Light Novel – Zectas – Volume 02 – Chapter 01

Proofreaders: Vaanouney, ExperimentBL626, Aaron Frawley, Fireutsies, 

The Heraldic City

Attracting viewership for Zectas’ videos has gotten increasingly more difficult than when Nash first started. Tristan’s latest video was about the start of his expedition into the unknown lands, east of Thayotl Kingdom.

He brought all the available members of DracoRicco with him. Even the historic sight of 10,000 players marching only got about 50 million views.

However, the most controversial thing that he has done up until now was not the expedition but rather the management of his city.  He had implemented a new law that affected his city and its neighbouring territories.

Tristan’s decree was thought of as a brilliant scheme. By reducing taxes in Tonaci, he planned to increase its population, therefore taking the next step to develop it into a kingdom.

Now that Tristan’s city has the lowest taxes in the whole known world of Zectas, this had enticed most of the players in the eastern kingdom to migrate to his city.

Players could now afford to buy properties. Some players started to buy houses and converted them into shops, while others brought some agricultural land and started planting medicinal herbs for potion making.

Merchants could easily trade with NPCs for the highest marginal profit. Other production jobs such as Blacksmiths, Alchemists, and others also enjoyed the low taxes for their services.

The game has a way of determining the location of the players where they are doing business transactions. The game would automatically deduct the taxes even if the transaction is between players.

The deducted tax would then be transferred to the owner of the immediate vicinity but would still be deducted with 20% which will go to the monarch of the kingdom.

This was also the reason why Amahan’s mini-rally encampments were such a great success. Since, those places did not belong to any of the known kingdoms, there were no automatic deductions.

* * * * * * 

Amahan’s latest video was their fight against the Yetis. Together with the Decane members, they fought against thousands of undead monsters as they climbed over the Rhumeloc mountain range.

His videos got a staggering 240 million views. The viewers were so impressed out how efficiently they moved through the mountain range. There were only ten of them but they managed to overcome such a challenging place.

At the foot of the mountain, they fought against an army of skeleton soldiers. Decane’s commanding power against the Undead proved to be quite useful.

When they reached the slope of the mountain, they were faced against living monsters for the first time since the start of their expedition in the forgotten Kingdom of Aquilomentl.

Agile snow wolves were the dominant monsters in this area. They stood on all fours at a height of 6 feet. A pack would mostly consist of thirty to fifty wolves.

The viewers’ were impressed to see that even if the enemies were not Undead their guild could still cut through them like cheese.

They relied on the firepower of, Magikera, an Aero Magus, and Tirador, a Heavy Cannoneer, while the rest of the members formed a defensive circle around and ‘kited’ the monsters.

Those snow wolves only managed to threaten the lives of two out of four of their tanks. Amahan, Hilot, Tambal, and Atiman all had advance variations of the priest job. They continued pouring on their healing and support magic at everyone.

At the summit of Mount Rhumeloc, they faced the king of the mountain. ‘Ketikus’ was a yeti that was twice as large as normal yetis.

This time, the tanks played the role of main attacker. Ligon, Bato, Puthaw, and Baskog surrounded Ketikus and took turns at bashing it.

Their ability would inflict a stun of .25 second, but with all four of their synchronized attacks they were able to stun the beast for a full second, while Magikera and Tirador would execute their long range attacks.

‘Ketikus’ stood no chance and perished inside the area that the Decane’s tanks created.

* * * * * * 
With his tenth video completed, Nash went towards his brothers’ room. He wanted to give them their birthday presents. Seth and Donny were born exactly two years apart.

Nash remembered how he used to get jealous whenever their parents would throw his younger siblings a birthday party. Both of them got presents while all he got were the dishes.

Seth was now fourteen years old, while Donny turned twelve. His brothers told him that they were fine without getting any gifts.

They knew that his past videos didn’t make as much as before, and both of them wanted to help out in any way that they could.

Nevertheless, Nash would not listen and got Seth a rare Italian dagger called cinquedea. He had it encased in a glass container.

“I told you not to get me anything. How am I suppose to use this anyway? This case doesn’t have any openings at all.”

“Of course! That knife is meant to be the start of your knife collection. I don’t want you to go out and have some random knife fights.”

“Then why did you have to pick such an old looking knife? It does look pretty cool though. Thanks, Nash!”

Seth gave Nash a big hug and continued to scrutinize the craftsmanship in his new knife.

Nash then proceeded to Donny’s room. He gave Donny an eskrima stick signed by Grandmaster Saavedra. This was Donny’s idol. Once he saw what the Grandmaster could do, he was hooked and tried to replicate his movements.

“Is this really from Grandmaster Saavedra? Did he really sign this stick? These eskrima sticks looks amazing, but I don’t plan to use them at all.”

“Huh? I thought you liked them? Why aren’t you gonna use them?”

“And ruin Grandmaster Saavedra’s signature? Stop being silly, Nash. Oh, and thank you for this gift.”

Donny leapt from his bed and gave him a tackle-like hug.

* * * * * * 
Nash’s ninth video of his encounter with Sierra got him a check of $15,000. The viewers couldn’t believe that there was a Werebear race. For obvious reasons, Nash decided to edit out Sierra’s name.

Clearly, everyone could see just how tough the Werebear’s defenses were. The viewer’s kept on asking how to get the race. They continued on pleading but were all left unanswered.

His tenth video was his solo mission on Mount Gliseloc. He had showed them certain scenes of his adventure. But left out the part where he got the hooded cape. He didn’t want other people to know his ability of gliding through the air.

After a couple of hours, as Nash released his tenth video, he read the same thread entitled ‘Tristan vs. Amahan vs. Smoke’


DarthMole: Tristan is copying Amahan and now Smoke is copying Amahan. That clearly shows just how superior Amahan is.

JustDFacts: It’s only Tristan who is copying Amahan. If you think about it. Smoke and Amahan’s videos both came out around the same time. How could he have copied Amahan? Please think about what you post…

SmoKING: Right on! Also, Amahan brought his whole guild with him to challenge that mountain, but what about my man, Smoke? He was flying solo. He didn’t even bring that badass Werebear with him and still conquered that mountain. Now, if only he gave the location of that mountain.

DetectiveRonan: Here are some simple facts. Fact one: Tristan is still the only player who owns a main city and commands 300 NPCs. Fact two: Amahan still has the highest level in the game and is the leader of Decane, the guild with the highest level average. Fact three: We only know a few things about Smoke. After all those facts I’d go with Tristan. He still has the clear advantage and he has yet to conquer the unknown lands in the east.

CatatonicKing: Nyan nyan nyan, hear me, loyal cat subjects.

PurrFex: Meow! I hear and obey my liege.

PentaKiller: Can you Lioumereans stick to your own part of the forum? Mod? Mod? Can you erase this please? Anyway, Tristan’s decision in lowering the taxes is a great help. It helps all players to acquire some property. Presently, I own a general merchandise store in Tonaci, district 12. I have more than reasonable prices. The store’s name is Pentastico.

Manita: Amahan still has the commanding lead in conquering the forgotten Kingdom of Aquilomentl. I predict that once they’ve conquered that place they will not only gain a city but a whole kingdom.

