For several moments Reed kneels unmoving refusing to break eye contact with the figure.
‘T-This can’t be happening r-right?’
One by one the hunters slowly raised their heads and also reacted the same as Reed did as they look at the figure. Terror sucked the very breath from their mouths as they saw the humanoid figure grinning at them. They can clearly see the figure, clear as days.
Two heavy eyes glowed dark purple. A wide smile reveals two sharp canines and a thin tongue. Short pointy ears sit on each side of its large, narrow head, which itself is covered in thin and has two broad horns protruding from the sides hair.
Its tall broad body stands straight. Two broad arms dangle at its sides and end in narrow hands with thin fingers, each with normal nails. Its legs are tall and stand straight, each ending in broad feet.
Its body is covered in thick armor like-scales and its shoulders are narrower than its pelvis, from which a small tail sways back and forth.
The hunters shift their gazes on Reed hoping for answers. But as they saw Reed’s face, His face became pale. His lower body trembling, as he tried coming back into reality, though he continued staring into the figure slowly approaching them. Then...
All of them look at several groups of new hunters shooting at the humanoid figure.
The screaming hunters gestured toward them. The humanoid figure looks at the screaming hunter until the figure was interrupted by a fire spell the hunter cast.
The face of the humanoid figure, emotionless until then, was now crumpled in pure rage. A strong feeling of déjà vu hit the surviving hunters.
All of them stood there completely baffled about what was going on.
“What are you guys doing? Get out of here!”
The hunters shouted at the baffled hunters.
Confused and scared the survivors do what they have been told and head toward the screaming hunter. The hunter quickly jogged in front of them carefully supporting mister Rone. They run towards the narrow path. The surviving hunters followed the hunter. They ran and ran till they arrived at a familiar area. The two separate pathways, there, there are several hunters waiting for them at the spot.
“is that everybody?”
“I think so.”
The hunter quickly panned over the survivors and then nodded.
“Let’s go before the abyss closed.”
Having experienced this before they are not expecting to ambush and be trapped here once again.
The scared survivor ran full speed leaving everyone behind.
As the hunter screamed at the running survivor, the survivor stumbled backward and landed on his butt.
The hunter jogged towards him and kneel.
“Are you okay?”
The hunter reached out their hands. The scared survivor slapped away the hunter's hand and continues on running.
The hunter followed the survivor.
“Sheesh, talk about crazy am I right?”
The hunter elbowed the joking hunter.
“Shush, let’s follow them.”
They followed the running hunters. Everyone felt on edge about what was going to happen next so they ran as well at full speed leaving Reed, Rei, and Rone behind. A ray of hope once again found its way into the eyes of the hunters as they ran toward the light. As they ran they were greeted by two shadow knights blocking their path.
The scared survivor stumbles backward as the two shadow knights blocked their way, the knight raises its weapon and slashes its weapon downward, The hunter dashed in front of the scared survivor and blocks its attack. the sound of metal clanging each other can be heard.
The shadow knight beside them stick out its spear and violently shoved the spear at the hunter. The hunter managed to dodge out of harm's way.
Taking this opportunity the scared survivor attempted to run past them.
The shadow pierced through the scarred survivor. The survivor was shocked as he saw his torso being pierced by a spear. He was hoisted up and then violently hoisted down onto the ground.
“Dammit,” The hunter cusses.
The shadow knight looked at them and didn’t do anything else.
“Ragh!!!!” The hunter swung his sword at the spear knight.
The knight managed to parries it using the tip of the spear. It extended its hand and stabbed at the hunter like a puppeteer.
The hunter subconsciously used his sword to parry the stab that was aimed at his heart.
The hunter grasped the hilt of his sword tighter with his two hands and slash horizontally. He managed to pierce the knight, and the knight stumbled. the other knight step forward and stabbed the sword in deeper. The hunter could only grit his teeth as the sword stabbed him in the shoulder deep.
The other hunter erected his axe and tries to slash the knights. It reacted quickly and dodges backward. The hunter slid back half a step.
