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Chapter 22

Age 749, Thursday, August 8, Demon World

‘Fast!’ That was my thought when Jackaloon began his onslaught.

I lunged to the left, avoiding his dagger’s straight stab and sending a left roundhouse kick in the hopes of knocking him over, only for him to retaliate with his second dagger, driving it into my leg and drawing a sharp intake of breath from me.

-1,500 MP!

-1,600 HP!


You have been inflicted with the debuff [Poisoned]!


Poisoned: -100 HP every second for 40 seconds.


His dagger pierced through the [Mana Shield]!

I jumped back to get some distance between us, but Jackaloon was having none of it, easily following me with his ridiculous speed.

-5,000 Ki!

Ha!” I snarled, blasting him with my Ki at point blank range. The demon merely moved to the side, easily out of the way of the ball. He grinned as he made to thrust his second dagger at me.

-200 Ki!

Concussion!” I screamed, the ball exploding at his exposed side and sending both of us flying.

-1,400 MP!

I smashed into a tree, the impact taking the breath out of me and disorienting me. I fell down, looking around wildly, eyes finally focusing on the downed form of the Jackaloon.

With no hesitation, I fired at him once more.

-8,000 Ki!

The ball flew towards him, but he managed to dodge it in time, the ball exploding harmlessly against the ground as he dashed towards me again.

We engaged in a deadly dance of steel and speed, furious stabs meeting desperate parries, dodges and blocks— it was fortunate that his daggers did not possess cutting edges, I realized as the fight went on.

Jackaloon then did something unexpected. Mid-fight, he threw his dagger toward me, the poisonous tip gleaming as it whistled through the air to strike at me.

I went on my hands and knees, feeling it graze my [Mana Shield] and bounce off harmlessly, spinning in midair with a loud clang.

-800 MP!

Realizing my error, I tried to get up as quickly as I could, only to receive a kick to the face, sending me tumbling back a few paces.

-1,000 MP!

I scrambled to my feet once again, watching the demon snatch his dagger in midair and get into an attacking position.

His weapon at the ready, he charged at me and twisted his body, skewing his movements and disrupting whatever counter move I was thinking up.

So, instead, I leapt straight up, easily reaching above the treeline.

A familiar loud whistling noise caught my attention from below— Jackaloon had thrown his dagger toward me!

I grabbed the staff on my back and slashed it downward, hitting the dagger and sending it flying to the side.

The staff made flared with red energy, but I paid it no heed and continued to channel mana into the wooden focus as I began to descend.

-2,500 MP!

Frizz!” I roared and clashed with Jackaloon once more, taking a dagger to the stomach for my trouble.

-2,000 MP!

-2,500 HP!

The [Poisoned] debuff has gained a stack!

It was a necessary sacrifice, I thought as I held onto the demon’s arm and shoved the searing hot ball of fire into his face while stepping to the side and striking at the back of his knee, destabilizing him.

He struggled against my grip, trying to stab me with his other dagger, but his strikes were weakened, his awkward position disallowing him from making any major moves.

-500 MP!

-600 MP!

-400 MP!

-300 MP!

-50 MP!

Blow by blow, his stabs weakened, until they barely did any damage— not that I let up on him. I pressed on, shoving the unrelenting ball of flame further against the jackal demon’s face.

No mercy.

Eventually, even the creature’s feeble twitches stopped altogether, and a set of windows appeared.


+10,400 XP!


Ping!


You have gained a level


Name: Ten
Occupation: The Gamer
Level: 23 (2,900/24,000 XP)
Race: Human
Age: 14

HP: 9,257 ; [17,421/24,325] [Poisoned x2]
MP: 7,810 ; [6,251/17,511]
Ki: 12,202 ;[19,010/32,210]

STR: 113 ; [202.26]
VIT: 110 ; [196.90]
AGI: 120 ; [214.80]
INT: 88 ; [121.44]
WIS: 92 ; [126.96]

Points: 5

Battle Power: 114.3, [204.7]


With a thought, the flame burning the deceased demon’s face off winked out of existing, revealing the molten, charred remains of the demon’s visage.

I let go of it, faintly hearing a thud onto the ground as my father approached me from behind one of the nearby trees.

“Ten..!” I heard him say as he looked me over for any sign of injury. “Are you okay? You’re.. Unharmed? How…?”

“In a way.” I avoided the question, running the numbers through my head. The poison debuff, while stacked, would take me down to around 12,000 HP… Well, discounting my passive health regeneration, anyway. “It’s a part of my power. How’s Dyran?”

