This wasn’t something a high-rank Knecht was capable of. This was unprecedented! Locke struggled against the four-armed naga. Unbeknownst to him, the blue naga mirrored his surprise. It adjusted its grip around the weapons, intent on defeating its formidable opponent. Red spots were blooming across the expanse of its skin, which meant that it was supposed to be in a weakened state. If this burst of power wasn’t innate, its potential must’ve been boosted through certain measures. That being said, the temporary elevation of power was easier said than done. Many knights had to rely on potions to achieve that while some long-standing clans resorted to secret techniques passed down through generations, which Locke had no luck catching wind of.
There were classified scrolls regarding the matter in Faustian but it wasn’t of any help to a quasi-Ritter. The Sanctum, on the other hand, boasted an impressive library of techniques usable by casters and knights alike. Yet, it was only applicable to lifeforms above level one so it wasn’t suitable for Locke either.
He gripped the hilt of his sword tighter, eyes intensely focused on the blue, four-armed naga. Locke was on a hunt for openings and he refused to believe that the innate potential of nagas was this terrifying. There was no way for these monsters to live a peaceful seabound life if they held this extent of power, the casters and knights wouldn’t permit any entity that could potentially threaten their standing. This could only mean that the four-armed naga had boosted its potential deliberately.
He’d heard that a rapid decline would follow the end of such a boost. As long as he could hold out the battle, this ‘pseudo’ base-rank naga would naturally reveal its true pathetic state and fall victim to his attacks. Unwilling to waste another second, Locke lunged forward with a huff. Attacks were more of his forte than defence anyway.
The blue naga let out a snake-like hiss. Flashes of green and blue soon met in a ferocious battle, triggering a huge commotion on their end of the deck. The wooden panels lining the floor were sent flying in every direction, tormented by Locke’s swirling impetus. The sailors, on the other end, were once again occupied by new nagas that made their way up the ship.
“Captain, do we use the cannon again?” A sailor questioned, anxiety flaring.
“No! The ship will sink at this rate,” replied the mariner calmly.
“Damn it! When did these bastards get so close to us?” Another sailor cussed at the ocean surface.
The cargo ship was no ordinary vessel since it was specifically commissioned by the Sanctum for trades. The fact that it was accompanied by a Magister was pretty telling of its status too. It was loaded to the brim with mana-powered reconnaissance equipment and devastating weapons like the magic crystal cannon. The monsters wouldn’t have stood a chance at climbing onto their deck if they were noticed earlier.
It was too late for regret, though. The sailors were better off channelling their attention to the nagas while waiting for the Magister’s return. It was sheer luck they had Locke to deal with the four-armed naga or they would’ve been severely overwhelmed.
The mariner was busy with two green nagas. His high-rank Knecht abilities had allowed him to keep up with both of them at the same time. The older man was trying to defeat them as soon as possible so he could help Locke out. His mind was sharpened from decades spent on the sea, he knew that they needed to capture the ringleader to subdue its subordinates. Yet, his opponents kept attacking relentlessly.
The nagas retaliated without an ounce of reservation, forcing the mariner into a difficult situation. It would take a while to get out of this battle but his subordinates were dying out in the background. The mariner was growing worried.
Locke had no idea that the mariner had planned to lend him a hand since the four-armed naga didn’t feel like a threat. Even so, the monster’s extra pair of limbs had presented a steep learning curve. Locke had thankfully grown used to its attacks and had finally figured out how to work against them.
The naga was just as strong as a high-rank Knecht but the boost in its power had allowed it to fight like a base-rank monster. Locke wasn’t too bothered by it, though. He’d viewed the enemy as a perfect practice dummy. He was on an expedition to hone his skills, after all.
The four-armed naga was forced into increasing submission with every moment. It realised that Locke was someone superior with its higher intelligence. The naga let out a few despairing screeches to seek help from its kind.
The other nagas perked up at its call, eyes turning red. It was apparent that the four-armed naga was of a higher standing, presumably the ringleader of their group. Their attacks grew a notch aggressive and some began to lunge for Locke.
“You think you’re the only one with help?” Locke snorted. “Come on out, Fermoss!” He blew on the flute around his neck. A sharp note pierced the air and faint spatial mana began to spiral from the equipment. With that, out came an enormous eight-metre long scorpiondrake. Everyone gaped at Fermoss. It tilted its head towards the sky, letting out a deafening screech as its inky green scales reflected the bright sunlight with every movement.
“Go help them out!” Locke pointed at the troubled sailors who were wrestling a group of green nagas.
