Author: John Nest
Smoke woke up and found himself in the grassy plains between Nadaya Village of the Vitzytl Kingdom and Tacitl City of the Thanotl Kingdom. He then sent a signal of his arrival, informing Igniz and Daga that he had returned.
‘It’ll probably take some time before they get here,’ he thought and looked around the area.
While waiting for Igniz and Daga to arrive, Smoke thought to call Sierra.
“Hey,” said Smoke.
“Hey! You’re back online!” replied an excited Sierra on the other end of the call.
“Yeah, Mr. Kohle convinced me to,” said Smoke. “I sent you a message on your phone, but I know that you’d still be playing now.”
“Yeah, we’ve been doing this special project,” replied Sierra.
“What kind?” asked Smoke.
“Um. They’ve sort of asked me to keep it a secret,” answered Sierra. “Let’s just say it’s a surprise for when you return.”
“Oh, alright,” said Smoke, intrigued.
“Anyway, I’m really glad you decided to come back,” said Sierra. “Is it okay if I come by your house after this? About twelve hours in-game time?”
“Yeah, sure,” replied Smoke. “Just send me a message on my game pod.”
“Great! See you later,” said Sierra and ended the call.
After talking to Sierra, he decided to look around the plains and breath in the sense of reality in this virtual world.
Farther down, he spotted thousands of horned rabbit foraging through the plains. They were digging up the wild carrots buried underground.
‘That sure takes me back,’ he thought, as he remembered how he detested these adorable monsters when he hunted ten thousand of them.
It took him a few days, but it was all worth the grind. Now, he depended on the two great abilities he got out of it: the Agility of the Horned Rabbit and the Hyper Jump Ability.
However, the horned rabbits’ leisure rummaging for food came to an abrupt end. Sand cheetahs stormed by the hundreds, picking up a large dust cloud behind them.
Smoke created a small dome with peepholes and encapsulated himself within it. Concealed from the monsters, he observed what kind of encounter would happen between them.
As the sand cheetahs drew closer, most of the horned rabbits scrambled for their burrows. Yet, close to half of the horned rabbits stayed behind. The tiny monsters formed small clusters and tensed their long hind legs as they waited for the incoming predators.
A loud noise erupted as the two groups met. Each sand cheetah took a horned rabbit by the neck. Sharp teeth gnawed on the furry little creatures who held their ground.
Despite seeing one of their fellow horned rabbits being mauled to death, the other furry monsters grabbed the opportunity and stabbed the sand cheetah with their sharp horns.
The targeted sand cheetahs yelped in pain, and their life bars went down by 15%. Not only that but they also delayed the arrival of the other sand cheetahs, as the one they attacked kept on moving around and blocked the path of its companions. Due to this, the escaping horned rabbits safely reached their burrows.
Yet, the dauntless horned rabbits could not prevent the inevitable. As more sand cheetahs arrived, the attacking furry monsters were picked off one by one.
Smoke already knew the outcome, but was impressed by the valiant effort of those horned rabbits that remained.
Now, less than a third of their original numbers were left.
Moved by their bravery, Smoke destroyed his earth-dome and created deep trenches in front of the surviving horned rabbits.
The sand cheetahs in the back were caught unaware and fell into his trap.
Smoke then created magma-spikes inside the trenches, burning and impaling the sand cheetahs simultaneously. He then got out his Salamander’s Tongue and turned on its blazing flames. Using his Hyper Jump ability, he reached the area where a few horned rabbits still held on.
It only took two slashes from his fiery flamberge to slaughter one of the predators.
Amidst his swordplay against the sand cheetahs, a notification window popped up.
+ Level UP!
You have 10 stat points ready for distribution.
Smoke grinned when he saw the window. He knew that he only needed a few more XP for him to level up.
However, he did not rejoice just yet. He resumed his fight against the sand cheetahs who were not caught in his trap.
In less than three minutes, Smoke had finished off the entire coalition of sand cheetahs.
As Smoke was picking up some of the dropped sand cheetah meat, the horned rabbit survivors huddled together and slowly backed away from him. All of the furry little monsters were trembling. Their wide glistening eyes stared at him, unaware of what was happening.
After placing the sand cheetah meat in his inventory, Smoke gave them a small nod and leaped up to glide away. He could not face the horned rabbits, as he himself had killed thousands of them in the past.
He knew that the sand cheetahs would come back and that the cycle would only repeat itself, but he could not help it. He felt it was the only thing he could do to atone for what he had done to them in the past.
‘Why am I getting emotional over this?’ he asked himself as he flew further away.
There was no one there to answer him, but deep down inside he knew. It was because of his Mima’s abduction that he was so unsettled.
Gliding at the height of two hundred feet, Smoke felt no significant changes in the virtual reality world of Zectas. Yet, it had already been close to two months from the last time he was here. The blue skies and puffy clouds temporarily filled his heart with solace.
Then, a notification window popped up.
+ You’ve detected the presence of your Symbiote and your Beggar Shade.
After reading the window, Smoke landed on a grassy knoll.
Thereafter, a dark ember sprite orbited from above. Igniz was the first one to arrive.
“Hey, Buddy,” he said to Igniz as his symbiote giddily flew circles around him. “Really sorry about not seeing you there for a while.”
Igniz responded by shaking his head, Smoke understood it that his symbiote did not mind his absence.
Shortly, a little gray mouse scampered after Igniz on the ground.
“Oh, and it looks Daga has grown up a bit,” said Smoke offering his hand to his little gray mouse. “Especially around the waist,” he added with a chuckle.
“I beg your pardon!” yelled Daga. “Who are you calling fat?”
“Whoa!” exclaimed Smoke, surprised. “When did you learn how to talk?”
“I’ve learned a few more things other than that,” replied Daga.
Suddenly, the little gray mouse transformed into a gray-haired, thirteen-year-old girl.
Smoke found her face to be eerily similar to Donny if his brother was a girl with gray hair of course.
“How did you do that?” asked Smoke. “And why are you a girl? I thought you were a boy? I even named you after my Uncle.”
“Heck if I know why you think the way you do,” haughtily answered Daga. “Did you forget that Ouragan’s Shades were also girls?”
“Yeah,” said Smoke, his face contorted. “Now, that you mention it they were.”
Daga shook her head, disappointed. “Anyway, I gained the ability when I reached level 60,” she explained. “And I learned how to talk when I was only at level 40.”
“Really?” said Smoke, pleased. “And what’s your level now?”
“Hmmp! It’s 75,” replied Daga. “But of course, it’s only because of big brother Igniz, who was Power Leveling me that I got this far.”
The silent Igniz nodded proudly and turned his purple flames into a shade of warm gray as if to say he was pleased with Daga’s recognition.
“Wow! I’m so proud of you, Two,” said Smoke. He then patted Igniz’s head, but Daga quickly backed away from him.
‘I wonder if I can use my new ability now as well,’ thought Smoke, slightly envious of Daga’s rapid growth.
