Depthless Hunger-Chapter 259: Thunderous Plans and Schemes

If audio player doesn't work, press Reset or reload the page.

Their first attempt failed, of course, because even Omilaena wasn't used to fighting a monster so insanely fast. On their second attempt she had planned a trap that launched a metal spear into the air to intercept its path, but the Thunderbird managed to change directions with unnatural agility. After that it began turning a broad circle, drawing up an unnatural storm that covered the area in freezing rain.

Kai had been discouraged, but Omilaena surprised him by constructing a shelter from various supplies she'd purchased, created herself, or asked him to remove from the spatial ring. The result wasn't luxurious, but it was topped by a long rod that connected a metal wire into the ground. When the Thunderbird tried to attack with more bolts of lightning, they were channeled away - harmless unless you were standing too close.

It responded with even more rain, which drove them inside. Kai wondered if it would eventually just attack physically and did his best to remain alert at every moment. For her part, Omilaena sat back and contemplated more traps.

"You know," Kai said on one evening when they were trapped inside by the driving rain, "you could still train while we wait."

"I'm thinking," Omilaena said without opening her eyes.

"Can you not think and exert yourself at the same time?"

She grumbled but got to her feet. He showed her some old exercises adapted from mana training, which involved her standing on one leg and focusing. They were more about control and balance than stamina, so she wouldn't be exhausting herself in case they were attacked. It was still an exercise that grew more difficult the longer it lasted, so eventually she was sweating again, just trying to maintain her posture.

"This is undignified," she muttered. "I'm sweating like a pig and my joints insist this is the dumbest thing I've ever put them through. I'm practically an ape, grunting and heaving large objects."

"It's no worse than I do," Kai said. "Are you constantly grimacing at me as a filthy ape?"

"Men are allowed to be sweaty. Women have to smell like roses and taste like clear spring water at all times."

"Well, you don't smell like roses right now, and I'm betting you don't taste like spring water."

"Why don't you try it?" Omilaena grinned at him and he grinned back.

Since the Thunderbird seemed to be maintaining its distance while keeping the pressure on them, it was a good time for them to prepare for their next encounter. He didn't think that any of Omilaena's traps were going to be fast enough to hit it, but her presence could be invaluable if they actually engaged.

Omilaena continued forcing herself to train, grumbling the entire time, until abruptly she stopped. First her words, then her movements - she was still for several seconds and then burst into a flurry of motion grabbing her supplies. It looked like she was constructing something different from the spears she'd attempted to launch earlier, involving a glass sphere.

"What are y-" Kai cut off when she raised a finger, still in the middle of her frenzy. "Alright, I can wait."

Eventually Omilaena finished her glass container, a sphere with a special aperture in place of a stopper. She took a deep breath and then exhaled into the small hole, filling the glass with her poisonous blue smoke. When she drew back, none of the smoke escaped, allowing her to exhale again and make the smoke even denser. By the time she held it up triumphantly, the glass was a solid churning blue.

"If you drop that," Kai said, "I'm guessing we're going to have a bad time."

"You're immune, but it wouldn't be pleasant." She hefted the glass with little apparent concern. "I noticed that the Thunderbird slows down when it isn't on the attack. The problem is that it can change direction at will, so normal projectiles are ineffective."

"Smoke would be even slower... but you intend to lead it, don't you?"

"Exactly! We can't intercept it on those circling flights, but if this explodes ahead of it, one entire direction will be blocked off. No matter how fast it reverses direction, it will be targetable for a brief period."

"I can heft it that high, but I don't know the flight pat-"

"I'll worry about that," Omilaena interrupted him. "You just be ready to take advantage of that moment."

They got some rest and waited for the next day before executing the plan. The storm was beginning to let up, so there was some sunlight again, and relief from the pounding rain. That also meant the Thunderbird was likely to come back to renew its attack - they'd be ready when it was.

If you find this story on Amazon, be aware that it has been stolen. Please report the infringement.

It seemed like the plan went perfectly at first. When the Thunderbird began circling them, drumming up a new storm, Omilaena hurled the glass sphere into its path. The glass glinted as it sailed upward, then suddenly exploded into a toxic blue cloud. Instantly the Thunderbird spread its wings wide to stop before it sailed into the cloud.

Kai thought he unleashed his best Tyrant's Claw in that moment, in fact he would have said he was slightly early. But the Thunderbird reversed directions even faster than he had expected and his attack only barely scraped one wing, knocking several feathers to the ground before the Thunderbird disappeared in a thunderclap burst of its wings.

The storm didn't return... but now there was a poisonous cloud mixing in with the others. "Is that going to be a problem?" Kai asked.

