8 08 - Super Fortress

While that drama was going on, Noah had already killed some rats and had undergone several tests using his own Blessing. To say that he was happy and satisfied would be an understatement.

After killing the fifth rat, his flame started to get slightly warmer, causing a little more damage by burning the monsters, and of course, being a more lethal weapon for Noah. Unfortunately he could only fight rats one by one, since he knew that if he met more than one rat with his current strength, death would be the only companion he would have for eternity. So using his hearing and the enhanced sensitivity he developed over the years, Noah was able to differentiate groups of rats from isolated rats, thus making moving and hunting through the sewers much easier.

Feeling that he had already hunted too much and had experienced enough of his own skill, Noah returned to the starting point and followed the tunnel that everyone else had entered.

After almost an hour of walking, Noah spotted the group resting in a corner while a teenage girl healed the chubby man Noah had argued with before they entered the portal.

When Wendy saw Noah approach, her eyes lit up and she had to restrain herself from running towards him. Now at last, a weight had lifted from her heart as the chances of survival increased.

"Did you discover anything, boy?" The scarred man asked as he smoked a cigarette and waited for the other people to rest.

Noah looked at the group before answering and couldn't help raising his eyebrow when he noticed that only one of the teenagers had died. He thought that at least two would die in their first battle. 'Well, seems luck was on their side,' he thought.

Looking at the scarred man, Noah lost his disinterested gaze and made a serious face. "I found something out, and what I found was not at all pleasant."

Hearing what he said, people couldn't help but worry. Even those who did not understand this Fortress very well already knew that it was not normal. For some reason it was much more difficult to kill the monsters when compared to a normal Fortress.

"What's wrong, besides the monsters being more intelligent?" The scarred man asked, still smoking his cigarette.

'Then he also realized that the monsters are more intelligent? Well, it was to be expected...' Noah thought, only slightly surprised that the man also noticed the intelligence of the monsters since it was something very subtle.

"In addition to their intelligence being slightly more developed, apparently they also developed a method for communicating. I think it has something to do with the King of Rats since his Berserk mode ability is related to that."

Hearing what Noah said, the scarred man agreed. He had a similar theory, but he needed proof to confirm it. However, he knew there was something more. "You also discovered something else, right kid?"

"Yes..." Noah replied before letting out a breath. "When I came back to the portal we came in from, it was gone. I think you already know what that means..."

"Shit..." The scarred man swore as he threw his cigarette down in frustration.

Apparently only the two of them knew what they were talking about, so the other 12 people stood looking at each other, searching between Noah and the man for answers. If even when Harry pissed the man off he didn't lose his temper like that, something really serious was happening this time.

"What is happening?" Wendy asked in a low, very timid voice.

Looking at her, the man let out a long breath before answering the group. "Three years ago, a story appeared in the newspaper of a group that entered a Rank F Fortress and the monsters inside that Fortress were much more intelligent than the normal monsters. After 5 people in the group died, the group decided to return to the portal and declare the mission a failure, but for some reason, the portal was no longer open.

At that point, the group despaired for a while, until the father of one of the boys who had gone to accompany his son in his first stronghold took over the leadership of the group and took them to the boss's fortress room. Unfortunately, what they found there was a chief who was several times stronger than normal, causing the group of 10 people to be reduced to merely 1: the only survivor of the so-called Super Fortress."

"And how do you know all of that so well?" Amy asked with hands shaking in concern, already figuring out what happened to them.

"It's because it was in that Fortress raid that I lost my son... in front of my eyes," The scarred man said angrily as he squeezed his wrist with his other hand.

"Fortunately, the Fortress we are in is a lower grade Fortress compared to the Fortress last time something like this happened. So probably the Boss of this Fortress will not be as powerful as it was that time," Noah said as he opened a bottle of water he brought.

Hearing Noah's words, the group calmed down a little. Some were still shocked and desperate, like the chubby man being treated by Wendy now, but overall, the group understood that the only way for them to get out of this Super Fortress was to kill the Rat King. What remaining disunity they had when the groups joined now went away, mainly due to the fact that Harry felt an even greater fear of death and decided to be quiet and stop inciting hatred and disunity amongst the group.

After a few minutes of rest, the party recovered and decided to move on. The scarred man continued to be the leader of the entire group while Noah acted as a scout, as he had the best trained senses in the group, thus making it less dangerous for everyone.

During the procession, the party came across several groups of rats that were dealt with easily, since even when a group of 5 approached, as they were in a coordinated team of 14 people, dealing with these monsters was fairly simple.

Along the way, the group started to trust each other more as they all conserved energy for the fight against the Boss. Unlike the other Super Fortress that the scarred man had participated in, they had more people on the team besides being a weaker fortress as well. This Fortress would definitely be easier.

Along the way, Noah discovered that he didn't earn Exp points with the death of all the rats they killed in a group, most likely because the monster gave so little Exp that the Exp was so diluted from each participant's share in the battle that what was left for him was essentially nothing. Thus, even though they killed more than 20 rats, the amount of Exp he gained was no more than 3 points.

However, as he knew that during the fight against the King of the Rats he would have to use the Flames of Hell so that he would not die and they could kill the Boss soon, Noah had an idea to get stronger along their path since he would not be able to earn Exp from the death of the rats.

"Instead of leaving these corpses here, I think it is better to get rid of them," Noah said while pretending to be considering an alternative.

"What do you know, Rank F? Shut up and keep being a scout, since at least while doing that you don't need a Blessing are at least a little useful, instead." said Harry, who apparently needed to take his fear and anger out on someone and found Noah to be a good target. Unfortunately for him, his target was not as harmless as he imagined.

"Hoho, am I useless? So, how about you show the group how useful you were in this invasion?" Noah asked with a sarcastic voice and a raised eyebrow.

"I-I... At least my blessing slowed that rat down because of the cold!" Harry thought of the first excuse that came to mind. "Unlike you, who has no Blessing!"

"And are you deliberately ignoring all the ice boulders you missed? If you had at least hit them properly with an ice boulder, those rats would have died much faster, or at least you could have saved your energy for the Super Boss, like everyone else. But no, you wanted to show how spectacular your Blessing is that can't hit lone targets!" Noah responded with a look as if he were scolding a child.

Harry noticed this and was so angry that he invoked an ice boulder and threw it towards Noah. At that point, the people in the group realized that this discussion went too far, but they couldn't do anything else to prevent this fight, since the ice rock had already been thrown.

But to everyone's great surprise, Noah was not at all concerned.


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