It had been a full month since Fermoss saw the outside world. There was nothing better to do in the spatial pouch than to sleep and it was safe to say that it’d grown bored. The scorpiondrake was visibly elated at being out and about. It stomped over heavily, plunging the nagas over the fence into the water. The scorpiondrake was out of control!
“Oi! Don’t fall over!” Locke hurriedly called after Fermoss. Scorpiondrakes wouldn’t drown since they were perfectly capable of swimming. However, the sea surface was still entirely red, covered by a dense veil of scarlet tarantulas. These creepy critters that fed on flesh and blood were specifically bred by the bamboo hat Magister to be used against non-humans; Locke wanted Fermoss far away from those things.
The four-armed naga was distraught by the massive major monster that’d appeared out of thin air. Fermoss was a shadowmancy monster and it was way larger than the naga, which made it stronger than Locke even if they shared similar ranks. The sailors were equally bewildered too; they’d never known that they’d been carrying such a huge fella all along.
Fermoss began its attack, quickly snapping the sailors out of their daze. The nagas were nothing to the scorpiondrake as it swung its thick tail back and forth, sending multiple enemies flying with every sway and fracturing their bones in the process. The wooden panels of the deck gave way to the terrifying strength and even the steel rails lining the edges were snapped into pitiful fragments. The sailors willingly ignored the damage; it was nothing compared to the prospect of staying alive.
Locke felt relief as he watched Fermoss cause havoc on the deck. He still needed sailors to bring him and the women to the east coast. It would be bad if they died out like this.
“Alright, break’s over. How about we continue this battle?” Locke hooked his fingers at the startled four-armed naga. Their earlier battle was just a warm-up and Locke still had plenty to show his practice target.
A pit of lead formed in the bottom of its stomach. The four-armed naga had a bad feeling about this. The delicate balance of the battle had been on the naga’s side until Fermoss’ appearance. The scorpiondrake was like a huge chariot that rammed into everything without a single care in the world. Femoss’ brutality had allowed the sailors to retaliate against the nagas.
Locke was about done with his battle too, thanks to the diversion. The blue naga was in a pinch without support. New scratches and wounds bloomed all over its body as Locke angled his blade fervently. Its brutally powerful body was the only reason behind its impeccable persistence. It took another swing of his froststeel sword to shatter the dagger in the naga’s grip, which further weakened the monster’s combat power.
Locke leapt and delivered a roundhouse kick. The blue naga screeched in agony, dropping the other dagger with a clang. It had lost both of its weapons and two of its fangs. Its attacks were weakening.
“Your power boost is lasting longer than I thought,” mused Locke as he expertly dodged a series of its attacks. Their fight had gone on for at least ten minutes but the naga still seemed relatively energetic. Locke couldn’t help but be intrigued; what was its secret? This could be a useful technique for high-rank Knechts to borrow the powers of a quasi-Ritter momentarily.
He rolled away from the naga’s attack, retrieving his spear from his spatial ring once again. He held it to his left while gripping his sword in his right. In that split moment, Locke tossed the spear at the four-armed naga, a diversion to hide his next attack.
He hadn’t expected the blue naga to fall victim to his spear, though. The monster was convulsing out of the blue and that brief moment of vulnerability had allowed the tip of his spear to lodge into its piscine tail. The spear’s tip had been specially carved with sinister bevelled grooves and the naga began to bleed profusely seconds after contact. It let out a guttural howl and struggled against the hold of the spear fruitlessly.
“Oh? Time’s up already?” The four-armed naga was noticeably weaker than moments ago. It dropped straight into the competence level of mid-rank Knechts, not even retaining its initial high-rank Knecht capabilities! The same had happened to the other nagas on the deck; they’d lost their prowess after a brief convulsion, which the sailors promptly took advantage of. The red spots on their skin began to reach for the larger expanse of their body. Countless scarlet tarantulas spewed out of the swelling sacs and began to feast on the naga’s flesh.
Fermoss was clearly having too much fun. The nagas’ rapidly weakened state piqued its attention, prompting the scorpiondrake to concentrate dark swirls of mana in its jaw.
“No!” Locke called out urgently but it was too late to stop Fermoss. A ball of shadow mana blasted out of its jaw, plummeting straight onto the deck where most of the naga had gathered. The creatures screamed and writhed in horror as they were reduced to a pile of crisp bones.
Scorpiondrakes relied on their strong bodies to fight but Fermoss had been too excited. The month spent in its spatial pouch had severely deprived it of action.