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257. Bloodied Gulf

[Ancient Centinel - Lvl. 162]

The [Ancient Centinel] came. A giant monster— probably a hundreds of feet in length alone— scuttled its way towards me. Each step it took tore up the earth, sending flakes of the red dirt up into the air like a misty fog.

I spun around propelled myself as fast as I could with my flaming wings. My body surged with energy as [Haste] took over me. I snapped my gaze up towards the dome of water above, flying as fast as I could to escape the clicking mandibles of the [Ancient Centinel].

Before I could even think to teleport, I heard a snap. A terrifying crunch. And for a moment, I thought I was dead. It had already caught up to me— despite my speed and despite my Skills.

However, an iridescent aura flickered around me. I found the [Ancient Centinel]’s teeth hovering just over my chest as a barrier protected me from instant death.

The Breastplate of Alexander shone.

That was right. I’d still been wearing the Mythical Grade Armor. I was washed over with relief for that brief moment. Until a vile green liquid began to secret from between the [Ancient Centinel]’s rows of jagged teeth.

Acid. Terrible acid that sizzled against the barrier protecting me. I pursed my lips and erupted into flames, burning away the acid before it could touch the barrier. The fire also scorched the inner mouth of the [Ancient Centinel]. However, it barely even reacted to my hottest flames.

I struggled to break free from its terrible toothy grasps as it continued trying to chomp at me. It thrashed around, unwilling to let me have even a single inch of freedom. I focused on the tumbling world around me. Beyond the maw of the monster. I saw specks of the world outside of its mouth. Red stone... crimson dirt... an inkling of the sky—

And I teleported.

[Long Range Teleport] brought me at least a thousand feet into the air. Not as far as I’d have liked to have teleported. However, this was as far as I could see at that moment, and I didn’t want to spend another second inside of the mouth of the [Ancient Centinel].

I sighed in relief, looking down at the [Ancient Centinel] with a grin.

“Hah! You can’t—”

I paused. The monster was already speeding its way up towards me. It skittered up the side of the ravine’s walls, moving faster than I ever could in the span of mere moments. I would’ve instantly turned and fled— escaped from this crevice and flew up as high as I could into the air where I was probably safe. But I saw the tiny, shadowed figures crawling out from the cracks on the walls.

More Centinels. They came in all shapes and sizes. Their levels varied, and they covered the walls as they swarmed towards me, following the lead of the [Ancient Centinel]. I stared.

“Are you serious? How many of you are there?!”

Thousands of Centinels bore down at me as their scuttling chased me with a cacophonous echo. The [Ancient Centinel] led the charge. I flew for the line where red and blue clashed— where air carried water in an impossible act.

I couldn’t teleport— not yet as there was a cooldown for the Skill. All I could rely on was my wings, enhanced by [Haste]. However, the [Ancient Centinel] was catching up. It would catch up. I could see it drawing closer from my peripheries. It was like a looming death that you knew waited at the corner of your eyes— that you dared not turn to fully see as it would finally reach you at that moment.

Terror. This was what I felt. I wasn’t ever fond of running from my enemies. Not when they could chase me down, and there was nothing I could do to reason with them.

It was like with the large Demon all over again. But this time, I didn’t stand a chance. Not when it had thousands of other Centinels with it. I couldn’t even turn back to fight it—

Or wait, I could.

I glanced back once, shouting.

“Leave me alone!”

My voice reverberated throughout the ravine. The front row of Centinels halted their ascent for a second, only to be crushed and trampled over as the second and third rows pressed on. The [Ancient Centinel] hesitated for a mere moment, and I clapped my hands together.

“Go, myself! Hold them off!”

[Salvos of Vanity].

Golden flames wrapped around me before peeling away and descending on the Centinels. My clone drew my Nebular Weapons— spinning a Nebular Sickle Grenade and tossing it at the [Ancient Centinel]’s shell. The blast shook the cavern, collapsing rocks and debris at the horde of Centinels.

In spite of that, it barely slowed their approach. My clone continued her barrage of Nebular weapons at the Centinels until the [Ancient Centinel] reached her. She didn’t turn to run, nor did she even try to dodge the attack.

My clone leapt straight into the mouth of the [Ancient Centinel], growing brighter and wilder. Right as the maw closed around her, she exploded.

A golden explosion consumed everything beneath me. I heard hundreds of notifications go off at once as the bright light reflected on the surface of the water. Like the sun was piercing through that veil that was the ocean above.

I glanced down once, hoping that the [Ancient Centinel] somehow died from the blast. But I knew from the lack of notifications that it was still alive. It emerged from the smoke, reeling slightly, but more angry than anything else.

“Ugh, you’re annoying!”

I shouted at it as I plunged into the sea. My Nebular Armor sizzled as it touched the water, but otherwise was unperturbed by it. I swam and flew through the sea, thinking that I’d be safe now that I was out of the ravine. Of course not. Of course Centinels could swim.

The [Ancient Centinel] dove up into the ocean as well— a hulking, dark figure that was accompanied by hundreds more of its kind. Smaller, but very much dangerous to the aquatic life. Marine animals and monsters tried to swim away, only to be torn apart as the Centinels crossed their path.

