Advertisement
Remove


258. Evolved

I waited with bated breath as the clicking noises grew louder. The slow crawling of Centinels drew closer, filling the silence almost like the patter of a light drizzle on a tiled rooftop. I stuffed the diary into my Bag of Holding as flames overcame my claws.

Click. Click. Click.

It wasn’t like the wild, rambunctious skittering of most Centinels. Each step it made sounded deliberate. Like it was aware that I was here, and it was walking closer to inflict fear upon me.

Did it think I was scared? I wasn’t scared! Not unless it was a Level 150 Centinel, of course!

Enough time had passed since I fled the crevies so I could activate [Haste] again now. I leapt out into the hallway, baring my teeth.

“Hurry up and fight me already!”

I shouted, ready to attack whatever Centinel was waiting outside. My feet landed lightly against the wood floor as I took in the darkness beyond. I narrowed my eyes and cast the light from my flames across the room. I saw… nothing.

“Huh.”

I lowered my claws like they were weapons— which… they were.

“I could’ve sworn—”

And [A Hunter’s Sense] flared up in my head. It warned me of an incoming strike. I flipped back as the ground beneath my feet splintered— torn open by an invisible slash.

“What…?”

I stared, befuddled. Completely clueless.

Then I saw the dust part. A click marked a sudden slice, aimed straight for my head. I ducked under the attack, only to move straight into a scythe-like arm. The figure made itself visible as it touched me. It struck for my head as my eyes grew wide—

And the Breastplate of Alexander flashed. It protected me from the attack, creating a barrier that repelled the scythe-like arm. During that brief moment, I could see the outline of the Centinel. It wasn’t like a normal, regular Centinel. It didn’t even have an undulating body. Its body was less… segmented. It was built more like a bug— with four clearly divided sections to its body, and only a dozen limps.

Sure, a dozen was more than what most bugs had. But Centinels normally had a hundred limbs. Yet, when I used [Identification] on it during that brief moment, it told me that it was in fact a Centinel.

[Evolved Centinel - Lvl. 116]

But also… evolved.

I blinked.

“What?”

And it vanished once again. All I could perceive of the Centinel was the rapid clicking as it backed away from me. It took me a moment to gather myself, but the [Evolved Centinel] was already rushing back towards me.

I knew where it’d come from— from my front— so I braced myself. But right as the clicking footsteps reached me, the sound stopped. I blinked.

“Where did it—”

And from behind, another scything-limb struck out. The Breastplate of Alexander flashed. I stumbled forward as the [Evolved Centinel] landed with a thud. I lashed back, swinging a [Barrage of Cinders] at where I’d been hit. My claw sheared through the air and smashed open a wall.

The ceiling came crumbling down as I backed up.

“Ugh, you’re so annoying. Where are you?”

I turned back around, shouting. The air was filled with dust, but the [Evolved Centinel] must’ve realized that I could tell where it was going if it disturbed the flying particles. I saw no shifting. It stood incredibly still, knowing that I couldn’t tell where it was.

I growled.

“Stop it with this game!”

Flames exploded all around me. A blast that took out the entire section of the mansion. Through the smoke and cinder, I could once again hear the skittering of the [Evolved Centinel] Its carapace shielded from the fire as it sped my way.

A small smile crept over my face as soon as it reached me— its outline defined by my blue fire.

“Found you.”

[Radiant Slash]!

I struck out right as the [Evolved Centinel] went for my head. The sable flames seemed to suck in all light as it wreathed itself over my sharp claws. I tore through the center oval-like body of the [Evolved Centinel] with ease— its blood instantly splattering all over my claws and evaporating in an instant.

I could’ve sworn I sliced it in half entirely, but as it hopped back, I saw merely a large gaping wound leaking out its goo-like blood. It was still alive.

“Huh. I thought that would’ve killed you.”

Apparently, despite its speed and its invisibility magic, it was quite durable. However, even if I didn’t kill the [Evolved Centinel] with that attack, it served its purpose.

“I can see you now.”

My eyes flickered. It had been stained by its own blood. Its invisibility wouldn’t cloak it any longer—

The [Evolved Centinel] faded into the background. I blinked.

“What?!”

It could make the things it was touching go invisible as well! That was stupid! That was so dumb!

I scowled, even as the rapid clicking came for me once again. More flames wisped off my body, but this time, it wasn’t just a wild blast. [Faux Limbs] created multiple flaming arms facing all directions as I readied myself for the [Evolved Centinel]’s attack.

It went for my leg. I heard the soft screech of its carapace against wood and leapt over the attack. It would’ve been blocked by the Breastplate of Alexander’s enchantments, anyway. But I didn't want to be too reliant on it. Not when its protective magic could dissipate at any moment.