Tritank: And you think that Tristan won’t do the same once his done with the unknown lands in the east? Your narrow thinking clouds your judgment. I agree with what @DetectiveRonan said. Let’s just stick to the facts, and you’ll see that Tristan will win.

Sierra: Not if I have anything to do about it.

Tritank:
You’re cute. Are you some kind of great god? You think that your presence alone can stop the super typhoon known as Tristan? Can you take on 10,000 players at once? I don’t think so!

On the agreed upon date, Nash got a call from the manager at the arcade. He came home with a gloomy disposition.

His tenth video only got 150 million views, which meant that his check for this was only for $10,000. If it wasn’t for Sherry’s Werebear debut in his ninth video he would have most likely gotten another $10,000 check.

He was reminded just how much of a difference Sherry made into his life. He regretted not asking her to join him on Mount Gliseloc. If she did, he was sure he would have broken the quota of 200 million views.

* * * * * * 
Smoke was greeted by the Earth prison that he had created and held the Maneator. He told Sierra about the quest that was offered by the fiendish monster.

“I think Mitleid is telling the truth. I haven’t heard of a quest that would turn into a trap.”

“Well, there’s always a first time for everything, and I don’t want to be the first schmuck who falls into a ‘quest trap’. I just wish I had Darius’ ability ‘Truth Seeker’. Then I would know for sure.”

“Then you should ask for Darius’ help. I understand that you want to be independent, but I think it’s always wiser to utilize all the tools available to you. We will have to transport him securely though.”

“But I thought you said that he was telling the truth?”

“I may think that, but I don’t want to be the first schmuck who falls for the ploys of the Maneator.”

“I guess that does make some sense. All right, we will have to modify one of the carriages. Sierra, I think we may need your help again?”

“NO! You don’t plan to put some of Sharanga’s trap on me and place me on the carriage are you?”

“But, we have to make sure that the carriage won’t break as we travel. You don’t want Mitleid to escape, do you? Come on, it will be really quick.”

“Fine! Argh! But this will be the last time I’m gonna be used like I’m some kind of guinea pig.”

“Of course! I promise…”

* * * * * * 
All of them worked on modifying Tulin’s carriage. Gandiva reassured her stag moose that the carriage should still be manageable to pull.

Smoke went to Mitleid’s earth prison to prepare him for their journey to Nanahuatl. He asked Sharanga to accompany him as they were going to add more traps to weigh him down.

“I’m taking you to someone who can tell me if what you’re saying is the truth or not. I hope you don’t mind the special treatment in our travel conditions. It’s simply because I don’t trust you.”

“I don’t mind, I’ve been through worse. I get your skepticism but you must understand, that I would do anything to free my people.”

“Your docile side is really giving me the creeps. Are you really like this or just a great actor?”

“You’ll understand once I tell you the whole story.”

Sharanga added more of her traps and made sure that it hurt Mitleid every time she placed them. Smoke used his ‘Earth Manipulation’ ability to move the Maneator towards Tulin’s carriage.

The updated carriage could now hold a weight of at least eight tons. Smoke and Sierra had customized seats at the back. They will be the only passengers on this carriage as Gandiva would drive from the front as usual, while everyone else would ride with Laernea.

* * * * * * 
Smoke was still hesitant about everything. He couldn’t believe that such a beast was a king to some race. This quest could be a trap, but Smoke couldn’t let the opportunity of it being a real quest pass him by either.

The trip back was longer because of the special prisoner cart. Smoke took advantage of the time by reading a book with one hand and flattening the road ahead with his other hand.

When Gandiva and Tulin would run at top speed, Smoke’s Earth manipulations could not catch up with the fast moving ground.

Yet, now that the pace was relatively slower, Smoke had more than enough time to make the road wider and flatter.

He was so pleased with himself. He could now increase his ‘Earth Manipulation’ and continue gaining knowledge from books simultaneously. The book that he was currently reading was entitled ‘The Heraldic City of Coatl’.

With his hidden basic stat ‘Wisdom’, the reading time required for acquiring a book’s knowledge had been reduced by 20%.

Smoke was now troubled with the distribution of his stats. If he would continue to increase ‘Wisdom’ it could greatly boost all his active abilities. Nevertheless, he couldn’t ignore ‘Dexterity’ and ‘Strength’.

These two stats were his bread and butter for defeating monsters. His ‘Earth Manipulation’ took some time to form. At its current level an enemy could easily dodge any of his earth attacks.

At best it could make great prisons, shields, and other structures. It’s a great support ability but didn’t really offer much of an offensive power.

While he was pondering on what to improve, an armored armadillo scuttled along its way. Then he recalled that he had the ability after all.

The ‘Armor Break of the Armored Armadillo’, he had stopped using the ability because it quickly drained his mana. It started at 20mp per use but as its level increased so did the mana consumption. Now it’s currently at 50mp per use.

When you add in the factor of his attack speed then that 50mp quickly 5,000mp in a couple of seconds. However, if he was to focus on Wisdom, mana consumption should no longer be an issue.

Smoke also decided to not raise ‘Intelligence’ because acquiring knowledge from books raised stat anyway. It would be inefficient to not abuse the hidden basic stat ‘Wisdom’.

Also, the ability tomes of ‘Gravity Control’ and ‘Targeted Teleportation’ required Light and Dark affinities. Even if he did manage to get 300 Intelligence he still wouldn’t be able to use the ability tomes.

Smoke noticed that Sierra was watching him intensely as he was grinding his ability. As the progress bar on the book that he was holding was about to be completed he asked Sierra if she could look to her left side towards the outside of the carriage.

Sierra tried to find what Smoke wanted her to see. She saw a wide wall up ahead. The wall was decorated with impressions of a lady that had turned to a Werebear. They were traveling, making the figures on the wall look like they were moving.

“This is amazing! It’s like I’m watching a paper animation.”

The walls then depicted the Werebear fighting a varanus indicus. Their battle ended quickly with the Werebear killing the lizard monster with her dual claw attack.

The earth wall animation ended with the Werebear turning back into a lady, and she stood together with a hooded man.

“That was so cool! I didn’t know you were such a great artist.”

“I think that Zectas only has our imagination as its limits. I just thought about what I wanted the wall to look like, and it came out like that.”

In reality, Smoke had undergone an intensive training of his ‘Earth Manipulation’ ability on Mount Gliseloc. That was the reason why he could create such detailed works of art. Their trip back to Nanahuatl was entertaining despite having the imprisoned Maneator with them.

* * * * * * 
They finally arrived at the village grounds. Smoke told Gandiva to ride directly to the entrance of the coal mines.

He didn’t want the residents to see Mitleid. He still thought of him as a dangerous beast, and he wanted to keep him away for everyone’s safety.

Darius was already waiting for them in front of the grounds of the coal mines.

“Adder tells me that you’ve brought a dangerous creature with you.”

“Yes, but just as I was about to slay the beast he tells me a different story. I was hoping you could help me find out if what he’s saying is the truth or not.”