“Status Window,” said Smoke.
|Character: Smoke||Level: 125||Job: Beggar Evocati|
|Race: DarkElf||Alignment: Neutral Evil – 100||Money: 200,000,000 zecs|
|Fame: 1,182||Titles: (+ to all stats)
Condortl Savior (+2)
5th Swordsman to Knight Champ (+1)
King of Maneators (+4)
|Life: 320,500 HP||Mana: 490,600 MP|
|DEX: 605(+27)||STR: 145(+47)||AGI: 60 (+637)|
|VIT: 10 (+144)||INT: 300(+237)||Wisdom: 130 (+37)|
|Leadership: 280 (+7)||Charisma: 42 (+7)||Luck: 999|
|Atk Speed:25(+71)||Move Speed:67(+15)||Defense:3,913(1/2 )|
|Unused Stats: 0|
|Power Chainsaw Bow: 135-148(1/2)||Attack: 7,888-8,548 (1/2)|
|Salamander’s Tongue: 350-360(1/2)||Attack: 19,850-21,350 (1/2)|
|Elemental Resistance:||Elemental Affinity:|
|Equipment Effects: (1/2)|
|*Hooded Cape of Cologus
+20% Earth Affinity
+20% Wind Affinity
+20 Dexterity*Gauntlets of Orcinol
+30 Agility*Heart of ReenTe
+30 Vitality*Sable Wizard’s Surcoat
+10% All Resistance
+15% Bonus Exp* Scorching Serval Shoes
+30 Movement Speed
* Wise Ring of the Dire Fox
* Horse Ring of Domination
* Berserker’s Ring of Flames
* Electromagnetic Golem Offering
* Paradox Pyro Mask
* Florissant: Journeyman Emblem
*Beggar Belt [2 stones]
|* Agility of the Horned Rabbit (Agility + 600)
* Cooking (Vitality + 67)
* Acquired Intelligence from Reading
* Dual Wield (Attack Speed + 75)
* Knife Mastery (Knife Damage + 66%)
* Bow Mastery (Bow Damage + 92%)
‘Damn it! Still short on MP,’ he realized, dejected.
“Is something wrong, Smoke?” asked Daga.
Before Smoke could answer, Igniz rapidly flew around the young girl and covered her in flames.
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” said Daga, quickly kneeling on the grass. “Master Smoke, I meant Master Smoke!”
“Huh? What’s going on?” asked Smoke, oblivious to the situation why Igniz was mad.
“It was big brother Igniz’s way of reminding me to be respectful to you,” explained Daga.
Igniz nodded and with a stern eye glared at Daga.
“Nah, you don’t have to call me that,” said Smoke.
“See, even he admits that he doesn’t deserve my respect,” said Daga to Igniz.
At once, Igniz turned back into a fiery ball of flame.
“Igniz, stop!” said Smoke. He quickly checked his Intimacy level with Daga and was surprised to see that it was only at the Acquaintance level.
“Daga, have I done something to offend you?” asked Smoke.
“Ha! How can you even ask me something like that?” replied Daga.
“Sorry, but I really don’t know what I did here,” said Smoke.
Igniz shook his tiny purple head at Daga.
“You want me to stop? But he’s asking me what he did wrong,” Daga said to Igniz.
“Wait, you can understand Igniz?” asked Smoke, surprised.
“Of course! Can’t you?” said Daga.
Smoke could only shake his head in response.
“What in the… Fine! I’ll just tell you what’s wrong with me,” said Daga. “For starters, you left saying that you’ll be back after eight hours, but in reality, you went missing for god knows how long!”
Smoke gulped and nodded his head, admitting to his crime.
“Then, you gave us a mission to gather information and to increase our levels without giving us any food rations!” shouted Daga. “What kind of Master does that?” She paused, clenching both her fists tightly. “And when you greet me for the first time, what did you do? You called me fat! Tell me, do you think you deserve my respect?”
Smoke shook his head, speechless.
“Honestly, I wouldn’t have returned if it weren’t for big brother Igniz,” added Daga.
Igniz was about to attack Daga once more, but Smoke stopped him.
“Don’t,” Smoke said to his symbiote. “She’s right. I did neglect you, and I’m sorry for that. But there was really something important back where I came from that came up.”
“Hmmp! Came up with that excuse, did you?” said Daga. “How original.”
“Be that as it may, I can’t promise you that it won’t happen again,” said Smoke. “But I will promise you this, no matter how long I’m gone, I’ll always come back.”
“Yeah, right!” replied Daga.
“As a symbol of my promise, why don’t we have a little feast,” said Smoke, getting out a few stacks of sand cheetah meat.
“Meat!” exclaimed Daga, quickly grabbing a hold of one. She then turned to Igniz and said. “Big brother could you please.”
At once, Igniz cooked her sand cheetah meat to medium rare.
Without waiting for anything else, Daga took a big chunk out of the meat and began devouring it.
+ Intimacy with Daga has risen to ‘Friend’
Smoke smiled as he read the notification window. He remembered how he gained Darius’ Intimacy through food as well.
“Igniz, why don’t we cook the rest of them too,” said Smoke and created a barbecue pit using his Earth Manipulation.
“Hey, Master Smoke,” said Daga in between chewing her food. “I forgot to give you this,” she said and handed him a small piece of paper.
Smoke scrutinized the paper and found minuscule illegible handwriting on it. Thankfully, a notification window popped up after receiving the piece of paper.
[[The Farming Village of Oro]]
“Wow! There’s sure a lot of stuff here,” said Smoke, scanning through the window.
“Avhe vein thew meni flayshes,” said Daga, undiscernable with her mouth full. “Sorry,” she said after she gulped down her meat. “I’ve been to many places to gather information. You should thank big brother Igniz for that too. He’s the one who’s been telling me to do it,” she said and resumed devouring the sand cheetah meat.
As he was flipping through the pages of Daga’s findings, Smoke stopped when he spotted a curious entry entitled MaduHai Village.
“Wait, is this MaduHai Village an Ork Village?” Smoke asked Daga.
“Uh-huh,” she mumbled in response, not stopping herself from munching on the steak. “Vut I dibn’t git tho inther der.”
“That’s okay,” said Smoke. “Because that’s where we’re heading after this.”
While waiting for Daga to finish their meal, Smoke decided to call his Flame Master – the 13th Magietrois Florissant, Eleve. He wanted to ask how things were in the Vitzytl Kingdom.
“Hi, Eleve, sorry it’s been a while,” began Smoke. “How are you?”
“Faux, I mean Smoke!” answered Eleve. “Thank Tlaltezin you’re finally here. Listen, King Kajou sent Duke Chrysopelea to the Thanotl Kingdom. You should go find him there.”
“What for? I thought he couldn’t trust me anymore?” asked Smoke.
“The King decided that he wants to make an alliance with them in order for us to wipe out the Orks for good,” replied Eleve. “And Ouragan and I convinced him that Duke Chrysopelea can’t do it alone. So, he decided to lift your ban from the kingdom and reinstate you as one of its Generals.” She paused and mumbled. “Although, five hundred Sonstwelters did join with the Duke on the quest, but still. I would be more at ease if you were there.”
“Alright, give me the coordinates,” said Smoke.
“I thought you already knew where Tacitl City was?” asked Eleve.
“Oh, I didn’t know it was going to be there,” replied Smoke. “Please tell Chrys that I’ll be there shortly. I just have to take a minor detour.”
“What? You can’t go there now?” said Eleve. “Fine. I’ll tell him you’ll arrive tomorrow, okay? You can be there by then, right?”
“Of course! I think I can make that,” said Smoke.
“That’s a good boy,” replied Eleve and ended the call.
“Looks like I’ll have to disguise myself as Faux again,” he said to Igniz and Daga. “And I wanted to improve on my Knight abilities too,” he said and let out a sigh.
“Daga, can you hurry up a bit?” said Smoke. “I’d like to see that Ork Village soon.”
“Sheesh! Can’t you see I’m still eating?” answered Daga, gulping down more meat.
* * * * * *
After gliding for two hours and three snack breaks in between, thanks to Daga’s stomach, Smoke finally reached the outskirts of the MaduHai Ork Village. The swampiest region of the Sawtorn continent itself. He hid himself and his companions behind some white oak trees, covered with green moss and algae. Due to the stagnant waters, he could hear hundreds of mosquitos buzzing everywhere.
“Igniz, let’s synergize,” he said. He then let out a low flame to repel the bloodthirsty mosquitos off him and used his Telefax Vision to investigate the Ork village further.
