TL: Edited 29 Oct 2017
Chapter 27 – Soul Gem
The gigantic Rotten Beast raised its branch-like claws that were the size of a human and used them to smash Brendel. He quickly bent his body to evade it, and the attack went past his head like a hammer.
The withered branches of the claw dragged the air along with it, causing his hair to dance wildly as they continued to swing against a boulder behind him, knocking it away some twenty to thirty meters with a deafening boom.
Brendel spied on the boulder to see it hit and crash against the walls three times, before finally piercing deeply into the ground, bringing debris and dust everywhere to where it landed
He felt a sudden tightness in his throat; the monster’s strength was just too terrifying. If he got struck even once, his entire skeleton would not be able to absorb the impact, and would instantly be reduced to bits. His organs would be ruptured from the immense pressure, while the shattered bone remains would pierce them and create a bloody mess everywhere.
Brendel quickly searched through his memories. The Elite Rotten Beast’s 8.9 OZ Strength made it one of the strongest Level 20 Creatures around, and only Berserkers and the Dwarven Steel Guards would be able to match its strength.
He had no intentions of facing it head on. He quickly gestured to Freya to protect him from the sides, and used his advantage in agility to get into range for an attack. He swung the Thorn of Light at its left foot.
The monster was nearly 5 meters tall, the branch-like claws were nearly 3 meters wide, and it had great attack range. But when it lowered its head, it found that it had trouble hitting Brendel below it.
Brendel struck its leg with his sword, but the bright purification flames only left a scorch mark on it. Cold sweat broke out on his forehead when he saw the result.
Even though the Elite Rotten Beast had high physique, toughness and resistance, the end result should not be this. This meant that there was a ‘Power Rating Difference’ here. This was a system setting that was in the game but he did not expect it to be here in this world as well.
Still, the attack from Brendel made the gigantic Rotten Beast raise its head up and roar. The ear-piercing bellow made the nearby blades of grass quiver.
Brendel felt a dull ache in his chest, and Freya even coughed out blood.
[The skill ‘Howling Fury’ from the Elite Rotten Beast should not have affect us this much! Is it because our levels are too low?]
Brendel felt he was damaged everywhere inside his body. The data in his retina showed different levels of damage in his organs.
“Brendel!” Romaine shouted not too far away.
He turned back and discovered she had finished setting the hook to the rope, as well as attaching it to the cliff above. He felt relieved. Romaine could be relied on when there were critical moments. She was calm during desperate times and certainly had the potential to become a merchant.
He looked at the other direction. The young Rotten Beasts were very close to finish climbing up, and they only had a few seconds left.
“Freya.” He immediately shouted.
“I’m, cough, fine.” She resolutely wiped away the trail of blood from her lips, raised her sword up and took on a defensive posture again.
“I’m going to finish it off, cover me, but stay out of its attack range.”
She nodded. Gripping the sword firmly with two hands, she attacked the Elite Rotten Beast’s flank with a low roar. It wanted to stomp on Brendel but got distracted by her. Due to its low intelligence, it diverted its attention to Freya as she appeared to be more threatening.
It turned around immediately and spread out its branches, and numerous thorns whistled through the air and shot at Freya.
She was prepared for the attack as Brendel had warned her about it a while ago. She immediately curled up, defending her chest and head with both her arms. She gritted her teeth as her whole body bled from the attack and was sent crashing back against a boulder from the thorns. However, she was still pleased that she had gained time for Brendel.
Brendel had no time to worry about Freya; he retreated from the Rotten Beast and squatted down, raised his right hand and aimed at the injured left leg with his shining finger.
The air temporarily went still, then an explosive current of wind blasted at the Elite Rotten Beast’s left leg. Splinters flew everywhere. Nearly half of its body went missing. Withered leaves scattered like it was raining as it lost its balance and fell backwards.
Even if the monster’s defense was doubled, it was unable to defend against a 20 OZ charged attack.
Brendel activated his ‘Charge’ skill next, dashing forward and jumped high up, matching the moment where it fell down. He raised the Thorn of Light and swung it down with all his strength, slashing through its neck with gravity aiding him.
The Elite Rotten Beast roared again, wanting to resist, but Brendel twisted the sword to drive it further in. Silver flames burst out frantically, and the mighty monster finally lowered its head, its life reaching to an end. As the life force and resistance from the Elite Rotten Beast ended, the flames instantly consumed the entire body and it was turned into a massive fire.
Numerous golden lights flew from the fire and into Brendel’s chest.
He suddenly felt a cold feeling in his palm and looked at it. Black smoke gathered from the gigantic Rotten Beast and poured onto his palm. It gradually became solid and formed into a black color crystal.
[A Soul Gem!]
Brendel was shocked, but he quickly smiled gleefully. The power from a Soul Gem was the purest form of energy in this world. Not only did Madara’s wizards use them, but other wizards from different schools were also analyzing their uses in the game. With different rituals, it could be turned into XP to himself or other people, and even replenish a magical equipment’s energy or activate certain items.