“I am unfit for battle.” The call came from the nearby demon. He was still lying on the forest floor, staying completely still in a likely vain attempt to recover some form of energy. “As we are, the Dreadfiend will kill us all with no issue.”

Speak for yourself, I thought as I deactivated my [Mana Shield] and swiped the now deceased Jackaloon’s daggers, activating [Insight] on each.

I received the same window, twice, and a third, so I dismissed one and read through the other two:


Stinger

Item: Weapon
Rarity: Unearthly

Description: Lacking an actual cutting blade, this weapon’s design is a simple spike with an extremely sharp point— it is only meant to stab things with.

Deceptively simple, as the venom coating the blade will quickly weaken your foe.


Would you like to equip this weapon?

Y/N


Poisoning enemies didn’t really sound like my style; but, I’d take whatever I could get at this point. As soon as I pressed on “Y”, one of the two sheaths on Jackaloon’s waist disappeared, before reappearing around mine.

Convenient, I mused as I holstered one weapon, discarded the other and pulled more consumables from my inventory in order to extend my recovery period.

“We need to move.” I said, frowning heavily. “If we can get to the portal, we’re good. We just need to make it there.”

“I can no longer move well. My injuries are too severe.” Dyran said, slowly pushing himself up to his full height with obvious strain.

“You can still run, can you not?” I cut in.

“Yes, but I cannot carry—”

“—I’ll carry him myself.” I snapped and gestured for my father to come over. “Get on.”

“…” Ren looked like he wanted to protest, but what else could he do in such a weakened state? “I may not be able to carry myself very far, but I can do this at least.”

He motioned for Dyran to come, placing his hand on the large yellow demon’s armor and focusing. It glowed yellow for a few moments, before fading away into nothing.

It was a speed raise, probably similar to my acceleration spell.

Ren sagged noticeably and allowed me to carry him on my back. With a determined look, our rush towards the portal began, with my keeping my senses peeled for anything chasing us.

Barely two minutes after we’d left, I detected no less than fifteen presences in our previous spot.

“Fuck.” I swore.

“Company?” Dyran asked in a hurried tone.

“At least fifteen.” I kept the reply to the bare bones. “They haven’t caught onto our scent yet, I think we can gain a great deal of distance before they ever notice.”

“Unlikely, we have tracking units.” Dyran refuted, before grunting. “Then again, perhaps not; I assume you killed Nev the Lump?”

“Yeah.” I confirmed. “One of the first few actually.”

“Nevermind, then.” He said. “All the trackers are dead.”

“Don’t be foolish.” My dad cut in. “Our only method of escape is the portal. Therefore—”

“—I don’t think they can post guards swiftly enough to stop us, considering the only group that came close was Jackaloon’s little squad.” I said reasonably, trying to run the numbers through my head.

“There’s no sense in wondering. That portal is our only chance of escaping this place.” I said with finality, pointing my hand at Dyran.

-1,500 MP!

[Accelerate]! The yellow energy suffused into him. Then, I pointed it towards myself as Dyran sped past me with ease.

-1,500 MP!

-500 Ki!

[Accelerate]! [Sprint]! I called out and gained enough speed to match my much taller ally.

All in; I decided.

The next ten minutes were spent in a frantic mess of turns, checks and group avoidance.

We almost got caught halfway through, but Dyran had mustered what little power he’d managed to recover and destroyed the weak skeleton sentry in one swift strike, discarding his broken sword after the fact.

Finally, after a grueling run, we were at the portal, bursting forth from the treeline into the small, empty clearing.

But, company awaited in the form of yet another demon, languidly stretching as it regarded the portal.

Distinctly feminine in appearance, she turned to us with a grin, showing a strangely clean set of molars.

No incisors, no canines. Only molars. After dealing with the rest of the demonfolk here, this was an odd change of pace- aside from Nev the Lump Mage, who had no teeth, the rest possessed absolutely disgusting teeth.

She was blue-skinned, with long flowing dark hair that reached past her shoulders. She glared at us, Dyran in particular, her eyes glowing a bright amber.

Dressed in a tight, copper-colored abbreviated jacket, shorts and knee-high boots, she cut quite the attractive figure.

With a gloved hand, she brushed her hair behind her ear, before drawing the sword strapped to her side, her glare not abating in the slightest.

“Aira, I-” Dyran tried to speak, but was quieted with nothing but a look from the woman.

