CHAPTER 44: THE SMILE OF MISCHIEF

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He ran forward as his Shadow Sword is emitting dark aura and his hood also emitted that kind of unapproachable aura.

His robe flutter through the wind as he ran forward, swishing about. He was shrouded in darkness; the night covers him like an otherworldly entity.

When he reaches an appropriate distance, he then throws throwing dagger at the beast eyes.

The dagger rip through the air as it surf through the wind, precise and accurate to its target.

The beast grunted and its instinct kicked in. The beast closes its eyes and the scale on its eyes repelled the attack.

But the beast howled anyway. The howl was feral and full of anger. The dagger managed to make its eyelids scale to bleed and the pain was excoriating as droplets of bloods fall to the ground.

It was poisonous. Both the blood and the dagger.

The ground shakes when the beast stomped its feet in anger and the already sleeping birds and the mutant beast in the nearby forest was awoken as it heard the beast fiery howls.

The other beast realizes that the beast that emitted this howl was a Unique ranks monster. Their flight and fight response activated.

Survival becomes their priority.

The apes and the preying bird in the nearby forest that was not the same ranks, all flee the area.

A great battle is beginning and they don’t want to be caught in the middle.

The apes swing through the vines in the forest, swinging away as far as possible from the origin of the howl.

The birds flapped their wings as fast as they can, their tiny hearts beats like drum being pounded ten times faster as they cleared out the area.

Snakes slithers the ground. Badgers dig the hard ground as they seek shelter underneath the ground.

Leeches in the swamp burrows their head deeper inside the swamp, making a hole and staying there fearing the beast that howls will not come for them.

The giant crickets stop their cries and jump away followed by the mutant grasshopper. The mutant ants followed behind, finding a new place, to make their nest.

The bee Queen a few miles away stand her ground as her worker bee stand guard around the Hive and waited.

That night, all the ranked beast nearby had their guards up, the normal rank beast flee.

Nearby, the already peaceful stronghold, fill with people who has already gone to sleep, leaving only the guards and the Company was suddenly startled to consciousness.

They all were awoken from their sleep and the moment they awoken they all feel dread from their hearts.

The normal citizen feels fear creeping into their heart.

Parents hugged their children whispering to their children that everything is going to be okay.

The guards who were on their post quickly sweated in cold sweat as they heard the howl and they try to identify from where the sound originated.

The head captain residence and the Captains quickly donned their battle armour and quickly identify the source of the sound and rush to the watchtower.

When they reached the watchtower they gasped.

The luminous barrier has been broken and the beast has escaped from the barrier that has protected them from the beast and their surprise get even bigger when they could see someone is fighting it.

Hamad seeing this scene could only think of one person who would challenge that beast. Only one person who would be crazy enough to fight it alone.

However Hamad soon realized another odd thing and the moment he realized it his face turns pale.

The beast has become bigger.

On the forest however, Sofia began relaxing her shoulder muscle as she heard the howl. Taking a deep breath. Closing his eyes and then opening it.

A relaxation technique. The sound fades away. The fear fades away. Nervousness leaves her body.

And the only thing that remains…..is calmness. Calmness. Calm like a still lake she chanted. And slowly her breathing becomes slower.

Be steady and still.

It is a mistake to tense her shoulder as she began her attacks. Then she began aiming. And then she release.

She used her Accurate Shot skill to aim at the monster groin areas which were quickly parried by the monster tail as it sweeps away the energy arrow into oblivion.

But it did not let her falter as she jump to another branch of a tree and begun barraging the monster with Accurate Shot from many angle which only seems to annoy the monster even more.

With one howl, a chain of events has started. Azief is still close to the monster but he does not show any particular feeling on his face facing such a large monster.

Because of his passive skills Eye of night his sense at night and vision is enhanced so he could see in the dark like it was the day.

The monster keep clawing him but he parried it away with his blade and sparks of fire is produced ,lighting the dark area, around their battlefield.