“Of course, I’m happy to help. If only I could find that missing ability tome for ‘Seeker of Truth’ that would have been most useful to you.”

“That’s exactly what I was thinking. I remembered that you told me that you had another copy but it went missing?”

“Right, but it has been missing for a long time. I can’t remember how long. Where shall we interrogate the Maneator?”

Smoke created a reinforced dome like prison with only a few windows on the top portion to give some lighting inside. Darius smiled as he saw the structure.

“Well done! I couldn’t have done it better myself. Although you could have placed another wall just in case he breaks free.”

While Darius was saying that, a square wall was rising around them. This earth wall had no ceiling, therefore the light could directly come in.

“Oh, you weren’t done yet.”

“I was, but when I heard you starting to speak I knew that I had to put up another wall.”

Smoke then brought Mitleid into his new house. Apparently, Sierra had to do something at home. She had to logout, which left the inquisition to Smoke, and Darius.

With Mitleid safely secured, in a kneeling down position, Smoke stood in front of the Maneator as Darius created a casting circle around the beast with his ‘Earth Manipulation’. Smoke was the first one to speak.

“This is the time to prove yourself. Tell us this ‘real’ story of yours.”

“Very well. Our creators were called the Tenebris. They consisted of Dark Wizards, Corrupted Druids, and Evil Alchemists. They stashed their accumulated treasure beneath Coatl City. They thought that it was the last place anyone would look. After all, who would think to search for a magical treasure trove beneath a city of Knights?”

The casting circle lit up with a low green light. Darius told Smoke that if ever the light turns red then the one inside was lying.

“The first created Maneators were much bigger than me. They were about six meters tall, and were incredibly strong but severely lacked Intelligence, and Agility. Sadly, there were only four of that generation left when I escaped. The second group of Maneators were divided as the Tenebris couldn’t decide whether to focus on Intelligence or Agility. As a result they had an average height of only two meters, below average Strength, and either had above average Intelligence or Agility. In the end they came to the conclusion to make me. I’m not the strongest, smartest, or fastest. I’m your average Maneator.”

“Then why did they make you their king?”

“At first, the specialized Maneators didn’t want to mix with the ones different to them. Their brusque temperament would not allow it. Yet, I forced myself to challenge all of them because I didn’t belong to any of their groups. Of course, I kept on losing. As time progressed, I slowly understood how to take advantage of their different specialties. When I fought against the strong Maneators, I used my Intelligence. When I fought against the fast Maneators, I used my Strength. When I fought against the smart Maneators, I used my Agility.”

Mitleid paused as he looked to one of the windows in the dome. It looked like he was reminiscing the times when he challenged his brother Maneators.

“Slowly the different Maneators gathered around me, as I continued to challenge them. Our collective mind set of sadism subsided. We gained a sense of camaraderie. The walls of our differences started to break down. We started fight matches to expend our bursting energies. Once we were drained, we started to become different individuals. We started feeling emotions and ideologies. In our new enlightened state, my brethren decided to call me their leader, they said that I was the reason why this miracle had happened. We became more than what we were meant to be.”

Mitleid took in a deep breath, and let out a loud roar.

“ROOOOOAAAAAARRRRARRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!”

“Our evil creators took notice of this. They gathered us into a gigantic casting circle. There, they placed a curse upon us. As long as their prized possessions remained within their treasury, we would become sadistic, vicious guardians twice as we were originally created. The curse would trigger when intruders would come inside the labyrinth.”

The Maneator King’s eyes looked sad and regretful.

“Unbeknownst to me, I was given a second curse. If anyone were to attack me I would gain twice my abilities and be filled with rage until I kill my attacker. When all of this was completed our creators left us alone again. We thought nothing of the curse. That curse only strengthened our original purpose, we didn’t see any significant changes. After a few years. A group of intruders came inside the labyrinth. They were somewhat skilled, for they reached the third level. We only saw flashes of what happened. We must have tortured them for hours. After the slaughter, we saw  the remnants of a battle, with all the intruders bodies lying on the ground. We didn’t like the feeling of losing control of our own bodies. Because of this we made our internal competitions more elaborate and exhausting. I was never defeated, not even when I was up against three of my brothers. I got cocky, and asked to challenge six of them at once. I couldn’t handle all six of them and got hurt, the next thing I knew, more than thirty of my brothers’ bodies were lying on the ground. I killed anyone who came within my range.”

Mitleid slumped down and had both his hands pointing upwards as if bowing and asking for forgiveness. Smoke started to feel sorry for the beast. Not once did the light in the casting circle change. It remained a constant green.

“One of the creators saw the whole massacre. He contacted the other members of the Tenebris. Together they decided that they could make a sport out of my mad curse. They placed me in the first level of the labyrinth. There the corrupt city officials would send the citizens who were in their way and would brand them as criminals for execution. I can’t remember how many I’ve killed… On one of the executions, all four members of the High Council of Tenebris came to see me kill this particular individual. He must have been someone who wronged them greatly for all of them to be present. I made sure that I would be nearer to them before completely losing it. When I regained my consciousness, I found the dead bodies of everyone in the high council. I grabbed the key from Fortner, the gatekeeper of the labyrinth.”

“I see, that’s how you got possession of the key. Is that perhaps a master key for the labyrinth? With that you managed to escape but why didn’t you free your fellow Maneators?”

“I think this key is some sort of master key. With me being in the first level, I quickly found the exit. I was about to go back for my brothers, when the other Tenebris came. I was lucky with the High Council because I managed to take them by surprise. I couldn’t face thirty prepared members of the Tenebris. I ran for my life. When I got to the surface. I was immediately attacked by the heavy cavalry knights on patrol, which led to their deaths.”

“How did you managed to get past the city gates? I thought that the defenses of a main city couldn’t be penetrated easily?”

“I didn’t. When I got to the surface I was already out of the main city and in some kind of village. Although, the exit closed itself once I stepped out and even with the key I couldn’t open it from the outside. I ran non-stop, without looking back. I couldn’t remember how many days it must have been. When I finally ran out of energy, I stopped and found that forest. It was a place that only had low level monsters inside. I claimed the forest as my own and took residence there. Sometimes there are some groups that would go into my forest to try and reclaim this key. Whenever I sense a party coming for the key, straightaway, I turn into my berserked form. Please forgive me for the time when I tortured you. You were with those Knights that got a quest to retrieve this key and I wasn’t in control of my body.”

“Your telling me that if Sierra never attacked you in the first place, you wouldn’t have attacked her?! If I hadn’t attacked you when I came with my private army you wouldn’t have attacked us?!”

“That is correct.”

Smoke stared into the eyes of the Maneator. He didn’t need to see the casting circle’s green light to know that he was telling the truth.

“Fine! I accept your quest and I will free your brothers.”

“Thank you. Please use this key. This will help you greatly in your escape from the labyrinth.”

+ Received Coatl Labyrinth Key.

“I will remove the shackles but you will still stay confined within this dome.”

“Very well, I shall await for your triumphant return here.”

* * * * * * 

After interrogating Mitleid, Smoke informed everyone of his decision. They would leave for the Knight City of Coatl.

