24. The Layer of Battlefield
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Mortal, Awakened, Bloodline, Morning Star, Twilight Nova, and Starseeker were the known ranks. Ryan’s legs suddenly felt weak. The statue in the middle was no normal monster. It had Rex Title. He was about to inform Thanatos, but the latter stared at that statue intensely too.

“Old man, do you know anything about this?”

“Of course. Who do you think I am? They won’t attack us because there are you guys. Those two statues on the sides will awake if there is no monster when something comes in.”

“I see. Then why were you shocked?”

“The guardian. That’s what the statue in the middle is called. There is one on each level. They won’t attack us unless we break taboos. Anyway, what I remember is their ranks are Twilight Nova. The world has changed. I feel like our adventure to the lower level may be more dangerous.”

“Don’t worry, old man. We can always come back with the [Warp Hole].”

Thanatos nodded. “Alright. Let’s go, then. To open the gate to the lower level, we have to awaken the guardians on the sides.”

Ryan looked at two statues at the sides. They were evil-faced humanoid giants. As he thought, he could see information above them.

[Ace Sky Cave Soldier A]

Rank: Awakened

Type: Physical, technique, magic

[HP]: 13.000 (100%)

[MP]: 13.000 (100%)

After ranking up to Awakened, Ryan’s System Window got a new feature.

  1. [System Window]

Rank: Awakened (0%)

Usage: Passive

  • Language Adaption
  • System Screens
  • Mind Synchronization
  • Connection to the Primordial Ones
  • Friend list
  • Unishop
  • Ability List
  • Appraisal (New)

[Appraisal] was the ability that allowed him to appraise things. Ryan got information about things he didn’t know, saw enemies’ exact [HP] and [MP], and knew the name of abilities the enemies used.

Thanatos drew blood from his finger and let it flow onto the altar. Red lines appeared on Ace-titled statues, and blood flowed from their eyes. His spirit eyes showed orange color from them, and an information box appeared above each of them.

[Ace Sky Cave Soldier A] is enraged. [Ace Sky Cave Soldier B is enraged].

This was the new feature of [Spirit Eyes].

  1. [Spirit Eyes]

Rank: Awakened (00%)

Usage: Mana Consumption

  • Can see spirits and communicate with them.
  • Can perceive dangers by colors.
  • Can see in the absolute darkness.
  • Emotion reader (New)

As the name suggested, [Emotion Reader] allowed Ryan to read people’s emotions. He felt love and hate toward this feature because sometimes it was not nice to know people’s emotions, but this ability was passive, so he couldn’t turn it off. He intended to keep this ability a secret from everyone.

Those statues jumped past them and landed before the gate. They turned to face them and roared.

“You take care of them all, Ryan.” Thanatos sat and leaned his back against the altar. He closed his eyes.

Ryan sighed. “Can’t be helped. I want to test my abilities once again.” He only used two abilities, [Vector Compass] and [Yin and Yang Satellites]. He wanted to test his limit.

[Vector Compass]

Rank: Awakened (00%)

Usage: Active

  • North Trigger: Switch. Increases your damages by 300% for 3 minutes. Cooldown: 3 hours.
  • South Trigger: Switch. Reduces damages by 70% and deals 30% of the reduced damage to the enemies.

 [Yin & Yang Satellites]

Rank: Awakened (00%)

Usage: Active

  • Yin Spirit: attacks enemies, steals their mana, and gives it to the user.
  • Yang Spirit: Defends from enemies’ attacks, absorbs damage, and converts it to [HP] for the user.
  • Multiplying
  • Bigger size (New)

A yellow arrow appeared above Ryan, and it pointed to the South. A pair of black and white spirits circled around his body. They had the same size as Ryan. He only had them as spirit soldiers, but they were enough. He applied the new evolution of [Ghosts Attack] at them, undead soldiers, and himself.

[Ghosts Attack] —> [Soul Destruction Aura]

Rank: Awakened (00%)

Usage: Active

Applies a soul destruction aura that targets enemies’ souls.

The effect was the same as the mortal version, but Ryan could apply this ability to everything, not limited to spirits only. His body emitted a red aura, and it blended well with the purple aura of [Nether King’s Aura].

The giants made their first move. Ryan’s undead soldiers intercepted the first one, letting Ryan dealt with the second giant. He didn’t believe his army could deal with the enemies of the same rank, yet, especially their enemies had Ace Title, but they could buy time for him.

The second giant hammered down his fist. The yellow arrow above Ryan spread a glowing dome and covered him. It slowed down the giant’s fist as it hit him. Many mini vector arrows rose and hit the giant. [Vector Compass: South Trigger]. It reduced damages by 70% and return 30% of damages taken to the enemy. Of course, the returned damages were just a little, but this ability fortified his defense.

The giant opened his mouth and shot a beam at him. The yang spirit and the south arrow absorbed the damage, but the ray still went through and hit Ryan. The yang spirit came back to him and healed him. The yin spirit passed through Ryan, giving him [MP].

[Ace Sky Cave Sodier B]

[MP]: 70%

Ryan grinned. He had stolen 3% of [MP] every time the yin spirit passed through the giant. While it sounded too little, the amount of [MP] the giant had was 13.000 in total. The yin spirit was fast. It had been passing through Ryan several times already.

“I have collected enough data. Now, let me use another function of my new ability. [Vector Compass: North Trigger]!”

The arrow above his head suddenly pointed to the North, and the yellow dome around him surged and flickered like a raging flame. Ryan activated the new version of [Critical Darkness] and [Combustion]. He kicked the giant in the solar plexus with the new version of [Rocket Kick].

