Ch 53: Peace was never an option…
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Author Note:

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Thanks to my patrons.


As I am already preparing to attack with my weapons, I hear Octavo's voice behind me shouting 'watch out, Xelean, behind you!'

I turn around hastily and see Roran behind me, attacking me with his hammer with a low blow.

I hastily block the hammer blow with my sword and try to dodge a bolt aimed at my chest, but my sword cracks in half with the blow, and the projectile hit me in the shoulder.

"Shit, there goes some money down the drain. Sorry, kid, it's nothing personal. But we could do a lot of things with the money we'll get from you and Octavo, plus the sale of the information" says Roran, while he applies more strength to the blow, which after destroying my sword continues in the direction of my stomach.

The blow from the hammer doesn't do much damage to my health points, but it throws me to the ground near the Beholder, which attacks me instantly.

Through the link, I feel Azur get slashed with one thrust that cuts off his tail, while also taking three arrows in the back.

I dodge a beam of light from the Beholder by rolling to the right, and hastily block with my arm guard a blow it throws at me with one of his limbs.

But, while I try to dodge a second beam of light, I receive a slash from an arrow to the side of my neck and I start to bleed profusely from the wound.

Definitely, fighting lying on the ground against a Beholder is not the best way to deal with it.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see that Azur, when attacked, changes his form to that of a small dragon and, flying high enough for Dedan not to reach him, begins to dodge in the air the arrows aimed at him.

Albeit with some difficulty, due to the enormous chunk of tail he's missing.

"Ohh, now you've really done it," I growl, stabbing the dagger with my left hand at the Beholder in its main eye while helping myself with my right to stand up.

This won't kill the monster, but at least it will keep it from aiming…

Now I have other vermin to take care of and as I think about it I deflect a crossbow bolt with my dagger.

Looks like peace was never an option…

Fortunately, it seems Roran doesn't want to approach the Beholder, which bought me some time.

The bleeding seems to be decreasing my health points at great speeds, because before I appear a message notifying me that my 'Survivor' skill was activated.

The rage that Azur and I feel synchronize to activate the 'Spiritual Fusion' and, wanting to release the stress and answer to all his pokes of these weeks I say "this is really going to be personal, you bastards, this is for my tail".

And with those words, I hurl my dagger at full speed at Dedan, who is running in our direction.

The weapon stabs into his neck and the big man falls to the ground instantly, trying to stop the blood from gushing from the wound.

That's good. Anyone who hurts me has to be eliminated.

With that thought, Dedan stops moving and instantly two notifications pop up saying [New Class Acquired: Scout Lvl. 1] and [New Skill Acquired: Throwing Weapon Specialization Lvl. 1].

I leap closer to Roran, who seems frightened by my appearance, because he tries to back away awkwardly, throwing blows with his hammer to keep me away.

But I don't let him do that and, getting closer, I block one of his blows with my bare hand and slap the hammer out of his hands.

I throw the weapon in the direction of the Beholder, who is still in agony from my previous attack. And the monster falls dead.

The hammer hits it and the monster falls lifeless to the ground.

When I'm practically next to Roran, I hear him mutter in terror 'm-monster'.

"Indeed, I am a monster. And, to your bad luck, you have decided to attack me," I say. And, putting my hands on his shoulders to prevent him from moving away, I shoot a stream of fire from my mouth directly into his face.

The fire snuffs out his life within seconds.

Thinking it strange that no projectile was fired at me while I was spraying one of the vermin, I look in the direction of where the remaining three members of the group should be.

But I see only Octavo standing there, who has Radovid's body pierced with a dark sword. And the corpse of Rufus at his side.

The right half of the company leader's body is dyed a deep black, including his clothes.

And, from his right hand, emerges a curved sword that appears to be made of dark mana.

The weapon drips something black that evaporates before it hits the ground.

Quinto, his little owl, doesn't seem to be anywhere to be seen. So, his absence must have something to do with his master's condition.

It is not a spiritual fusion since, from what I could see these weeks, Quinto is not a summoned spirit. But it seems to be something similar.

