A note from MelasDelta

Reminder: next chapter on Monday.

Jax the Forsaken Archer had never felt fear in his life. Not once. Even when he was on the cusp of death as a child, being toyed with by that giant dion elfeater, caught in its vines as it threatened to swallow him whole with its petal-like maw, he didn’t feel afraid. He didn’t panic or cry in the face of certain death. Instead, he luxuriated in it. He bloomed when the die was cast, and surviving was not certain.

And for a moment, he thought he finally learned what fear was. For a single second, when Amelia’s death-stare bore into his very soul, he almost believed he was afraid for his life. But that moment passed, and excitement took over.

He accepted the girl’s terms as she led him far away from the city, out towards the mountains of Briar Glen. They stood at the bottom of a valley, no life seen anywhere in miles. For some reason, the trees in the area had been uprooted, as if some powerful force had ripped out all the vegetation in hundreds of feet. But this place wasn’t completely deserted. There was one straggler— or a spectator— present in this barren wasteland.

Noele the Noble Spellsword followed her mentor out here to watch the duel. Jax had warned her against following, but she insisted. And since Amelia allowed it, there was nothing the elf could do to stop the blonde girl from getting herself killed.

“Are you ready to watch, girl?” he asked as he faced Noele. She was standing atop a hill, looking down at the so-called arena from afar. “Observe, and you shall see the true meaning of power.”

The blonde girl didn’t respond. She just pursed her lips as the elf grinned. He turned back to Amelia as he raised his bow.

“But before we begin, I have a question for you, Amelia,” Jax said, and she tilted her head in response. “Tell me, are you truly this powerful without a Class?”

“I am,” she replied simply.

His eyes flickered. He reached for a Bag of Holding at his side. “So I take it you are a part of the Sect of Abyssal Thorns, then?”

Amelia rolled her eyes. “Why does everyone think that? No— I am not a part of some cult.”

“What other explanation for your strength is there?” The elf peered at her as he grabbed a glass vial.

“That’s a bit of a long explanation… I already answered two of your questions, how about you answer one of mine?” she said as she crossed her arms. “Why are you doing all this?”

“You need to be more specific.” He shook his head. “Why am I doing… what?”

Amelia shrugged in response. “Why are you challenging me to a duel, I guess.”

“For the same reason I do everything else— for the same reason I chose to become an adventurer— to become stronger.”

She blinked as he smirked. Up atop the hill, Noele listened in, drawing her lips into a thin line. For a moment, no one moved. A gust of wind swept over the valley. The elf waited. And, finally, Amelia sighed.

“Whatever. Let’s just do this—” she started.

And Jax moved. He leapt back, tossing the vial into the air. He fired an arrow into it, and it shattered with an explosion of glass as Amelia just stood there and watched.

A deluge of water rained out from the vial. The Forsaken Archer had bought it from an [Alchemist] just a few hours ago. It was a clear concoction designed to turn into water a thousand times its volume when contained the moment it was exposed to air. So a torrent fell around Amelia as the elf nocked three arrows into his bow.

Amelia stared at the falling water, a puzzled look on her face. And he unleashed the glinting bolts out.

“[Ceaseless Sprout Storm],” he whispered.

And as the arrows ran through the falling rain, they rippled. The thin projectiles shifted and grew, rapidly morphing into giant vines and roots. A tangle of foliage exploded out and encroached on the brown-haired woman.

He watched the growing mass of nature threatened to crush Amelia as it grew to the size of a house. But she just raised a hand and punched up.

The entire bush of vines, roots, wood, and thorns was blown back by the simple attack and reduced to a mere fraction of what it had been. But Jax expected that. He knew that Amelia was strong, which was why he had prepared the vast amount of water beforehand.

Amelia blinked as the mass of nature started to grow back, lashing out at her once again with its thorns. The elf laughed.

“How do you like that?” Jax gloated as he spread his arms wide. “My [Ceaseless Sprout Storm] will keep growing again and again when its thirst is quenched with enough water! It will not fall no matter how many times you destroy—”

And she reached for her blade, slashing up. The entire twisted mass of vines and thorns exploded. Not a shred of it remained as she sheathed her sword.

“You were saying?” Amelia asked flatly.

Jax gritted his teeth and produced another pair of vials. “Do you think that was all I had planned?”

He sprinted forward, charging straight for the brown-haired woman. She just stood there without wavering, and he swerved out of the way at the very last second. He uncorked the vials, pouring a yellow liquid into the ground as she looked down. Jax repeated this three more times as he zipped around her at incomprehensible speeds before leaping back.

