Light Novel – Zectas – Volume 05 – Chapter 02

Author: John Nest
Proofreader: Overus

Note:  For easy character reference please refer to: 
Characters
Races and Religions

 

 

Forced Circumstances Forcibly Shape Us


After a winded chase through the entertainment district, Smoke finally caught up with the pretentious nine-year-old, dressed as an aristocrat, in a blind alley. Jack was much more nimbler than Smoke thought he would be.

“Stop, Jack! Just give me back my bag, and that will be the end of it,” yelled out Smoke, as he cornered him.

“Oh, you think you got me?” goaded Jack.

Smoke quickly looked around the alley. There were tall buildings which had high windows, Smoke knew there was no way for the boy to reach that height. He saw no places for Jack to crawl into or anywhere he could climb.

However, Smoke knew better than to belittle an opponent. He did not want to harm the boy, but he needed to get his bag of gems back. Unsure of what Jack’s next move was, he thought of intimidating the boy instead.

“Through my time in Zectas, I have acquired several abilities,” he said in a deep menacing voice. “Abilities that will make your life a living hel—” Smoke was abruptly cut-off, as a rope was suddenly lowered from one of the high windows, and landed directly in front of Jack.

“Sorry, but I won’t be sticking around to hear your empty threats,” jeered Jack, and grabbed a hold of the rope.

“Catch me if you can, slowpoke,” chided the boy, while being pulled up at great speed.

Smoke had been trying to use his Earth Manipulation since he began chasing Jack, but only failure notifications kept popping up repeatedly.

 

– Cannot control this Earth with your current level of Earth Manipulation.
– Cannot control this Earth with your current level of Earth Affinity.

‘I can’t jump or glide after him, but I think I could justify scaling the walls by controlling it,’ he reasoned to himself, as he began climbing after the boy.

Smoke sneered when he saw Jack’s eye instantly panicked when he almost grabbed hold of his right leg.

“Faster, pull me up!” yelled Jack.

However, Smoke’s firm grip was solidly locked in on the boy’s ankle. With a single burst of energy, he pushed his upper-body upward, and was now nearer the window than Jack.

‘Weird, my Cunning of the Dire Fox does not sense anybody inside the room where the rope was being pulled from,’ observed Smoke. He tried to enter the window, but was immediately met with a volley of projectiles instead.

SCHHWAFF SCHHWAFF SCHHWAFF

Bolts came flying at him everywhere from inside the room. Smoke dodged as best he could, but two of them pierced his shoulder, knocking him off the windowsill.

Falling fast, Smoke quickly latched his Claws of Chiroptera onto the wall, and stopped his rapid descent.

“Pull Jack up, hurry.”

Smoke heard an unknown voice from above.

‘These guys must be special Thieves, to have abilities that can bypass my Cunning of the Dire Fox,’ surmised Smoke.

He hurriedly scaled back up to the window, and took a cautionary peek before jumping in.

“Huh?” said Smoke out loud.

Smoke entered an empty room. The only thing that remained was a residual image of a casting circle on the floor.

‘They could teleport?’ wondered Smoke.

He walked over to the door, to investigate, and found that it was locked from the inside.

Smoke let out a sigh, and opened Igniz’s chamber.

“Well, Igniz, looks like they got me good,” bitterly said Smoke, and shook his head in disbelief.

Staring out the window, Smoke decided to climb up to the rooftop to get a better view of the city.

“And I was planning on using half of those gems to pay off the debts of our Avendre Mercenaries,” Smoke said to Igniz while shaking his head in dismay.

He decided to inspect his Earth Manipulation ability, wondering how much he still had to go in order to manipulate the earth within the city.

“Inspect ability, Earth Manipulation,” said Smoke, and an information window popped up.

Ability: Earth Manipulation
Active
Level: Advance Level 9
Experience: (8,787,698/9,000,000)

The Advance form of Earth Manipulation.
Earth forms may retain the shape if the user continues to supply their mana into it.

Strength and Durability depends on the user’s Earth Affinity,
knowledge of the created object, and the current level of this ability.

Can only manipulate Earth up to the Archean era.

Earth Affinity: 80%
Mana Consumption: 190 mp/sec

‘Maybe, if I reach Master level I could start manipulating the grounds within the city. I tried the grounds in the arena, and it worked fine there,’ he surmised, basing on the things he knew.

From the silent rooftop, he studied the expansive landscape of Vona City. The bustling crowd in the market was as busy as ever.

‘What a city! Thieves running rampant,’ sourly thought Smoke. ‘What do you expect from having so little patrolling Knights?’

Suddenly, he noticed a commotion on a nearby street. With the aid of his Telefax Vision, Smoke saw a younger boy dressed in similar clothes, as Jack being chased Sonstwelter Magicians.

‘Looks like this operation is on a larger scale than I expected,’ thought Smoke to himself.

However, unlike Smoke, the younger boy’s pursuers did not hesitate to attack him. The young Thief’s life bar displayed (18,000/30,000 HP).

Disregarding his concern of being discovered as Smoke, he glided from the rooftop to the next building where he could get a lead on the unknown boy and his pursuers.

Diving down to another blind alley, Smoke waited for them from behind the cover of a tall building. Fortunately, he could sense the boy and his chasers with his Cunning of the Dire Fox.

Smoke quickly grabbed the boy and covered his mouth. He then used his Hyper Jump ability to take the two of them to the darker part of the alley.

“Shh. Be quiet,” Smoke whispered to the boy.

His Cunning of the Dire Fox picked up the other Sonstwelters about to come out from the corner. He felt the boy shake with fear, as they passed them by.

“Thanks, Mister. I don’t know why those men were chasing me,” said the boy gratefully between deep breaths. “But thank you so much for helping me out. You see, I lost my steward from the arena when I—”

The boy stopped talking, as Smoke suddenly placed iron handcuffs on him.

“Oh, I think I have a pretty good idea why they were after you,” replied Smoke with a disapproving look.

* * * * * *

From within the pomegranate forest outside of the city, Smoke and the handcuffed kid were headed towards Geparden Plains. He had the boy covered under a long robe and stuffed his mouth with a gag, stopping him from making any noise.

Smoke modified his earth-mask, while he was chewing an ancient bison jerky. He intentionally munched on it loudly, to entice the boy. Catching a glance at his captive, Smoke knew it was working, as the young Thief was already salivating over his gag.

Thinking it was the perfect time, Smoke removed the gag on the boy’s mouth.

“I might have not caught Jack,” Smoke said to the boy with his mouthful of jerky. “But at least I got you.”

“Oh, so it was Jack who tricked to you,” spat out the boy with a self-satisfied face.

Smoke could only irritably shake his head in disapproval. He pulled the boy’s handcuff, dragging him forward.

“So, Jack is his real name, huh?” Smoke asked the boy. “What about you? What’s your name, Kid?”

