Light Novel – Zectas – Volume 03 – Chapter 01

Proofreader: Vanouney

Note: For easy character reference please refer to: Characters

Expanded Horizons

WATAK WATAK WATAK WATAK

It was four in the morning and the swift sound of wooden Eskrima sticks echoed loudly inside a closed but well ventilated garage.

Seth and Donny were engaged in a fast paced training session. Seth had the upper hand against his younger brother.
Both of them were careful and stopped at the last moment, before actually hitting each other. A swift strike aimed at Donny’s skull was blocked inches from its intended target.

“You’d have to do better than that if you want to beat me.”

Donny had a hard time catching his breath, but was still smiling. His older brother may have overpowered him, but he liked the challenged. It gave him a purpose and a goal.

Both of them were focused on sharpening their Eskrima skills. They didn’t want to see a repeat of their defeat in the previous AUTOMATA (Amateur Unarmed Tournament Open Martial Art Techniques Association). As they kept on fighting, Seth noticed that their eldest brother was watching them.

“Time out, Donny.”

With short breaths, Seth pointed to the doorway where Nash stood.

“Don’t stop on my account. I was really enjoying your session. You two have gotten really good, and it’s only what, a year?”

Suddenly, Donny threw his Eskrima sticks at Nash without any warning

“Come on, Nash. Why don’t you have a go at Seth? Don’t be afraid of getting bruised up a bit. Seth has excellent control.”

Nash smirked. He knew his brothers thought that they had gotten better than him because he couldn’t join their practice sessions, but what they didn’t know was that Nash secretly kept on training by himself.

“Nah, no thanks. I know you just want to show off your skills.”

This time, Seth was the one who goaded him.

“Come on, I promise that I’ll take it easy on you. Besides, you’ve been doing Eskrima way before we did. I’m sure you’re still decent at it somehow.”

“Alright, if you insist. But remember not to strike the face. Otherwise, Mima will see my bruises.”

“Don’t worry. Like Donny said, I’m pretty good at controlling my strikes.”

Nash readied the two Eskrima sticks that Donny threw. He made the sticks form an “X” and took a defensive stance.

“You even want me to initiate the attack?”

Nash didn’t answer. He remained focused on Seth’s left extended stick, pointed straight at his defense.

Seth’s right hand and stick were hyperextended behind his back. Seth’s offensive stance was poised to strike at any opening.

The younger Smoak jabbed his left stick towards Nash’s chest. Nash responded by raising his crossed sticks upward.

As soon as Nash raised his defense, Seth’s right stick came from the side and was about to hit his brother’s side obliques.

Nash’s right stick remained blocking Seth’s first attack while he smoothly slid his left stick downwards and parried Seth’s side attack.

Seth’s eyes widened when he saw his surprise attack was easily deflected. A flurry of exchanges began and Donny stood captivated by his older brothers’ rapid exchange of blows.

A few minutes of continuous strikes kept on and Seth finally got a hold of Nash’s left stick. He managed to disarm it, but at the price of his own right stick.

The brothers simply exchanged weapons as they disarmed each other simultaneously.

Seth backed away as his exhaustion was setting in. Nash stood firm and after a second slowly moved towards Seth.

This time Nash took on an offensive stance, whereas Seth was forced to take a defensive one. The brothers had another exchange of quick attacks, until Seth’s arm began to slow down.

Immediately, Nash took a quick step backward and raised his defense. He saw that his brother was having a hard time and wanted to stop their spar.

“Time out! I think that’s about enough.”

Seth was panting heavily.

“Okay, as long as you remember that you’re the one who asked to stop the fight.”

Seth instantly fell down to the floor and laid there as he was catching his breath.

Donny threw a towel over to Seth and walked towards Nash.

“How in the world did you do that? I thought you stopped Eskrima?”

“When did I say that? I did have an unfair advantage. Seth was already tired from your intense sparring session and he underestimated me. Which I thought he would have learned his lesson by now.”

Nash had resumed practicing Eskrima right after Seth lost badly in their first AUTOMATA .

Grandmaster Cacoy gave Nash a few drills that he could do on his on. His master also told him that ‘Eskrima is about focus, understanding, and routine. You don’t have to think when your body reacts for you. Focus on the basics because that is the foundation of all techniques.’

Donny shook his head after he heard Nash’s answer.

“I think the match would have ended the same even if Seth was at his best condition.”

Slowly, Seth tried to sit up.

“Yeah! I think you’ve also taught me a new lesson today, and that’s to increase my stamina. Your jogging must have really helped, huh?”

Nash smiled.  He helped his brother get up on his feet. He didn’t want to mention that his increased stamina was from all his odd jobs before he started playing Zectas.

“I told you that treadmill wasn’t for decoration. Now come on. It’s time for breakfast. Donny you go get Mima from her room.”

Donny dragged his feet as he stepped out of the garage.

“I really wish I wasn’t the youngest, then I’d have someone else to pick on and order around.”

“Oh, come on Donny. It’s not like I’m asking you to re-tile the roof. Anyway, I have a surprise for you.”

“Really? What is it? What is it?”

“You know, Donny? I still think of you as a seven year old brat whenever you do that. I’ll tell you at the table. Now, go and get Mima.”

“Fine! But you better not be lying about the surprise.”

A few minutes later, everyone was gathered at the table. Nash made banana pancakes since Seth and Donny were getting plenty of fresh bananas from their Eskrima master.

Mima Daphne broke the silence as the brothers were busy devouring their breakfast.

“Nash, I heard Donny say you had a surprise for everyone?”

“Oh, the surprise. Right, you know how my birthday is coming up and I’ve always skipped on celebrating it? I was thinking about changing that this year. I have some spare money and I thought that we could go somewhere nice.”

Donny quickly answered.

“Like Hawaii?”

“Actually, I found something better than that.”

“Better than Hawaii? Are we going on a ski trip or something?”

“Nope. There’s this new place, up in Sheboygan. They say they have comfy lodge houses, and their activities include horseback riding, archery, kayaking, zip line, they even have that new thing. That flyboarding, you know the one that makes you fly in the air like Ironman with jets of water propelling you up?”

Donny was losing interest, but changed tunes when he heard about the flyboarding.

Mima Daphne looked concerned when she heard about the activities.

“That sounds like fun, but it sounds expensive and I think an old fuddy duddy like me would only be in your way.”

“No you won’t Mima. I’ve already planned on having a nice and easy nature trek with you. We could also make a kite like we used to when I was younger, like the one Papap used to make. A big green dragon kite.”

“Hmm… That does sound like a good time. Alright, I’m in.”

Nash turned to Seth as he was the only one left.

“Of course I’m in! You don’t expect me to be stuck here, alone in this house while you guys are out there having a blast, did you?”

“Great! The best part about this place is their promo. They offered 75% off to the first 1,000 customers who registered on their website.”

* * * * * * 

Smoke, Sierra, and the rest of his private army were quietly gathered inside Verbrannt castle’s throne room. They sat around a long rectangular table as they waited patiently for Caid to arrive.

