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Chapter 86 — Hunting
Natalia ran with all her might. On her gorgeous face was an old scar extending from her lips to her chin. It certainly damaged her beauty, but it paired well with her ferocious atmosphere. As she ran, she saw a large rock before her. Natalia leapt over it and slid down to the ground, blood flowing out from her chest. Her right breast was almost sliced in two.
She unstrapped her leather chestplate and looked at her injuries. The slash was close to her ribs; just a bit deeper and the attack would have damaged her heart. She clenched her teeth while stitching her wound, then cast a spell on herself. The wound on her chest began quickly regenerating, but that was not her only wound. On her back and arms were thin cuts that seemed to have been caused by thin wires, and there was a bloody wound on her buttocks.
"This fucking murderer! Maniac!"
Natalia made pained groans as she bandaged her wounds quickly. After roughly patching herself up, she got back to her feet, her strong vitality and will to live powering her body despite its injuries.
Anxiously, Natalia looked back in the direction she came from, then continued running. She must have cast a buff on herself, because her speed was exceptionally high. She ran and ran, running past trees and rocks until she had exhausted most of her stamina.
A spooky voice resounded throughout the area. In the shadows, the silhouette of a person could be seen. His entire body was enshrouded in darkness, and only his crimson eyes could be seen. He stood on top of a massive tree, fiddling with a throwing knife. In a playful voice, he said, "Oh my dear sister, why aren't you running away? Is that all you've got?"
Natalia's lovely face turned fearful. She unsheathed two swords immediately, one in each hand, then said with a trembling voice, "Who's your sister? You crazy bastard! Killer! Maniac!"
The person who'd called Natalia his sister emerged from the shadows. He had an eerily handsome face, and his skin was extremely pale, as though he was weak to sunlight. He stood under the shadows of a tree, then sighed, "It looks like you haven't awakened completely yet! What a pity. Has Father's divine blood still not given you true strength?"
Natalia glared at the man, her hands shaking. Their previous battle had made her afraid of him. Even though she was almost a Grade 4 bounty hunter, an advanced rogue profession, and a ranger on top of that, she was still not his equal. All her teammates had died under his hands, despite neither party having any grudges beforehand. What made him even more fearsome were his tracking abilities; bounty hunters were the elites among rogues in terms of tracking down enemies, and rangers were no slouches either. However, her abilities didn't even come close to matching his. She was simply a toy—a plaything in the man's eyes.
She could not track this enemy, nor could she shake him off her tail.
"Yes! That's the expression I wanted!"
The man grinned evilly. He tossed the knife in his hand, and the next moment, a new wound appeared on Natalia's cheek. The throwing knife rematerialized in his hands immediately afterward. He looked at his prey with a demonic expression and said, "That's right! That's the taste of fear!
"You're afraid, aren't you? My dear sister, can you still not awaken even now? What a waste of your talents! Where are the powers flowing in your blood! Have all that slaughter and killing still not awoken your inner soul?"
Natalia's body trembled. As though she could no longer bear the pressure, she shouted and charged at the man. Her swords danced through the air, almost creating afterimages. Her attacks landed on the man, splitting him into three chunks, but the shadows quickly reformed as if nothing had happened. The man's crimson eyes glowed bright red, and he poked Natalia's forehead with finger.
Natalia froze almost like time had stopped. Her face distorted in fear as she looked at her surroundings. There was nothing but the man standing there, but that did not seem to be the case in her vision. She cried and howled, "No… NO! Go away! You fucking monsters! Demons!"
Natalia suddenly snapped; it seemed her fear had reached a critical point. Her eyes turned crimson red, just like the man's. The rear of her leather chestplate broke open, and a pair of three-meter-wide wings sprouted from her back. A tail emerged from her bottom, and a pair of demon horns grew from her forehead. She released a sharp howl as her skin turned greenish blue, her voice piercing through the sky.
