33 Carapace Scavenger

'Crap!'

This was the only thought in Sunny's head as he awkwardly fell backward, allowing the pincer to close right in front of his face with a loud "clack". The jagged, chitinous blades were so close that he could clearly see bits of mud sticking to their surface.

Sunny landed on his back, narrowly avoiding the unexpected strike. The good thing was that he managed to avoid being injured or even killed. The bad thing was that he was sprawled on the ground, unable to quickly create distance between him and the attacker. The massive pincer was still hovering above.

Just as this realization dawned on Sunny, he desperately rolled to the side. In the next moment, the pincer lunged down, sending small tremors through the mud. If not for his quick reaction, Sunny's chest would have been caved in by that blow.

He was just beginning to stand up when the pincer swiped sideways. Luckily, Sunny was ready: instead of trying to dodge or block the attack, he went with it, letting the pincer collide with his outstretched hands and cushioning the blow.

As his arms screamed in pain, Sunny used the force of the blow and allowed his body to be sent flying through the air. This way, at least, he would get out of the pincer's range.

He might not have been taught how to fight, but one thing he knew very well was how to fall!

Instead of breaking his neck or having the breath beaten out of him by the landing, he braced his body and nimbly rolled before stopping some distance away from the ambushing monster.

'I take it back!' Sunny though, remembering his sarcastic critique of Hero's battle rolls. 'Rolling is an integral part of any respectable monster-fighting technique!'

Then, he looked up, trying to ascertain the situation.

In front of him, the attacker had finally shown itself. It burrowed from under the mud, casting a vast shadow over kneeling Sunny. Its tiny eyes were full of rage, hunger, and malice.

It was one of the pincer monsters he had spent so much time observing. Towering over him at almost three meters in height, the bulky creature moved its mandibles and produced a jarring, piercing screech.

'Why aren't you devouring the giant carcass with the rest of your buddies, you crab bastard?!'

However, the answer to Sunny's indignant plea was rather obvious. The monster seemed to be in a rather bad shape: half of its eight scythe-like legs were broken, and there were cracks in its thick carapace, each oozing with viscous azure blood. Additionally, he was missing one of its two pincer arms, which seemed to had been torn off entirely at the shoulder.

If not for this pathetic state, the creature would have had no need to hide in the mud, hoping to catch easy prey. It could have just followed the other monsters and joined on the feast. Sunny was just unlucky to stumble directly upon its ambush.

He had relied too much on the scouting abilities of his shadow, forgetting that it wasn't much more observant than an awakened human. It was also weightless and inaudible — that's why the monster did not react when the shadow had passed over its trap a minute earlier.

On the other hand, Sunny could also consider himself lucky — by the same logic, he would not have been able to dodge the creature's sudden attack if not for its crippled, slowed state.

But pondering on his luck could wait for later — right now, Sunny had a far more pressing thing to do. Namely, try to survive.

'Get back here!' he ordered the shadow and jumped to the side.

In the next second, the space he occupied a moment before was torn apart by the attacking monster. Its heavy pincer crashed into the side of a coral pillar, sending crimson shards flying in every direction.

Sunny caught his balance and continued moving. He was hoping that the bulky, heavily armored, wounded creature would not be able to match his speed, but unfortunately, it turned out to be surprisingly agile. Its scythe-like legs pierced the mud behind him, and the pincer was already flying through the air again, threatening to decapitate the young man at any second.

Sunny ducked, dodging the pincer, and finally caught a second of reprieve. His eyes darted around, desperately searching for something to use as a weapon. Almost instantly, he noticed a long, smooth, sharp bone left behind by some unknown creature sticking from the mud. Without slowing down, he bent down and grabbed the bone, pulling it out with one forceful tug.

The bone was almost one and a half meters long, ending in a narrow, sharp tip. It was almost like a spear. The problem was, even with the added length of this makeshift spear, Sunny's range of attack was still shorter than the monster's. He also doubted that it was capable of piercing the hard carapace.

In short, he had to get close and aim for one of the cracks in the creature's armor. However, he didn't dare to. At that short of a distance, the monster could easily crush him into a paste by using just its weight and hulking frame.

A crazy idea entered Sunny's mind.

A bit shocked, he momentarily couldn't decide whether it was the product of audacity or foolishness. Either way, he wasn't insane enough to actually consider it.

At that moment, the pincer lashed out again. This time, Sunny was a little late to evade, and as a result, a sharp pain pierced his left leg. It was grazed by the edge of the pincer. The Puppeteer's Shroud held, not allowing the monster to draw blood, but the force of the impact was enough to throw Sunny tumbling to the ground.

There was no time to recover.

As his eyes opened wide, Sunny understood that it was time to act crazy. So, instead of trying to dodge, he stopped moving and allowed the monster to grab him across his torso with the pincer.

Immediately, a terrible pressure descended on his ribs. Sunny felt as though he was going to be split apart, but his armor, received from defeating an awakened tyrant, resisted the crushing bite of the monster's pincer. Every muscle in his body tensed, delaying the moment when his insides would be turned into mush.

In the next second, Sunny's shadow fell from above, wrapping itself around the Puppeteer's Shroud. With the protective properties of the armor enhanced, he was able to better resist the pincer's pulverizing embrace.

Sunny and the monster appeared to be at an impasse. The young man couldn't free himself from the monster's grip, while the monster could not kill the prey by cutting it in halves with its pincer.

They stared at each other. Then, an insane fire ignited in the creature's eyes. It clicked its mandibles and raised Sunny in the air, bringing him closer to its mouth, obviously intent on biting his head off.

'Why is everyone trying to eat me?! Am I that tasty?!'

Sunny didn't struggle as the monster brought him close to its mandibles. He knew he only had one chance to live.

In the last moment, Sunny allowed the shadow to flow from Puppeteer's Shroud onto the sharp bone he was still clenching in his hand. Then, he gathered all his strength, leaned forward and thrust the bone forward with as much power as he could.

Guided by his hand, the dark bone spear shot forward and pierced through the creature's tiny eye, sinking in deep. The other eye of the monster narrowed.

Gritting his teeth from the unbearable pain in his ribs, Sunny twisted the bone, trying to do as much damage to the creature's brain as possible.

For a couple of seconds, nothing happened. Then, he felt the pressure on his body diminishing.

The pincer opened, letting Sunny fall down. As he hit the mood, the hulking monster crashed to the ground, too. The bone spear was still sticking from its head, bathed in the streams of azure liquid.

Sunny moaned and drew in a raspy, painful breath.

[You have slain an awakened beast, Carapace Scavenger.]

[You have received a Memory: Azure Blade.]

[... Your shadow grows stronger.]

Next chapter