“I’ll deal with you later, Dyran.” He visibly quailed under the tone of her voice.

Who was this?

On instinct, I latched onto her power and invoked [Insight].


Rhythmic Death

Aira – Level 71
Race – Demon
Age – ?

HP: 38,000
MP: 30,000
Ki: 40,000

Rep: ?

#)%*)#%

An interesting spell, young mortal. Are you satisfied with my power?


Error: [Insight] has been detected and largely rebuffed.


Largely, huh?

She saw through it, but I had gleaned enough valuable information: she was strong, perhaps even a match for me.

What statistics I was able to see were higher than Dyran’s. She was older, stronger, faster, possessed more magic and Ki. Or, perhaps, she was craftier— had she fooled my probe into having it say whatever she pleased?

One thing was for sure; this one was dangerous.

And yet, she still did not attack. In fact, she had barely even moved.

Her sword was drawn, yes; but she held it loosely at her side, completely at ease with the situation. She was either supremely confident in her skills, or she simply didn’t care.

I’d taken considerable damage, used most of my power and staked everything on our escape route, but that was a failure, now.

“I will ask this once.” The demoness, Aira, said, looking at the battle worn Dyran. “Why? Why betray Lord Genus?”

A long, tense moment passed in the clearing. I got ready to set my father down, muscles coiling in readiness for a fight I wasn’t sure I could survive.

Jackaloon had been bad enough, and he had been much weaker than this… Aira.

I opened my mouth to speak, but the demoness merely looked in my direction and placed the top of her index against her light lips- a clear sign to be quiet, or else, judging by the dangerous look in her eyes.

“We deserve better than this.” Dyran caught Aira’s attention with his bold claim. “We were meant to be more than servants, serving under Genus’ thumb.”

“Is that so?” Aira looked supremely amused as she took a few graceful steps forward. “And, who taught you this? The captive, or the child?”

“…Neither.” Dyran frowned and walked in front of me and my father, standing in opposition to a foe he could not possibly hope to defeat in his current state. “I guess it’s something that’s always been on my mind, elder sister. I just seriously considered it only recently.”

That was his sister? But, they looked almost nothing alike! Different skin tones, facial features, eye shape, etc.

Another long moment passed, before the demoness threw her head back and laughed, sheathing her sword as she did so.

“Finally wised up, huh? Let’s go, then.” She said flippantly, gesturing toward the portal.

A wave of shock passed through me as I absorbed her words.

“W-what?” Dyran was the first to react.

“Just like that?” My father asked dubiously.

“Yes.” She nodded. “I never liked Genus, anyway. The way he looks at me. Ugh. Thinks he owns me.”

Her pupils turned to slits as she spoke. “Nobody owns me.”

“Is that so?” The air grew heavy and thick with power, hitting me with its weight and forcing me down slightly.

Quickly, Dyran and I turned to face the newest threat. I set my father down, and he quickly moved to the backline.

The demon before us stood tall, even taller than Dyran had been. Armed with a large scimitar and shield, Genus was covered in golden armor from head to toe, with his face as his only visible skin.

And, what a face it was!

He had four eyes— two on each side, all moving independently of each other. He snarled, showing extremely sharp teeth as he did so.

“Genus.” Aira appeared between Dyran and I, standing in the lead. “I see you made it here. I wasn’t expecting such a speedy arrival.”

“Aira.” Genus called out, all eyes focusing on her. “You’ve betrayed me, as well?”

A moment passed before Aira drew her sword. “Does this answer your question?”

“Why?” He all but sputtered in rage. “Just why!?”

“Who knows?” She gave a careless shrug. “I just want to have fun. This seemed like the most enjoyment I’d be able to get out of the situation.”

“You forsook your loyalties for… a fun time? I don’t believe a word you’re saying!” Genus sputtered, power slowly building as he slowly lost hold of his anger.

Beside me, Dyran was trying hard not to palm his face.

“Dyran.” She barked at her brother, who flinched. “How about you sit this one out?”

It was not a question. Dyran did as he was told.

Then, she glanced towards me, giving me a pointed look.

“If you think I’m going to sit on the sidelines while you risk yourself—” She completely disappeared from view, and I felt a rush of air behind me.

On instinct, I dove to the ground, narrowly avoiding a strike against the back of my head, which would have sent me crashing next to Dyran and my father.

“What the hell was that for!” I snarled, quickly getting back up as I rubbed the back of my head. “You could’ve killed me with that!”

