Chapter 64

I opened my status while the others were still hugging each other, and took a lot at my gains in ether.

HP: 312/580
Stamina: 585/585 (regen: 5.9/minute)

Mana: 500/500 (regen: 4.2/minute)

Attributes

Vitality 55 (+3)
Strength 52 (+3)
Constitution 56 (+3)(+10)
Dexterity 38 (+3)
Agility 40 (+3)(+10)
Perception 52 (+3)
Intelligence 102 (+8)
Wisdom 36 (+8)
Tenacity 0 (+3)

Racial traits

Technopath 0/320
Summon: Drone
Summon: Intermediate Rooting Mine
AI Domination

Keeper of the First flame 0/800
Left eye of the nameless Djin
+ 30% resistance to fire in human form.

+ 30% reduced stamina usage in djin form.
Sun Avatar

Classes

Dreadnova Enforcer (3rd gen) – level 16

Machine symbiosis 0/640
Hextech Mana Drain
Enforcer 0/640
Kinetic charge
Sharpshooter 0/640
Recoil absorption

Blade Priest of the Deep – level 8

Shuari Blade Dancer 0/60
Sunken dance [ Intermediate proficiency : 0%]
Mindscape Projection
Priest of the Deep 0/1920
Grasp of the Deep

Unspent Ether: 2230

Well, that’s disappointing.

I remembered having earned close to four thousand points right before my fight with Dylarel, and the knockers were definitely easier kills than the monstrosities roaming these woods.

Then again, I am probably the only person thinking that way in the whole shard, I mused. The people from Bunker didn’t even believe that they were real.

The effectiveness of the knockers’ weakness was proportionate to how unfair their strength was. Without a weapon in the same league as Ikun Omi, they were basically immortal creatures.

But in what league was she, really? There were so many titles tied to her, and a few of them I knew nothing about. I wasn’t optimistic enough to think that her being the “Last Sin” of the “Sins of Oriath series” would eventually turn out to be a good thing. Even now, I could feel her burning desire to put down the white centaur, its mere existence a blatant challenge to our abilities.

… And I had to admit that it was very tempting. I could feel my own hand itch at the thought of overwhelming the beast with my dance.

But now wasn’t the time to indulge. Now was the perfect time to use the ether, as I never wanted to be bedridden with Ether Indigestion ever again.

I was really curious of what the next skill from Priest of the Deep would be, but even if I ignored how expensive its upgrades were becoming, there was no way to predict when it would be awarded.

With that in mind, and seeing how the day’s little trip was dedicated to my rifle, I decided to focus on Dreadnova Enforcer for the time being.

With the amount of ether I had, I could either upgrade each of its skill trees once or a single one twice. But even if the lure of a potential skill was enticing, improving part of my stats thrice wasn’t something I could reasonably pass on.

As if to remind me to hurry, Khat’s heavy greatsword was knocked out of his hands by a brutal swipe of the creature’s floating tail.

Despite the fact that its armored humanoid half carried a sword in each hand, that tail had been the only mean of offense I had seen the centaur use. The sound that had echoed through the forest each time it met Khat’s weapon heavily implied that it was metallic.

“The huntress with the eyepatch warned us to not steal the spotlight from her cubs,” I heard Bali say on my side, once again surprising me with her ability to move without attracting attention. “Do you really think it’s fine for us to get involved with killing a named monster?”

“It’s either that, or he dies,” Maru said from the other side. “I do not care either way. If her people really mattered to her, she would not have allowed them to come here in the first place.”

“I already decided to help him,” I said. Lima’s comrades were either exhausted or still under shock. And since they were likely to not have the Constitution attribute, they couldn’t be expected to be in fighting condition any time soon. “How do people tell how much ether will make them sick?”

“Not being a mindless glutton should be suffi-”

“It depends,” Bali chuckled. “We were taught to avoid gaining more than ten levels in one go. A bit less if you won’t be active afterward.”

I almost killed myself in that mine, I thought as I upgraded each skill tree once and raised my Dreadnova class to level nineteen.

Attributes

Vitality 64 (+3)
Strength 61 (+3)
Constitution 65 (+3)(+10)
Dexterity 38 (+3)
Agility 40 (+3)(+10)
Perception 61 (+3)
Intelligence 102 (+8)
Wisdom 36 (+8)
Tenacity 0 (+3)

Racial traits

Technopath 0/20
Summon: Drone

Keeper of the First flame 0/100
Left eye of the nameless Djin

Classes

Dreadnova Enforcer (3rd gen) – level 19

Machine symbiosis 0/1280
Hextech Mana Drain
Enforcer 0/1280
Kinetic charge
Sharpshooter 0/1280
Recoil absorption

Of the attributes that directly influenced my shooting, only Perception was affected. But it was still nice to see my Constitution go up.

It’s almost as if I wasn’t just running like a-

As I raised my eyes, I was shocked to see Maru and Bali already halfway to the fight. One could have thought that they were dashing to Khat’s rescue, but I knew better.

… Damned sneaky brats are trying to keep the ether to themselves!

I put a knee down and aimed at the centaur’s head, but noticing how strangely slumped backward and inert its human half was, I switched target for the lower body and pulled the trigger…

… Only to see Maru’s spinning blade come out of nowhere in the same instant and deviate the projectile in a shower of sparks.

So much for an improved perception.

I cursed at the petty delver and started sprinting as I watched them engage the beast and give the wounded hunter an opportunity to perform a rough retreat. Shooting from this far when one of the girls was actually trying to wrestle the monster down wasn’t a risk I was willing to take.

