Author’s note: Since I’m a slow turtle, the editors didn’t really get a good look on this chap. Expect some minor grammar issues.
“I hope they’ll be able to garner some attention.” Icicle muttered as he closed the chat window with Enna. There was a party capable of felling a boss monster in his region. Those guys would be troublesome to deal with if they were to vie for the blue lizardman boss. Icicle felt confident going against a boss on his own, but it would be much harder if there was a party of eight hindering him. That’s why he counted on Faura’s party to cause some turbulences near the Desolate Catacombs dungeon they mentioned. If the bear party could be diverted there, it would be for the best.
Besides, earning a few friends in the game wouldn’t hurt. Since Icicle’s going to have hordes of enemies, having a few reliable people in his clique will only benefit him.
Not giving the matter any further thought, Icicle focused on the task at hand.
Moving swiftly around the periphery, Icicle whittled down the number of blue lizardmen with every passing minute. However, more and more reptiles respawned in the middle of the valley, increasing the potential number of guards around the red lotus.
“Do I really need to send Blackie on a suicidal mission?” Icicle frowned. Although new player arrived one after the other, it was nighttime in real life. A lot of casual gamers were asleep. Even if they were here, they would probably die, but at least they could provide some distraction.
Icicle looked around carefully. He didn’t want to disrupt the current impasse. If he did, there would be more people inside the caves, thus his boss hunting would be constantly interrupted. He had to somehow grab the red lotus and enter the caves before the fragile balance of forces swung either way.
With his mind buzzing, Icicle started formulating the plan. There were several risky factors in it, but you couldn’t win if you didn’t go in.
“Do you understand?” Icicle asked as he narrated the whole plan to Blackie.
Blackie nodded his head. There was a glass vial with red colored liquid inside his mouth. “Yes God, I understand!” Blackie’s voice resounded in Icicle’s mind.
Since both of them came to an understanding, they immediately moved.
Blackie attacked the blue lizardmen with his paws, gathering at least a dozen of them behind him. This eased the burden on the nearby players, allowing them to act more freely. They engaged a couple more of the reptiles.
Icicle rushed into the red lotus area and immediately went for the kill. He ignored the blue lizardmen as he collected the red lotus into his inventory with right hand.
Blue lizardmen nearby were instantly alarmed. They raised their rusty weapons and rushed towards Icicle. There were 7 of them! One was a Rare variant, carrying a ball and chain as its weapon.
Icicle knew that running from such a group at this moment of time was pointless. He could stumble upon much more of the lizardmen and then he would be finished. He had to wait for Blackie to drag the others far enough first.
Imbuing his feet with mana, Icicle moved forward to meet the attackers. His left hand cast [Water prison].
In this watery environment, Icicle’s spell was barely noticeable. The lizardmen were caught completely off guard, not noticing what had happened before the bluish sphere of water enclosed them.
Icicle slashed the throat of the front lizardman who luckily escaped the restraining sphere of water, not letting it retaliate whatsoever. His movements were swift and precise, like an experienced hunter dispatching prey. There was no joy of the hunt, it was merely reducing the numbers of the overpopulated race.
Blood splattered all over the place like a fountain, tinging the still, sparkly water surface with red color. The water surface resembled human body with red, snake-like veins traversing through it.
As the gruesome scene unfolded, the surrounding air suffused with a strong stench of blood. Icicle’s moves were deft, his blade merciless. The lone blue lizardman in front of him had his throat slashed a couple of times, unable to patch it up.
Swinging his blade to the side to let the sticky blood drop off it, Icicle seemed like the overlord who despised killing such a weak creature. This was him creating momentum! He would be unable to face 6 creatures at once, especially since there was a Rare variant mixed in there. However, if he were to instill doubt in the reptiles, that was another case.
Meanwhile, Blackie who was running away from a large group of blue lizardmen was harassed by their rusty weapons. Although they didn’t hurt as much as proper weapons, Blackie’s fur still burned from pain. Blackie was faster than the chasing reptiles originally, but in the watery environment of the valley, he couldn’t really do much. However, Icicle prepared him for that. Blackie swigged the reddish potion and drank its contents in one gulp. As the slightly bitter liquid flowed down his stomach, he felt a warm current inside his body, renerating his vigor and mending his wounds.
As soon as Blackie was far enough, he entered stealth losing his trailers. The chasing reptiles scattered, attacking nearby adventurers to vent. Blackie quickly reported to Icicle, his voice full of excitement. “God, I lost them!”