“What’s it to you? Are you going to let me go if I tell you?” challenge the boy.

“Nope, but maybe I would give you a piece of this jerky,” replied Smoke.

“Daniel, Daniel Dickinson,” quickly answered the handcuffed boy. “And Jack Dawkins is his real name. Now, give me a piece of that!”

Daniel forcibly dove for the jerky and began pulling it away from Smoke.

Smoke smirked, and gave him the remaining jerky.

“See, that wasn’t so hard, Daniel,” said Smoke. “My name is Faux, and I’d like you to tell me where I can find Jack.”

“Just because you fed me, doesn’t mean I’m going to rat out on my friend,” sneered Daniel.

“Hm. If I can’t convince you to tell me, then perhaps there’s no use for you at all,” stated Smoke plainly.

Just then, they reached the end of the pomegranate forest.

“You think you can threaten me?” challenged Daniel. “Even if you feed me to the lions, I still won’t talk.”

“Well, that’s a relief, because those monsters are what’s coming,” said Smoke and pointed to a coalition of twenty sand cheetahs, rushing towards them.

“Hey, Faux, let’s get back to the forest,” worriedly said Daniel. Smoke watched the boy try to run back, but he placed earth shackles on the boy’s feet and planted him were he stood.

“Faux, you can’t do this, I’m just a kid,” begged Daniel. Smoke saw the hand-cuffed Thief helplessly stare at the careening monsters.

“Come on, you’re going to get killed to!” said Daniel.

“Well, I am a Sonstwelter, so, I’ll be back in four days, but you however… You’ll be taking a one-way ride to Mictlan,” said Smoke menacingly.

Daniel squirmed his foot around, but could not break free at all. “Fine! I’ll talk! I’ll talk! Just get me out of here!”

Smoke raised the ground the boy was standing on, and created a tall pillar to keep him safe.

Only fifty-meters of space left between them, Smoke sprouted several earth lances from the ground. Eight of the beasts were impaled, and out of those skewered, four were struck on their necks.

The life bars of the critically injured sand cheetahs quickly drained out of them, whereas the rest were only incapacitated but received the Bleeding status.

After seeing Smoke’s attack, the remaining sand cheetahs began escaping towards the opposite direction. However, Smoke’s spikes created a limited opening.

Replicating Ledur’s technique, Smoke created a smaller earth-dome, and captured all of the sand cheetahs inside it.

Wanting to practice on his Earth Manipulation, he manipulated the dome to strike the caught beasts with earth-knives.

The trapped sand cheetahs were pelted with earth-knives, Smoke proceeded to finish off the impaled monsters with a single strike to their necks.

After two minutes, his Cunning of the Dire Fox confirmed the elimination of all the sand cheetahs inside the dome as well.

Smoke then lowered the pillar Daniel was on, and removed the earth-shackles on his feet.

“I didn’t know you were this powerful. How in the world did you do that?” asked an astonished boy, walking closer toward him. “And sand cheetahs are fast as hell too. Not even members of the CO can catch them, but you killed twenty in one go.”

“Well, I didn’t really catch them. They were all headed towards me, and what does CO stand—” Smoke was cut off as Daniel suddenly knelt down in front of him.

The boy pleadingly clutched Smoke’s legs. “Faux, please help us escape from Cynar. He’s got kids like me doing his dirty jobs for him, and if we don’t listen, who knows what he’ll do to my younger sister.”

Suddenly a Quest window popped up.

+ Quest: Destroy Cynar’s Orphanage
Liberation Quest
Level: B

Daniel Dickinson has begged you to help him free the other children captured by a man named Cynar.

Accept the Quest? [YES/NO]

Smoke paused for a moment.

‘What if this is another one of the Thieves’ ploys?’ he asked himself. ‘But I doubt that the game would create false quests.’

“Before I answer, why don’t you tell me about this Cynar character?” queried Smoke, intrigued and bewildered. “And what exactly is your situation with him?”

“I’ll tell you all about him, but can we return to the pomegranate forest first?” asked Daniel. “I know you can handle the sand cheetahs, but I’m just terrified of them.”

“Alright, but I’m not taking the handcuffs off,” said Smoke flatly. “And we’re not heading back to the forest. I have another place in mind.”

* * * * * *

Nighttime crept around Souer Settlement, and four individuals sat in front of a small campfire behind the earth-walls of a doughnut-like enclosure.

Smoke had forcibly dragged a handcuffed Daniel across Geparden Plains, and now both of them were seated next to Esper and Colere, the OrkElf leaders of this settlement.

Free from Smoke’s handcuffs, Daniel started to talk.

“I did not expect that you would also have OrkElf underlings, like Cynar,” said the boy.

“No, they aren’t my—” Smoke was about to correct Daniel, but Esper strongly set him to place.

“We aren’t Faux’s underlings!” she interjected. “He is a friend who gave us a chance at life.”

“Well, it is not much of a life to live,” retorted Daniel, looking at the surroundings inside the Souer Settlement dwelling.

“But even this, is still better than our lives under Cynar,” added the boy. “My sister and I are actually from Vlahui City. We were watching the 996th Magi Gagnant Tournament,” he explained. “I was still probably nine then, and my sister maybe seven?”

“Wait, what?” said Smoke incredulously. “If you were nine, three years ago, then you’re twelve years old now?”

“Yeah, I know I don’t look my age,” replied Daniel sourly. “I haven’t even grown out of my royal clothes from before. In fact, Jack is already fifteen years old.”

“Really?” said Smoke. He shook his head in utter disbelief.

“I don’t know if it is something Cynar puts in our food or drink, but the children under his care haven’t grown at all,” expounded Daniel. “I tried refusing to eat or drink anything once. Cynar dangled me over a pit of sand cheetahs trapped inside it. Slowly lowering me down. I have the scars to prove it,” the boy lifted his shirt and showed his back filled with disfigured skin caused by several traumatic injuries.

“And how many children does Cynar have altogether?” asked Smoke.

“Well, including Jack, my sister, and myself, Cynar has six royalties all in all,” answered Daniel. “But counting the other children, he probably has sixty?”

This time it was the OrkElves who questioned Daniel’s story.

“Wait? You mean you’re really royals?” asked Esper. “That sounds hard to believe.”

Colere nodded. “Exactly. If you were, then why didn’t anyone come looking for you?”

“Wait,” said Smoke. “Daniel, what is your ranking for the throne of Vitzytl?”

“Well, I am 30th in line,” replied the boy.

“And what about Jack?” continued Smoke.

“Hm. I think 25th or 26th?” answered Daniel with a shrug.

‘Maybe the lower ranked royals paid Cynar to kidnap them?’ wondered Smoke to himself.

“What is it that you want Faux to do exactly?” asked Esper. Her body leaned closer towards the boy and stared into his eyes.

Daniel stared right back. “I want him to free my sister, and if he can, free the other children under Cynar.”

