379 Battle In The Ruins
To compare a proud member of the lycanthrope race, especially the second-highest member in their hierarchy, to a domesticated dog was the worst type of insult one of its kind could ever hear.
｢Name: Beta Werewolf – Sergeant Rank monster
The werewolf barked loudly in his direction, and one could see a circular force of wind hurtle towards the Dragon Knight through the powerful sound. This was one of the natal skills of Werewolves, Resounding Bark!
｢Resounding Bark – Active Skill
Effect: Let out a sharp bark that stimulates the world into forming a cascade of wind that deals 10% sound and wind damage to one target.
Cooldown: 5 minutes｣
Essence Stalker's eyes narrowed as he sensed the incoming attack before it even launched through the vibrations in the air. Telesthesia was a weaker version of Control, but it was still more overpowered than relying on battle instincts.
As such, long before the sound attack struck where he stood, he had darted to the side, using his halberd to knock away another werewolf that planned to use this chance to score a hit.
Essence Stalker then ran forward with all his might, his halberd trailing behind him. Three werewolves came from the front, in a fan formation. One at 0°, another at 35°, and the final one at 335°.
They were coordinated and had timed their assaults perfectly, forcing Essence Stalker to either deal with them or get ripped to shreds. However, the now slightly crazed warrior did not even spare them a glance, instead focusing on the werewolf behind them who was leading the entire group.
｢Name: Alpha Werewolf – Captain Rank monster
Essence Stalker smiled and did the impossible. Channeling his energy, he thrust his halberd into the ground before him, shaking the surrounding area from the sheer force alone. He then used the head of his halberd like a pole, vaulting over the entire group with more flair than an Olympian athlete.
The werewolf trio crashed into each other in a tangled mess, unable to extricate themselves quickly enough to deal with the fellow. As for the Alpha Werewolf, he was the one most shocked by Essence's acrobatic move and was therefore not able to muster any sort of defense in time.
Essence used that chance to activate one of the spear/halberd skills Riveting Night had given him for free since he was technically - at least in a very roundabout way - her cousin-in-law.
｢Spear's Requiem – Active Skill
Effect: Smash down with your weapon, dealing intense concussive force to a target, heavily damaging them. This deals 70% piercing damage.
Note 1: Only usable with bladed spears like naginata, halberd, etc.
Note 2: There is a slight chance to stun the enemy.
Cooldown: 30 minutes.｣
The halberd came smashing down atop the Alpha Werewolf, who so far had just looked down derisively on the human. It only managed to reflexively raise its thick and furry forearms to block, but that merely led to it having them almost cut in half.
The Alpha Werewolf howled in agony as it was knocked back. It felt to the ground in a heap and struggled to raise itself due to the stunned status that was inflicted upon it.
It was furious, yet unable to do anything about it. It wanted to cry out injustice. Did this fellow not know about the proper etiquette in these kinds of situations? It was the BOSS, so it should have only been right and proper for him to defeat its underlings before moving on to him! How dare he just skip the cannon fodder and attack while it was not ready?!
If not for that, it could've also avoided Essence Stalker's next attack that aimed to sever its head from its neck, a powerful overhead swing that brought the blade edge of the halberd down on the nape of the Alpha Werewolf's neck.
The area shook from the sheer force that Essence had put into the strike, since he had used both his hands. If it wasn't for the Alpha Werewolf's high defense, thick fur, and strong body, its head would have been lopped off straight up.
Still, this was counted as fatal damage, which was why it was higher than his Epic skill. Now, the Captain Rank monster had less than half its health, and it was beginning to feel desperation.
On the other side, Fitter Cleric was having to deal with a slew of werewolves on his own. He held Pandora's Box in one hand and activated his auto-attack as a Luckmancer with his staff.
With its first passive skill, Fitter Cleric's auto-attack was no longer a small beam of light that dealt varying amounts of (critical) damage, but could be anything at all. It would manifest the effects of any auto-attack known by the system based on his Luck.
And as the Goddess of Luck's gigglo, how could Fitter go wrong? His first auto-attack turned out to be a greenish haze that spread around him, entering the body of all nearby werewolves.
They could not help but halt their rush as they choked and coughed. The mist was obviously the auto-attack of a poison-based class like the Poisonmancer. Since the Luckmancer class' drawback was that it was limited to only being able to use auto-attacks for fights, Fitter Cleric would obviously have some items that sped up his attack rate.
He wasn't as broken as Jada who was able to use 10 every single second, but 3 had proven to be more than enough for him. As such, he quickly activated the next auto-attack. This time, he got a summoning type, which called a wild bear to strike at one enemy once.
It appeared through a void and struck one of the werewolves over the head, sending the fellow flying into a ruined building, before the ursine disappeared right after, leaving Fitter wondering if this was something from the Epic Beast Tamer class.
For his third auto-attack in that single second, Fitter Cleric manifested a small wind orb, the bread and butter attack of an Aeromancer. Even though its damage was meh, it was buffed by Fitter's 'always critical' hit rate, making it deal almost 1,000 damage to another target.
However, this was not enough to kill the many werewolves that were aiming for his meat and bones. There were working off the effects of the poison since it only lasted about a second at best, and it was unlikely that he could manifest another one like before.
