Author: John Nest
Barely anything was moving in the scorching lands of the desolate Grand Malodorant Dragonis. Yet, despite the skin-blistering heat, there were Sonstwelters and Zectians filled with life and gusto. All of them huddled up in one of the encampments left by the ruined DracoRicco guild.
Now, this place had become a way-point for those who dared venture into the land that destroyed the most powerful guild in Zectas. A place for those who wished to make a name for themselves, and claim the title of strongest.
Monster Slaying Quests such as killing aride and feuern wyrms ranged from Levels A to S were prevalent in the region. A formidable opportunity for rising guilds to grow.
As such, there was a cave near the encampment which had grown infamous in these parts.
|+ Quest: Put out the Feuern Wyrm Queen
Monster Hunting Quest
A Mother Feuern Wyrm was found in the cave of Silok.
Kill the Queen and win the hoard of riches the wyrms have gathered.
Accept the Quest? [YES/NO]
This Quest Window had now been seen by almost all of the new arrivals. As such, the Feuern Wyrm Queen was dubbed as the unkillable beast, hundreds of high-level Sonstwelters still willingly enter the mouth of what was now called the cave of Beguilement—Silok.
Due to this, the famed treasure hoard had grown thrice in value. The hard-earned equipment of those who succumbed to the luster of greed piled on top the now medium-sized hill of bounty.
Today, another set of aspirants were headed for the infamous cave. Five Paladins, four Priestesses, eight Wizards, sixteen Knights, and an Assassin.
“Told you the Ork War in Sawtorn was doomed,” blurted out a Paladin Captain.
“Yeah, good thing you decided not to go there,” added a Priestess, walking closely behind him. “Otherwise, our entire guild could have been wiped out.”
“Well, this cave isn’t a sure thing as well,” replied another Paladin. “Tristan brought his guild here.”
“But not even the mighty DracoRicco guild could take out the feuern wyrm,” added one of the Wizards.
“Correct. Ironically, this was also the place where DracoRicco disbanded,” added the Paladin Captain, acting out like a tour guide.
“Can you just shut up with that DracoRicco talk?” asked the lone Assassin, exasperated.
“Hey, stop being rude,” said a Priestess behind the Assassin and grabbed him by the shoulders. “Don’t forget we were the ones who begged to join them.”
“That’s right,” replied the Paladin Captain, all flustered. “Maybe, you two should just stay outside the cave.” He said, pointing for the Priestess and Assassin to leave.
“Sorry, Captain. He just had one too many drinks back in the encampment,” said the Priestess.
“No!” exclaimed the Paladin Captain. “That’s it! You two are out. You’re not getting any of that treasure.”
“Yeah! We don’t need you two anyway,” chimed in a Knight. “Our Hambog Guild alone is more than enough to take out this wyrm queen,” he added, pointing at the other Knights, Paladins, Priestesses, and Wizards.
“I see,” replied the Priestess, forlorn. “I understand. Both of us are going back up. Again, sorry to have troubled you and good luck with that dragon.”
The kicked-out Priestess pulled the Assassin by the arm and headed outside the cave’s mouth.
“Ha! Those two don’t know jack!” said the Paladin Captain. “She doesn’t even know the difference between a wyrm and a dragon.”
Then, the Paladin Captain laughed hard. The members of the Hambog Guild all looked at each other first before they joined in with him.
After the Assassin and Priestess left, the Paladin Captain led his guild farther into the cave. The Priestesses and Wizards put up illuminating spells to light their path.
“Enzo?” asked one of the Priestesses, tapping on the Paladin Captain’s shoulder. “Are you sure that it’s just the wyvern here?”
“Damn it, Emma,” replied the Paladin Captain. “How many times do I have to tell you to call me Captain?”
Suddenly, skeleton warriors and trolls charged at them from the dark shadows of the cave.
“Then what are those?” asked Emma, taking cover behind Enzo—the Paladin Captain.
“What?” replied Enzo, clearly taken aback. “They’re just illusions,” he said, doing his best to stand his ground. “No one attack,” he added. His hands fidgeted for his sword but did his best to do nothing against the incoming monsters.
“They’re meant to waste your MPs,” explained Enzo. “Trust me, I did my research. I know what I’m doing,” he added, his voice trembling.
Dozens of skeleton warriors and trolls kept on with their intimidating charge. Yet, as soon as the monsters made contact with the members of the Hambog Guild they vanished.
“See? What did I tell you?” said Enzo.
“Way to go, Enz— I mean Captain,” said Emma, stepping away from the Paladin Captain.
“Now, let’s go,” said Enzo, leading thirty-two Sonstwelters to slay the supposed unkillable wyrm queen. “It’s right here,” he said, leading them towards the next corner. “The forums said that the cave could hold at most forty people at once but no guild has tried to do it with more than twenty members.”
Enzo stopped and signaled for everyone to keep quiet. He got out a parchment and checked on his notes. “We’re here,” he said, “Remember, no sudden moves.”
The guild members stretched out their necks to take a peek. There, they found a flaming wyrm, deep in its slumber. It looked peaceful, with its wingless body curled around the treasure hoard.
“It’s supposed to be ten meters long from head to tail,” explained Enzo, checking his notes. “But the girth of its body should only be one and a half meters.”
“No way,” said one of the Wizards. “Your notes must be outdated. That thing should be at least twice that size.”
“My, that’s one big wyrm,” whispered Emma.
“Never mind that,” said Enzo. “Just remember why we’re here,” he added pointing to the treasure behind it.
“And it’s weakness is its head, huh?” confirmed Emma.
“Yes,” answered Enzo. “At least, that’s where most of the guilds dealt the highest damage.”
“Alright, what’s the plan?” asked Emma.
“Let’s go for a sure win,” began Enzo. “I’ll lead the Paladins and Knights at the front,” he paused and turned to Emma. “You stay with the Healers and Wizards at the back.”
With that, the Priests and Priestesses of the Hambog Guild began to cast buff spells on everyone. When all of the members finished their preparations, they readied themselves as they waited for Enzo’s signal.
“Remember, retreat towards the healers if your life bars get below fifty percent,” said Enzo to his fellow Paladins and Knights. He then walked over to his younger cousin. “Emma, make sure to focus your healing on me, got that?”
“Of course,” replied Emma.
“Okay, okay. Looks like everyone’s ready,” said Enzo. “Let’s go!” he yelled out, calling the attention of the sleeping feuern wyrm.
“Roooooaaar!” roared the awoken feuern wyrm.
“Why did you do that?” asked Emma. “Now, it knows we’re here.”