Esper sat up straight and turned to Smoke. “I think he is telling the truth, but I don’t think you should do it.”

“And what about that other kid? Jack was at?” she asked. “How dare he steal all of your gems! He should have returned it when you caught up with him,” Esper said to Smoke.

“Well, I guess there was no—” began Smoke, but was interjected by Colere.

“I agree. I mean this Cynar character has abducted royalties, and the authorities are doing nothing about it,” added the burly OrkElf. “In fact, we have never even heard about him before, and that means he has to have some powerful connections to pull that off.”

Smoke looked at his two new friends. He agreed with Colere’s theory and nodded. He then turned to face Daniel. The boy’s eyes looked defeated. Daniel weakly shook his head.

“I understand if you don’t want to go against Cynar,” said the boy. “I mean, why would you want to help out a stranger? But in Jack’s defense, he needed to give whatever he stole from Faux, otherwise the other children would be punished in his place.”

Daniel ruffled his hair and covered his face with his hands. “Jack isn’t like me. I’m only looking out for my sister and myself, but he…. Well, he looks out for everybody, even me.”

“Hm. I guess I don’t know Jack,” quietly said Smoke to himself.

However, someone else took offense over Daniel’s remark.

“Hey! Faux, isn’t like that,” Esper suddenly yelled. “Do you see this place? Faux built this by himself. And he did that only after a day of knowing us.”

“So, you’re telling me that Faux, just knows when to help the right people?” countered Daniel. “And a group of abducted children just does not fit that category?”

Esper fell silent, and so did Colere.

Smoke looked at the OrkElves, and gave them a thankful nod.

“Daniel, where exactly is Cynar’s hideout?” Smoke asked, handing the boy his map of Sawtorn and a leaden stylus to update it.

The boy’s eyes brightened with life.

“Does that mean you will help us?” asked Daniel with a big smile and wide eyes.

“Yes, yes it does,” replied Smoke.

Then, Daniel’s Quest window popped up with an update.

+ Quest: Destroy Cynar’s Orphanage
Liberation Quest
Level: B

Daniel Dickinson has begged you to help him free the other children captured by a man named Cynar.

MAP LOCATION: Diebe Den

Coordinates: Latitude: 20°14′ E, Longitude: 20°48′ S
Note: Forty kilometers away from current location.

[Quest Accepted]

“Alright, I’ll go there alone,” Smoke said to Daniel.

“What? Are you not taking these OrkElves with you?” asked Daniel loudly. “Trust me, you can not take on Cynar and his men all by yourself.”

“I’m not going to attack Cynar. I’m just going to invest—” began Smoke, but was interrupted by a sudden shaking of the ground.

“Was that an earthquake?” asked a surprised Smoke.

“No, that’s an Ork horde passing through,” replied Colere, disgust was clearly seen on his face.

Without a word, Smoke left the OrkElves’ earth-dwelling and ran towards the edge of the pomegranate trees. He knelt down to hide his presence, and tried to blend in with some of the bushes.

Even without the aid of his Telefax Vision, he saw the horde within seconds. The hair on his arms inexplicably stood up, and a cold sweat ran down his forehead.

– You’ve been inflicted with Fear, intimidated by the Ork Horde

Smoke forcibly shook his shoulders and arms, trying to drive away the sensation he suddenly felt.

“Don’t worry, Faux, you’ll get used to it,” Colere said suddenly. “It may take a while, but the fear will pass.”

Smoke shrugged and returned his focus on the Ork Horde. He used his Telefax Vision and estimated at least ten-thousand Orks perform the most unruly march towards the eastern direction from Vona City. In the lead were at least a thousand dirus wolves, mounted by Orks on bareback.

‘I never felt anything like this when I faced against thousands of Brandals,’ observed Smoke.

Shortly after, Esper and Daniel knelt down next to him.

“Do you know how much their life bars are?” Smoke asked Colere.

Colere and Esper studied the marching Orks before answering.

“Those Orks belong to the UrukHai Tribe,” answered Colere. “I think their weakest should have about 300,000 HP while their commanders around 700,000 HP.”

“Wow!” exclaimed Smoke. “I can’t imagine how to face that horde.”

“Well, they are mostly melee fighters,” replied Esper. “Although, the UrukHai Tribe is technically the strongest of the Orks, they are not particularly very smart. They keep rushing the main cities and are killed by the Breathtaking Ballistae guarding the walls.”

Smoke scrutinized the frightful legion. From this distance, he estimated the Orks to be as tall as his Maneators, at least three-meters in height. Yet, their bulky green muscles appeared to be larger than Stark’s. They carried an assortment of weapons. From mauls, mallets, axes, and any other double-handed great weapons.

“Where do you suppose they’re headed?” Smoke asked his two OrkElf friends.

“Probably Lahm Village or Boiteux Village. Those two are the closest ones to that direction,” guessed Esper. “They’re going to steal their zecs and livestock, but they won’t end with that. Next, they’ll kill their men, and rape their women.”

“And no one’s going to stop them?” asked Smoke out loud.

“Well, recently, there have been several Sonstwelter groups defending the villages. Most of them have Jobs belonging to Wizard variations, relying on their long range attacks to kill the charging Orks before even reaching the city,” explained Colere. “Usually, they manage to drive them away, but on occasions that they do fail, they slaughter all of the Sonstwelters and the village will be victimized like all the others.”

Smoke helplessly watched the Ork Horde leave to wreak havoc on their unknown destination. He hoped that a powerful Sonstwelter group was there to greet them, wherever they were headed.

After the Ork horde left, Daniel suddenly spoke out. “Maybe, they were headed for Newt Village?”

“Never heard of Newt Village before, where’s that?” asked Colere.

“It is a new village,” answered Daniel. “Cynar created it from an OrkElf Settlement much like this one.”

The young noble sighed loudly. “But there, he has set it up as a gambling hub. Cap Sa, Brag, Cribbage, Tong-its, Skat, Faro. Name the game and Cynar has it running in that place.”

“Hm. Let me guess, the UrukHai have caught a good whiff of all these lucrative activities?” asked Colere. “And they want to cash in on it.”

“Yes, how did you know that?” asked Daniel with a raised eyebrow. “Cynar even trained more than a thousand OrkElves.”

Daniel paused, looked at Esper and Colere before cautiously proceeding.

“Of course, the weaker OrkElves could do nothing against the Orks, but it was because of Cynar’s underhanded tricks that caught the Orks in a trap.”

Colere looked annoyed. “Alright, I give up. How did Cynar supposedly defend against an Ork Horde?”

“Why, by the help of Sonstwelters, of course,” replied Daniel with a superior look. “In fact, he even had Jack and myself send out a recruitment letter to Sonstwelters.”

Daniel reached for a piece of paper inside his aristocratic robe, and raised it up for everyone to see.

