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250. ---- Boulder

“Wait, so you’re telling me that the monster that destroyed Mountaintooth’s tribe is the Cursed Boulder?”

I stared at the [Ape Beastman]. Tuktox, the eldest of the Furious Whispers Tribe. He reached a long arm over his head to scratch his other cheek.

“Oo, yes. A [Lizard Beastmen] from our tribe heard about this Cursed Boulder a few weeks back when she was visiting the Poison Bugs Horde. It only recently surfaced from the western ocean. We thought it’d take longer to get here, but it seems we were mistaken.”

He wore a grave look on his face. His face darkened as he continued to scratch his head. Honestly, while his expression was dour, his body language seemed to tell a different tale. Or maybe that was just his tail acting weird.

It kept bouncing around from side to side.

Also, he was a Beastmen. I couldn’t use Humans as a standard to measure how he felt. So, I simply nodded.

“Huh.”

“Grr, it destroyed so many lesser tribes. But to think it even reached the Swift Hill Warriors… it must be over Level 100, then.”

One of the Beastmen elders gathered— a [Wolf Beastman]— growled, his fangs poking out from his snout. I cocked my head. I seriously never thought that a piece of rock could gain levels.

Well, Golems could. But Golems weren’t really just pieces of rock. They were alive, too. They even had a heart. The [Lux Golmi] showed me that. I remembered how it felt— the fear it showed when it believed I would kill it and its companions.

Golems weren’t mere pebble.They were alive. And if this Cursed Boulder was going around, killing others while leveling, then it surely meant it was alive too, right?

I furrowed my brows.

“Is it some kind of a Golem?”

“We aren’t sure.”

Tuktox closed his eyes.

“What do you mean you’re not sure?”

“Truth be told, we’ve never seen a Cursed Boulder before. We have only heard about it from other tribes. It could possibly be a Golem, but it’s not any we’ve seen before. And the magic it casts— I have never heard of a Golem that can utilize space magic.”

Space magic? I was starting to understand why the Devil wanted me to find it and kill it. It was a test of sorts. Although, with the current Skills I had, I wasn’t sure how easy that’d be.

Secondary Skills:

[Available Secondary Skill Points: 2]

[Mystical Projection] - Lvl 10

[Long Range Teleportation] - Lvl 5

[Planar Navigation] - Lvl. 5

[Scatter Shift] - Lvl. 5

[Temporal Distortion] - Lvl 20 (Maxed)

Well, that didn’t mean they were useless. And I could always just claw my way through the Cursed Boulder.

I glanced over at Mountaintooth and the other two children.

“What about you? You’ve seen the Cursed Boulder, right? Do you think it’s a Golem?”

Heards turned towards him, and the boy shrank back.

“W-what? Me…?”

He shifted uncomfortably, trying to muster up any words. Tuktox placed a hand on my shoulder and pulled me back.

“Please, elder Salvos—”

“It’s just Salvos.”

“Oo, right. Salvos.”

The eldest sighed.

“Let us not press the youngling with too many questions after all that he’s been through. Please, it will surface bad memories.”

“Oh, ok.”

I drew back, but Mountaintooth gritted his teeth.

“I-I’m fine!”

He stepped forward.

“I just didn’t get a good look at the beast. None of us did.”

His shoulders sagged as he turned back to his companions. I studied his expression.

“What do you mean by that?”

“He means that we couldn’t even see it.”

Amberarm spoke up next. She shivered and clutched her shoulders, hugging herself.

“It was a blur. No matter where we looked or where it went, everything around it was obscured. Like we couldn’t focus on it.”

“We couldn’t even see its level or use [Identification] on it.”

Sharpbraid nodded from behind her.

Well, that was odd. I’d never heard of that before. Perhaps it was a [Lux Golmi] using illusion magic?

My musings were cut off when Mountaintooth spoke.

“Whatever it is, you guys have got to stop it. You have to avenge my father— our tribe.”

He gestured at Amberarm and Sharpbraid. They nodded in agreement, children wearing dark, hate-filled looks on their faces.

“Huh. But isn’t revenge bad or something?”

At least, that was what Daniel told me. Everyone in the room shook their heads.

“No, why would it be?”

They replied at pretty much the same time with a similar variation of that. So, Daniel was wrong. Silly Daniel! Always so silly with his morals and ideals and philosophy!

“Nice, alright.”