“So that its attention is on me,” replied Enzo, charging forward with his shield. The other Paladins and Knights followed in the same manner.
The Wizards fired their elemental spells at the wyrm’s head, displaying its name and life bar—Truffatore (4,978,000/5,000,000 HP). Despite the torrent of attacks, the monster was barely damaged.
In retaliation, it uncoiled its body from the treasure horde and slithered around the Paladins and Knights. The Hambog Tanks were knocked off their feet, only to be pressed down by the thick body of Truffatore. Their life bars steadily dwindled as they were being squashed by the wingless monster.
“No one stop!” cried out Emma. “Aim for its head,” she called out as she kept casting double damage on the feuern wyrm queen.
Truffatore ignored the ranged attackers. In fact, its mouth opened wide as it let out a deafening yawn. With one flick of its body, the life bars of the Paladins and Knights fell below 10%.
“Emma, it’s too strong!” said Enzo, before his last hit points left him and died.
Enzo’s body vanished under the weight of the massive wyrm. Seconds later, the rest of the Paladins and Knights followed.
Then, the feuern wyrm began sweeping the left-behind items with its body towards the treasure hoard.
“Run!” shouted Emma to the rest of her guildmates, as she sprinted for her life. The other Priests and Wizards close behind her.
As soon as it finished stowing the items away, Truffatore wriggled its massive body out of the hoard and slithered towards the cave’s exit.
Fueled by their companions’ demise, Emma and the rest of the Hambog Guild members were fast on their feet. They could already see the light to freedom.
Yet, as Emma stepped out of the cave, she felt a painful sharp object puncture her foot. She looked down and found a small hooked knife that punctured through her right shoe. “Everyone, be careful,” she said. But before she could warn her guildmates, they had already fallen for the same hooked knife.
“Waaaaah!” screamed her guildmates as they were devoured by the wingless wyrm.
CRACK CREAK CRACK
The sounds of their bones being crushed tormented Emma’s ears. She looked around searching for help and spotted the Priestess and Assassin they had kicked out earlier.
“Help!” she screamed at them as the supposed unkillable wyrm queen drew closer.
The Assassin hunched down and gave her a condescending look. “Why?”
“Fine! I hope it gets you too!” Emma yelled, casting a petrification spell on him.
Before Truffatore’s mouth could devour Emma, she saw the Assassin remain in the same position, immobilized.
While Emma’s bones were being crushed, a blue casting circle appeared beneath the stunned Assassin and canceled Emma’s petrification.
“Damn! I didn’t think she’d know that,” said the Assassin.
“Oh, shut up, Bones,” said the Priestess who saved him. “You’re just careless.”
Less than a meter away, the massive Truffatore chewed on Emma’s body in front of the Assassin and the Priestess.
“Sue me, Aurora,” replied Bones. “Truff, can you back away a bit?” he said to the wingless wyrm.
At once, the massive feuern wyrm queen obeyed.
Then, a Paladin Lord in shining gold armor stepped out from Silok Cave. “Bones, she’s right. You better shape up,” said Tristan. “Aurora, can you please?” he asked the Priestess.
Healing lights enveloped the supposed wyrm queen, completely restoring its life bar.
“Their items aren’t bad too,” said Bones, examining the scepter Emma left behind.
Tristan scoffed, unimpressed at their newly acquired loot. “You can keep those if you want.”
“Really? You don’t want me to put it with the rest of the hoard?” asked Bones, smiling.
“No,” flatly replied Tristan. “Besides, this will be the last time we’re hunting items.”
“Huh? What do you mean?” asked Bones.
“We’re moving out,” replied Tristan.
“About time!” exclaimed Bones. “You know, Third’s been really making a name for himself,” he went on, examining the dropped loot. “In fact, I think he might be slightly ahead of us. What with him being Duke of Thalzoc City.”
“Just concentrate on your items,” Aurora said to Bones while examining Truffatore herself.
“We ever heading back to Tonaci City?” blurted out Bones. “I know you could easily reclaim your title.”
Tristan did not reply but stared intently towards the southern skies.
“Although, Third is in a bit of a pickle,” went on Bones, laughing. “Sure was lucky he wasn’t kicked out. What with that whole Ork Horde foul up—” He stopped mid-sentence as Tristan forcibly covered his mouth with gauntlets.
“It wasn’t Third’s fault!” Tristan screamed at Bones. “My brother and the allied kingdoms could have easily defeated the Orks if it wasn’t for Faux!”
“Yeah, of course,” said Bones, breaking free from Tristan’s grip. “That Faux character sure was sneaky.”
“Exactly!” declared Tristan. “I thought Smoke was deceitful, but now I think Faux’s even worse.”
“Truffatore, get out of this disguise,” said Aurora, catching their attention and diffusing the tension.
The orange wingless wyrm lowered its head in obedience. A pair of expansive wings sprouted out on its back as crimson flames enveloped its body. Next, came out its arms and legs, with sharp claws on its ends. A set of majestic horns, forming the shape of a crown, popped out of its head, as its neck stretched out and thinned. When the transformation was finished, Truffatore had the spitting image of Valdurath, one of the twelve legendary dragons of Zectas.
“So, where we heading?” asked Aurora.
“Sawtorn. We’re helping Third deal with Faux,” replied Tristan.
* * * * * *
Ominous shadow figures emerged over the ice-capped mountains whenever the afternoon sun outlined the thousands of trees. The potential danger skulking behind every silhouette made most newcomers on the edge. Glacial bears, Undead yetis, and snow banshees were but some of the monsters that concealed themselves in the dark forest. Yet, there were creatures far more eerie than this in the forgotten kingdom of Aquilomentl.
A log-wall covered in snow was the only protection from the dangers that lurked outside the encampment of Ville de Plaisir.
Today, the Zectian watch-guard on duty saw an unusual snow storm come blitzing through the white plains which time left behind.
“Call Sir Salace!” shouted the watch-guard to his comrade below.
As the snow storm drew closer, the heads of two stag moose popped out. They were pulling a heavily armored war carriage driven by a tigress Lioumerean.
In a matter of seconds, they crossed the white plains that stretched over three kilometers. Then, the snow cloud gathered in front of the encampment’s closed gate.
“Whoa, Tulin. Whoa, Bilis,” called out Gandiva, as they revealed themselves to be the source of the snow storm. The tigress Lioumerean knocked on the door before she got off. She rubbed the chin of her stag moose and got out two apples for her beloved mounts. While munching on the apple, the stag moose called Bilis somberly rubbed its face against Gandiva’s. “I know, I miss Laernea too,” she said to her best friend’s mount. “But we’ve only got each other now.”
