I don't exactly who these people are, but they are very persistent! Thanks to the magnificent meditation Skill, I'm very much cool, a placid lake. Not a ripple on the surface of my thoughts.
Not upset at anything, I am a calm blue ocean. I embrace serenity. Serenity now.
PLEASE stop trying to inflict such deep cuts on my business zone! The level of budget cuts they want to inflict simply can't be borne in this fiscal quarter. My Gaster has been experiencing very lean times. That's a lie but don't focus on that part, focus on the part where I don't get sliced and diced!
They are trying to link around and surround me, moving as a unit even though I'm sure that they aren't speaking. How could they? The collapsing corals fall with the weight of buildings as they crash down to the floor of the expanse. As we run the air is full of the roar of stone as it crushes and crunches everything around us.
Why the heck are so keen on killing me? Am I so delicious? Is my core so precious?! Surely not! Is it my carapace? It could be? Shiny and pure, coated with pure diamond. Who wouldn't want it? It's my curse for being so beautiful! Did I bring this on myself for being so attractive, so illuminating? Like a precious jewel, my lustre is too bright to resist.
Whatever the reason, I will escape! I will run free!
Firing acid in all directions I put my minds to work, furiously pondering ways to enable my escape. Should I cast spells? Difficult. Wielding fire magic, water magic or gravity will be tough. If they catch up to me, Gravity could prove very helpful. I could slow them down using bolts or the domain in order to preserve myself. Hitting them whilst they flit through this waterfall of destruction is near impossible. Also, I don't want to antagonise the hunters if possible. Clean escape is by far my preferred option.
Therefore, the best course of action, my minds reason, is to find a distraction and use the chaos to run!
[Crinis, keep a Shadow Eye out for distractions!]
[I'm a little busy here, Master!]
[Get a second brain already!]
To be fair, Crinis is probably using her main brain to focus on her tentacles involved in her little surprise attack. Which appears to have gone well! Her target is currently engulfed in tentacles that surround them like a sphere of horrific blades and pulsing limbs. Hopefully no emotional scarring results from the stay within this eldritch prison.
The other hunters react with obscene speed to the threat and divert themselves to their comrade the moment the threat manifests itself. Blades flash, shadows converge and light erupts behind me as I push my speed to the limit and haul my precious diamond backside away.
Crinis cries out in pain as her limbs are severed and she hauls what remains back out of her shadow gate.
[What's wrong? That wouldn't normally hurt so bad?!]
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[I don't know! It just hurt!]
Dammit. These hunters are getting on my nerves now. How dare they hurt my pet?!
But I'll make sure to make use of this opportunity!
Bringing my brains into the escape, I perform a number of acts at once. I dash around and through a dense section of coral whilst firing a barrage of acid toward the clumped shadows and grasping for nearby monsters with my mana sense.
In a moment of blind panic, I find a tiny spark and I seize it. In a second I've realised just what I managed to detect and if I could, I'd smile. Sweet justice is coming for you little mutts and I'm gonna enjoy it. From a safe distance.
Heart surging with hope and joy that allow to wash through my meditative mind I angle my way through the coral forest toward the nest of shadow hounds. Crinis' painful sacrifice has bought us enough time and separation that I have the space to get clear. Acid now gums up as many surfaces between the hunters and I, which buys just a tiny bit of time more as they resume the chase.
It's enough. I burst into the clearing as sword light explodes around me once more and a horrified pack of Shadows hounds is already in the process of hightailing everywhere and in all directions, clearly spooked by the cacophony they'd no doubt detected landing on their laps in such a sudden manner. Luckily for me they flight in all directions includes back toward the direction I came in, right into the faces of the hunters.
How do you like them apples?!
Now, let's get clear!
[Tiny! Where the hell are you!?]
Up there?! Above my head the big ape is swinging through the coral like a … I'm not going to say it. I'll just say he looks at home up there, comfortable even. I can feel the resentment building up. I've been down here struggling and running, where was my loyal pet during this time? Lazily swinging and leaping above our heads!
You'll get yours, Tiny. When I'm done with your core, you'll see. After you evolve your head will turn into an actual brick! You'll be a giant lightning ape with a literal fired clay brick for a head! I'm sure it's possible. With the power of mana anything can be achieved. A brick head, which contains within it, another, more dense brick. That's you Tiny! Laugh while you still have a soft, malleable face!
Despite my smooth work it still takes us five more minutes of desperate running until I'm confident that our pursuers have lost the trail. Tiny, Crinis and I sit hunched in a small pocket of space halfway up the coral forest. All of us are breathing heavy and recuperating from our frenzied escape. A part of me is still paranoid, expecting blades of sword light to explode around me at any second. Those hunters were fierce, and persistent! They were freakin' dogged in their pursuit! Is hunting a monster like me really that valuable? Is it my core? Surely not. It's a good core, don't get me wrong, especially for a creature of my tier, but for strong and skilled fighters like the stone temple pilots back there, it can't be the first one they've ever seen.
Now that I reflect back. The whole chase feels a little off. None of those sword slashes felt completely lethal to me. Surely I shouldn't have been able to dodge that many strikes so cleanly? The more I think back, the more I feel as if those strikes weren't lethal. Were they trying to cripple me, rather than kill me?
A chill runs through my core. Something feels off about this. Why are these stone hunters down here so soon after the wave? Are they normal Dungeon delvers, or is their purpose something else? I have this uncomfortable feeling something is happening that I don't understand.
[How are you Crinis?]
[I-I'm okay. It hurt, but I've replaced the flesh that I lost.]
[Great. Tiny, come over here and I'll heal you.]
Once I top off his HP it's time for us to rest.
[Let's recoup our strength. I'm not sure we've seen the last of those hunters, much as I wish I could say different.]
This is going to make life more difficult for us. If we have to keep our eyes open for stone people trying to slice our legs off, we won't be able to hunt as blatantly as we have up to this point. Which means slower rates of experience and Biomass gain, which makes Anthony a very sad ant.
No matter, we'll just have to cope with the situation. Furtive and stealthy hunting may be less efficient, but it's safer. A little safety sounds like just the thing I want right now.