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38. Reunion

“Wait here.”

I spoke softly to Chase and Betty— both of whom I beat in the race to Silvergrove— as they were being tied to a tree. We had stopped just outside of the walls of the city, and were now preparing to enter it.

“[Quick Summon].”

Edithe raised her staff, and Mistshard came to her side. The [Elemental] flapped her wings as she hovered just above her master. I turned to the damaged but still standing gates, then to a hole in the city walls a bit aways from it; a few Humans ran through it, stumbling across the rubble as they fled the city. The Human woman stepped up beside me.

“The gate here is still up. Seems like Lucerna decided to go around and force his way in there.”

“Why would he do that?”

Daniel frowned. I looked over at him, remembering the last time I had come to this city.

“I think it’s because of all the adventurers. There were a lot of them— more than Hazelbury— too many for him to handle all at once. So he went around.”

That would have allowed him to get in the middle of a crowd of non combat Class Humans, making the adventurers and guards hesitant to attack him; if I knew one thing about Humans after being around them for so long, it was that they mostly didn’t like killing each other. Mostly, I thought, thinking back to the bandits.

Then Lucerna would have been able to eliminate the adventurers slowly, while causing havoc and damage, gaining experience from killing those who can’t fight back.

“And why do you know that?”

“That’s what I would’ve done.”

The two Humans stared at me. I shrugged.

“They attacked me when I first came here. And this was the only place I knew where Humans gathered. So I had thought of coming back eventually.”

“I… am not even going to comment on that.”

Daniel shook his head, turning back to the collapsed wall. He unsheathed his gleaming sword.

“Come on, before he causes any more destruction. Let’s put a stop to his rampage.”

Edithe whispered softly under her breath, grasping tightly at her company’s badge.

“This is it. I will avenge you guys. I promise.”

I stepped forward, creating two daggers made of fire. I simply grinned as I walked ahead of my two companions. We entered the city as a group of Humans ran past us in a hurry. I took in the surroundings of Silvergrove— once, it had been bustling with life. Now the city lay empty. Smoke rose up from various places in the distance, and the orange glow of the sunset was only accentuated by the flames spreading wildly unhindered through the city.

“He’s stronger than us, you know?”

I spoke bluntly. My companions all faced me. Daniel to my left, Edithe and her Spirits to my right. I looked over at the still-standing gates— chains hung loosely down to the side of the portcullis. I shook my head.

“He’s higher leveled than us. He’s more experienced than us. He’s killed more than us.”

I turned around, meeting their gazes steadily.

“However, levels aren’t all that matters. They aren’t the most important thing ever. Maybe to wild Demons— but not to me.”

Daniel nodded slowly while Edithe’s face relaxed a little.

“We’ll take him down, just as we did the Centinels, and just as we did the Giant Spiders.”

“Right.”

“Of course.”

I smiled, glancing back at the long metallic chain lying next to the damaged gates. Just as I took down that large Demon too. Levels only matter so much.

 

—--

 

“Captain!”

“Get back, guardsman!”

A man adorned in thick metal armor shouted. He pushed the guardsman back, stumbling away from the ball of ash that exploded at his back. His enchanted platemail took the brunt of the hit, however judging by the damage it had taken, this wasn’t the first time he had been struck by the [Djinn]’s deadly Skills.

The Greater Demon roared as he charged the two Humans, but another voice resounded from the side.

“Loose!”

Arrows pelted the Greater Demon’s back, temporarily drawing his attention away from the captain and the guard as they stumbled to the side. A group of adventurers intercepted Lucerna before he could clash with the squad of archers.

“Captain Nathan, sir! Are you alright?”

“What are you doing here? I’ve ordered all Level 20 combatants not to approach the Demon. You’ll only die and give it experience to grow.”

“I know, sir. I’ve brought you this— the last of the healing potions from the west gate.”

Nathan chewed his lower lip for a moment, staring at the leather bag held out by the rather young looking Human man. Then he quickly accepted it, taking a gulp of the healing potion as it closed his most grievous wounds, and nodded.

“Thanks. I— what’s your name?”

“Cai, sir.”

“Cai, you did a good thing today. But this is the only time you’ll ever break from your orders, got it?”

“Yes, sir—”

“Watch out!”

A streak of hot smoke came rushing at the two Humans as they conversed. Nathan’s eyes widened as he saw it coming. He grabbed Cai and pulled him out of the way just in time. However, just as they were getting up, there was a scream. An adventurer went flying as the archers ran back in terror.