Then, a male and female Druid in their early twenties stepped out the war carriage. They wore thick warm fur to protect themselves from the icy wind.
“Where’s Mamelon?” asked Gandiva, still petting Bilis.
Ardu shook his head. “She’s still sleeping.” He paused and grinned. “Weird, right?”
Vrai instantly swatted Ardu’s chest. “That’s disrespectful,” she reprimanded. “Do you want people to think that’s what Lady Sierra taught us.”
“Alright, sorry,” Ardu raised his hands and backed away from further beating. “It’s just that I’ve never seen Smoke or Lady Sierra sleep that long.”
Then, from on top of the snow covered log-wall, the posted watch-guard called out to them. “Oi! State your business. Shelter or Trade?”
“Neither! We’re looking for someone!” answered Gandiva. “Vrai, why don’t you go wake Mamelon up?” she added in a whisper.
At once, Vrai did as she was told and disappeared into the carriage.
The watch-guard stared at Gandiva then at Ardu. After a few more seconds of scrutiny, he called out once more. “Who are—” but stopped mid-sentence when he saw Mamelon step off the war carriage.
The well-proportioned Aqua Knight flipped her long blond hair and gave him a winsome smile. “Hi. We’re from the south, and I was wondering if you could help us out?”
“Um… um… um…” stammered on the watch-guard.
Soon after, a middle-aged Sonstwelter dressed in regal Merchant robes stood next to the watch-guard. “Vestal? What’s wrong with you, Boy?” he asked the watch-guard.
All the watch-guard could do was point at Mamelon.
“Oh! Good job calling me Vestal,” he said, grinning widely as he gawked Mamelon. “Newcomers?” he asked sweetly. “The name’s Salace. I’m the head-honcho round these parts.” He declared, motioning with his hands at the snow-covered encampment. “Trade, Shelter, or perhaps some fun recreation?” he added, winking at Mamelon. “Let me guess. Third choice, right?”
“No,” replied Mamelon with a forced smile. “We’re looking for a Sonstwelter named Magikera. Someone told us she’d be here.”
Salace was taken aback. “But who might you be?” he added quickly, resuming his creepy grin. “Didn’t catch your name there.”
“Oh, right,” replied Mamelon, squinting her eyes. “Could you just tell her that Sierra’s friend is looking for her?”
“Sierra? Don’t know anyone by that name,” answered Salace. “Wait. Are you perhaps refugees from Sawtorn?” he asked, sounding all concern. “Heard that the Ork Horde defeated the allied the kingdoms and are now ravaging the entire southern continent.”
“Sawtorn? No, we’re from Wysteria,” replied Ardu, his voiced raised. “Why would a Sawtorn refugee travel all the way up to the Nordland Continent?”
Without a word, Vrai’s knuckles hit Ardu’s chest, hard.
“I suppose you’re right,” replied Salace, ignoring the interaction of the two Druids. “It would be better for them to run to Wysteria or to Ishtar.”
“Anyway, is Magikera there?” repeated Mamelon.
“Sorry, there’s no one here by that name,” replied Salace. “But you’re more than welcome to stay.”
Mamelon shook her head. “Nah, that’s okay. We’ll try somewhere else,” she said politely and rushed towards the war carriage.
“But it’s really dangerous out there,” said Salace. “Just stay for the night.”
“It’s fine,” replied Ardu as he followed Mamelon and Vrai. “We can handle ourselves.”
Salace scowled at the young man. “Get me a glacial horn,” he hurriedly commanded.
TOOOTT TOOOT TOOOTT TOOOT
“What was that?” asked Vrai, worried.
“Whatever it is, I’m sure it’s not good,” replied Gandiva, rushing to her driver’s seat. “Come on, let’s go!” she said to Ardu, who was the last one to get in.
Before their war carriage could leave, they were surrounded by four massive glacial bears. These carnivores were completely made out of ice. Except for their nose, which was black and squishy. Even on all fours, it was clear that they were bigger than Sierra in her Werebear form.
The glacial bears growled, exposing their sharp canines.
“See?” called out Salace from on top of the log wall. “Told you it’s dangerous out there! Why don’t you come in, and wait till they leave?”
This time, it was Vrai who responded to the creepy Salace. “Thank you. But this is fine.” She then got out of the war carriage and held her Druid staff at the ready.
“Seriously? You really want to fight them?” asked Ardu, annoyed.
“Oh, come on, Ardu,” chimed in Mamelon, stepping off the carriage as well. “This’ll be quick,” she added as she stood next to Vrai with her elegant sapphire lance at the ready.
“Alright, we’ll take one each I suppose,” added Gandiva, removing the tug of Bilis and Tulin which tied them down to the carriage.
An irritated Ardu joined in and said. “It’s okay to go wild, right? I’ll be done in five seconds.”
“Don’t you dare!” warned Vrai. “Remember what Lady Sierra told us.”
“Fine! I won’t use my Werebear form,” replied Ardu.
Without warning, Bilis and Tulin ran off with Gandiva standing on top of Tulin’s back. Equipped with her modified long bow, she stood firm despite the stag moose’s rapid gallop. She pulled her bow and her specialized arrow pierced the glacial bear’s squishy nose.
The monster cried out in pain. With its front ice-paws, it desperately tried to pull out the arrow. Yet, the glacial bear found it difficult as the arrow head had specially crafted backwards-facing barbs, which made it harder to pull out once they’re stuck in.
Grabbing this opening, the unmounted Bilis charged forward and rammed its blade-like antlers into the glacial bear’s stomach, launching it backward.
Yet, seconds later, the three-meter tall monster lunged forward as the second pair of antlers penetrated its spine. Tulin and Bilis locked their antlers together with the glacial bear skewered in the middle.
“Hold it steady,” said Gandiva, who stood on top of Tulin. She then pulled out flaming arrows from the quill. She struck arrows on the back of the monster’s head until its final hit points turned zero, killing it.
Meanwhile, Vrai stood firm in front of the stampeding glacial bear. She pointed her wooden staff at the beast and roots sprang out of the thick snow. The powerful glacial bear moved five more meters until more roots intertwined and held it firm.
Then, Vrai began chanting her spell. “Nature’s Blessing heed my call, decimate this enemy with your squall!”
Tiny green orbs surrounded the captured beast. They then began swirling around it, enveloping the monster in an orb of green light. All the glacial bear could do was cry out in pain as the tiny green orbs pierced through its icy body. The minuscule lights only stopped when the glacial bear was silenced forever.