“But I never recruited anyone. I don’t want to make Cynar even more powerful than he already is,” elucidated Daniel further. “Not only that, he also had the help of a powerful Terra Magi, then. But now, I doubt his village of sin could withstand an Ork Horde like this one.”

“Why do you say that?” Smoke asked Daniel.

“Well, because Ayert died,” answered the boy promptly. “And the recent number of Sonstwelter recruits has been dwindling.”

“And who in the world is Ayert?” asked Esper, crossing her arms and asking with her raised voice.

“The powerful Terra Magi, who catches the Orks inside his earth-traps,” replied Daniel, keeping his conceited expression. “Haven’t you been listening to what I said at all?”

Esper was about to shout something back, but Smoke quickly stopped her.

“Alright, alright. That’s enough!” strongly interjected Smoke. “Colere, Esper, can you please bring Daniel back with you to the settlement. By the way, Daniel, can you give me that piece of paper that Cynar uses to recruit Sonstwelters?”

* * * * * *

Nash stepped out of his game pod and did his ritual reach for the heavens, as soon as he stood on both his feet.

‘You think I’d get used to this by now,’ he thought to himself as he watched his room. His mind began wondering why being in Zectas and the real world felt no difference to him at all.

It was two in the morning, and he thought that everyone in the house was already asleep. However, as he was about to begin his Eskrima stretching exercises, he heard a loud cry coming from his Mima’s room.

“Aaaaahh!” cried out Daphne, his grandmother.

Nash quickly ran for her door.

“Mima, Mima, are you alright?” he called out from behind her door. “I’m coming in, okay?”

After bursting through, Nash found his Mima sprawled on the floor. He hurriedly ran to her and tried to help her up, but she forcefully pushed him away.

“Stop, it hurts!” she yelled out. “Don’t touch me!”

“But, Mima, what can I do to help?” asked a worried Nash.

“Just get me a glass of water,” she said weakly. “Walk and don’t run. I don’t want you spilling water on the carpet.”

It was clear how difficult it was for her to breathe. Nash understood that the glass of water would not help at all, but that his Mima only wanted him to step out of her room.

He obediently walked downstairs to the kitchen and got her a cold glass of water. He took his time walking back up to her room, desperately hoping that she was feeling better.

“Nash, come on in,” said her Mima, who was back on her bed. She had even pulled her blankets neatly over herself.

“I’m sorry for worrying you like that,” she began. “It wasn’t anything serious, I promise. I just forgot to take my painkillers, that’s all.”

Nash firmly shook his head. He placed the glass of water on her night stand and grabbed her hand, as he sat on the bed next to her.

“Mima, you can be honest with me,” he said, looking into her eyes. “I know it’s been getting worst, but I don’t know how to help you.”

“Oh, Nash, you’ve already helped me enough,” replied Daphne. “You’ve been a great older brother to Seth and Donny. You’ve been more of a parent, really.”

Suddenly, she stroke Nash’s hair and pulled him in for a hug.

“I promise, everything’s fine with me. I just forgot my meds that’s all,” she repeated.

“You want me to take some time off from Zectas?” asked Nash. “I’m not on any immediate Quests at the moment. You and I can—”

Daphne covered Nash’s lips with her wrinkled hands.

“I just need to rest,” she said. “Give me a couple more months and I’ll be back in top shape.”

Nash strongly shook his head once more.

“Nash, now you listen to your Mima,” she said with such authority. “Just live your life like you usually do. That’s the best way you can help me recover.”

“I don’t like this, Mima, but if you insist,” stubbornly replied Nash.

“Good boy,” she said with a proud smile. “I knew I raised you right. Now, why don’t you go back to your room and go back to your game, or were you about to get some sleep?”

“I was about to get a power nap,” answered Nash with a yawn. “Alright, Mima, I’m going back to bed, but please tell me if anything’s wrong.”

“Don’t worry, Nash, I promise I’ll tell you if anything alarming is about to happen,” replied Daphne. “Good night and have a good sleep.”

“You too, Mima,” said a smiling Nash, as he was about to close the door, he saw his grandmother winced, but it was just for a moment.

* * * * * *

At two in the morning, the dark skies of Zectas was even darker than the real world. At least, from where Smoke was.

He let Igniz out of his hidden compartment, and his symbiote flew right next to him. The cold breeze made his eyes squint.

“A great time to fly, right?” Smoke asked Igniz with half closed eyes.

His ember sprite nodded energetically, excited from being freed out of his metallic orb.

Smoke was being sarcastic, but it looked like Igniz did not catch on. He had to skip his regular scheduled power sleep in order to travel at this hour.

One of them was enjoying the flight in the dark, while the other shivered and pushed on.

Suddenly, Smoke’s Cunning of the Dire Fox felt two Zectians approaching them from behind, fast.

Without looking back, Smoke instinctively grabbed Igniz, and dove for the cover of the pomegranate trees. The moment he landed on the ground, he quickly dug a cave and hid inside it. He felt his clothes become wet, as his body made contact with the dampened ground.

Yet, he diverted his attention to solely focus on the individuals above him. He hoped that from the Zectians’ perspective, it was just a flickering orb that instantly vanished. He created a small peephole to look above, but could see nothing but the dark silhouettes of the pomegranate trees.

“Igniz, do you think they saw us?” asked Smoke, as he let out his symbiote from his orb.

The dark ember sprite shook his small head, and Smoke hoped he was right.

Suddenly, his Cunning of the Dire Fox sensed the same Zectians stop directly above him. Yet, they were still in mid-air.

‘Unlike me, these Zectians could freely control their flight,’ thought Smoke to himself.

They stayed there for five more minutes before heading towards the eastern direction, the same course Smoke was going. He waited another ten minutes before stepping out of his pseudo lair.

“I think we better continue on foot,” Smoke said to Igniz, after he filled in the cave he had built.

Smoke ran as fast as he could, continuously using his Hyper Jump Ability to increase its experience. Not only that, he had gotten to the point where he could also catapult himself forward with a sudden boost of an earth-pillar from the ground.

Having been restricted with what abilities to use, gave him a chance to focus on training others which he only usually uses during combat.

He spent the next two hours on foot, and sunrise had already greeted the skies of Zectas. Due to this, visibility had slightly improved. He checked his map and saw that he still needed to travel two more kilometers before he could reach Diebe Den.

However, he spotted a curious pomegranate forest up ahead. He quickly flattened himself on the ground when his Cunning of the Dire Fox sensed Sonstwelters.

With the aid of his Telefax vision, he found several of them guarding the outskirts of the forest. Most of them were of Mage Job variations, but there were also a few who belonged to the Warrior and Thief Jobs.

Then, he noticed two of them square off against each other, while the others surrounded them. It was a male Wizard and a female Assassin. The two of them handed over a bag of what appeared to be zecs to another Wizard Sonstwelter.

“I think this is that Newt Village Daniel was talking about,” Smoke said to his symbiote.

“What do you think they’re doing, Bud?” he asked Igniz.