Sometimes the monster would throw a few trees towards him. Azief slice the tree like he was slicing tofu and then charged again.

When the monster attacks, he either dodged or parries. Each time they traded blows, Azief could feel slowly but surely, his hand is becoming more numb.

If not for his enhanced body and agility he would probably be too pressured to attack the monster.

He could see that he underestimated this beast.

But he still has hidden card. The Scale Body technique is still not used. And Azief don’t think he want to use it against this monster.

It would be too wasteful and because he is preparing for something else.

Not enough he mused as he take a step back when the monster tail suddenly sweep to his left side.

It narrowly misses him but its tail hit a tree and the tree was instantly broken. The force behind the sweeping of the monster tail is not to be underestimated.

I must bring it closer to that area. Nearby Azief could hear the sound of grass rustling, and he could smell rosemary.

‘Loki has gone for Phase 2 of my plan. Now it depends on me and Sofia.’

Even though he is dodging left and right from the attack of the monster there is no trace of fear in his expression.

Only some excitement.

Then he uses his sword and makes a slashing motion and activates his skill Slashing Wind.

Energy courses up through his veins and rested on his palm as the power is screaming to be let out.

So, Azief swing is blade and the energy was let out like a howling dragon. A gust of wind appeared shaped like a saber attack the monster and broke one of its scale.

With it comes the sound of explosion as blood flowed from the crack of the scales.

Azief attacked again using the same move while dodging the monster claws which left the ground he was stepping on turns into a ruined land as the ground cracked and burst.

The moment the scale was ripped apart by that attack, an energy arrow ripped apart the wind and pierce the flesh of the beast as the beast howled again and its movement become more erratic.

On the distance Sofia smirked.

‘Good shot’ she complimented herself.

With her skill precision which is even higher than Azief, her shot has already passed the longest shot ever recorded in history.

Then she jumps to another branch when the monster spit some gooey liquid to her even from that distance.

The spit corrode the trees as it melted and the ground beneath the tree turns black. Not only the spit is corrosive it is also toxic.

Azief did not even look back at Sofia as he dash between the monster leg and nick its artery only to find that his attack only cracked the surface of the monster scale.

As he found his attack useless he quickly ran to another direction.

The monster turns back its attention to Azief and began chasing him. Sofia was already at another branch after she dodged the corrosive spit.

The reason why Azief didn’t show any trace of concern is not because he didn’t care about Sofia but because he trust her.

Trust her not only to protect his back, but to protect herself from danger.

As Azief ran through the bushes the monster is right behind him and then with a speed that he could not have expected the tail hit his back as he was thrown forward.

Before he landed on the ground he uses one hand to propel himself from falling and he jumped back to equilibrium and then jumps forward while blood is flowing from his back, dripping slowly.

Is it painful?

It was the most painful experience Azief has ever experience. It was like acid was poured on his back.

Blood dripping from his back, and the sound of searing could be heard as the blood boils because of the poisons.

But he gritted his teeth and focus. Focus on his plan. His grip on his sword tightness, as his knuckles turns to white because of his fierce grip.

He did not scream or whine. He just endures the pain.

‘Endure it’ he said as he keeps running through the area, luring the monster to his own personal mine field.

As Azief was running Sofia keep shooting at the place where the scale was already cracked or peeled off.

But no matter what she did, the monster did not stop from its pursuit of Azief. On the contrary, it only spurred it even more.

She is getting nervous but she keeps attacking. But then she smiles when she sees that Azief is luring the monster away.

‘He is going into position.’

Confirming this, Sofia jumps away from her current position as she distance herself from the area and then she drank a mouthful of stamina potions and waited.

Azief who was on the ground, running is closer and closer. He smirked.

Then as he reached a tree, he recognizes the yellow mark, then a few meters away from him he could see something bulging on the ground and he smiles.

He looks behind him and he could see the monster is fast approaching. He grins in satisfaction

The moment he arrived at the bulging part he jumped forward, far away from the bulging area.