Simultaneously, Ardu held the same stance as Vrai. He pointed his staff at the glacial bear and roots sprang out in the same manner. He then began chanting the same spell as her. “Nature’s Blessing heed my call, decimate this enemy with your squall!”
However, not a single green orb appeared. He tried again, chanting the spell word for word but still there was nothing.
The glacial bear growled and it began to tear up some of the roots that had ensnared it.
“Oh, to hell with it,” grumbled Ardu. He dropped his Druid staff and ran straight for the glacial bear. He jumped towards the monster’s right side and leaped onto its back. Once on top, he transmogrified his right hand into that of a Werebear. Raising it over his head, he plunged it deep below its thoracic vertebrae and into the glacial bear’s heart. He grasped it with his transformed hand and crushed it. He squeezed it until the life bar of the monster was depleted.
While the Zectian Vigilantez fought their respective glacial bears, Mamelon faced her own monster. Unlike Vrai and Ardu’s fur coat, hers was not as thick which made her shiver in her Aqua armor. Yet, despite quivering in the cold, she held her sapphire lance firm.
Before the glacial bear could draw closer, Mamelon launched eight aqueous spikes from her lance. The spikes glistened as water droplets caught the afternoon sun as it whizzed through the air.
However, all of her attacks left the monster unfazed as the glacial bear looked to be impervious to her aqueous spikes.
“That’s just great,” she muttered as her water attacks were uneffective. She turned to the side and checked on her friends. She grinned when she saw that they had their own glacial monsters handled. “This should be easy,” she said, pumping herself up.
After taking a deep breath, Mamelon matched the glacial bears charge and ran up to meet it. She leaped sideways and smashed her sapphire lance against the monster’s skull.
Sadly, the glacial bear took minimal damage as its life bar displayed that only 5% was reduced from her frontal attack. The monster retaliated with a claw swipe which threw Mamelon into the thick pine trees, breaking some branches with her back.
Despite the pain in her spine, seeing the rushing glacial bear made her stand up. She looked around the abundant trees and found no passable exit within them. Left with no other option, she started climbing up the branches. Fortunately, she was given a few seconds more as the glacial bear still had to break the branches which blocked its path.
Looking down at the monster from the branches, Mamelon pointed her lance at the glacial bear. Realizing that the monster had sturdy defense, she searched for a sweet spot to hit.
But before she could launch her attack, the glacial bear swiped its claws up and broke the branch Mamelon was on.
She fell downward. She pulled her lance close to her chest, pointing it at the glacial bear’s soft, black nose and pierced it straight through the back of its neck. Mamelon took advantage of the critical strike and continued aiming for the monster’s head. She only stopped when a notification window popped up.
|+ You’ve dealt a fatal blow to the glacial bear
+ You’ve killed the glacial bear
+ You’ve gained 250,000 EXP
Mamelon grimaced at the experience reward but hoped that the monster dropped something worthwhile.
+ Acquired common item: glacial eye
She let out a deep sigh and brushed the snow off her armor.
Mamelon emerged out of the thick pine trees after collecting the glacial bear’s eye.
“No! You’re supposed to ask for our help!” angrily shouted Salace from on top of the log wall. He grabbed his glacial horn and was about to blow on it.
But before the middle-aged Sonstwelter could do so, Gandiva rode Tulin and jumped on one of the pine trees near the encampment’s walls, landing on top of it. In one swift motion, she then shot the glacial horn with her arrows.
The first arrow knocked the horn from Salace’s hand, while the second one pierced a hole through the horn before it shattered against the log wall.
“Do that again and the next one’s going straight through your eyes,” said Gandiva pointing her arrow at Salace.
“Gandiva, don’t,” called Mamelon from below. “We’re not here to make trouble.”
“Fine!” replied Gandiva, still pointing her bow and arrow at Salace. She lowered her weapon and stared Salace right in the eye. “Don’t scream and I won’t kill you,” she said to him in a whisper.
“What?” asked Salace, confused.
Blocked from Mamelon’s line of vision, Gandiva shot an arrow into Salace’s knee, knocking him down on the floor of the log wall. The Merchant’s personal Zectians did nothing but watch as Tulin threatened them with its antlers.
Gandiva then had Tulin leap off the wall to one of the pine trees and rejoined her comrades.
“What happened up there?” asked Mamelon.
“Nothing,” replied Gandiva, hurriedly hitching Bilis and Tulin to the war carriage. “Let’s go. We still have a long way for the next encampment.”
* * * * * *
Fifty thousand strapping young men and women, equipped with leather armor and long spears, were assembled in the expansive plains of Lehre. The youthful Avendre Mercenaries stood in front of a stone wall over eight meters in height—The outer most wall of Verbrannt. Where they all looked up and waited for the red haired HighElf to speak.
“You must be wondering why you’re all gathered today and have been recalled from your current missions,” began Sierra. “Before anything else, let me just say that I’ve never been prouder in seeing anyone’s growth like you all have shown,” she added, smiling at all of them below. “You’ve all endured the harsh training and even harder missions, but you’ve all survived and grown stronger.”
The Avendre Mercenaries yelled out and cheered at Sierra’s praises.
“In the end, everything that you’ve accomplished today is because of your own effort. And I’d like to congratulate you on that.” She paused and her smile was replaced by a frown. “But the reason you’re all here today is because of our special guest.”
An elderly man in long brown robes stepped forward next to Sierra.
At once, the Avendre Mercenaries fell into an ominous silence, like all of life had been drained out of them.
“Please welcome the leader of the Avendre Mercenaries—Solliciter,” declared Sierra.
The young Mercenaries fell into a monotonous clapping.
“Oh! Come now, that’s not a proper welcome,” said Solliciter, who now blocked Sierra’s view.
In complete unison, the gathered Avendre clapped faster and louder.
“That’s better!” said Solliciter, grinning. “Listen up! I’ve come to see how you’ve all grown.”
Hurriedly, a massive reinforced steel carriage was pulled up at the side of the assembly. It was drawn by two war elephants and was brought to the front for everyone to see.
The steel carriage shook violently. The Avendre Mercenaries near it reflexively pointed their long spears at it, unfazed.
Four Mercenaries got off the carriage. They looked up the wall and saluted Solliciter.
“Open it up, Boys,” ordered Solliciter.
The Mercenaries nodded and proceeded as instructed. When they opened it, two caged Orks rattling their steel enclosure were revealed.
“Fatyonir tamir!” screamed one of the Orks.
“Valay maka eskapur!” shouted the other.