Swamps were generally known for being unproductive land that could not easily be utilized for any activities, other than perhaps hunting and trapping.
However, the village was situated on a large island with parts of the swamp drained to become reclaimed land. It had a simple wooden fence surrounding the front. Huts were made out of monster hide crudely stitched up together.
At its center, stood the largest hut which towered a full two floors above the rest. It had wooden beams protruding out, forming a spiked crown around it.
With a quick glance, Smoke counted only a few male Orks standing guard. Yet, the strangest thing he noticed was the number of Orklings running and playing inside the village.
“Daga, why didn’t you try entering this place again?” Smoke asked the little gray mouse on his shoulder.
“It’s because of those,” squeaked Daga, pointing at the swamp jaguars patrolling from within the wooden fence. These two-meter beasts had green fur, black spots, and golden eyes.
“Oh, this is my first time seeing them,” said Smoke, surprised.
Then, an elderly female MaduHai Ork in long brown robes walked out from the tallest hut. She slowly walked farther away from it with her walking cane in hand.
As she did so, all of the Orklings who saw her ran up to greet her. They kissed her hand and lowered their heads before her. In response, she patted them on the head, as if she was giving them some sort of blessing.
She was shortly followed by six female Orks, all dressed in similar long hooded brown robes.
“She must be their leader or something,” said Smoke out loud.
To which Daga scratched him lightly on the neck. “I overheard that she’s their High Priestess,” she squeaked. “But that’s all I got, I was chased by the swamp jaguars after that.”
“High Priestess, huh?” said Smoke. “Why don’t I go and introduce myself?”
“What? Are you insane!” exclaimed Daga. “They’re Orks! They’ll kill you as soon as they see you! Besides, aren’t we here to investigate their connection with the UrukHai and the OlegHai Orks?”
“We are, that’s why I’m doing this,” passively replied Smoke. “I need to know if Wertlosvati has already been here.”
Smoke grabbed the little gray mouse and placed her gently on one of the tree branches and said. “Wait here.”
“I knew this guy wasn’t right in the head,” Daga said out loud. “He’s way beyond reckless.”
“Don’t worry, I’m in my synergized form,” said Smoke to the unconvinced Daga. “And I’ve already met with a MaduHai Ork once,” he paused as he recalled the time he met the Coatl City librarian. “She was a bit strict but she didn’t hurt me or anything.”
“Hate to point out the obvious, but that Ork librarian and the ones over there are completely different,” argued Daga.
“That’s true,” said Smoke. “In any case, don’t come after me. No matter what happens to me down there.”
After Daga promised to stay hidden in the white oak trees, Smoke began unequipping any threatening weapons. He then took a couple of driftwoods and tied them together with a rope, creating a raft.
Using a long dead wood for a pole, Smoke pushed through the swamp and headed for the MaduHai Village entrance alone and unarmed.
The moment his raft made contact with the muddy shore, wooden spears were pointed at him. Four Ork Guards rushed Smoke.
‘Maybe this was a bit impulsive,’ he thought as he stared at the sharp spears. ‘They look a lot smaller than the UrukHais,’ he observed as he compared them to be only as tall as a regular OrkElf.
“Kinsamir kanir? Nagunirasir kari dirir?” asked one of the Guards in Orkish, which roughly translated to who are you and what are you doing here.
“Akon namilang Ilad,” replied Smoke in the Ork’s mother tongue. “Ishka Magic Swordsman et Vraktis,” he said, explaining that he was a Magic Swordsman in training and was looking for a place to rest.
Slowly, the Orks pulled back their spears but still kept them trained at Smoke. They were taken aback at his ability to speak their native tongue.
“Nganur kavow kair kaig Orkish?” asked the Guard.
Using his rough Orkish, Smoke went on to explain that he met a MaduHai Ork once and that he acquired a book on the Orkish language and taught himself of their beautiful dialect. He stretched the truth a bit, but he was hoping that it was enough for him to build enough Intimacy with this Guard and allow him entry to the village.
Sadly, the Guard was unmoved and refused him.
“Dilir kar gustor magir vhutangi?” said Smoke, asking the Guard if he would like to trade some items. He then began taking out swords and other low-level items he collected but have not yet disposed of.
The Guards stopped and watched the wares Smoke was getting out.
“Muragir migo fuluvi?” angrily asked the Ork. “Igitir kanir imangi vakitar?”
Smoke did not need to know Orkish to realize that they were not pleased with the items he presented.
Due to this, the Ork Guards began to push Smoke farther away from the village entrance, back to his raft.
“Wait!” exclaimed Smoke. “I mean. Tamir usair,” he quickly added in Orkish.
“Kaniir? Vitsin kar gustori makoni?” quickly said Smoke, showing them his rare Claws of Chiropterra.
Every one of the Ork Guards began talking rapidly and examined the rare gloves, all of them enthusiastic.
“Debile! Nagunsar kamur dirir?” asked a female’s voice from behind the Ork Guard.
Immediately, Smoke’s gaze fell upon the old Ork High Priestess and her six female escorts who stepped out from the village gates. All of them clothed in the same long brown robe as the High Priestess.
“Madrir Meneur, vasinshair,” pleaded the Ork Guard, quickly lowering his head before the old Ork High Priestess.
“Oh, vasinshair,” added Smoke, following the Ork Guard’s lead and lowered his head.
“You are not an Ork, correct?” asked the High Priestess named Meneur. “What race do you belong to?”
Smoke was taken aback. He thought his long white hair, pointed ears, and dark purple skin was a dead giveaway of his race. “That’s right,” he replied. “I’m a DarkElf. Have you never seen one before?”
Meneur let out a light laugh. “I have, but it’s been a while,” she said and turned to face him. She glared her glassy white eyes directly at him. “As you can see, I’ve grown blind now.”
“Oh, sorry! I didn’t realize,” apologized Smoke.
“So, what is a DarkElf doing here?” asked Meneur. “You’re not here to steal our secrets, are you?”
“No! No, of course not!” strongly refused Smoke, shaking his head. “I was looking for a place to rest when I stumbled upon your village.”
Meneur scoffed, and slightly shook her head in disbelief of Smoke’s explanation. “Stumbled upon a hidden village in a swamp? Sure!” she said sarcastically.
“Anyway, I have a Quest here,” added Smoke. “And I was hoping that I could stay in your village until I complete it.”
“Hahaha!” chuckled Meneur. There was a delay for a few seconds, but the rest of the Orks joined in Meneur’s mocking laughter. “Sorry, but no!” she added with finality.
“Vasinshair! Tabanginir kir,” pleaded Smoke in Orkish, asking her to have mercy on him.
The rest of the Priestesses behind Meneur let out an audible gasp. At once, they began whispering to each other.
“Why do you have to speak our tongue?” asked Meneur out loud, her eyebrows met and her green nose wrinkled.
“Vilhom! Kavalor kir valuod,” said Meneur as she faced the Priestesses. She then turned to Smoke and said. “As MaduHai Code dictates, it is our obligation to give anyone who speaks our tongue food and water.”
“Great!” exclaimed Smoke, clenching his fist in victory.
“However, that does not mean that you can enter our village,” quickly added Meneur.
“But I need a place to stay for the night,” pleaded Smoke. “I’m confident in my abilities, but I need to rest. Also, I heard the swamp monsters get stronger at night.”
“Not my problem,” replied Meneur. “You shall have some bread and water, then you can go,” she added. “I’ll even allow you to rest on our shores outside our walls, but you need to leave as soon as possible.”
“Please, can’t I stay for the night?” asked Smoke. “I’ll do anything. Look, it’s almost getting dark soon,” he added pointing to the afternoon sun. “You can’t expect me to travel now, do you?”
