer.
I could control its shape and its form, after all. Making it smaller was no arduous task for me. I remained unmoving on the floor, lying in wait as the Kobolds walked around the encampment.
“It appears there is no one else on the premises.”
Tarba surmised after a few moments. He glanced down at me and my companions, fixing us with a hateful gaze.
“A Kobold working with Humans? How shameful.”
“Not just any Human. A [Hero]. One from another world. This is not just any form of heresy. It is heresy of the highest order!”
Res’ voice rose as he walked past me. I gritted my teeth. Just a little closer. He turned and started in the other direction.
“To think that the Risen Dragons are working together with Humans… that they have a [Hero] on their side…”
He trailed off as Tarba loomed over Daniel, raising a claw.
“Let’s kill the [Hero] and get this over with. Then we shall deal with their heresy when we return.”
Res shook his head. His footfalls slowly approached me; I held still, listening intently to their conversation.
“We shall bring them back— the High Zealot will want to question them. And they shall serve as proof of the Risen Dragons’s heresy.”
He loomed over me— his scales were a lime green. Dirty. Like a plant that had been exposed in the blight for a day. He raised a hand, placing it on the side of my face. And I smiled.
“Now, be a good girl and—”
A flaming spear struck him in his chest. It lashed out in an instant, boring through his robes, eliciting a guttural scream from his mouth. He stumbled back, clutching at his bleeding chest. Tarba started forward as Res reached for the flaming spear, but it shifted.
It grew into a pair of chains that went straight for his neck. Res fell to the ground, gasping for his breath as more Kobolds rushed to his side. I felt myself growing frustrated. Die already, will you?
They tried to pull the chains off him, but they failed. It burned them. Seared their scales. Tarba was slowly heading my way as I focused on strangling Res. Aren’t you a [Cultist]? Why do you have such high [Vitality]?!
Tarba’s foot landed right to the left of my cheeks. He raised his claw, a twisted look on his face. And there was a clatter. The sound of metal breaking. A Human man’s voice drew the [Rogue]’s attention.
“[Aura of the Sentinel]!”
A brilliant glow filled my peripheral vision. Daniel rushed at Tarba, barely missing him with a swing.
The [Rogue] leapt back, joining the other Kobolds as they finally pried Res free of the chains. He got up with a cough. As they did that, Daniel struck down with his blade, breaking my bindings as well.
I hurried to my feet, glaring his way.
“If you could’ve just done that, why didn’t you do it immediately?!”
I sputtered, pointing an accusing clawed finger at his face. He raised his sword and readied himself.
“I… couldn’t. Not until I used [Will of the Hero].”
“Then what took you so long?”
“I just woke up, alright? It took me a moment to understand what was going on!”
“Whatever— just free Edithe, alright?”
He nodded, running past me for the red-haired woman lying prone on the ground. Res pointed a finger at Daniel, his eyes burning with rage.
“No you won’t!”
I stepped between Daniel and the Kobolds. There were a dozen of them. Each of them were at least Level 90. Some of them were Level 95, and only Res and Tarba were over Level 100. Even if most undead were horde monsters— even if a Level 90 Skeleton couldn’t compare to a Level 90 Kobold. It didn’t matter.
I might have been wearing this body right now, but I was a Demon.
The cone of blue flames spewed forth, like a tide washing over the land. It sent the Kobolds back. They scattered around it, avoiding the fire as they bounded after me. The first to reach me was Tarba.
He first tried to claw at my face, which I easily dodged. But after a quick spin, he produced a dagger. I saw a green gleam on its tip, and I knew to avoid it no matter what. I clinked my boots together, activating the effects of the Greaves of the Wanderer.
With a [Flame Burst], I backed away from Tarba in an instant. He didn’t even have time to react. I raised a clawed hand, conjuring another Star Forge. The [Rogue] came at me once more, but this time he couldn’t even reach me.
The blazing orb took shape as my body was engulfed in [Ember Core]. From the corner of my eye, I saw Daniel pulling Edithe up and freeing her as well. A group of Kobolds had split off from me and were surrounding them. And beyond that was Res.
He was standing off to the side. The biggest threat here. He must have Skills specialized in capturing powerful targets. I knew he was dangerous. So, I did the only thing that was logical.
I loosed a Refined Blazing Bolt his way. The [Cultist] didn’t even see it coming. It zipped past my companions and the Kobolds surrounding the pair. It left a trail of white flames on the ground, before piercing him through his sides. He screamed right as Tarba appeared to my back.
“[Shadow Step]. Now die—”
I tried to pull away, but he was too close for me to properly react. He stabbed me in the stomach— and I grinned.
There was a flash of light. A shimmering aura protected me. The Kobold’s eyes widened as I grabbed him by the forearm.
“My turn. [Radiant Slash]!”
I aimed for his head, of course. But he was quick. The attack ripped his arm off. He leapt back, whimpering as the limp limb fell to the ground with a thud. I followed up with a flurry of [Barrage of Cinders], but the other Kobolds barred my path. They intercepted me, meeting me five-on-one.
I bared my teeth— and made sure to stick out my tongue, smiling in a Kobold way at them. After all, how else would I let them know that I wasn’t even worried about them?
My Star Forge darted around me, almost like it was circling me over and over again, as I met these Kobolds in straight combat. The spell didn’t even take the form of a weapon at times— it simply splattered over them, like a wave of splashing flames, burning at their scales, taking them out one by one.