Smoke wanted to see what was going on inside the crowd of bystanders, but there was no way for him to see unless he was going to glide.

He decided to remain flattened on the ground and observe from a safe distance.

Sparks of lightning suddenly erupted from within the crowd, and then he saw them jumping up and cheering.

‘Looks like it was a fight and somebody already won,’ surmised Smoke.

Judging from the sparks of lightning that he saw earlier, Smoke came to a conclusion. “I think the Wizard won,” he said to Igniz.

However, after the crowds parted, he saw the female Assassin standing victorious instead.

“Guess I was wrong,” he said and his symbiote gave him a knowing look. “Yeah, yeah. You don’t have to be smug about it.”

Smoke turned around and laid flat on his back.

“Any suggestions how we get across them?” Smoke as Igniz.

The dark ember sprite began orbiting around him.

Staring at his symbiote dubiously, Smoke let out a deep sigh. “You want me to turn back and circle past them, huh?”

He looked back at the gathered Sonstwelters and turned to Igniz. “I guess that would be best.”

Unwillingly, Smoke crawled back to where he came from. He kept shaking his head unhappily, annoyed at the delay caused by stumbling upon Newt Village.

After moving some distance away, he traveled north in order to go around the gambling village. It was already seven in the morning when he saw the mouth of a cave, the sole entrance to Diebe Den.

Smoke used his Telefax Vision to get a better view of the entrance. He spotted several OrkElves moving in and out of the cave, but no children. Not until fifteen minutes later, when he spotted a familiar face.

It was Jack Dawkins, the young boy who stole his bag of gems. Jack stepped out of the cave. He was looking down on the ground, Smoke surmised that the boy had not spotted him yet as he was walking straight towards him.

“Igniz, listen. No matter what happens, stay inside,” he said to his symbiote, as he walked towards the entrance of Diebe Den and Jack. “Here goes nothing,” he whispered under his breath.

Smoke casually strolled over to the young Thief and called out his name. “Hey, Jack! Jack! It’s me, Faux.”

Jack looked up. He looked startled after having his name called out. However, he quickly turned around and ran away as soon as he recognized Smoke.

Needing to talk to Jack, Smoke quickly created earth shackles under the boy’s feet and captured him.

“Intruder! Help! Intruder!” cried out Jack, as loudly as he could.

“Hey, hey, hey,” said Smoke in a calm voice.

“I’m not here looking for trouble,” began Smoke. “I’m here for a job. I’m here for this,” he whipped out the piece of Cynar’s recruitment paper which he got from Daniel.

“Where did you get that?” asked Jack with a worried face.

“I got it from you,” smugly replied Smoke. “You might have stolen my gems, but I got something from you as well.”

Smoke wanted to tease the boy for stealing from him.

“No way!” retorted Jack. “There’s no way that you got that from me.”

The boy quickly searched through his pocket and whipped out a similar parchment.

“See! Intruder! Help!” cried out Jack once again.

Smoke quickly realized that it was not a good time to get at back at Jack. He hurriedly ran to him and whispered. “Calm down. Daniel sent me. He’s the one who gave me this paper.”

Jack stopped shouting, but twenty OrkElves had already charged out from the cave. They were equipped with light-armor and long-spears.

“Quickly, remove the shackles,” said Jack in a hushed tone.

Smoke followed the boy’s instruction and played along.

“What was that?” yelled out Jack to the OrkElves who just arrived. “I was just testing how fast your response time was, and it was slow! You can be sure that I’m going to inform Cynar about this.”

“Stop pulling our legs, Jack!” yelled one of the OrkElf guards. “We’ll be the ones to tell Cynar about your pranks!”

The group of OrkElves then returned inside the cave.

As soon as they were out of earshot, Smoke pulled Jack closer. “Why did you believe me?”

“Well, Daniel doesn’t recruit any Sonstwelters to join Cynar. But I have to do it otherwise both of us would be whipped.” replied Jack flatly.

“So, what’s the plan?” asked Jack. “Do you have an army waiting for your signal?”

Smoke saw Jack look behind him, all excited. He shook his head.

“No,” Smoke quickly answered. “Step one is you return my bag of gems.”

Jack gave a blank expression. “I can not do that. I already gave it to Cynar. I give everything to Cynar when I return to the Den.”

“Really?” asked Smoke dubiously.

“Honest,” replied Jack, making an imaginary cross over his heart.

Smoke let out a deep sigh. “Fine, then just introduce me to Cynar. Tell him I’m your latest recruit.”

“What? Aren’t you hear to rescue us?” asked Jack, taken aback.

“I am, but I need to know more before I can execute the rescue,” replied Smoke sincerely.

“Damn it, Daniel!” cursed Jack. “Why did you have to pick such a weak Sonstwelter.”

“Hey, who says I’m weak?” asked an insulted Smoke.

Jack shrugged his shoulders. “What was your name again? Faux was it?”

Smoke’s eyebrows met, but he nodded to Jack’s question.

‘Maybe I should just leave this Quest alone and get back to my search for the Magietrois,’ Smoke thought sourly.

“This way, Faux, but I warn you. Cynar can be really tricky,” said Jack, leading the way into the cave. “He even has his own casting circle of truth.”

“Don’t worry about me,” said Smoke. “Just make sure that you don’t give out any indication that Daniel was the one who sent me.”

“I don’t think that’s a problem,” replied Jack. “Cynar already thinks that Daniel is dead. One of our scouts in the city spotted him being chased by a bunch of Sonstwelters and didn’t find any sign of him.”

Jack then turned around to face him. “By the way, how did you do that?”

Smoke shrugged and gave him a winsome smile.

The young aristocrat shook his head and groaned.

‘Good thing I made sure to disguise Daniel well. Otherwise, Cynar’s spies could have spotted us leaving the city,’ thought a pleased Smoke, as he followed Jack into Diebe Den.

Suddenly, a notification window popped up when he entered the cave.

+ Entered Diebe Den

Lair of Cynar and his Thieves. It is said that Cynar has employed the services of wandering OrkElves, and has recruited them by the thousands. This cave is home to his captive children and thoughtless thugs.

‘That is, good to know,’ thought Smoke, amused.

Then, a powerful stench overcame his senses. The poor ventilation of the Thieves’ lair did not help the sweaty OrkElves passing through the tight tunnels.

Several light stones lined on the walls of the cave illuminated the passageway, Smoke wondered where they could have gotten so many of them. He was shortly answered when he saw several bags of the glowing rocks being socketed into the walls by OrkElf children.

“Let me guess, those light stones were donated by unknowing Sonstwelters?” Smoke asked Jack.

“Yeah,” replied Jack with a mischievous smile. “I was not very good at it at first, but after Cynar whipped me into shape, I got this good.”

Jack then waved  a piece of jerky in front of him.

