As Icicle was collecting his loot, the conflict outside became more and more severe.
Red Blooming Valley was completely devoid of players. Aside from a couple dozen lizardmen dispatched to guard their caves at the bottom of the hill, only boars and bears littered the once densely populated mountains. Every single player was either killed or chased out. Green and blue lizardmen tribes took complete control of the western mountains area.
However, there was one place safe from all the proceedings. At the side of the raging river, the old fisherman hummed a song, completely unperturbed. The few players who decided to become fishermen were spared from the carnage that followed [Death to human invaders!] event.
Now that they were in a favorable position, their influence in the Vilen Town grew. Lizardmen’s position, their estimated numbers, the weapons they used, potential ambushes… Since most of the fishermen disciples were sent here by their guilds, their positions suddenly skyrocketed. Many future guild leaders used their contacts to get in touch with those people, trying to snatch them. After all, events not only provided a heap of formidable items, they made people famous overnight! That’s exactly what the future guilds needed to become strong! They had to gather popular players! And those fishermen could provide them with information to do just that!
While some players were rejoicing about the possible rewards of the event, low level players and Alchemist Nurte’s students were left in a lurch. Now that the western mountains area was taken over by the lizardmen, low level players lost their grinding area, while alchemist disciples lost their herb gathering place! Shaking their heads, those poor souls decided to venture into the [Humming forest], hoping for the best.
On top of the western mountain, lizardmen shuffled to and fro. One of the blue-scaled reptiles came running at top speed, gasping for breath.
“Are we finally ready?” Russh asked impatiently.
“Yes leader, the preparations are complete.” blue lizardman elite reported.
“Good.” Russh nodded.
“Are we taking prisoners?” the blue lizardman asked, looking in the direction of the farms.
“No. Grandpa said he’s not an enemy even for the lower ranked guards, we can’t afford to lose all of our forces just because we provoked war. What we’re aiming for are those pests that dared to invade our home!” Russh looked towards green-scaled Rhukka and nodded.
“Let’s go!” both leaders roared, sending the signal to advance!
As the sound of the horn rang out, three thousand lizardmen rolled down the mountain, side by side. The first row consisted of elite lizardmen warriors, wielding sharpened sabers. Their heavy armor glistened in the sun. A few steps behind them came the elite lizardmen spearmen. Their heavy, long spears were oustretched before the warriors, forming a concise phalanx formation.
Behind the armed to the teeth warriors and spearmen came the elite archers. Their oak bows were polished, their quivers full to the brim. Feathered arrows swayed in the afternoon wind. With their bows nocked, archers looked around vigilantly, looking for prey.
Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh!
Arrows flew down the mountain, catching unlucky strugglers. The unaware players quickly perished under the might of the lizardmen.
As the wave after wave of lizardmen rumbled down the mountain, low level players hunting Wild Dogs near the western town gate noticed them, quickly retreating into the town. They hoped the guards would take care of the problem for them.
Meanwhile, the lizardmen tide divided into three groups, each counting around 1000 lizardmen. Northern, western and eastern gate were simultaneously blocked. If Vilen Town didn’t face the sea from the south, the reptiles would most likely siege the town from all four directions.
Curtis stood amongst other players in the church, awaiting the news. He felt the idea of getting a buff was absurd, but there was a hint of expectation left within him.
The wooden sturdy doors of the church slammed the wall, showing a gasping for breath player in the entrance. As soon as he caught his breath, he exclaimed, “The lizardmen have come! Vilen Town is under siege!”
His sudden revelation caused the congregted players to stare in shock. Every single one of the people in the church has long forgotten the idea of getting a buff. After a few seconds of total petrification, players started rushing out of the holy building, one after the other.
Curtis quickly followed after the storming crowd, meeting more players on the way. The streets were completely crowded. Players discussed the recent events in groups.