The three massive Maneators had to sit on the floor because they were too big to fit in any chair. Their height was just the right size as they sat around the rectangular table.

Gandiva had always been impatient, and the tigress Lioumerean couldn’t help herself. She stared at Espion and asked.

“You’re sure your father’s gonna arrive today?”

“Relax, he’s only been late for ten minutes.”

The room had an awkward silence. Originally, there were two factions about the guild creation. One group was afraid of letting other Sonstwelters in, while the other wanted their strength and numbers.

Given their war against Duke Burmistrz and the Brandals, the creation of a guild was agreed upon. Yet, the ill feelings about the decision remained.

Espion could no longer take Gandiva’s impatience and stood up.

“I’m going outside to wait for my father.”

Smoke stood up as well.

“Wait up. I’ll join you.”

The DarkElf and the Spy went out of the throne room. When they got to the hallway they met an intimidating middle-aged man clothed in a black suit.

Caid stood still for a moment, and slowly walked towards Espion. The young Spy ran towards his father and hugged him tightly.

Caid whispered to his son.

“I knew you’d be alive. I believed in you the whole time.”

The Beggar Evocati released his hold of his son and faced Smoke.

“Thank you for keeping your promise.”


+ Completed Quest: Find Caid’s son, Espion

  You have reunited Beggar Evocati Caid and his missing son, Espion. You have earned Caid’s trust and respect.

  Rewards:
  * Beggar Evocati Caid’s Recommendation
  * 300,000 exp


+ You gained Beggar Evocati Caid’s Recommendation to rank up to Beggar Evocati.
+ (1/2) Beggar Evocati Recommendations until next Beggar rank up.

Smoke beamed at his reward. He wanted to increase his Beggar rank as soon as he saw the 75% reduction to his equipment and certain abilities.

“Thank you very much, Beggar Evocati Caid. I’m truly honored to be recommended by such an esteem Beggar. I was just very fortunate to have found your son in the labyrinth. Espion has been a great asset from the moment I saw him.”

“Really? You didn’t find him too rash and impetuous?”

“Well, to be honest, it was a little difficult at first. But right after we killed a few monster mobs, he understood what he needed to do.”

Caid faced his son, and gave him a pat on his shoulder.

“Good for you, Espion. Huh? What happened to your eye? Why is it all glossy?”

The Beggar Evocati finally noticed Espion’s injured eye. Smoke was about to explain what happened when the young Spy stopped him.

“Da, it was my fault. I got careless and a krampus scratched me. I would have died if it wasn’t for Smoke.”

Caid watched his son and noticed that he was not the same person. He had matured somehow.

“You never used to take responsibility for anything before. You always used to put the blame on someone else. It looks like you really learned something from Smoke.”

“Yeah, that’s why I’ve joined his private army. I want you to know that this isn’t a form of rebellion  or anything like that. I just think that I’ll be a better vessel to your Beggar legacy if I continue to travel with him.”

Smoke subtly joined in on their conversation.

“Umm… Beggar Evocati Caid, You should also know that Espion is free to leave my private army whenever he feels like it. In fact, that goes for all the members of my private army.”

Smoke knew that Espion was intimidated by his father, which was why he tried to smooth things out between them.

For a split second the shadows of three people appeared around Caid. They were the past holders of Caid’s Beggar stone. Their melded minds converged and voiced out each individual’s opinion.

Caid took a deep breath and sighed.

“Looks like that’s all there is to it then.”

Espion smiled with relief as he gained his father’s approval.

“Since that’s been decided let’s talk about your war with Duke Burmistrz.”

The Beggar Evocati’s voice deepened and became serious as soon as he spoke about Coatl city’s mayor.

“I think we better join the others before I continue.”

Smoke, Caid, and Espion entered the throne room together. Smoke sat at the center of the long rectangular table with Igniz hovering around him. Sierra sat at his right side and Adder to his left, while Caid sat opposite to him.

“Everyone, I’d like you to meet, Beggar Evocati Caid. He’s here to share the intelligence his men have gathered in Coatl.”

Everybody gave Caid forms of acknowledgement, most of them nodded except for Gandiva, Laernea, Ichaival, and Rasant who waved at him.

“Please, Beggar Evocati Caid, be as blunt as possible. What’s the Duke’s plans on our rebellion?”

Caid nodded at Smoke’s request of the hard facts.

“According to the intelligence I’ve gathered, the Duke is in serious trouble. His current campaign against Centzo City isn’t doing very well. The villages outside of Centzo’s main defenses were evacuated and taken inside the main city itself. The Duke only has 100,000 Brandals left. It would be suicide if he would make a direct attack on Centzo city now.”

Every one of Smoke’s private army had smiles on their faces, but Caid said something troublesome before anyone could speak out their minds.

“Due to this major setback, the Duke has changed strategies. He has his entire army of 100,000 Brandals encircle Centzo city. His plan is to cut off the trade and supply lines of the city. Although the main city has livestock and some scattered farm lands, I doubt that it could feed the city’s enlarged population from all the refugees.”

Rasant, the orange Maneator, thought about Burmistrz plan and Centzo city’s size. The Maneator quickly expressed his thoughts on the Duke’s plan.

“If he only has a hundred-thousand Brandals, then there’s no way the Duke could cover Centzo city’s entire area.”

Caid looked at the Maneator and nodded.

“Normally, that would have been the case, but the Duke divided his Brandals into ten legions of ten-thousand men each. Eight legions were scattered around Centzo and blocked all the main roads. Centzo can’t attack each legion one by one because that would leave their city defenseless for the other legions.”

Thyrsus’ inquisitive mind wondered about the other two legions.

“What special assignments did the Duke have for the ninth and tenth legions?”

“Well, he has those two legions provide food and other war supplies from Coatl to Centzo. Both provision legions run at opposite directions, this made sure that their food supply is constant. They would run out of food in no time if they relied on the supplies that they brought.”

Smoke, Sierra, and everyone else’s faces became sullen. They were hoping that the Duke’s plan left his men vulnerable. To the point where they could take each legion by force and slaughter them one at a time, but ten-thousand Brandals was still beyond their military power.

Caid looked at Smoke and his men and understood their disappointment.

“The Duke isn’t dumb. He has seen his share of wars. Although, this last move of his isn’t really a bad thing for you and your men.”

Smoke looked confused and asked.

“Huh? How come? After he conquers Centzo wouldn’t he just come looking for us?”

“He will, but you’ll have about three months before that happens. He can’t also neglect defending Coatl City because Centeo City is just waiting for a chance to expand its territory and because of your recent victory. He now thinks that he would need to send more than 5,000 men to conquer you. Do you think you can come up with an army in three months?”

Sierra who sat quietly as Caid spoke finally talked.

“But what if the Duke decides to risk it and send out another five-thousand Raiders against us? We barely have a thousand men in our army right now.”

Caid shifted his face towards Sierra and said.

“You just have to improve your security system. That’s why I have my Light Wizards of Regard come with me. They’re all outside.”

Gandiva, the tigress Lioumerean was surprised and asked.

“Regard? You mean the ones who made the jumbovision screen for the mounted race? You own Regard?”