“Good, stay outside the valley.” Icicle replied, barely dodging a powerfully swung chained ball. As the spiked weapon hit the water surface, it splashed fiercely, quickly reaching the bottom. Icicle felt the vibration of the underwater rocks travel through his feet. If this attack landed on his foot, even the bones would be instantly pulverized.
Icicle knew he could take on the 6 lizardmen by sweating a lot and using his self- detachment state, but that wasn’t time efficient. He had to get into the caves and who knew how many strong monsters resided there. What’s more, Icicle didn’t want to fail the quest. The quest itself didn’t matter too much to him, but he gave Marisse his word. As a man of principle, Icicle always valued his word.
As Icicle swiftly retreated, the enraged lizardmen gave chase. They shrieked, their shrill voices reverberating through the valley.
“Rkhaaaaaaaaa!” the Rare variant lizardmen roared.
Icicle moved through the hundreds of players, barely making it through the battlefield of reptiles and humans. Chasing reptiles had to finally give in. The gap between them and the insolent human widened with every second. If it wasn’t for other humans who blocked the way by tangling with their comrades, they would have caught the thief!
After Icicle and Blackie withdrew from the center, Icicle checked the properties of his new finding on top of the steep hill.
Icicle’s mouth curled into a satisfied smile. It was a Legendary grade item! Although it was only an ingredient, Icicle felt content. This sole red lotus flower could be used to trigger a potential breakthrough for Icicle when he was about to advance into second grade Alchemist later on!
“You did good Blackie.” Icicle caressed Blackie’s fur. He gave him a few slabs of bear meat as he pondered over the results. They vastly exceeded his expectations.
Going down the cliff through the rocks he used earlier, Icicle sneaked into the Blue Lizardmen Cave. As soon as he crossed the superficial threshold, a new window welcomed him.
“Dangers, huh? As if it wasn’t dangerous enough outside.” Icicle sighed. This world was ridden with danger. If someone was scared of a little hurt maybe they shouldn’t play at all. At least not competetively.
The inside of the lizardmen cave was greyish, just like the outside. Damp floor reeked of water mixed with blood, piss and excrements. The air inside the cave was stale, as if it didn’t circulate for centuries. On the sides of the spacious passage laid remains of smaller creatures, scales and something that looked like a lizard’s tail. Shed skin littered the dark corners of the cave.
Icicle entered cautiously, sending Blackie ahead of him to scout. He wanted to see what’s the layout like. Although the current entrance was at least 5m in width, Icicle doubted it would stay this way. Thus, he wanted to prepare for every eventuality. Who knows what freakish creatures like the one with ball and chain will appear this time?
Blackie trotted swiftly through the damp corridors of the Blue Lizardmen Cave. He turned left only to see guards stationed in the way. Those blue reptiles were wielding spears and rusty metallic armor. Their posture was ramrod straight. Blackie could feel they were stronger than the ones that were chasing him earlier.
As Blackie entered deeper into the cave, he arrived in a circular room with a couple of entrances. There were a few people fighting inside, overwhelmed by the numbers of blue lizardmen. They puffed and huffed, employing various spells at hand to stay alive. However, as the fighting unfurled, they disintegrated into particles. “They’re clearly not as strong as God.” Blackie snorted inwardly.
Blackie covertly passed through the room, examining the equipment of the blue reptiles. Only the light flowing in through the holes in the ceiling shed some light into the cave. However, with Blackie’s vision it wasn’t a problem. He described everything vividly to God.
Icicle could only helplessly shake his head as he praised the telepathy system more and more. With a pet like Blackie it was incredibly useful! According to his Black Hound’s description, there were a couple dozen lizardmen archers, and a dozen or so spearmen.
Aside from those, in the middle of a spacious room resided a completely different lizardman. Its blue scales shined without the sunlight, giving a feeling of monstrous power. It wielded a steel shield with three claws pattern in the middle. At its waist hang a large curved sword resembling a chinese saber. The sword’s sheen gave off a dangerous light.
Icicle noted the existence of the big guy. He disregarded him being the boss though. The distance was way too close. It was most likely Atlas level creature. Adian seemed to have trouble with that direwolf, but that was at the time when Icicle didn’t know the Guard Captain’s real strength. However, for the current Icicle going against such an opponent would definitely require him to enter the self-detachment state. Even that didn’t make his odds too great. Icicle’s nature was competetive though. There was a deep rooted pride inside him. He wouldn’t let go of an opponent he could learn from.
“Since that mini-boss is using a weapon resembling a saber, it must be fast and full of killing intent! This will be a test of my resolve. Let’s see if the creatures in this world can compare to the big shots of the Underworld.” Icicle grinned insidiously. Those cunning individuals had him go through countless sleepless nights in the past.