She frowned as she raised her legs, seeing the yellow liquid stick to her shoes. “Wait, is this honey?”

In response, Jax fired an arrow straight at her. She simply craned her neck out of the way, and the arrow struck the ground behind her. He sped around her, loosing more and more bolts from all directions, but she easily dodged them with ease.

“Are you even trying right now?” Amelia snorted.

“No,” he said with a smug grin. “I am trying now—” He pointed at her.

She cocked her head, and the arrows at her feet shimmered. The honey dissolved quickly, being absorbed into the fallen projectiles. She looked down right as the arrows floated into the air. They shifted, glowing a bright golden. They hovered in the air and faced the brown-haired woman from all directions.

“[Ethereal Arrow-Wasp Swarm].”

The arrows shot out all at once. Hundreds of them zipped back and forth, striking Amelia as they completely engulfed her figure. They didn’t just attack her one time and that was it— they repeatedly flew around her, an incessant swarm, like wasps. And that was not all, their sharp edges were coated with a paralyzing poison. Even if it wasn’t enough to kill her, she’d surely be incapacitated from this attack.

He couldn’t see Amelia through the hundreds of glowing arrows covering her figure, but he already knew she was writhing in pain from the constant stinging attacks. And he wasn’t finished just yet. He landed a hundred feet from her, raising a single large bolt.

It looked like the kind of ammunition needed for a ballista. It was as tall as him, and he nocked it onto his enchanted eldersage bow.

“[Sluggish Salvo].” He loosed the arrow.

It shot forward, at first moving quickly as it should, then it suddenly bulged. The arrow doubled in size and halved in speed in an instant. Jax watched as the arrow continued to slow and grow larger before raising his bow.

“[Spore Armageddon].”

The elf rapidly loosed five arrows high into the sky. The volley flew up in an arc and exploded like fireworks. On the hilltop, Noele narrowed her eyes and leapt back with a [Flash Step] as she created a [Force Barrier]. Jax snorted.

Astute, he’d have to commend the blonde girl later. For now, he was busy killing her mentor for good.

The blasts rained down tens of thousands of tiny orange spores down where Amelia stood, even as the [Ethereal Arrow-Wasp Storm] continued assailing her. The [Sluggish Salvo] reached the brown-haired women right as the falling spores landed.

And the massive projectile exploded. It was about ten times the size of Jax himself when it impacted the zipping golden arrows and detonated. The elf himself vanished, appearing over a thousand feet away with a quick-use of [Nature Walk] to easily reach the nearby forest.

He looked on as the [Sluggish Salvo] destroyed everything in hundreds of feet. A blast that turned that barren landscape into a massive crater. The orange explosion lit up the sky, but that wasn’t all. Right as the blast reached its greatest intensity, it was only amplified.

Smaller explosions erupted out by the hundreds every second. Each blast was about a dozen feet in diameter, but with so many at once, it was terribly destructive. They ripped apart everything in a thousand feet radius as the Forsaken Archer watched from a safe distance.

This was the combination of Skills Jax would use to take on an army in an instant. But, here, he was using it against only a single opponent. He felt his heart beating fast, exhilaration filling his entire being. He smiled, satisfied.

“This feeling… I feel so alive.”

His gaze was focused only on the center of the fading blast. There was nothing but a towering column of smoke now. He didn’t even pay attention to Noele who landed just a hundred feet from him, barely escaping the explosion in time.

“I have won—” he started.

And he paused. His eyes grew wide as a shadow moved amidst the gray curtain. From the massive crater, Amelia emerged. She walked his way casually, still holding her sword raised to the side.

She leapt forward, escaping the crater and coming to a halt a few dozen feet away from the elf. He gaped at her as she dusted herself off, completely unscathed from his attacks.

“W-what…?” He tried to work his jaw. It was like his heart stopped functioning. He wasn’t breathing. He couldn’t speak.

The Forsaken Archer just froze before Amelia as she gave him a blank stare.

“Is that all you’ve got?” she asked, crossing her arms. “Because if that’s all, I believe we’re done here.”

For a moment, he stood there in a stupor. Then he raised his bow, screaming with a savage grin.

“It’s not over until I win— [Blooming Deathhowl]!”

He fired a quick bolt forward, and it rippled with a powerful green energy. It was one of the strongest Skills he knew. Perhaps it wasn’t nearly as destructive as the salvo of attacks he’d just unleashed, but it was strong on its own, capable of taking down most single enemies in an instant. It could even pierce a dozen enchanted Dragonscale Chestplates with ease.