As Smoke gave everyone their specific tasks, in preparation for their new adventure, he estimated that it would take them at least a day if not more to complete it.

He called for Laernea and told her that they had to make a quick trip to a hidden fox hole.

With Bilis’ speed they arrived in the fox hole at no time.


– Entered the hidden fox hole

  – Only dire foxes are found inside this cave.
  – Suggested level for entering this cave is 15.

Smoke stepped inside and remembered how difficult it was for him to face the dire foxes. He smiled as he saw the empty cave inside.

The dire foxes hid to the furthest corners of the foxhole. Smoke was now level 87 with a hidden basic job. He had satisfied the requirements for them to be wary of him.

Even if they did decide to attack him the monsters would be killed instantly. He started collecting the pelts of the dire foxes that he had killed long ago. Slowly, heading towards the spot where he was backed against the wall. There he found the loot that he had been looking for.

+ Acquired rare hand accessory: Wise Ring of the Dire Fox.


Wise Ring of the Dire Fox

  A rare ring from a wise and cunning monster. It is made from three minerals, silver, gold, and mithril.
  An emblem of the dire fox is carved into the ring.

  +30 Intelligence
  +30 Wisdom

  Equipment Ability:
    *Enhanced Cunning of the Dire Fox (Passive)
      + 5 levels to the Cunning of the Dire Fox Ability.

Whenever Smoke received rare items he couldn’t help but give out an eerie smile that reached from ear to ear. Ecstasy was not enough to describe the elation that he felt during these events.

As he tried on the ring, he immediately felt the difference in his ability. The ‘Cunning of the Dire Fox’ increased to Advance Level 8, with a radius of 440 meters.

He easily felt the presence of the hidden dire foxes at the end of the cave. While continuing to admire his ring he realized that he had gotten a rare item from the horned rabbits and the dire fox but he didn’t get one from the armored armadillos.

It wasn’t logical that there would be no rare item drop for the armored armadillo. He asked Laernea to go ahead without him. He needed some time alone to think why this was so.

When he fought the horned rabbits he got the sense of how to become more agile. When he fought the dire foxes in the foxhole he gained the wisdom how to discern the attacks of the foxes. But with the armored armadillo just kept on killing them until he managed his 10,000th kill.

He did get the ability but he did not learn anything from the monster itself. Thinking that if he used the learned ability against the monster, it could result in the coveted rare item drop, Smoke started constructing an archer tower.

An earth tower stood at the exit of the foxhole. Smoke was about to take off and fly towards Nanahuatl when he sensed a group of armored armadillos some distance away.

With his enhanced ‘Cunning of the Dire Fox’ he could easily find them without having to strain his eyes and neck looking for them and if you include the vantage point from his earth tower he now had a clear sight of the plains.

On top of his tower he started shooting the armored armadillos with his arrows. He killed them in one shot but this time he used the ‘Armor Break of the Armored Armadillo’. He moved turned the earth tower into a mobile archer tower by moving it towards the groups of armored armadillo.

Igniz wanted to kill some of the armored armadillos as well but was told not to. After all, he needed to kill them using the specific ability.

It took him two days to return to Nanahuatl but the delayed two days was worth it. Smoke got the rare item drop from the armored armadillo. The Armored Armadillo Shield.

As soon as the item dropped, he inspected it and found the attributes to be more than satisfactory.


Armored Armadillo Shield

  A rare shield from an impervious monster. It is made with two materials, armored armadillo carapace, and mithril. An emblem of the armored armadillo is carved into the shield.

  +3000 Defense
  +100 Vitality

  Restriction:
    * Can only be used by the following:
      Swordsman variations, Acolyte Variations, and Merchant Variations

  Equipment Ability:
    *Magical Armor (Active)
      + Blocks magical attacks
      + Consumes 100 mp/use
      + Once you’ve used this ability you cannot use it again for another three minutes.
    *Armadillo Bash (Active)
      + Stuns the enemy for one second
      + Consumes 200 mp/use
      + Once you’ve used this ability you cannot use it again for another three minutes.

After he got the rare item. Smoke raised the height of the earth tower and used his cape, ‘Wings of Cologus’. He leapt off the tower and started gliding towards Nanahuatl.

* * * * * * 

Upon Smoke’s return he saw Sierra waiting for him at the village entrance.

“Don’t tell me you went to another mountain? I was only gone for a couple of hours and when I came back online you were out on some solo adventure again.”

“Sorry for not telling you. I just needed to get a few item drops from my earlier time here in Zectas. If it’s any consolation Igniz was bored the whole time as well. I had him do, absolutely nothing.”

Igniz went flying around Sierra as if trying to tell her how boring the last two days were.

“Fine! I’m guessing you’re finally ready to leave for Coatl City then?”

“As soon as I gather the things I’ve asked Darius to prepare, we will head to Coatl City.”

Smoke went to Darius’ home. After a few minutes he stepped out all dressed up as a swordsman. He was wearing a a swordsman’s basic leather armor. He had his Armored Armadillo shield on his left hand and a small gladius sword on his right. He also wore the lucky bunny ears.

Because  he was still in the first stage of the Beggar job, Smoke looked shabby. Yet, the young man was very pleased with himself. Sierra couldn’t help but ask why he was so happy.

“Why the smug look?”

“Now, I don’t look like the ‘Smoke’ from videos that I posted, right?”

“Yeah, I guess, but why did you wear the bunny ears? I thought your Luck was already at 999?”

“I’m sure a lot of the players will ask me how I managed to make my critical attacks. When that happens, I’ll just show them this lucky bunny ears. I can’t very well tell them I have 999 Luck now can I?”

“Ahh, that makes sense. But why don’t you want the other players to recognize you as Smoke? I thought you wanted to be famous and be the top player of Zectas?”

“I do. Sadly, I still don’t have enough power to back that claim but once I do, I’ll show the world my real intentions and stand on top of everyone. Especially that Tristan!”

“So, what do we call you now? Since you don’t want to be recognized as Smoke?”

He made his voice louder in order for his entire private army to hear.

“Everyone, whenever we are on a convert mission such as this one. Please call me Ilad…”

With all their preparations completed they finally headed towards Coatl City.

* * * * * * 

The trip that would have taken them one hundred days by foot now only took them two days by stag moose. Laernea and Gandiva’s chosen jobs couldn’t be more perfect.

As Coatl City came into view. Smoke ordered his party to stop. He couldn’t help but admire the vastness of the city. In his heart he knew that Nanahuatl was the best place in Zectas but he would be lying if he said that this sight wasn’t amazing.

The city frankly was a metropolis. Using his ‘TeleFax Vision’ ability he scrutinized the city. It had four layers of walls. The first outer area had thirty two entrances all of which had heavy armored knights protecting them.

The second area had sixteen, and the third had eight, and the last inner wall had four. The number of guards protecting the entrances increased as the area moves inwards to the city’s castle.

The first area had expansive farmlands and small villages scattered all over. The second area looked like the business district and some better looking houses.

The third area appeared to hold the homes of nobles and aristocrats of the city, while the fourth area contained the castle surrounded by a moat, encircled by lush green garden.

