Suddenly gripped by fear I hunker down and try to keep myself as still as possible. Don't breathe, don't even blink! Blink and your dead! Wait… I don't have eyelids! Settle, Anthony. Play it cool. My mentality is frazzled after being thrown into this unexpected situation. I have just the Skill for this. Without hesitating, I sink my mind deep into the soothing calm of meditation.
When using this Skill, emotion fades into the back of my mind, brushing against the edges of my awareness instead of rushing to the forefront and dominating my decision making. To be honest, I should probably spend almost all of my time sunk deep into the meditation Skill. I can recognise that when I use the Skill and my emotions don't cloud my thinking. The problem is that I don't really like the feeling of being this cold and logical, it doesn't feel like me. So I tend to avoid it, even though I recognise how much better my decision making would be. The more I use the Skill, the higher level it would get as well. Who knows what depths of emotionlessness are possible as it continues to rank up?
Those considerations are for another time, right now I need to focus and get out of this situation cleanly. My thoughts clear and I watch the six figures with cold detachment, taking in details that I hadn't focused on before. The armour the stone people are wearing is minimal. Their arms and chests are mostly bare, they have arms guards strapped to their forearms, the glint of hard metal standing out against their dark grey skin. A variety of weapons are visible on their backs or hips. Large curved blades and two handed swords on their backs, as oversized as one would expect due to their massive frames. One of looks like he's carrying a Buster Sword! Look at the size of that thing! A shiver runs throughout outside of my awareness as the image of that massive edge shearing through my carapace flits through my mind.
Don't worry, the diamond carapace is inviolable, it will never fail you. Their eyes scan the clearing constantly as they take in the signs. Their movements feel professional and clean, they never move too far from each other, their hands stand on the hilts of their weapons and they talk constantly, muttering low whispers to each other. Presumably about what they see or sense.
To combat the ever-present darkness they each hold a glowing crystal in one hand which emits a strong beam of light, like a
I need to be careful here. I know for a fact that mana detecting Skills are possible for humans as well, and I've seen humans use mana detecting crystals. If they bust out something like that, my overloaded tier five core is going to light up like a firework.
I've seen enough. Staying still any longer than this carries way too much risk.
[We need to sneak out of here team. Get yourself ready to go. We move slow and silent.]
My two pets give me their assent and I shift my legs slow and steady, gradually pulling myself further away from the clearing. I don't know why these six stone people are down here, and as much as I'd like to get some information, I don't want to risk it. I have no idea how powerful these people are. Nor do I want to start any beef. Maybe I launch a gravity bomb in there and wipe them out, get a bunch of experience and walk away laughing. Then three days later the entire expanse is flooded with very angry stone folks wondering where their team went and hunting for my impressive sparkly hide?! No way!
[Advanced Stealth (II) has reached Level 10, upgrade available.]
I'll take it. Perfect timing for this particular upgrade. Without hesitation I spent the skill point to upgrade the rank of stealth. As the knowledge trickles into my mind I begin to employ the techniques that blossom into understanding, minimising my massive profile, using the shadows and lowering my weight with care to supress sound.
I only manage to take ten steps before my antennae sent a shock through my non-existent spine. A tingle of warning that sends phantasmic ripples off all over my carapace.
The coral around me explodes as my hyper speed reflexes send me smashing my own head into the dirt to duck low. As a testament to my newfound reactionary prowess, I even manage to tuck my antennae in and neither of them gets chopped off! Winning!
[GO, GO, GO! Get on your bike and ride!]
Tiny bellows out a hoot of rage mixed with two parts joy as he leaps to his feet and with one mighty bound sends himself flying up into the coral branches as they collapse around us. With my near three sixty degree vision I can see the coral appears to have been sheared off, as if sliced with a giant knife, and the giant structures are starting to come down around our ears.
Agile as a … well… a monkey, Tiny flings himself through the wreckage even as it descends through the air but I don't have time to admire it, I need to motor! Six legs scrabbling and spinning like a road runner my muscles strain as I push my legs to their extreme, forcing immense amounts of power through my legs to the point I can feel them about to crack. Luckily they don't and I gain traction. We're away!
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[Advanced Dodge has reached Level 3.]
Excellent! Keep running!
Putting all of my Skills to use I move so fast my antennae are pressed back against the top of my head by wind pressure and the scenery around me fades to a blur. In my mind I can sense the six dim figures launching in pursuit, moving with incredible speed and precision. These people might be a higher level than I thought! This is exactly the sort of thing I didn't want to happen!
How did they spot me? Detection skill? Another one of those enchanted crystal gizmos? Good 'ol fashion eyesight? At this point it doesn't matter, I just have to get away.
[Hang on Crinis! See if you can throw them off somehow!]
Darting left and right I manage to avoid to the following strikes. I can see them, if only vaguely, as they flash out around me. It's sword light, but narrower and so much faster than I've ever seen before. In just a heartbeat it lashes out, slicing through everything in range and then it's gone. This is surely a high rank Skill in use. I don't want to mess with whoever is throwing these out, the variables and potential danger are simply too high to bother with.
It's not like I'm defending my home or anything, I have no stakes here. Better to just run away and live to fight another day. So, I run!
Another surge of strength pulses through my legs and I zip forward my eyes can't even follow my own movement. The coral branches and swaying seaweed rush past and I don't even care if I get stung by some horrific poison. Escape first and then cleanse poison later!
Even now I can still sense the enemy behind me, flitting like shadows through the destruction that they wrought.
A buzzing sound tickles my ear before a steel tipped crossbow bolt slams into the ground next to me and I stumble slightly due to the sudden change in direction before catching myself and continuing to run. I need more distractions!
POW! POW! POW! POW! POW!
Acid flies out in all sorts of directions, wherever I can sense them. Wherever it strikes the acid sizzles and turns sticky, causing the pursuers to shift and adjust their trajectories to avoid it. It doesn't buy much, but every little bit helps.
[Crinis? Got something yet?]
POW! POW! POW!
After concentrating hard, Crinis plunges her tentacles into her own shadow on my back and they emerge dozens of meters behind us, erupting from the ground to form a dark web that reaches greedily to engulf one of the hunters.