I grabbed for the [Evolved Centinel] as it skidded past me. However, even with all my arms, I found it just barely pulling away from my fingertips. Its figure escaped into nothingness once more, and I grinned.

I touched it.

Even if I couldn’t grab it, I managed to touch it. And that was all that was needed.

I leapt into the air, wings spreading wide and exploding to the sky. I went over the smoke from my previous explosion and stared down. A second, far larger explosion took out the entire mansion and more as [Demon’s Mark] activated. I watched, listening for a notification to resound in my head.

Defeated [Evolved Stealth Centinel – Lvl. 116]!

Experience is awarded for defeating an enemy!

And that was that.

—--

I remember the day the first of these monsters washed ashore on the Crimson Beach. I was but a boy— no more than ten years of age. My sister and I were playing along the cliffside and we spotted a looming shadow in the middle of the ocean.

At first we thought it’d been a sea creature. Perhaps a Giant Spiked Crab or a Gragil Opus. We rushed to the edge of the cliff to get the chance to see them surface. However, when we saw the crystalline water of the sea discolor into a bloody red, we knew that we’d see no sea creature there.

Hundreds— maybe even a thousand— of the terrible monsters made its way to Crimson Beach. I watched them bring ruin to the seaside villas of many great noble families with ease. Their guards were like fodder to this wicked swarm. My family was fortunate enough that our estate was situated where it was so we were not the first to fall to this swarm.

But that didn’t matter—

I flipped through the pages of the diary as I sat atop a tree. Since I completely destroyed the mansion, I had no place to stay. At least, not a place with proper shelter. Apparently, the beach in the distance used to be covered in beautiful mansions. Now, though, I saw not a trace of what once was.

Instead, I saw a beach crawling with the occasional Centinel. Lower-leveled Centinels, of course. The only proof that life once existed had been… the manor I blew up.

“Oops.”

Anyway, the diary continued on to talk about what the Centinels did when they first arrived. It was pretty much expected. They slaughtered everyone the author knew— everyone except for him and his sister. It was quite sad. But what I didn’t expect to read about was what he did next.

Apparently, the first half of the book was the musings of an adult about his childhood. Musings he thought to write down as he returned to the Bloodied Gulf after the Centinels have made it their home.

After he and his sister escaped, he fought to survive in the slums of Shadowpass. A large city in the former Valcyrae Empire— the powerhouse in the southern edge of the Human lands before the southern edge was… well, now there were no countries beyond the Alterian League. Just a lot of ruins.

He eventually found success as an adventurer— repute which brought his noble name back into notoriety. His job as an adventurer gave him the platinum he needed to fund his sister’s education. But he could never forget or forgive the massacre of his family. Which was why he returned to the Bloodied Gulf.

I turned the page of the book as I waited for my Skills and my enchanted gear to recharge. I wasn’t sure how long the Breastplate of Alexander took to be fully restored— or how that even worked. I just wanted to be safe. Also, I was pretty engrossed in the diary’s contents.

It went on to detail the man’s— and I knew the author was a man— journey back. Most of it was rather banal descriptions of each Centinel he encountered. Something which I didn’t care too much about. Not until he reached the former Crimson Beach and encountered a Centinel that was not like the others.

As a child, I had thought they were all mindless, wicked creatures. That all they knew was wanton destruction. But today, I saw something… different. A Centinel that didn’t simply attack everything it saw.

It watched me from afar as I slaughtered its kin. It was almost like it was studying my movements— my Skills. It fled without even fighting me. I had never thought I’d see something like that before.

A Centinel that had evolved.

I tapped a clawed finger on my chin as I flipped over to the next page.

“Is that the same Centinel I saw? No— it can’t be the exact same one. There’s no way it stayed at Level 116 for the past few hundred years, right?”

I wanted to get more features about this evolved Centinel the author encountered. Unfortunately, I found myself staring at the last page of the book.

Tonight, I shall head for the crevices below. I can see the Centinels ebbing away at the earth. Slowly— day by day. The cracks grow wider. The ravines expand. And their numbers grow.

What had been a mere thousand of their kind now amounts to tens of thousands. They adapt and evolve into more dangerous and intelligent creatures. I cannot stress how much of a danger they are to all of Humankind.

This diary… I shall leave it behind at my manor as a warning to the next fool who comes to this bloodied gulf. Turn back— warn the world of the threat these Centinels pose. Return only with a [Hero]. With the army of all the nations combined.

I wish I could return. To see my sister again. But my pride won’t let me. I shall not stop until I get my vengeance.

And, perhaps, if I succeed, then there is no reason for any warning at all. One can only hope...

I closed the book and sighed.