“Yes, it’s one of my many businesses in Coatl.”

“And the Duke doesn’t know that you’re Espion’s father?”

The young Spy raised his voice a little as he answered.

“Of course not! I made sure that no one of the Duke’s men would know about my family.”

Gandiva raised her hands in surrender.

“Okay, okay, I was just asking.”

Caid cleared his throat and proceeded to talk.

“I’ve instructed the Light Wizards to install camera runes in a radius of twenty kilometers around Verbrannt castle. I’ve also had them install these camera runes on the main roads from Coatl and Centzo. They’ll set up a monitoring room inside the castle as well.”

“Thank you very much. I feel really responsible for the safety of the people.”

Sierra was really grateful for what Caid did. Sierra proceeded to ask for advice on what else they could do around Verbrannt Village to increase their defenses.

Everybody inside the throne room shared their own ideas about what to do. Until the topic of forming a guild was raised.

Smoke voiced out his main concern.

“Basically, I just want to be sure that we don’t recruit any traitors. Creating a guild isn’t just for fighting against the Duke. It’s something that should go beyond that. I know we could create a contract like what we did for the mounted race, but what if the Sonstwelter is already prepared to lose everything just to spy on us?”

Caid said something that he thought could help them.

“I could make a casting circle of truth and intent. From that you could know if the potential recruit is a spy or not. Although the problem whether he changes his mind in the future and betrays you still exist.”

Sierra accepted Caid’s suggestion.

“That’ll be better than nothing at all. At least with that we’ll be assured that they’re not spies and have no intention of being one.”

Everybody proceeded to add more conditions and penalties on the contract that the guild member will have to sign. They then went on to discuss about other places where they could recruit more men.

Adder finally spoke and suggested that together with Smoke they should visit Condortl Village and ask for their help. Smoke agreed without objections.

As their strategy meeting kept on, Sierra went out and ordered their food to be served on their table. As they ate, the talk shifted from battle strategies to war stories and legends.

The topic of Smoke’s escape from the labyrinth came up. Laernea insisted for him to recount their adventures inside the labyrinth and how they escaped.

“Alright, I was teleported into the labyrinth and had to solve a puzzle just to get out of the first room. After I got out, there were swarms of wolf spiders, crested newts, and fire salamanders. Igniz and I were dealing with around five-hundred of those monsters when we found Espion being chased by three krampus. The krampus monsters were the ones the Tenebris used to replace the Maneators.”

Ichaival was amazed when he heard that Smoke and Igniz dealt with five-hundred monsters by themselves, but he was also curious what the krampus were.

“Are the krampus monsters the boss monsters of the labyrinth?”

“No, they were more like the mini-boss, but let me get to the boss later. After I found Espion, we went on to discover the Tenebris hidden laboratory. We had to fight through one krampus to get to it. That was where Espion lost his right eye’s vision…”

Smoke’s voice became regretful as he remembered how the fight with the krampus ended.

“Inside the Tenebris laboratory I found the manual to create a Maneator. Luckily, I had enough components to make my first Maneator. Which was Weise.”

The gray Maneator raised his hands as everyone’s attention was on him.

“Together with Weise, I decided to take on the three krampus monsters roaming inside the labyrinth. I needed their embryo as a component for making more Maneators. We already had a hard time fighting against one krampus, there was no way we could take on three at the same time. So, I decided to use the tunnels inside the labyrinth to force the krampus to fight us one on one. Igniz, Espion, Weise, and I, dealt with those three krampus.”

Smoke gave a nod to Espion and Weise, while Igniz hovered brightly all over the rectangular table.

“Regrettably, the krampus were hardwired to destroy any embryo they see. After we killed the first krampus, the second one immediately destroyed the embryo dropped from the first krampus’ fading body. Which was why we only managed to get one embryo and that was Rasant.”

This time, the orange Maneator waved both his hands wildly as he liked the attention that was given to him. Everybody laughed a little at Rasant’s antics, and returned their gaze towards Smoke.

“From the loot of the three krampus we found a labyrinth map that pointed to the treasure room and the exit. Of course, I went immediately for the treasure room. I used Mitleid’s key to open the treasure room, and there lay the boss of the labyrinth. It was a gigantic sphinx called Andrais. The great sphinx must have been around five meters from the ground to its head alone, with a body length of… Around eighteen meters? The notification said that he was a level 700 monster, and all of us were slashed when we arrived in the treasure room. We were left with 2% of our lives.”

Smoke’s eyes looked up to the ceiling, as he pictured that someday he would get back and conquer Andrais.

“Andrais was bored guarding the treasure, so he spared our lives. Instead of killing us outright, he gave us a chance to answer his riddles. Fortunately, all of us managed to come out alive. That’s also where I’ve gotten these seven treasures.”

Smoke laid down the seven treasures he got from the labyrinth on the table.

“Allow me to explain each one to you. The seven treasures are: ‘Sable Wizard’s Surcoat’, ‘Lunar Gravity Boots’, ‘Digger’s Wand’, ‘Storm Staff of Ehactl’, ‘Mirror of Meztli’, ‘Gloves of Itzli’, and ‘Ring of Ezikill’. For now, I can only use the first three items.”

He then pointed towards the last four treasures.

“As for these four, I have to chose which Elemental Affinity I have to improve on because they are all conflicting elements. The storm staff can make wind attacks and requires Wind affinity. The Mirror serves as an ultimate spy tool and requires Light affinity. The Itzli Gloves reduces casting time on channeling spells and requires Lightning. The Ring of Ezikill requires Dark affinity and can resurrect a dead Sonstwelter once a month, provided you kill ten-thousand monsters of the same level as yourself in the span of thirty days.”

Intentionally, Smoke didn’t mention that each of the four treasures were blessed by various gods and required over level 500 to be used.

“After the treasure room, we went to the labyrinth’s exit. There we fought against the exit’s guardian. A gigantic krampus with the height of four meters. It was a hard battle, but our coordinated attacks overwhelmed the monster. That’s where I got the weighted chain and sickle weapon and Stark’s embryo. I think that’s the reason why Stark is bigger than his brothers. Anyway, The exit is located somewhere south east of this castle. The white mausoleum is now covered by a thick green forest. That was why you never found it, Sierra. I plan to go back there to create another Maneator out of Konig Mitleid’s components, but enough about my impression on the labyrinth. You guys should talk to the men who helped me escape the labyrinth.”

His private army divided themselves among Espion, Weise, Rasant, and Stark. Their voices grew louder as they talked about their adventures inside the labyrinth in more detail.

Smoke’s original members also shared their stories and adventures before their four latest brethren joined their ranks. Their family had now grown to be fifteen members strong.

* * * * * * 
Their militia members had been reduced to one-thousand-and-eighty men. Sierra had asked Smoke to take charge of the entire battalion, which he gladly accepted.

Smoke divided the militia to serve under his private army members. All except for the three Maneators. Even if the three of them were friendly, the militia members were still afraid of burly Maneators.

As the Beggar Evocati readied himself to leave for Coatl, Smoke handed him a letter addressed to Madam Dawney. It stated his deepest regret over what happened to Ental, the hell boar that he rode for the mounted race.

