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Published at 24th of November 2022 12:34:43 PM


Chapter 105

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"Hear ye! Hear ye! The proclamation of Herald Stone!" The furry Crobels stopped tending their plants and looked at me with curious, round eyes. "I know I have stolen some of your food before, and that was a sad affair for all of us…mostly you. I regret to inform you guys that I'm back for more…and I'll have to kill some of you too."

Feeling guilty that he couldn't help me even after I brought his favorite drink, Pathfinder Gibil readily agreed to reveal the easy way to collect Vineweaver prickles. I brought along [Peely Fruit Wine], expecting him to be in a sorry state after reading Yusa's letters. But I didn't think that my gift would become a guilt-tripping tool.

I'm just going to pretend that I, the Great Herald Stone, planned this.

According to Gibil, a seedling Hermit Vinereaver lived near our village. It was weak—which was good news—and couldn't compete with the adult ones, so it didn't dare travel to the other side of the cliff walls.

My updated [Tattered Map] showed that the place where Crobels lived was also the home of the Vinereaver. However, it was so shy and secretive that I had to do something drastic to draw it out of its hiding spot.

Gibil explained that the seedling Vinereaver and the Crobels had a symbiotic relationship.

The pastel-colored monkeys kept the area clean and conducive to plant growth, while the Vinereaver protected them. Unfortunately, to force out the Vinereaver, I had to kill several Crobels. And to anger the Crobels enough that they’d stay and fight instead of running away like they usually did, I'd have to trash their crops.

With deep regret, Herald Stone, the Reluctant Destroyer of Crops, set forth to spread destruction—I walked up to the various plants and pressed [Harvest] whenever the option came up.

The Crowbels cowered in fright as one patch of plants disappeared after the next. Their incessant chattering flitted through the trees.

As I approached, they dawdled on their stumpy legs or clumsily plodded on all fours, scrambling to hide in the bushes. But those bushes also vanished as I harvested them. More and more herbs filled my inventory. I hoped that Gula could make healing potions from the fruits of my carnage.

How can these tiny little things move so fast?

I chased after three Crobels, each sporting one of the primary colors. I could cast [Enraging Call] to grab one, but Gibil cautioned me that if I prematurely killed a Crobel while they were in 'Flee' mode, the rest would be harder to find.

They dove among Rapdom plants, the large blue celeries that Healer Gula previously requested me to find. "And harvest," I said with a sigh. The Rapdoms disappeared, exposing the scared little monkeys. "Can you guys attack me already? The sooner you do, the faster we'll get over this—oh, hello there. Are you ready to fight?"

The [Lvl. 11 Red Crobel] bared its tiny fangs while its blue and yellow friends fled. As it hissed, its reddish fur stood on end like a cat. I thought it would transform when it became enraged like the Mirdabons, but it stayed the same form, just a bit angrier.

I switched to my [Heavy Spear] but didn't attack the Crobel. I trotted further into their territory and continued gathering their crops; I needed more of them to attack me. The first Crobel that found enough courage in its heart to fight the world-ending monster ambled after me. Whenever I'd stop to harvest, it swiped with its short claws.

The small nick on my health bar instantly disappeared. In turn, a chunk got removed from the Crobel's health because of my retribution damage. And it also got Burned because of my [Mantle of Kindling].

I turned around to face it—time for some testing.

Casting [Greater Pyro Shell], I converted part of my Ancestral Shroud into a barrier.

Then I bent down and stopped an attack from the [Lvl. 11 Red Crobel] with my shield. The effect of [Mantle of Kindling] activated, replenishing a small portion of my AS because I successfully performed a Head-On Block against a Burned enemy.

This was the first time I’d seen this effect of my newest skill. I did Burn the Limerian Toads when I farmed them, but they were too weak to destroy my [Greater Pyro Shell] so my Ancestral Shroud was mostly full. Also, it was awkward to Head-On Block tiny monsters because I had to bend down, so I didn’t really bother that much to do so. The Limerian Toads were half the height of Crobels but twice as wide.

Slowly but surely, others Crobels decided enough was enough and fought back.

Nervous chattering faded as furious hissing like static in ancient TVs became louder. They crowded around my feet, biting and clawing at my legs. It was like getting attacked by a rainbow’s worth of fur-covered bean bags.

There was another thing I wanted to test.

Morabodry | Item Level: 10
Rare | Consumable | No Requirement

A mild poison brewed from the extract of choice herbs and infused with toxic effects by arcane magic. It causes the poisoned unit to lose (1% of Max Health+24) per second. It also hinders the senses and induces sluggishness, reducing Accuracy and Attack Speed by (7%). (If applied to equipment, it has a 10% (+2%) chance of poisoning the enemy per damage instance. Poisoned Status lasts for 4(+3) seconds.)