“Really? You want a blind woman to look at the setting sun?” asked Meneur, sarcastic. She chuckled but shook her head. “I’m sorry, but no.”
Suddenly, one of the Priestesses behind Meneur whispered something to her.
“What! Send him over to the outpost?” exclaimed Meneur, intrigued.
Yet, her astonished face began to change expressions. “Wait here,” she said to Smoke, retreating back deeper into the village.
From far away, Smoke could only guess what Meneur and the other Ork Priestesses were talking about.
‘At least, they haven’t attacked me,’ he thought, hopeful that Wertlosvati had not made contact with them yet.
After a few minutes, Meneur and the other Priestesses returned.
“We’ve talked it through and it appears that it would be a fitting place for someone like you. So, do you want to stay in our outpost?” asked Meneur. “That place does have walls.”
“I would have really preferred to stay in your village, but Beggars can’t be choosers,” said Smoke.
“Great! I just have one condition for you,” said Meneur. “While you’re there, I want you to eliminate any kind of monster that may have taken over the place in our absence.”
A Quest Window popped up as soon as she finished speaking.
+ Quest: Cleaning up the MaduHai Mess
Clear the outpost from any kind of monsters.
Accept the Quest? [YES/NO]
“I’ll do it!” said Smoke, ecstatic. “But after I’m done, let me visit your village.”
“I’m not promising anything,” replied Meneur. “But we’ll talk, if you do finish the task.”
* * * * * *
With Daga tucked safely inside his chest pocket and Igniz flying next to him, Smoke was gliding through the skies at top speed. They were headed to the given location of the MaduHai Outpost.
They could see that the swamp was filled with trees below them. Smoke knew that the monsters inside were powerful. They had to be in order for them to stand against the might of the Orks.
He then turned to the setting sun, which gave an auburn glow. “Looks like we’re running out of light,” he said out loud.
“Still can’t believe that the Orks left you alone,” squeaked Daga.
“Same here,” said Smoke with a grin. “Guess it pays to gamble a bit.”
“Don’t know about that,” replied Daga. “Big brother Igniz didn’t say anything, but even he has hesitations about this.”
Smoke looked at his dark ember sprite, who flew slower, evading his gaze. “Don’t worry, Bud. I’m sure we’ll be fine.”
After ten minutes more, they finally arrived at their destination. It was on the edge of the swamp. A thick smog covered most of the Outpost, but Smoke could see the same monster-hide covered huts in the areas that were visible.
Learning from experience, Smoke knew to land outside the entrance. ‘Who knows what kind of monsters are in there,’ he thought.
Then, a notification window popped up after they softly touched the ground.
– Entered MaduHai Outpost
– This used to be a sentry post of the MaduHai Orks. However, a wyvern nest occupies this place now.
Smoke gulped. His Cunning of the Dire Fox did not pick up any kind of creature inside the smog.
“Guys, looks like this was a bad idea after all,” he said.
Yet, before he could say anything else, a spiked gray tail came out from the mist and went straight for his head.
Thankfully, his Cunning of the Dire Fox detected the preemptive attack and he was able to dodge it.
However, his ability instantly lost the presence of his attacker when the wyvern returned to the smog.
“Igniz!” he shouted, equipping his Manatl Staff and Salamander’s Tongue.
Immediately, his symbiote understood what he meant. The two of them melded their energies and transformed into their Synergized state.
With his fiery flamberge in his right and brown-colored staff in his left, Smoke unleashed a barrage of fireballs into the smog.
“Nyooookk!” screamed from within the smog.
Then, he saw two gray wyverns over four meters in height. With one glance he could tell that they were taller than any of his Maneators. They had two horns on their heads and forked tongues which hissed in and out between their sharp fangs.
One of the wyvern’s life bars displayed (1,190,000/1,200,000 HP), while the other still had a pristine one.
‘At least I can hurt it,’ he thought.
Using his Hyper Jump ability, Smoke leaped backward.
Yet, the injured wyvern flew over him and landed behind him.
Smoke was caught in the middle of the two gray horned monsters.
Then, they began blowing out hot gray smoke out from their nostrils.
Quickly, Smoke was about to be covered in the thick gray fog.
“This really isn’t good,” he said out loud.
Smoke activated the Salamander Tongue’s Incinerator ability. His flamberge lit up into flames before it shattered into a hundred pieces.
As the shards went ablaze, he knelt and created a spherical Manatl around him.
He could hear the screams of the two wyverns.
THWACK THWACK THWACK
Two spiked tails repeatedly came crashing down on his manatl sphere. Smoke searched for the main body of the wyvern but lost all visibility.
Now, that he was completely engulfed by the dense fog.
“I’m guessing this was all part of your brilliant plan?” pipped Daga from within his clothes.
“Of course, it is,” replied Smoke.
“Why don’t you let me fight too?” said Daga.
“No, it’s too dangerous,” said Smoke, unsure of Daga’s fighting abilities.
‘Besides, this is still manageable,’ he thought, as he continued to channel the absorbed damage from his Manatl.
Five minutes later, he canceled his Incinerator ability as his mana bar displayed (110,000/490,600 MP). The powerful attack came at a heavy toll of 1000 MP per second.
‘Gotta save MP,’ he reminded himself.
Smoke stayed in his kneeling position, waiting safely behind his Manatl sphere.
THWACK THWACK THWACK
After a few more blows against his barrier, Smoke canceled his Manatl and his staff began to glow.
However, as soon as he felt the mist on his skin, Smoke felt a heavy weight on his body followed by a notification window.
– [ENCUMBERED] Ponderous Mist has increased your weight by ten times.
‘Damn it!’ he thought, but immediately pushed it out of his head. He kept looking around, searching for signs of the scaly monsters.
“Raaaagh!” roared one of the wyverns, showing its nasty head to him.
Smoke grinned. After blocking all of their attacks, he transferred the energy to his glowing manatl staff. He charged for the wyvern’s head and sped up with his Hyper Jump ability, temporarily bypassing the encumbered status.
A bright flash of light erupted. Yet, as soon as it faded, Smoke saw that what he struck was not the head but the spiked tail of the other wyvern. The sharp spike was forcibly removed from the monster. It cried it out in pain as its life bar now displayed (996,000/1,200,000 HP) but quickly disappeared back into the mist.
His Cunning of the Dire Fox did not sense anything, but he knew from experience that a powerful counter-attack was coming. His head turned left to right, searching for signs of the monsters. As he was about to put up another manatl barrier, a sharp pain suddenly penetrated his stomach.
Reflexively, he looked down and found the spike from the second wyvern’s tail lodged into his abdomen, slowly being pulled out. He was instantly flooded with notification windows and his cursed Decay Aura activated, indicating that he had less than 25% left on his life bar.
Due to the monsters’ Ponderous Mist, Smoke was not able to fly out. He unequipped the Salamander’s Tongue and switched it out with his Digger’s Wand. He dug a tunnel right under him and closed it up the moment he fell into it.
* * * * * *
A half dead Smoke was slowly being pulled out of the escape tunnel by Daga in her human form.
Daga dropped Smoke’s body on the ground and squatted next to him. With anger in her eyes, she screamed. “Idiot! Idiot! Idiot! You could have gotten yourself killed and big brother Igniz was still synergized with you!”
“Shut up!” yelled Smoke back as he was desperately putting on some healing salve on his stomach.
Daga fell silent but her quivering remained.
“Sorry,” said Smoke, guilty for shouting back at her. “But I can’t cancel the synergized form just yet.”
“Why?” asked Daga, still yelling.
“I’m not sure if Igniz will get most of the damage if we do disengage,” replied Smoke.
“Oh…” was her only response.
After he finished putting on the healing salve, Smoke got out a bottle of pompom juice and drank it all in one gulp.