Caid assured Smoke to express his sincere apology to the retired adventurer. The Beggar Evocati left for Coatl city shortly after. He went back to gather more information. Caid also told Smoke that he will send the information via the Beggar Tablet.

Sierra immediately started to test the one-hundred-ninety Zectian Knights and the four-hundred-ten Sonstwelter Knights that had joined them in the previous battle.

She had each one of them form a line and step into the ‘interrogation room’ that Caid had prepared for them. The Beggar Evocati assigned a Light Wizard named Baldaquin to control the casting circle.

They were grilled with a series of questions. They were asked with questions like ‘are you a spy?’,’have you disclosed the location of Verbrannt castle?’, ‘have you posted this information anywhere outside of Zectas?’.

Fortunately, all of Knights passed. None of them were currently working for the Duke and had no immediate intentions of doing so. Smoke had asked Caid if he had found the ability tome ‘Circle of Truth and Intent’, but sadly he wasn’t able to.

When all of the Knights were done with their inquisition, Sierra had them all gathered in front of the Verbrannt castle’s main doors.

Smoke and his private army stood in front of all the six-hundred Knights. The gathered Knights recalled the impressive battle prowess that Smoke and his men had shown in their last battle, but his performance was still overshadowed by the three massive legendary monsters in his private army.

Most of them had only heard about the Maneators and had never seen one, but Smoke had three of them as his companions.

Sierra stood in front and was about to offer them the contract of becoming a member of the guild, but most of the Knights there already belonged to a guild.

Mamelon, the Aqua Knight, spoke in behalf of those who had undergone the test.

“More than half of us are willing to change guilds, but there are those who cannot leave their current guild. I’m afraid that we have to refuse your offer. All of us still plan on seeing this revolution against Duke Burmistrz’s tyranny, and I can only offer to make a guild alliance with you.”

As the Aqua Knight spoke, she kept on looking around for Ilad, Smoke’s undercover persona, among his men.

“We only have three groups who wish to remain in their guilds. There’s our guild the Confiance, then there’s Espoir Guild, and lastly the Fidelite Guild.”

Sierra stepped forward and replied to the entire crowd.

“I understand your concerns. Then allow us to draft another guild contract and a guild alliance contract, but first I need all of you to sign this confidentiality agreement. It just states that you can’t disclose the location of Verbrannt castle to anyone. Breaking this rule kills you and if you’re a Sonstwelter it will reduce your level by 75%. After signing the confidentiality agreement, please feel free to roam around Verbrannt Village. Our battalion commanders will show you the locations where you can put up shops or homes that you can actually own. Also, the castle is still strictly off limits until you have joined the guild. Thank you.”

The red werebear smiled as she delivered her threat together with a reward. It was her retention plan for the potential guild members. She thought that they might fight better for their cause if they had something at stake as well.

All the Knights were shocked by such strict conditions. Nonetheless, it was rare to be given a property in Zectas. All of them signed the confidentiality agreement because they understood the risks involved and knew what was at stake.

Sierra was happy with the turn of events. She had sent Gandiva over to Centeo City to acquire a Guildium. It was a stone needed to create a guild.

The Guildium records all the guild’s history. It documents the guild’s members, assets, earnings, contracts, alliances, and everything else involved in a guild.

Centeo city was north of Coatl and required a week to travel back and forth. Sierra planned to have the Knights acquainted with the residences, and finish their homes and shops by then.

Sierra asked Sharur, Jinggu, Sharanga, Ichaival, Thyrsus, and Vijaya to guide the Knights around Verbrannt and point them out to the designated areas where they could put up their homes or businesses.

As the multitude of assorted Knights were about to leave, Mamelon managed to get close enough to Smoke and introduced herself to him.

“Hi, my name is Mamelon. Let me just say that this is really an amazing thing that you’re doing for these people and I hope that when we do conquer Coatl you remember all of those who helped.”

Smoke wanted to walk away, but Mamelon had been already shaking his hand.

“Of course, the rewards will be according to the efforts and accomplishments shown by each individual. Please excuse me, you can talk to Sierra for more information about that matter.”

He tried to let go of her hand, but she still held on firmly.

“There was one more thing. I haven’t seen Ilad around. I was wondering where he was?”

“I sent him on a special assignment. I don’t know when he’ll be back.”

Mamelon looked sad when she heard the news.

“He didn’t accept my friend request so I couldn’t call him. Can you please tell him that I’m looking for him. You know, when you get a chance to talk to him?”

Smoke nodded and forcibly freed his hand from hers.

“I’ll pass on the message, but you should talk to Sierra about that as well.”

Smoke hurriedly escaped into the castle.

* * * * * * 

Smoke had decided to head back to the labyrinth and create his fourth Maneator. Together with Sierra and a select group of his private army members along with their battalions.

The members of the labyrinth expedition were Smoke, Sierra, Ichaival, Laernea, and Espion along with four-hundred-seventy-five militia members.

Adder was left in charge to take care of the residents and the Knights in Verbrannt. He had Thyrsus, Sharanga, and Vijaya to assist him.

Sharur and Jinggu were ordered to create a canal that could channel the river towards Verbrannt. The OrkElves had the Maneators; Weise, Rasant, and Stark to assist them. They also had two-hundred militia members to help them out.

With the people in Verbrannt all occupied with their own tasks. Smoke and his expedition party headed out. As they headed towards the secret exit, they made sure that none of the Knights followed them.

As a precautionary measure they headed in the opposite direction of the labyrinth’s exit when they left the Verbrannt castle grounds.

After forty-five minutes they reached a structure that looked like a small hill which was covered by thick trees. Smoke stopped and directed some men to push the hanging roots aside.

An entrance with a diameter of ten feet was revealed. He ordered his men to hold the roots in place while the rest of the men entered. It looked more like an entrance to a cave from a quick glance.

As they traveled further inside, the floor and walls revealed a smooth and white marble stone. Igniz lit up the torches that some of the militia members were carrying as well as enhanced their weapons with Fire.

Smoke led the way with Igniz hovering around him. He asked the men to prepare themselves, when he saw the piled up skeletons.

These were the skeleton monsters that guarded the tunnel connected to the mausoleum and the labyrinth’s exit. When they left the labyrinth they only encountered level 70 to 80 skeleton warriors, but now there were level 80 to 90 skeleton archers, and level 90 to 110 skeleton mages.

The skeleton warriors were easy to deal with. Their sluggish movements made them easy targets to the militia members. Smoke had thought about using the labyrinth as their own special dungeon to raise the level of their militia.

However, the new skeleton archers and skeleton mages proved to be formidable monsters against their militia members. Smoke immediately ordered his commanders to hunt down the ranged skeleton monsters.

He had an ominous suspicion as soon as he saw the new skeleton monsters. He ordered Espion to join him in front. Together they swiftly headed towards the tunnel’s exit.

Sierra remained behind and took command of the militia members. Their militia members varied from levels 65 to 80 which gave them a decent experience from the skeleton monsters.

