– Memories: Logout [Retracted]

9 | The Lake of Northern Woods

The duo head deeper into the forest.

”This doesn look like a virgin forest. ” Keen looks around the trees and bushes. His scarlet clothing almost stands out immediately while they walk side by side.

Vi still has her guard up, but she momentarily loses it with her vampire saviors remark. ”V..virgin? ”

”By vi — ” Keen sees her knife heading to his direction in a speed faster than her usual. Still, he stops it by holding her attacking arm. ”Would you stop trying to kill the person who saved your ass? ”

”And now you
e talking about ass? ” She backs away from him, flustered.

”What? ” Keen studies her reaction. Even now, he doesn remember having this much ease in a conversation with a woman. Thus, he finds it entertaining teasing the lovely woman accompanying him. He wonders if this characteristic is actually his or if it belongs to Adjudicator Jun. ”I didn know you are sensitive about these things. Thats an ice breaker. ”

”Shut up. ” She refuses to look his way.

”Hush. ” He motions for her to be alert. A giggle echoes in the vicinity. Footsteps follow. Small and rapid steps that encircle the duo while brushing against bushes and tree trunks on the grassy ground.

Its a bad situation. When an assassin ability class becomes the hunted, the more reasonable thing to do is flee since its presence has been compromised. All buffs and bonuses given by covert attacks are nullified hence.

However, as Vi readies her knife, a familiar dark aura starts leaking through Keens very clothes, as if resonating with his weak heartbeat.

If he would use the dust screen like he did when facing the mob of Insane Transfers, he would become even faster and can probably bring the two of them to a safer place. But right now, the vampire seems to have no interest in backing out.

”What if its a Transfer who has mistaken us for monsters? ” She steps closer to him for the whisper. To be frank, she has no one else to turn to at this moment. There are only two of them. She has no concealment skill to hide her presence while she tries to return to town, nor a teleportation ability to make a successful escape with a great distance.

Under the moonlight, her vampire saviors power is the only thing that will keep her alive. Or would he be a worse beast to run from?

The giggles continue and Keen just stands motionless while the System prompts another mission.

[ Mission: Survive the night in the Northern Forest ]

[ Time limit: 07:30:00 ]

[ Reward: EXP 4,000 ]

[ Reward: 200,000 Gold Coins ]

[ Reward: Skill ]

[ Accept mission? YES | NO ]

”Looks like well be here for the night, ” Keen finally changes his posture, putting down both arms at his sides. ”I accept, ” he sighs.

”You accept what? ” Vi gives him a confused look, which he completely ignores. His focus shifts to the enemy lurking in the darkness while his mission timer starts counting down.

”Take out as many enemies as you can. Those you cannot finish, lure them to me. ” He glances at her for a bit while he reveals his vicious eyes glowing bright red underneath his hood. He then tosses the potion that Zeke gave earlier. ”Use this if you must. I promise Ill protect you. ”

Somehow, the feeling of wanting to protect seems more familiar to Keen now. Maybe part of his missing memory is someone he swore to protect. Until he regains what he lost, he will keep Vi by his side. He doesn want to lose track of his humanity in this temporal world occupying his mind right now.

Keens eyes are like an automatic military equipment during the night, wherein he can freely switch between night vision, thermal vision and human vision at will. Other than that, his sharp senses also give him a good grasp of the enemys movements. There are about ten of them, encircling the duo at almost equal intervals. The footsteps are small but agile with a strong hint of coordination. Their long range projectile weapons also seem to be easily replenished, which they drop on the ground haphazardly.

”They are using self-regenerating body spikes as their projectile weapons. ” Keen hisses.

”Can you see them? ” Vi motions closer to him.

”Since you are in the assassin ability class, Im sure your eyes and senses can also adjust effectively in the darkness. ” Keen gives her a thumbs up gesture without looking.

Vi tries to concentrate and focus on her eyesight and senses. Indeed, her perception of the ongoing ambush is becoming clearer. She can now envision the approximate number of enemies and their coordinated movement. However, she can still barely see their actual identity aside from their small stature.

”But we need you to have another weapon besides that kitchen knife, if you want to survive the night. ” Keen continues.

”Im glad you noticed, ” Vi laughs bitterly. ”I was lucky enough it sliced through the throat of the snake-spider hybrid earlier. But its on the brink of breaking now. ”

Her makeshift weapon already has shallow cracks and wearing along the blade. Any more use and it would surely shatter to pieces.