I snapped my fingers, making a decision.

“Well, you don’t need to worry about this Cursed Boulder destroying any more of your tribes. And you’ll get your revenge.”

I grinned as I started for the tent’s exit. They stared at me, and I glanced back at them.

“Because I’ll be destroying it now.”

—--

I really didn’t know what this Cursed Boulder was. What I did know was that if it was randomly destroying Beastmen tribes for no reason, it was probably wild. Maybe it wasn’t— I’d figure it out for sure when I found it— but it probably was.

“Wait!”

A voice called out to me as I walked amongst the many multi-colored tents of this tribe. Mountaintooth squeezed through the crowd of Beastmen and ran up to me. He tugged at my jacket, and I looked down at him inquiringly.

“What’s wrong?”

“I-I…”

He panted, gathering his nerves and faced me. I frowned.

“Do you want to get your revenge yourself? Because I could let you try...”

“What? No!”

Mountaintooth blinked and took a step back.

“Then what happened?”

“You… you don’t know where the Cursed Boulder went. You don’t even know where it was last seen!”

He exclaimed. I blinked.

“Huh, you’re right. I forgot to ask you guys.”

I crossed my arms, wondering to myself.

“Then where was I even going?”

Shrugging, I turned back to Mountaintooth.

“Well, you’re here now. So, where is it?”

“It’s to the southwest— about two hundred miles. That’s where my tribe used to be. It… I don't know where it went, but maybe you can track it down from there?”

“Thanks!”

I bowed back at the boy— that was the polite thing to do here for Beastmen, right?— and was about to scurry off. But he clung onto my jacket. I gave him a curious look.

“Did you need something else?”

“Y-yes…”

Mountaintooth took a deep breath and sputtered.

“R-revenge doesn’t work that way!”

“Huh?”

I stared at him, and he repeated himself.

“Revenge doesn't work that way. You can’t just avenge someone on behalf of them. They have to request a kin— someone of the same Species to carry it out for them.”

He closed his eyes as he spoke, fists balled up in frustration. It was clear that he wanted me to kill the Cursed Boulder and be done with it, but there was some sort of tradition here that stipulated this. Another weird mortal thing, probably.

“T-that’s why I want you to bring me with you. If I’m there— if I even lay a finger on the Cursed Boulder as you kill it, then my tribe shall be avenged. Their deaths will be vindicated. Please, take me with you.”

“You want me to bring you to face this power monster where you could possibly die just to fulfill some revenge pact you have?”

“Yes!”

I couldn’t help but smack my forehead with the palm of my hands. It was stupid. Mortals were stupid.

“Don’t be an idiot, Mountaintooth!”

Amberarm’s voice cut through the crowd. She ran up to us, followed slowly by Sharpbraid. The duo huddled around Mountaintooth, but he was adamant about it.

“You can’t stop me. I was the son of the eldest. This is my duty to our tribe.”

“It is our duty too.”

Sharpbraid harrumphed. Amberarm nodded.

“Let us go with you too!”

“You two…”

Mountaintooth trailed off as his companions nodded at him. I watched this play out, rolling my eyes.

“This is all very complicated and dumb.”

I clapped my hands, and they turned to me in surprise. I raised a hand, cutting them off before they could protest.

“Alright, so you just need to request someone to carry out this revenge for you, right?”

“Our kin.”

“Someone of the same Species, then.”

“That’s right.”

They nodded. I spread my arms wide.

“Then here’s a simple solution.”

My body shifted as their eyes grew round. Passersby— or onlookers, since there were some Beastmen watching this scene from the side— stopped to stare at me in amazement as my body changed.

[Partial Mortality] let me transform to most sapient mortal Species. And, well, Beastmen were included in that list. I glanced down at my golden arms, covered in a layer of fur. There were gasps— people were gaping at how I suddenly became one of them. A [Lion Beastman]... woman.

“There. Happy? You can just ask me to kill the Cursed Boulder now and it wouldn’t be a problem.”

Mountaintooth blinked a few times. He glanced over at Amberarm.

“Is this allowed?”

“Who cares if it’s allowed? Just say it!”

“Alright… hrr, elder Salvos—”

“It’s just Salvos!”

I scowled.

“But I have to call you that because of formalities.”

“Ugh, fine. Hurry it up.”

“Elder Salvos, avenge my tribe. Let the Swift Hill Warriors rest and slay the Cursed Boulder that slaughtered my people.”