“You guys go ahead, I’ll handle this f**ers”
Another hunter steps forward.
“Guess, I’ll have to help you.”
The hunter walks beside the hunter with a smug grin.
“Whoever kills these creatures the slowest must treat the one who kills the fastest a meal.”
The hunter gave him a confused look then he smiled.
The hunter smirked.
They both have determination in their eyes. As they looked at the two shadow knights.
The hunters charged full speed at the shadows. The shadows quickly raised their weapons to block their attacks. Their attack connected making the cave shake upon impact.
The hunter screamed at the survivors signaling them to follow him. Taking this opportunity they managed to maneuver through thanks to the two hunters. They all ran at full speed as the lights becomes closer and closer.
Reed heard something approaching full speed. He bobbed his head behind and saw a strange rock from before thrown at full speed. His eyes widen as he saw the rock slightly faster than before.
He quickly pushed Rone and Rei down and threw himself to the side and shout as hard as he can.
As he shouted he realized it was too late as the boulder flew right past them.
The running survivors put on a burst of feet as they get closer to the light until a shadow becomes larger and larger underneath them. They tried to look behind them.
It was too late their lives flash before their eyes as the boulder was a few inches away from them, it felt like time suddenly becomes slow as they look at the boulder heading towards them.
The boulder flew across the cave hitting the running survivors. The running hunters disappeared as the boulder blocked their only exit.
Reed’s emotion washed over him like a tidal wave. He rose to his feet with a growing sense of doom. He slowly peeked over his shoulder and saw the humanoid figure slowly walking towards them. His breath caught as he stared at it. It was the same as before but this time the figure didn’t even scream at them instead the figure looks at them with those two deep purple glowing eyes.
Rei controlled his heavy breathing and raised his head to look at the figure. And as if it was a nightmare from a dream.
‘I-It’s here again!?”
Rone looked around and see if they are the only ones, and to his surprise they are survivors. Reshef and five survivors to be exact.
They are now 9 survivors in total.
Reed falls to his feet, unable to gather any more energy. He fell on his knees.
He knows once again towards the figure. He let out a shaky breath his mouth became bone dry. Tears becomes to blur his vision.
His voice cracks when he spoke those words. Rone felt Reed’s fear and does the same he kowtows at the figure.
The other scared survivors followed and kowtowed.
They screamed those words like a synchronized choir.
Reed closes his eyes so tightly.
The sound of silence there is no sound somewhere he would anticipate his ears hurt so it made it harder to hear his surroundings. A minute passed there is still no sound to be heard even a small breeze, he felt uncomfortable, he started to get nervous and his heart begins to pound like a drum. He looked up with a shaky head and saw the figure sitting closer to them grinning. He felt his gaze penetrated by those dark purple eyes. His gaze quickly shifted to the ground avoiding looking at the figure.
“I c-can’t take this anymore”
Pressure building inside his chest, his stomach seemed to rise to his throat, his tightly shut eyes open and the butterflies came in full force. Reed’s mind was engulfed with negative thoughts. He attempted to stand up but was stopped by the scared Rei, still terrified out of her mind, Rei clung to Reed’s sleeve. Tears began forming in Rei’s eyes. Her fingers trembled as they held onto his clothes His train of thought began to run again upon looking at Rei. He gave her a forced smile and slowly return to his position. Rei held Reed’s hand tightly.
His expression quickly shifted to scared to determine.
He panned all over his surroundings looking for potential clues even a small piece of evidence that can help them survive. The figure stands up from its throne and walks towards the surviving survivor.
The sound of hunters shouting and spells casting interrupted the figure.
Once again the screaming hunter gestured for them to come over. Reed looked at Rei and nods his head.
Like a routine, the hunters stood up and followed the gesturing hunter.
The hunter helped Reed carry Rone. As they make their way to the meeting point Reed saw the scared hunter who died earlier running past them once again. Reed’s eyes widen as he saw the hunter run away but this time instead of watching, he ran as fast as he can to help him. Reed kept an eye out on the shadow knights and ran even harder.
