Pantheon Online

C.221 A Monster Among Gods (Part 2)Oct 01, 2023

221 A Monster Among Gods (Part 2)

Exile cocked an eyebrow as he stared down at the Deep Stalkers. They released loud screeches in his direction as they gathered into groups. 'What are they up to?' Exile wondered as he watched that scene. Suddenly, the creatures in the middle of the groups started eating their companions!

Exile's eyes widened when he saw that as his curiosity rose. 'What do they gain by sacrificing themselves?' He felt like it was a bad idea to let that happen. However, they were culling their own numbers on his behalf. His gaze intensified as he continued to watch the cannibalistic banquet.

He wanted to know what would happen. Exile felt safe with his current power after upgrading his equipment to its fullest. He felt like he could afford to wait a little longer so he could understand the Stalkers better. His eyes darted to his right, where one of the feasting beasts let out a long screech!

'That's interesting.' Exile's fingers twitched as he watched a purple diamond appear on the Stalker's forehead. A third pair of arms erupted from its flesh, and bones snapped as the creature grew. Its skin grew too tight for its body as its muscles bulged. A powerful aura landed on Exile when that creature screeched again.

'Hm, it seems like they're empowering themselves by eating the others.' Exile smiled softly as he analysed the situation. 'I'm sure this would be an amazing trump card in normal situations. But that aura tells me it's risen to around the peak of Tier 1.'

Exile could imagine how devastating that ability would be against weaker players. He guessed it worked similar to Aura of the Gods. So anything below the creature's level would feel afraid in its presence. That would lead the players to commit mistakes during their battles. 'Unfortunately for you, this doesn't work on me.'

Exile sighed before conjuring four identical runes. With a wave of his hand, they sped off to different points along the wall. The Stalkers leapt at those runes in an attempt to destroy them. However, those spells could not be tampered with using only their physical abilities. Exile clicked his fingers, and the four runes unleashed blinding torrents of fire on the Stalkers.

He targeted the other Stalkers going through the empowerment process first, making sure they died before they could complete it. As his flames swept the battlement, the creatures let out panicked screeches before turning to dust. While Exile admired his work, a challenging roar echoed from deep in the forest beyond the walls.

[-32 HP]

Exile's eyes narrowed when he read the log. The roar was an attack by Nar'Kozz that relied on the Strength stat. Concern swept Exile's expression as he realised the boss had to be a Tier 2 creature now. 'It definitely wasn't this strong before. If it had been, we all would've died down there without a chance to fight back!'

Exile stroked his beard as he glanced at the forest and then back to the walls. 'I see, so that's why you haven't shown yourself!' His eyes narrowed as he glared at the tree line. He made the connection between the Stalkers' empowerment and Nar'Kozz's absence from the battle.

'The Stalkers are eating the players to get stronger. I guess those creatures then return to the boss who devours them to increase its own power.' Exile sighed as he tried to calculate if he could win that fight. 'I can only try. We can't let that monster continue to grow.'

Exile glanced at the Stalkers underneath that had avoided his last assault. He could hear the cheering of the players as they marched toward the gate. 'I can leave this lot to them.' The rune beneath Exile's feet accelerated toward the forest. He scanned the area beneath him, searching for signs of the boss.

'The air smells a little different here.' Exile's nose wrinkled when a foul smell reached him. He wondered if that was a sign of those creatures being in that area. He did not have to wait long for his answer.

More than one hundred snapping jaws exploded from the forest canopy as they flew toward him. Exile grimaced when he noticed these Stalkers were nothing like the ones he had fought before. Each one had a yellow diamond on its forehead and two pairs of insectoid wings buzzing on its back!

Exile felt a threatening aura coming from each of them as he wielded his spear and shield. 'Tier 2.' He thought as he analysed those auras. Exile raised his shield in time to hear a metallic screech as the claws of one Stalker scraped its surface. The power behind the blow was enough to push him back, and he had to spend some of his concentration on making sure his rune stayed beneath him.

[-10 HP]

Exile cursed as he read the damage report. He was beginning to understand those creatures were technically above him in terms of level. However, his equipment would allow him to face those creatures. 'If I were a normal newly advanced Tier 2 player these beasts would rip me apart!' He could not help but wonder why the developers would have placed those creatures so close to Valheim in the first place.