Next to the western gate stood two guards wearing relaxed expressions. After consulting for a while, one of the players stepped forward and asked respectfully, “Will the guards lend us, adventurers, a hand in eradicating the lizardmen invasion?”
One of the guards turned his head, lowering his halberd a little. His expression was that of scoff. “We weren’t given any instructions from the Lord, so naturally we won’t sally out to help the adventurers. These reptiles pose no danger to the town, so I don’t see any reason for the Lord Marcus Vilen to get involved.” the guard curtly replied, not bothering with the player anymore.
Silence ensued in to the western gate area. The crowd of players immediately understood this is an event meant for them and them alone. How could they be expecting any help from the town guards? If they were to lure the lizardmen into the town, maybe the guards would lend them a hand, but wouldn’t all of the experience and loot be gone as well?
Discussions quickly broke out amongst the players. They debated whether to sally out now or if they should wait for a more opportune moment. However, when some of the more experienced players looked at the phalanx formation of the lizardmen, their mettle quickly lessened.
Sharp spears protruted out from behind the lizardmen warriors, while lizardmen archers stood battle ready at the side of the hill, holding an advantageous position. Just imagining rushing out of the town was crazy, not to mention actually doing it. Wouldn’t the players be peppered with arrows until they look like porcupines?
Next to the Vilen Town’s palace, two men conversed inside the guard barracks. The building was well furnished, not resembling common barracks at all. Comfy beds, waxed wooden floors… shiny swords and polished armor hung on the interior walls. In the front of the building lay a garden with a small rockery and a fountain in the center. The joyfully gushing water of the fountain didn’t reflect the gloomy atmosphere inside the barracks.
“Instead of executing your mission in the shortest amount of time possible, you actually had your fun with an adventurer!” Cus, the Guards’ Commander cursed at his incompetent son.
“It’s not like that, I was actually hurt while hunting the Fleeting Violet Direwolf. When I was recuperating, one of the adventurers offered me his help, gathering herbs for me. One thing led to another and he actually became a beginner grade Alchemist. I tried him out a couple times to see if he’s using me and unexpectedly, he lent me a hand every single time. Whether it were potions or food, he shared everything.” Adian explained, his head hanging down. He might have been one of the strongest guards around, but in front of his father he was like a little mouse facing a giant cat.
“According to what you said, you had the adventurer bait Atlas, the second in line to inherit the wolf tribe, only so you could kill that bloody wolf. Then your new adventurer friend turned out to be smart. He found a Red Devil’s Tribe princess hidden in Atlas’s lair, took it to the Red Devil Tribe and that’s where you battled against the entire wolf tribe?” Cus glared at Adian indiffrentely.
“Yes, I and Icicle made enough fuss on the way to attract other adventurers. After a fierce battle, with the help of the Red Devil’s Tribe we managed to repel the wolf forces. Red Devil’s Tribe Princess stole the glory of dispatching the Fleeting Violet Direwolf to the underworld from me, but this served as morale boost to the squirrel army, resulting in an overwhelming victory.” Adan reported sincerly.
“Hmph, if these wolves weren’t gone after all this time you’ve spent idling, I would have thrown you behind bars for insubordination!” Cus snorted, then his gaze softened a little. “Being able to beat the Fleeting Violet Direwolf is good enough. I’m afraid even I would have trouble holding back the Direwolf Ancestor, so you’re lucky there was someone to stop that mad overgrown furry whelp.”
Adian smiled faintly, he knew this was a rare praise from his strict dad. He realized it was the time to leave, so he turned towards the door.
“One more thing. No more playing around with alchemy and doing merchant stuff. That was what you did during your youth, you little rascal. You’re now holding an esteemed position. Don’t let me down.” Cus glanced at Adian firmly, then turned to the window, his hands locked behind his back.
Adian bowed, about to leave when…
The doors to the Commander’s office opened forcefully. Mols, an elite guard, bowed respectfully, reporting, “Commander Cus, big trouble! Lizardmen forces escaped the boundary of Red Blooming Valley and marched towards Vilen Town! They surrounded the perimeter, blocking all exits.”
