Light Novel – Zectas – Volume 01 – Chapter 10

Proofrearder: Vaanouney

Destination: Coatl City.

Smoke, Sierra, Adder, and Igniz escaped into the forest up ahead, leaving the horde of varanus indicus trapped behind the infused firewalls and mandragora smoke.

A pair of sinister yellow eyes with black slits came into view as Spyteria stood on top of the trees, watching her targets escape. She was afraid to report what had just happened but she had to do it.

Taking out her magical golden plate of communication, Spyteria called her master, ready to face the consequences of her failure.

“High General Lizardo, I’ve come to give my report.”

“Don’t tell me, you’ve failed to capture Smoke once more? Yes, I knew it from the moment I saw your abjected face. So, tell me what miraculous feat did this, Smoke, do this time? Did he perhaps, summon a dragon? Did he conjure an army of undead? What did he do that even my varanus indicus corps couldn’t catch him?”

“Well, my lord, it seems that he has been hiding a very strong ally. His friend was a red WereBear. It appeared that she was waiting up ahead of us. There could have been more of them further ahead, so, I thought it wise to save the rest of your elite varanus indicus rather than send them out to Smoke’s trap. I’m so sorry for failing you, High General. If you will for my head,. I shall have Colonel Varano deliver it to you.”

“Spyteria, there is no need for such a drastic action. I’ve come to realize that Smoke must be blessed by the god of fortune, Tezcatl. I see no other explanation why we, the supreme race of Lizardites, would lose to such a mortal. For now, I want you to continue observing his movements. I shall consult with the great shaman Talino on how to properly deal with him.”

Smoke and the rest of his companions ran without looking back. After about half an hour, Smoke decided to check if they were still being followed. He wished he had some scouting ability like Ichaival’s shared vision with his falcon.

He only had his ‘Cunning of the Dire Fox’ to rely on, this ability did not sense any monsters within its 330 meter range. He called for everyone to stop. They needed to regain some of their strength quickly.

Convinced that they were relatively safe from the horde of varanus indicus. Smoke gave his signal to Adder and Igniz to make camp.

They had already mastered the way of setting up a campfire in under a minute. Sierra couldn’t stop her saliva from drooling when she smelled the ‘medicinal deer stew’ being cooked.

She had been eating nothing but raw food for the past month. The fish from the river was the best tasting raw food available to her. This was the reason why she based her search for the Wysteria Witches following the Murray River’s path.

Smoke prepared a dish especially for Sierra, he hurriedly made a pseudo table out of branches and rocks that were in the forest floor.

“This is amazing! I didn’t know you were such a great cook.”

“Wow! I can’t believe such a compliment coming from you Sierra. You’re the best cook that I know. Well, we are in Zectas so I guess the taste does differ a little bit. But I bet when you gain the cooking ability you’ll make dishes that surpasses the boundaries of this world’s tastes.”

Adder and Igniz looked at each other. They’ve never seen Smoke act like this before. He looked like some lost puppy that just found his master.

Smoke was saying things that didn’t make any sense at all. They assumed that Sierra must be a very close friend, for him to be acting out this way.

“Oh, that’s right, I was enjoying your dish so much that I completely forgot. I’m still mad at you Smoke. You said that you’d come to visit me at the Diner.”

“But, I thought you said not to bother? I distinctly remember that you said you were busy with something else. Oh, you were busy with playing Zectas.”

“See, I wanted to surprise you, that’s why I didn’t tell you that I was playing. If you could only see your surprised face right now, these past eight months were worth it.”

“You’ve been looking for me? For these past eight months?”

“No, that’s not what I meant, I just meant that these past few months has been enjoyable even without you. I mean … I’ve fallen in love with Zectas just as much as you… have fallen in love with it.”

“Oh, I think I get it now. Something has been bugging me for a while as well, now I don’t mean to sound rude but why did you choose the race of a WereBear? I saw just how powerful that race was but I don’t think that the WereBear race suits you very much. I think maybe a High Elf or just Human would’ve been great. Any race that shows your true face would have been a better choice in my opinion.”

“Stop it, now you’re just making fun of me. I happen to like my red fur and this immense defensive power. Being a strong WereBear more than makes up for its… shall we say… lack of finesse?”

“So, you just chose the WereBear race when you started the game? Like when the voice in the bright light said, what is your preferred race? You just went and said WereBear?”

Sierra launched her left paw aiming to punch Smoke, he felt the punch coming but decided to take it since he knew he had it coming. The punch threw him a good distance back. Damaging him for 3,000 points.

“Smoke? Smoke, are you alright? I’m so sorry. I told you to stop making fun of me,. I’m still new to this WereBear form.”

Smoke got up and sat down. He just waited for the increased regeneration to refill his lifebar.

“You were right, I did choose the High Elf race. I’ve been traveling for these past few months in these forests. Searching for… this village called Repormatl. I was told by my NPC guide that I would obtain an immense power from that place. Well, I gotta hand it to Nenek, I truly did receive tremendous power. She just failed to mention that it would transform me into a WereBear.”

“Did this, Nenek, person trick you?”

“No, I don’t think so. You see, I got a series quest. You know the kind where after you complete one quest it automatically updates and increases the quest’s difficulty? What was I thinking? Of course you know what a series quest is.”

“Of course, a series quest. Yup, I’ve gotten one of those as well. Those quests are really time consuming. Mine got to umm… Level C. So what’s the current level of your series quest?”

“It’s at Level C and this is just its first upgrade of the series.”

“Oh… I see, and what does the quest say to do next?”

“It’s really vague. It just tells me to go and look for the Witches of Wysteria and wipe them out.”

“Witches of Wysteria? I think I read something about them before. They were once convicted Witches in Coatl City and were sentenced to be trapped inside the Maneator’s labyrinth. I guess they must have escaped if they were the ones to put that curse on you.”

Listening in on their conversation, Adder added in what he knew about the Witches of Wysteria. Since it had been one of the scary stories that the virile guards told around Condortl, saying that there were thousands of scarier monsters out there, not just the virile lizards.

“I know something about those Witches. According to one of the virile lizard guards, who liked to scare little children. He said, these Wysteria Witches go around villages and kidnap children. They were supposed to take those children into a small remote village. There they would sacrifice those children as offerings to their demon lords. The way that damn virile lizard described how they sacrificed the children was too graphic for me to repeat it without throwing up.”

Smoke and Sierra were looking at Adder and couldn’t imagine just what kind of horrific things those evil Witches must have done.

Sierra then nodded at Smoke as if to point out that he hasn’t introduced her to the rest of his entourage. It took Smoke a couple of seconds before he understood what the nod meant.

“Right, Sierra, this is, Adder, my trusted friend and the first member of my private army, and that energetic sprite is called, Igniz, he is my symbiote. Guys, I’d like you to meet Sierra. She is my… closest friend from back home.”

They all gave their acknowledgment to each other. Igniz sped his way towards Sierra, and whizzed around her. Creating a dazzling dark purple light show.

“My, Igniz, sure is friendly.”

Smoke asked Adder if the virile lizard guard had more information about the Witches. Maybe, their location, or perhaps their home town?

“Sorry, but that was all that guard said.”

“Don’t worry Sierra, I have a gut feeling that we will find some more information about these Witches in Coatl City.”

“Umm, I can’t go near any of the main cities, the sentry guards automatically attack me and the other players are even worse. They try to hunt me like I’m some sort of prize animal. Of course not many players can manage to harm me but if I’m up against a guild I doubt that I could do anything against them.”