"The rain would definitely not be healthy, but there aren't many people around here anyway." Omilaena turned back to him and shook her head. "That was my best shot. If we're going to win this, I think you need to be fundamentally faster. I can't improve enough in time, but you might be able to."

"I guess that's one of the reasons I've been building up all this monstrous essence," Kai said. "Back to planning."

This time it was his turn to analyze and plan while Omilaena made sure the Thunderbird couldn't ambush them and ran interference when necessary. She was heading out into the wilds for some reason and he decided not to worry about it. Whatever plans she developed, she would need his support.

Now he needed a speed skill more than ever, but he hadn't found anything perfect for the purpose. Ironically, the fact that the Thunderbird was probably the best candidate was also the reason they couldn't kill it. He considered everything carefully, wondering if he should crunch some monsters down to only their speed essence. The Banchlain had been pretty fast... no, that would be too wasteful. This was a time to build up assets, not cash them in.

While moving aside Sahagin's Soul, Kai realized that might be his answer. Not a pure speed skill, not yet, but instead an ability for aerial maneuverability. That way it wouldn't be a pure experiment, it could actually help him in the future.

Once he thought that way, there were several obvious choices. He'd been holding Beastbat's Wing ever since the Krysali mines, occasionally trying but never able to actually grow wings. In the elven jungles he'd killed an eagle-like creature called a Garudaling that also had some sort of flying skill. In theory he could combine those two, but they were unequal.

He needed to sacrifice something else... Kai eventually picked the Diremonkey essence. They weren't flying, but they did leap from tree to tree at great speed. When he fed that to the Beastbat essence it surged with new power, enough that he was able to fuse the two skills.

Garuda's Wing - II (beta)


The resulting fusion definitely worked, even if it wasn't overly powerful. Kai pushed it into his soul, wishing that he'd grow wings but knowing he wouldn't. When he jumped he felt oddly light and his shoulder blades itched, but that was all.

Meanwhile, Omilaena seemed to have retrieved the Thunderbird feathers that had fallen after his grazing blow and was working them into some sort of weapon. She looked up from her work with mild curiosity as he began jumping around. It was getting easier... with every jump he could go further, flip a little more smoothly, even twist himself in different directions.

"I have marginal good news," she said, "because these feathers are suitable for projectiles. But they won't do any good without a way to strike... alright, what are you doing now?"

"Working on an aerial skill." Kai landed and bounced on the balls of his feet. He felt almost like he could lift into the air under his own power. "I developed it from winged monsters, but it's not enough to make me able to fly. I was hoping to grow wings."

"You need more sympathetic resonance between your body and the monstrous abilities."

"What's that now?"

"You aren't just summoning monstrous power, your body is the monster." Omilaena got up and grasped his arm, running her fingers down his wrist. "For example, when you use that claw skill, you're using your equivalent of a claw. That resonance makes the ability easy to use and powerful." f𝗿𝐞ewebno𝚟𝚎𝗹.𝗰𝐨m

"Then why is it three claws instead of five?"

"You make one claw when you need to, so you could probably make five. I suspect three is just a good balance of range and power, but shut up about that." She walked behind him, touching his shoulder blades. "There are little spikes here. Based on what you told me, when you reached E-rank Physique, your body adapted to become more monstrous. It's trying to shift to match your abilities, but it can't wildly transform you."

"I've seen it happen with my teeth, too." Kai sighed and rubbed at his back, which was still itching. "I hoped that would improve when I reached D-rank. If I somehow reach C-rank Physique, will I become a shape-shifter?"

"Physique generally produces permanent changes and you wouldn't want to waste it on something like wings. If you want to shift regularly, you probably need an ability for it. There are chakra abilities along those lines, but I can't say whether any of them are actually strong enough for you."

"I should start with seeing how much I can do with this." Kai hopped away from her, easily jumping several times his height and spinning across the wastes before landing smoothly.

This ability was definitely useful, even if not as powerful as his others. It could probably help him win a fight in the air, and with enough enhancement it might even allow him to properly fly. The more Kai worked on it, the more confident he grew in the sky. In less than an hour of training, the ability felt much stronger and he checked in his spiritual sight.

Garuda's Wing - III (gamma)


A rank upgrade from Beta to Gamma already! If he kept at it - but then the symbols of his spiritual sight exploded as he realized that something was streaking at him.

While he was still in mid-air, the Thunderbird attacked at full speed. Using his new agility he barely ducked underneath the snapping beak, and one of the claws raked his back. It would have torn him open if not for Behemoth's Heart, and the impact still sent him spinning through the air.

There was no time to react, but he knew the Thunderbird would be coming around to attack him again, if it wasn't already summoning bolts of lightning. Kai drew in a deep breath and then his vision went black.