The [Djinn] raised his fiery spear, summoning a gray column from the twilight sky. The archers cried out in pain as they were engulfed in the burning ash, before they were quickly silenced. Nathan stared as the last of the adventurers spun around, broken and fleeing the battle.

“Damn those Silver Ranks. Cai, you get out of here right now—”

He paused, blinking as suddenly all the Greater Demon saw was him and the guard. He cursed.

“Go!”

The captain raised his sword.

“[Threefold Slice]!”

His blade suddenly extended, turning into three silvery lines as the Greater Demon reached them. The guard scrambled back as the Skill struck true.

The [Djinn] bled, black blood pouring out of the wounds left behind. Nathan parried the strike from the fiery spear, but was knocked back from the impact. He tried to get up, however he was too slow. The [Djinn] spoke softly with raised hands.

“[Pillar of—”

“No—”

Nathan cried out. Then he stared as a glinting arrow cut through the air, suddenly jutting out of the Greater Demon’s chest.

“Lucerna!”

I shouted from a nearby roof. I lowered my fire bow, letting it dissipate as I created a fire spike on each hand instead.

“Long time no see! You’re still missing that eye, huh?”

I threw the small projectiles at him. He took the hits, pointing my Spear of Flames at me.

“Imp, you shall die here! [Sphere of Ash and Cinder]!”

I leapt out of the way just in time for the gray ball to wipe out all the tiles on the roof, replacing it with a layer of scalding ash. I’m faster than him now. I grinned.

I landed on the street just ahead of Lucerna. I spread my arms out wide as the two Humans behind him got up.

“Come on! You couldn’t kill me twice. What makes you think that you can now just because you’re Level—”

I narrowed my eyes.

“Level 68! Woah, you’ve been leveling a lot, huh?”

The gap between us had widened— what had been a 25-26 numerical difference between us was now 32. He certainly had been staying busy, considering all the towns and cities he had attacked and all the people he slaughtered. And yet, when he had been more than double my levels in the past, he was no longer even twice mine now. Easier fight than the large Demon, I tried to reassure myself.

Lucerna stared at me, his eye burning with the same smoldering flames behind him. He pulled the arrow off his chest, releasing a deluge of blood from the open wound. His fury rampaged with him, destroying the city even when he stood unmoving. Why was he so mad? Didn’t he want to die—

“Take this!”

The Human in plate armor swung at the [Djinn]’s feet as the other guard got up and ran off. I blinked.

“What are you doing?!”

He yelled as he brought his blade down at the Demon more than twice his height once again. Lucerna took a step back and swiped at his face. Nathan stumbled back, clutching at his bleeding head as his helmet was knocked off.

The Greater Demon towered over him and raised the Spear of Flames.

“Die, pest.”

[Double Step]!

The world spun around me as I sped up— everything became a glowing orange blur, except for the shiny armored man in front of me. I grabbed him and pulled him out of the way from Lucerna’s killing blow.

The [Djinn] whirled up to face me in shock. I had completely blown past him in terms of speed. I had been a short distance away, and yet, I managed to move past him before he could even lower his hand. It was with a Skill, of course, but still he realized how much I had grown. I grinned as I saw his eye flash. He opened his mouth—

“Die you evil monster!”

Ice and lightning crashed down onto the Greater Demon. Edithe and Mistshard came down an alley, hurling their combined magic at Lucerna all at once. The attacks sent him flying through a nearby building, collapsing the burning wooden structure down on him.

My ears perked up as a voice drew me away from the fighting.

“You— you saved me.”

I stared down at the Human man.

[Warrior - Lvl. 50]

He was one of the highest leveled Humans I have seen so far. However— and maybe it was because he was already injured when I got here— I wasn’t too impressed with him. Daniel can probably take him.

I ignored what he said, instead taking the bag of potions off him.

“I’ll be taking this.”

“...what?”

“Now get out of here. You’ll only be in the way.”

“But—”

“Do you want to help him level?”

I eyed him and he hesitated. He looked back at the volley of magical projectiles Mistshard and Edithe flung at Lucerna.

“Remember me, you Demon?! You killed my friends! You killed them all! But you failed to kill me, and now you’ll pay for that—”

Then he looked back at me.