“No problem, I can follow up on this lead for you. I was planning to go there anyway. I just have some unfinished business here, with one of these monsters hiding inside these forests.”

“Huh? A monster hunt? Nice! I’ll come along. I don’t know if you’ve heard but people around Chayotl Kingdom call me the ‘Impenetrable Wall’ I can play the role of a tanker.”

“It doesn’t really feel right, you know, having you play tanker. Isn’t it suppose to be the other way around? The man takes the hits while you fire away from a safe distance?”

“That’s just sexist. Nenek, my NPC guide has 3,000,000 HP and from my understanding she also plays the role of a tanker. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, all that matters is, if you can take out the damage that the enemies have to give.”

“This is also the same for us Condortlians. As long as that person can manage the front lines it doesn’t matter whether they are male or female.”

“Argh! I didn’t mean for it to sound like that. Of course I’m okay with you playing the role of our tanker.”

“Smoke, relax, I know that’s not what you meant, I was just teasing you.”

It had been almost an hour since the group rested. But just to ease Smoke’s paranoia, he checked their surroundings again with his ‘Cunning of the Dire Fox’ and felt no enemy presence.

Smoke charted a longer and safer route towards Nanahuatl Village. He told Sierra that they would now head to his home here in Zectas. He told her that it’s a friendly village and that she had nothing to fear there.

As they started on their way, the two long lost friends started exchanging their experiences of the game. Secret discoveries were revealed as well as hidden game information. They knew that they could trust each other completely and that they didn’t have any hidden agendas.

After catching up with their experiences in the game, they continued to talk about the situation in their real lives, about Smoke’s brothers and grandma, and about Sierra’s uncle and the Diner.

Quaint and serene, these were the words that came into Sierra’s mind when she first caught a glimpse of Nanahuatl Village. In all the villages she had been to, this was the most peaceful and homey.

“Impressed? I know that its size cannot compete against that of a main city’s but this place is the best place in all of Zectas.”

Upon entering the village, the residents greeted them as if they were returning heroes. Of course this was mostly because Smoke was with them, but it was also a fact that the residents here don’t judge your race or your alignment. Yes, everyone is welcomed in Nanahuatl Village, provided that you won’t be starting any kind of trouble.

Smoke immediately brought Sierra to Darius. He wanted him to meet her. He knew that his two favorite persons in Zectas would hit it off.

“Darius, I’d like you to meet, Sierra. She’s my closest friend from back home and we just got reunited a couple of hours ago. Sierra, this is, Darius. I guess, technically you can call him my guide, but really, he’s more like my closest friend here in Nanahuatl.”

“A pleasure to meet you, Sierra. I haven’t seen a WereBear in quite some time. I used to know this Shadow Priestess who could turn into a WereBear. Tell me, can you use any of your abilities in your WereBear form?”

“No, I can’t. All the abilities that I can use right now come innately from being a WereBear.”

“Well, don’t you worry. As soon you as you master that form you’ll become even more powerful.”

“What? Sierra will become even more powerful? She’s already got an amazing defense right now. I can’t imagine what she’ll be like once she completes her series quest.”

“Don’t worry, you’ll also become more powerful. I’ve told you, I can feel Kumbaba’s essence flowing from within you. I’m sure you’ll be as strong as him someday, if not stronger.”

“Sure, when I’ll live up to 900. Anyway, Darius, I’d like to show Sierra my home. So, we’ll see you later. Come on, let’s go to my house. The residents here have been kind enough to give me one.”

“You have your own property? Nice! Real Estate properties in Zectas are insanely expensive. I thought about buying a house myself but I decided not to. Since, I travel most of the time anyway. Do you think your house can fit me though?”

“I didn’t buy it thought, the residents just gave it to me. I haven’t fully explored the whole place myself but I think you should be able to fit inside.”

Smoke, and his three companions entered his home. Barely fitting inside the doorway, Sierra was the last one to come in. With numerous attempts of tight squeezing, twisting, yanking and pulling. She managed to enter Smoke’s house.

“Nice! It’s way bigger inside. I wonder why that door is so small when you have a ceiling this high.”

“I don’t know, I didn’t design this house. This place used to belong to the previous village chief, Kumbaba, you know the one that I told you about. But he died while he was defending Nanahuatl. Let’s go to the living room, I think you’ll find that it’s more spacious than here.”

Smoke led the way with Igniz, while Adder went down to the cellar to sort out their loot. Sierra tried her best to avoid the archway but even with her head crouched her shoulders still managed to knock back a loose support beam.

Displaying his lightning like reflexes, Smoke caught the loose support beam before it hit Sierra’s foot. When he was about to place the support beam back into its original spot, he noticed that there was a piece of paper neatly rolled in what looked like a secret compartment.


+ Received Giro’s Legacy

 To whoever finds this note, I hope that I have accomplished great feats just like my father Kumbaba, and in turn, you who will follow in my foot steps, use this power for good.

 Coordinates to Giro’s secret study.
 When this paper is applied to your map, you will see the exact location of
 Giro’s secret study.

“Wow, I think I just discovered Giro’s secret stash of knowledge.”

Sierra still got Kumbaba and Giro confused with each other.

“Who is Giro again? Is he the son or the father?”

“He’s Kumbaba’s son, evidently he just wanted to be as strong as his father, it’s just too sad that he got corrupted by the overflowing power of an essence diamond.”

“Well? Where is his secret hideout located?”

“Oh, I still have to merge it with my map. There, it appears to be about a two days walk from here. I think I’ll check that place out later. Now, Let’s get back to this monster boss that you didn’t manage to kill. I have this monster boss as my next target as well.”

“Hmm, This monster was just a couple of inches taller than me. So, I got ahead of myself and thought that I could take him on, solo. Yet, man what a beast. That was the first time I received such a high damage. I think even with you, me and Adder we would still have a tough time bringing that monster down.”

“Really? That monster sounds really tough. Well, for my monster it’s height is way taller than your WereBeast’s form and it had such a powerful Strength and that Agility! A monster that huge shouldn’t be allowed to move that fast.”

After hearing Smoke’s brief description of his monster Sierra had to interrupt him.

“No way… It can’t be. When you manage an attack that knocks it back, it starts to regenerate its health?”

Smoke and Sierra stared at each other and both called out the monster’s name at the same time.

“The Maneator?!”

“You met the Maneator? How in the world did you manage to survive after meeting that beast alone?!”

“Umm, I just used my ‘Double Slash’ ability and once he was knocked back I ran like hell.”

“How much damage did you take after getting hit by the Maneator’s attack?”

“I think it was above 20,000 but somehow I managed to inflict 4000 damage points on the Maneator when I countered its attack.”

“This is bad… Or should I say good. If you wouldn’t have told me about your battle with the Maneator I would have thought for sure that my private army and I could handle the Maneator. Yet, clearly this is not the case. That reminds me, I’ll have you meet the rest of the private army later today. For now I’ll take you on a tour around the house and then around the village.”

“Sounds lovely.”

Smoke introduces Sierra to everyone in the village. All the residents were friendly towards her. They didn’t mind that her alignment was Chaotic Evil and that she was a WereBear. They simply just accepted her as Smoke’s friend.

As Smoke met members of his private army, he told them that they would have an emergency meeting in the next thirty minutes, in front of his house. It will be about their upcoming mission.

