I continued killing squirrels and snakes for quite some time… just two days, actually. Anyway, here was the results.
[NO NAME] [Infant Demon] 62/99 ・A nameless infant demon. A spiritual life-form. Extremely fragile. [Magic Points: 26/26] 13↑ [Total Combat Power: 30/30] 16↑ [Unique Skill: Reroll]
Now I could take vengeance upon the dreaded caterpillar! Probably!
Well, I needed to get strong enough to win against the caterpillars anyway. I wouldn’t be able to leave the forest otherwise.
I could use [Reroll] twice now, but its usefulness was still very much in doubt. The ability to retry after a failure sounded amazing at first, but the only success I’d had with this skill was the time I forced the caterpillar to miss its biting attack. Furthermore, when rerolling, there was still the possibility that I’d fail again. Also, the skill used the specific words “required magic power”, which probably meant that the more powerful the attack I used it on, the more magic it’s going to take. 10 magic points was just for dodging the caterpillar’s bite.
And finally, I was a spiritual life-form. My combat ability would drop like a rock if my magic went low.
…so I supposed my unique skill would have to stay unused for the time being. Perhaps it could be a trump card.
There were a few new discoveries.
Total Combat Power of monsters and creatures which had hit points didn’t drop when they lost magic power, but did when they lost a large amount of hit points. Such creatures normally didn’t look very powerful. Only when they entered combat and spent magic would they exert power equivalent to their Total Combat Power.
In contrast, spiritual life-forms like me didn’t have hit points, because our magic was our life force itself. Both my magic and Total Combat Power would drop upon receiving damage. In return, magic points regenerated faster over time than hit points, and I could always attack with the full power of my Total Combat Power without spending magic.
Spiritual life-forms weren’t actually that weak. Still, I couldn’t help but felt it unfair.
Also, there were still no signs I’d come any closer to learning [Identification].
That was my situation. For the time being, I planned on continuing to gain as much strength as I could.
Currently, for a flawless victory against the snakes, I would need to attack from ambush. I’d like to get strong enough to win without a scratch in a head-on fight, at least.
I moved through the forest, slowly enough to not get dizzy, while wondering if there was any convenient prey nearby. Then, I spotted a presence some distance away. I focused my 360-degrees-fullscreen vision upon that direction.
Ah, that’s a red caterpillar. The woods gave way to a small clearing of sunlight and flowers. There the caterpillar lay, chewing on a few petals.
[Red Caterpillar] 61/99 [Magic Points: 28/28] 3↑ [Hit Points: 37/37] 7↑ [Total Combat Power: 35] 8↑
Huh, surprisingly powerful. Wait, it had a scar on its back. Could it be the same red caterpillar that killed me the first time? It had a darker shade now, though.
I see… it killed me to level up, didn’t it?
What should I do? It was stronger than me, so I didn’t really want to fight it. Since my death, I had already regained my strength and then some. Another death penalty would hurt a ton.
Yet at the same time, I wasn’t sure if I would ever have the chance to meet the same caterpillar again, in the same forest. I still remembered very clearly the pain of having my body shaved away, bit by bit.
If possible, I wanted my revenge.
Both of us had gotten stronger since then, but I also learned how to move my body and how to fight. A straight fight wouldn’t be easy. I might be able to win with an ambush, if I do it right.
My chances weren’t zero. Its combat power was only 20% higher. A strong first hit from ambush should give me the advantage.
And finally, I was the faster one now. I could just run away if the fight turned out bad.
I made my decision and climbed up a nearby tree. From branch to branch I moved, approaching my target. The red caterpillar was right in the center of a flower bed, which had no trees growing, but the clearing was only 5 meters large. I should be able to reach it by jumping from a protruding branch.
Wriggling, oozing, following the branches. I’d gotten used to the way this body moves, but that nauseous feeling of disconnect was still there.
I took aim… and… now!
I flew from the branch. As I dropped down right on top of the red caterpillar, I stretched out a whip of dough and slammed on its back.
It shrieked and jumped in pain. Got you!
[Red Caterpillar] 60/99 [Magic Points: 28/28] [Hit Points: 27/37] [Total Combat Power: 33] 2↓
Good, that’s thirty percent gone. Not only that, it looked like I hit it right in its old wound and ripped it open, which staggered it and somewhat reduced its combat power. At this point, we were equal in power. With my superior speed, I held the advantage, if only slightly.
I landed, splattering myself on the flower bed. It looked at me and finally realized it was under attack. The red caterpillar roared in rage, its body turning a darker shade.
Wait, that’s not the normal screech it usually did…
And then I heard the answering shrieks. Around the flower bed arrived three more red caterpillars. Really? Really?
[Red Caterpillar x 3] 57/99 [Magic Points: 20/20] [Hit Points: 25/25] [Total Combat Power: 22]
Were they minions? Subordinates? A harem? I once heard that in insects, the females are generally bigger, so was this a reverse harem? Damn bitch, you’ve let power gone to your head!