The arrow shot towards Amelia faster than Jax could move. He grinned, remembering how she had purposefully avoided this attack when they first met. He should have done this in the first place. Not even she would survive such an attack. So he listened to its whistle. His heart raced as he watched the projectile draw closer.

Amelia blinked as the [Blooming Deathhowl] reached her— and flicked a finger at it.

The green bolt exploded into a thousand pieces. The Forsaken Archer’s jaw dropped. He looked on as one of his most powerful Skills was deflected, just like it was a vial of glass.

“You can’t win,” Amelia said simply. “I took everything you could throw at me. Give up.”

Jax’s mind reeled. He stood there, at a loss for words. He tried to speak, but nothing came out. His gaze darkened as a thought crossed his mind.

Give up? he asked himself. His entire being went numb. He felt his grip over his bow slip. She wants me to give up?

And he remembered the dion elfeater. Even though it was a giant carnivorous plant, it could speak. And he recalled how it mocked him. It threatened to swallow him whole, but refused to eat him, just because he was a level-less child.

That memory burned in his mind. He remembered the little bit of golden dust he produced from his pocket, sprinkling it into the teeth-like petals. Right as it was about to swallow him whole, he tossed a single match in, kindling the blazing powder. And in an instant, the C-rank beast exploded.

He still felt the burning flames to this day. He still felt the same adrenaline from that moment right now. Even though he was just a child with no Class, he somehow killed a dion elfeater.

And that always drove him forward. He clenched his jaw, steeling himself. The elf broke out of his stupor. This… why should he surrender in this situation?

This was why he lived. This was why he did everything he had ever done. He had reclused himself from society— he had shunned himself from his people. The Forsaken Archer’s very life revolved around this one purpose. So he was never going to give up.

Jax’s grip on his bow tightened as he raised the weapon. He shouted wildly, aiming for Amelia with the bow.

“I will not give up! I will surpass my limits! I will do whatever I have to to defeat you—”

And she appeared next to him, sword raised. He flinched as she swung down at him. He scrambled back and dropped his bow. He fell to the ground, expecting the worst. But all he felt was the cold touch of her blade resting against his neck.

He opened his eyes and stared at the brown-haired woman looming over him.

“Fuck’s sake,” she sighed exasperatedly. “You’re doing this because you want to, not because you have to do it.”

“I… what?” Jax breathed heavily as he lay there, feeling his blood run cold. An unfamiliar feeling overtook him. He stared up, confused, trying to understand what was going on.

Amelia shook her head as she pressed the sword further into his neck. A trickle of warm blood ran down his chest as he gulped. The exhilaration draining— the excitement entirely gone. Finally, he realized what this was.

All he felt now was… fear.

The brown-haired woman continued, “And if you’re doing this because you want to, that’s fine if you find it fulfilling. But—”

She drew the blade back, flicking a single droplet of blood on the grass before his feet. Jax blinked a few times as she sheathed her sword.

“Don’t you dare drag me into your nonsense again,” she said as she glared at him. “Or else I’ll actually kill you next time.”

Jax opened his mouth to protest. The Forsaken Archer tried to get back on his feet as she turned around. But his knees buckled, and he fell back to the ground. He raised a hand up, gasping as she walked towards Noele waiting in the distance.

“W-wait—” he called out.

Amelia paused, groaning. She turned away from her apprentice and frowned.

“What is it this time?”

“I… I…” Jax breathed sharply, struggling to get the words out. His fists tightened as he stared down at the grassy ground with a blurry gaze. Mustering all of his strength, he raised his head. “H-how did you get so strong? How did…?”

The Forsaken Archer needed to know the answer. He had to become as strong as her. He stared at the brown-haired woman as her apprentice stepped up behind her.

“Noele asked me the same question, and I’ll give you the same question I gave her.” Amelia gestured at the blonde girl and spoke flatly. “I did it because I had to.”

“Because you had to…?” Jax’s pupils dilated. “That’s it?”

“That’s it,” she replied simply.

The elf closed his eyes. He recalled that core memory with the dion elfeater. How he was pushed back against the wall, left with no other choice. It was what made him who he was today. The fact that a single moment in his childhood created the S-ranked Forsaken Archer.

And he opened his eyes, looking up at Amelia. Such immense power— she outclassed him in every possible aspect. It wasn’t even fair to compare himself with her. He could only imagine what she had gone through to get to this level of strength.

No… he couldn’t even imagine it. Jax tried to, but his mind refused to even begin to think about whatever trials and tribulations Amelia must have experienced. He slowly nodded as she folded her arms.