A sickening thought invaded Exile's mind as he performed evasive manoeuvres to avoid their attacks. 'Don't tell me that we're responsible for this mess!' He wondered if those creatures had been hibernating in their caves when they first explored them. He had to admit that it was possible that when they first faced Nar'Kozz it was because they had awoken it from a long slumber.

'The boss is probably pissed its lair was invaded. If it ate Noslin's and my orb, then that could be the reason behind this species surfacing!' Exile grimaced as he put all the pieces of the puzzle together. There was a good chance those caves were meant to be explored once the player base had increased their average level to Tier 1 or 2. As it was now, Tier 1's were seen as elites among the players since there were so few of them when he considered the overall number of players. 𝒷ℯ𝓭𝓷ℴ𝓋𝓮𝓵.𝒸ℴ𝓶

Exile used his rune to strafe the enemies now that they were flying at his same height. However, those creatures were built to fight in the air. They were far more agile than him and could perform complex movements. The battle between them became messy as Exile stabbed them with his spear while launching Runic Fire and Lightning spells.

[-10 HP]

[-10 HP]

Exile kept an eye on his log as the damage reports came in. He had just slain the fourteenth creature when his mind told him the swarm had a chance to kill him. 'Eighty-six of them to go. I've still got plenty of HP, but I've used more than half of my DP.' Exile frowned as he controlled the lightning to form a shield at his back. 'There could be more of them further in.'

Exile sighed as he suddenly disengaged from that battle and forced the rune to fly at the maximum speed he could manage. 'I can only return to Valheim for now. We need to secure the city and prepare for the next wave of attacks.' He cast a worried glance over his shoulder when he heard the swarm shrieking. However, they stopped chasing him after a while.

'They must be guarding their boss. We'll have to get through them to kill Nar'Kozz.' Exile shook his head slowly as he considered how that could be achieved. 'Hopefully, Mikari can come up with something. If not, this siege could last a long time. I have a feeling Nar'Kozz will be content to use its underlings to assault Valheim.'

Meanwhile, Clay hacked at a seriously injured Stalker. Its skin was covered in burn marks and deep cuts where he struck it. 'The flashes above the forest have been gone for some time now.' Clay frowned as he parried two more beasts before ice shards pierced their skulls.

He nodded at Noslin before helping some of the weaker members of Ragnarok with their fights. 'If Exile has killed their boss, then shouldn't the invasion be over?' He was unsure if those creatures would retreat when their boss died, but he felt like they would. After all, they were being slaughtered and had nothing to gain by remaining there in such small numbers. Clay guessed that it was Nar'Kozz's influence that forced those beasts to remain there fighting.

"Clay! Some of them are escaping!" Beans shouted above the din of battle as a bubble came from her palm and exploded against a nearby Stalker throwing it off the walls.

Clay glanced at the field below and spotted a pack of those beasts rushing toward the forest. However, a grin appeared on his face when he saw a figure flying above the forest canopy. Flashes of fire exploded among those escaping beasts, turning them to ash as Exile flew overhead with an uncaring expression. Clay watched him scan the battle for a moment before taking a deep breath.

"Everyone! Do not let a single one of them escape! We must annihilate them all, here and now!" Exile bellowed and received cheers in return.

However, his statement caused Clay to frown. Exile had to know they had no intention of letting the beasts escape. So why would he make a statement like that unless there was something more going on? His eyes caught Exile's for a moment before the latter launched a spell to clear the area around Clay.

Exile wore a solemn expression as he landed next to him. "What's the damage report?"

Clay heaved a sigh as he removed his helm and ran a hand through his hair. His chest tightened at the thought of their losses.

"Out of the fifty players belonging to Ragnarok, we've lost seventeen of them permanently. Thirteen new recruits, and four newly ascended Tier 1's." Clay revealed an ugly expression as he recounted those who had suffered enough during the battle to get banned from the game.

Exile sighed as he shook his head. 'It's a shame about the new recruits, but at least they've only just joined.' Exile closed his eyes for a moment as he took several breaths to calm himself down. 'The four Tier 1 players are a big hit to our foundation. That's not something we can recover in a short space of time.'

"Have Mikari and Midas set up a merit system for use inside the Pantheon to exchange for rewards. While they do that, you should make sure everyone gets plenty of rest. The war for Valheim is far from over."

Clay inhaled sharply as he studied Exile's eyes. "Do you mean you can't beat Nar'Kozz?"

Exile shook his head slowly as he returned Clay's gaze. "I couldn't even get close to it."