“Thank you all, for coming here on time. First, let me introduce Sierra once more. She just told me some vital information about our next target. Apparently the Maneator is much stronger than I remembered. Even with all our combined strength, Sierra’s included, I don’t think we can still vanquish him at our current level.”

Smoke stopped his speech and looked at everyone in his private army. He first spoke with the twin OrkElves.

“Sharur and Jinggu. With your poison resistance training completed, I now need you to gain a much destructive force that can somehow remove a monster’s defense completely.”

Next he needed to re-evaluate his current preparations and improve them drastically.

“Sharanga, I need you to make your current trap at least ten times stronger. I’ve once again underestimated our target. I don’t want to see a repeat of what happened inside the Murlocks’ Hidden Cave.”

He continued to give the rest of his private army the risky task of facing a potential mob of varanus indicus.

“Adder, Vijaya, Thyrsus and Ichaival. I need you to collect some more phasmatodea bones. We need to make better arrows, with longer range and higher damage. I’ve plotted a map that would give you at least five escape routes, just in case a horde of monsters comes charging at you from out of nowhere. Adder, will be the leader of this expedition. Igniz can’t be too far away from me, which means you guys will have to rely on the good old fashioned ember stone.”

Now that he was done giving out the new assignments to his private army. Smoke went closer towards Sierra to ask her a favor.

“I know that it took a long time for us to start playing together but I was hoping if I could ask you for a favor?”

“What kind of favor are you talking about?”

“You see, I’ve asked Sharanga to create a trap strong enough to hold the Maneator and I think that with your help, maybe we can somehow make that imaginary trap into a reality.”

“Sure, I don’t mind helping out making the trap but I’m not too sure my claws will be dexterous enough to build anything.”

“Well, I was hoping that you would be okay with being Sharanga’s test subject. I mean you would be a perfect virtual Maneator.”

“I see, Now I get it. You’re asking me to be some kind of guinea pig? Tell me this first, what will you be doing while this Sharanga person is tying me up? Will you also be watching and helping her tie me up?”

“No, of course not. I’ll go investigate Giro’s secret library. Hopefully, I can find something there that can increase our chance of defeating the Maneator.”

“So, you’d rather be alone reading books than go out and hunt some monsters and level up together? Fine! I’ll help out Sharanga whenever I’m online, but I just suddenly remembered that I’m gonna be busy with something. I may not be online as much. In fact, I have to do something right now. I’ll just send you a message if I have some free time. See you around, Smoke!”

Just like that Sierra logged out after giving her sarcastic speech about how much she liked being made into Sharanga’s test subject.

Smoke was about to explain a few more things to her but he wasn’t given the chance. He had never seen her that angry before. He just thought that she would understand that she would be most helpful with the trap creation. After all, currently in her WereBear form, she couldn’t acquire any knowledge from holding a book.

However, deep down inside this was not Smoke’s true intention. From the moment he met Sierra in Zectas, he felt happy, jealous, and ashamed all at the same time.

He was the one who first started playing Zectas, yet there she was. Appearing out of nowhere all powerful and strong. She currently has a higher level than him, she has a higher life, a higher defense.

Smoke thought that maybe if he can spend some time alone inside Giro’s study he can somehow catch up to her. Making them on equal grounds again.

He should have told her his true feelings but he didn’t know how to say it. He made a promise to himself to tell Sierra how he really felt.

Smoke was just about to leave the village when he heard thundering hooves from far away. A cloud of dust started rising from the north east direction.

After finally coming into range of his ‘Cunning of the Dire Fox’ he felt that there were two persons on top of two huge monsters coming his way.

Immediately he released a flare arrow and sent a message to the remaining members of his private army left in the village. Sharanga, Sharur, and Jinggu immediately dropped what they were doing and rushed towards the source of Smoke’s arrow. Darius sensed Smoke’s distress signal and appeared at the village’s entrance instantly.

All of them got ready as the loud, booming cloud drew nearer. They readied their bows and ballistae. Poised to fire at a moment’s notice. While Darius just stood there complacently.

The loud dust cloud stopped just a couple of feet away from the village entrance. The dust settled in revealing two gigantic stag moose easily over eight feet in height with antlers as wide as three feet.

The two riders got off their gigantic steeds and uncovered their masks giving out their faces. They were the last two archers, out of the eight teens who were Darius’ students. Sharanga gave out an excited shout at them.

“Look! The trouble makers are back!”

Sharanga, Sharur, and Jinggu went out to greet them. Each of the riders got a hug from all three of them at the same time.

From the look of their clothes they looked like to have the job of a Ranger. The two arrivals bowed their heads at Smoke as he walked closer to them.

The two of them removed their head gears which caused their cat like ears to protrude. These ladies belonged to the half-beast race of Lioumereans. A race composed of Humanoid Lions, Tigers, and Cheetahs.

The female that looked like a mix between a woman and a lioness was the first one to speak.

“Master Smoke, Master Darius, please accept our apologies for our late arrival. My name is Laernea Lowe, just in case you may have forgotten it, Master Smoke.”

This time it was the one that looked like a tigress who spoke.

“And I am called Gandiva Macan. We have been looking forward for this day.”

“As have I, I was hoping that the two of you would be able to join us for our next mission.”

“So that means you’ll accept us into your private army as well?”

“Of course! After all I can’t leave out Darius’ last two students.”

“Master Darius, thank you so much for guiding us on this path. Now we can finally be in Master Smoke’s private army.”

“No, no, it was all you. I merely gave you a nudge to your true potentials. I knew that despite your mischievous behavior you would be a great asset to Smoke.”


+ Laernea Lowe has joined your Personal Army.

Laernea Lowe was one of Darius’ students. She was one of the eight teens who stepped forward as they were moved by the heroic actions of Smoke.

Level: 75

Job: Pathfinder

Loyalty: 100

Favorite Weapon: Long Bow

Equipped Weapon: Long Bow

Abilities:

Cooking Ability:    Able to cook simple meals.

Herbology:          Knowledge of herbs for healing and other effects.

Path Finding:       Reduces travel time to a destination by 30%.

Beast Tamer(Mount): Specialty to control mount type beasts for riding.
————————————————————————————

+ Gandiva Macan has joined your Personal Army.

Gandiva Macan was one of Darius’ students. She was one of the eight teens who stepped forward as they were moved by the heroic actions of Smoke.

Level: 75

Job: Pathfinder

Loyalty: 100

Favorite Weapon: Long Bow

Equipped Weapon: Long Bow

Abilities:

Cooking Ability:    Able to cook simple meals.

Herbology:          Knowledge of herbs for healing and other effects.

Path Finding:       Reduces travel time to a destination by 30%.

Beast Tamer(Mount): Specialty to control mount type beasts for riding.

————————————————————————————

Smoke’s guess about the Lioumereans’ job was wrong. So he asked about the specifics of their job.

Evidently, this Pathfinder job was a hidden variation of the Ranger job. They focused more on logistics and travel rather than stealthy range attacks. But this did not mean that they couldn’t fight well.

After hearing the perks of the Pathfinder job, Smoke immediately asked if their stag moose could carry a cart, that would hold the rest of the private army. This way they could cut down on the travel time between places.

“Yeah, these guys are used to dragging heavy load. We just have to find a cart or a carriage to attach to them though.”

Smoke looked to Darius hoping that his well prepared friend would have just what they needed. Darius gave a smile and said that there were some old carriages available.