Her composure broke, displaying her unbridled shock at the ineffectiveness of her attack for only a moment, before she assumed her disinterested look once more. “You’re faster than I anticipated. That was meant to knock you out.”

“Well, don’t do that again…” I gave her the harshest glare I could muster, but she only shrugged uncaringly.

“Fine, you may join in.” She conceded, sounding disappointed. “But, if you get in my way…”

I opened my mouth to answer, but was forced to dive to the floor once again, narrowly avoiding a black ball of lightning aimed straight for my head.

The Dreadfiend sneered, and clapped his hands together, a loud thunderclap filling the air as he charged another spell.

“Shit!” I swore and pointed both hands, charging up whatever power I had remaining. I saw the great demon’s four eyes widen as they all focused onto me. “All in! HA!

-19,000 Ki!

An absolutely massive ball of Ki flew out of my hands, flying towards my enemy at a speed belying its size.

With a snarl, Genus launched his electric attack, colliding with the ball of Ki only a few meters from him. The explosion was massive, enough to send me skidding back a few feet as I crossed my arms in an attempt to weather the shockwave.

The dust settled quickly, revealing Genus’ demonic visage snarling at me.

“You dare draw blood from me!” He almost shrieked. His shield had been totally destroyed; his armor had been bent and broken in many places. Blood speed out of the cracks, staining his once majestic figure.

Invoking [Insight], I read through the demon’s stat sheet.


Dreadfiend

Genus – Lv 92
Race – Demon
Age – 3,556

HP: 35,000/75,000
MP: 25,000/45,000
Ki: 15,000/60,000

Rep: 0/50,000 Despised

The dreadfiend Genus is a monstrous demon who only wishes to inflict death, destruction and chaos unto the world of the living. His plans were thwarted by an upstart human many years ago, but he kept the human as a plaything, torturing it often for information, but mostly for fun.

Eventually, he pieced together the information required to undo the sealing spell the disgusting human latched onto his portal, but was betrayed at the last moment by his right hand, Dyran.

He plans on killing this new upstart, this child who dared to oppose him. He’ll keep the boy’s head as a trophy, and plans on showing it to the boy’s father as a constant reminder of his place.

Battle Power: 312


I’d done that much damage? I ran the numbers through my head. With that much Ki, I was set to have done over 85,000 damage…

The fact that the blast didn’t outright kill him was impressive in and of itself. A mixture of his shield, armor and a Ki shield, as well as his quick thinking in detonating the attack before it actually hit him…

That had been all of the Ki I had left. A quick check through my stats showed that I had around half of my health, and a paltry amount of MP.

Meanwhile, Genus still had plenty of reserve power.

Quick as lightning, Aira leapt over the Dreadfiend, sword pointed straight down in an attempt to spear him vertically.

Genus saw the attack coming, jumping back slightly, before drawing his scimitar and slashing at the demoness horizontally.

Aira quickly switched her grip on her sword, just in time for her to successfully parry the strike, though it sent her tumbling back a few times.

With her free hand, she pushed off of the ground, flipping backwards to right herself.

As soon as her feet touched the ground, she brandished her blade, a copper energy forming around it as she charged the great demon once more.

Nodding to myself, I pulled my newest acquisition out of its sheath, holding it in my right hand. The pointed tip of the [Stinger] gleamed in the light of this hellish dimension.

I sat back, steeling myself and closely watching every second of the fight, knowing that I would have a single chance at this.

Aira fought with incredible dexterity, speed and strength, quite easily dodging everything the Dreadfiend had to offer— at the beginning, at least.

She began to slow down, as time went on.

Strikes that had seemed so easy to dodge earlier we coming quite close, now. She was also out of breath, from what I could tell. Still, the grin never left her face— so consumed by her lust for battle she was.

It would be her undoing.

Finally, she succumbed to the Dreadfiend’s greater stamina, taking a large cut over her chest, sending her flying back into one of the unyielding trees.

I launched myself into the battle the moment that occurred, ignoring the loud snap that the demoness’ body had made on impact.

With a snap kick, the large demon’s great scimitar flew off to the side, smashing into the forest floor with a loud clang.

Twisting on one foot, I dove into the Dreadfiend’s guard, sinking the dagger into the break in his armor, right over where a human’s kidneys would be.

Genus roared in pain as he staggered backward.

I held onto his much larger body, keeping myself relatively stable as I stabbed him once, twice, thrice more before he began to retaliate, smashing his fist down in the hopes of crushing me into a pulp.