Smoke was taken aback. It looked very much like one of his smoked ancient bison meat. “Hey that’s—”

“Tut, tut, tut. Come now, Faux, don’t make a scene,” said Jack with a grin, happily munching on his stolen jerky. “Are you not the one who told me to keep a low profile. You do not one Cynar to suspect us now, do you?”

Smoke let out a deep sigh. “Fine, fine. Where’s Cynar anyway?”

They passed through a series of tunnels which had no end in sight. All of them were filled with OrkElf guards. Equipped with the same armor and weapon as the ones who stepped outside when Jack called them. Smoke’s Cunning of the Dire Fox sensed several more people inside the cave, at least three-thousand.

Then, they passed through a corridor with bars on the side. One of the dungeons had a little girl, sobbing loudly.

“Geisel, don’t worry. Everything’s fine now,” suddenly said Jack. “Daniel is in a better place.”

The little girl stopped crying and stepped in front of Jack. From behind bars, she quickly grabbed his clothes and pulled him hard against her metal dungeon.

“You promised me!” she yelled out. “You promised me that he would not die!”

“Geisel, calm down,” pleaded Jack. “I know I promised that you would always be with him, but some things were unavoidable.”

Then, a tall slender figure appeared from behind them, and pulled Geisel’s hand off Jack. Smoke felt uneasy upon seeing the man dressed in black Assassin’s clothes. His Cunning of the Dire Fox did not pick up on his presence at all. He wore a hooded robe, black gloves and a full face-mask just like Smoke’s.

“Geisel, your brother is dead,” said the mysterious man in black. “If Jack did not beg for your life, I would have ended it as soon as I heard of Daniel’s demise.”

The little girl hurriedly shrank back to her dungeon, far from the reach of the Assassin.

“But if you insist on being a pest, I’ll kill you right now,” threatened the unknown man. “Even if Jack offers his life for yours.”

“Come now, Cynar, you don’t have to scare the girl,” chided Jack. “She just lost her brother, cut her some slack.”

TWANG

Jack’s feet flew off the ground, and he was pinned hard against the iron bars. As Jack was being choked, the masked Assassin let out a sarcastic chuckle. “Jack, Jack, Jack, just because you’re currently my best bait, doesn’t mean that you’re irreplaceable.”

“Ack, Cynar, ack, I can’t breathe,” said a choking Jack.

THUD

Cynar released the boy, and his body slumped on the ground. Cynar then turned to Smoke and stared into his eyes.

“I don’t trust a man with a mask,” Cynar said to Smoke. “You know nothing good will ever come out from doing business with them.”

“Same here,” said Smoke with a clenched fist, preparing to make a strike.

Cynar then kicked the downed Jack. “Oi, is this your latest recruit?”

“Huh?” Jack rubbed his neck where he was strangled by Cynar. “Yeah, yeah. His name is Faux, his really powerful. Faux, this is Cynar, the King of Thieves.”

“What kind of Job does he have?” asked Cynar.

“What kind of Job?” repeated Jack. “Uhm, well, he is a very powerful—”

“I’m an Earth Elementalist,” interjected Smoke.

“Yeah, yeah, I was going to say a Terra Magi since his strength closely resembled the power of Ayert,” added Jack quickly, slowly getting up on his feet.

“Hm. Such bold claims,” said Cynar. “Let me see it, let me see your power.”

Cynar then walked towards the direction where they came from.

“Ayert was a good friend of mine,” suddenly said Cynar as they walked towards the cave’s exit. “But I could honestly say that he was powerful enough to become a Prime Wizard of a city.”

Smoke gulped. ‘Am I supposed to come up with a power comparable to Ouragan’s?’ he asked himself.

The walk towards the exit was quicker than Smoke expected. All of the OrkElf guards they met along the way joined them.

When they reached outside, more than two-hundred OrkElves were assembled. Together with Cynar and Jack, they watched Smoke, waiting to see what he would do.

Standing by himself, Smoke was twenty meters farther away from all of them.

“Well, show me,” ordered Cynar. He was taller than any of the OrkElves, but clearly more slender.

“Come on, Faux, show him,” said Jack, next to the masked Cynar.

Smoke took out his Digger’s Wand and took in a deep breath. “I can do this,” he muttered to himself.

With a wave of his wand, he targeted Cynar, Jack, and all of the OrkElves, dropping them into a trench he freshly dug.

Then, he used his Earth Manipulation to create earth-bars over the trench, trapping all of them inside it.

CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP

Smoke then heard the distinct sound of slow clapping from behind him, and he instinctively turned around and saw Cynar.

‘Just what kind of Assassin is he?’ wondered Smoke to himself.

“That was impressive,” said Cynar, continuing his dramatic clap. “You even trapped all of the guards. Oh, and even young Jack as well.”

“Hahaha,” Cynar laughed loudly.

“You know, if I was not waiting to see you make a move, you might have caught me as well,” Cynar said to Smoke.

Suddenly, Smoke felt a knife against his throat.

“Did you come here to kill me, or did you really come to work for me?” Cynar questioned Smoke.

A casting circle suddenly appeared around them. It looked similar to Baldaquin’s casting circle of truth. Despite having a knife pointed at his neck, Smoke still easily recognized the slight differences in the casting circle.

He closed his eyes and focused on what to say. Gambling on his determination, Smoke answered. “I’ve come to work for you, but if I don’t like your terms, I will kill you.”

Then, the casting circle of truth gave out a green light.

“Hm. That’s very bold of you to say,” said Cynar. The Assassin retracted his knife from Smoke’s windpipe. “Release Jack and my men. Then, we will discuss business.”

* * * * * *

Smoke sat on a small wooden stool across Cynar. The supposedly King of Thieves sat in a same stool as him. The two of them were alone in a confined room in one of the inner chambers of Diebe Den. The room was illuminated by seven light stones lined around the walls. Aside from the two stools, the room only had a small desk on the corner with four books on top of it.

“First, remove your mask, and then we’ll talk,” ordered Cynar.

“I don’t suppose you’ll do the same, now, will you?” Smoke asked Cynar.

Cynar guffed and shook his head.

Seeing no one else there, Smoke casually removed his earth-mask.

“Oh, so, you really are a DarkElf,” said Cynar. “I expected a big scar on your face. Or a big ugly nose at least. I don’t see why you need a mask.”

“Well, I have my reasons, but what about you? Are you a HighElf? A Lioumerean? I can’t tell from all your clothes,” replied Smoke.

“It doesn’t matter what I am,” answered Cynar. “All that matters is you have the abilities that will fit perfectly for the job.”

“What job?” asked Smoke.

Cynar did not answer, but asked another question instead. “Tell me, what do you know about Orks?”

“Not much really,” replied Smoke. “Just that they travel in hordes and that they like to pillage villages.”

Cynar huffed. “That’s not much at all.”

“There are several Ork Tribes, and one of them has been constantly harassing my village,” explained Cynar. “Have you heard of Newt Village?”