Cus’s gaze hardened. As he turned, there was no more scolding parent within him. Instead, a domineering, authorative attitude surfaced, making people’s hearts palpitate. “What about the civilians? Are people outside the wall safe?” Cus asked firmly.
“Sir! Most of the civilians managed to escape the grasp of the lizardmen. So far, only the farmers are in a precarious situation. However, the lizardmen haven’t yet made any move on them. What should we do?” Mols was quite frantic, one of his family members was working on a farm.
“Report to Lord Marcus Vilen immediately! Ask for the permission to use the flying beasts to evacuate the civilians!” Cus’s voice thundered over the barracks.
“Sir!” the guard bowed, speeding towards the palace.
As Mols ran in his metallic shining armor, no one dared to stop him. The rumbling sounds of heavy footsteps echoed about, filling people with awe. Two guards were stationed before the palace gates.
“Out of the way!” Mols shouted, making his two colleagues immediately stand aside.
Gasping for breath, Mols crossed the white marble stairs leading to the palace, before another group of guards opened the doors. They looked unfazed, as if they were expecting him.
Ivir was standing next to her father, Lord Marcus Vilen, showing off her new jewelry. Cindy entrusted her with a mission to bring back a Water Mage, but there weren’t any available, so the task ultimately ended up being a complete fiasco. However, Ivir wasn’t the least bit disappointed. She managed to find a beautiful necklace with scarlet red ruby letting off a blazing, fiery light. She wore it on her neck, spinning on her heel.
Marcus Vilen could only sigh. He has already heard Cindy’s rebuke about how utterly incompetent his daughter was. This wasn’t the first time. However, it was his only child. How could he not pamper her a little?
“Dad, are you even listening to me?” Seeing her dad’s absent expression, Ivir creased her eyebrows.
“Ah sorry, I was just thinking about something.” Marcus Vilen shook his head apologetically.
“What is it?” Ivir’s playful tone was instantly extinguished.
“Glacia Kingdom’s merchants are trying to put some pressure on me because one of the adventurers called Icicle allegedly scammed one of their own, Merchant Bingus.” the lord sighed, shaking his head. What did he have to do with this matter?
Ivir’s expression stiffened. “This guy again?” she thought, remembering her own dramatic experience.
“Oh? You seem to know him.” Marcus saw her daughter’s unfocused eyes, as if she relived something.
“Mm, a little. I had a promising student under me and Icicle completely squashed him in a duel. Not only that, he even dared to bet with me, making me pay for his mage tutelage as a result…” Ivir bit her lower lip.
“Hahaha!” Marcus laughed out loud. “That’s quite a character then.” he looked at his daughter lovingly.
“Anyways, you shouldn’t worry about the pressure from the Glacia Kingdom’s merchants. This area is independent, although it somewhat relies on the presence of Minaeryth Kingdom. However, even if Glacia Kingdom’s merchant indeed got scammed, that’s their own problem, isn’t it? I mean, if the boy had the skill, why not use it? Being careless in what they do is the damn merchants’ own fault.” Marcus said firmly not to trouble his daughter.
“I think Cindy fancied that adventurer. You can ask her for help, dad.” Ivir muttered absentmindedly.
“If I sent the legendary Earth Shaper I think that the Glacia Kingdom’s merchants wouldn’t dare to set their foot here ever again.” Marcus guffawed. With Cindy’s prestige, those poor merchants would probably give up most of their cargo just so they could leave peacefully.
As Marcus and Ivir talked, a few people appeared behind Marcus without letting out a sound. They whispered something into his ear then blended with the shadows, disappearing without a trace.
“What’s wrong dad?” Ivir asked.