But, I was ready.

-3,000 MP!

[Ironize]! I incanted quickly, my MP reaching around the same level as my Ki had. Just in time, Genus’ fist impacted against me with a loud and shrill clang, my skin and bone having gained the consistency of hard steel in that one moment.

-3,600 HP!

“Argh!” He roared, throwing my immobile body off him before cradling his damaged fist.

-50 HP!

That initial strike would have killed me, I realized as the effects of [Ironize] wore off, my skin color returning to its original tone. I backed away from the gigantic creature, knowing what I had to do, but unsure of how to do it.

I had to stall as the poison inside of him did its work. He was under four stacks of poison, meaning that he would be receiving a total of 16,000 damage over the next 160 seconds. I had to last around three minutes against him.

“You filthy wretch!” The Dreadfiend snarled as he continued to stagger, experiencing a significant loss in balance— was this one of the venom’s effects? “I’ll kill you!”

Genus had lost all remaining composure, instead choosing to abandon all strategy and come at me in pure rage. I dodged his charge, surprised at my ability to do so, before realizing what was going on.

Stepping to the right, I easily dodged his clumsy swipe, stabbing the dagger into his forearm and delivering more of the potent venom. From then on, the battle had been decided.

I took advantage of his weakened state, mercilessly driving the dagger into any opening I could get away with, dodging his progressively weakening retaliatory strikes.

Eventually, the great demon fell to his knees before me; a weak, but hateful glare was still set in his eyes, even as his own end came.

One thrust through one of his eyes, and the deed was done.

+15,000 XP!


Quest Updated

Demon Bane

-Head north, and investigate the disturbance in the world’s flow!

You’ve discovered that the disturbance was a hole in reality, leading to the Demon World, somewhere wholly separate from both the worlds of the living and of the dead.

-Close the portal.

Having killed the Dreadfiend, the link between the Demon and Mortal Worlds has been severed.

-Enter the portal before it closes!

Reward: 15,000 XP, ?
Failure Penalty: Death


Quickly reading through the quest, I holstered my dagger and waved off whatever praise my father and Dyran were about to heap on me. “No time for that! We have to go, now!

I grabbed the unconscious Aira, carrying her over my shoulder as we all rushed to the hole in reality, diving into the blackness of the void between worlds.

“This is the mortal world?” Dyran said, after a moment, confused as we flew away from the demon realm’s gate at ridiculous speeds.

“No.” I denied, adjusting my grip on the demoness over my back, realizing where my hand had been grabbing her. “This is.. Somewhere in between, I think. I’m not sure.”

I stared back towards the small red dot in the distance, wondering if there was anything I could have done better— but I had no answer.

I’d done the job I set out to do, and the portal to the Demon World was now closing. I glanced at Dyran for a moment.

He, Genus and Aira had been the only fighters who weren’t referred to as low level soldiers in the Demon Army.

I was barely able to deal with what amounted to be the Demon Realm’s weakest fighting forces. I hadn’t even thought they were weak..

A small group of these demons could lay waste to the Earth, entirely. I faintly wondered what the strongest demons from that realm could do. What kind of force could they really muster, if given the opportunity?

How would we even survive if something like this happened again?

The short flare of fear erased itself as the hole leading back into the human realm appeared in the distance, greatly lifting everyone’s spirits.

The portal spat the four of us out with a loud smack. Exhausted, Dyran completely lost his footing, falling on his face and dropping my father along with him.

I, on the other hand, landed lightly on my feet, the area surrounding me strangely invigorating. I marveled in my surroundings, feeling like I’d been away from home for years, rather than the hour it had truly been.

I set Aira down gently on the earthen ground, fully taking in my surroundings for a moment. The sun was setting, so I hadn’t been away for too long.

Turning, I noted that the portal was quickly shrinking in size, before moving toward my father, untangling him from Dyran and getting him up to his feet.

“After all this time…” My father loosened his hold on me as he slowly set himself down on familiar, yet extremely foreign ground to him at this point. “I’m home.”

I looked at my father’s tired face, aglow with the orange and red rays of the sun as it slowly set in the distance. As if a dam burst within him, he began to cry, the situation finally getting to him.

“This is a dream.” He kept repeating, over and over.

Sitting by him, I wrapped my arms around the older man, and allowed my own tears to fall, ignoring any window popups that appeared as the portal finally winked out of existence behind us.

“No dream, dad.” I said softly. “Welcome home.”

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