Chapter 97 Absentee Instructors (Part 4)
If anyone saw the scene they would have been stumped, curious and quite possibly turned on by the sight as the skin tight black clothes on her body unfurled into thousands of wires as they wrapped around every tree in the area turning the entire space into a death trap for anything foolish enough to run into her space unprepared!
‘Damn it! About time someone showed up!’ Crimson thought as relief washed over him. He’d been running from this creature for hours now and he’d steadily been running out of mana. He had even been forced into using one of his last resorts, which was one of the seals the vice principle had given him as a reward years ago. Something he’d treasured for years, too frugal to ever use.
It was as special void related seal, that once activated on the body would draw mana towards the seal and refill the user’s mana pool. When Crimson had first been told what it was, he’d been shocked that such a thing was possible. He’d been absolutely awed by the vast possibilities of what those who could understand and use void abilities could do.
He’d tried to perceive and understand the void on numerous occasions throughout his life only to be left with bitter resentment at every effort and subsequent failure. His effort had bore no fruit despite his tenacity. He just wasn’t suited at all for the element, he just couldn’t grasp its subtle intricacies.
That was one of the reasons he came to treasure this gift even more than anyone else would normally have. Except after running into this monster earlier on near his students, he’d immediately recognized the danger and not long after been forced into using it.
He’d been looking at the mist as it had gone from strange to turbulent to out of control. The mist had formed into a tornado and begun changing shapes. Something he’d never seen nor thought possible. That mist was the inner most center of the forest, and it had never changed in all the years he’d known it to exist. Except today it had and it had caused such a stir that it knew it would bring trouble.
Just as the mist had settled down he had still been in the air using Flow’s magic when he’d spotted something moving through the trees at a speed he could only categorize as amazing. He couldn’t see what it was, but he could see the rustling of the trees as it made it’s way towards them at a speed he was only capable of reaching by using his most powerful skill.
He’d immediately ordered Flow to find his partner and get help. They had as special connection to each other and always seemed to know where the other was. He could tell at a glance this wasn’t going to be an easy task by himself. He didn’t even wait for Flow to put him down, he’d used his flash skill in mid air which allowed him to move at a speed similar to light for a very short distance and the most minuscule amount of time at great cost to his stamina and mana pool.
It was the most profound skill he possessed. He hadn’t created it but he had improved it. Every time he used the skill he would permanently lose a bit of the mana he’d accumulated throughout his life, it was a skill he never used if he didn’t have too but he had acted decisively and intercepted the monster. He’d tried to fight it but he couldn’t even keep track of the monster with his eyes. After running around like a chicken with his head cut off, he’d turned tail and ran. He knew that the best he could do was to run away and draw the creature away from his group of participants and hope they could survive without him there to hold their hands.
He hadn’t ran long before being forced into using his flash skill repeatedly and soon after the treasure he’d held so dearly for years. If not for the treasure, he’d long since have run out of mana and been killed off by this thing, it was only now that Lydia had finally contacted him that a sliver of both relief had surfaced and some hope had washed over him. He’d stopped mid-stride sliding along the grass as his feet dragged along the ground slowing his momentum leaving a trail before he turned around and headed back where he’d come, right at the monster!
He couldn’t follow it with his eyes but his gut told him that slight blur of movement in front of him was it!
Crimson triggered his flash skill as the creature cut a hole that would have torn through Crimson like paper if he hadn’t taken action immediately. He flashed right past him, seemingly through the creature’s body and reappeared running about 50 feet away without even breaking stride as he ran along the ground.
The creature was left momentarily confused as it stared at it’s hand and looked around itself wondering where it’s prey had gone before sniffing the air and realizing that his prey had tricked it! It had gone backwards! Back where they’d been!
It began it’s pursuit of its prey instantly as it made up the ground that Crimson had covered in seconds. It followed Crimson, hunger gnawing it as a desire to cut Crimson to pieces and feast overcame it. Without even looking at it’s surroundings it’s only focus was Crimson and the meat it was about to devour and yet again his prey disappeared right before it’s eyes!
The creature didn’t stop it only propelled itself forward at an even greater speed as it blurred and seemed to reappear feet in front of it’s previous location.
Right in front of it was Crimson with a big grin on his face as he stood with his arms crossed over his chest, sweat trickling down his forehead as a self-satisfied expression filled up and confused the creature.
Crimson stared at the beast that didn’t understand why it couldn’t move as red lines appear all over it’s body. Before it slowly began falling apart into pieces Crimson finally got a good look at the creature that plagued him for hours “Devoid King Imp!”
His grin only widened as he understood why he was so fast and what a success it was for him to have survived much less killed it!