“God, I went farther as you asked. The passages get more narrow as I go deeper, getting wider at the end, when I enter the new rooms. I’ve noticed blue reptiles with bows again. However, their arrows were more shiny, not as rusty on the arrowheads. They even had fluffy feathers at the end of them! The quivers were packed with a lot more projectiles within them. As for the creatures’ outer appearance, they looked much more formidable than those ranged lizardmen I saw earlier.” Blackie narrated. He ventured quite far into the caves.
“I see, go as far as you can before you come back.” Icicle replied, trying to figure out the layout. “Since Blackie said those archers are stronger than the ones before, they must be of Elite grade! The Elite guards of the boss!” Icicle surmised. He expected more melee elite guards as well. After all, this was a large cave complex.
“Blackie, are there any adventurers like me inside?” Icicle suddenly asked. He knew there were some at the beginning, but what he wanted to know was if there were some farther in. Those guys would be skilled, hard to deal with.
“No God, I haven’t spotted any. However, this cave is truly large. I heard some vague sounds of struggle in the other passages. There might be some of those you speak of.” Blackie said in one breath.
Icicle received the news calmly. If there weren’t many players farther in, he could deal with the stragglers.
“God, I’ve noticed another bunch of lizardmen covered in steel. They look like giant warmachines ready to strike at anytime.” Blackie narrated the outlook of lizardmen soldiers covered in heavy armor with spears and swords donning their hands. They were most likely the elite regimen.
As Icicle listened, he noticed something worrisome. “Are those lizardmen gearing up?” he asked telepathically.
“It seems so, God. There are lots of quivers full of arrows, steel breastplates and other polished weapons laying around. It looks like a preparation for a large battle to me.” Blackie said with a degree of certainty.
Icicle thought of the [Ingrained Enmity] event. There were waves of enemies, appearing one after the other with short time intervals. Could it be that those lizardmen were actually readying to sally out? If so, what was it based on? Time? Players’ average level in the area? Equipment grade?
All those thoughts swirled inside Icicle’s head but he couldn’t figure anything out without more information. All he knew was that the lizardmen were likely to come out of their caves in full force to get rid of the players as some sort of a local event. The burly, shining blue lizardman Blackie saw earlier will probably be the leader of the troops.
“Check out the boss room if you can, then come back!” Icicle ordered.
In a large throne room at the end of the grey cave resided a blue scaled creature. Its height was towering, over 3 meters high. It sat on a dilapidated throne that could barely withstand its enormous weight.
Red Blooming Valley was a place where both lizardmen tribes decided to settle in. Their equipment was gathered from the fallen humans who dared to venture into their territory.
After the all-out war over 10000 years ago, the human settlers expanded to the distant territories. Monsters and humans engaged in a war of attrition. However, now it was different.
The reason for both lizardmen tribes to choose this valley were the valuable herbs growing on their backyard. Those herbs could rapidly heal the wounds, thus they were highly coveted by greedy humans who were unable to resist the huge temptation. What’s more, this passage was fairly secluded and easy to defend. Lizardmen tribes couldn’t ask for much more for their dwelling.
In recent times there was a tacit understanding between humans and monsters. Both sides would still occasionally fight, but as long as neither side was wiped out, they could both weed out the weak and focus on nourishing the strong! This was the way the world always worked, strong preyed on the weak!
Humans had their own countries where strong relied on the votes of the weak to rule. However, that was a kind of strength as well. Only the strong would be reliable enough to carry the hope of the weak.
This fragile balance between the races shattered with the arrival of adventurers. Although it was foretold, many creatures didn’t believe that otherworldly human invaders would be brazen enough to attack them. Blue Lizardmen experienced the impudence of the human creatures first hand. Although those humans died, they were able to rebirth, bringing constant trouble to the lizardman race. If they couldn’t show their superiority by overwhelming those invaders with strength and numbers, there was no hope for the reptiles.
As the Blue Lizardman Prince thought of this, he sighed inwardly, awaiting the final struggle.
“Hmm? What was that?” Blue Lizardman Prince’s eyes wandered to the entrance of the throne room. Although it appeared to be hiding, the prince could sense a creature there.
“A stinking dog?” the reptile prince frowned, somewhat appalled. “You little creature, you dare enter the presence of this prince?” the lizardman big shot spoke in the monster language.
Blackie perked his ears and realized he was noticed. He didn’t know how most of the laws of the world worked. How could the poor dog know that every boss level creature could sense stealthed targets? This was the only way for the game developers to balance the assassin class. If bosses could be assassinated, there would be no challenge whatsoever facing them.