"I see you didn't show all your cards during these days either," says Octavo, removing the sword from Radovid's lifeless body that falls to the ground "but that ability of yours must have a certain duration, right? I'm in the same condition. So, we should hurry back to the safe room. Store the corpses of our former companions in your skill, please. They're too big to fit in my bags… Or do you want to try something similar to theirs?" he adds with a raised eyebrow "you look like a rather tougher nut to crack, but I'm sure you won't find it as easy to take me on as you did with those two" he finishes pointing to the corpses of Dedan and Roran.

His voice sounds so determined, firm, and authoritative…

It's strange to think he's the same soft-spoken, conciliatory, and complacent person I've known these past few weeks.

"no... by the way, thanks for the heads up," I say surprised by the change in the group leader. I do as he says, and we set off in the direction of the safe room. But I decided to neither confirm nor deny the fact that my ability has a limited time duration. After all, he'll find out in a few minutes...

My spirit fusion was deactivated halfway, but Octavo managed to maintain his ability until we reached the safe room. Where we could rest and eat something in peace.

While we were on our way back, I didn't have time to add the new class to my skill [Accelerated Balanced Growth] to level it up along with the others, since we're just two and we need to hurry up. But, once we got to the safe room, I added it, replacing one of the classes.

The reason for acquiring the new class, I guess, was to kill something by throwing my dagger.

Because, although it was not the first time I threw it against an enemy, I had never managed to deliver such a decisive and fatal blow.

Its description says that it slightly improves the user's vitality and speed, as well as stats related to close and long-distance combat.

It also seems that, as with the Adventurer class, it is a class exclusive to the labyrinth.

I also took advantage of the quiet to re-summon Azur.

Octavo did not instantly re-summon his owl when we returned to the safe room.

Instead, he waited for us to light a cooking fire and, pulling out some embers with a branch, began to shape them with magic until they took the form of a small owl.

Upon seeing his summoner, Quinto hooted happily and flew up to perch on his shoulder.

As we ate, I commented to Octavo, "I never thought I would feel so helpless without my sword" as, while we were on our way back, I had to adapt to fighting with only my dagger, which significantly reduced my attack range. But it seems I'm not as skilled in fighting with the dagger as my main weapon as I would like to be.

"It's always like that... We only realize the usefulness of certain things when we need them urgently or when we lose them..." replies Octavo in his usual soft and calm voice. When the duration of his skill was over, he was back to his usual self "but you probably can't buy any mithril weapon in this town, as there are no blacksmiths who can work the metal outside the capital. At least, as far as I know. And you should buy something of at least that grade so that the same thing doesn't happen to you again. Steel is a somewhat weak metal for those labyrinth floors. Your weapon only lasted that long because of its self-repair enchantment...which leads me to ask. Do you want to come back with me to the capital of Liones?"

"Yes, it sounds like a good idea to me. Maybe I'll get enough for an orichalcum weapon. I know that it is the hardest metal, but I don't know how expensive it will be… do you know how much an orichalcum sword might be worth?" I ask him thinking that, since I will have so much money when he pays me for the mission, I could spend a good sum of money on a sword of the best possible metal.

"no, but I know that anything made of orichalcum is ridiculously expensive, as it is a very scarce metal… But I would recommend you wait a few months, as it will most likely drop in value a lot," Octavo says thoughtfully.

"And why is that so?" I ask quizzically.

"Why do you think? Because of the boss's room we discovered today! It could change forever the economy of the four races. After all, think of all the resources that could be obtained on the floors above 79," says Octavo, enthusiastic. "maybe a new, stronger metal will be discovered, or maybe orichalcum will simply become much easier to find. In either case, the metal will drop a lot in price. And not only that... This will be a revolution for all aspects of society."

"Ahh," I say tersely in response because I hadn't thought that far into the subject. I was just happy that I would complete the mission.

After that conversation, we decided to go to sleep.

Who could have imagined what we would find when we came out of the labyrinth the next day?