Smoke stopped when he reached the tunnel’s exit. Slowly, he took a peek and found four massive boulders were at the center of the chamber.

From Smoke’s fight with Dasende, he had learned that those boulders were the dormant forms of the gigantic krampus guarding the exit of the labyrinth.

Those monsters would awaken if they entered within the krampus’ range. His suspicion was confirmed when he saw the four dormant krampus laying there.

Andrais, the great sphinx who guarded the labyrinth’s treasure room, told him that the labyrinth upgrades its difficulty whenever there is someone who leaves with its treasures.

The new skeleton monsters and the increased guardian krampus were the labyrinth’s way of protecting itself. To prevent the the same level of intruders who had previously entered.

On their way back to Sierra and the militia, Smoke found it strange that the krampus guardian had been increased to four but the skeleton monsters were only added with archers and mages.

As Smoke was lost in his thoughts, he heard someone’s yell.

“Smoke! Aim for the skeleton knight! It seems to be the boss of this mausoleum!” shouted Sierra over to him as soon as she spotted it.

The seven foot skeleton knight kept on bashing the shields of the militia. Sierra, Ichaival, and Laernea had damaged the monster which revealed its name and life bar. Loueric (210,187/300,000 HP).

The skeleton knight had enough of the werebear’s attacks and ran away from Sierra and the commanders. As it ran, it kept on attacking the lower level militia.

Loueric had an impressive life bar, but its weakness against Fire proved to be a fatal flaw. Smoke instantly equipped his power chainsaw bow and attacked the skeleton knight with his fire arrows.

+ Attack hit skeleton knight: Loueric. +FIRE DMG. CRITICAL HIT. Damage 6,143.

A torrent of fire arrows came all at once, and lit up the skeleton knight. The militia members did their best to move out of the way. They held their shields in front of them, and blocked the incoming attacks of the skeleton knight.

Loueric was aggravated by Smoke’s damage. As soon as the skeleton knight saw that it was a lone DarkElf who was the source of the fire arrows, it immediately charged towards him.

Espion ran in front of Smoke and met the skeleton knight head on. The skeleton knight pulled back its right elbow as it prepared to lunge its sword against the young Spy.

Smoke never ceased his fire arrows as Espion ran in front of him. They used the attack pattern where Espion stayed low, close to the ground on his left side, while he kept on with his head shots and right upper body attacks.

With the green dual knives out, Espion expertly parried the Loueric’s sword thrust and ran the dual knives against the skeleton knight’s blade.

The young Spy dodged the skeleton knight and was directly behind him. Espion immediately started to attack the skeleton knight’s back.

Loueric’s focus was on the Espion which made him turn around to face the young Spy.

+ Attack hit skeleton knight: Loueric. +FIRE DMG. CRITICAL HIT. BACK ATTACK. Damage 9,114.

Five more arrows struck Loueric’s back and extinguished the last HP of the skeleton knight’s life bar.


+ You’ve dealt a fatal blow to the skeleton knight: Loueric.
+ You’ve killed the skeleton knight: Loueric.
+ Your party gained 200,000 exp.

As the body of the skeleton knight faded, it dropped a rare loot.


+ Acquired rare helmet: Skull Helm.

Smoke checked the skull helm.


Skull Helm (Helmet)

A rare helmet that is dropped from the boss of the mausoleum, the skeleton knights.

Restriction:
– Melee Fighters

Equipment Ability:
+10 Vitality
+200 Defense

He then ordered everyone to quickly gather the loot. There were mostly ragged clothes, but there were also the occasional weapons such as round shields, composite bows, and wind rods.

After they collected all the loot, Smoke asked everyone to camp outside of the mausoleum and have a quick meal. He wanted to check how long it would take for the skeletons to respawn.

As each platoon began to make their meals, Smoke asked Sierra to join him to somewhere more private. He had something important to tell her. Laernea watched intently as Smoke and Sierra walked into the forest.

Smoke started with what he discovered at the exit of the labyrinth.

“Listen, I know that this was my idea to make the labyrinth into our personal special dungeon, but we shouldn’t move further into the tunnel. Do you remember the four meter krampus that I was talking about? Well, they’ve increased the guards to four. There’s no way we could take on those monsters as we are now.”

“But do you think it would be safe to continue hunting just inside the mausoleum?”

“I think it’s a safe bet. We really do need all those equipment. If only we had mages and archers who could use the rods and bows.”

Sierra smirked when she heard Smoke’s concerns.

“Don’t worry about the bows. I already have a plan on how to use those.”

Smoke looked puzzled as he had no idea what Sierra was talking about.

“Anyway, the real reason why I wanted to talk to you was because there was one more thing I discovered inside the labyrinth.”

“And? What was it?”

“I know where the Witches of Wysteria are. They’re somewhere in the desolate lands to the west of here. Some place called  Veneficatl valley.”

Sierra became quiet. She had been searching for the witches for months, and now she finally knew their location. However, there were also the residents of Verbrannt to worry about now.

Smoke silently waited for her to speak. He knew that it was a difficult situation. He never wanted to create a guild, but they desperately needed one in order to have a chance at defeating Burmistrz.

He had promised her that they would remove her curse after he completed the Mitleid’s quest. So, he was prepared to bite the bullet and stay behind to facilitate the strategies that they had planned for Verbrannt.

A few more minutes passed and Sierra finally spoke.

“Hmm. I’m sorry to have to do this to you, Smoke. But we did have a deal. There’s really no other way but for you to do it.”

“I know… Don’t worry. I’m a man of my word, and I don’t plan on breaking my promise to you.”

“Good. I know that finding the witches would still take a long time. You can spend that time to build up our army. You know, while you’re looking for the witches, and I expect you to slay them for me when you find them.”

He couldn’t believe what he heard, and Sierra went on to explain her reason why she would rather have Smoke search the witches.

“The quest only requires their deaths and for me to bathe in their blood… I can’t also expect you to stay behind and execute our plans for Verbrannt. Now, don’t take this the wrong way. I know you would do a great job with the Zectians, but I also know you’ll have a problem dealing with the other Sonstwelters. We really need to create a guild and I’m willing to stay behind to do it. So, can I count on you to complete it?”

Smoke’s smile was filled with joy and excitement. He couldn’t help himself but reply with.

“Of course!”

* * * * * * 

Smoke chose to bring Adder, Espion, Laernea, Vijaya, and Ichaival. The others were left behind and started on their action plans against Duke Burmistrz.

He explicitly left Weise, Rasant, and Stark behind to help the residents grow accustomed to them. The Maneators were eventually going to lead their own battalion and they needed to build a good rapport with the militia members.

The Maneators’ great strength was also required for the many great architectural structures that Verbrannt was undergoing.

Smoke’s expedition party rode on Laernea’s carriage and was heading towards Nanahuatl Village. It had been a long time since Smoke saw Darius, and he had missed the old Beggar.

Their ride home was uneventful, except for the occasional pack of burrowed sandcats that would leap out and attack them. The monsters were no challenge at all. With Igniz’s enchantment, their increased levels, and improved equipments  killing the burrowed sandcats was a breeze.