For example, the Ring of the Wind Empress.
This size of the Soul Gem looked like it contained at least 30 XP, and was enough to charge the Ring of the Wind Empress at least once. He thought he had to find a safe place and hide for at least three hours before proceeding. Without a charge on the ring, he would not have dared to advance any further, but that would have been too much time wasted.
[To think there’s a chance to succeed at the end.]
He sheathed his sword and checked the young Rotten Beasts’ progress. He found there was already one of them on the plateau they were at and received a shock. He and Freya were exhausted from the fight, and they would not be able to fight another battle. If they were dragged into a fight again, the situation would become dire.
Freya was relieved when she saw him kill the gigantic monster, but her heart raced when she saw the enemies appearing on the plateau. She tried standing up with furrowed eyebrows, but Brendel ran over to her with long strides and carried her like a princess towards the rope without giving her a chance to resist.
“L-let me down.”
The future Goddess of War, currently a countryside girl from Bucce who was blushing, struggled for a while. But Brendel did not listen to her, and she could only let him quietly carry her as she hid her crimson face to the sides.
Romaine had already climbed up when they reached the vertical cliff. She was a decisive person without much fear, and if they still did not reach the cliff, Brendel was sure that she would climb down again.
More and more Rotten Beasts were hot on their heels; they were running out of time.
He wrapped the rope on Freya, then around his own waist. Even though he felt her body turn rigid, he was unable to worry too much. With the boost in experience points, he leveled up his Mecenary profession to 3. He was able to bring the two of them up with a single hand with 2.5 OZ in strength,
A young Rotten Beast abruptly jumped and tried to grab his feet as he climbed up, but Brendel’s lightning reactions guarded against it by drawing the sword from the scabbard and slashing it, instantly sending it back to the throng of monsters. He continued to climb upwards after sheathing his sword.
The three of them were able to reach the top, and they sighed with relief at the same time. Brendel saw that the monsters tried to imitate them by climbing the rope up. He cut the rope with the sword and sent them dropping down without thinking. They had plenty of rope left, and the only important thing they needed to keep was the hook.
Brendel knew that the area they were in extended for kilometers. If the servants of the Golden Demonic Tree still wanted to find them, they had to go all the way to the other end of the mountain valley, so he had enough time to rest. He sat down and gave a long sigh.
“You’re the best!” He gave a thumbs up at Romaine. Her performance was just amazing earlier.
[This ‘Brendel’ really has good luck to be able to pick her up.]
“Really? My aunt also said this many times, ‘Little Romaine, you are really the best.'”
The merchant girl puffed up her chest in pride, but quickly cast concerned glances on Freya. He knew she was concerned with her best friend’s injury, so he answered:
“Don’t worry. These are just superficial wounds. Once we find a safe place and bandage her up, it should be fine.”
Freya was still blushing and did not reply.
Brendel finally got the chance to breathe, and he glanced at the future Goddess of War.
He felt a little cross. He wondered how she survived the ‘War of the Black Rose’. Was it the qualities of being ‘determined’ and ‘calm’?
The past Freya gave him an impression like that. Even though she was a little naive, she had great composure that ordinary people would not have. Perhaps she had her own reasons to come here but not letting her bag go made Brendel displeased. She was too stubborn, but maybe that stubborn nature of hers nurtured her tenacious character.
[This is still a bad thing in the battlefield.]
“Why did you come here?” In the end, she was a fellow soldier, and he did not want to hurt her feelings. He thought for a while and decided to use a gentle tone.
Freya was silent for a while, then she removed a ring from her finger: “This is the seal ring from the Captain of the guards. Captain Marden asked me to bring this to you when you report to Fortress Riedon.”
Brendel patted his own forehead.
It was not because he forgot about this matter. The truth was he did not expect to be treated seriously by the people at Fortress Riedon. The militia like Freya might not know this, but a veteran like Marden understood it clearly. If the nobility in Fortress Riedon treated the defense in Bucce with importance, the situation with Madara would not happen today.
The biggest reason why he wanted to go to Fortress Riedon was due to Romaine’s aunt. He did not expect Marden to be moved by his actions and send his personal ring over. He had overlooked this, and he would have rejected Marden personally if he predicted this would happen.
After all, this ring would be of great use to the refugees.
“You were the one who requested to come, right?” But Brendel reflected on it for a while longer, believing that the veteran soldier would never send Freya to her death even if the ring was of great importance.
The girl combed and tidied her ponytail, then nodded.
“You’re not from Bucce, Brendel, what excuses do I have to run away? I’m the leader of the third militia squadron, and I need to set myself as an example.” She looked at him and answered.
“And what’s inside the bag?”
The future Goddess of War lowered her head and hugged the bag. She hesitated for a while.