”Lets destroy their formation. You go at the back while I take the front. ” Keen commands, walking forward nonchalantly. He bites his forefinger and takes out his in whip form in his right hand.

Right away, a series of spikes rain down on their direction. Keen almost seems to teleport to Vis direction given his immense speed and hits the large, needle-like projectiles with his blood whip. He hits almost all the enemy weapons perfectly except for a pair which he catches with bare hands. Although already aware of his strength, she is still continuously overwhelmed by the feat he shows. The giggling of the enemy turn to utter shock.

”Here. Lets give them a taste of their own poison. ” He hands her two of the projectile weapons.

Although still annoyed by his way of training her, Vi has no qualms accepting the weapon. She must survive the night and return to Topsy Town as a proper assassin.

”Maybe Ill just follow you, after all. ” Keen says in a gentle tone. ”You go storm the front while I back you up. Don destroy their core. Lets not gather Release so carelessly. ”

He has a fair point. They immediately unlocked the fact that not destroying the monster core prevents the Release from forcing a random memory into their minds. Their encounter with the snake-spider proved that. Having that established would lessen the probability of being turned into an Insane.

”Why will you follow me? I can manage on my own. ” She runs ahead of him with a pair of bone-white stakes, one meter long each, on both hands.

He just follows Vi with soundless steps, readying to finish the enemies who would pose a serious threat to her. The enemies are weaker than him, but a lot stronger than her.

With enough concentration, Vi is finally able to pinpoint the location of one enemy. She charges toward an approximation of its next location within the next five seconds and throws one of her weapons ahead.

With an obvious surprise, the little monster is hit on its toe and shrieks in pain. It is half a meter tall and has a single large eye at the center of its face, a circular mouth filled with triangular teeth on the upper half of its chest, and limbs like a monkeys.

The next monster approaches with a maniacal scream that contains more than four frequencies. Its eyes are glowing red in a bestial rage while throwing a series of four spikes towards Vis direction.

She quickly evades, but sprains an ankle in doing so due to a misstep. Keen appears before her and swipes the enemy projectiles to another third monster with his blood. Even with an injury, Vi proceeds with the finishing blow to the screaming little monster she latched in place.

She almost destroys the core that contained the Release fragment located in its head, if not for the monsters sudden jerk that redirects her attack to its mouth. After a few more screams in both high and low frequencies, the one-eyed monster stops moving and disintegrates into black pixels. Its core is left behind, glowing purple even in the darkness.

Keen calls her attention with a slight nudge on her shoulder as the remaining one-eyed monsters run swiftly to them from different directions. She quickly pulls out the other spike from the ground and gets to a defensive stance when the ground starts rumbling.

The grassland where the little monsters are stepping on suddenly collapses, revealing an enormous centipede twenty meters long showing its hostility with its pair of heads elevated six meters above the ground to somehow intimidate the prey.

Vi steps back, feeling the pain on her left ankle. However, Keen just stares at the scene without a word as the centipede breaks the little monsters into pieces with the motion of its long body and scythe-shaped limbs.

”It likes to be the alpha predator. ” Keen bites another forefinger and takes out another . This time, however, he has restructured his weapons as slick javelins. ”Ill handle this one. Take cover. Use Zekes potion to heal your ankle. Wait for my signal to take the final strike. ”

His series of commands almost annoys her, if only she is not used to receiving continuous jabs of instructions in her real life. With how easily the large creature took out the little monsters she found hard to deal with, surely she cannot handle this much in her current level. Her passive skill should also be effective against the centipede while she hides and Keen draws its attention. Hence, she agrees to the strategy.

However, while about to hide her presence behind a thick-bodied tree around five meters in diameter, an even larger centipede appears beside the first one. Its limbs are colored deep red from the blood stains of its former victims.

Keen, despite the challenge, simply lets out a soft chuckle. Even without blinking, she is unable to see what happens next after he let loose the same commanding aura he had when cornered by the Insane mob.

He disappears from her sight, only to be seen again two seconds later with bright red orbs glowing under his hood and walking to Vis direction. When he shows his vampiric fangs in a desolate sigh, the two centipedes shatter to pieces and disintegrate into pixels. His scarlet, hooded long coat now has a blood-red hue.

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