“Now, let’s just wait for my life bar to fully restore before Igniz and I separate,” he said to Daga.
While waiting for his HP to recover, Smoke decided to give his Flame Master another call.
“Hey, Eleve, something came up,” he said brashly.
“Huh? What do you mean?” asked Eleve.
“I mean I can’t meet Chrys in Tacitl City by tomorrow,” said Smoke.
“Oh! Might as well,” replied Eleve. “Apparently, Duke Chrysopelea and the other Sonstwelters were enough to convince the King of the Thanotl Kingdom to form the alliance.”
“I see,” replied Smoke, feeling somewhat depressed that his presence was no longer needed.
“Yeah, so don’t worry about not meeting with him in Tacitl,” added Eleve. “In fact, Duke Chrysopelea is already headed back to the Vitzytl Kingdom now.”
“Really?” asked Smoke. “Where exactly is he?”
“Not sure, but I think he should be somewhere near your area,” replied Eleve. “Afterall, it is along the way.”
“That’s great!” exclaimed Smoke. “Can you tell him to make a quick detour to where I am now?” he asked, sending a map location over the call.
“Huh? Why would I do that?” asked Eleve.
“Tell him it’s about stopping the Orks from getting stronger,” replied Smoke.
“You’re being cryptic again,” said Eleve. “But fine! I’ll pass the message to Duke Chrysopelea.”
“Thanks, Eleve! You’re a life saver,” said Smoke.
“Yeah, yeah, just make sure that this isn’t going to be a waste of time on Duke Chrysopelea’s part,” added Eleve. “He’s supposed to start making preparations for war.”
“Relax! Trust me,” replied Smoke and ended the call.
“So? You plan to have Chrysopelea help out with the wyverns, huh?” squeaked Daga, who returned to being a little gray mouse.
“I underestimated them because of their life bars,” blurted out Smoke. “I would have been killed by that one attack if it weren’t for my recent Job upgrade to Beggar Evocati.”
“Told you, you were being reckless,” said Daga.
“Yeah, I was,” replied Smoke. “I should have been better than that, but I’ve called for reinforcements.”
“Are you sure Chrys and the other Sonstwelters will be enough to take on the wyverns?”
Smoke shrugged. “But Eleve told me that he had five hundred of them with him. So, that should be enough.”
Then, a game pod message window popped up.
Hey! I’m here. If you’re not here in ten minutes, I’m heading back home. XOXO
-Request prompted by <Sherry Levine> outside your game pod
“Alright, my life bar is almost full,” abruptly said Smoke and canceled the Synergized state.
Igniz emerged out of Smoke as their energies broke off from one another.
“Hey there, Buddy,” greeted Smoke. “I’m going out for a while, but I’ll be back really quick. Keep an eye on Daga, okay?”
The dark ember sprite bobbed his head and looked at the little gray mouse next to Smoke.
“You’re not going to leave us for days again, are you?” squeaked Daga.
“No! Of course not!” replied Smoke.
With that, Smoke logged out as Sierra was already waiting for him in his room.
* * * * * *
Nash stretched out his arms over his head as soon as he stepped out of his game pod.
His eyes immediately fell on his girlfriend, who was lying on his bed reading a book. Her face turned away from him. So, like any normal hot-blooded male, he enjoyed the scenic view.
“Hey! Got your message,” said Nash.
At once, Sherry turned around and greeted him with the sweetest smile. “Finally! That took longer than I expected!” she teased.
Nash dove into his bed and kissed her passionately on the lips. “What do you mean longer? I rushed here as soon as I read your game pod message.”
After they wrestled in the bed, Nash broke off Sherry’s lips to get some air.
“So? How’s it feel to get back into Zectas again?” she asked.
“Not sure,” said Nash, shaking his head. “I think I’ve kind of lost my touch.”
“Really?” asked Sherry, troubled. “Don’t worry about it, I’m sure you were just overthinking it.”
“I don’t think so,” said Nash. “I felt like I wasn’t my usual self in there.”
“Of course not!” exclaimed Sherry. “Your Mima is still missing, and I’m sure that it’s what you thinking. That’s why I believe that fully immersing yourself in the game is the right choice.”
“You sure?” asked Nash, skeptical.
“Positive,” replied Sherry.
Just then, Seth burst into the room.
“I got it!” he shouted, carrying a tablet with him.
“Got what?” asked Nash.
“I asked for all the video feeds on the street cameras and I finally found twelve routes that the kidnappers might have taken,” explained Seth.
“That’s great!” said Nash. “Let’s go to the police station.”
“Nah, it’s alright,” said Seth. “I already sent it to them online. They told me that they’ll get right on it and update us as soon as they have a lead.”
“And you believed them?” said Nash.
“Well, it’s not like what I did was a sure thing,” explained Seth, hesitant.
“Who cares? At least we’re getting somewhere now!” said Nash. “We need to pester them to do their job.”
“Nash, let’s calm down a bit,” gently said Sherry. “Don’t you think pestering someone is a bit counterintuitive?”
“Actually, I’m with her on this,” added Seth. “Let’s just give them a couple of days and see what the Detectives will come up with?”
“Fine!” said Nash. He then turned to Sherry with a sour expression. “Sorry to cut this short, but I just remembered that I have something important to do in Zectas.”
“What? Right now?” asked Sherry, surprised. “Can’t it wait a couple more minutes?”
“I thought it could, but I just realized that I could fail my quest if I don’t return immediately,” he said.
“I see,” said Sherry, disheartened. “Well, guess you better get back in then.”
“Alright, I’ll send you a message once my quest is done,” said Nash passively and went inside his game pod, sealing the lid fast.
Seth turned to Sherry and asked. “You okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” she replied. “I mean, not really. Who wants their boyfriend to be like that? But at least he’s pissed at me now rather than feeling guilty about Mima.”
* * * * * *
Smoke returned to the realm of Zectas, pissed. He did not even notice Daga and Igniz’s training. The dark ember sprite fired a torrent of fireballs at the little gray mouse, which she easily dodged.
“What does she know!” yelled out Smoke to the heavens. “Who does she think she is, giving me advice on what to do about Mima.”
“Look who’s back,” squeaked Daga. “Hey! You’d have to yell a lot louder than that if you want the wyverns to hear us.”
“Oh, shut up!” screamed Smoke and launched an earth-pillar at his Beggar Shade.
Daga easily dodged it and charged right for him. Smoke launched eight more earth-pillars, but none of them made contact with the little gray mouse.
Then, Daga suddenly lets out a burst of speed. She transformed into her human form and punched him squarely in the jaw, knocking Smoke back.
“How did you do that?” asked Smoke, impressed.
“What do you mean? I just punched you right in the face,” said Daga.
“No, I mean how did you move without me sensing you?” explained Smoke. “My Cunning of the Dire Fox usually senses all forms of melee attacks.”
“Ah, that’s because of my Silent Mouse ability,” said Daga. “Only cat-like sensory abilities like the ones that the sand cheetahs and swamp jaguars have can sense me.”
“I think I can use you against the wyverns after all,” said Smoke. Using his Earth Manipulation, he then created a life-size sculpture of the wyvern.
“We still have a couple of hours before Chrys and the other Sonstwelters arrive,” began Smoke. “Let’s use this time well.”
Smoke gave Igniz instructions on how to attack Daga and together they assaulted her with earth-pillars and fireballs. Her objective was to reach the wyvern sculpture.
They spent the time waiting for Chrysopelea training, only stopping to rest and eat before resuming on the tiresome regimen.
Of course, Smoke logged out to get in his scheduled power nap in the real world but did nothing else there during that time. He quickly went back into Zectas after his required slumber.