“...well, so much for being a danger to the world, right? Those Centinels totally killed everyone!”

I stuffed the diary into my Bag of Holding as I got to my feet.

“Also, did he seriously think some random person will just stumble on this diary just because he left it at a desk? Seriously, of course it’d take a few hundred years for someone to find it!”

Well, I wasn’t going to complain. I just felt like whoever wrote the diary had been a bit… dramatic.

“It was an interesting read, anyways. But I guess it’s about time for me to do as he did and jump straight into the Bloodied Gulf!”

I slapped myself on the cheek and turned to the sea just ahead. My lips contorted as apprehension briefly gripped me. Clearly, the person who wrote this diary died after he dove into the network of ravines below. I didn’t want to die. The last thing I wanted was to die. I really just wanted to teleport to my clone who was somewhere doing something with Saffron right now.

But the Devil wouldn’t let me. One of the rules he gave me was that I couldn’t leave the Bloodied Gulf. And sure, while I could just hang around up here on dry land the entire time, hiding from Centinels, I had a feeling that wasn’t what he wanted from me.

“Prove that you’re better than it.”

I repeated his words to me.

“Does ‘it’ refer to the [Ancient Centinel]? Does he want me to kill it? Or just beat it in a fight?”

Whatever he meant, it definitely required me to go back down beneath the ocean and fight some Centinels.

First, I distributed my Stats. I really needed [Vitality] and [Agility] to survive this, so 2 of my Stat Points went to the former while 3 went to the latter. And as for my Skills, I put all of my 5 Skill Points into [Haste]. Also, all of my secondary Skill Points went into the only available secondary Skill— [Long Ranged Teleportation].

I looked over my Status, readying myself.

Salvos (Liberator of the Plaguelands)

Species: [Archdemon of Pride]

Subspecies: [Daeva Cambion] - Lvl. 111

Class: [Worldly Mystic of the Nexeus] - Lvl. 63

General Skills:

[Advanced Mana Manipulation] - Lvl. 8

[Identification] - Lvl. 6

[Racial Skill: Universal Language Comprehension] - Lvl. 1

[Racial Skill: Demonic Essence] - Lvl. 4

[Racial Skill: Partial Mortality] - Lvl. 6

[Rest] - Lvl. 5

[Lesser Enhanced Wisdom] - Lvl. 6

[Title Skill: General Curse Resistance] - Lvl. 2

[Title Skill: Recall Skill] - Lvl. 1

Stats:

[Available Stat Points: 0]

[Vitality]: 138 (+25)

[Strength]: 112 (+25)

[Endurance]: 125 (+25)

[Wisdom]: 213 (+25) (+10)

[Agility]: 273 (+25)

Skills:

[Available Skill Points: 0]

[Barrage of Cinders] - Lvl. 20 (Maxed)

[Demon’s Mark] - Lvl. 7

[Haste] - Lvl. 15

[Intimidation] - Lvl. 10 (Maxed)

[Faux Limbs] - Lvl. 1

[Nebular Construct] - Lvl. 6

[Radiant Slash] - Lvl. 15 (Maxed)

[Salvo of Vanity] - Lvl. 5

[The Primordial Spark] - Lvl. 15

[Wings of the Netherworld] - Lvl. 5

[Passive - A Hunter’s Sense] - Lvl. 10 (Maxed)

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

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

[Unused Skill Slot] x1

Secondary Skills:

[Available Secondary Skill Points: 0]

[Mystical Projection] - Lvl 15 (Maxed)

[Long Range Teleportation] - Lvl 13

[Planar Navigation] - Lvl. 10 (Maxed)

[Scatter Shift] - Lvl. 10 (Maxed)

[Temporal Distortion] - Lvl 20 (Maxed)

I was about as ready as I could be.

“Alright, time to do this.”

 

Advertisement
A note from MelasD

Cool little fun fact: I have completed Nanowrimo-- writing 55,000 words-- in 13 days. Not bad. If I pick up the pace a little bit, I can maybe even break my record of 155,000 in a month. Eventually, I want to hit 200,000 words this year. And maybe break 2,000,000 words total for the year. Fingers-crossed.


Read up to 20 Salvos chapters ahead on my patreon

Join my discord or subreddit.

Follow me on twitter or instagram.


Support "Salvos"

About the author

MelasD

  • Self-proclaimed most Successful Young Author on RoyalRoad based off the overly specific criteria he set. Became the 21st novel to hit 10,000 followers on the 21st of September, 2021, at the age of 21.
  • http://melaswebserial.com/

Bio: For business enquiries contact me on via PMs.

Achievements
Comments(52)
Log in to comment
Log In

Log in to comment
Log In