Shadow Slave -
Chapter 130 Strength Of A Dozen Men
Chapter 130 Strength Of A Dozen Men
In the morning, they set out for the castle.
Before leaving the safe haven of the granite tower, Effie gave them a list of instructions:
"Follow behind me. Listen to everything I say. Don't make any noise. Don't bleed. Don't think too much. Some of the creatures out there can hear noisy thoughts, others can sense strong emotions. So don't feel fear, either."
Sunny stared at her with a grim expression. How was he supposed to control what he feels?
The vigorous huntress grinned.
"What? You never tried to solve math equations in your head to impress a lovely lady? Just do the same."
As Sunny's сheeks began to turn bright red, she giggled and turned to Cassie and Neph:
"Correction. The two of you, try not to feel fear. Doofus, you try not to get too excited. If walking behind me turns out to be too much, ask to get slapped, alright?"
Sunny scowled and uttered through gritted teeth:
"That… won't be a problem."
Effie blinked a couple of times, then smiled.
"Ah! Playing for the other team? I see, I see…"
What… what was that supposed to mean?!
Trying to get his emotions under control, Sunny took a deep breath and counted to ten.
'Math equations my ass… who does she think she is?! Wait… why am I counting?'
Making sure that they understood her instructions, the huntress turned around and rolled the massive slab of granite that blocked the exit from the tower to the side. Lean muscles tensed and moved under her olive skin, making for a picturesque view.
Sunny stared at her back and gulped. That slab of granite had to weigh a couple of tons, at least. How strong was the beautiful giantess, exactly?
Catching a glimpse of his stare, Effie raised an eyebrow and winked.
"Like what you see?"
He answered on autopilot:
"Yes… huh… wait, no! I mean, that's not why I was looking. How are you that strong?"
She glanced at the granite slab, then at him.
"Oh, that. That's my Aspect Ability. It's a strong all-around physical enhancement."
That was… a very rare and powerful Ability to have. While not as flashy as many others, it was practically the ultimate warrior Ability. With not only her strength but also her speed, agility, endurance and resilience boosted, Effie was like one of those ancient heroes Neph sometimes talked about. Especially since that boost seemed to be so extravagant.
Plus, she had most likely absorbed a very large amount of soul essence over the years of hunting monsters in the Dark City. All those shards the recalcitrant huntress refused to pay as tribute to the tyrannical lord of the castle had to go somewhere.
But why would she just admit what her Ability was? Sharing secrets like that was not a wise thing to do, especially not in the ruthless reality of the Forgotten Shore.
Noticing his surprise, Effie grinned.
"What? It's not like it's a great mystery. Around here, anyone with a pair of eyes knows what my Ability can do. Do you want me to tell you what my Flaw is as well?"
There was a mischievous glint in her eyes.
'Yeah, right. As if anyone is insane enough to share their…'
"It's very simple! My Aspect not only enhances all my physical attributes, it also does the same with all my physical needs. Why do you think I ate enough meat to create a literal pile of gnawed bones, for the fun of it?"
She laughed and shook her head.
"Well, it was fun, not gonna lie…"
So the price for having the strength of many men was to have the hunger of many men, as well. Out here in the Dark City, where food was scarce and hard to come by, it was a dangerous Flaw to possess. It was a curse that could force a person to hunt more, and therefore risk injury and death more than anyone else would have to.
Most people would scoff at its severity, but not Sunny. He knew what hunger, real hunger, felt like. What it could do to a person.
Perhaps that was the reason why Effie was out here in the first place. Perhaps she had become a huntress not because she wanted to, but because she simply didn't have a choice.
'What other physical needs do people have?" Sunny thought, a little confused. "Air, then water and food, then… uh… huh?'
"Hey! I said not to get excited!"
Sunny flinched and looked up at Effie, who was staring at him and cackling. Embarrassed, he gritted his teeth in anger.
'Don't flatter yourself, beanpole!'
However, when he noticed that Nephis and Cassie were observing them with amusement clearly written on their faces, his anger somewhat subsided. Belatedly, Sunny realized that, perhaps, the experienced huntress had been joking around with him not just out of pure mischief.
Perhaps she was trying to lighten the mood to get them into the right mental state, thus making traversing the cursed city less perilous.
Meanwhile, Effie grinned.
"What? No answer?"
Sunny glared at her and said:
"Don't distract me."
Then he forcefully changed the flow of his thoughts and reluctantly added:
"I'm solving equations..."
A minute later, they left the granite tower and stepped onto the streets of the Dark City.
Effie had summoned the helmet of her archaic armor before venturing forth. It was of the Corinthian design, with a tall crest of blue horsehair and a narrow visor that left only her eyes and lips exposed.
On her back, there was a leather bag containing the meat, bones, and hides of the monsters she had slain during the hunt. Sunny knew for a fact that this bag was much larger on the inside than it seemed from the outside — otherwise, in order to accommodate all of Effe's trophies, it would have had to be comically big. However, it still weighed way too much for an ordinary person to carry.
Including the armor, the long knife, and the black leather apron, it was the fourth Memory he had seen the huntress summon. He wondered how many more did she have in her arsenal.
He had yet to see what weapons Effie used.
In the ghostly light of early dawn, they entered the cursed ruins.
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