The wave sent the giant flying. Ryan dealt critical damage and decreased the enemy’s [HP] to 30%. He flew up too and landed another [Rocket Kick]. Suddenly, the giant cracked into pieces and exploded.

You have killed the [Ace Sky Cave Soldier B] with [Death Touch].

“Wow, I am so lucky.”

Resources dropped on the ground, but Ryan didn’t mind it. He ran to the first giant statue. Undead soldiers did a good job to stall time, and one of them died. “I will avenge you.”

Ryan flipped his body and landed a roundhouse kick to the giant’s knee. [Vector Compass: North Trigger] was still active, so he had to kill this giant before the effect wore off.

The giant knelt, and he defended Ryan’s kick to the face with his arm. He somersaulted back to make a distance and rained punches against his enemies.

Ryan and his soldiers took hit, and the attacks threw them to the back. He checked his soldiers and luckily they were still alive. He wouldn’t forgive the statue. The situation went grim, so Ryan changed his strategy.

The giant bolted at them, and a blue wave surrounded his body. Ryan used the new version of [Dark Web], [Dark Ensnare]. Black swamp appeared under the giant, and it shot sticky webs all over its body. This new ability lost the versatility of the [Dark Web], but it became an area crowd control ability.

[Dark Ensnare]

Rank: Awakened (00%)

Usage: Active

Creates a dark swamp under enemies and ensnares them with sticky webs.

Ryan channeled the [Destructive Beam] in his mouth. He waited for the giant to come at him slowly. The statue had a hard time moving, and he finally freed himself from the swamp by shooting a beam at it. Ryan launched the [Destructive Beam] when the giant was about to punch him.

You have dealt critical damage.

[Destructive Beam]

Rank: Awakened (00%)

Usage: Active

  • Shoots a beam with destructive might
  • Channeling
  • Increases the chance to deal critical damage the longer the user channels this ability.

The giant’s [HP] turned into 5% remaining. The beam had thrown him far. Ryan was too lazy to get closer, so he flapped his wings and used [Wings of Destruction]. An invisible wave passed by the giant like a gentle wind. Many lines appeared all over his body, and he exploded.

You have killed the enemy with [Death Touch].

Ryan was lucky to trigger that ability twice today, but he believed this was different from the first time.

[Death Touch]

Rank: Awakened (00%)

Usage: Passive

Has a 5% chance to instant kill an enemy with 30% [HP]. Has 50% chance to instant kill when doing critical damage against an enemy with 15% [HP].

Thanatos clapped his hands. “You are strong even before you level up.”

Ryan ignored him and collected resources on the ground. He found two honey-colored squishy balls. They looked like gumball snacks in his previous life. He read the information about it.

[Evolution Essence]

Rarity: Rare

Usage: Consumable

Evolution essence is the important consumable item for Awakened Rank and Second Step. Consumes five evolution essences to level up.

“Thanatos, I have found two evolution essences.”

“Wow, your luck is good. Normally, you can’t find them in the first layer. That’s yours. Consumes them immediately.”

Ryan didn’t hesitate to eat the evolution essence. If the cores disappeared as soon as someone intended to absorb them, one had to eat evolution essences. They melted in his mouth and savory taste dominated his bud.

“Damn, what is this? I never feel something as good as this!” Ryan was about to eat the second evolution essence, but he didn’t find it. He looked at Thanatos, and the latter chuckled.

“You already ate them all, Ryan.”

“Impossible. I didn’t notice it.”

As they joked around, the floor in the middle split into half, and a large portal appeared from inside. It was the entrance to the lower layer. The gate to the outside opened again.

“It is time, Ryan.”

“You first,” Ryan said.

Thanatos sighed and entered the portal without hesitation. Ryan and his undead soldiers followed him. It transferred them to another place.

Ryan looked around. They were standing on one of many black hills. There were many burning trees and plants, but he noticed they emitted flame naturally. Rivers existed below, and the water was red like blood. Many creatures fought each other on the plain, and he could see piling corpses too. This place was too chaotic.

“What kind of place is this?” Ryan asked. The sky of this place was burning flame-colored and black clouds scattered everywhere. There was no artificial sun and moon, unlike in the first layer. This place was eternal twilight.

“Welcome, Ryan. This is the second layer of Sky Cave, the Asura Cave, or better known as the Layer of Battlefield,” Thanatos answered.

“Why are they so many creatures rushing to the battlefield?” Ryan asked.

Thanatos put a serious expression. “Rex Title bestowal. If monsters win a certain number of consecutive battles, the Spawners will give them Rex Title. We have to be careful. The numbers of Rex-titled monsters here are so many. This is my first time coming here too. I can’t guarantee our safety, as I am not familiar with this place. I know things about this place, though. For now, let’s move to a safe place first. We are drawing attention.”

Ryan was aware of what Thanatos meant. His [Hunter Domain] had been active, and he sensed many powerful presences. Groups of monsters approached them from every direction. Their leaders emitted red color.

“Let’s run, Ryan. Never think about flying. It is more dangerous.”

Ryan nodded and followed Thanatos. They passed by several caves, but they ignored them. The old man directed them to the river, and Ryan thought this was a bad idea. There were more monsters by the riverside than on the hills, but he realized none of them had Rex Title.

“Brace yourself, Ryan. In this layer, we will face many battles and a little rest! This is the Layer of Battlefield. The safest place is the battlefield itself!”