The DarkElf tried his Earth Manipulation ability on the burrowed sandcats, but the beasts just ate through his manipulated earth. So, Smoke left all the fighting to his men. He focused on acquiring knowledge from books instead.

Days passed and they finally saw Nanahuatl’s familiar borders. An old man wearing Arch Magus clothes stood at the village’s entrance.

Darius had sensed their arrival and waited for them at the gate. Smoke immediately noticed his reinvigorated appearance.

“Well look at you.” said Smoke with a smile.

Darius opened his arms and pulled him into a hug.

“I’m steadily recovering some of my lost power, but it will still take a long time before I get to even half of my previous power.” said Darius.

Smoke was really pleased to hear Darius’ recovery. He then introduced Espion to his old friend. Darius welcomed all of them and led the way to Smoke’s house.

The residents of Nanahuatl flooded the streets as soon as they heard that Smoke had arrived. He invited everyone to a barbecue party later that day.

Smoke wanted to catch up with everyone in Nanahuatl. He brought assorted meat from poultry, pork, beef, to the exotic. He knew how the Nanahuatlanos loved their grilled meat.

He asked Vijaya and Ichaival to take care of the event. As preparations for the cookout started, Smoke and Darius went inside Smoke’s home to discuss his progress.

Smoke began by giving Darius’ Beggar Tablet. He also told him about his adventures inside the labyrinth and the three Maneators he created.

Darius listened to Smoke with pride. The old Beggar felt he was listening to the tales of his best friend, Kumbaba. The last Beggar Imperator.

He also told Darius about Sierra’s suggestion of creating a guild. He wasn’t for it at first, but he knew that there was no other choice. Still, he preferred if his army was purely Zectians rather than Sonstwelters.

Smoke finished his story with his current quest of searching for the Witches of Wysteria. He knew that they were in the desolate lands of the west, but Veneficatl valley’s vast land area was a major concern.

“That’s why I was planning on visiting Condortl before I head to Veneficatl valley. I want to see how they’re doing and maybe recruit them against the Duke.”

“That’s not a bad idea at all. Also, when you reach the outskirts of Veneficatl you will be able to pass through two villages that belongs to the secret society of ‘Inauditas Volucris’.”

“You mean the half beast race?” he asked.

Darius nodded. “Yes. First will be the home of the Centaurs, Pferde Village. The second one will be the home of the Simiavulgs, SarurasVillage.”

Smoke scratched his chin and asked. “Simiavulgs? I’m afraid I’m not familiar with them.”

“They are a race of half man half monkeys, they are very similar to how a Lioumerean looks like. They have the body shape of the human, except they have excessive body hair and their ears, noses, and lips are that of a monkey.” answered Darius knowingly.

“How come I’ve never met a Simiavulg but Lioumereans are almost as common as an Elf?” asked Smoke.

Darius pointed his index to the sky and said. “Ahh… That’s a long story, but the short version is that Simiavulgs are extremely supremacists. They think the best race are in all of Zectas is the Simiavulg. Of course, they do have powerful Wizards, dextrous Snipers, and skillful Warriors that haven’t been defeated since the time of the Lizardites.”

“Hmmm, sounds like they are a very troublesome race.” stated Smoke.

The Beggar Legati waved his hand in dismissal. “Don’t worry about it. I’m sure you can think of something when you meet them.”

“What about the Centaurs? What are they like?” asked Smoke.

“They’re a really friendly race. Some of them used to wander to the main cities, but two hundred years ago, their Chief banned them from going there. You see, many Centaurs are so enamored by the beauty of the Elves and the Humans that they want to be with them. They would even resort to the dark arts just to be with their beloved.” Darius chuckled to himself as he recalled something funny between the Simiavulgs and the Centaurs.

Smoke’s curiosity got the better of him and asked. “What’s so funny?”

“You see, it’s true that the Simiavulgs has never been conquered, but the same thing goes for the Centaurs. The Simiavulgs would go to the land of the Centaurs and they would be driven out as quickly as they came.”

“So the Centaurs are also a powerful race?”

The Beggar Legati nodded and smiled.

Smoke beamed at the idea of meeting them. “Now I really want to make those Centaurs into my allies.”

Darius pulled out a parchment out of thin air and gave it to Smoke.

“Those are the locations of the two villages. I didn’t tell you about them before because you didn’t have the ability to cross over the mountain range of Margome, but now you do. The lowest level monster over Margome is at least 150, but I think you and your party are capable enough of handling monsters like those.”

“Really? Now, I kinda want to bring Sierra and my entire private army with me.”

“I wish I could have told Sierra about Veneficatl valley. I never imagined that the Witches would travel to the desolate lands of the west. Witches usually stay near populated areas. They have a special craving for the souls of young children.”

“Well, I’ll make sure that their food fetish stops as soon as I see them.”

Darius gave Smoke a pat on the back and said.

“I know you will. Now, why don’t we see how the preparations are going. All this catching up has made me hungry.”

“I’m sure Ichaival and Vijaya have everything prepared.”

Dozens of long wooden tables were propped outside of Smoke’s home. Vijaya asked Ichaival and Espion to man the grill. Adder was in charge of gathering the villagers.

A few minutes later and all of the Nanahuatlanos arrived. Everyone drank and ate as Ichaival entertained them with Smoke’s adventures.

Ichaival portrayed all of the characters in his stories of Smoke’s adventures, but it always ended with him and Sharanga kissing.

Everybody laughed as they knew that part never happened. The children all gathered around Smoke and asked whether it was all true. To which Smoke would reply. “What do you think?”

All of the children’s eyes widened with amazement as they pictured Smoke’s adventures in their heads.

After Ichaival’s stories, Vijaya displayed the abilities of her six falcons with aerial aerobatics. Everyone clapped at their well coordinated maneuvers. She ended her performance with her six falcons carrying her into the air.

The barbecue party lasted all night. James Jackal and Howard Hide pulled Adder to a table and initiated a drinking contest with their fellow Condortlian.

Ichaival introduced Espion to all the young eligible bachelorettes in Nanahuatl, while the young men ogled over Vijaya.

Peitro Fischer had Smoke personally tell him the real battles that he experienced inside the labyrinth.

Smoke was tired of retelling the same story for more than a fourth time, but told the old Fisherman nonetheless.

After Smoke freed himself from Peitro’s incessant questions, he happily watched everybody having a great time. Nanahuatl really was the best place in all of Zectas. He wished that he could share this with Seth and Donny someday.

* * * * * * 

The next day, Smoke and his expedition party headed for Condortl at the break of dawn. Only Darius was awake to see them off.

He greatly enjoyed his time with the Nanahatlanos, but he also needed to make some progress on the Witches and recruiting the army for Verbrannt.

It took Smoke sixty days to reach Condortl village on foot, but they had now reached Adder’s village in two days as Laernea made Bilis mostly run at top speed.

When they reached the last bend before Condortl, Smoke and Adder expected to see a vibrant village covered in green scales, but they were greeted with broken walls and destroyed houses instead.