As such, the lucky bastard decided to use the active skill of Pandora's Box. Every minute, he could manifest one random active skill of any class and any type depending on his Luck.
If he was lucky, he could get an Orb of Destruction from something like Draco's class, or he could be supremely unlucky and summon a water fountain that was only good for party tricks.
When Fitter Cleric activated it, he saw a barrier envelop him. It was a glossy smooth one, with a slightly blue-ish tint. It looked like the scaly skin of a fish or like a turtle's carapace.
Fitter quickly inspected the skill he had just used.
｢Mage God's Barrier – Active Skill
Effect: Create a supreme and omni-nature barrier that blocks all damage within your Rank and reflects 100% of it back. Cannot be broken or dispelled.
Note 1: Only usable by Mage Gods.
Note 2: User can move and attack from within the barrier with ease.
Duration: 1 hour.
Cooldown: Not required for current activation.｣
Fitter Cleric was flabbergasted. Mage God? Wasn't that the class of Draco's mentor, that pervy old dude who gave out rewards if he got to rub your legs or make you hop like a frog?
His barrier was completely overpowered though! Fitter Cleric realized that with this, he had become untouchable. He could just stand there and still slaughter every werewolf here by having them kill themselves.
Realizing this Fitter Cleric smiled. He knew that the Goddess of Luck did not completely abandon him, but was just pouting and sulking because of Slim Fatty. Refusing to show him the way was one thing, however no woman could bear to watch her man get mauled to death, so she had returned her favor to him... at least for now!
Fitter Cleric continued to use the Pandora's Box to cast auto-attacks while the werewolves continually struck the barrier and were rebounded. They were quite intelligent and soon understood that they could not harm Fitter Cleric.
If they continued to attack, they would be harming themselves! Still, there was nothing they could do in the face of this cheat-like ability. Before they could rack their brains how to overcome this situation, Essence Stalker came crashing into their midst, smashing his halberd down and spinning like a top.
It was almost as if he landed from the clouds, before severing many Specialist-Rank Gamma Werewolves here into two pieces. This spinning attack was not a technique, but a well-timed skill that struck with 150% Piercing Damage.
These Beta Werewolves were unable to survive such an attack and were easily culled. The others who saw this felt their limbs shake with fear and like whipped dogs, they yelped before fleeing with their tails in between their legs.
Fitter looked over Essence Stalker's shoulder to see that the Alpha Werewolf's body remained flat on the ground, with a large cut in its torso that almost split it in half. It was clear that the fellow had beaten the Captain Rank monster with ease, since there was little damage on his body.
Already the earlier wound to his face had healed, courtesy of his Serpent God Inheritance. Fitter Cleric just glanced at the fellow askance and said: "Wow, such a mighty Dragon Knight, taking more than a minute to handle just one Captain Rank monster."
Essence Stalker coughed and grinned widely. "Sorry, I got too carried away in the fight."
Fitter Cleric knew his buddy's habits well enough by now so he let it go. "Well, what do we do now?"
Essence Stalker looked around. "Well, this dome is the largest building that still exists in this settlement, and there has been a group of monsters residing within..."
Fitter Cleric smiled and nodded. "And there could not be a more obvious beacon. After all, this is an RPG game, and this is a fundamental law of RPGs. Now that we've cleared this den, let's head inside and see whether we can find something good enough to please the Lady Boss."
Essence Stalker nodded and entered the place with Fitter. The duo had to cover their noses as the place smelled like unwashed fur, excrement, and rotten corpses. They also saw many bones and half-eaten bodies decomposing in there, further disgusting them.
The dome had a large open area that looked like it had been a town hall or administrative center of sorts. Now though, it was just a bare and wasted area filled with nasty stuff thanks to those vile werewolves.
Fitter and Essence carefully looked through the entire place, before stopping before a specific point near the back of the dome. Here, there was the outline of a door, with the carving of a Dragon's head on it.
The duo shared a look and nodded. If there was anything that looked like it could be their goal, which was a hidden compartment, secret area, or lost dungeon of sorts, this certainly would fit the bill.
Now, the question was how to enter? The obvious answer seemed to be to have Essence transform into a Void Dragon and try to merge his Source Origin with the door. It was reasonable to assume it would only open for Dragons.
But they didn't do that straight away. Instead, Fitter and Essence carefully searched around the rest of the ruins for any information about the door, as well as the dome building itself.
After all, what if Essence transformed and needed to perform some specific activities or rituals before it opened? With his 1-day cooldown for only 30 seconds of transformed time, it wasn't worth it.
It was better to exhaust all other options before using the 'obvious' method. However, after almost 3 hours of concentrated searching, they were unable to find anything that could act as a clue.
As such, they returned to the door, where Essence entered his Dragon form. Since he was on borrowed time, he didn't flourish but got to work straight away.
He first attempted the merge his Source Origin with the door, and while it had some effect, it didn't move it much. Fitter Cleric hurriedly suggested that he connect his reverse scale with the dragon carving, and that – combined with his Source Origin – fortunately got a response.
As Essence Stalker returned to his human form, he and Fitter hurriedly checked what could be in this long-lost vault from the age of the Dragons.