“They may need some minor patching up but they should be ready within the day.”

Finishing up with the trivial repairs on the carriages, Darius gave them to Laernea and Gandiva to harness them to their stag moose. To hasten up the process, Smoke helped out in attaching the harnesses.

“Do these majestic animals have a name?”

“Mine is called Bilis, while Gandiva’s stag moose is called Tulin.”

“Nice names, from now on I consider you guys to be part of our private army too. By the way, Gandiva, can I ask you to follow this route. I’ve sent the other members of our private army on a gathering mission. We need to have stronger arrows to increase our damage. So they are out hunting towering phasmatodeas.”

“Not a problem at all. I’ll definitely catch up to them before they reach the hunting grounds of the towering phasmatodeas.”

“Thanks, Gandiva, and as for you Laernea, I was hoping that you would take me to this certain location. Can you take me there within the day?”

“I think Bilis and I can get there in a few hours.”

“Great, so let’s all meet up here after ten minutes. Darius, thank you for these carriages. You don’t know how I’ve hated traveling long distances. These long distances between places are such a waste of time. If it weren’t for acquiring the knowledge within the books, I would’ve started pulling out my hair.”

“Don’t mention it. You know that if I can help I’ll do it in a heartbeat. If you ever need anything from me, I’ll be there.”

Smoke felt guilty for not telling Darius about finding Giro’s secret hiding place. He decided not to tell him since he wasn’t sure what Darius’ reaction would be.

“Yup, I know that I can always count on you.”

Riding on a stag moose drawn carriage was staggering. Smoke felt like he was riding an express train or maybe even faster with all the blurring after images that he saw as they passed them by.

“This is amazing! How can Bilis turn so quickly like that? It’s a good thing this carriage is well built.”

“Well, stag moose have very flexible muscles. That’s what enables them to do those sharp turns. If I remember correctly, the carriages built in Nanahuatl are extremely sturdy. They were made for all terrains. If we ever need to cross a river that Bilis can’t cross, we can always use this carriage as a boat and have Bilis ride together with us.”

On what should normally take two days to travel was now shortened to a couple of hours by Laernea’s and Bilis’ abilities.

Smoke told Laernea to wait by the carriage as he needed to go to this place alone. He double checked if Laernea was following his orders. As soon as he felt that she was staying put. He carried on to the actual destination of Giro’s secret lair.

Following the map’s direction led him to the entrance of a forest with a gigantic Montezuma Cypress tree directly in front of him. He tried to feel for some sort of entrance or hidden switch but felt no such thing.

He decided to try climbing up the tree. The branches were so wide that Smoke could easily stand on them. He felt something in one of the branches that was directly perpendicular to the tree trunk. It was a switch, which opened the hidden doorway that led to a ladder leading downward into the trunk.

Inside the tree trunk was a hidden cavern. Some form of light stones surrounding the hidden chamber lit up as soon as Smoke entered the room.

The place was very neat considering that there hasn’t been anyone there for the past few hundred years. Giro’s secret chamber must have been vacuum sealed because there wasn’t a single speck of dust anywhere.

Hundreds of books were neatly arranged in bookshelves found in the left side of the room, while a desk and a chair were placed in the right.

On top of the desk were a few pieces of paper and a box containing some basic elemental stones. There was a dew stone, a clay stone, a dim stone, and a bright stone.

Quickly gathering all of the elemental stones into his backpack window. He started perusing the books and then he remembered that he had Laernea wait outside.

He collected the books that were on the list that was found on the table. He now had a plan on how to get stronger. Although it would still maybe take him at least two weeks or maybe three.

Smoke asked Laernea to take him to a different location. He needed to do some monster hunting of his own. The pieces of paper found on top of the desk where lists of books sorted out by levels. He took the list entitled ‘basic ability tomes’. He was a strong believer of creating strong foundations before proceeding to the next stage.

The tomes on the ‘basics’ list were entitled, “Water Manipulation”, “Earth Manipulation”, “Item Transmutation”, “Targeted Teleportation”, and “Self Gravity Control”. He found that all these ‘basic’ abilities were not so basic at all.


+Ability Tome: ‘Water Manipulation’

    The basic form of water manipulation.
    Water forms may retain their shape if the user continues to supply his mana into the form.
    Strength and Durability of the Water form depends on the user’s water affinity,
    knowledge of the created object, and the current level of this ability.

    Requirements:
    Job: Elementalist
    Water Affinity: 50%
    Level: 75
    Intelligence: 150
    Mana: 10,000


+Ability Tome: ‘Earth Manipulation’

    The basic form of earth manipulation.
    Earth forms may retain their shape if the user continues to supply his mana into the form.
    Strength and Durability of the Earth form depends on the user’s earth affinity,
    knowledge of the created object, and the current level of this ability.

    Requirements:
    Job: Elementalist
    Earth Affinity: 50%
    Level: 75
    Intelligence: 150
    Mana: 10,000


+Ability Tome: ‘Item Transmutation’

    The basic form of item manipulation.
    After selecting an item as its base, when you add two or more other items
    it will be fused into the base item.
    Item enhancements will change and will often result in a lower enhancement.
    Item results depend on affinity of the items used, user’s Luck and this ability’s level.

    Requirements:
    Job: Alchemist
    Affinities: Earth/ Fire/ Wind/ Water: 50%
    Level: 75
    Intelligence: 50
    Mana: 10,000


+Ability Tome: ‘Targeted Teleporation’

    The basic form of teleporation.
    Requires the use of teleportation casting circles.
    Maximum travel distance depends on the complexity of casting circle, the user’s light affinity, and this ability’s level.

    Requirements:
    Job: Time Mage, Magical Templar
    Light Affinity: 50%
    Knowledge of Teleporation Casting Circles
    Level: 150
    Intelligence: 300
    Mana: 30,000


+Ability Tome: ‘Self Gravity Control’

    The basic form of gravity control.
    Enables the user to increase or decrease the user’s weight.
    Maximum and minimum weight manipulation depends on the user’s dark affinity and this ability’s level.

    Requirements:
    Job: Gravity Mage, Magical Templar
    Dark Affinity: 50
           Level: 150
    Intelligence: 300
    Mana: 30,000

Each one of the ability tomes had an affinity requirement. All of them was beyond Smoke’s current level which was still at 74.

Even if he did have the required level, there was still a problem with the Intelligence requirement, despite all the bonuses that he got from his acquired knowledge, equipments, and title, his Intelligence stat was still at 42. He tried checking his affinity’s window.


+ Affinities

Fire: 50%
Poison: 10%
Lightning: .01%

At the moment, Fire was his only decent affinity. This is all thanks to his symbiote Igniz. He noticed that even though he only used the spark stone during the battle with the murlocks and lamias he still managed to gain .01% of the Lightning affinity. He then came to the conclusion that affinities can be gained through constant usage of an element.

Informatively, there was a footnote at the end of the ‘basics’ list indicating that there were certain items that can increase affinities. Most of these items would come from epic item drops from a boss mob.

Luckily, Giro indicated the location of such an item. It belonged to the monster boss called ‘Cologus’, the leader of the gargantuan flying lemurs. His item drops included, Cologus’ Hard leather Armor, Cologus’ War Belt, and an epic item drop called Cologus’ Hooded Cloak.

The leather armor and war belt each gave +50 Strength and increased Earth affinity to 30%. While the hooded cloak gave +20 Strength, +20 Dexterity, 20% Earth affinity, 20% Wind affinity, and the ability to glide.

