The Divine Hunter

Reaper Scans

 

Chapter 389: Through the Darkness

 

[TL: Asuka]

[PR: Ash]

 

Another bustling day for Novigrad came. One sorceress in a red dress was found going through the shops with Felix, purchasing the items they needed for Carl's Trial.

***

On the other hand, Vesemir and Geralt were adjusting and making sure the apparatuses in the lab were running as usual. They needed everything to be right.

Mignole aside, this was the second time in a while Vesemir was looking forward to something. Geralt's heart was thumping furiously. The last time he felt this nervous was during the breakup with Yennefer.

Thirty long years had passed since the last witcher was born, Roy excluded. The Wolves were waiting for a miracle to happen.

***

Auckes and Letho hunted for a furnace and alchemy workstation in the marketplace and smithy.

***

Eskel and Kiyan stayed back and managed the children.

***

Roy, Lambert, and Aiden, unlike their companions, were venturing through the dark sewers of Novigrad.

Sounds of footsteps echoed in the dark passage. The ditch was filled with sewage. Wet moss lined the ground, and the stench of refuse fouled the air. Here was the resting place of many critters and unknown creatures.

Three silhouettes were venturing across this passage. One had amber eyes, one was heterochromatic, and the last one had red eyes, not unlike flickering, intangible flames found in cemeteries.

The passage was not quiet at all. Grotesque toads covered in pus and slime croaked in the corner, grey rats the size of human heads scuttled across the sprawling sewers, and dark shadows shuffled and murmured in the dark.

The witchers came to a halt. Roy crouched a little and leaned onto the wall, black veins squirming on his face. He could see a crimson ribbon coming at them from the passage before them, and he sniffed the air. It was befouled by the smell of weed and the repugnant odor of bloated corpses floating on the sewers.

Roy looked at his companions, and they unsheathed their blades. With one hand, they held their weapon before their chest, and with the other, they cast a Sign in the air.

As Quen enveloped them in its safe yellow shield, a drowner that gleamed dark green reared its ugly head. Its bulging, sickly eyes scanned its surroundings, and it saw three prey before it.

The drowner opened its maw. If it weren't a monster, it would have looked like a big grin. Viscous drool trickled down to the ground, and its canine teeth were almost glinting.

A sharp sound of something zipping through the air rang in the passage, and the drowner was no more. A firework of blood replaced what was supposed to be its forehead. The bolt's damage exceeded even its user's expectations. Like a siege hammer, it sent the drowner's body flying back.

It slammed into the walls and fell into the squalid ditch along with a few pieces of debris. A big hole bore through its forehead, and its brains drenched the ground in red.

Howls of drowners were heard, and a herd of them appeared from behind the corner. The witchers charged straight at them without fear.

Lambert thrust his blade at a drowner's neck, killing it easily. Then he swung his blade aside, slicing off another drowner's head easily. Blood spurted, and the witcher was excited.

Aiden ran into the group of drowners, cutting them down like weed. Some had their eyes destroyed. Some had their necks pierced, while some had their chins annihilated. Aiden did not miss.

His blade danced across the air, and for a moment, it seemed like there were nothing but two silhouettes pirouetting and killing the monsters.

Roy leapt straight into the fray. He put his weight on his left leg, and his muscles tensed up. The veins on his face wriggled and squirmed. A surge of strength welled within him, coursing into his arms. Aerondight spun around, slicing the drowners open with ease.

Blood and innards spilled across the battlefield, and three drowners were cut in half. They howled and screamed, clinging to dear life. Unbeknownst to them, their flesh was being absorbed by the crimson blade, lighting up three runes on its fuller. They gleamed a bright yellow.

But that was not the end. Roy charged ahead to another group of drowners. He crouched a little and held his blade closely by his side. At the same time, he made a blue triangle in the air.

The ground squelched beneath him, but Roy paid it no heed. He went straight to the monsters and shoved the Sign ahead. A powerful air current smashed into the screaming, howling monsters. Two of them wobbled and lost balance, not unlike someone who stepped on a banana peel. The one in the lead bore the brunt of Aard, and it fell back down.

Roy crouched even lower and darted ahead. He stepped on the fallen drowner's belly and rammed Aerondight straight through its neck. A drowner tried to attack him, but he quickly stabbed it in the eye. A third one came right after, but Roy moved his elbow and slammed the sword's hilt into its face.

