Shadow Slave -
Chapter 959 Lonesome Rider
Sunny was riding north through the bitter cold of the polar night, shivering in his raggedy, tattered bodysuit. The coastal highway stretched forward, strangely silent and empty. From time to time, he encountered bleeding carcasses of slain Nightmare Creatures that lay on the concrete, staring into the darkness with glassy eyes.
Those were the only signs left behind by the passing of the convoy. The rest of the abominations must have been pulled away by it, rushing in pursuit of the small column of vehicles. That gave Sunny a chance to catch his breath.
'Ah... I am tired...'
Now that the thrill of the battle was gone, he found himself in a somber mood. The cold, dark, and desolate landscape of the Antarctic Center was only adding to the gloom. Looking ahead, Sunny winced as he rocked in Nightmare's saddle. His wounds were hurting, and the lethal toxin was still trying to kill him from the inside.
Most people would have been dead already, but Blood Weave was slowly overcoming the black venom. Sunny was still bleeding from the torn bite wounds on his side and his forearm, though. His thumb was also a mess.
Since he had not encountered anything capable of making him bleed in a long while, that was a bit disconcerting. However, there was very little that Sunny could do. He had a mundane medkit stored inside the Covetous Coffer, but lacked the essence to summon it.
He could not summon an armor to protect himself from the cold for the same reason, as well. After being completely exhausted, essence was slow to return to the vast reservoirs of his cores.
What little he had received from dismissing the Sin of Solace was almost instantly absorbed by his essence-starved body. Until his flesh w'as saturated at least to a small degree, he was not going to be able to summon any Memory.
It was not too bad, though. The more of the rejuvenating essence returned to his body, the better he was able to resist the cold, and the stronger Blood Weave became.
Slowly but surely, the feeling of sickening weakness permeating his whole being was receding.
Then, a small trickle of essence flowed into his cores.
Sunny commanded Nightmare to stop, and then dismounted. He knelt on the concrete for a minute or two, steadily breathing in and out and thinking about what Memory he should summon first. He was cold and required armor to protect him from both the elements and the enemies, but he also felt very uncomfortable without a weapon. His wounds needed to be tended to, and the Memory of Ice was another worthy candidate.
Eventually, he sighed.
'Nightmare can be my weapon, for now.'
With that, Sunny summoned the Covetous Coffer. Opening the metal chest, he took out a medkit and awkwardly applied the clotting agent to his wounds, then plastered the sealing patches on top of them. After that, he reached deep into the cavernous storage space of the Coffer, searched for a bit, and pulled out a military coat.
Sunny stared at the brass buttons on the coat for a few minutes, then put it on and raised the collar, hoping to save himself from the chilling wind.
'That should do it for now.'
Climbing back into the saddle, he sent his steed forward. Nightmare went slowly at first, so as not to disturb his master's wounds too much.
They traveled in silence for some time. Eventually, Sunny recovered enough essence to summon another Memory, choosing the Cruel Sight this time. He had considered calling upon the Sin of Solace, but then decided against it. His mood was already dark, and listening to the damned sword was not going to improve it one bit.
Plus, with the Undying Chain gone, his mental defenses were not as good as they had been. Sunny scowled when he remembered the loss of the Transcendent armor, and hurried to throw the bitter thoughts out of his mind.
...It seemed that after subjecting him to all kinds of misfortune, [Fated] had finally decided to bestow Sunny with some luck. He had not encountered a single Nightmare Creature while traversing a long stretch of the highway.
Eventually, though, that luck was bound to run out.
Looking through the eyes of one of the shadows, which was scouting ahead, Sunny frowned. There was a dark mass of moving bodies blocking the road about a kilometer further north... the concrete was littered with corpses, and the abominations were feasting on the flesh of their fallen brethren, devouring them in a nauseating mess of squelching noises.
As Sunny looked past the morbid feast, his eyes darkened.
Soon, adamantine hooves rang on the concrete, and a nightmarish rider plunged into the mass of abominations. His steed stomped and tore them apart, and the shining spear of the rider himself flashed, making stark shadows dance on the surface of the highway, and streams of evaporating blood fountain into the cold air.
It did not take Sunny long to eviscerate the scavenging Nightmare Creatures. By then, he had recovered enough essence to channel it into the Cruel Sight, and by the time the short and brutal battle ended, he still had enough left to summon the Mantle of the Underworld.
Finally, he was not cold anymore.
...His mood, however, only grew darker.
Out there behind the mass of dead Nightmare Creatures - both those who had been killed before he arrived and those he killed himself - the familiar shape of one of the civilian transports could be seen on the road, standing motionlessly.
The lights of the vehicle were gone, and its frame was littered by deep gouges. Several large holes revealed the dark interior. Carcasses of the abominations were piled around the transport especially high, as if there had been a desperate fight around it.
Sunny sighed, then walked over and climbed inside, expecting to see the worst.
However, there were no human bodies littering the interior. There was no blood, either, just emptiness and shards of broken glass. '...What the hell happened here?'
He lingered for a few moments, then returned outside and jumped into the saddle with a deep frown on his pale face. Full of tension, Sunny sent Nightmare galloping north once again. This time, his posture was full of a sense of urgency.
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