Monsters within several kilometers' radius all scrambled for their lives, as though they had just met something extremely terrible.
The man showed his fangs, and phantasmal shadows appeared behind him. He sighed and said, "Finally! My dear sister, your resistance against fear is really quite something. It's at least a lot higher than our other brothers'.
"Now then, the real hunt begins!"
The man held a pitch black dagger in one hand as he disappeared and reappeared in mid-air in front of Natalia. He drew a dark line with his dagger, the weapon dashing straight toward Natalia's heart.
Natalia's twin swords swung so fast that only shadows could be seen. Her eyes were still crimson, and the changes to her body seemed to have let her instinctively block the incoming attack.
"How strong!" the man said as he landed on the ground, his arm slightly injured. He licked his wound as though his own blood was a delicacy, then continued, "If you had awakened earlier, who knows what would have happened! Perhaps our roles might be reversed! Is that right, my dear sister?"
Natalia was still very confused at her own sudden transformation. She looked at her own body, then looked at the man and asked, "WHAT ARE YOU?! Why am I like this now!"
"Who I am is not important. Just give me your shard of divinity!" The man disappeared again, his voice coming from seemingly all directions.
He materialized in front of Natalia, who was hovering in mid-air, and stabbed her once again. She blocked the attack with both her swords, then slashed violently at the man, the wind whipping violently around her body from the force of her movements. However, she did not notice another shadow approaching her from behind. The shadow stabbed her with a dagger that gave off an evil glow. The moment it struck Natalia, she stiffened and dropped down to the ground. The shadow twisted the dagger and pierced her heart. It then jerked the dagger from her body and swung it at her neck, beheading her.
Along with a burst of light, the man appeared in the air once again. He lightly descended to the ground and took a deep breath with a face full of ecstasy. The power within Natalia's body turned into light particles that the man slowly absorbed. When all the light particles were gone, he looked coldly at Natalia's corpse and stepped on her head, crushing it. A spooky flame emerged, and the corpse soon turned into ash.
"Now then, who's our next target?
"Or actually, high priest, answer me. Why can't you locate Father's most cherished daughter, my most beloved sister of all, the Witch of Terror, Lilian?"
Without waiting for an answer, the man slowly enshrouded himself in shadows and disappeared into thin air.
Back in Whiterun, inside a wide room lined with lit candles, Vivian, who was wearing white pajamas, was reading a thick book on a bed. There were many playthings on the rosewood table near her bed, but Vivian was focused on reading. She could read quickly now, and only after reading one third of the thick book did she put it down and mumble, "The North has so many strange traditions!
"Big brother said we'll be going to the Frost Kingdom, but the nobles there hate people from other places… The books say it's very cold there, and there are a lot of frost giants there too! I wonder what they look like… Their mammoths must be very big. Can I reach their knees? Riding them must be so cool!"
The little girl's thoughts wandered off for a while before she covered herself with a goose-feather blanket. She curled up her small body under the blanket and took a sniff.
"Mhm... it's soft and warm, but big brother's smell is missing. Sleeping next to big brother is better.
"Why hasn't big sis Gloria come over and continued the story yet? When is the princess going to get taken away by the dragon? Ugh, why do I want to see the princess taken away more than seeing a knight defeat the dragon...
"Big brother is planning to leave soon I think. Big sis Gloria is actually a good person, so I'll miss her a lot when we leave.
"I wonder what elves look like? Are all their ears pointy? The book says I cannot touch their ears because it's a special place for them, but maybe it's fine for me? Hehe, I'm super cute, so maybe a big sis elf will let me touch her ears."
The door opened quietly. Gloria, who was wearing a light blue nightgown, entered. She did not wear her veil in front of Vivian, instead showing her glamorous and elegant face. Her beauty rivaled that of the elves. She walked over to the bed and picked up the books Vivian had casually placed everywhere, then set them back in their original places on the bookshelf next to the bed.