They tried to fight. They managed to break through my [Ember Core]. But there was another protection that was too much for them to handle. The Pendant of Greater Protection— it absorbed their strikes, almost hurting them too, letting me finish them off.
They fell one after another. They weren’t weak. They were tough. Maybe even tougher than the Level 100 [Skeleton Warriors] and [Skeleton Archers]. Alas, I could take on over a dozen of the Skeletons by myself, even if I was in my Mortal Form. And that was before taking into account all the artifacts I was currently using.
It was only after I slayed four of the Kobolds did the last one turn to run. But I was not going to let him escape. He had attacked me. They had tried to kill me and my companions while they were asleep. So, I pointed at the ground.
He did as he was told. I slowly sauntered over to his side and I created an axe. He quivered, before I chopped off his head with a single clean swing. I walked past his body. The effects of my greaves finally dissipating. I cast my gaze back to my companions— it seemed they didn’t hold back either.
Daniel used his [Hero’s Slash], and Edithe finished the last of them with her [Arrow of the Flame Elemental]. All that was left was Tarba. I searched for him amongst the bodies, before spotting a figure running in the distance.
Edithe began conjuring a [Lighting Orb] and called out to me.
“Don’t let him escape!”
I dashed after Tarba as she hurled the projectile his way. He somehow sensed it coming, spinning around and striking it mid air. It exploded into sparks which showered the grass, setting it ablaze. My feet put out the small fire as I ran after him.
I was just barely managing to keep up with [Flame Burst]. That was, until he turned into a blur. It was like he was leaving behind a trail of smoke. Or perhaps it was what was propelling him forward. He vanished behind the trees as I grinned.
“Oh, do you want to race, huh? Fine. [Self Haste]!”
The world blurred around me. I sped after him, keeping pace— no, moving even faster than he was. He craned his neck back, staring at me in shock as each [Flame Burst] closed the gap between us.
He leapt up into a tree branch, suddenly shifting course, and I followed after. I tugged at the Star Forge keeping pace with me, creating an extended piece of chain. Tarba tried to repeat that trick a few more times. He took sharp turns— ones that would put me off.
But when he repeated it the third time, I tossed the chain forward. It didn’t have to touch him. He saw it coming, and tried to dodge out of the way. He was so focused on not getting caught, he didn’t even realize what was attached to the flaming chains.
The blast sent him flying. I crashed into him mid air, grabbing him in a tight hug. He struggled as we tumbled back to the ground, rolling over bushes and sharp shrubbery.
“You heretic! I will kill you! “
Targa struggled and shouted. I said nothing in response. I only opened my mouth a moment later, releasing a [Flaming Breath]. The fire burned him, finally shutting him up as he fell, dead.
“You’re noisy. It’s late at night— don’t you have any decency to all the sleeping Humans?”
I murmured under my breath, getting back to my feet.
When I returned to my companions, I saw them moving the bodies of the Kobolds around. Daniel was, as expected, looting their corpses. Edithe, however, was standing over the [Cultist]. She called out to us.
“Hey, guys, I think he’s still alive.”
We approached her, and sure enough, Res was still twitching on the ground. Daniel crossed his arms.
“What do we do with him?”
“I say we kill him.”
I piped up from the side. I created a scythe, swinging it over my head. My companions exchanged a glance. But before they could speak, a weird sound interrupted them. It sounded like rapid, pained breaths. Whimpering? No— it was… laughing?
That was right. Res was laughing as he turned over on the ground, facing us with a crazed look.
“You fools— the only person who is going to be killed are you three.”
“What are you talking about? We beat you.”
Frowning, I held the scythe over his head. He held up a scroll, tucked beneath his sleeves. It was slowly burning up— the parchment being eaten by fire, turning to ash.
“I have sent a [Message] to the High Zealot. Zix the [Warrior] knows about your heresy, girl. He knows about what the Risen Dragons are planning to do. Everyone in Unarith shall know that you aren’t a true Kobold. That you have betrayed your kind. And you shall be punished accordingly.”
Daniel and Edithe shared a panicked look. The red-haired woman took a step back.
“Fuck, then that means they know we’re here?”
The Human man drew his lips into a thin line.
“I… what do we do, Salvos? We may have to leave.”
“But Xidra’s request—”
Edithe bit her lower lip, not finishing what she was going to say. Res was laughing maniacally so hard, he began to cough. Shaking my head, I walked past them and lowered my scythe.
“That’s going to be problematic for the two of you, huh?”
I glanced back at my companions. Then I turned back to Res. He stuck his tongue out at me— and I knew he was mocking me.
“And punishment? That sounds tough. I wouldn’t want to be punished. So…”
I bared my teeth at him.
“It’s a good thing I’m not a Kobold then, right?”
He blinked as my form changed. His mouth hung open— and I bit his head off.
Defeated [Shroudstalker - Lvl. 103]!
Experience is awarded for defeating an enemy!
Defeated [Protector Cultist- Lvl. 104]!
Experience is awarded for defeating an enemy!
Subspecies [Asura Changeling] Level Up!
[Asura Changeling – Lvl. 96] -> [Asura Changeling – Lvl. 97]
Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!
Subspecies [Asura Changeling] Level Up!
[Asura Changeling – Lvl. 97] -> [Asura Changeling – Lvl. 98]
Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!