Just moments before, the creature was about to strike Crimson when he’d heard Lydia yell through the talisman “Now!”. He’d immediately used his flash skill and reappeared another fifty feet in front of where he was. The creature’s attack had missed and it had foolishly moved at an even greater speed as it moved forward to attack again. It hadn’t seen the wires criss-crossing the entire array of trees, a death zone that had claimed its life without it having ever realized it.
This was a trap Lydia and Crimson had pulled numerous times while hunting. They were more than familiar with one another and Crimson held complete trust in her. She’d saved his life more than once and he’d repaid the favor more than once. It was a trap that could only pulled at a moments notice between two people who had complete trust in one another and a familiar understanding of each other’s skills and capabilities.
“Close your eyes!” Lydia yelled from the forest as Crimson bashfully closed them realizing what she meant. He’d made the mistake of looking once, only to see a heavenly sight before having his sternum cracked in by her fist moments after. He’d spent 3 weeks recuperating in a bed unable to do much of anything except will his mana to heal himself. It was a mistake he’d never make again, even if someone dared him!
Lydia reappeared in front of him as she finally asked him “What the hell has happened!?”
Crimson opened his eyes and almost instantly rolled them “That’s the first thing you ask? Not whether I’m okay? How I managed to survive?”
Lydia gave him a cold glare and he shrugged his shoulders and with a jovial laugh asked “Meh, I’m sure you’re glad to see me. I’d bet anything.”
Lydia’s glare seemed to make the air around them drop a few degrees as Crimson finally got serious and began recounting what he had seen.
Crimson told Lydia everything from having a bad feeling for days, to what he had seen with the mist.
“After the mist started acting up everything seemed to have gone to hell.” Crimson explained to Lydia and then followed it up with his recount about the events involving the creature that had followed him.
Lydia took it all in without making much of any expression. After Crimson finished his explanation she turned around and stared at the bloody pieces of the corpse at their feet.
‘It’s ridiculous we could even kill this thing. A Devoid King Imp is near a demigod class creature. It’s speed alone is top tier. The only saving grace that makes this creature manageable is that it’s a failure. It’s an imp that failed to evolve into a King Imp. It’s mind slowly starts to degenerate and it’s speed while greater than a King Imp, is it’s only advantage. It’s body is as soft as tofu.’
Lydia thought to herself before finally saying out loud “The thing that confuses me is how easily we got it to fall into our trap. Normally this thing, with its speed. It could have seen our trap and used its reflexes to avoid the traps at the very last possible moment. It’s top tier like that. It seemed out of it’s mind.”
Crimson looked contemplative as he spoke up “Yeah… I mean if it had been in it’s right mind, it would have been much faster. It would have easily been able to kill me when I slowed down or stopped using my flash skill. Something made it go insane or something, it seemed to lessen it’s abilities.”
Suddenly Lydia’s eyes lit up “Was it alone??”
Lydia’s words struck hard as realization dawned on Crimson. Any kind of imp would never travel alone, it was very likely that even this crazy one had been with a pack. If they hadn’t followed it, then it was very likely that if they stayed put or continued on the course it was on, that they would run into the other participants from his group!
“I told Flow to go get help! He’s not with them!” Crimson spoke quickly.
Lydia nodded and began jogging in the direction they’d come. Although she wasn’t going slowly, she was clearly holding back so that Crimson could keep up. She understood that he must have expended a slew of energy trying to stay alive in his earlier game of cat-and-mouse with the Devoid King Imp.
“Can you keep up” she asked while running and only glancing back. While Crimson sped up and ran along-side her “I’ll be fine.” he said but his expression looked solemn.
In front of others, especially students or citizens of Lumea City Crimson was a very stern man. He was a symbol to the people. He had chosen to be a guardsman through and through instead of taking a teaching position in the academy. It was a position that was adrift with more risk and more responsibility and allowed him less time to focus on training himself and increasing his own power. It was a choice he’d made for everyone, he wanted to save lives, to help others. Even though he was a stern man in front of others, he was very different in front of his friends or those he trusted. In front of them, he seemed to revert back to the teenager he was once, a mischievous boy with a penchant for trouble.
His current solemn expression in front of Lydia told her how heavy his mind must be feeling. ‘He’s likely exhausted and on top of that, he’s probably feeling guilty for leaving the kids alone even though it was the right decision. If he hadn’t acted so decisively they’d all be dead. He’d likely be dead too considering what that thing was.’
Lydia tried to focus on the positive, but she was also worried. There were quite a few good unpolished jewels in the group Crimson had left behind. Even though there shouldn’t be anything near the same level as the Devoid King Imp, a regular imp alone was already very fast. It was something that was hard to handle without some sort of ambush, trap or someone with an even greater speed. Although any class of dark imp wasn’t particularly bright, their speed was top-class no matter what level they were at.
Kids taking the exam wouldn’t be able to handle them. At least not if the imps were in a group, not unless they were all on par with an imp each…