“Now, pay them no mind,” said Solliciter. “I want six volunteers to fight these monsters from Sawtorn. If you don’t perform as expected, I will pull all of you out of here and revoke their post as an Avendre Satellite.”
“Wait! I don’t mind being a satellite, but you can’t send just six,” interjected Sierra. “Those monsters aren’t Ork grunts.”
“Um… they maybe stronger than your average Ork,” began Solliciter. “But, they’re still below the level of an Ork Colonel.”
“I don’t care,” argued Sierra. “That’s still too much.”
Solliciter nodded at her. “I see.” He paused and yelled out to the gathered Mercenaries. “Make it four Avendre! Attack now, unless you want me to end your contract with them.”
Before Sierra could respond, four of their personally trained Mercenaries stepped in front of the caged Orks.
Sierra tried to stop them but Solliciter held her back.
“See?” said Solliciter to Sierra. “They’re not afraid. So, why should you?”
Without another word, the steel cage was opened by Solliciter’s men. Both Orks charged out and immediately went after the men who released them. The green giants grabbed them by their necks and broke them like they were twigs.
“Kamunir sundir,” threatened one of the Orks at Sierra’s Avendre volunteers.
At once, all four Avendre scattered. They paired off but made sure to force the two Orks to stand back to back with their synchronized footwork.
Unarmed, the Orks laughed. One of them tried to grab the long spears but the Mercenary pulled it out of the Ork’s reach. Simultaneously, the paired Avendre leaped towards the monster and impaled his spear straight through its throat, piercing the shoulder of the Ork behind it. He grabbed the Ork’s shoulder and pushed his spear farther in. Using both hands, the Avendre Mercenary pushed with all his might, stabbing the Ork with the spear in his throat.
In retaliation, the Ork squeezed the Mercenary with his arms, quickly reducing his life bar.
The Ork in the back cried out in pain, surprised by the sudden back attack. He turned to face the source of its injury, only to have his stomach penetrated with a long spear.
With one of the Avendre hanging on to one of the monsters and the Orks skewered together, both green giants found it difficult to move forward or back.
However, the Mercenary caught in the arms of the Ork only had 10% left on his life bar.
With one Mercenary holding on to the spear stuck in the Orks’ stomach, the two remaining Avendre hurriedly aimed for the Ork who was crushing their comrade to death. Their rapid stabs with their spears drastically reduced the Ork’s life bar. Yet, it was all for not, for their comrade’s life bar was already depleted.
After the body of the Ork and the Avendre disappeared from existence, the battle had become three-versus-one.
The Mercenary holding on to his spear inside the Ork’s stomach persevered. The Ork had taken a few jabs at him with his fists. Fortunately, he dodged most of them and retained a life bar of 65%.
Whereas, the two Avendre remained on the Ork’s back and continued to gorge holes out of the monster’s green skin.
Inflicted with the Bleeding status, the Ork survived less than three minutes against the punishing attacks of the three Avendre Mercenaries.
CLAP CLAP CLAP
The three exhausted survivors looked up and saw Solliciter giving them a slow clap.
“Well done!” said Solliciter. “Alright, everybody’s dismissed for now.” He then turned to Sierra. “My Lady, can I please have a word with you in private?”
“Of course,” replied Sierra. “Please follow me,” she added and led him to their closest strategy room. Where a blonde man and a brunette WoodElf were waiting for them. Sierra had instructed Thyrsus and Vijaya to be ready for their arrival.
Once inside, Solliciter ignored the Hunters. He parted his brown robes and sat down on his own. “Good. Let me get right to it,” he said, putting up his feet on the table. “I’m taking all of the Avendre back.”
Sierra was just about to sit across him but stopped when she heard his reason for being there. “What? What are you talking about?” she exclaimed. “We have a contract and we’ve trained them well.”
“I know and I thank you for that,” said Solliciter. “Which is why I’m sending them to my client that offered thrice their monthly contract here.”
“You’re not going to give them to Burmistrz!” said Sierra, her voice raising.
“Of course not!” replied Solliciter. “Like I told Smoke, I want to see his downfall as well. Relax, They’re going to Sawtorn.”
“What?” asked Thyrsus, who was silently standing in the corner until now. “You don’t mean to have them fight against Orks?”
“That’s none of your concern,” replied Solliciter without looking at him. He then snapped his finger, put down his feet and leaned towards Sierra. “How about this? I’ll send another batch for you to train at half their monthly contract?”
“No,” said Sierra.
“No? But, my dear, they all belong to me,” said Solliciter.
“Not anymore,” said Sierra. She walked towards the door and called out. “Perdant, come here.”
A plump Merchant with gray hair entered. He was pushing a cart full of sacks.
“What’s this supposed to be?” asked Solliciter, intrigued.
“Show him,” Sierra said to Perdant.
“Master Smoke had me do some business on his behalf,” began Perdant. “And this is the money we’ve come up so far.” He opened one of the sacks, revealing that it was filled to the brim with zecs.
“This is nice,” said Solliciter, grinning. “But what’s this for?”
“I’m buying their freedom,” declared Sierra. After we pooled all our earnings from the Avendre Satellite Quests and Smoke’s business enterprises, We’re now finally able to afford all fifty-thousand Mercenaries debts. “The Avendre are staying here,” she added with finality.
“I see,” said Solliciter, picking up some coins and dropping them back to the sack. “This is indeed more than what my client is offering now.” He paused, contemplating. “But that’s because this is a bulk payment. But in the long run, King Kajou’s offer would still be higher.”
“What are you talking about?” yelled Sierra. “This is more than enough to pay for all their debts.”
“I’m talking about their interest rates,” replied Solliciter. “It’s a rookie mistake, but I’m afraid you forgot to factor that in when you were saving for their freedom.”
“But there was never any mention of—” countered Sierra but was interrupted by Solliciter.
“How about this? I’ll give you a fourth of them?” offered Solliciter, smiling. “That’s a fair deal, right?”
“I want all of them,” said Sierra, staring him down.
In response, the leader of all the Avendre Mercenaries shook his head, backing his body away. “That’s just being silly.”
Thyrsus and Vijaya, who were some distance away, began exchanging worried glances.
“Sierra’s got this, right?” Thyrsus whispered to Vijaya.
“Of course,” replied Vijaya.
Without warning, Sierra slammed the table with her palm. “Perdant, take the cart,” she angrily ordered.
At once, the plump Merchant pulled the cart full of zecs towards the door.
“Hold it!” exclaimed Solliciter. “I’m a Businessman. There’s no need to be rash. You can have seventeen-thousand, that’s more than a third. You should be happy with that?”