From here, Smoke’s forces would split up. He would only take Laernea and Gandiva with him into the city. They were the only ones that were not included in his videos.

Sierra would take command of everyone else as they searched for the secret exit of the Labyrinth. Mitleid told them that it was in a village outside of the main city, south west of the outer city walls.

Igniz would have to hide under Smoke’s hood the entire time. He knew that he had to stay there otherwise he would give away Smoke’s disguise.

Smoke and the Lioumereans headed towards the city. He rode on the back of Gandiva as they left the carriages behind.

When they reached the entrance one of the Knight Guards stopped them.

“Halt! State your name and business in Coatl City.”

Laernea and Gandiva both stared at each other. They’ve been here before. This was the place where all eight of them changed into the basic job of an Archer.

They didn’t remember the guards being this strict. Especially, since they are still in the outer area. It would have been acceptable if it were in the third or the fourth area but not here.

Laernea tried speaking with the Guard Knight but was dismissed. The Guard Knight stared directly at Smoke.

“My name is Ilad, I’m a swordsman from Centza City. I came to seek the advance job of a Guard Knight.”

“Hahahaha! You, become a Guard Knight like us? A hooded swordsman with bunny ears? Hahahaha! You may look like a swordsman but you stink like a beggar. If that is your purpose here then begone at once! We do not welcome a swordsman with your stench.”

Smoke knew that his ‘Beggary’ ability would not work on this Guard Knight. He was about to leave when another player riding a black dirus wolf was about to enter the gate.

He heard the Guard Knight reject passage to the swordsman player. He approached Smoke and asked him what the issue was.

His black dirus wolf was only slightly shorter than the stag moose that Smoke and the Lioumereans were riding on. Smoke quickly took command of the conversation.

“Good day, sir Knight. My name is Ilad. I was about to enter the city when the Guard Knights stopped me because of my tattered appearance.”

“Really? I’ve never heard of such a thing happening before. Of course, I’ve never returned with such a damaged appearance such as yourself. But I really doubt that it was merely your look that made them stop you.”

“Nice! I’ve never met such a perceptive player like you. I actually came from Centza City. I was about to get my advance job as a Knight when a famous guild started gathering players for a quest. Unfortunately, we failed that quest and suffered high penalties in intimacies with NPCs, especially those guarding Centza City. I thought that if I came here to Coatl that it would be a different case. Sadly, it isn’t.”

The player on top of the dirus wolf looked upon Smoke and the Lioumereans. He looked at them from head to foot. He felt that they were hiding something and wanted to find out what it was.

“My name is Macher, and I’m a Cavalry Knight. I have close intimacies with most of the Guard Knights around the city. Let me see if I can help you out in entering Coatl.”

Macher got off his black dirus wolf and went to the Guard Knight that questioned Smoke. It appeared that he slipped something to the Guard Knight. Smoke thought that it must have been a bribe. He would have done the same thing if he felt that the Guard Knight would have taken it.

“Good news! My friends, the guards have changed their opinions of you and will allow you passage into the  first area of the city.”

“Thank you Macher. Can I pay you for the kindness that you’ve just shown?”

“Don’t mention it, Ilad. I’m sure anyone else would have done the same. But since you did offer to repay me. I’d like to show you around Coatl City.”

“Oh, but these Lioumereans are here on an urgent quest. I have to take them to their destination as soon as possible. If I miss the time limit, I might fail the quest.”

“Then, all the more reason for me to show you around.”

“Seriously, that won’t be necessary. I only have to take them to the Archer academia and there’s only one of that in the entire city right?”

“Okay, okay. I get it but if you ever need my help again just look for me. Most NPCs here should know my name.”

“Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Do you want to add me as a friend?”

“No, no, that won’t be necessary. You’ve already helped me enough.”

“Alright, see you around then.”

* * * * * * 
Mitleid told them that he didn’t exactly know how to get into the labyrinth. He considered himself to be very  fortunate that he escaped.

Searching through the forums, Smoke found that there was a series quest given to the famous Knights of Coatl. They could either be recommended by the city officials or from the head of the Order of Coatl Knights.

The start of the series quest was said to be beneath Coatl City. Smoke thought that this would most likely be his way to enter the labyrinth. He would explore the city and gain favor from the Knights or the city officials.

The breathtaking scene of Coatl City was enough to make Smoke forget his own itinerary. Finally, he had made it into a main city. His game life in Zectas was a complete opposite to everybody else’s.

When everyone else wanted to quickly start exploring the outer walls, Smoke wanted to wander through the insides of a main city.

Smoke and his party proceeded towards second layer of the city, the Archer academia. He planned on visiting the place, just in case Macher was discreetly watching them.

He found the Archer academia to be really fascinating. The Novices lining up to take the Archer job quest were curious to see a Swordsman inside the establishment.

It took all of his self-control not to pick up the exam bow and hit the required targets to pass the Archer job. It looked so easy and fun. The first ten targets were stationary. While the next ten targets were moving and were sometimes blocked by a random shield.

After visiting the Archer academia, Smoke decided to visit the NPC auction center. He originally wanted to auction off the lucky bunny ears since it gave no benefits to him what so ever.

But now that it would help in his disguise he could no longer sell it. All he had left to auction off were four pieces of the double bladed mantis sword that Darius crafted.

Basing the current prices of other swords already in the auction list, Smoke placed the double bladed mantis sword at a starting bid of $50.

With all his items submitted to the auction, the next place he went to was weapons and armory shop. The shops in Coatl city specialized in Knight equipments but they still had the stock items for the other jobs as well.

He was shocked when he saw how much everything costs. The most expensive Knight set was prized at 500 million zecs, with a level requirement of 600.

Smoke knew that the prices in the NPC shops were outrageously high but he didn’t think that it would be this much.

The Knight set with a level requirement of 80 was priced at 50 million zecs. He wanted to buy it but he thought it was too expensive.

While exploring the shop, Smoke noticed a public notice. It was for the Bi-Annual ‘Swordsman to Knight’ Tournament. The prizes in the contest were Knight equipments.

The categories and their prizes in the tournament were as follows:


Preliminaries:
Sword fight – one round elimination:
 South District : Rzeka (Glaive)
 North District : Jezioro (Two-Handed Great Sword)
 West District  : Wodospad (Spear)
 East District  : Wiosna (Lance)

District Champions Qualify for the Central Tournament

Sword fight – round robin : Gora Knight Equipment Set
  Gora Helm
  Gora Shield
  Gora Gloves
  Gora Plate Armor
  Gora Plate Leggings
  Gora Plate Boots

They were currently located in the south district. He asked the shop attendant if she knew where to register for the Swordsman to Knight tournament.

She told them that they would need to go to south district’s Knight academia located about ten blocks from the shop. She also told them that although the tournament was open to all swordsmen there will still be an entrance exam at the Knight academia.

On their way to the Knight academia, Smoke and the Lioumereans came across the city’s only library. Smoke asked if Gandiva and Laernea wanted to visit anyone in Coatl. They told him that they did want to say hello to a couple of friends they made here.