His speed increased and when the distance remaining between him and the hunter was mere a dozen feet…
“REED!!!! BEHIND YOU!!!!”
…..Rei cried out as loud as she can.
Reed who had been paying attention to saving the hunter; was stunned by the shout and hurriedly turned his head to take a look behind him.
He belatedly realized that the two shadow knights behind him raised their weapons looking at Reed intently. Not long after they made eye contact with each other, the knights swung their weapons down.
Reed hurriedly threw himself to the side.
Reed rolled on the ground and when he came to a stop, he raised his head to see the shadow knight standing right in front of his face
‘You’ve got to be kidding me…’
Blood was flowing down his head and blurred his vision, his forehead must’ve been torn from his rolling on the ground. His view was restricted and he couldn’t look far away.
Reed hurriedly scanned around his vicinity.
‘Think Reed….Think… I don’t want to die yet!!!’
However, no matter how hard he looked, he couldn’t see a single thing that can help him out of this situation.
Meanwhile, the shadow knight raised its weapon over Reed’s position and swung its weapon.
Reed threw himself again and somehow avoided its weapon. He realized he reached his limit.
He became dizzier and dizzier, he couldn’t maintain his balance. His legs begin to shake violently as he tries to attempt to balance himself. He knew he can’t run fast anymore. He readied his sword and pointed at the shadow. If he’s gonna die he might as well try while fighting. His surroundings slow down as the knight raised its weapons once again he saw Rei running with teary eyes toward him slowly. Reed can’t hear what Rei was saying as his ears began to ring out the noise surrounding him. He then turns his gaze at Rashef and Rone running towards him attempting to save him.
Reed sensed his own unavoidable death approaching closer after looking straight into the eyes of the knight.
The knight swung his weapons sideward. Reed tried to block its attack, but their weapons collided, and the shadow overpowered Reed. Reed flew violently hitting his back on the wall of the caves, upon impact, he spat out red liquids through his mouth
He no longer had any energy to move. Electrifying pain coursed through him, contorting his body, and he felt his ribs crack upon impact. A shadow grew towards him as something is getting close to him. He weakly raised his head and saw the shadow holding its lance close to Reed’s eyes. As the shadow was about to finish Reed from somewhere behind him, was a sword that pierced right through the shadow. The shadow turned its head around to see what was going on. But the hunter was fast enough to cast a holy spell onto the shadow killing it instantly.
Several hunters hurriedly come to aid the injured Reed. Reed heave a breath of relief as he saw he survived it.
A thin smile formed on Reed’s face.
Meanwhile, Rei began running towards Reed.
She ran with all her might and knelt down next to him as tears streamed down her face. She summoned all of her energy and activated her healing magic. However, nothing seemed to improve.
The dispersed hunters gathered around the injured Reed one by one. Every single one of them carried a dark expression.
Only Rei was crying in sorrow. But then… a shadow began to manifest itself out of thin air behind the hunters.
Reed’s lips bobbled up and down. He wanted to warn them but couldn’t really summon forth his own voice.
He attempted to prop himself up but it tortured him to move, so he kept the movements small and steady, he managed to raise his arm, Rashef was so quick on the uptake and saw the shadow beginning to manifest itself. The shadow manifest its sword weapon through its left arm, the shadow knight looked straight at Rei and swung its weapon before Rei could react Reshef push Rei out of harm's way. The shadow sliced through Rashef’s body like it was a piece of paper. Shocked, Rone quickly looked back but was beaten by the shadow, it grabbed his head and slammed it to the ground. The armed hunters were shocked and quickly sprung to action. The shadow dissolved to the ground before the hunters even touched it.
They quickly check on the survivors.
Rone was fortunate to survive the attack but Rashef on the other hand was found dead. His body was sliced by the shadow. the healer quickly heals Rone’s head as Rone's eyes begin to move his eyes widen as he saw his best friend sliced in half.