“I-I’ll rally the remaining guards. And I’ll come back. It is my duty to protect Silvergrove, but I thank you for your help…”

He looked at me expectantly; I gave him a confused look for a moment, then I realized what he was asking from me.

“Salvos. My name is Salvos.”

“Then I thank you, Miss Salvos. For saving my life.”

I nodded once at him, watching him turn, following in the direction of the other Human guard. Then I glanced down at the bag on my hand. I tossed aside the now-empty quiver, no longer needing to carry it around, and slung the bag of healing potions around my shoulder.

I hope I don’t have to use all this. The thought crossed my mind just in time to watch an ash explosion repel the attacks coming from Mistshard and the panting Edithe. Debris and rubble were knocked into the air as Lucerna got up. He roared in anger, his booming voice sounding nothing like it had been when I first met him.

He dodged the hail of ice Mistshard threw at him, quickly circling around the building and rushing at the alley. Just as he reached the mouth of the alley, a figure burst out of the corner and grappled at him. Druma, the large four armed [Yaksha], held the Greater Demon back for a moment, long enough for a figure to drop down from the roof.

“[Crescent Blade]!”

Daniel’s sword curved as it slashed across Lucerna’s face. He screamed in agony, stumbling away with Druma as Edithe and Mistshard continued their barrage on his back.

I sprinted up at the large Greater Demon as he pushed the [Yaksha] away from him. He blocked a blast of magic from Edithe with his Spear of Flames, but was too slow to react to me as I jumped up at his face. I raked a burning clawed hand across his cheek, just below his one good eye as I flew past him.

Lucerna took a swing at me and missed. I landed on the ground a bit aways from him, rolling to a stop as I spun back around. I took a moment to look at the burn mark on his face. The last time I fought him, I was barely able to hurt him with a [Fire Strike], but now, just look at him. He had felt that, and he didn’t like it one bit.

The [Djinn] pointed at me. I saw smoke begin to appear from the tip of his fingers, but before anything could happen, Daniel swung at him from behind once again. Lucerna took the first hit and parried the second. He kicked the Human away just in time to have Druma on his back once again.

He grasped for the [Yaksha] clinging onto his shoulder while Edithe and Mistshard ran up to his open front, continuing their assault on him from closer now. Daniel picked himself up and rushed the Demon, cutting at the thick legs with his blade. I ran around Lucerna, creating multiple small balls of fire on the tip of each of my fingers, tossing it at his exposed and already injured parts wherever I could.

We surrounded the Greater Demon. A Demon far more powerful and larger than each one of us individually. Once, I had been part of a group that fought against a Demon just like that. Yet, none of us worked together— we could have defeated it, but instead we fled to save our own lives. Those who fought, fought alone, and they died as a result.

I was the only one who fought that survived. And I knew from watching that we could have all lived if we had only cooperated. Just as my companions and I were doing here. We were overwhelming Lucerna. He could barely fight back.

Perhaps things back then could have gone differently, but unfortunately, it didn’t. Now though, it would go differently. I had not been stronger than the large Demon then, but I had been faster than it just as I was faster than this large Demon now. In fact, I was faster than I have ever been. We would beat this large Demon together, and none of us would die—

“[Smoldering Return]!”

Lucerna screamed, and the ground beneath him exploded. Ash and smoke burst out, knocking all of us back at once.

Mistshard and Edithe lay coughing on the ground, on the other side of the street from me, while Daniel had been thrown back into an alley from the attack. Druma was the most hurt by it, his body burnt and charred from the attack as he flew and crashed onto the roof of a small house.

I slowly picked myself up, mostly unhurt. I had been far enough away that I was the least affected by the Skill. Plus, my Ring of Lesser Protection took some of the impact for me. I narrowed my eyes, looking at the hulking figure standing within the smoke.

A single glowing eye stared back at me; it was then I realized that I was not the only one who had grown since we last met. Lucerna might not have become too much faster, but that just meant he spent his Stat Points on something else.

The Skill he just used sent back everything we threw at him back to us in the form of ash and cinder. He had taken all the hits on purpose. He could tell it was not nearly enough to kill him. And I knew now it had been his [Vitality].

I stared at the wounds covering his body, then back up at his face as the smoke cleared away. Lucerna grinned savagely.

“[Pillar of Eruption].”

I stared as a cloud of molten ash gathered above me. Then I watched as everything came crashing down.

 

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MelasD

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