But as I was quickly approaching, the centaur’s upper half came to life and its swords would have severed Bali’s arms if she hadn’t leaped away at the last second. And even then, a swift swat of the creature’s tail sent her flying before she could land to safely.

From the impossibly perfect hair overflowing from its helm, I recognized the human part as what was left of the woman we had all seen standing at the end of the path.

The Knight of Dawn.

Her alabaster torso had been sewn to a horse’s lower half using a kind of unholy magic I wanted to know nothing of, and gross stitches that where visible all over the uncovered skin. In the places where the stitches were particularly loose, yellow eyes could be seen peering out.

The woman was somewhat out of her previous torpor, but there was no doubt that the monster underneath was in control. Her head was violently jostled around at each swing of her swords aimed at Maru, who I was seeing fight for the first time. And I was impressed.

With precise movements of her rapier, she was able to expertly parry the twin swords’ savage onslaught, not backing up an inch against the imposing beast.

Judging that I was close enough for a clear line of sight in the event of Bali’s return to the fight, I raised my gun and quickly sent a volley of bullets. Three blood spurting holes appeared in the beast’s flank and it repositioned its tail so that it would work as a barrier before I could do more damage.

But I kept firing nonetheless. Sparks exploded into existence, blood flowed again, and the woman howled as the armor piercing bullets found their marks. The pain distracted the creature well enough for Maru to spin out of the way of its swords and thrust her shining blade into the beast’s main body with a shout of victory.

And with that exchange, I understood why dancers without styles were seen as inferior.

Anyone else watching her fight would probably have had no reproach to make. She was efficient with movements, smart with her actions and ruthless when on the offensive. And how could she not be? She was emulating her mother, after all.

But that was the problem. She was emulating a dancer, but she wasn’t dancing herself. She was using individual skills one after the other and filling the blanks in between with her own personal training.

Sure, it was done smoothly enough to make it seem like they were part of a coherent assortment, but it was obvious that they had been clumsily arranged by someone who had an incomplete idea of the theme. Obvious to me, and probably to every other dancer.

There was no covering puzzle pieces mashed together through force.

Her lunge had been a skill carrying considerable force, obliterating everything in a straight line. It pierced the centaur from one end to another and painted everything behind with a spray of crimson. It should have been the finishing move, but the centaur did not fall. Even with a gapping tube of falling entrails traveling down its abdomen.

Its tail shot to Maru who had been left wide open by her powerful attack and wrapped itself around her like a snake, binding her arms.

Expecting her to instantly free herself, I was shocked to see her scream in pain as the knight lifted her off the ground.

Why the hell is she not using her aura? I thought before realizing that the tail was probably imbued with magic. Which in retrospect seemed obvious, seeing how it was unaffected by gravity.

The monstrous Knight of Dawn was about to execute his now defenseless opponent, and I lowered my rifle. The fact that Maru’s attack hadn’t killed it meant that everything I had done until now had been useless. I had to try something else.

So I summoned the Sun Barrel from my inventory and slid it at the end of my weapon. I heard a click signaling it had been secured, aimed a slightly heavier rifle at the centaur who had swing both its swords, then pulled the trigger.

A muffled scream escaped my mouth as half of the rifle exploded and a wave of pain engulfed my left hand. I had missed its head, but large chunks of the centaur’s arms vanished, and his hands fell to the ground still holding onto the swords.

The enraged beast roared in pain once more and charged at me after having smashed its captive against the ground.

Now I’m really fucked, I thought as I watched the centaur’s tail wreck havoc as it approached.

Even though my stats, cloth, and glove had protected my arm from the worst, there was no way I could wield her correctly in its current state. She isn’t like the rifle, I can’t just hold her in my right hand-

I noticed that my mana being consumed and looked down at the remnant of the weapon I still held.

The rifle was rebuilding itself. The parts that had been obliterated in the explosion were being rematerialized using my mana.

Hextech Mana Drain, I remembered. It seemed to be working fast enough.

Using only my right arm, I raised Tamie’s creation once more and waited. I felt the earth shake each time the Knight of Dawn’s hooves hit the ground to propel its massive gutted body in my direction.

His tail was about to break my body when the reparation was completed and most of what I had left of mana was sucked away to fill the rifle’s chamber. I opened fire in the same instant.

The base of the human torso became a void, and the centaur’s body plummeted to the ground and tumbled past me, sawn in half.

A deep sigh left my lungs and washed all the tension away.

+1000 ether.

You have received 5 glory.

You have received an Eye of Yaga.

You have received the Knight of Dawn’s Locket.

Eye of Yaga and Knight of Dawn’s Locket have been moved to inventory.

I heard the hunters approaching, but I had other things in my mind. I walked to the woman’s torso and saw that even though she wasn’t moving or making any sound, she was still alive. She had lost her helm during the fall, and I saw tears streaming down her face from her vacant eyes.

The rifle was done rebuilding itself. I removed the Sun Barel, and the scraps of mana I had left were enough to form a single bullet.

Iwin Town Quest Update.

You have freed 1 of the girls.

Next, I headed to where Maru had been thrown, but she was already up and brushing her mostly torn clothes by the time I arrived. Our eyes met, and she gave me a challenging glare.

Behind that glare, I saw what she was expecting. Mockery, contempt and maybe even scorn.

So I just raised my charred thumb up.

“Good job.”

 

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