Rone's scream echoed around the cave they were in. Tears began to form on his eyelids and soon after his tears dripped.
He looked at the healer.
“You're a healer, right? HEAL HIM PLEASE!”
The healer shook its head in response.
“I-I can’t heal him…”
Rei continues on healing Reed, her hands were shaking. She refused to look at the deceased Reshed as she continues on healing Reed. Not long after drops of blood started falling from Rei’s nose. It was a sign of her reaching her limits.
“It’s fine now… Please stop Miss Rei….”
Rei shook her head from left to right.
“I’m going to heal you!!!! Just stay calm I’ll fix you!”
“I am calm….”
Reed voiced his words very weakly.
The armed hunters and the survivors stared at the two of them while forming a miserable expression the survivors patted Rone’s back attempting to calm him just a bit.
Out of the twenty who initially entered this Abyss only remained now eight remained now. And from this group of 8, two of them had suffered horrible, grievous wounds. Rone lost his leg, while Reed broke his ribcage.
They might have survived, but none of them felt like rejoicing at the moment. It was then, yet another strange noise rocked the cave.
The survivors looked back and saw the humanoid figure had a devilish grin itched on its face.
Rone grabbed his weapon and carefully stood up his sword supported his weight. He stood up and looked at the figure with pure killing intent.
He wobbled towards the figure slowly.
He screamed at the figure, his body glowing bright blow buffing himself and the weapon. The figure smirked and mocked the enraged Rone, he opened up both of its arms inviting him to try killing it. Rone was ready to plunge until he was stopped by Reed who appears to be holding to his leg.
Reed crawled and held hard as he can onto Rone’s leg. But Rone refuses to listen as he gets ready to give all he can just to kill the monster who took away his best friend’s life.
Reed looked at the survivors and the armed hunters. Rei grabs Rone's sword causing Rone to stumble.
“I-I’m sorry, Mister Rone.”
Her voice shook as she said those words.
“You damn Kids, let me kill it!!!”
Rone struggled to stand up as Reed tightly hugged Rone to stop him from moving. Rone looked at Reed and punches him.
Everyone was shocked as they saw Rone continuously rain down punches on Reed. everyone sprung to action to restrict Rone from punching the gravely injured Reed. Reed’s wounds begin to open as he tries his best to restrict the enraged man.
One of the hunters pulled Rone back.
“GET OFF ME!!!”
Rei hurriedly cast a healing spell on Reed but Reed insist to stop wasting her energy. But Rei was stubborn and refuses him. It was then, yet another strange noise rocked the cave. The cave itself began to morph into a familiar scenery.
Reed inwardly thought that it had begun.
He already had a rough idea as to what will happen next.
The hunter was shocked as they saw the cave morphed. The figure was on the throne looking down at them.
The hunters scanned the area and saw the dead hunters alive and kowtowing to the figure.
Everyone was shocked upon seeing the hunter. Rone see the deceased Rashef alive, he rushed toward his side.
He reached out for his hand but was stopped by a knight. He was a mere inch away from touching him. The knight swung its lance and managed to penetrate Rone’s shoulder.
The knight gets it to lance back with Rone’s blood in it.
Rone stumbled backward and touched its penetrated shoulder. He muffled a scream. the knight returned to its position like it was all a dream pretending that it didn’t happen at all.
The person who had rescued them from the preceding crises was not some high-ranked Hunter, but the lowest hunter and the world’s weakest healer Reed, who used to be the butt of their jokes most of the time.
Reed carefully stood up and walk towards the injured Rone. He then raised his hand and focus all of his healing magic on his shoulder.
Rone looked at the kid and then gritted his teeth.
“I-I’m sorry kid, for punching you”
“I-It’s okay Mister Rone.”
Hearing that Rone can’t help but feel extreme guilt upon hurting Reed.
“If it weren’t for you kid, all of us would have been…”
The hunters were thinking the exact same thought. Under the current circumstances, Reed’s words were their lifeline.
And now, that the loop has begun again Rone was quick on the uptake and so, he caught onto the meaning first before anyone else had the chance to do so.