The Condortlians were busy picking up the debris and the broken scales from the virile lizards. Until they noticed Smoke’s carriage.

The residents flocked around Smoke as he got off Laernea’s carriage.

“Praise Cuezaltzin! You’re finally here. We’ve been praying for your return ever since our farm lands died, and now Centaurs have come to attack our village.”

Smoke was confused. He thought that the Centaurs were peace loving and friendly.

“Why would they attack Condortl? Did you provoke them in any way?”

Slowly, all of the residents of Condortl came out of their homes. A crowd gathered around Condortl’s Savior.

Eldmar, the acting village chief of Condortl, walked towards their village’s hero.

“We have done no such thing. We only followed our laws. Then they just came out of nowhere and took our children away. Our Warriors fought back bravely, but even with our best weapons we were still no match against the twenty Centaurs.”

Smoke recalled that he left the village with three-hundred Warriors whose levels ranged from 40 to 60. The Centaurs must have been really strong to defeat Condortl’s Warriors.

Eldmar proceeded to tell what had happened.

“We were all living peacefully here for a while now. The griffons’ numbers greatly fell as they lost their steady supply of virile lizards, but everything changed two months ago.”

Smoke and his men listened intently to Eldmar’s story, but Adder was most especially attentive.

“We were looking for new farmlands because all of there was no longer any fertile lands east of Mount Aeriloc. A Scout suggested that we cross the mountain. I agreed since there were rarely any griffons left. They didn’t find any area that was great for farming near the mountain’s base.”

Eldmar looked at Adder and said.

“Abaven, you remember of the old legends that spoke about the rich lands near the mountains of Margome?”

Adder nodded and answered.

“Yes, the rich fertile lands said to be protected by guardian spirits. Didn’t the Scouts know that it was dangerous to go there?”

Eldmar faced Adder, he shook his head and sighed.

“The leader of the Scouts was your cousin Catalina. She ordered her Scouts to travel to the foot of Margome with her. She always had fantasies about meeting the guardian spirits. Apparently, the guardian spirits were the Centaurs. They guarded that land from the Simiavulgs.”

Smoke silently listened but could guess what happened next.

“One of the Centaurs fell in love with Catalina and I was told that she reciprocated his feelings. Catalina established a small colony in those lands. Needless to say, the men and women that she brought with her fell in love with other Centaurs as well.”

Smoke nodded as his suspicions were confirmed.

“I immediately asked the colony to return home when I heard about what was going on. Couples of Humans and Centaurs always lead to disaster. I haven’t heard from them since. Then a week ago twenty mad Centaurs came and took the younger children away.”

Eldmar’s face with stricken with sorrow.

“They have taken twenty-four children in the past week alone, and we only have 200 Warriors left.”

Adder held onto Eldmar’s shoulders and said.

“Don’t worry. We’re here now. The Centaurs aren’t gonna take any more children. I’m sure Smoke will do his best to find those kidnapped children as well.”

Eldmar looked to Smoke with pleading eyes.

“Will you help us find the children?”


+ Quest: Find the Kidnapped Children of Condortl
    Search & Rescue Quest
    Level: B

    Eldmar asks for your help in finding the captured children by the Centaurs.

    Accept the Quest? [YES/NO]

“Of course I will. We’re talking about children here. How could I possibly say no to that?”

* * * * * * 

Smoke asked his men to help out with the repairs, while he began setting up a trap for the Centaurs. He took out his Digger’s wand and created a trench around the village. He made sure that the trench was deep enough so the Centaurs couldn’t leap out of it.

With his Earth Manipulation ability, he created a thin layer of earth over the wide trench and camouflaged it. He could have placed spikes inside the trenches, but he still needed to ask the Centaurs about the children’s location. He also wanted to find out why the ‘peace loving’ Centaurs were kidnapping children in the first place.

Smoke then proceeded to fortify and increase the height of the walls around Condortl. He also made the front gates wider. He wanted to lure the Centaurs to use the main entrance.

As Smoke inspected the village, he found a young boy practicing with a rope and a massive sword. The boy threw the rope over the pole and ran towards the pole with his sword.

The boy’s weapon was much bigger than himself that it reminded Smoke of Adder’s gigantic double bladed sword Blitzsturm.

The nine year old boy held onto the sword with both his hands and swung at the wooden pole that was shakily erected on the ground. The boy was barely able to do a proper swing, but his eyes shone his determination.

“Hey, you be careful. You could hurt yourself with that.”

The boy froze for a split second when he saw that it was Condortl’s savior who was talking to him. He immediately bowed down to the DarkElf.

“It is an honor to serve under you, lord Smoke.”

“Serve? Don’t tell me you’re planning on joining the Warriors when the Centaurs come?”

“That’s right. I have been training hard. It has been a week since I started and I can tell that I’ve improved.”

Smoke smiled at the young boy. He reminded him of Donny’s confidence and optimism.

“What’s your name?”

“It’s Tracas.”

“Tell me, Tracas. Where’s your father? Shouldn’t he be teaching you the way of the sword and not just hacking randomly on this pole?”

Tracas bit his lips as it began to quiver.

“My father died on the first day the Centaurs came. They killed him before they took my sister Pris.”

Smoke gave him a hug and Tracas tried to pull away.

“That’s why I’ve been training day and night with my father’s sword. I plan on killing the Centaurs and taking my sister back.”

Smoke saw the bloodstains on the boy’s hands. It was from hitting the wooden pole for almost a week.

“I see, but in order to train properly you also need to rest. If you like I can teach you how to fight with a sword? But not until you’ve healed your hands.”

Smoke took out a bandage from his backpack window and applied First Aid on the Tracas’ hands.

“Alright, now why don’t we join the others and have some tasty stew.”

Smoke led Tracas to the temporary kitchen that Ichaival created. He asked Vijaya to take care of Tracas while he proceeded with his preparations for the Centaurs.

With his Earth Manipulation ability, Smoke created a fortified tower at the center of the village. He planned on having the non combatants and children inside the tower.

After the completion of the tower, he went back to where Tracas was.

“Listen, I know you aren’t done with your training yet, but I have an important job for you to do. I want you to guard everyone inside the tower.”

“What tower?”

Smoke pointed to the three story Earth tower that he had constructed. Tracas was surprised to see such a structure come out of thin air.

“So, stay inside the tower and guard everyone, Okay? I can count on you, right?”

Tracas formed a fist and covered it over his left chest.

“Yes, sir! You can count on me.”

Smoke smiled and patted Tracas’ head.

Laernea smiled and blushed as she secretly watched Smoke take care of the young boy.

* * * * * * 

The next day came and they were patiently waiting for the Centaur’s scheduled attack. Vijaya, Ichaival, and Laernea were on the watch towers spread throughout Condortl village.

Smoke made Adder and Espion guard the tower on the ground while he stood on top of it. A loud rumbling sound was heard which signalled the Centaurs’ arrival.

From the western side eight foot Centaurs came out, but they didn’t look like normal Centaurs. Their upper halves which were suppose to look like a human had been transfigured into a hairy monster.