Smoke told them that they would meet up in about an hour while he searches for some clues inside the library. The library was not that big. He thought that Darius had more books than this whole library.

Although it was a library it was mostly adorned with knight armors and weapons. There was only a single librarian inside. There were no other players who decided to visit the library.

He skimmed through the books. Now, that his Wisdom stat was at 40, most of the books in the library only required him about ten minutes to acquire their knowledge.

After thirty minutes Laernea and Gandiva came inside. They asked him if they could help out with anything. Smoke told them that he may need to acquire a mount of his own soon but first he needs the ‘Mount Mastery’ ability.

Laernea and Gandiva told him that they might know a couple of people who could help them out. They asked permission to leave.

* * * * * * 

Smoke went to the south district’s Knight academia alone. The Knights on guard at the entrance stared at him intently. He didn’t make any eye contact with them and just went straight in.

His Beggar job was really troubling against some NPCs. He was afraid that the examiner would be the same. Regardless he still had to take the exam if he wanted to compete in the tournament.

Smoke asked one of the NPCs inside, where he should sign up for the tournament. He was told to fall in line behind more than a thousand swordsmen.

The exam was simple. The examinee and a Guard Knight would fight on top of a square platform of about ten meters. All the examinee had to do was to push the Guard Knight off the platform.

Examinees who passed were displayed on the screen above. So far there were only five examinees who made it. There were eight platforms in order to accommodate the overwhelming number of examiners.

The ones waiting in line could watch the examinee’s fight before them. Most swordsmen used the same attack pattern and launched a frontal attack.

Guard Knights having a strong defense would just block the attack and push examinee off the platform with their shield bash, thereby disqualifying them.

Smoke was waiting in line for about fifteen minutes. There a few swordsmen and swordswomen who would try to attack from the side but they were still pushed off the ring before even getting a chance to strike the Guard Knight.

Finally, a new Swordsman with the name of Blastar was added into the list of passers. A replay of the swordsman attack was displayed on the main screen.

The middle aged Lioumerean Swordsman that had a face that looked like a lion, was carrying a bastard sword. The biggest sword that a Swordsman could carry. He attacked head on and used his ‘Sword Smite’ ability. The Guard Knight stabilized his footing and braced himself for the attack.

The damage inflected was for 8,834 points. The Guard Knight’s defense was overpowered and was knocked off the square ring.

Smoke thought that the damage was pretty high for a Swordsman especially if you consider that he was up against a Guard Knight, one of the strong defensive Knight variations.

Considering that the middle aged Swordsman used a bastard sword and the ‘Sword Smite’ ability, Smoke’s estimate on the passing Swordsman’s Strength was around 700. Which would mean that the he would have to be at least level 90.

As Smoke was nearing his turn. There was a beautiful Human Swordswoman with blond hair, who was three persons ahead of him. She was carrying a long saber. She noticed Smoke’s glances. She smiled and gave him a flying kiss.

Smoke’s eyebrows furrowed as he was bewildered by what just happened. The Swordswoman stepped unto her square ring as Smoke’s undercover name was called out.

“Examinee Ilad, please step into the ring.”

This would be Smoke’s first time that he would use his gladius sword. Its damage was only slightly higher than his green dual knives but its attack speed was much lower.

He readied his armored armadillo shield and gladius. As he looked on the face of the Guard Knight, he couldn’t believe that it was the same one who stopped him at the entrance.

“Hahahaha! Well, well well, I knew the fates would not allow such a pathetic excuse of Swordsman like you to enter this city. You may have gotten around me with the help of Lord Macher, but now its just you and me. I’ll kick your sorry ass off this ring in under a minute.”

“You know what? I was thinking exactly the same thing. Except I was thinking that I’d blow you away in under thirty seconds.”

The Guard Knight was infuriated. The bell was rung and Smoke’s entrance exam officially begun. He dashed towards the Guard Knight following the same movements he saw from the middle aged Swordsman earlier.

Letting out a smirk, the Guard Knight burrowed his feet into the ground and awaited Smoke’s attack. Smoke was only inches away when the Guard Knight suddenly lost his footing.

Losing his balance, the Guard Knight was forced to raise his sword and shield up into the air giving Smoke a clear shot at his body. Smoke mimicked the slash of the ‘Sword Smite’ ability and managed to deal a critical hit at 2516 damage points.

The Guard Knight was then thrown off the ring as if the stage suddenly turned into a backward moving walkway. Smoke was declared the winner at an elapsed time of only 20 seconds. He stepped off the ring and went to where the Guard Knight had fallen.

“Oh, I guess I was wrong. It took less than thirty seconds after all.”

“You cheater! What did you do? You didn’t knock me off the stage with your sword! Judge?! Judge, I demand a review of the exam?! This Swordsman was cheating.”

Two other Guard Knights swiftly came and took the defeated Guard Knight away. They apologized to Smoke for his unsportsmanlike conduct and assured him that he will be reprimanded by their commander.

Smoke looked at the main screen and saw the name Ilad added to the passers’ list. He also saw that another name was added as well. It was the Swordswoman, Cudny.

A replay of her battle appeared. Cudny started out with a fast dash to the front and quickly took a side step to the left.

The Guard Knight responded well and slashed his glaive at the charging Swordswoman. She should have been knocked off the stage but instead of moving forward she took another step back.

With the Guard Knight’s glaive missing its target. The blond Swordswoman ran towards him and used her ability ‘Quadruple Lunge’, the Guard Knight was pushed off the ring. Each attack inflicted around 2120 damage points.

Smoke was still staring at the screen and didn’t notice that the Swordswoman on the screen was standing beside him.

“That was quite an interesting fight. How did you manage to push him back and only inflict 2516 damage points?”

Blastar also came nearer in order to hear their conversation. Smoke knew that they were fishing for his techniques, he was also confused on how to answer them. He only thought that they would ask about his critical hit.

“What do you mean, How? Of course, I used ‘Sword Smite’. How else could have I done it?”

Blastar couldn’t control himself and had to join in on their conversation.

“You’re joking right? That wasn’t ‘Sword Smite’, if it was you should have inflicted at least 4000 damage points, even with your puny gladius.”

“I think that Guard Knight just had an unusually high defense. Well, if you’ll all excuse me. I have somewhere else to be.”

Quickly walking away from the them and heading outside the Knight academia but Smoke couldn’t leave without hearing Blastar’s last words.

“Ilad! We’ll see what you really used when we fight in the district championships!”

* * * * * * 

Smoke followed the directions that Laernea and Gandiva gave him. After thirty minutes of walking. He was out of the second layer and in the farmlands of the first layer.

He wondered why they brought him there when there were many decent and affordable lodging places in the second layer of the city.

Laernea and Gandiva greeted him as they were waiting for him outside a farm. They asked him if he could follow them to the back, to meet the owner of the farm.

She was one of their benefactors when they were abandoned by their parents when they were still children. She also helped all eight of Smoke’s private army when they came their to got the basic job of an Archer.

“Excuse me, Madam Dawny, we would like you to meet our leader, Smoke.”