He went on his knees and lowered his head to touch the dirt in a bow. I glanced over at Amberarm.

“What do I do now?”

“Just say ‘I will’.”

“Um, I will.”

I spoke, and it seemed like a huge burden disappeared from Mountaintooth’s shoulders. With a deep sigh, he drew back to his feet and smiled.

“Thank you.”

“Ok, now that that’s finished, can I leave now?”

“You can. I— but…”

Mountaintooth hesitated, and I tapped my left foot impatiently on the ground.

“What is it now?”

“How exactly did you do… this?”

He asked, gesturing at my [Lion Beastman] form. I blinked and looked down at myself.

“This? Oh, it’s just a Skill. I’m a Demon— a [Changeling]— so I can transform to other Species. See?”

I transformed back to myself from [Partial Mortality]. Again, everyone gasped. Mountaintooth flinched at the sudden change. Then his eyes grew wide.

“Woah.”

“Amazing, right?”

“It is. Demons sure are amazing, Can all Demons do that?”

“Only some. Like me.”

I pointed at myself. Mountaintooth stared at me.

“O-oh. Then you’re so amazing, Salvos.”

“I know.”

I smirked. With that, I left the Furious Whispers Tribe behind me.

I didn’t fly. I wasn’t allowed to fly. Not by the Deivl. So, instead, I teleported to the furthest point I could see in the horizon. Which, due to the hilly landscape, wasn’t as far as I’d have liked. And I wasn’t able to teleport again. Even if it was a shorter distance— not across thousands of miles which drained me of a lot of mana— I had a cooldown between each use of [Long Range Teleportation]. Plus, it used up a lot of mana too, anyway. Inefficient compared to using a dozen Short Range Teleports in a row, which was exactly what I did after.

Once I was far enough away from the tribe, I began to run. I kicked up a trail of dust clouds behind me as I made my way southwest. It took a bit to actually locate my destination. I had to do a bit of searching. But its name— the Swift Hill Warriors— implied one thing, so I made sure to get to the high ground and check atop every mound I saw.

What I found was nothing but a bunch of collapsed tents. Many of them were burned from fallen torches after being crushed and trampled by some kind of traveling disaster. Bodies littered the tribe, and I spent a minute or two investigating.

“Not a trace of the Cursed Boulder left behind.”

I tapped a finger on my chin. That was odd. I’d have expected something like a moving boulder to leave a deep divot on the dirt. There was none of that. I walked around for a bit until I eventually decided to try using magic to detect it.

[Planar Navigation] overtook my senses, and instantly, I saw a disturbance in the same around me. It was like something had dragged its way through the plane, altering the space around it as it went. I followed this trail to the north, where a forest lay ahead. Trees had been felled, creating a clear path for me to follow.

And it was there, in a clearing in the middle of the forest, I saw my target.

I narrowed my eyes, trying to discern its shape. I could see specks of gray— little bits of rock flying about in a concentrated tempest. It shrouded over what was at the center, like the dusty wind girdling the eye of a storm. Except, instead of a dull brown gale sweeping around

At heart of this odd phenomenon… my vision unfocused. I could only see a splash of colors coming together in jagged lines and dots. It covered whatever it was there like a curtain, if the curtain itself was warped into a rough and crooked shape. I could only see the semblance of a silhouette of a round shape with it. But other than that, I knew not what this was. Even [Identification] didn’t know what it was.

[-̶̧̛̻͕̹̩̖͕̑̈́̂͗̾͊̓͌̀͗́͝ͅ-̵̖͎͖̤̌̇̿̓̿̌́̆͛͆͘͝-̵̧̣̩͚̗͕̤͙͉̱͕͎͔̟͐̑͊͌ͅ-̶̻͕̲͓͈̼̥̰̘͔͛̍̊̒̉̈́̐̂̋̕͝ Boulder - Lvl.-̶̧̛̻͕̹̩̖͕̑̈́̂͗̾͊̓͌̀͗́͝ͅ-̵̖͎͖̤̌̇̿̓̿̌́̆͛͆͘͝-̵̧̣̩͚̗͕̤͙͉̱͕͎͔̟͐̑͊͌ͅ-̶̻͕̲͓͈̼̥̰̘͔͛̍̊̒̉̈́̐̂̋̕͝]

“Huh.”

 

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MelasD

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