Pain made the monster stagger back, and its jaw dropped like it was a fool, but that was the last thing it did. The witcher's blade pierced its mouth and destroyed its brain.

'(6) drowners killed. EXP +120.'

Roy flicked his wrist and cleaned his blade of blood. All five runes on the fuller were lit up, and they looked like stars twinkling in the night sky.

"I can't believe they didn't leave more for us." Lambert wiped the blood off his blade with a piece of cloth. "We've been down here for one hour, and that was the only group of monsters we ran into. Not close to enough."

Aiden looked dissatisfied as well. A battle that only lasted for ten seconds couldn't sate their desire for battle.

"Don't worry, mates." Roy hunkered down and cut the drowners open. "I have a feeling there’ll be a big gift waiting for us down the line. Try not to cry tears of joy."

"Roy, what's the deal with your Gabriel? It sent that drowner flying." Aiden stared at Roy, but he didn't see that hand crossbow anywhere. "But it's so small. Are you sure it's not a ballista?"

"I asked Coral to enchant it for me, but I paid a heavy price for it." Roy smiled. "If you wanted it, you'd have to date a mage."

"May I—"

"Weapons are like my undies. I don't let anyone see my undies."

***

They looted everything useful from the drowners and asked Roy to safeguard it for a while, and then they kept going on in the passage.

To the veteran witchers' disappointment, encounters with powerful monsters didn't happen. They did see carcasses of drowners, ghouls, and nekkers, however, and they were covered in bizarre bite marks.

Perhaps another monster dragged them all the way here after Eskel killed them.

Their journey was a quiet one, but the witchers were getting more careful. The crimson ribbon they were following had come to an end, but the only thing greeting them was a dead end.

A stone coffin sat quietly before the wall in the distance. It was closed and covered in intricate patterns. Skeletal remains slept around it like a big circle, and some had flesh dangling from the bones.

The witchers held their breath and exchanged a look. Then they cast Quen and Heliotrop.

They unsheathed their blades and greased them with vampire oil, and then it was time for another dose of Thunderbolt and Petri's Philter.

Black veins wriggled under their skin once more, this time almost covering their whole face.

A sigh of relief escaped Roy's lips. Including the dose of Cat he took when he entered the sewers, he had taken three decoctions, but he could still go on. His Constitution granted him incredible poison resistance.

The witchers' eyes glinted in the dark. They held their breath and approached the coffin as quietly as they could, surrounding it.

Roy made a gesture, and his companions nodded. He hunkered down and pressed his hands against the ground. The purple light of Yrden shone through the darkness, encapsulating the coffin.

For every action there would be a reaction of equal force. The coffin shuddered violently, and the ground rumbled. The bats on the ceiling extended their wings and flew away.

To the back the coffin's lid slid, and a monstrous creature sat up. The creature was humanoid and resembled a pregnant woman. Its back was hunched, its body was dark grey, its legs were bent backward like a werewolf's, and dark, sharp claws protruded from its limbs.

The monster had the head of an oversized bat, but a pair of horns jutted from the center of its forehead, and another pair protruded from its temples, covering its ears.

Most of its face was taken up by its maw. The teeth on the outer layer looked like corn kernels, and the teeth on the inside resembled fish bones. It had a black, needly mane around its neck, and it extended down to its waist. That mane rivaled even the dwarves' beard.

'Katakan

Age: Fifty-three years old

Gender: Male

Status: Higher vampire

HP: 260

Mana: 150

Strength: 22

Dexterity: 23

Constitution: 26

Perception: 18

Will: 9

Charisma: 4

Spirit: 15

Skills:

Hyper Regeneration Level 7: This creature is immune to garlic, fire, and wooden stakes. They possess a long lifespan and incredible regenerative abilities. They can quickly heal their wounds and regenerate slowly even after their head and heart are destroyed.

Invisibility Level 7: Katakans can change their skin color to blend in with their environment. Most people cannot see through their disguise.

Instant Teleportation Level 6: Katakans can disappear into thin air and appear behind their victims to land a fatal blow.

Crisis Sense (Passive)’

***

The moment the katakan appeared, the witchers were already thrusting their blades into its ugly head. The vampire oil on their blades burned the katakan's flesh and bones, its blood diffusing into the air with the white smoke billowing from its wound.