Smoke carefully went out of Giro’s secret hideout and headed towards the spot where he left Laernea. He briskly told her that they needed to make one more stop but this time it was a bit further about twice the distance that they’ve traveled now.

“That’s not a problem at all, Bilis wasn’t running at full speed when we came here.”

Laernea wasn’t kidding when she said that Bilis had a faster speed. In Smoke’s perspective everything was a blur, they must have been traveling at 200kph. Igniz sat still on Smoke’s lap, afraid of the dizzying speed. Smoke thought that this must be what it would feel like to ride Japan’s Maglev train.

At no time at all, they arrived at the foot of Mount Gliseloc the home of the gargantuan flying lemurs. Smoke told Laernea to head home without him. He also told her to wait for Sierra’s return and ask her if she wants to join him.

Now that he only had Igniz for company, he felt his senses heightened. He was here alone on a far off place, about to face the swarms of monsters that he’s never faced before.

It took two days for Sierra to go back online again. She thought, Smoke must have a pretty good reason why he asked her to do this favor.

She sent a message to Smoke, telling him that something important came up at the Diner and that it needed for her to be there personally. Smoke immediately made a call to Sierra.

“Hi, I’m really sorry about what happened during our last meeting. I didn’t mean to sound like I didn’t want you around. Of course I want you to be here with me. It’s just that I honestly thought that the most efficient and expedient way of dealing with the Maneator was to follow this plan. But seeing as that you didn’t agree with it, I’ve sent Laernea there to get you. So, if you want to join me here in Mount Gliseloc, I’d be happy to have you here. I’ve sent you the coordinates of my location.”

“You’re where now? Let me check my map to see where you are exactly, also who is Laernea again?”

“Oh, she’s one of the newest members of our private army. She’s a Lioumerean and she has this amazing stag moose that can run really really really fast. You’ve got to try it.”

“Okay, I’ll think about giving it a try later. But for now I’ll have to decline your offer about joining you in… Wait, what?! I just saw your location in the map and you’re too far away. How in the world did you get that far in just two days?”

“Like I said, take a ride on Laernea’s carriage and you’ll see what I’m talking about… Are you sure you don’t want to join me? I hope you won’t get busy again. I’m really happy that you’re here with me playing Zectas. Although, we are technically apart at the moment. Well, I hope you know what I mean.”

“Yeah, I think I do. You better get back to whatever it is you were doing there in Mount Gliseloc. I’ll check on Sharanga’s progress as well.”

Sierra found Sharanga’s workshop. Blueprints were scattered everywhere. There were also small scale models of the traps that she had been planning on. Sierra found her to be really hard working and dedicated. The two attributes in a person that she strongly admires.

“Hi, I’m sorry if I interrupted you. I’m here to help out with the trap.”

Sharanga immediately gave a bow.

“Hello, Sierra, forgive me if I’ve caused a problem between you and Smoke. It was my inability to create a trap strong enough to capture the Maneator that made him ask you to help me. I know that you must have been looking forward to spending some time with him. But I…”

“No, it wasn’t your fault. I’m sure that there’s a good explanation why Smoke asked me to do this. If you’re ready, shall we get started then?”

The two of them went outside to test the trap. Sierra thought that it would be best to create a battle simulation to see how well it actually works.

Sierra made a dash towards Sharanga and immediately she threw the trap at her. Sierra was still struggling with making dexterous movements in her WereBear form. She already knew how to stand still and take a hit. That was easy but making sudden movements, was a whole different ball game.

Sharanga managed to capture her inside her trap. Sierra struggled for about five seconds. She suddenly stopped moving and focused all her Strength in one go, destroying the trap completely.

Sierra hadn’t felt this much excitement from fighting a single opponent since the Maneator. She realized that this must have been what Smoke meant with the fastest and most efficient way of gaining the abilities to defeat the legendary beast.

She’s slowly discovering new ways to control her WereBear form while Sharanga could test her trap in an actual battle.

With Sharanga’s trap now broken, Sierra gave some suggestions on how to improve the trap. The pair repeated this same process for the next couple of days.

When Laernea arrived from Mount Gliseloc, Sierra asked her if she could join the other members out hunting the bones of the towering phasmatodeas. She thought that they would have a hard time reaching Smoke’s unimaginable quota.

It took eight days for Smoke’s private army to return to Nanahuatl Village. But through their perseverance, they arrived from their hunt successfully.

Everyone gave it their all, in order to achieve Smoke’s quota of 20,000 phasmatodea bones. After a day’s rest all the other members of Smoke’s private army watched one of Sierra’s and Sharanga’s training sessions.

As they were watching the battle simulation they also started crafting the improved arrows from the phasmatodea’s bones. They wanted to be prepared for Smoke’s return.

Sharanga stood in her safety zone about 200 meters away from Sierra. The red WereBear started to charge her. While the Huntress answered by setting four small traps on her path. Sierra pushed on, unfazed by the four small traps.

However, the four traps stuck to Sierra’s body. After two seconds the traps joined together, which brought Sierra to a halt. The joined traps gave her an added weight of 400 kilos.

Grabbing this opportunity Sharanga threw a box which launched a steel net attempting to cover Sierra completely. She proceeded to throw five more traps on the ground.

But the traps never got a chance to capture Sierra. Before they even opened up, Sierra, freed herself from the net. She already prepared one of her claws in advance to catch the net before it enveloped her.

By maneuvering her gigantic body, Sierra managed to get out of the five trap’s range just in time as the five of them merged into one and fell to the ground with a loud bang.

The charging WereBear could no longer be stopped and reached Sharanga’s safe zone. The Huntress was once again defeated. But this time Sierra was breathing heavier. Even though her health bar was still full her satiety was reduced by 50%. If Sharanga’s five trap system caught Sierra, she would have been immobilized.

The crowd clapped as they watched the end of the battle simulation. Sharanga was really close to capturing Sierra but now that she had grown accustomed to her WereBear’s movement, she managed to come out victorious.

Adder thought out loud that if only Sharanga managed to hold Sierra for just a few seconds more then she would have been captured for sure.

“Can you repeat that? What was that again? You said something about having a few more seconds?”

“Oh, I just meant that if Sharanga somehow had another way to hold you, just in time for her five trap system to work. Then she would have won.”

“Right! I think that’s a brilliant idea. Why don’t we try adding some of you into the battle simulation. Let me start with one more person added to the simulation. Okay? You guys alright with that?”

Vijaya was the first one to volunteer.

“Sounds interesting. Let me be the first participant.”

For their second round of battle simulation Sharanga was joined by her sister Vijaya. Both of the Huntresses stayed in the safe zone. At the start of the battle Vijaya’s twin falcons dove down to attack Sierra. The WereBear accurately parried the falcons down to the ground stunning them for a few seconds.

While Sharanga’s falcon released the steel net trap from above and at the same time Sharanga threw her four trap system towards Sierra. Sierra answered by using the steel net to knock back two of the traps. But the other two traps managed attach themselves to her body and fused together, giving her an added weight of 200 kilos.

The five trap system that was coming in directly still failed to capture Sierra as she expertly dodge them. She had the five trap system all figured out. Sierra’s charge to their safe zone continued on unopposed.

The two sisters were shocked. Sierra’s movements became more precise. It was like she knew where everything was going to be. She gave a much more fluid performance than the previous battle simulation.