Smoke shook his head, pretending to have no clue as to what he was talking about.

“It used to be an OrkElf settlement,” began Cynar. “There are hundreds of them scattered all around Vitzytl Kingdom. Heck, even Thanotl Kingdom has plenty of those as well.”

Then, Cynar took out a small black knife and played with it. The knife dance around his black gloves, not once injuring him.

“I made good use of the thousands of OrkElves drifting from one settlement to the next, and I made it into the village,” said Cynar.

“I see, and how is that related to the job you’re offering me?” queried Smoke.

“You see, Faux, these bothersome Orks pillage villages,” began Cynar. “Sure, they leave settlements alone. But once that place becomes a village, those stupid Orks come rushing in. I personally don’t know why, but I’m not taking any of that crap!”

Smoke nodded. “So, you want me to help you defend it?”

Cynar waved his hand in dismissal. “No, no. I already have several Sonstwelters for that job. I’m already spending a fortune for my Newt’s defense, but it’s worth it. Last month those stupid Orks tried invading my village, but the Sonstwelters and my trained OrkElves killed all of them. Of course, I did lose Ayert, but still…”

Then, the Assassin carried his chair and placed it next to Smoke’s.

“No, I have a more savage job for you,” Cynar said to him.

“You see, I just recently heard that an UrukHai Horde attacked Lahm Village yesterday,” began Cynar. “They were successful on their assault and they looted the village clean. They even wiped out all of the Sonstwelters and the Zectians that resisted.”

Smoke let out a deep sigh, as he remembered what Esper and Colere told him about the Ork Horde invasions.

“Hey, you’re not a fan of the Orks are you? Are you?!” Cynar suddenly shouted ask Smoke.

“Me? Of course not!” retorted a surprised Smoke.

“Good. I just want us to be clear,” said Cynar. “Anyway, the UrukHai Horde may have been successful, but they suffered tremendous losses. In fact, my sources told me that they now number less than a thousand.”

Cynar then reached inside his pocket for a map.

“They are currently held up here, in Waylay Pass,” Cynar said to Smoke, pointing to the place on the map.

“I want you to seal the pass here, and force the UrukHai to face my trained OrkElves,” Cynar disclosed his main plan to Smoke. “I already have three-thousand of them ready, and that alone should be enough to finish them off.”

Smoke scratched his head and studied the map.

“Don’t worry, I’m mostly in this for the revenge,” Cynar said to Faux. “So, I’ll split everything we loot, right at the middle, fifty-fifty. Well, what do you say, Faux?”

Smoke did not respond, and thought about it for a moment.

‘This could be a great chance to finish Cynar off,’ pondered Smoke as he stared at the map.

“Sounds like a plan,” he said to Cynar with a smile.

Then, a Quest window popped up.

+ Quest: Ambush the Bushwhackers
Annihilation Quest
Level: B

Cynar has asked you to join him and his army of OrkElves to wipe out the surviving forces of the UrukHai Horde.

Accept the Quest? [YES/NO]

“I’ll do it!” boldly said Smoke to Cynar. “Count me in!”

“Great!” replied Cynar. He smiled and shook Smoke’s hand.

“I don’t know why, but I feel like I could trust you,” suddenly said Cynar. “Maybe it’s because you remind me so much of Ayert. You know? You’re only the second person to enter this room. The first was Ayert.”

“In fact, that was his desk right there,” said Cynar, pointing to the only table in the compact room, with four books on it.

“Oh, about that,” eagerly said Smoke. “I’m a voracious reader, and I hope you won’t mind if I read those four books there?”

Cynar paused and studied Smoke’s face.

Whereas, Smoke himself could not tell what Cynar’s facial expression was because of the Assassin’s full-faced mask.

Then, Cynar shrugged. “Alright, I don’t see any harm in it. It’s not like Ayert is going to climb out of his grave and stop you.”

Smoke excitedly stood up, grabbed his stool and ran to the desk. He took two books in hand. One was entitled “Unsightly UrukHai” and the other was “Opportunistic OlegHai”.

The progress bar on both books only indicated thirty seconds.

+ Unsightly UrukHai

They are said to be the strongest of all the Ork tribes, but one word best describes them, warmongers. The UrukHai Tribe has four Colonels and one General. Consider them as Berserkers gone wild when facing against them.

After reading the acquired knowledge of the first book, Smoke went to the next one.

+ Opportunistic OlegHai

They are said to be slightly inferior to the UrukHai, but make up for it through military tactics and discipline. They have sixteen Colonels and two generals

Smoke quickly put down the first two books, and picked up the last two entitled “Menacing MoriHai” and “Malicious MadoHai”.

Their acquired windows popped up shortly after.

+ Misshapen MoriHai

They are said to be the scavengers of the Ork tribes. They often attack the villages that were previously attacked by the OlegHai or the UrukHai, as the defenses in these places were often nonexistent. They have ten generals, and civil war is often a problem among them.

 

+ Malicious MadoHai

They are said to be cold, calculating Orks who took to the swampy regions of Sawtorn. There, they acquired The knowledge of black magic, and have been known to tame many terrifying beasts for their army with virulent venom and deadly gazes. They do not attack so often because they are enamored by their knowledge of the black arts.

Smoke smiled, pleased at the freshly gained knowledge he learned about the Orks. He appreciated how his high Wisdom stat allowed him to acquire books at tremendous speed. Otherwise, this would have probably taken him hours to learn.

He was then taken aback when Cynar suddenly patted him on his back.

“Done already? Wow! I’ve never seen anyone read books that fast before,” said Cynar. “Not even Ayert.”

Then, a notification window popped up.

+ Intimacy with Cynar has risen to 65

WARNING: Raising Intimacy with Cynar conflicts with [Destroy Cynar’s Orphanage Quest]

“Um,” Smoke mumbled, confused on the increase of Intimacy. “So, when are we doing it?”

“Right now!” said Cynar and ordered Smoke to leave the room.

After they stepped out, Smoke and Cynar passed a corridor filled with dungeons. Smoke spotted Jack stuck in one of them, but this cell was four times larger than the one Geisel was in.

“Jack, you’re locked up as well?” asked a surprised Smoke. As Jack was supposedly Cynar’s best lure, he thought that the boy had better living conditions.

“Don’t worry about it,” replied Jack with a forced smile.

“This is Jack and Daniel’s room,” Cynar said to Smoke. “Well, used to be Daniel’s. Apparently, the boy was caught by some Sonstwelters the other day and was killed. He was good too, but nowhere as good as Jack though.”

Cynar laughed and winked at the locked up boy, and turned to him. “Don’t worry, Jack, I’ll find a replacement for Daniel soon.”

“Come, Faux, we have to hurry. I think we have less than a day before the UrukHai leave the Pass. You do know how to ride a mount, right?” Cynar asked Smoke.