Duration: 15 Minutes
Uses: 5/5

My choices were to either coat my gear with the poison or drink it and then use [Cloak of the Plaguespreader]. I opted for the first one. I didn’t have anywhere to slot a Skill Shard and didn’t want to use Lesser Skill Points to level it up. More importantly, I was about to fight a potentially strong opponent, so I didn’t want to poison myself.

The system prompted me to choose which equipment I should apply it on.

Bawu had explained that it should be something that could inflict damage. I didn't want to coat my [Heavy Spear] with [Morabodry] as I’d be dual-wielding shields in a serious fight. That left me with either the pieces of the Bramble set I wore—crappy gears that had retribution but nothing else going for them, not even a set bonus—or my [Thorny Worn Targe].

Whenever a monster attacked, I'd deal the total retribution damage from all of my gears, not just from the specific one hit, like a shield, for example. But because I could only apply [Morabodry] on a particular item—well, I could coat others too since I had eight bottles and each had multiple uses—logic dictated that the monster should attack the poison-coated item to get poisoned.

I settled on my [Thorny Worn Targe] to test.

Thorny Worn Targe | Item Level: 7
Rare | Shield | Off-hand
  68 Armor
  23% Chance to Block 75 Damage
  Head-On Block 150 Damage
  Deal 150 Retribution Damage to the enemy each time you execute a Head-On Block with this Shield
  Requires: 20 Might, 35 Vigor
--------------------
  +35 Retribution Damage (Physical)
  +73 Health
  +15 Vigor

A bright violet sheen enveloped my [Thorny Worn Targe], then faded until the color was barely noticeable. Tiny bubbles floated off my shield as if it was giving off noxious gases.

I held off blocking for a minute and observed if I'd poison the Crobels attacking me. Several of them died, and their buddies filled their spots, but there was no indication that they were poisoned. Next, leaning on my spear to balance myself, I bent as low as possible to perform Head-On Blocks properly.

The furious swipes of Crobels hit my [Thorny Worn Targe]. The same bubbles from my shield began to rise out of the fur of a [Lvl. 9 Green Crobel]. The movements of the poisoned Crobel noticeably slowed. Its short paw arcing towards me lagged behind its fellows beside it. Its strike didn't connect; its claws sliced air—[Morabodry] also reduced Accuracy.

Given that its attack had missed, my retribution didn't poke it back. But the poison ticks still hurt it during its short duration.

"Should I buy a full set with retribution?" Bending down to block short buggers was too much of a hassle.

But equipment with retribution meant that it was one line less that could've been a defensive stat. I could have retribution gear only for my lower body and at least one shield with retribution for attacks above knee height. I didn't realize I'd encounter a problem such as this.

Several more minutes passed. The giant monster that was me continued to wreak havoc on the Crobel civilization.

I waded through the surging chubby monkeys and continued to farm the remaining plants as they fruitlessly struggled to stop me. My [Greater Pyro Shell] exploded, mowing down many of their numbers. Others died to my retribution damage, Burn, and poison ticks.

How much more must these cute chubby monkeys suffer? For how long must this destruction go on?

Not that long.

A piercing shriek drowned the hissing of the Crobels. They all looked at each other and gave me a good snarl before rushing away.

"The villain finally appears to—Hang on. I’m the bad guy here, aren’t I?"

The branches high above me rustled. Something was moving up there.

The baby Vinereaver? Was it among the trees? I had expected it to be hiding underground. The adult version had a penchant for tunneling its vines into the earth.

The shriek reverberated once again, louder and shriller this time. What I suspected to be the Vinereaver shook the branches in anger, causing a shower of leaves. I moved out of the way just as my new opponent fell from above.

WHAM!

The violent vibrations of the quake traveled through my hooves and up my legs. I moved as if in slow motion, and my vision was hazy. A negative status!

I still got caught in the AoE? My shell didn't pop, but I noticed that my health bar dipped a bit as my shell didn't completely negate all damage. I trotted a couple more meters away before turning around to look at my opponent.

[Lvl 17 Monkey Idol: Moa Manot]

"A name? This is a boss?" I had seen that mini-bosses and Elites were stronger variants of regular monsters, while bosses had names.

Given Zoar Elab’s strength, I should've expected that the baby Vinereaver was also a boss. Kezo had mentioned that besides Buvalu, the overpowered Mirdabon, there were three other bosses on this side of the cliff wall. Moa Manot must be one of them.

Like Zoar Elab's Living Statue phase, Moa Manot controlled a large monkey statue. It looked like a Crobel on steroids, with more pronounced fangs, larger eyes, and longer claws. If it stood beside me, it would probably come up to the abdomen of the upper half of my body. Despite being short, it was thickset, its stone body about as wide as my shoulder.

Thorny tendrils wiggled out of the cracks of its stone body. Then it lashed at me.

I raised my shields and braced for impact.

 

Temple

Fifteen advanced chapters on Patreon. Thanks to all patrons, especially Cidule tier Teeneet (aka Whale) 
Read my other story: REND - a psychological novel with an atypical protagonist 
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