“We should just kill him,” Thyrsus mumbled to Vijaya.
“You know we can’t do that,” replied Vijaya. “We can’t win against the entire Avendre Mercenaries.”
Sierra let out a deep breath. “It’s all or nothing,” she said. She then pointed to Thyrsus. “Can you help Perdant with the cart?”
With that, Thyrsus and Perdant resumed pulling the cart.
“You can have half,” said Solliciter. “Straight down the middle,” he added, making a cutting motion with his hand. “That’s my final offer.”
However, Sierra did not budge. Thyrsus, Perdant, and the cart full of zecs were nearing the door.
“You don’t want them? Fine!” said Solliciter, adjusting his brown robes near his neck. “Doesn’t really matter to me. After all, they’ll make up that money with their lives in Sawtorn.”
This time, it was Thyrsus who stopped Perdant from pulling the cart. He then turned to Sierra and said. “We should take it.”
Thyrsus’ fiancee blurted out. “What are you doing?” asked Vijaya, surprised. “Don’t interfere. Sierra has the final say.”
“I know that,” answered Thyrsus. “But I can’t send them away like this. We trained them to fight Knights, not green monsters twice their size.”
“But…” Vijaya tried to argue, yet could not find the words to support her.
“Brebis had to die today. Just because this bastard wants to see their improvement,” began Thyrsus. “Now, think about what the ones in Sawtorn will have them do. They’ll be used as meat-shields. Their Commanders will have no regard for their lives.”
No one countered Thyrsus’ truth.
“Even if it’s just half, we should save all that we can,” said Thyrsus, looking at Sierra with imploring eyes.
Sierra looked away and turned to Solliciter. “Thirty-thousand and we have a deal,” she said, offering her hand to the man in brown robes.
“Deal!” exclaimed Solliciter, grinning. “I’ll give you thirty minutes to pick out the men, and I expect the cart to be prepared with them as well.” He got up and left before anyone could say anything else.
“Thyrsus, pick out the strongest Mercenaries,” ordered Sierra.
“Of course,” replied Thyrsus, lowering his head. “Our thirty-thousand Avendre will be the strongest of the ones we’ve trained.”
“No! You’re picking out the ones we’re sending to Sawtorn,” said Sierra. “I believe they’ll survive, and when we have more money we’ll buy their freedom.”
“At once!” exclaimed Thyrsus, lowering his head even farther, hiding his watery eyes. “Sorry, I got in your way.”
“No. You were right,” replied Sierra, walking closer to Thyrsus. “I was too fixated on saving them all that I might’ve messed up that whole deal. Thank you,” she added, patting him on the shoulders. “Now, hurry up. You only got thirty minutes.”
Thyrsus bowed down and rushed outside the door.
“Perdant, you can handle the cart, right?” Sierra asked the plump Merchant.
“Frankly, it usually hurts giving away such a fortune. But this time, I feel lighthearted,” replied Perdant, giving Sierra a small bow and pushing the cart out of the room.
Sierra slumped down on the table, covering her face.
Left alone, Vijaya walked over to where Sierra was. “Like you said, they’re gonna be alright. The strongest Mercenaries are most likely coming from my battalion. So, there’s no need to worry.”
Sierra lifted her head and gave Vijaya a weak smile. “I know it’s strange, we’re training them to fight Burmistrz… So, why does it matter?”
“What are you talking about?” exclaimed Vijaya. “I never once pictured any of them dying under our command, and that makes all the difference.”
A few minutes later, a lioness Lioumerean barged into the room.
“I heard you’re sending my battalion to Sawtorn!” exclaimed Guro. She stared at Sierra with glaring nostrils. “You have one minute to explain!”
“Sit down,” calmly replied Sierra, motioning the seat next to her.
“I’ll stand,” answered Guro.
Before Sierra could talk, Vijaya began to explain the whole situation with Solliciter’s visit and his plan to take all of the Avendre Mercenaries. Vijaya’s explanation took longer than was necessary, but in the end, Guro understood.
“That was a wise decision,” Guro said to Sierra. “But I have one condition.”
“Anything,” quickly answered Sierra.
“I’m going with them,” said Guro plainly. “You want them to live, don’t you?” she added with definition.
Sierra could not respond. She thought about Smoke’s reaction but knew that he would not stop her. Besides, even if they did try there was no stopping a determined Guro.
“Fine. But you have to swear to stay alive,” said Sierra, giving Guro a hug.
* * * * * *
A fidgety Nash drummed his fingers on his desk, almost knocking off the half-eaten sandwich on his table. He was waiting for Sherry to pick up. Soon, he would delve into the unknown realm of Mictlan, and he wanted to speak with her before going.
“Hey, sorry it took so long, I just logged out,” answered Sherry.
“It’s alright. I was gonna log in anyway if you still didn’t pick up,” joked Nash.
“Then you’d better stay in the afterlife,” replied Sherry, laughing.
“Right! Anyway, how are things?” asked Nash.
“Alex still hasn’t returned. But he said that he’s almost found enough investors for our business venture,” said Sherry.
Nash realized that it was close to a year since her uncle had left. “You know you’re welcome to come over.”
“I know, but I like it here,” answered Sherry. “Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with your brothers but I prefer if you come—”
“Got it,” replied Nash. “I’ll visit more often.”
“Yeah, that’d be nice,” said Sherry. “What about Mima? Any news?”
“The Detectives gave me some updates, but there’s nothing exciting,” said Nash. “But I’m not worried. Lately, even Donny and Seth feel the same. It’s not that we’ve given up hope, it’s more like we’re sure we’ll find her.”
“Yup! Me too,” added Sherry.
“Anyway, what about Verbrannt?” interjected Nash, blatantly changing topics. “How’s everybody?”
Sherry paused. She let out a deep breath and said. “Solliciter came…” and told him of their Avendre Mercenaries’ situation.
“That’s okay,” assured Nash. “It’s great that Guro joined too. I’ll have a surprise waiting for them when they arrive in Vona.”
“Sounds good, but you should go,” said Sherry. “I know you’re excited to see what Mictlan is like.”
“I knew I loved you for a reason,” said Nash.
The two of them laughed simultaneously.
“Nash,” called out Sherry, stilling them both. “Bring them back.”
“I will,” replied Nash and ended the call. He finished his sandwich in one bite and stepped into his game pod.
* * * * * *
When Smoke opened his eyes, he found the familiar wall of books. As usual, the Magietrois tower was illuminated with floating fireballs. He took in a deep breath and smiled at the strong sulfuric smell. He had grown accustomed to it over the past few days.