Sierra continued on by adding one more person into the battle simulation. She kept on winning the battle simulations until she was up against Sharanga, Vijaya, Ichaival, and Thyrsus. It was only then that she suffered her first defeat.

It took her the next two days to defeat the group of Hunters. The next stage of their battle simulation involved adding in the Range Siegers. The twin OrkElves used their Ballistae as shields to block Sierra’s path. With all that restricted movement Sierra was easily caught in Sharanga’s improved seven trap system.

Refusing to acknowledge defeat Sierra asked them to continue on with the battle simulation. Even after four days of getting the same result, she still refused to give up.

The six of them kept on winning against Sierra. Yet, as each day passed their margin of victory got smaller and smaller.

It’s been sixteen days since Smoke started his ‘solo’ adventure on Mount Gliseloc and Sierra’s been missing him days ago.

They were about to start another day of battle simulations when they saw something flying high up in the sky. It flew past Nanahuatl Village but it appeared to be trying to make a U turn back towards them.

The unidentified flying object kept on making spirals around the village. Slowly making its descent. It wasn’t until the object’s eight spiral that Jinggu spoke out.

“I can’t believe it! That’s Smoke!”

Sharur used his ability ‘Far Sight’ and confirmed that what Jinggu said was true. Thyrsus immediately ordered his falcon Thyr to fly towards Smoke. He wanted to see the sight for himself as well.

Smoke was still about 50 meters up in the air when he closed his cape and he started falling down towards Zectas.

All of a sudden the ground that the spectators were standing on started to shake and rumble. Instantaneously a pillar of earth sprang from the ground heading towards Smoke.

The top of the earth pillar started taking on an intricate shape. It looked like a stable helipad to land on. Smoke and the earth pillar were about to collide when he made his cape open up a bit which slowed down his descent making the point of contact between him and the pillar as gentle as possible.

Smoke was now on top of the towering earth pillar with a height of about 50 meters. Slowly the earth pillar started to descending. Igniz came off of Smoke’s chest. He attached himself to him when they were gliding home towards Nanahuatl.

Everyone just stared in awe at Smoke’s phenomenal arrival. They couldn’t believe that he was flying. Just what kind of quest was he on?

Sierra waited near the base of the earth tower and everyone followed her lead. She couldn’t wait to ask him what he had been doing these past few days.

“Hi Guys. Sorry it took me so long to get back. I thought I’d be able to return before two weeks but it looks like I’m off by a couple of days.”

Everybody gave way for Sierra since they knew just how much she has missed him.

“So, what else have you learned aside from flying?”

“Oh, I wasn’t flying. I was just falling with style. I got this epic hooded cape from the monster boss Cologus, it gives me the ability to glide. As for my new abilities. I just learned ‘Earth Manipulation’ and ‘Item Transmutation’ and acquired the hidden basic stat, ‘Wisdom’. It increases my maximum Mana and Mana regeneration rate and best of all it reduces the required reading time of acquiring knowledge.”

“Just that huh? Sounds like your solo adventure was pretty productive after all. Well, let me tell you that everyone here also did their best to accomplish the tasks you’ve given them. Sharanga, managed to make a trap strong enough that I could never break out of and everyone else managed to gather 20,000 phasmatodea bones.”

“Great! I knew that you guys could do it but I thought I only asked for 15,000 bones? Anyway, what was that battle that I saw from up above? Was that some kind of mock battle?”

When Sharur heard that Smoke was watching them from way up high, he just had to ask how he was able to do that, when their ‘Far Sight’ ability only managed to see him when he got nearer to the village.

“Ah, yes. I forgot to mention that I also learned this melded symbiote ability called ‘Telefax Vision’. Igniz shares his Mana flow into me and together we focus our Mana into my eyes. It doesn’t really work well on the ground though, I’m not sure but I think that being close to the ground causes a lot of interference in our ‘Mana Melding’.”

In a blink of an eye, Darius came out of nowhere. He was clapping energetically.

“That was amazing! It reminded me of the time when Kumbaba was still learning his new abilities. He always liked making flashy entrances. Where did you get the ability tomes for ‘Earth Manipulation’ and ‘Item Transmutation’?”

“Oh, I accidentally found them at my house. I knocked over this beam and a secret compartment appeared. There were a few other books as well. I’ll show them to you later.”

“Really? There was a hidden compartment that stored many useful ability tomes. Well, that’s Kumbaba for you. He always liked leaving some mysterious things.”

“I guess. Well, if you’ll excuse me. Guys, thank you for such a warm welcome but if you don’t mind, I’d like to talk to Sierra alone. Oh, and I want you to start preparing for our hunt on the Maneator. Let’s meet up at my house in about 30 minutes.”

The gathered crowd nodded and respected his wishes. They slowly scattered in different directions. He then pulled Sierra to an isolated corner.

“Thank you for not saying anything about Giro’s note. I didn’t want to tell Darius about that yet. I know that I can trust him. In fact, he’s probably my most trusted NPC in the game. That’s why I didn’t want to tell him about Giro’s note. I wasn’t sure if he would be okay with me snooping around Giro’s secret study and I didn’t want to lose the opportunity of gaining such amazing abilities. I thought that if I didn’t tell him, I won’t be risking Darius’ Intimacy.”

“Ahh… Now I get it. I knew you always had a good reason for doing things. However, don’t make this sneaky behavior turn into a habit but you will still tell him right? By the way I forgot to thank you for making me train with Sharanga and the rest of your private Army.”

“Of course, of course, I’ll tell Darius about Giro’s map eventually… By the way, I saw your battle simulation and you were amazing! I didn’t know a bear could be that nimble.”

“Correction, I’m a WereBear not a bear. Now, do you think we’re finally ready to face the Maneator?”

Smoke turned to look at the backs of his private army. They were slowly moving away from him. He thought to himself that he had never seen such trustworthy backs.

“Definitely! I’m sure we can take on the Maneator and we’ll do it without taking any casualties.”

“Although, we still shouldn’t be cocky. I know that both of us… make that all of us have grown stronger. I just hope that we’ll really be able to defeat that beast without any serious injuries.”

“I understand, but it’s not being cocky when what you’re saying is the simple truth.”

Smoke, Sierra, and his private army all gathered in front of his house. They had a short update meeting about everyone’s improvements. With all their equipments prepared, they rode on the Gandiva’s and Laernea’s carriages and headed for the Forest of the Maneator.

This was the result of their preparation against the Maneator. Smoke was now level 87, Sierra gained one level and was now 93, Adder leveled up to 86, the Hunters were all now level 82, the Range Siegers were level 84, the Pathfinders were level 81.

The Pathfinders had gained the lowest levels because they were always traveling. Delivering the other members to different locations and transporting their loot and supplies.

Smoke had the highest level increase. He gained 13 levels! His solo mission in Mount Gliseloc opened his eyes to the infinite possibilities of his Beggar job.

From his adventure in Mount Gliseloc, he transmuted a composite powersaw bow. He used Darius’ composite bow as the base item and added in the legs from the powersaw crickets and the armband from the water lamia boss Aquaria.

His new bow now had an attack power of 30 which is far greater than the old one which only had 10. This was also one of the main reasons why he was successful against the gargantuan flying lemurs and their boss Cologus.

With his new composite powersaw bow and arrows made out of iron owl feathers and phasmatodea bones, he should have been able to do 2800 as a normal damage and 7000 on his critical attack but since he still had the first level of the Beggar job he can only do 700 on a normal attack and 1750 on a critical attack.