Smoke cordially gave a bow and tried to shake her hand. The old lady just stared at the hand and looked at him from head to foot. Smoke retracted his hand and gave his greetings instead.

“Good afternoon, Madam Dawny, my name is Smoke but other people in the city might know me as Ilad. Let me just say that I like your name. It’s very similar to a special person back home.”

“Thank you, I like my name as well. Gandiva and Laernea already told me about your situation. Please feel free to stay in my farm for as long as you need. Just stay away from Ental.”

“That’s very kind of you Madam Dawny. Who is Ental?”

“She’s an old hell boar that doesn’t know she’s pass her prime.”

Just then Smoke felt the presence of a huge monster heading straight for him. He quickly created an earth ramp that made the hell boar, Ental jump over his head.

Ental landed smoothly and stood besides Dawny. She pointed her sharp fangs and two tusks at Smoke. The hell boar when on all fours, had a height of about five feet. She had a lean and muscular body with brown skin and spiky hair. Ental didn’t look like an average pig for eating.

“Whoa! Calm down girl. I’m a friend. Ahh, Madam, can you please talk to Ental?”

Igniz came out of his hiding place and readied some fireballs in the air. Smoke signaled him to calm down. Ental responded to Igniz. The hell boar was wagging her tail and jumping around at the sight of Igniz.

“It appears that Ental likes your dark ember sprite. I didn’t know you had a symbiote.”

“Yes, I have to keep him hidden because he’s already quite famous and other people might easily recognize me as Smoke.”

* * * * * * 

Now, that everyone had officially met each other. He wanted to know how Sierra and the others were doing, he called her to check up on them.

“Hey, how are you guys doing on your end? Have you found the village? I hope you didn’t encounter any of the patrolling Knights.”

“No we’re fine. We’ve narrowed it down to five potential villages. I’m having Adder, Jinggu, Sharanga, and Thyrsus investigate the two northern villages. While the rest of us scope out the remaining three. How about you? Have you been invited to the labyrinth?”

“Not yet, but I’ve entered a tournament that should get me the invite. Provided I win, of course.”

“What kind of tournament is it?”

“It’s called Swordsman to Knight. I have some pretty tough competition but it’s not anything I can’t handle.”

“You better win it. I want to get this quest over with so we can proceed with mine.”

“Like I told you before. This quest shouldn’t take more than a week, tops. Well, maybe a month, worst case scenario…”

“Smoke! You better be joking, Don’t forget that I have most of your private army here with me.”

“I’m joking, I’m joking. Jeez, anyway you better take care and make sure to keep everyone safe and intact. I don’t want to have one of my men having a missing limb.”

“You don’t have to worry about that, I’m better than you remember? How could you have let Adder lose his arm in the first place. Tsk tsk tsk.”

“Yeah, yeah, just be safe okay?”

“You too…”

* * * * * * 

Smoke contemplated on how he would fight in the District tournament. Considering the fact, that the qualifiers had defeated a Guard Knight would only mean that they were like Blastar and Cudny.

They must be players who were at level 90 or more. He wondered why there were such individuals who would stay as basic job holders when they can easily get their advance jobs.

Looking at his gladius, he thought that it would have been better if he bought a sword at the weapon shop. If only the prices weren’t that high.

Then, Smoke recalled the prizes for the Swordsman to Knight tournament. They were all high class Knight equipments.

The tournament happens only twice a year. If they lost before, this would give them plenty of time to train and raise their levels and abilities.

Smoke thought that it was highly likely that Blastar and Cudny failed before and decided to try again this time. Six months is more than enough time for dedicated players to improve themselves.

They had six months to prepare for tomorrow’s tournament, Smoke had less than twenty four hours. He tried imitating all the Swordsman skill’s that he knew and thought if he could use them.

If he could fight at his full potential then he would fight all of the competitors now. But with the handicap that he should fight as a Swordsman was too much of a restriction.

He didn’t even have a single Swordsman’s ability. His only trump card was the ‘Armadillo Bash’ from his shield. Even that had a long cool down of ten minutes.

Dawny was watching Smoke from her front porch, he was clearly struggling. The old lady decided to give him some advice.

“Did you know, that most Swordsman abilities are enhanced by elemental magic?”

“Huh? What do you mean?”

“At the moment of impact on a Sword Smite’s attack, a fire blast explodes which is directed towards the target. Knocking them back and increasing the damage by at least three times.”

“Wow! I didn’t know that at all. That isn’t found in the ability’s description.”

“Of course not. Most users only use their abilities without fully understanding how it works.”

“In that case, does that also mean that the Quadruple Lunge attack uses Wind or Lightning enhancements?”

“Right! That was very intuitive of you. Lightning impulses increase their attack speed and movement speed for a few seconds.”

“Thank you very much! That was some really great advice. I think I’ll try out a few modified ‘Swordsman’ moves now.”

Smoke created a colossal square wall in one of the farm’s open lands. He went inside and started honing his sword play for tomorrow’s district tournament.

* * * * * * 

The southern coliseum of Coatl held their district’s Swordsman to Knight preliminaries. The winner of this competition would become the district’s champion and would gain the right to fight at the round robin championships.

The coliseum was about as big as the one found in Rome. It had an area of six acres and could hold a total capacity of 80,000 spectators.

The center arena was an ellipse with a maximum length of 287 feet and a maximum width of 180 feet. The walls had a height of 15 feet.

Tickets sold at 10,000 zecs at the lower boxes and the furthest seats were priced at 1,000 zecs. Even at those prices, all the preliminary tickets were sold out.

There were only eight participants in the southern district preliminary round. In order to win in the preliminary you could either knock the enemy off the stage or kill them…

The winning player would not get the status of a Chaotic Evil player as it has been set inside a tournament. However, the dead player would incur the same normal penalties of dying. If the participant was an NPC then they would be killed.


First Round:
—————–
Cudny (Human)
  vs
Pantalla (Dwarf)
—————–
Tarcza (Halfling)
  vs
Pedang (HighElf)
—————–
Blastar (Lioumerean)
  vs
Ecran (Gnome)
—————–
Ilad (DarkElf)
  vs
Szabla (Ork)

A loud announcer’s voice was heard throughout the entire coliseum. It signaled the commencement of the game.

“Ladies and gentlemen, its time to start off our preliminary round for the Swordsman to Knight Tournament. For our first match its: Cudny vs. Pantalla!”

Cudny and Pantalla stepped onto the circular stage. Before the match started, Cudny gave Pantalla a flying kiss. The disoriented Dwarf didn’t know how to react.

When the horn for the start of their match blew. Pantalla was still looking back at the audience. His girlfriend who was watching the match was glaring angrily at him.

With his back exposed, the Dwarf was easily pushed off the stage by Cudny’s shield.

“The winner of the first match, it’s the crowd’s favorite, Cudny! Now it’s time for our second match: Tarcza vs Pedang!”

This time it was Tarcza and Pedang’s turn. Their battle lasted for thirty minutes and no one was giving in. Both their HPs stayed at 50%.

It looked like the fight would continue for another thirty more minutes when Tarcza used an all out attack which Pedang took on with his shield.

