Published at 2nd of April 2024 01:27:21 PM

Chapter 126

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'Trust me, I asked that myself many times when I watched you slaughter them all,' Nyx commented, once more looking at him. 'Not even my predecessor had that much power available to do what you did in the beginning... Leo, you single-handedly brought down that building.'

Leo frowned, scouring his head for anything that might explain what had happened then. But there was nothing there.

"I don't remember a thing about that," he admitted. "All I have are short flashes of the time when I was already out. And even then, those barely make any sense. I definitely don't recall turning into a massive beast of shadows. Shit..."

Nyx hummed. 'I wish I could help you. I really do, but none of the knowledge in my head refers to anything similar. Ruthless Efficiency might as well be unique to you or at least rare enough that you have to figure it out on your own.'

"I expected as much," he sighed, dropping his head against the wall and shutting his eyes. "So what do we know? It completely takes away my control without even letting me watch. It uses rage and bloodlust to somehow make me stronger than monsters far beyond my level. And to add a cherry on the top, it can use my affinity much better than me."

'I think you can apply the last one to all your abilities. It didn't even have to look away to Devour all the enemies in sight,' the feline added. 'I honestly wouldn't be surprised if it also used Reinforcement to push your physical capabilities at least past ascension levels.'

Leo's shoulders sank. "True..."

Maybe he never had a strong ego, but honestly, it stung a bit that a rage-driven ability used his body and skills better than him. Although the fact that Ruthless Efficiency was partially made up of an ability supposed to protect him made him feel a bit better.

If only I could learn how to control this Inferno stage. Or at least how to keep myself from losing half of my mind when Blaze activates... Maybe now that I'm much stronger, it will be easier. He shook his head lightly. Nah, doubt it.

Not that Leo felt all that more powerful after getting all of those additional attributes. Apart from bigger Essence reserves — once they recover, of course — and some much better senses, he didn't feel all that different. This would most likely change once he had recovered, but for now, he couldn't even imagine facing a Nightmare, let alone dozens of them.

I'm pretty sure I could sleep for a whole week. I probably even would if I could...

Yet, instead of closing his eyes and getting the rest he needed, Leo just sat there, thinking and organizing the mess in his head. One of his hands even found its way into Nyx's smoky fur, scratching the place behind one of her ears. Going by the low purring that filled the silence, she didn't mind it at all.

For a time, they remained like this, both relaxing and dealing with today's problems in the safety of their minds. It wasn't until Leo happened to recall a part of their old conversation that he broke the silence.

"Nyx?" He muttered, getting the feline to open her eyes, though the purring didn't stop. "You once mentioned you don't have a class. Does it mean you didn't get anything at level twenty? How are Voidlings even supposed to match a survivor's strength if that's the case? Not that I'm complaining, of course, but still... I'm curious."

Nyx raised her head, tilting it to the side. 'I did get something, just like every other Voidling does after reaching the twentieth level. But no, it's not a class. Like with everything related to my growth, it's my species that received an upgrade.'

Leo furrowed his brow, his eyes slowly sweeping across the feline's body, searching for any changes. There was nothing, just like he expected. He would have seen it before if Nyx's form had changed anyhow.

"I don't get it."

She huffed. 'I didn't evolve. It will still be a while before I can do that, especially now that I'm treated like a survivor and not a mindless beast... No, what happened was that the System made my race stronger, giving it more attributes per level. It's like..."

As Nyx paused, searching for the right word, he finished for her, finally realizing what she meant. "Like an update, going from one version to a better one."

She blinked. '...Yes... exactly like that.'

Leo chuckled. "It's normal for software development. I dabbled a bit in the past," he explained. "Instead of developing an entirely new program, you just update the existing one, slowly making it better. Sooner or later, it stops being worth the time and work, but that's where full evolution comes in, hmm?"

The feline gave him a long, blank look before averting her gaze and lying down again. 'Technology,' she grumbled.

Snorting, he gave Nyx a few more scratches. "It's pretty useful," he paused. "Well... was useful. Makes me wonder if someone already figured out how to make it work after everything went to shit."

'Useless pieces of garbage. I have everything I need right here, right now,' she muttered, her purring spreading over the hall once more.

"Don't agree, but good to hear you're happy," he smiled. "Anyway, getting back on the subject. How many attributes do you now get per level?"

Nyx closed her eyes. 'Twenty-two. It was thirteen before that.'

Seems about right. I now get twenty-four points per level and fourteen when I was still an assassin.

Nyx still remained a bit weaker than him, especially as she didn't possess her Apex species advantage anymore. Nonetheless, if it continued like that, then they would always be of similar strength. Only their level difference could change that, but that was something to work on later.

Time for sleep. One more thing before that, though. Show me the shop, System.

Right away, the wide window popped up in his vision, a vast selection of items replacing the few rows from before. All kinds of hunter's tools still took up most of the space, but now the items at least seemed useful, their quality rising.

Weak elemental traps came up first, followed by uncommon tools and even a few weapons. There was more mundane stuff, but what really caught his eye was the small section of Ether items.

An uncommon-quality flare and a small pile of golden wood joined the common flares from the past. Unlike before, the System offered a very short description for each item, giving Leo all the information he needed.

Five minutes duration with stronger effects than the common flare for one hundred Ether. Not bad, but also nothing special. He noted, selecting the other item. A pile of special wood for a campfire. Can be ignited with typical methods and will create a weak miniature safe zone for about two hours. Huh, neat. And how much for it?

Leo glanced at the price, his eyes bulging out.

What the fuck?! A thousand bloody Ether?! After killing so many Nightmares, even I can only buy five. What the hell, System? You're supposed to help survivors, not bleed us dry.

However, no matter how much he wanted to complain, the prices wouldn't change anyway. Not that it stopped him from buying some other stuff and then giving the System one giant finger.

He really needed those new pants and the pile of wet towels. Apart from his cloak, his current clothes barely covered his lower body, and he didn't want to walk around covered in dry blood from head to toe.

'Leo?' Nyx eyes fluttered open, squinting at the items that appeared before them.

Rising from the ground, he shrugged off his cloak and approached the towels. "Don't worry. I just need to clean up a bit. Can't show up looking like this. People would run."

'You should rest.'

He sighed. "I will, in a minute. You can go to sleep too. I won't be that far behind."

'Okay...' She closed her eyes again. 'Be quick and try not to trip.'

Leo snorted.

Slowly, Leo's eyelids lifted, his vision coming back into focus. A few rays of the sun slipped through the holes in the roof, illuminating the old production hall in low light. The day had finally come, and with it, the time to face Holden and co.

With a single motion, he jumped to his feet, the movement coming out faster than any other before. His entire body felt lighter, yet stronger, while his muscles brimmed with hidden power waiting to be used.

Guess I really needed some sleep. Leo mused, flexing his arms. Suddenly, the Nightmares don't seem too scary... Nyx? You there?

'Leo!' The feline chirped like an eager puppy. 'You're finally awake! I was worried you wouldn't wake up for another day. I will be back in a moment; I just took a look outside.'

His mind came to an almost complete stop. What? Wait, hold up, Nyx! What do you mean by another day?

'Oh... Yeah... Leo, your nap took a bit longer than you probably wanted. You have been asleep for over twenty-four hours.'


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