Finally, after twenty-six hours of training, Chrysopelea and the other Sonstwelters arrived.
They came in droves of war-carriages, being pulled by dirus wolves and driven by Lioumerean Pathfinders.
Smoke was easy to spot as there was a life-size sculpture of a wyvern near their encampment.
“Hey, what’s up with the wyvern statue?” greeted Chrysopelea. “And why did you want us to come meet you here in the middle of nowhere?”
Most of Chrysopelea’s party members gathered around the sculpture and inspected it. Only three of them walked together with him to meet with Smoke.
“I’ll tell you all about that later,” replied Smoke, disguised in his Faux persona. “Why don’t you tell me about your trip to the Thanotl Kingdom first?”
“Well, because of my Duke title I was able to have an audience with the King of Thanotl,” began Chrysopelea. “Let me tell you right now, he’s a lot better to talk to than King Kajou.”
“What? No nose hair?” joked Smoke.
“Exactly!” replied Chrysopelea, laughing. “Anyway, they also have a group of Sonstwelters leading their army.”
“And when are we suppose to have this joint attack?” asked Smoke.
“Well, they’re still gathering more intelligence on the Orks,” explained Chrysopelea. “But they say that they’ve already confirmed the OlegHai have joined with the UrukHai and the MoriHai.”
“So, they only lack the MaduHai tribe, huh?” said Smoke.
“Yeah, and I think they would be a powerful threat,” added Chrysopelea. “Since most of those MaduHai Orks know healing and offensive magic.”
“Maybe we’ll get lucky,” said Smoke. “Maybe the MaduHai won’t join the rest of the Orks.”
“Who knows?” said Chrysopelea. “Anyway, we’re still waiting on the intelligence report before we could finalize anything.”
Chrysopelea then pointed back to the wyvern statue. “So, ready to tell me what’s the deal with that?”
Smoke chuckled. “I was kind of hoping that you and your friends can help me get rid of a couple of wyverns.”
“Wyverns? Did he just say wyverns?” asked one of the Sonstwelters behind Chrysopelea. “Isn’t that the monsters that wiped out most of the DracoRicco’s guild members?”
“That’s right, that’s the monster that ended thousands of their members on their great expedition to the eastern lands,” added another Sonstwelter. “Why is there a wyvern here?”
“Wyverns aren’t exclusive to one continent you idiots,” said an older looking Sonstwelter. “The name’s Clint, nice to finally meet you in person, Faux,” he said, offering his hand to Smoke.
“Nice to meet you too, Clint,” said Smoke, shaking his hand in return. He then turned to Chrysopelea and asked. “I thought you had around five hundred men with you? I’m sure there’s less than that here.”
“Oh, about that,” began Chrysopelea. “Most of them wanted to stay and explore the Thanotl Kingdom. They just came along for the free ride against monsters. You know, since paying for a teleportation to another kingdom costs a fortune.”
“So, how many of them are left here?” asked Smoke.
“There are two hundred thirty-four of us left,” said Clint, answering in Chrysopelea’s behalf.
“By the way, this is my Uncle,” said Chrysopelea to Smoke.
“You have an in-game Uncle?” asked Smoke, confused. “What are the effects in that? I only heard about the benefits you get from being married but I never heard about this before.”
Chrysopelea chuckled. “No, I mean he’s my Uncle in real life.”
“Chrys, stop telling people that,” said Clint.
“Why? It’s the truth,” said Chrys.
“Anyway, why don’t you tell us more about this wyvern of yours,” Clint said to Smoke.
“Right,” said Smoke. “Well, there are two of them and they have this Ponderous Mist that increases your weight by ten times.”
“Wait, two wyverns?” said the freaked out Sonstwelter.
“Yeah, I’m sure we can handle it,” said Smoke. “How many melee fighters do you have?”
“Fifty?” replied Chrysopelea, uncertain.
“That low, huh,” said Smoke, remembering how the Vitzytl Kingdom was mostly composed of Mages.
“Anyway, why don’t you tell me the exact number of people we have,” said Smoke to Chrysopelea.
One by one, Smoke accounted for the Sonstwelters Chrysopelea had brought with him.
Although he was only speaking directly to Chrysopelea, he just realized that this was the first time he had been with this many Sonstwelters outside of his guild. Since during the defense of the Vitzytl Kingdom he was assigned to be the leader of the Automaton Knights.
After discussing the general plan against the wyverns, Smoke said to Chrysopelea. “Let me fix us all a meal first before we discuss with the rest of the members about our attack plan.”
As he practiced with the Zectians, Smoke cooked food for all of the Sonstwelter members of his party. He knew that it would not raise any Intimacy stat with them, but he thought to do it anyway since he knew that people with filled stomachs were prone to listen more and have broader thinking. This wisdom was taught to him in the real world by his grandmother.
He cooked them a simple sand cheetah stew with five bottles of pompom juice added to the broth. The effects of the stew gave an increased MP recovery for the next hour.
As these were Sonstwelter Adventurers, all of them had their own bowls with them.
Smoke asked for help distributing his stew, which each Sonstwelter finished with gusto.
“This is amazing! Why did Chrys didn’t feed us this when we’re still headed to the Thanotl Kingdom?”
Smoke heard one of them say after slurping down her first spoonful.
“It even has an increased MP recovery effect! Maybe, Chrys saved it for the trip home?”
He heard another Sonstwelter exclaim.
“I’ve never had any meal taste this good outside of a restaurant before!”
Praises of different kinds came pouring down. Smoke felt proud and happy. For a fleeting moment, he completely forgot that his Mima was missing. Instead, he only remembered the happy times and the life lessons she gave him.
After everyone was fed, Smoke and Chrysopelea stood in front of the crowd of Sonstwelters.
“Everyone, I would like you all to meet Faux,” began Chrysopelea. “In case you do not know yet, he is the first runner up of the Magi Gagnant Tournament and lost only to Prime Wizard Ouragan.”
Half the crowd gave Smoke a respectful clap.
“He is also one of the leaders in the defense against the Ork invasion on Votl City,” added Chrysopelea
Again, the same Sonstwelters gave him a passive applause.
“And he is also the one responsible for our delicious meal today!” explained Chrysopelea.
At once, all of the Sonstwelters clapped loudly. They cheered and some of them even stood up to shake Smoke’s hand.
“Please, please, it was nothing,” said Smoke. “But that meal was just a precursor to what we’re going to do next.”
The crowd fell silent, all of them waiting to hear what Smoke had to say.
“We’re going wyvern hunting!”
“Let’s do it!”
With the Sonstwelters all in high spirits, Smoke began to tell them of his plan against the wyverns.
* * * * * *
Smoke together with Chrysopelea and the other Sonstwelters stood outside the smoggy entrance of the Ork Outpost.
“Hey, Faux, you didn’t say this was an Ork Outpost,” said Chrysopelea to Smoke. “And there’s even a swamp right next to it.”
“Don’t worry about it,” replied Smoke. “It’s deserted. Besides, the loot and experience we’ll get from these wyverns should be useful against our upcoming war with the Orks.”
Smoke had not completely divulged all of the information regarding his Quest under the MaduHai Ork High Priestess. Not because he did not trust him, but simply because it would complicate things.
With the Ork Outpost issue over with, Smoke and Chrysopelea began the final review of their attack.
He had divided the two hundred thirty-four Sonstwelters into two groups. With him leading one of them and Chrysopelea the other.
Chrysopelea flew overhead and the rest of his group scattered around the Outpost. Most of his members were composed of Aero Magi. When he was directly above the smog, Chrysopelea began creating a strong circular wind, reinforced by the other Aero Magi from the sides. Together, they created a powerful tornado that cleared out the Ponderous Mist.
“Now!” shouted Smoke, leading the charge into the Ork Outpost.