Even after blocking the attack, Pedang’s lifebar was only left with around 20%. On the other hand, Tarcza stood motionless and was drained from his failed coup de grâce. Pedang grabbed the opportunity and pushed Tarcza off the stage with his shield.

“And the winner of our second match is Pedang! Now let’s move on to our third match: Blastar vs Ecran!”

Blastar and Ecran took to the oval ring. Ecran readied himself and as soon as the horn went off, he made a dash towards Blastar.

The middle aged Swordsman met him head on and used the same technique ‘Sword Smite’, Ecran’s slash was blown away and he was thrown off the ring. Blastar’s fight lasted less than twenty seconds and he stared at Smoke, as he stepped over the defeated Gnome’s body.

“Wow! That was quick and the winner of our third match is Blastar! Now! For our finally match on the first round of elimination. It’s Ilad vs. Szabla!”

Smoke took the stage and he was followed by the huge Ork, Szabla. His opponent was carrying a Zweihänder. Szabla took the initiative and immediately used his ‘Great Divide’ ability.

Szabla missed his target but the floor of the ring had been greatly damaged. Smoke backed off a couple of more steps and continued dodging all of Szabla’s attacks.

The stage now looked like it was about to break apart because of all the missed ‘Great Divide’ attempts. There were no more solid footing available on the stage. Smoke was now at the edge of the ring. The Ork readied himself for one more slash.

Just as Szabla was finishing his downward slashing motion. Smoke moved swiftly to his back and slashed him pushing him off the ring.

“That took long enough and here I thought that Pedang’s match was gonna be longest. Right, the winner of the fourth match is Ilad! We will have a short break as our Earth Mages reconstruct our ring for us.”

Smoke went to his assigned area and ate his prepared meal. He was sharpening his blade when he felt an ominous feeling that someone was watching him from the crowd.

He tried looking around but couldn’t find the source. He shrugged it off. After all, he was in a competition where at least 80,000 people were watching him.

The announcer’s voice resonated everywhere in the coliseum. They would resume the second round of the competition.

“Thank you for waiting patiently! I hope that won’t happen again. That’s right I’m looking at you, Ilad.”

Smoke just gave a wave to the crowd as his disguised face was shown on the main screen. The hooded cape, bunny ears and specialized mask gave him the perfect disguise.

The main screen displayed the participants of the second round.


Second Round:
————————
Cudny (Human)
  vs
Pedang (HighElf)
———————–
Blastar (Lioumerean)
  vs
Ilad (DarkElf)

“Let’s start our second round! First up, we have our beautiful Cudny vs HighElf Pedang!”

Cudny started her signature move and gave Pedang a flying kiss. Pedang’s eyes just stared at her with fury. He wouldn’t fall for her stupid tricks.

Cudny then made a sad face. The crowd started to jeer at Pedang, started calling him names and mocking him for even trying. The horn blew and this time. The HighElf ran towards the blond Swordswoman’s left side.

He had planned to follow her usual attack pattern. Cudny jumped high into the air and performed her ‘Quadruple Dive’ attack.

Pedang managed to block all of her attacks and slashed her for 3212 damage points. The crowd gasped as their favorite participant was hurt.

The crowd started yelling at the HighElf. Cudny recovered and was pushed back near the edge of the ring. Pedang was about to use his own ‘Sword Smite’ ability when he saw Cudny jumped in the air again.

The counterattack was picture perfect. The HighElf’s back was exposed and received all four attacks from Cudny’s ‘Quadruple Dive’ attack. Pedang was thrown off the ring.

“And the winner of that beautiful match is our beautiful Cudny! Now, let’s move on to our troublesome players. Our next contenders, Blastar vs. Ilad!”

The Lioumerean manlion stepped onto the ring first. Smoke followed and did not cower at the killing aura Blastar was emitting.

“Ilad! This time, we will find out the truth! We will see if the ability you really used was indeed Sword Smite!”

Smoke just smiled. He might not have the actual ‘Sword Smite’ ability but his training with Igniz yesterday gave him his own way of fighting.

Both fighters ran at top speed at the same time. They were running straight for each other. It was a contest to see who would make the first blow.

They were still out of each others reach, when Smoke manipulated the ground that he was stepping on, to propel him at a blinding speed.

Blastar started activating his ‘Sword Smite’, while the DarkElf placed his shield in front of him as he was flying straight at the Lioumerean.

Smoke used his ‘Armadillo Bash’ as soon as his shield came into contact with Blastar’s torso. The Lioumerean was pushed back a couple of feet but he was still on top of the ring.

However, Blastar was now stunned for a whole second. In that one second, Smoke arched his back as far as he could. He was creating the optimal slash, he swung his sword as fast as he could.

Smoke and Igniz had mastered this move yesterday. Once his gladius sword collided with Blastar, Igniz melded his energy with Smoke’s sword creating a strong explosion. Damaging the Lioumerean for 7,123 points.

Blastar was blasted out of the ring by Smoke’s unique attack. Their whole match lasted a mere nineteen seconds. Smoke went to the wall, where Blastar was pinned to.

“Did you find the answer to your question?”

The Lioumerean was still in a daze as he watched Smoke walk away. The blast felt five times stronger than its actual damage. Blastar just laughed as he acknowledged his defeat.

“Well, ladies and gentlemen, I guess our trouble maker does know how to fight without completely destroying our ring. The winner and the one who will challenge our Cudny for the title of District Champion. Ilad! We will have a short intermission number from our sponsor. Arrted General Merchandise!”

As the exotic dancers were done with their show, Smoke went to his side of the ring and Cudny to hers. She gave him another flying kiss but this time Smoke caught it and placed it on his heart.

“Ladies and Gentlemen! Our final match to decide southern district’s champion. Cudny vs. Ilad!”

Cudny was still shocked at Smoke’s reaction. The crowd was also angered by Smoke’s bravado. Smoke just smiled the whole time.

The horn was blown to signify the start of the final match. Smoke stood his ground near the edge of the ring. Cudny jumped high and was about to use her ‘Quadruple Dive’ when Smoke was no longer standing at his place.

Cudny searched for him but he wasn’t anywhere on the ring. Then she noticed a shadow above her. It was Smoke who delivered four flaming strikes making Cudny fall off the ring.

The entire coliseum fell silent. The final match turned out to be the shortest one. Smoke landed expertly on the ring and gave a bow to his dumbfounded audience.

The announcer recovered from the bombshell that he had just witnessed. He continued to declare Smoke the winner.

“And the champion for southern district is… Ilad!”

The crowd roared into an applause, even if their favorite was defeated, Smoke still won in an unbelievable manner. A replay of the finals match kept playing on the main screen.


+ Southern District Champion
  * You’re now qualified to participate in the central district’s championship.
  * You’ve won the legendary Knight Weapon Rzeka (Glaive)
  * Increased fame by 100(Beggar Penalty: 25%)

Even before Cudny jumped, Smoke had already launched himself into the air. As the audience started to thin out. The Cavalry Knight Macher came into view and was talking to someone.

“What did I tell you? If this guy wins the championship then it looks like we’ve found our next participant for the games…”

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