The light became bigger and he finally floated out of the tunnel. His eyes met a bright a beautiful sight. Before him spread out the snow-covered slopes of mountains and valleys that led down into a wide plain. For a moment he was free of gravity as he enjoyed this view. Then gravity kicked in and he fell, before he could react, he was already tumbling down the steep rocky slope below him.

He once again felt freed from the fetters of gravity, as he flew over a cliff. With the sound of breaking branches and rustling leaves he crossed the crowns of the trees and smashed into the forest floor like a meteorite.

”Pain…immeasurable pain. ”

His HP had fallen to 413/1000. It was fair to say that he was half dead. Fall damage was a bitch.

~ Why didn ’t you summon me? ~

”No time… urgh. Puffles? ”

Kyurs Kyuu

~Look who only remembered the great me in his time of need. ~

The Ivicer was summoned and started casting healing spells on the mangled Seth. The armor had some dents and scratches but was fine except for losing some durability. When he could finally slightly turn his head, he looked up to the cliff he just had the pleasure to fall off. He had rolled down the mountain and fell straight down into the forests at its foot.

It took about 20 minutes before he was healed enough to stand up. That was Puffles skimping on the healing spells, otherwise, it would have been faster.

Kyuu?

~Where are we? ~

The caterpillar looked around the mountain forest. That was a good question. Seth pulled up the and found the familiar world map of Urth. How much he had missed the look of this giant continent. His marker was close to the center. If his geographical knowledge didn ’t betray him, he should be somewhere in the neutral zones between the city regions Delta in the center and Ypsilon in the southeast.

This meant he was about a day ’s journey away from civilization, in each direction. Delta was northwest up the mountains, Ypsilon southeast in the direction of flatter land. The decision was easy, Y City became his destination.

He wanted to find a good and safe place to set up a workshop, the city seemed the best option.

Using the automap function, he scouted the area and found his way around the forest. On the way he tried not to think of the loose end he had left behind because of this emergency escape. He wasn ’t sure whether Fin would become angry or sad when she found out that he was gone…

”I have to find a church and send them a letter… ”

———

”Why are we in this forest?! We should go to City Y and,haftataata, make some new followers, kihig! ”

Whoever spoke got a powerful blow against the head as an answer.

”Shut it. You still don ’t manage to control your urges. Stop stroking your thing already! We have our orders, why else would we lurk here to ambush travelers? ”

”uhurg! Can I go first if we find one? I- ”

”Shh, there is someone. ” a third voice warned them. The figures fell silent and looked down at the path, below their hiding spot. It was a small party of three people. There was a handsome guy in sparkling armor, covered in lavish edgings. Following him were two more or less cute girls, a typical priest and mage wearing tight robes, not much better than their starter gear.

A typical mid-level harem party. All of them were looking at the two girls with a wolfish grin. Easy prey and such an entertaining one at that. They could have a lot of fun with those two.

The five figures dropped from the trees and surrounded the playboy ’s group.

Revealed in the light was a group of almost normal-looking humans. It was just that their proportions seemed slightly off, but at a second glance, one could see growths and bulges moving under their skin.

”Tehik! Hello there. We didn ’t want to scare you! ” one of them said but he had a hard time swallowing his salvia while speaking.

The young man at the front of the party unsheathed his sword and brought forth a big tower shield. The steel glinted in the dim forest ’s light. They were made by the blacksmith from a Starta Village close to City Y.

”Who are you? ” he said while getting into a defensive position and activating the few effects of his armor pieces. It had taken many dungeon dives to assemble his armor that was a mix of dungeon drops and parts bought from the blacksmith. Even though they were still common, they were a lot better than starter gear many others were still using even today.

The mutations looked at the ugly and mismatched armor parts and grinned with schadenfreude. Then at the girls in the back who had readied their staffs.

”Ahik, are you proud to own such an ugly set of armor? Kihik, you think some flimsy hammered metal and items can help you? ”

Its teeth and claws grew longer and sharper as it was talking and now it rushed at the young man. The other 2 also made their move and jumped forth aiming to capture the two women. They would not turn them, yet. It was no fun afterward.

”Zarkists?! ” the young man said under his breath as he attempted to block the claws with his shield.

An attempt was made. The claws ignored the thin energy membrane that covered the shield and directly cut the metal into strips as if it was paper. The man had to step back to evade being hit by the terrifying weapon. Grasping this chance, he used and shoved the attacker away with what was left of his shield.

His sword didn ’t rest as he attacked the two that tried to get past him. An energy blade cut off the left leg of the closes right above the knee. The one furthest away was met with a Watercutter right in his face that destroyed both eyes and left a deep gash. Both of them were now lying on the ground screaming in pain.

”Good reflexes. You will be a great addition to our community! ”

The leader jumped at the man from behind and the other was barely able to react and block the incoming claws with his sword covered in mana. Again, the coating gave little to no resistance and the sharp fingernails cut deep into the edge of the weapon.

His heart jumped when he saw, that the block had succeeded. They had two downed, as long as they managed to incapacitate the leader, they would be able to flee.

”Kukuku, it ’s painfully obvious what you are thinking! ”

The young man ’s face fell as the screams of pain made an unsettling change and sounded more like squeals of joy. He looked to the side and that leg he had cut off had grown tentacles and went to reattach to its owner!

Suddenly he felt a burning pain in his stomach and a gush of blood and vomit traveled up his throat.

”Kihik, never look away in a fight, duh. ”

The claw hand not stuck in the sword had easily penetrated his armor and was now snuggly fit in the hole it had punched into his torso. The leader pulled away and blood gushed on the forest floor.

It was over. There was no escape for him anymore. If he had no hope anyways, he could still help the girls escape! With newfound motivation, he went into a suicidal frenzy and attacked the monster before him.

”kahak, hit me, hit me as much as you like. Let me show you what real armor looks like! Not the pitiful trash those useless metal-kneaders sell you! ”

The sword crashed into the leader ’s chest with a loud bang and finally broke in two where the claws had cut it. The dying man looked at the monster with empty eyes as it ripped off the flimsy cloth covering its body.

The skin was covered in horny skin and bone growths. There was not even a scratch where the sword just hit it.

”Kyaa! ” the one who had lost his eyes had recovered first and attack the priest. When the mage girl finally finished her chant and threw a fireball it burned away the Zarkist ’s clothes. It stopped the charge but did no damage at all. The creature ’s skin was covered in layers upon layer of thick leathery skin flaps that shielded the body.

”Rejoice! Soon all of you will- urgh? ” he was interrupted by a gush of blood from his mouth.

”Metal-kneaders, you say? Let me show you what a real armor looks like. ”

Behind the leader stood a tall knight in black armor. The dark visor exuded a menacing aura as he kicked the creature forward to pull his weapon out of its back. Blood was dripping from a long, sharpened spike. It was a raven ’s beak with the sharpened spike like a beak on one side, a hammerhead at the other, and a long spike at the top.

An oppressive feeling befell anyone who looked at the knight and they all felt the strength leave their bodies. Everyone froze and looked afraid at the new actor that entered the stage.

”Who are you? ” the leader pressed out as his body frantically healed his ruptured heart and lungs.

The knight gave no answer but his weapon did as his hammerhead crushed the leader ’s head like a watermelon.

”Kihurk! You are open! ”

The one who had just regained his leg jumped up to attack the knight, only to be shot down by a light arrow from the shrubbery behind the knight. There was now a crisp smoking hole in his head and he crumbled on the floor.

”No, you. ”

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