Creating a master battle plan was one of Smoke’s prerequisites before engaging an enemy. Using the dimensions from Thyrsus reconnaissance mission. Smoke plotted out the entire forest of the Maneator. Including himself, Sierra, and his private army, he had a total of eleven persons at his disposal.

He divided his force into four groups. The first group consisted of Smoke and Sierra which would enter from the north side of the forest. The second group was composed of Ichaival, Sharanga, and Jinggu. This group would enter from the south. The third group had Adder, Thyrsus, and Gandiva as its members. They would use the entrance on the east. While the last group made up of Vijaya, Laernea, and Sharur would take the path on the west entrance.

The first phase of Smoke’s plan was to wipe out the monsters in the outer layer of the forest. Despite the fact that the monsters in the outer layer only have a level of about 50, a potential dying member of his army trying to escape could still die if it encountered one of them.

Safety was Smoke’s highest priority. He knew that there definitely will be injuries but aimed for zero casualties.

With their current levels and abilities he estimated that it shouldn’t take them more than three hours to clear out the entire outer layer of the forest.

Each group started on their assigned entrances and began their first phase systematically. Smoke together with Sierra were unstoppable. They made a competition out of their clearing phase.

Smoke used his ability ‘Cunning of the Dire Fox’ while Sierra used her ‘Animal Instinct’ ability to detect the monsters. Each one of them killed the monsters instantly.

Sierra only needed to one hit the stone deers, where as Smoke would release two arrows to kill the same monster. However, Smoke had more kills than her because of his range attack.

This made Sierra furious. She started running in front of Smoke, charging at the monsters from all directions blocking his view.

He quickly understood what she was doing. In response, he jumped up and climbed the trees. From there his view became unobstructed.

However, during the time that he was climbing up the tree, Sierra had already moved further ahead wiping out the monsters in her way.

All the monsters that were left were the iron owls perched on top of the branches. Smoke quickly dealt with them and chased after Sierra.

At the entrance of the inner layer of the forest the final score was 151 monsters for Smoke and 104 monsters for Sierra.

“You do realize that my main role is a tank right? You should have gotten twice no thrice my kills.”

“I don’t recall putting our roles as one of the factors into our game? Yet, you’re right I should have gotten at least twice my number of kills if there wasn’t a certain WereBear blocking my sight.”

The two of them bantered on as Smoke shot a purple flare arrow into the air, indicating that their side of the forest has been cleared out.

About twenty minutes later a green flare arrow lit up the sky, it was on the east side of the forest. Adder and his team had already cleared their side as well. A few minutes later two flare arrows lit up at the same time. Jinggu’s team and Sharur’s team both finished at the same time.

The divided army all waited for Smoke’s signal to begin phase two of his battle plan. Smoke and Sierra stepped into the inner layer of the forest. There they saw the cave of the Maneator.

It had been nine months since Smoke was last here. He waited for the Maneator to come out of his cave shouting a deafening roar just like before. He waited and waited but after five minutes of waiting there was still dead silence.

“How did the start of your fight with the Maneator go again? Didn’t he come out of his cave roaring?”

“No, he was out here just standing there. Staring into the sky. I thought that he looked like he was a deep in thought. I tried moving closer to get a better look at him. That’s when he noticed me. We just stared at each other for what felt like hours. It didn’t feel like he was going to attack me. He just stared at me.”

“Are you sure? I can’t imagine him being like that at all. Oh, it was a ploy right? He wanted you to get closer and then he attacked you.”

“Maybe, all I remember was that once I got to those patch of yellow flowers, he came charging at me. It was like a switch was turned on which made him into a killing machine. Of course I welcomed the challenge but then realized that he was too strong to handle alone.”

“Mind games huh? I knew it! That sadistic bastard. He wanted to make you think that he was all calm and passive but the moment you got into his reach he attacked you.”

“Why don’t you initiate phase two then?”

“Well, I originally envisioned him to jump right out and charge us. That’s why the rest of our army are just waiting as well. I guess I’ll be the one to yell out this time.”

Smoke checked on the locations of his scattered private army. They were already to do their part of the plan. He breathed in deeply and yelled.

“MANEATOR!!! I’ve come for your Head!!!”

Slowly the humongous head of the Maneator came out of his cave. It sluggishly stepped out and stretched both his arms after making a huge yawn.

Smoke was furious. The Maneator was making fun of him. He has been waiting for this moment for a long time and this beast was just yawning like he wasn’t a threat at all.

He readied his arrows infused with Igniz’s fire. With boiling rage he released all eight arrows, aimed at vulnerable places.

+ Atk hits Maneator: König Mitleid. +FIRE DMG. CRITICAL HIT. Damage 1748.
+ Atk hits Maneator: König Mitleid. +FIRE DMG. CRITICAL HIT. Damage 1758.
+ Atk hits Maneator: König Mitleid. +FIRE DMG. CRITICAL HIT. Damage 1749.
+ Atk hits Maneator: König Mitleid. +FIRE DMG. CRITICAL HIT. Damage 1752.
+ Atk hits Maneator: König Mitleid. +FIRE DMG. CRITICAL HIT. Damage 1749.
+ Atk hits Maneator: König Mitleid. +FIRE DMG. CRITICAL HIT. Damage 1755.
+ Atk hits Maneator: König Mitleid. +FIRE DMG. CRITICAL HIT. Damage 1748.
+ Atk hits Maneator: König Mitleid. +FIRE DMG. CRITICAL HIT. Damage 1753.

This made the Maneator’s eyes blood red, hot steam was coming out of his body. The beast arched his back and bolted towards Smoke. Immediately Smoke gave his signal to open fire.

With the sudden onslaught of arrows, the beast stopped as it tried to see the locations of his attackers. The Maneator was a stationary target and continued to receive attacks from all four sides.

Smoke’s private army used different kinds of elemental enhancements on their specialized arrows. Some used the poison pellets, while others used the spark stone.

Seeing this opportunity Sharanga’s falcon released the net trap above the Maneator. The beast looked up to see the trap falling down and at the same time Sharanga drew in closer to set her five trap system.

The Maneator noticed everything. In a fluid series of motions, the legendary monster jumped up, grabbed the net, attacked the falcon, and before landing to the ground trapped Sharanga with her own net.

Sharanga was caught in her own net but not before she released her five trap system. When the Maneator landed the five traps automatically attached themselves to the Maneator burdening him for 500 kilos.

The enraged Maneator slashed the netted Sharanga knocking her back against the tree. Her lifebar displayed that she only had (23,620/68,850 HP) left.

Smoke immediately created layers of earth wall protecting Sharanga from any further harm and made it so that the ground that she was on would carry her outside of the Maneator’s reach.

Seeing the injured Sharanga, Ichaival gained some inexplicable attack speed. He continued firing at the Maneator with all his might.

The Maneator was momentarily dazed by the added weight from Sharanga’s five trap system. Everyone except Smoke and Sierra continued firing their range attacks at the beast.

Sierra charged towards the Maneator while everyone else kept on attacking. The beast recognized the WereBear and laughed. It appears to have remembered her cowardly escape.

The smug smile from the Maneator was met with two claws as Sierra used her ‘Double Slash’ ability against him, because of the added weights from the five trap system, the Maneator could no longer be knocked back by her ability. Yet, he received the attacks with a smile. The Maneator taunted everyone as his lifebar still indicated that he still had (212,016/300,000 HP) left.