“Can I go now?” Amelia asked, and he lowered his head.

“I understand now,” he said as his lips quivered. Taking in a deep breath, he finally acquiesced. “I give up. This battle… wasn’t even close.”




It was finally over. I was starting to get extremely tired of Jax’s antics. But he conceded, and I was glad I didn’t have to deal with him ever again.

Well, I did wonder if I went a little too far with how badly I beat him down. He was like a completely different person by the end of it all. And while I found him annoying, I didn’t think he was an evil person, despite what Noele said about him. After all, he didn’t kill her when he had all the chance in the world to do so.

In any case, I was glad I could finally get a proper night's sleep now. And the next day, I stood at the Adventurer’s Guild job board, looking over the same requests that were usually posted. I stood there for half an hour, wondering what I should do, when the door to the guild slammed open.

I blinked and glanced back as a familiar figure entered the crowded hall. Everyone in the room froze. Justyn was working at the counter today, and he got to his feet with wide eyes.

“Jax—” the [Receptionist] started.

“I am not here looking for a fight,” the elf snorted as he walked into the room. “I’m just here for a job.”

I narrowed my eyes, watching him come to a halt next to me. He scanned the job board before he picked out the only S-rank request posted there.

“Ruby manticores? Hmph, not much of a threat, but it’s on the way…” he murmured to himself.

I side-eyed him. “I didn’t expect to see you back in full spirits so soon after yesterday,” I commented idly, and he glanced towards me.

“Do you think I’d be sulking in an inn, drinking my sorrows away? No, Amelia.” The elf snorted as he folded up the piece of parchment and pocketed it. “I should be thanking you instead. You helped me realize I was wrong— that all my life, I was searching for something I could never attain.”

“That is a relief.” I smiled, glad to see he was acting less insane now. I almost thought he was a complete lunatic when he couldn’t change after I beat him a dozen times in a row with a single hit but he still persisted. “And what did you learn?”

He shook his head. “Grow stronger? That is but a fool’s quest. Even if the seraphims themselves descend from the heavens and bequeath me with their power, I will never be satisfied. I will always desire to be stronger.”

“So what are you going to do now?” I saw the request he had pocketed and raised a brow. “Are you going to fight for the sake of others? For money? For fun?”

“No—” He chuckled as he held my gaze. “I want to become the strongest.”

I blinked. Twice. “Uh, what?”

“You are right, Amelia.” Jax the Forsaken Archer raised a hand, staring into the back of his palm. “I wasn’t fighting because I had to. At any point in time, I could retire if I wanted to. There is nothing forcing me to fight— to grow stronger. It is all because it was what I wanted to do. I accept that— I understand that. And now, I want to do something different. I will do something different. I will become the strongest.”

“But… why?” I asked, utterly befuddled.

The elf just smirked. “Because I wish to one day return to face you in combat. You are the strongest in all of Vacuos— there is no questioning it. And I want to surpass you.”

I stared at him as he raised his head. He placed a hand to his chest, lips curled up as he was smiling to himself. I didn’t understand this. I couldn’t understand him. But he seemed satisfied.

“This request to exterminate those ruby manticores is but the first step surpassing you, Amelia. Once I am done with that, I shall travel to Mount Arkais and train amongst the deadly monsters living there. I shall become an SS-rank adventurer and challenge the Elder Dragon residing in that mountain to a duel. And when I finally defeat him, I shall return to challenge you once more.”

Jax the Forsaken Archer nodded at me reassuringly. But I didn’t feel reassured at all. I just stood there, staring at him, unable to find the words to even say right now. He spun around, marching out of Windrip’s Adventurer’s Guild as he bade me farewell.

“I will return, Amelia. I can promise you that.”

“Please don’t,” I said, but he was already gone.

I rubbed my temples as the double doors swiveled. The Forsaken Archer left Windrip, heading for Mount Arkais at the other side of the continent. And he left me dreading his eventual return. Sighing, I muttered under my breath.

“Sorry, Grat-ra’zun. I think I just sent an insane person your way.”

A note from MelasDelta

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Salvos! Check out my other novel here: 

Salvos: Hellprinces (Yes Hellprinces is correct, please stop DMing me to change it to Hellprincess) | Royal Road

Art by @FuyuDust and edit by @pix @Sille [Seal Cyl - Lv. 50] and @Alice in my discord!

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About the author


  • February Schedule: Amelia, Salvos, Violet, and Thera ​March Schedule: Amelia, Salvos, and Violet ​April Schedule: Amelia, Salvos, and Violet

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