“It has begun again.”
He lets out a tired sigh. He grabbed his sword.
The remaining hunters do the same. They unsheathed their weapons hanging on their backs and on their hips.
Hunters nervously gulped while looking at the sharp, coldly-gleaming blade.
“Everyone!! Form a circle around Mister Reed!!”
Rone shouted and the hunters followed.
“Miss Rei, would you be so kind and heal Reed.”
Rei nodded eagerly.
Reed was confused but has no energy left so he stayed quiet.
“Any approaching shadow, kill it!”
Rashef raised his head and looked at the hunters forming a circle.
“What are you guys doing!!!”
Rashef silently screamed towards them. Rone expression darken as he saw Rashef, he focused his gaze on the figure who is seated on its throne. He doesn't take his eyes off the figure not even a quick peek at his surroundings.
A familiar group of hunters appeared.
The hunters who are kowtowing the figure raised their heads and quickly ran towards the hunter.
Rashef looked back and saw them not moving an inch.
“Hey!!! What are you guys doing!!!”
Rashef screamed. Rone gritted his teeth and shouted.
“Apply a buff on me!!!”
The hunters were confused same as the survivors. Then without a second thought, the remaining buffers put a buff on him, and his body emitted different color upon applying the buff.
Rone smiled. With one leg he leaped forward towards the figure.
One of the dead Hunters today happened to be Mister Rashef, a personal friend of Mister Rone. Exploring the domain was decided with the vote involving everyone, Rone felt guilty he blamed himself for the death of his friend. So in his final act, he planned to go all out and kill the figure knowing the chances are rather slim.
Reed knew what the old man was planning, he saw in his eyes that he is ready to sacrifice himself. Reed bit his lower lip while watching Rone make a giant leap toward the figure.
More than half of the group agreed to do it together. Reed unfortunately did not possess enough strength to stop Rone here.
Reed thought Mister Rone to be one of the best among the hunters here, and Reed easily the worst of all the hunters not to mention his class as a healer. The difference in their strengths was all too clear for him to see. He felt like Rone was on the other side of a spacious cliff while he was on the crumpled side of the cliff. Not only that, Reed broke his own body because of his impulsive decision.
If he tried to confront him as he was now, there was a chance that he and Rei, who had been focusing solely on healing him, could meet their demise.
He silently cursed himself. He squeezed his eyes shut tightly. He never hated his own powerlessness as much as he did today.
In the meantime, Rone put all of his force onto his sword with extreme killing intent toward the distracted figure. Everyone nervously gulped and observed the unfolding situation carefully.
Rone gripped the hilt of his sword with his two hands and swung the sword with great force making the dungeon shake. Upon impact, a strong gust of wind hit the whole area.
“Did it hit it?”
Reed opened his eyes and saw Rone stopping mid-air. His breath caught as he stared at it and his mouth gaped.
Rone as well was shocked as he felt like he hit a wall. The sword he was holding shattered like glass. The flame on his eyes vanished as he fell. The figure stopped. Rone fell through the air, and his entire world seemed to slow down. The memories of his wife flashed through his mind as he continued falling.
“Hey Honey, I’m home!”
He sat down and removed his shoes. As he continues removing his shoes a pair of soft hands blocked his eyes. He smiled and decided to play along.
“Who could it be….”
He heard a soft giggle coming from his wife.
“Hello dear, I have a surprise for you…”
“What is it?”
His wife appears to be holding a box wrapped in ribbon. He sheepishly unwrapped the box and there it contains a pregnancy test. His heart pounded as he saw the test was positive. He lifted his head and saw his wife’s smiling face.
He grabbed his wife and carefully lifted her.
“I’m gonna be a dad!!” he said in a triumphant voice.
Both of them laugh wholeheartedly.
His lips curved and his eyes welled up.
‘I’m sorry, I can’t be there for our child…..Marie….”
He reaches out for them but was interrupted by a spear impaling him from below.
End of Chapter 5