A wail of agony escaped its lungs, but Yrden stopped it from hiding itself or teleporting away. The monster could do nothing but toss and turn in rage and pain. It flailed its claws in a feeble attempt to force the witchers back, but the coffin locked it in like a prison.

Not only did it fail to land a single blow, but the monster also fell into another of their traps. It saw a green triangle, and its mind blanked out.

The witchers pulled their blades out only to slam them into its head again, and the katakan now had six holes in its head.

It broke free of Axii's hold, but it was already too late.

Fear. Roy wouldn't give it any chance to move. Crimson tentacles leapt out of the void beneath the monster, turning into a red cocoon. There was nothing but agony in its eyes right now, and yet the assault did not stop.

Then came the third round. Lambert's swords flew across the monster's body, cutting its belly and chopping its innards up. Aiden stabbed his sword in the monster's eye and destroyed its brain, while Roy held Aerondight close to his chest, its tip pointing up.

Murder and cold fury flared within the young witcher's eyes, his muscles pulsating with every breath he took. Roy pointed his blade at the monster's neck and thrust the sword up in a diagonal angle.

Flames sparked and grew enough to engulf the sword. Aerondight resembled a fiery flag more than a blade now. It tore through the air and the katakan's hardened skin easily. A spark of crimson flame flew into the darkness and left a mark on the sturdy wall.

Debris fell, and the headless katakan fell back into the coffin. The wound on its neck cauterized. Smoke billowed from it, and not a drop of blood trickled out.

Roy held his blade up. The head of the katakan hung from the blade's tip. Its eyes were bulging, the ghost of its last scream forever etched on its face.

'Katakan killed. EXP +250.'

Roy heaved a sigh of relief. He held the hilt of his sword with his right hand and brushed his left fingers on the blade's fuller. What were once shining runes had lost their light. Devour was more powerful than he first imagined.

Not even an ancient vampire could fend off its power. If Roy had that kind of damage increase before he went in for any kill, all he had to do was Blink into close range and cast Fear on his target, and most monsters would die.

And this battle proved something. Katakans were higher vampires and possessed some similarities with humanoid higher vampires, alps, and bruxae. They were near indestructible. Unlike phoenixes, they couldn't be reborn from ash, but decapitation and destroying their hearts wouldn't stop these creatures.

However, there was no chance for it to return if Roy was the one who made the kill. Its soul would be converted into EXP and more strength for Roy.

***

The witchers bumped fists.

"Not bad, kid." Lambert gave Roy a thumbs up. "You weren't deadweight. That higher vampire was nothing. Did you see its face? Dumb and ugly. A log could have fought better."

"You need more training, Lambert." Aiden hunkered down and helped Roy cut the katakan's body open. He took its innards out and gave his friend a look. "Roy's on par with you. Not in terms of swordsmanship, but real, honest, life-or-death battles. He's powerful enough to go toe to toe with you. He does have an enchanted Gabriel and that sword."

The look on Lambert's face changed, and he shook his head. "I'm not stupid. I'm not going to engage in an all-out battle. Besides, if it's a spar we're doing, then he's only allowed to use regular weapons. And I'm not necessarily the weakest brotherhood member." Lambert shot his friend a knowing look.

"I haven't made up my mind just yet." Aiden rubbed his scar and shook his head.

"The Aiden I know isn't this indecisive." Lambert pushed his friend. "It's been a month, and you still haven't made up your mind? Is it something about the brotherhood?"

Aiden said nothing, but a frown furrowed his brows. Most of his life was him wandering the land all by himself. It had been a long time since he joined a group. He wasn't sure if this kind of lifestyle would suit him. He needed some time to think.

Roy ignored the filth on his body and whipped out the katakan's mutagen and tucked it away in his pocket. One down. Nine to go.

"Let's make a deal, mate." Lambert stared into Aiden's eyes. "If Carl can pass his Trial, then you'll join the brotherhood. You can't deny Destiny. But if he fails, then you can do whatever you want."

A long silence later, Aiden grunted. He was reminded of the moment where the children came to their defense. It would be a waste if they didn't become witchers. Raising new witchers was the duty and calling of all witchers, including him. The temptation was too much to resist. "It's in Destiny's hands now."

 

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