They were smaller and weaker than the first red – well, dark-red now – caterpillar I encountered, but still much stronger than the snakes.
The plan had failed. Time to run.
Four caterpillars in four directions, all coming for me. I jumped towards the one opposite the dark-red.
It screamed, raising its head like a snake and spat acid. I dodged, flying like a butterfly… if butterflies didn’t have wings and were made of soggy clay, anyway.
My tentacle smashed into its head. Oh, it hurt a bit. Did I hit its fang? Was there still acid left? Anyway, I should try to avoid attacking the face from now on.
It started to squirm and writhe, seemingly in a great amount of pain from my counterattack. Hey, squirm somewhere else, would you? You’re blocking my escape path.
Meanwhile, the other three had caught up.
A screech accompanied another projectile. Wait, fire? Fire, not acid?! That dark-red caterpillar just spat fire at me! Impressive range, too. The fire mercilessly burned both me and the red caterpillar. Such cruelty.
[NO NAME] 56/99 [Magic Points: 22/26] [Total Combat Power: 26/30]
Oh man, that was a lot of points gone. I couldn’t let this hit me again. The well-cooked red caterpillar restarted its spasms. Smelled delicious.
Meanwhile, another red caterpillar had caught up to me. Seemed like the smaller red caterpillars were faster than the dark-red one.
It chomped at me. I only barely managed to turn it into a glancing blow and counterattacked.
[NO NAME] 55/99 [Magic Points: 20/26] [Total Combat Power: 24/30]
I was going to get bogged down, at this rate. The last red caterpillar hadn’t come any closer, seemingly the careful type, while the dark-red spat fire once again. The bug I was fighting attempted another bite, caring not one whit for the approaching mass of flame. I moved, putting it between me and the projectile, and then fire covered the both of us.
All the fire around me suddenly moved to light up the red caterpillar, while I was unharmed. Thank god it worked!
[NO NAME] 55/99 [Magic Points: 10/26] [Total Combat Power: 15/30]
And there was the expected crash in magic points and combat power. The damage might have been lower if I just let the projectile hit me, true, but that was part of the plan.
The caterpillar was near-death, now. All-out attack!
These bugs did seem to be quite soft, comparatively. After hitting the doubly-cooked red caterpillar a few times, the mist was released.
[NO NAME] 54/99 [Magic Points: 16/33] 7↑ [Total Combat Power: 21/38] 8↑
That was a good boost of power. Plus, my spent magic was replenished, if only a little bit.
Seeing its fallen comrade, the dark-red caterpillar howled.
Now even the careful caterpillar was joining the fight, seemingly scared of the wife’s anger. It circled around and spat acid at me. That was pretty smart, for a caterpillar. For a moment, I wondered if it was one of the other secret alpha testers, but despite the intelligence, it wasn’t human-smart.
I moved between the two bugs and squished myself down. Both of them spat out their respective projectiles at the same time, which only whiffed right above me and went on to hit each other.
The dark-red lost itself in its howling rage and changed target to the acid-spitter. I took the chance to finish off the very first burn victim of the dark-red.
[NO NAME] 53/99 [Magic Points: 22/40] 7↑ [Total Combat Power: 28/45] 7↑
I finally came close to the strength I first had at the beginning of this battle.
The dark-red screeched, attracting my attention. It just bit the acid-spitter to death. Aww… what a waste.
[Dark-Red Caterpillar] 52/99 [Magic Points: 10/33] 5↑ [Hit Points: 24/42] 5↑ [Total Combat Power: 38] 5↑
And that one got quite a bit stronger too, but as I expected, it didn’t regain any lost life. Low magic power, too. That fire projectile attack must have been expensive.
…also, it turned out that the identified names weren’t the actual, official names. They changed according to my perception.
It still had higher combat power than me, but I’d come this far. I wouldn’t run.
I provoked it with a hop and once again it spat fire, still ruled by anger.
Now, there were no longer any obstacle to take the hit for me, so [Reroll] would surely be a lot more expensive than last time. And it was probably going to fail again anyway.
So I didn’t even try to dodge. It burned. It hurt so much I would have cried if I still had my tear ducts, but I rushed forward anyway and started a melee fight head-on.
Three minutes since the brawl began, the dark-red caterpillar suddenly weakened, its hits no longer hurting me as much. Just as I expected.
[Dark-Red Caterpillar] 51/99 [Magic Points: 1/33] [Hit Points: 16/42] [Total Combat Power: 38]
Zero magic points would leave it unconscious. So if it couldn’t use any magic, it wouldn’t be able to access its full strength. Just a big caterpillar, nothing more.
The scuffle went on for some time, and finally the dark-red went down. My victory was rewarded with the familiar mist.
[NO NAME] [Infant Demon] 48/99 ・A nameless infant demon. A spiritual life-form. Extremely fragile. [Magic Points: 17/55] 15↑ [Total Combat Power: 25/60] 15↑ [Unique Skill: Reroll] [Evolution Available]
Nice, nice, I got a lot more powerful. Caterpillars no longer posed a threat… hmmm?