The mad Centaurs looked more like the other picture inside the labyrinth, the monster called Tikbalang. The mad Centaurs had claws instead of hands and their faces were elongated like a horse. These creatures, even had fangs coming out of their mouths.

Smoke was sure that these Centaurs were cursed when he saw the their appearance, but the question was if they still had a chance of reversing the curse.

The mad Centaurs galloped towards Condortl village with purpose. They were a pack driven mad and programmed to capture Condortl’s children.

The eight Centaurs in the lead charged straight towards the village’s main gates. Suddenly, the monsters fell down when they galloped over Smoke’s trap. The remaining Centaurs managed to slow down and came to a full stop before the pit.

The mad monsters looked down below their fellow Centaurs and saw them trying to leap out of the pit, but none of them could escape the deep trap.

The crazed monsters looked around Condortl and realized that the entire village was surrounded by the hidden trench. All of the Centaurs backed away.

“NNnnnnneeeeeeeeiiiigggggghhhhhhh!”

A mad Centaur cried out as it galloped on its top speed and leapt across the trench. The monster landed safely inside Condortl’s main gate. At that point, the hidden Condortlian Warriors behind the blanketed crates leapt out and pushed the Centaur into the pit.

“NNeeeeeeeiiiiiiinnnnnnnnn!”

Bwaaak!

The mad Centaur fell down into the pit hard. The other captured monsters tried to help out their fallen comrade.

Forty Condortlian Warriors readied themselves and blocked the landing ground of the other Centaurs. However, the Condortlians were surprised when the Centaurs jumped for the for the tall earth walls instead of the entrance.

The height of the monsters’ jump was increased by their long running start. The mad Centaurs galloped on the side of the walls for a few seconds before they grabbed hold on to the top of the wall.

With their monstrous strength, the eleven remaining Centaurs lifted themselves up over the wall and zoomed straight towards the tower.

Adder and Espion were prepared to face them. Ichaival, Vijaya, and Laernea head their bows and fire arrows aimed on the charging monsters.

The mad Centaurs revealed their maximum life bars at 250,000 HP. Smoke didn’t want to issue the command, but the eleven maddened monsters were very dangerous.

“Everyone! Shoot to kill!”

Vijaya sent her six falcons to attack the Centaurs. The birds of prey paired up and ganged up on attacking a Centaur. Ichaival’s falcon was sent to distract his target and stop its movement, while Laernea attacked the Centaurs that was nearest her watch tower.

Smoke leapt off his Earth tower and glided towards the end of the Centaur’s pack with his Hooded Cloak of Cologus. When he landed down, he stunned the three Centaurs at the back.

Swiftly, he equipped his most deadly weapon in his arsenal, the weighted chain and sickle of Dasende. He threw the weighted iron ball over the three Centaurs and entangled them in his chains.

With the three Centaurs immobilized, he quickly swirled the sickle over his head and began attacking the Centaurs back in a tornado like motion.

+ Attack hit maddened Centaur: Fetzig.   +FIRE DMG. CRITICAL HIT. BACK ATTACK. Damage 12,912.
+ Attack hit maddened Centaur: Bekloppt. +FIRE DMG. CRITICAL HIT. BACK ATTACK. Damage 12,912.
+ Attack hit maddened Centaur: Spinnert. +FIRE DMG. CRITICAL HIT. BACK ATTACK. Damage 12,912.

Smoke’s tornado attacks damaged all the captured Centaurs simultaneously. The Condortlian Warriors were instructed to stay away from the DarkElf when he was fighting with his chain and sickle. So, they went to where Adder and Espion were instead.

Together with the forty Condortlian Warriors, Ichaival, Vijaya, and Laernea engaged against five Centaurs at once. This left Adder and Espion to face off against three. Adder stood alone in front of the stampeding Centaurs.

Adder leapt upwards at the last moment before the Centaurs’ claws could hit him. With only one hand he hung on to the rope he prepared before. When the Centaurs looked up, Espion immediately jumped on the back of one of the monsters.

The young Spy slashed the Centaur’s back as he rode the maddened beast. The Centaur tried to reach behind itself to catch Espion but the young Spy was out of his reach.

The mad Centaur kept on jumping around and attempted to buck off Espion. The young Spy looked like a bonafide Cowboy as he kept on riding the Centaur’s back.

The two Centaurs tried to help their companion, but Adder finally came down from his jump and brought the deadly force of his Blitzsturm with him.

Adder’s thick double bladed sword plunged deep into one of the Centaur’s back. The one armed Condortlian wrapped his legs around the Centaurs to avoid from being thrown off.

The last free Centaur was confused on who to help first. Suddenly, a rope was lassoed over him. The monster reflexively turned around and saw a young boy.

It was Tracas, the nine year old boy that Smoke bonded with. This instantly made the Centaur yell out.

“HHHHhhhiiiiiiiieeeeeeeerrrrrrrrr!”

In a blur, Tracas was captured by the Centaur. The monster made a mad dash for the village’s exit. Espion leapt and tried to ride on to the monster’s back, but the Centaur he was on caught his legs and slammed him hard on the ground.

The three Centaurs retreated with their captive. The one-armed Adder had to unequip his Blitzsturm and tried his best to hang on to the mad Centaur as it kept on galloping out.

As Smoke was looting the item drops of the three Centaurs he had finished off, he saw another group of Centaurs that were trying to escape the village. He thought that the monsters were only retreating until he heard Adder yell.

“Help! They caught a kid!”

Ichaival, Vijaya, and Laernea couldn’t attack the Centaurs without hitting the child and Adder. Smoke stopped looting and ran immediately towards them.

Smoke launched himself into the air with his Lunar Gravity Boots. He glided towards three Centaurs, but the monsters increased their speed.

Igniz kept on blasting his fireballs at the monsters as he hovered on Smoke’s right side. He tried to use his Earth Manipulation ability to create holes and obstacles, but because of the monsters’ Agility, they dodged all of his attacks.

The three Centaurs were nearing a cave in Mount Aeriloc. Smoke knew that the monsters would be out of his reach if he didn’t do something. So, he equipped his Digger’s wand and created a wide trench in front of them.

This forced the Centaurs to jump high into the air to cross the trench. Smoke then grabbed one of the Centaurs and held on tight.

The three Centaurs had Smoke and Adder on their backs, while Igniz flew near the DarkElf’s back. The mad monsters entered the cave. Igniz’s fire lit up the cave as they went on deeper.

Further inside the cave, the maddened monsters kept on with their bucking. Even as they reached a part of the cave that had a steep ravine on the left side and jagged rocks on the right.

The Centaurs found the protruding rocks on the side of the wall to be useful. The maddened monsters bucked towards the rocks and smashed their unwanted riders against them.

Smoke and Adder were stunned, and were bucked off their Centaurs. The two of them fell down the ravine inside the cave. Igniz reflexively flew down after them.

After Smoke regained his consciousness, he instinctively checked his surroundings. Igniz directed his attention to his companion.

Smoke found an unconscious Adder sprawled over a glowing green boulder. The Condortlian was covered in blood, but what caught the his attention was the green virile arm that was growing out of Adder’s amputated limb.

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