The monster was already behind him and did not have the time to stop its movement, when one of its feet step on the bulging part and then a huge explosion happened.

The ground around that area was consumed by fire, the ground nearby cracked and burst, fire and soil everywhere.

The night was dark saved the moonlight but now it was like there is a bonfire in the area around the battlefield between Lord Shadow and the monsters.

The smell of soil filed the area.

Dust disturbs any vision and Azief smiles looking at his masterpiece. Even from this distance he could feel the heat.

He quickly heals himself and drinks his potion at the same time.

The bleeding on his back quickly stop bleeding and with his life force already strong, his injury quickly healing itself.

It was during this time Sofia uses her Torrents of Arrows to attack the monsters.

It was like thousands of sharp object falling from the sky all determined to kill the target.

In the stronghold, the crowds on the watchtower look in awe and fear and even respect at the ensuing battle.

Hamad clearly understand the power of the beats that is rampaging right now but then he also began understanding the power that Lord Shadow possesses.

They are even some kids who could not handle their curiosity and climb up the watchtower and watch the battle.

The kids uses binoculars to look while the one who has some skill look it with their eyes.

They could see a most amazing battle. The beast was large like a giant but the man in the hood was contending equally with the monster.

They see from the beginning of the fights how the man in the hood, dodged every attack of the monster easily.

They even praise the arrows that sometimes helped him.

But what amazes them is that the person shooting these arrows moves to fast and always changes her location that trying to watch her only make their head dizzy for following such fast movements.

But it was later that truly made them feel that this battle is not battle they can interfere or help.

Hamad wanted to help Lord Shadow to solve their ill feeling but when the explosion happened the ground shakes and in front of the crowds, looking from afar they could only see a large explosion….like a Michael Bay film.

And then they saw the light that resembles arrows striking the beast from the sky, destroying the ground like it was being mortared by bombs.

When deity fights, why should mortals interfere?

Hamad who wanted to summon the Companies stopped his word and only looks in silence.

‘It seems I underestimated Lord Shadow. I underestimated him too much.’ He clearly feel regret right now.

Azief on the other hand is still looking at the area around the explosion.

The explosion created an appearance of chaos, but Azief mind was organized.

His eyes did not lose focus as he is trying to maintain his vision towards the area where the monster step his trap.

Suddenly a tail is coming towards him. From the movement of the tail it seems the monster wanted to bind him.

But how could he let that happen.

He jumped back and the moment the tail did not reach him, he quickly exploded forward with his feet as the tail has shown the location of the main body.

Rushing through the dust he then saw the silhouette before he saw the monster.

The monster has its scale torn apart , body riddles with holes and blood flowing from each hole.

One of its eyeball was shot and destroyed. Its hand is full with holes and bleeding and some part of its body has some traces of burns.

It was then Azief jump to one of its hand, run as fast as he can and then jump again in the air as he punch the aliens below the chin with Energy Fist.

The moment the Energy Fist come out of his hand, it shot the monster chin but then azief real fist then landed.

Two attacks.

One is his skill. The other one was his pure brute strength. A few of the monster fangs cracked and fall out from its jaw.

One drop of its gooey liquid fall down to Azief sleeve and corrode the attire and then it left a burn mark at Azief hand as he retreated.

Azief landed on the ground as the alien collapsed on the ground with a thud.

The ground shakes again because of the heavy impact creating a mid-size crater.

Azief could feel the pain on his arms but he quickly drink another potion and slowly his flesh regenerated back.

As long as he didn’t lose a limb he could heal anything with his potions.

Even though the monster has fall down Azief did not approach it as he attack the monster from far away with Energy Fist.

With every fist the sound of fist ripping through air could be heard, and every time it landed the scales on the monster broke apart and blood slowly flowed more faster from the monster body.

It tries to get up but the moment it tries to get up Sofia would then shoot to the monster nerve with extreme precision.

The more scales that were broken apart by Azief fist, the more holes the monster have in its body.

Azief and Sofia has great teamwork, both complementing the other.