I watched as the sea below me was slowly diluted into a dark scarlet. Then I turned all of my attention into getting out of the water as soon as I could. The [Ancient Centinel] drew closer and closer. It snapped its mandibles silently as I saw a light. The glimmering of the sun against the ocean.

And I burst out, breaking the water’s surface. Right behind me, the [Ancient Centinel] exploded up. I saw it in its full size as it leapt out of the sea like it was propelled by a spring. Its giant undulating body turned and fell back into the ocean, sending a massive ripple of waves out as I found myself hovering amongst the clouds.

My body was drenched, and I was panting heavily as i watched the Centinels color the ocean red under me.

“That was…”

I heaved a heavy breath.

“...terrifying.”

Defeated [Older Centinel – Lvl. 95]!

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

Defeated [Junior Centinel – Lvl. 54]!

Little-to-no experience is awarded for defeating an enemy at least 50 levels below you!

Subspecies [Daeva Cambion] Level Up!

[Daeva Cambion – Lvl. 110] -> [Daeva Cambion – Lvl. 111]

Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!

Class [Worldly Mystic of the Nexeus] Level Up!

[Worldly Mystic of the Nexeus - Lvl. 62] -> [Worldly Mystic of the Nexeus - Lvl. 63]

Gained 2 Secondary Skill Points!

—--

My wings flapped gently as I floated above the clouds, staring down at the Bloodied Gulf below. The red that stained the blue slowly drifted out of the mouth of the gulf and into the rest of the ocean. I didn’t descend. Not just yet. I wanted to make sure that the Centinels were all gone.

The [Ancient Centinel] had quickly retreated back into the ravine, but the smaller Centinels swam through the sea, kiling everything they could find.

Now, the question was— could I step foot on land as long as I stayed along the coast?

The Devil told me not to leave the Bloodied Gulf. However, where exactly did the Bloodied Gulf start, and where exactly did it end?

I saw a beach towards the north. A beach of red sand. A bit further past it was a manor standing at the edge of a cliff. I tapped a finger on my chin.

“I mean, that’s still part of the gulf, right?”

It was debatable. But technically, the land around the sea was what made the gulf a gulf. So, it should be part of the gulf.

“Look, if Sal didn’t want me to skirt around his rules, he should’ve been more specific. Like, what am I even supposed to do here?”

He wanted me to not die? And he also wanted me to prove that I was better than the Centinels? I didn’t know what that even meant. For now ,I needed to [Rest]. And using magic to fly in the air wasn’t actually very restful. And I wasn’t going to dive straight back into the crevice.

Sure, it was a massive network of gargantuan ravines. The [Ancient Centinel] had been at the very center ravine— the largest of all the cracks. So, if I landed in one of the side cracks— each of which still ran deep and long— I’d be able to avoid the [Ancient Centinel] completely.

But there was still some risk here. What if there were more [Ancient Centinels] hiding amongst the other ravines? I didn’t want to experience that chase all over again! That was why I landed next to the manor instead of diving straight back in.

I didn’t transform to a Human. I didn’t feel like it, and I was pretty sure no one lived here. The manor was held up by dilapidated walls covered in vines, and its gate laid on the ground amongst overgrown grass.

“Hello! Does anyone live here?”

I called out, walking into the manor. The door creaked as it swung open.

“Nope? Thought not.”

I shook my head, closing the door shut and clicking my claws together. A ball of flame cmae to existence and lit the path. I stood in a vast hall with a fallen spiral stairway at the center. Two tall paintings flanked the staircase. The left painting showed a regally dressed woman with her face peeled off, and the second was that of a man with a sword.

It was an almost familiar-looking sword. One with horn-like guards and a silver-tipped blade. For whatever reason, it looked like the man was surrounded by white, puffy clouds in the painting. And the paint didn’t even wear off, despite the clear age showing on the portrait case.

“Huh. He looks cool.”

I leapt up to the second floor and ambled down what would’ve once been a decorated hallway. I walked past collapsed rooms until I stumbled upon a still-intact study room. The desk at the center of the room was enchanted by a waning magic, and atop the table laid a book. It looked old and worn out, with some pages torn and missing, but it was otherwise still in a pretty good condition for something that’d been left there for probably hundreds of years.

I picked it up, curious, carefully flipping over the pages.

The corner of each page was marked by a symbol— an insignia that seemed to be a stylized letter ‘s’ in the middle of a nimbus cloud.

“These people sure liked their clouds.”

It was a diary, simply put. Apparently this manor had been here for a hundred years before the Centinels arrived. When the Centinels came to Secely, they slaughtered most of the family that’d lived here. The man who wrote this book was one of the few survivors. He titled it: My Revenge.

I cocked my head. That was such a silly name. But it somehow piqued my interest. I had time to kill before I was fully rested, so I made myself comfortable and got ready to read through the pages. However, before I could even sit down, I heard a soft clicking behind me. I snapped around, eyes growing wide.

“Centinels.”

 

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