The two wyverns were surprised and blankly looked up at the clear sky, bewildered where their heavy smog had gone.
Each wyvern faced twenty-five Knights. Their shields smashed up against their scaly skins, but their stunning attacks proved to be ineffective.
Instead, many of the Knights were skewered by the sharp bones of the one wyvern whose tail remained intact.
“Aim for their heads!” screamed Smoke, raising his hands and created a magma-arch around the wyvern with the sharp bony tail. He quickly forced the monster down.
The Knights near the fallen wyvern hurriedly bashed their shields into the monster’s head. Sadly, their attacks were not well organized and many of their stuns overlapped one another.
Thankfully, Chrysopelea followed Smoke’s lead. He created a powerful gust of downward wind and forced the head of the second wyvern to the ground.
Noticing this, Smoke locked another magma-arch around the second wyvern’s neck, trapping the draconic monster to the ground.
Yet, the wyverns would not go down without a fight. The monsters opened their mouths wide and let out another smog of Ponderous Mist.
As the Sonstwelters near the wyverns fell victim to their cumbersome fog, they were sent flying to the wooden walls of the outpost instead. Whereas, the ones near the tails got whiplashed.
As most of them were Magi below level 100, their life bars were less than 200,000 HP. Many of them died in a single attack from the monster, their bodies began to fade out of existence as they were forcibly logged out of Zectas.
“Stay back!” yelled Chrysopelea. “Use your long range attacks,” he added, sending another powerful gust of wind to clear the smog away.
With that, the Magi unleashed a fury of earth, wind, fire, and water attacks on the trapped wyverns.
However, Smoke remained close to the two wyverns. He needed to begin to seal the wyverns movements. He went for the tails, locking them down with more magma-arches, shackling them to the ground. As he was doing so, he noticed a part of the Outpost remained to emit the gray smog. Upon closer inspection, he found a nest filled with four wyvern eggs in them. He could not explain why he did it, but the next thing he knew, he dug a tunnel under the nest, sliding it softly to the ground and sealed the entrance.
When Smoke turned around, he found the wyverns bombarded by spells and swords. Yet, the monsters’ life bars still remained well over 75% of their maximum capacity.
‘It must be because of their thick scaly hides,’ surmised Smoke.
Now, with Chrysopelea and the rest of the Sonstwelters continuing to bash the wyverns in, Smoke was assured that they would probably finish off the wyverns in the next thirty minutes or so.
However, Smoke wanted to finish these monsters sooner. “Daga, get ready,” he whispered into his chest. He then let out an earth-pipe from the bottom of his feet, directly into one of the wyverns’ ears.
His Beggar Shade quickly traveled through the insides of the earth-pipe and entered the wyvern’s ear. From inside, Daga began slashing and biting the wyvern’s ear drum.
The Sonstwelters outside were taken aback, surprised by the sudden increase of damage on the monster’s life bar.
After seeing Smoke’s last earth-pipe attack, Chrysopelea yelled out. “Attack the ears!”
However, the damage on their wyvern’s life bar remained the same.
As the life bar of Smoke’s wyvern began to reach 10%, Daga ran back towards the earth-pipe and hid inside Smoke’s chest pocket.
Desperate, the two wyverns wildly shook their bodies and loosened the hold of Smoke’s magma-arches.
Smoke managed to reinforce the wyvern he was facing, but the other wyvern completely broke off all of its shackles.
Freed, the monster whipped its tails and killed half of Chrysopelea’s team members.
With their tattered shields on hand, only the Knights who were struck remained to stand, while the rest of the targeted Magi on the ground began to fade out of Zectas. Clint, Chrysopelea’s uncle also died during that last wyvern attack.
“Faux! We need your help!” yelled Chrysopelea from above, forcing another powerful gale to push the wyvern down.
Yet, the wyvern Smoke had trapped let out a death shrill, which made the other wyvern escape Chrysopelea’s wind attack.
The freed wyvern went for the place where the nest was but found nothing there.
Finally, Smoke and his team members delivered the final blow on their wyvern and killed it.
The half-dead wyvern looked at the scene below and let out another round of Ponderous Mist.
The heavy smog fell down on Chrysopelea, preventing him from casting the dispelling tornado.
Fortuitously, the other Aero Magi escaped and began to dispell the Ponderous Mist from the sides. When they cleared the smog, Smoke and everyone else found that the wyvern had already flown some distance to the horizon.
“Should we go after it?” asked Chrysopelea from above.
“No! Only you and I can fly and it would take a while before the rest of our members could get to it,” replied Smoke from the ground.
The surviving members could care less what Smoke and Chrysopelea were discussing. They were mesmerized by the dropped loot of the slain wyvern.
Rare swords, shields, armors for many Jobs were scattered on the Ork Outpost grounds.
“Now, why would a wyvern drop this kind of loot?” asked one of the Sonstwelters happily collecting a rare sword from the ground.
“Maybe it used to belong to the ones who attacked it before?” suggested Chrysopelea. “We should gather some of this loot and give them to the ones who died,” he added out loud.
The rest of the party members ignored him. Instead, they proceeded to loot the horde of items on the ground.
Smoke turned to face the looting Sonstwelters. Less than half of them remained, and most of them belonged to Smoke’s team.
“They can have my share!” yelled out Smoke. “It’s only fair. I already got a ton of experience from slaying the wyvern.”
After hearing Smoke’s altruistic speech. Many of the other Sonstwelters followed his lead and began to set aside items to be given to their fallen comrades.
“Thanks, Faux,” said Chrysopelea to Smoke. “I’m sure many of them will appreciate this.”
“Hey, I’m the one who asked for help,” replied Smoke. “It’s the least I could do. Besides, we need them to get stronger for the coming war.”
“So, are you coming back to Vitzytl with us after this?” Chrysopelea asked Smoke.
“No, I still have some unfinished business here,” replied Smoke. “But I’ll meet you there. I think I’ll be faster anyway since I’m flying and you guys are taking your war-carriages, right?”
“Probably,” replied Chrysopelea and resumed gathering the dropped items.
Smoke stood still, looking around the busy Sonstwelters collecting loot. Despite losing many team members, he felt less guilty about their deaths. Unlike the time when he lost his Zectian members. This felt different, for he knew that they would return after twenty-four hours in the real world— four days in the realm of Zectas.
* * * * * *
After watching Chrysopelea and the rest of the Sonstwelters leave the Ork Outpost, Smoke elevated the stowed wyvern eggs from the ground and picked them up. He grinned as he placed them into his inventory window and glided over to the hidden MaduHai Village inside the swamp.
“That sure was mighty gracious of you,” squeaked Daga from inside his chest pocket. “Not taking a single loot from that wyvern.”
“Well, those men deserved it,” said Smoke, truthfully. “I couldn’t have killed those monsters by myself.”
“True,” replied Daga. “But at least you used me during battle. Was kind of afraid I wasn’t going to see any action, and we trained so hard for it too,” she added.
“Anyway, you better jump off the same tree where you hid last time,” said Smoke. “We don’t want the swamp jaguars to find you, right?”
“Definitely!” exclaimed Daga. “That’s one order I’m going to obediently follow.”
Smoke landed on the same spot where he hid his shoddy-looking raft. After putting Daga on one of the white oak’s branches, he began pushing the raft through the murky swamp towards the MaduHai village shoreline.
“Ah! Navalikar Magic Swordsman et Vraktis!” greeted one of the MaduHai Ork Guards.
“Tamir usair,” said the Guard. “Givatavak fari siri Meneur.”
“Okay, Akir magvait dirir,” replied Smoke in his crude Orkish, indicating that he would wait for Meneur in the shoreline outside the village.
Smoke sat on the moist ground, which made him transfer on his crudely made raft instead.