Blackie looked at the huge Blue Lizardman Prince sitting on the throne with one of the webbed hands propping its chin. He knew that he had no chance against such a formidable opponent, thus Blackie was preparing to run.
“You little dog, I don’t know how you entered here, but you should leave. There’s a grand battle coming up soon at which my grandson will be debuting against evil invaders. It would dirty my hands to deal with an unsophisticated creature like you.” the lizardman prince said, yawning. Its arrogant pride was almost palpable.
“God will slash you to pieces.” Blackie responded, barking fiercely. He wasn’t scared of anyone but Icicle. That person meant even more than a True God to Blackie.
“Hmph, pathetic little mongrel, you dare talk back to this prince? Die!” lizardman prince reached out with his hand and grabbed the hilt behind him. His right hand carried an enormous momentum with it as the giant steel axe slashed straight at Blackie!
Blackie jumped backwards, trying to avoid the swift blow. Although the distance between the two was more than 8m, the axe’s blade emitted a cold light that seemed to reach out far and wide, covering a 10m radius.
Blackie’s right side was slashed open by the devastating blow even though he was already over 10m away. This attack was simply too scary! His own [Shadow swipe] couldn’t compare.
As the blood dripped down, Blackie retreated at the top speed towards Icicle. He has long since notified God of what happened. Icicle’s suspicions were correct. The lizardmen tribes were preparing for an all out war. This most likely was a timed event to welcome the players to the new world!
Faura and her party logged in after eating. They massaged their bellies as an aftertaste of the real world accompanied them to Loiterous.
“I wanted to eat some more barbecue meat.” FieryRed grumbled.
“It’s not good to eat too much at night. You know that, right? Hmph, besides, who wouldn’t want to eat more when I was the one paying?” Faura shook her head helplessly. This bunch of freeloaders almost wasted her entire allowance!
“Now, now.” Inferno tried to loosen up the atmopshere.
Headshot didn’t say a word. He has eaten the most right after FieryRed. There was nothing better than a sumptuous feast that was free!
“Alright guys, let’s enter.” SilentStep reminded gently. He wanted to experiment with the mana control some more.
Faura gripped her new staff tightly. She felt as though it filled her with boundless vigor. She was ready to challenge whatever came her way.
Faura reflexively glanced at Enna to see how she’s doing. The healer would be even more important than her Lightning Mage class inside the dungeon. Monsters inside will most likely hit like trucks. The entire party would rely on Enna, increasing the burden on her tiny shoulders.
Unexpectedly, Enna’s eyes seemed to be spitting fire, ready to go. What could motivate that usually gentle girl so much?
“Let’s go!” Enna firmly said, taking to to the frontlines. Other party members quickly followed.
“Oi, FieryRed, did you equip the shield Icicle gave you?” Faura asked.
“Hehe.” FieryRed sheepishly smiled.
“What is it?” The entire party stopped and looked at the grinning redhead.
“This Elite grade shield has a skill!” FieryRed was all smiles.
“Oh really? What kind?” her friends started imagining all sorts of defense boosting skills, some even envisioned a direct shield appearing around the wielder!
“It’s called…” FieryRed faintly smiled as she created the suspense. Feeling as if she held them in the dark long enough, she shouted out “It’s called [Shield bash]!”
Faura’s right hand struck FieryRed’s head. Poor girl’s head was hit with such a force that she staggered and almost fell to the ground. “You little barbarian, hmph.” Faura curely snorted. She was expecting FieryRed to finally play a proper role of a tank yet this fierce girl only had damage dealing in mind. What sort of a Paladin was she?!
Enna, Headshot, Inferno and SilentStep were petrified for a moment. When they saw how quickly Faura recovered, smacking FieryRed’s head, they bursted out laughing. This was typical of the duo.
“Alright, enough of the antics guys. We have leveling to do!” Faura said sternly. She redistributed potions and food to the party.
“This place seems quite interesting.” Santi, a Warrior that fell the bear boss earlier with his party, commented. The party arrived at the Red Blooming Valley just now.
“Yawn, let’s get it going guys. That last boss was so slow… I hope this one won’t be as boring.” Tiana, the Fire Mage grumbled as she played with her long blue hair.
“I hope they drop some decent bows out here, I’m still using the beginner stuff.” Puyo said with a wicked smile. If the monsters didn’t drop it, the players could!
With overbearing momentum, the experienced 8 man party walked down to the center of Red Blooming Valley!