Not minding the continued rain of arrows, the Maneator slashed Sierra which revealed her lifebar to have (219,200/242,200 HP).

With both his monstrous arms up in the air, the Maneator was ready to pound Sierra down to the ground. However, Sharur and Jinggu finally finished their super charged spiral piercing bolts from their ballistae. Two spiraling fire bolts attacked the beast from his backside.

Immediately he felt his defenses decrease. The arrow attacks now had more damage. The five falcons circling up in the air dove down, each assaulting the Maneator’s head with their heads.

Sierra immediately took advantage of the distraction and she continued to use her ‘Double Slash’ ability. While Adder finally came up from behind and did a series of back attacks.

The Maneator’s lifebar now displayed (121,440/300,000 HP). He steadied both his feet on the ground and used his Roar.

“ROOOOOAAAAAARRRRARRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!”

Everybody in the area except for Sierra got stunned for two seconds. He grabbed the stunned Adder with his left claw and teared into Adder’s stomach with his right. Adder’s lifebar showed (30,428/93,000 HP).

Sierra gathered all her strength and mana and used her newly learned ability ‘WereBear X Slash’ which finally pushed the Maneator backwards for about ten meters, freeing Adder from his grasp.

Reflexively the Maneator’s Regeneration Ability kicked in. His life began to increase while a wide shadow crossed the ground swiftly.

This made the Maneator look up only to see Smoke brandishing two green dual knives, the ‘Tails of the Virile and Fecund Lizards’.

+ Atk hits Maneator: König Mitleid. +FIRE DMG. BACK ATTACK. CRITICAL HIT. Damage 787.
+ Atk hits Maneator: König Mitleid. +PSN DMG. BACK ATTACK. CRITICAL HIT. Damage 779.
+ Atk hits Maneator: König Mitleid. +FIRE DMG. BACK ATTACK. CRITICAL HIT. Damage 788.
+ Atk hits Maneator: König Mitleid. +PSN DMG. BACK ATTACK. CRITICAL HIT. Damage 776.
+ Atk hits Maneator: König Mitleid. +FIRE DMG. BACK ATTACK. CRITICAL HIT. Damage 787.
+ Atk hits Maneator: König Mitleid. +PSN DMG. BACK ATTACK. CRITICAL HIT. Damage 777.
+ Atk hits Maneator: König Mitleid. +FIRE DMG. BACK ATTACK. CRITICAL HIT. Damage 786.
+ Atk hits Maneator: König Mitleid. +PSN DMG. BACK ATTACK. CRITICAL HIT. Damage 787.
+ Atk hits Maneator: König Mitleid. +FIRE DMG. BACK ATTACK. CRITICAL HIT. Damage 788.
+ Atk hits Maneator: König Mitleid. +PSN DMG. BACK ATTACK. CRITICAL HIT. Damage 779.
+ Atk hits Maneator: König Mitleid. +FIRE DMG. BACK ATTACK. CRITICAL HIT. Damage 787.
+ Atk hits Maneator: König Mitleid. +PSN DMG. BACK ATTACK. CRITICAL HIT. Damage 786.
+ Atk hits Maneator: König Mitleid. +FIRE DMG. BACK ATTACK. CRITICAL HIT. Damage 787.
+ Atk hits Maneator: König Mitleid. +PSN DMG. BACK ATTACK. CRITICAL HIT. Damage 776.
+ Atk hits Maneator: König Mitleid. +FIRE DMG. BACK ATTACK. CRITICAL HIT. Damage 787.
+ Atk hits Maneator: König Mitleid. +PSN DMG. BACK ATTACK. CRITICAL HIT. Damage 779.

Smoke’s single attack with the green dual knives was much lower when compared to his composite powersaw bow. However, the reason why he used the knives wasn’t for their damage. It was for their special ability ‘Paralysis’. He also used Igniz’s fire enhancement on Virile knife while he used the poison pellets on the Fecund knife.

As soon as Smoke finished his sixteen hits attack, he released Sharanga’s best trap, the eight trap system. Instantaneously the eight traps attached themselves to the Maneator fusing together with the already attached five traps to his body.

The Maneator now had a total shackled weight of 1,300 kilos. His lifebar indicated that he had (101,140/300,000 HP) left. He was also suffering the status ailments of poisoned, burned, shocked, and paralyzed.

Sierra took Adder to safety, while everyone continued on their attacks. Everybody was attacking the Maneator ardently. But most especially Smoke, his strikes with his dual knives were personal. He didn’t realize it but his face started to show a devil’s countenance.

It wasn’t until the Maneator’s lifebar displayed (34,923/300,000 HP) that he ordered everyone to stop attacking. Earlier, Smoke was busy building strong earth walls from all four corners of the forest and now that the Maneator’s life was almost 10%, he willed the earth walls to move in.

Smoke wanted a private audience with the Maneator. He had the beast pinned to the ground. He wasn’t taking any chances. Even if Sharanga’s traps made him encumbered. He still created earth shackles binding the Maneator’s body, arms, legs and neck to the ground.

The earth walls finally reached their destination, creating a completely sealed chamber. To illuminate the chamber, Smoke ordered Igniz to increase his radiance.

“Welcome to my chamber. Do you know that you were the inspiration for this chamber? I grinded my levels and abilities to get here and let me tell you it’s really satisfying.”

Smoke poked the Maneator with his knives while he was talking. He remembered the times when he was tortured by this monster. This was his payback!

He stopped attacking as he noticed that the Maneator’s Regeneration ability was not able to keep up with his stabbing.

“So, how does it feel to be on the opposite end of the knife? Do you like it? Do you like the pain?”

Somehow, Smoke’s horrific torture made him believe that the Maneator was real and not a character inside Zectas. He only wanted the monster to suffer as much as he did. He was about to continue stabbing the beast when out of nowhere he heard the Maneator speak.

“You call this torture? Ha! This is nothing. From the moment I was created. I have been stabbed, whipped, peeled, and beaten.”

Upon hearing the Maneator’s voice, Smoke regained his senses and remembered that he was in a game. He took a step back and reevaluated everything. Was this Maneator a special NPC?

He noticed that the beast no longer had his blood red eyes and that the pumped body of the Maneator had softened, as if all his muscles collapsed. Then the Maneator continued to talk.

“I took all of their torture but I drew the line when they forced me to kill my own kind. I had to escape that place.”

“What are you talking about? Weren’t you created to be the guardian of the Coatl City’s treasure?

“How do you know that? Everyone should only know me as the executioner in the underground labyrinth. The city officials made sure of this.”

“So, what are you really? Are you a guardian or an executioner?”

“The dark creators made me to be a sadistic guardian of the city’s treasure, the corrupt city officials made me into a killer for amusement, and my kind, well they made me into their King.”

“You are the King of the Maneators? That means there are more of you out there?”

“Yes, and since you’ve shown interest and have bested me. I find that I could only ask this of you. I know that you plan to kill me, but before you do, will you listen to my request? Would you free my people and help them escape out of the labyrinth?”


+ Quest: Liberate the Maneators under Coatl City.
    Liberation Quest
    Level: B

    The Maneator, König Mitleid, asks that you free his people imprisoned
    inside the labyrinth beneath Coatl City.

    Accept the Quest? [YES/NO]


TO BE CONTINUED …

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