Just as I had expected, only this Crown Kobolt was different from the rest. Even after sensing my status elevation, he had not lost his fighting spirit. His sharp half-moon shaped eyes showed an animosity towards me, one that would deepen if I was to stab him.
This Crown Kobolt had a cautious personality. However, he seemed to have suddenly changed when he became cornered. For a while, we glared at each other. I checked the skills that the Crown Kobolt possessed with <Appraisal>.
Grappling: Increased attack power of super close combat using bare hands. Ability to use <One Inch Punch> arts that destroys the opponent from the inside.
I see… This was like a trump card. It was probably this skill that had decimated that rock into sand. Even if I surpassed his status, I would be unable to withstand consecutive <One Inch Punch> hits at point blank distance. My future would only be having bones and internal organs crushed. Well, I just had to stay out of his range.
"Fate, just clear it all in one go. With your current status, you will be able to use my 1st rank secret skill, <Bloody Ptarmigan>."
"That's right, a secret skill. If you were to use it, boring fights like these would be easily blown away."
As I kept the Crown Kobolt in check, I asked him what needed to be done.
"Simple. Give me 10% of your status."
In order to use this secret skill, 10% of all my stats will be consumed by Greed… When I first ranked up, I had been deprived of almost my entire status. And now when I use this mysterious skill, I would lose even more of my stats. What a greedy weapon he was!
"Can you reduce it to 5%?"
"Impossible. 10% is the lowest line. If you want to increase your power, give me even more."
"I'm greedy, gahahahaha."
Did this black sword Greed even care about how much he was taking from me? His greed was like a bottomless swamp.
Nevertheless, I wanted to avoid close combat when fighting the Crown Kobolt if possible. Since he had more combat experience, there was a possibility that my body would be destroyed if I was unable to evade his One Inch Punch should I attack desperately. With that being said, any arrows I released from the black bow towards his face while keeping a distance would be shot down. I had seen this unpleasantness in the previous fight.
There was no other option. I changed the black sword into the Black Bow. Then I fired a magic arrow at the Crown Kobolt as a threat. The Crown Kobolt seized the neck of a nearby Kobolt Junior, using it as a shelter against the magic arrow. Having become a meat shield, the Kobolt Junior exhaled white foam.
<Gluttony skill has been activated>
<Status update: HP +880, Strength +890, MP +350, Spirit +400, Agility +780>
As I listened to the inorganic voice, I decided to use the 1st rank secret skill.
"I understand so let's do this, Greed!"
"Well said, Fate! I'll take 10% of your status!"
I felt power being absorbed from my left hand that was holding the Black Bow. Simultaneously, the Black Bow's shape changed dramatically. It transformed and became larger, more ominous. With the BlackBow having sucked up my power and being temporarily enhanced, I could not help but feel intimidated even as I held it. This was no longer an ordinary weapon, it was a weapon of war.
"What a dumbfounded expression. Hurry up and do it. The Crown won't wait."
"Ahh, I'll go for it."
"The way you use it is just as usual, simply pull and release! After that, it will be automatically corrected."
I could tell this was a powerful military weapon just by looking at it. Without correction, I did not think I could have handled it at all.
As Greed noted, there was movement from the Crown Kobolt. The moment he saw the Black Bow's transformation, he thrust forward his thick arms while guarding, not letting me attack. Even if he was to lose an arm, I felt that he might pierce my throat with his sharp fangs. Or rather, was he going to kick and send out a One Inch Punch? Either way, it did not change the fact that it was a desperate attack.
Now then, let's see if the Crown Kobolt would be able to withstand this Black Bow turned weapon of war.
In response to Greed's voice, I released a black magic arrow ─ <Bloody Ptarmigan>.
The recoil was staggering. I was pushed back greatly. With a sound that was like thunder, the released magic arrow changed into a black turbulent current and engulfed the Crown Kobolt.It then continued further and washed away the Kobolt Junior behind.
It looked like a vast black river in the valley. All that remained was a deep scar in the earth. Not even the 'K' in 'Kobolt' could be found. Every single hair had seemingly disappeared.
<Gluttony skill has been activated>
<Status update: HP +218480, Strength +218690, MP +132350, Spirit +143400, Agility +141380>
<Grappling skill has been added>
The inorganic voice signified that the Kobolts and their Crown had been obliterated. Having ran out of power, the Black Bow that had become a weapon of war slowly returned to its original shape and became the usual Black Bow that I was familiar with.
It was over… Feeling relieved, an incredible euphoria began to flow through me from the soul that I had just gained. It exceeded the level of pleasantness and felt insufferable. Arghhhhhhhhhhh… why…
Clawing at my throat, I writhed on the ground in ecstasy. No, it was more like a rapture than sprung from within my body. The Gluttony skill was crazily exultant from having devoured the Crown's soul, to the point of tormenting me. In the midst of my hazy consciousness, I heard Greed's voice resounding in my mind.
"Fate, repress it! If you can't, you'll fall into a state similar to starvation. No, it would be even worse. Endure, swallow it!"
"Even if you say that, this is…"
I managed to keep a hold of my consciousness by repeatedly hitting my head on a nearby rock, waiting for the surge of Gluttony to subside.
"Seems like you've calmed down."
"Yeah, it was awful. Will it always feel like that when devouring a Crown?"
Wearily, I wiped the drool from my mouth with a sleeve then checked the scratches on my forehead. Thanks to the Auto-recovery skill, they had healed cleanly. I felt relieved to have this Auto-recovery skill.
"Well, it's your first reaction to consuming a good soul. You'll get used to it from now on and the next time the Gluttony skill surges so wildly, you won't lose control. Honestly, I have no idea what will happen if you devour a class like the Heavenly Dragons."
"You can't eat a living natural disaster!"
I sat down where I was and peered up at the night sky. Coming out from hiding behind the clouds, the moon cast its illumination over the entire area. The Kobolts' advance had been completely halted. However, in the valley where everything was exposed by the moonlight, I was at a loss for words.
"We've overdone it! Such a beautiful valley was…"
"Don't worry about that. It was an overwhelming victory. There can be nothing better. Alright, Fate?"
"What to do… about this. There will be a huge fuss in the morning."
"There's no problem. Geographical terrains change naturally over a thousand years. You're overexaggerating about stripping the valley of its greenness. It'll return in about a hundred years."
This inanimate Greed did not seem to live in the same flow of time as I did. About a hundred years… Seriously, what should I do about this dreadful situation? The trees were uprooted and fallen, the valley which had been naturally lush now appeared ruinous.
Now then, the crisis on the territory that Roxy-sama governs had been averted. However, this… just how do I restore it? I could not come up with a good idea at all.