The blood slowly turns green as it corrodes the area around the monster body, the grass wilted and the ground turns black.

It tries to get up again but Azief and Sofia did not stop their attack even for a minute.

It was like they were machinegun. They did not use other technique. Azief uses his Energy Fist.

Sofia uses her Torrents of Arrows. If the other one stops to drink some potions the other would cover the person.

Considering that they have a lot of potions they could spend it like crazy. If it was anybody else, they wouldn’t be able to.

The reason why they didn’t change their repertoire of their attack is because why bother something that works.

So, as time passed, it is clear that the monster is going to die. With one last howl it truly dies and suddenly the surrounding become peaceful.

Then the notification windows appeared in front of Azief.

Ignoring the notification window, he is more worried about his second phase plan.

‘Loki, don’t disappoint me. I will probe you after you return’ he thought inwardly as he began checking his rewards and new skill.

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In the stronghold some rubbed their eyes and then rubbing it again and again until some have red eyes.

They did not see wrong right? How could such monster be defeated only by two people?

Some of the adults civilian looking at the spectacle then think of something. If I was strong as that man, why would I have to follow the government?

Some of the teenager who is more rebellious at heart also think of the same thing especially when they are reminded of the fact that even though they risk their life to fight monster they did not even get to keep their rewards.

Thinking about it, some of the teenagers believe, if they were allowed to keep their rewards, and learn the skill books that they have managed to obtain wouldn’t they be as strong as that Lord Shadow?

‘Should we send someone there to collect the loot?’ One of the captain spoke as he could imagine the kind of treasure dropped from that monster.

Hamad look at the area of the battlefield with his Hawk vision and shakes his head.

‘But…’

‘Who would want to go offend Lord Shadow and dug an early grave?’ He asked and then every captain shut their mouth.

Thinking about it, even if all the thirteen captain gang up to fight Lord Shadow there is no certainty they would win.

Not to mention, that Lord Shadow is not alone.

They thought that the woman companion was just a weak leveler.

Who would have thought that innocent young woman could create a torrent of arrows from the sky and hit the grounds like a napalm bomb each one is capable of ripping their life.

Then, they began to think of another grim possibility. If that power was pointed at them, pointed at this stronghold, then what would happen?

Two people are enough to destroy their stronghold!

They began to realize it and they began feeling more inferior and began sharing the thoughts of other civilian

Why should they let the government have their hard earned skill books, pills, potions and other resource they could find when they could become stronger by using it?

After all why should the government be angry their citizens become more powerful? Wouldn’t that be better for the government to combat the monsters?

Then one of the youth who could not hold it anymore then yelled.

‘I want my dues. I want my skill book back.’

Azief didn’t realize but that night he sets something ablaze in the hearts of the people inside the stronghold.

The desire to become stronger.

Then another youth scream the same thing. And another. And another. Slowly the minority voice becomes the majority and they run towards the Acquisition Barn.

‘Stop them!’ one of the captain urged

They wanted to stop them of course, but handling a mob is not something normal guard could do.

They could not kill anyone either to be made an example of because this would only inflame these mob.

Even when Hamad shouted stop no one listen as they ram towards the barn and the barn door open.

Hamad expected to hear cheers or people laughing but it was utter silence. Moving through the crowds he went to the front and seeing the inside of the barn he is also stunned silence.

‘What happened!’ he yelled with all of his heart, his veins was bulging.

What he sees was emptiness. The barn was empty. All the resources they have inside the barns, Pill forming pillars, EXP Pills, skills, herbs, poisons all of them is gone.

At the back of the crowd was a hunchback old man slowly walking to the entrance gate with its cane and unnoticed as he went out of the stronghold.

Smiling, he swipes his face with his left hand and his body turns into a young man. Then from his bag of holding he brings out a helmet and wears it and he disappeared from sight.

One could hear someone laughed, if they truly try to hear, laugh brought by the blowing wind as the sound slowly disappeared.

If Azief could hear the sound of laughter he would describe it as full with mischief.

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