“Oh, you’re here,” said Eleve, annoyed. The elderly HighElf was busy pouring a green liquid into a black cauldron. “Haven’t worked this hard since I was a student.”
“Stop complaining and just pour,” ordered Florissant, mixing four potions at once. “We need to synthesize two more sacred logs for the ritual.”
The youthful-looking Magietrois then turned to Smoke. “You can leave. You’re just an eyesore.”
Smoke was slightly dejected that his trip to Mictlan was delayed, but knew of a great way to pass the time while waiting. “Can’t I just stay and read more books?” he asked with begging eyes. “You won’t even know I’m here.”
Florissant stopped mixing the potions and placed all of them on the table. “You said you wanted to see your dark ember sprite set off for Wysteria, right?”
“Yeah, but they’re already in Vona,” replied Smoke. “There’s no way I can catch—” his voice trailed off as his body felt the tingling sensation of being teleported.
A fiery silhouette of Smoke began to materialize in one of the secluded alleys of Vona City—pearl of the Vitzytl Kingdom.
As soon as he stepped into the street, he was swamped with thousands of Sonstwelters and Zectians alike. Some of them were buying equipment in the stalls but most were listening to the row of recruiters lined against the wall.
“Five hundred zecs a day! Looking for an OrkElf Mercenary!” called out a Wizard Sonstwelter. He stood on top an empty crate to be seen over the crowd.
Next to him, was an Enchantress. “OrkElf for six hundred zecs a day, no level requirements. Need escorts to cross Geparden Plains.”
Forty more recruiters were crying out similar offers.
Smoke smiled. He was happy for the OrkElves. They’ve come a long way from his first time in Vona. He remembered how everyone treated them like lepers, but now they were offered the right amount of zecs for their work.
Looking for Igniz and Daga, Smoke headed for one of the inns near the port. Yet, he was sidetracked when he spotted a familiar name on the largest store in the area.
As he was about to enter, he saw a plaque near the door.
Great things start from small beginnings. Home of the continent-famous pompom juice. We’re the largest wholesale store you’ll ever need.
We’ve got armors, weapons, maps, and basic supplies. You think it, we’ve got it.
Here at Esper’s Emporium, every customer leaves with a smile and a complimentary pomegranate.
From the window, Smoke saw the young, muscular Esper holding a checklist. For a female OrkElf, her height was somewhat lacking. But she was bossing around a burly OrkElf twice her size. Smoke grinned when he recognized him to be Colere, Esper’s husband.
“Excuse me, Sir, but you’re blocking their way,” said a young OrkElf girl who tugged on Smoke’s cloak. She pointed to several OrkElves holding crates filled with pompom juice.
“Oh, sorry,” said Smoke and stepped out of the way, allowing the OrkElves to deliver their goods.
“Why don’t you step into the store, Sir?” offered the girl. “You’ll still get a pomegranate even if you don’t buy anything,” she said, offering him a fruit.
“It’s alright,” said Smoke. “I’ve seen enough,” he added, smiling.
Despite the huge success of the pompom trade, the two of them were still the same humble OrkElves who guided him in Vona.
“Tell me, you like working for them?” Smoke asked the OrkElf girl.
“Definitely!” she answered with a big smile. “Esper and Colere are awesome.” She paused and stared at the floor. “I used to be bullied. Nowhere was safe, not even our homes. Not a week would pass without a sand cheetah taking one of us.” A tear fell down her cheek which he quickly wiped away. She then looked at Colere and Esper through the window. “Thanks to them and someone named Faux, our lives in the settlement have gotten much better,” she added, but her smile slowly faded.
“What’s wrong?” asked Smoke.
“It’s just that, Colere and Esper are always talking about how Faux helped us achieve all this,” she said, pointing at the store and the other OrkElves who were smiling as they worked. “Would’ve been nice if I could’ve thanked him too.”
Smoke froze. He patted her on the head and said. “Just stay happy. I’m sure that’s what he’d want.”
“Really?” asked the girl, raising her eyebrows at Smoke. “I think I’ll just write a thank you note and ask Esper to give it to him.”
“That could work too,” replied Smoke, chuckling.
“Anyway, here’s a pomegranate,” said the girl, giving it to Smoke. “Even if you don’t go in the store, I’m sure Colere wouldn’t mind.”
“Thanks,” said Smoke, taking a bite out of the fruit. “You take care, alright?”
With that, Smoke headed for the Noel Inn. It took him less than five minutes to reach the festively decorated lodging. Facing the port, its foyer had three occupants. A thin OrkElf Assassin, a young girl dressed like a Thief, and a DarkElf Knight who looked exactly like Smoke were enjoying the setting sun near the docks.
Smoke waved when he saw Daga noticed him coming.
“This is a pleasant surprise,” said the incarnated Igniz, lowering his head before Smoke.
“Don’t tell me you’re coming along too?” asked Daga, who was in her human form. “And here I thought I’d get some alone time with Igniz.”
“No, I just came to see you off,” said Smoke.
Unexpectedly, Cynar walked over and slapped Smoke on the back. “You never told me Igniz was your twin,” he said, laughing. “Of course, it’s obvious when you don’t have masks on.”
“Right?” replied Smoke, catching on. “Anyway, thanks for taking them all the way here.”
“No,” said Cynar, shaking his head. “I’m the one who needs to thank you. If there’s anything I could do, just say the word.”
“Really?” asked Smoke, grinning. “Funny you should say that…” He then began telling Cynar about Guro and their Avendre Mercenaries who were about to arrive in Vona.
“…So, the King’s even asking Mercenaries from Wysteria, huh?” said Cynar, grumbling. “Can’t say that I like King Kajou’s methods, but we’ve got to fight those Orks.”
Cynar offered his hand to Smoke. “Don’t worry. I’ll keep your friends company while they’re here.”
“That’s great!” said Smoke, shaking Cynar’s hand. He then turned to Igniz and Daga. “Now, you two have to help Sierra out. She’s got a lot of—”
Surprisingly, Smoke felt the tingling sensation of being teleported and disappeared before he could finish his conversation with Igniz and Daga.
Smoke shivered as a new prickling awareness enveloped him the moment he materialized. When he opened his eyes, he found himself on a parched clearing with a few patches of dried-up grass scattered here and there. At its center, stood Florissant and Eleve waiting for him. Looking around, he found that a few trees covered the area. But looking beyond them, he surmised that it was the snow-capped mountains that kept this place secluded.
He turned when he heard his name called out.