A few minutes later, the blind Ork High Priestess stepped out of the village.
“You’re back, Sir Ilad, Magic Swordsman in training,” said Meneur. “Do you have all of your limbs intact?”
“Would you have preferred it if I lost a leg or two?” asked Smoke.
“Maybe,” replied Meneur, slightly pausing. “At least that would mean that you tried to go fight the wyverns in the Outpost.”
She scuffed and said. “Now, I bet you’re going to tell me some amazing tale of how you barely escaped with your life, no?”
Smoke let out a genuine laugh. “I think I would have really done that if I didn’t manage to finish the task,” he said and pulled out one of the wyvern eggs from his inventory window. It was big at half a meter in size. “Here, it’s my gift to you,” he said and offered the egg to the blind Ork.
One of the Priestesses behind Meneur walked up and helped her receive the egg.
“Oh! This really is a wyvern egg,” said Meneur, excited. “You really did clear the Outpost, huh?”
“Hatagir siyar sair sa emvlemir,” said Meneur to one of the Priestesses.
Smoke received a small emblem with an embossed Orkish head on its center.
Then, a notification window popped up.
Completed Quest: Cleaning up the MaduHai Mess
After dispatching the wyvern nest you are allowed entry into the MaduHai village, but you will only be able to access its public areas.
“You are the first non-Ork to receive that emblem,” said Meneur. “But that only grants you access to the public places in our village.”
“That’s fine by me,” replied Smoke.
Meneur then handed the wyvern egg to the other Ork Priestess and told her to be careful without it in Orkish.
“What do you plan to do with it?” asked Smoke.
“Maybe keep it as a trophy? Not sure yet,” said Meneur. “Come, let’s head into the place you’ve longed to see.”
“Thank you, please lead the way,” said Smoke.
“Asking a blind woman to lead,” chuckled Meneur. “DarkElves are not that bright, huh?” she said but led the way nonetheless.
“So, what happened to the wyverns that birthed this egg?” asked Meneur.
“I killed it,” bluntly replied Smoke.
“I would have wanted a more detailed story,” said Meneur. “But I guess we could save that for another time.”
As soon as they entered the rustic village of the Orks, many of its residents line up to gaze at Smoke, the first nonOrk to enter their home.
His first impression of them was a far cry from the one he had in mind. Instead of them building weapons or training for war; they were tilling the reclaimed swamplands, mending the fishnets and even drying out the caught fish under the sun. Even the Orklings playing on the muddy ground were smiling to their heart’s content.
“Not quite what you expected?” asked Meneur out of the blue.
“Huh? What do you mean?” innocently asked Smoke.
“Fine! Be that way,” said Meneur. “Anyway, as you can see, there really isn’t anything much here in our village.”
“What are you talking about? There’s a lot going on here. I even saw someone making an Ork sculpture out of a willow trunk.”
“Oh, don’t mind him,” said Meneur. “He’ll try to sell you one of his sculptures and even claims that they’re worth a lot, but they aren’t worth squat.”
Then, they passed by the largest structure of the village. He marveled at the intricate craftsmanship carved into the wooden beams protruding out of the hut. Inside, he saw tons of bookshelves stacked against the entire wall of the two-story hut. He also caught a few Ork Priestesses practicing Water Manipulation.
‘That must be what they used to drain out the water from the swamp,’ surmised Smoke.
“Ilad? Did something catch your attention?” asked Meneur.
At once, Smoke could tell that she was not asking a simple question.
“Honestly, just got excited when I saw your stacks of books,” replied Smoke. “I’m sort of a Bibliophile,” he added shyly.
“Really?” asked Meneur, doubtful. “What kind of books have you read?”
“Mostly ability books, but I’ve also read the Ancient History of Zectas, Military Strategies of the Meridianus, The Enigmatic Village of Nanahuatl, and that’s just to name a few.”
“You know about Nanahuatl?” said Meneur, surprised. “That’s one of the rarest books in our village collection.”
This time, it was Smoke’s turn to be astonished. “What? You have a copy of that book here?”
“Certainly!” proudly said the blind Ork Priestess, nodding her head with enthusiasm. “Unfortunately, it is written in Lacerta and I’m the only left here who knows how to read the common tongue,” she let out a regretful sigh. “Didn’t even get to finish reading all of them.”
“But you’re blind now,” bluntly said Smoke. “Who is going to read those books now?”
“What? I’m blind?” asked Meneur, acting all shocked and panicky. “Oh, right… right. I’ve been blind for almost twenty years,” she added and chuckled.
Smoke nervously laughed. “Yeah, sorry about that. Completely forgot about it.”
“Say, do you want to read some of the books written in Lacerta?” asked Meneur.
“Really? That would be awesome!” replied Smoke, ecstatic.
“But I have one condition,” said Meneur. “You can’t ask for any books written in Orkish.”
“Done!” said Smoke without hesitation.
“Indanir, dalair kirig livror nar magir Lacerta,” said Meneur to one of the Ork Priestesses.
Smoke only caught a few words, but he guessed that he was about to have all of the books in their library written in Lacerta.
“I’ll have one of the men bring you a desk,” said Meneur. “Just hope that it won’t rain anytime soon.”
“Oh? Am I reading the books right here?” asked Smoke. “Can I make a desk and maybe even a shed? I’ll destroy it as soon as I’m done reading the books.”
“Hm. Well, if you can build it in less than two minutes, then I don’t see why not,” said Meneur, chuckling loudly at her own joke.
“Ah, I don’t see…” politely said Smoke, laughing dryly. “That was funny,” he added but could not completely drown out the hint of sarcasm in his voice.
“Fine! It wasn’t that funny,” blurted out Meneur. “But it would have been if I said it in Orkish,” she mumbled on about how things are not as funny in a different tongue. “Anyway, you’ve got two minutes.”
Without waiting for the Ork High Priestess to say another word, Smoke created an earth-bench, earth-table, and an open shed with only four earth-pillars to support the roof.
“Wha? What happened?” asked Meneur.
“Oh, I made a shed out of the earth,” passively replied Smoke.
“You have the Earth Manipulation ability?” asked Meneur.
Smoke grinned and nodded his head.
“You need to speak up,” said Meneur. “I can’t see, remember?”
“Yes, I have it,” quickly stammered Smoke.
“Then, would you be interested in improving our village walls?” asked Meneur.
As soon as she finished asking, a notification window popped up.
+ Quest: MaduHai Contract Worker
Improve the current wooden wall structure around the MaduHai Village with your Earth Manipulation.
Accept the Quest? [YES/NO]
“Hm, let me think about it,” said Smoke. “I really want to read the books first.”
He hesitated to take on the quest, discourage by the Level D and the potential rewards that would go with it.
Shortly after, stacks of books were delivered to him. His eyes scanned for a leather tome but sadly found none in the first batch of books that was delivered to him.
“Looks like you’re really excited to start reading,” said Meneur. “I’ll leave you to it then.”
“Thanks!” replied Smoke.
With that, Meneur and the other Ork Priestesses proceeded into the largest hut of the village.
“I maybe blind but I could already hear you salivating all the way from over here,” shouted Meneur before the doors were closed after her.
Smoke paid her no mind. He began to voraciously consume the books. There was one on the philosophies of the Orks on the views of the other races. There was also a book entitled: ‘Why Other Races hate Orks’. However, the book that caught his attention was the one entitled: ‘How to Build your own Dragon Hatchery.’
How to Build your own Dragon Hatchery:
– Can hatch dragon eggs and other Dragonic eggs such as wyverns, wyrms, drakes, and other draconic creatures.
As soon as he read the book, Smoke could not help himself but shout. “Meneur! I know how to hatch the wyvern egg!”