* * * * * *

It only took them two hours to reach Waylay Pass. Smoke was surprised to be riding on a dirus wolf. He thought that Cynar and his army of OrkElves would be running to get here, but all of them were riding on dirus wolves.

Smoke, Cynar, and three-thousand OrkElves stood on top of a hill overlooking the recuperating UrukHai Orks. The long-spears of the OrkElves made for an artificial forest patch, as they littered the skyline with wood. Whereas, the Orks below were feasting on raw meat, circling around their looted bounty.

‘Just how rich is Cynar?’ wondered Smoke to himself, amazed at seeing such a large mounted army. He secretly hoped that Sierra and the rest of his guildmates back in Wysteria were doing just that, raising a large mounted army. He especially enjoyed riding bareback on the dirus wolf, as this was his first time doing so.

“Faux, where do you need to be in order to block off Waylay’s exit?” Cynar asked Smoke.

“On top of one of those mountains should be fine,” he replied, pointing to the specific spot.

“Alright, do you need to take any of my men?” asked Cynar.

Smoke studied the masked Assassin’s expression. Looking at Cynar’s eyes, he could tell that he was excited to go to battle.

“No, I’m good by myself,” answered Smoke.

“Good, we will attack them as soon as you close off their escape,” explained Cynar. “But, Faux, you still have to fight. Don’t think your job is only to close off the Pass, do you hear me?”

“Yeah, I hear you. Don’t worry about it. I’ll fight, alright!” meaningfully answered Smoke.

Smoke expertly rode his dirus wolf up the mountain, and reached the peak in less than ten minutes. “Good boy,” he said to his mount, stroking its thick fur.

“Stay here,” he ordered the dirus wolf, and proceeded to do his job.

‘I just have to go after Cynar. I don’t think the OrkElves will attack me after I kill him,’ thought Smoke to himself. He made a promise with himself not to intentionally harm OrkElves, as a respect to Sharur and Jinggu. He took a deep breath, and focused on the task at hand.

After having trained his Earth Manipulation to Advance Level 9, Smoke began sensing which particular sections to move in order to get the most result. He started removing crucial points of the cliff, creating Waylay Pass.

In only two minutes, Smoke was ready to let out the full power of his Earth Manipulation. Standing directly above the pass, he pointed his hands down and started a landslide.

RUMBLE RUMBLE RUMBLE

Large boulders rolled down both mountains, as their entire mass slid down. Smoke casually rode on top of the fast moving ground, carefully controlling the earth around him. Dust clouds covered the entire scene, preventing anyone from seeing what he was doing.

When the dust settled, Smoke stepped out of the landslide, prepared to attack the Orks.

However, the UrukHai were already busy. Cynar and his mounted OrkElves charged at the injured Orks with fury.

The OrkElves used their long wooden spears as lances, and struck the Orks from a safe distance. In the first clash alone, more than a hundred Orks were felled.

From his estimate, Smoke counted less than seven-hundred Orks remaining. Their red life bars mostly indicated less than 30% of their maximum potential. The injured Orks were either maimed or bleeding, which made recovering their HP next to impossible.

‘Good thing these Orks don’t have a Healer,’ surmised Smoke.

However, the savage battle waged on. The half dead Orks did not falter. These green humanoid monsters wielded their mauls with massive strength, flailing them like they were made of paper.

OrkElves flew off their mounts, left and right. Most of them left with less than 50% of their life bars, while others, who were unfortunate enough, were instantly killed.

Thinking that this was the perfect moment to strike, Smoke frantically searched for Cynar. He spotted the masked Assassin facing off against the largest Ork he had ever seen. He assumed that he must be the Colonel of this Horde. A dark green Ork, more than three meters tall, brandished a double-headed axe.

The Ork’s life bar indicated (843,754/1,200,000 HP), and his name was Wertlosvati. To get an advantageous position, Smoke closed in Cynar and the Ork.

“Finally, I found you,” snarled Cynar at the Ork.

“Ash durbatulukir, ash krimpatul,” replied Wertlosvati.

“Stop speaking Orkish!” yelled Cynar. “I know you can speak Lacerta.”

“How? How you become knowing of this?” asked Wertlosvati.

“I’ve been hunting you ever since I learned your name,” replied Cynar. “I built an army just so that I could kill you.”

“This? All this for me?” said Wertlosvati. “Weaklings all you are. Rely on magic, spells, traps, and tricks. But pure force you cannot defeat.”

Cynar suddenly threw one of his knives, and it struck the Ork Colonel on his chest.

Yet, Wertlosvati remained unfazed. He casually pulled it out. The knife only inflicted 800 damage points.

“Do you remember Quelle Village?” asked Cynar. “It used to be a part of Vona City, but now it’s nothing more than a rubble.”

“With many many many places we be attacking, why I bother remembering their useless names?” answered Wertlosvati.

Suddenly, Cynar vanished. The masked Assassin appeared behind the Ork Colonel, and Cynar began stabbing his green skin with two knives.

However, Wertlosvati expertly grabbed hold of Cynar’s head and bashed it to the ground. He repeated it, four more times. Cynar’s life bar displayed (534,000/650,000 HP).

Wertlosvati screamed at Cynar. “Puny man! Think this is enough to kill me? Think you are strong?”

Cynar’s mask was removed, revealing his face. He had brownish-green skin and pointy ears. The masked Assassin, the King of Thieves was actually also an OrkElf.

Wertlosvati was about to smash Cynar’s head on a rock, but the Ork was interrupted by Smoke. An earth-pillar struck Wertlosvati from behind and sent him flying over four meters away, while still clutching his massive axe.

Smoke quickly ran to Cynar and helped him up.

“Faux, leave him alone!” yelled Cynar. “He is mine!”

“But, Cynar, it’ll be better if we fight him together,” said Smoke. His plan was originally to double cross Cynar, but after seeing that he was an OrkElf temporarily changed his mind. Also, listening to the Ork Colonel infuriated Smoke even more.

Cynar vanished and reappeared behind Wertlosvati, blindly striking the Ork with the same attack as before.

Wertlosvati caught Cynar’s neck and dangled him in mid-air. “Oh! You are Orkling? Orklings are weaklings, reason why we name you so. But you weakest I have seen.”

Smoke let out an earth spike in front of Wertlosvati, but the Ork deflected it with his double-headed axe. He was about to launch another attack, but his Cunning of the Dire Fox sensed several Orks approaching from behind.

He quickly took out his Digger’s Wand and dug a trench in front of him, stopping the Orks’ charge. He quickly dug another trench where the Orks were standing and trapped them below.

Smoke then quickly turned around and faced Wertlosvati and Cynar, pointing his wand at them. Yet, the Ork was nowhere to be seen.

He only spotted a sprawled, half-dead Cynar on the ground. He ran to him, still pointing his wand at the OrkElf.

“Where is he, Faux?” asked Cynar. “Where did that bastard of a father go?”

 

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