“Smoke,” said Eleve. She walked over to him and patted his head with her wrinkled hands. “You were a terrible student. But a great friend.” She added, locking his neck with her arms and roughing out his hair even more.
“Thanks,” said Smoke, escaping out of Eleve’s sadistic hold. Taking one step back. “Master Eleve, I owe all of this to you. I’m truly grateful,” he added and bowed before the elderly HighElf.
“And me?” questioned Florissant.
“Of course, everything points back to you, Magietrois Florissant,” hastily added Smoke. “You’re the reason why Eleve is such a great person in the first place.”
“Well, she’s not that bad, but she is a pretty great Magietrois,” said Florissant, smiling at Eleve. “Better than most.”
Suddenly, tears trickled down Eleve’s cheeks. “Mistress, I never knew you thought that way.”
“Wipe those tears,” commanded Florissant. “I taught you Fire Magic, not Water.”
“Right,” said Eleve, happily drying her eyes.
Then, the real Magietrois in her young girl appearance turned to Smoke. “As you have indeed proven yourself worthy, I, Florissant Poisse, grant you the title of Florissant: Red Seal.”
At once a notification window popped up.
|+ Upgraded Title: ‘Florissant: Red Seal’
After saving the alliance between the kingdoms of Vitzytl and Thanotl, this title was given to you by Magietrois Florissant Poisse herself. As such, you have earned her trust and are obliged to swear your fealty to the Florissant Seminary.
* +5 to all basic stats
* Intimacy with Florissant Poisse has increased to ‘Trusted Student’
* Travel and continue your path to the title of Florissant: Master
* The title disappears if the Florissant Seminary gets destroyed
A speechless Smoke stared at the notification window. “I… I don’t know what to—” he was cut off by Florissant’s hand, and became silent.
She then pointed at Smoke’s Journeyman Emblem on his chest. “Et crescant in flamma avis!”
The silver phoenix with opened wings was engulfed in flames. When the flames died out the phoenix had become golden.
“That is the symbol of your advancement,” said Florissant. “Wear it proudly.”
+ Upgraded unique brooch: Florissant: Red Seal Emblem
A grinning Smoke clutched the ornate brooch and lowered his head.
Without further delay, he inspected his newly upgraded unique accessory.
|Florissant: Red Seal Emblem
Made from mithril, goldium, and phoenix feathers. It is the symbol of graduating Florissant’s Journeyman program.
– Can only be used by those who have passed the Florissant Journeyman Program.
– Must be at least level 120.
*Xantico’s Inheritance (Passive)
+Endows bearer with the flames of the great flame goddess Xantico.
+All Equipment is blessed with Mortal Flame Resistance [99%].
+Improves basic stat attributes of all equipped items [15%].
+Gains offensive/defensive power on all flame abilities [50%].
Note: Xantico’s Inheritance only applies when the brooch is equipped.
*Xantico’s Flames (Active)
+Ability to create flames based on the MP used.
“Hey! Focus!” commanded Florissant. “Anyway, it’s ready,” she added. She stepped to the side, revealing seven logs stacked up in an intricate manner behind her.
“That’ll only get you there,” added Eleve. “So, you’ll have to find your own way back.”
“No problem,” said Smoke, excited. “What do I do?”
“Wait,” said Florissant. “Remember, this is the first time for a Sonstwelter to enter Mictlan. And even Magna is the only Zectian that I know who came back from that realm. Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Positive!” replied Smoke, walking towards them. “That’s why I’m here.”
“Even if it means being stuck in Mictlan… forever?” asked Florissant.
Smoke stopped dead in his tracks. “What do you mean?”
“Can’t really say,” answered Florissant. “I’m not really sure how you Sonstwelters get here in the first place, but I do know that Mictlan is different from our world.”
Instantaneously, Smoke got an ominous vibe, like a terrible warning sign had just popped up without him noticing.
“It’s fine,” he said, somewhat reluctant. “There’s no way the developers would do something like that,” he murmured, unsure.
“Developers?” asked Florissant, confused.
“Just a term we use from where I’m from,” he quickly answered. “Anyway, I’m ready. Let’s do this!” He added with much gusto.
Florissant nodded. She had Smoke step in front of the sacred logs as she stepped away herself. Her hands turned to flames and said. “Fortis ingressus in interitum.”
Then, seven casting circles formed, one on top of the other. They were imprinted around the sacred logs, which instantly turned ablaze. Its smoke went straight up. And beyond logic, turned the afternoon sky into a starry night. Shortly after, a green aurora lit up the heavens. The northern lights and the blazing auburn flames gave Smoke a weird nostalgic feeling of Christmas and Halloween at the same time.
Captivated by the view, Smoke was unaware that he was already floating towards the green aurora. He looked down and saw Eleve and Florissant waving at him before his vision blurred and was sucked into the northern lights.
He felt like his mind was being cracked open, while his body experienced a pummeling like being sucked into a whirlpool. When he tried to open his eyes, he noticed several eyes were growing out of his hands. He experienced overlapping visions as more eyes grew out of his entire body.
In pain, he tried logging out but was met with an error notification.
– Realm Transition In Progress
“Waaaaaaaah!” screamed Smoke in agony, the only thing he was able to do at the moment.
* * * * * *
When Smoke opened his eyes, he found himself in a misty forest. He did not know how much time had passed but more importantly wondered whether he made it to Mictlan.
He immediately tried calling Sierra, Darius, but found it impossible to contact anyone.
Learning from experience, he hurriedly scaled one of the trees to get a better view of the place. Settled on a sturdy branch, he clicked on his map.
|– Entered Hellroute
– One of the many dwellings of the sycophants. Only the sycophants can survive here. Escape unless you want to be one of their victims.
Before Smoke could wonder what a sycophant was, he spotted a hovering humanoid gray monster. Its arms reached below its knees and had mantis-like hands, and its head had no eyes, nose, or ears. It only had a wide mouth with sharp teeth.
Smoke wanted to attack it but was bothered by the fact that his Cunning of the Dire Fox did not sense it.
‘Better observe it first,’ he surmised, worried that there would be more of them. He followed from up the trees.
A few minutes later, the sycophant he was tracking suddenly yelled out. “Merde! Merde!”
Seconds later, another sycophant came out and shouted the same. “Merde!”
Up ahead, Smoke heard several voices shouting the exact thing. “Merde! Merde!”
Then, he saw him. A familiar face surrounded by six of the gray faceless monsters. A massive Maneator bravely facing the hovering sycophants.
At once, Smoke got out his hook swords. He leaped down to help an unarmed König Mitleid.