The doors opened and a gasping guard came running in, quickly kneeling on the ground. “Lord! The lizardmen forces escaped out of the Red Blooming Valley and blocked out all of the Vilen Town’s exits. It seems they’re getting ready to siege the town! Commander Cus requests the permission to use the eagles to evacuate the civilians outside the walls!”
“Yes, I’m aware.” Marcus’s brows furrowed. “How numerous are the lizardmen forces?” he asked tentatively.
“Around 3000 strong, lord! What about the civilians?” Mols hurriedly asked. He didn’t know whether his family member was safe or not.
“Permission to use the Martial Eagles granted! Since lizardmen aren’t high level creatures, send 200 guards to the walls! Ask Warrior and Mage Guild to assist us if necessary!” Marcus Vilen barked out the orders authoratively. “You can leave!”
“Lord!” Mols bowed, rushing towards the stables on the beach. Entering through the secret passage, the guard took an elevator and quickly approached the Beastmaster.
Before Mols managed to utter a word, the Beastmaster nodded his head towards the stable. His subordinates brought out five reigned flying beasts. “Five Martial Eagles, as per Lord Vilen’s orders.” the Beastmaster said concisely, turning towards the haughty birds. After saying a few words in animal language, Beastmaster turned towards the guard and said, “You can take them.”
Mols bowed, impressed about the sheer speed of message delivery between Lord’s subordinates. Many people speculated whether Marcus Vilen had or hadn’t had an underground network, but no one could be sure if it really existed. Seeing the results right now, Mols was somewhat startled. However, he quickly collected himself under the urgency of the situation.
“Thank you, sir!” Mols bowed, mounting one of the giant Martial Eagles. Three meters of black feathers outstretched, taking course towards the main barracks.
While some of the players were distressed, others were full of joy. Artisan classes have finally had their time to shine! With such a large scale event about to start, they could show off their goods and provide various services. Disciples of Blacksmiths, Tailors, Alchemists, Merchants and Chefs advertised their services on the streets, especially near the crowded town gates.
Food, weapons, armors, health and mana potions, identifying scrolls; all of these highly sought for items in the beginner area laid bare before many adventurers. Those who didn’t have time to play or simply had dog shit luck eyed the goods greedily. However, when they saw the guards patrolling the area, their thoughts of theft quickly dispersed. Instead, they looked forward towards the upcoming battle. If they could earn big, they could afford all of those premium goods of the beginner area!
While Tailor Marisse took care of her daughter, she noticed the distressed expressions of her students. It was sunday morning and those people have just logged on. Naturally, they quickly heard the news. “Go, I can manage on my own. You can’t miss this chance and I don’t want to be ridiculed by those old hags later. Don’t bring me shame.” Marisse said authoratively. If the reputation of the craftsman was bad, they naturally wouldn’t have any customers.
The group of players nodded silently, thanking Marisse in their hearts. After bowing, they left the house, entering the busy streets of Vilen Town.
Marisse looked at the pure white direwolf fur. She has finished the whole set some time ago, but she didn’t want to just finish it. Since Icicle was her benefactor, she wanted to make it her lifetime’s magnum opus.
“There are still two bottles of medicine left, I hope you can succeed, Icicle.” Marisse silently prayed. Her expression was anxious, yet she felt calm at the same time. Her daughter’s state has improved a lot. Even thought it was temporary, this alone brought her unspeakable joy.
Ganish wiped the sweat off his forehead. Although he was tired, his face held a rare smile. Seeing all of the material he could work with filled him with joy. The order Icicle asked him to complete was finished, yet Ganish still looked for small improvements. “Hmph, this kid seemed in such a rush to get his order done yet he’s not coming back to pick it up.” Ganish snorted, yet his expression was betraying his thoughts. The more time he had, the better the weapon would turn out. His services were no longer highly sought for, so he planned on doing his best for the one order he had.
As the bazzar thrived with liveliness, news of the lizardmen siege quickly spread. “Heh, so that’s why you haven’t come back yet, kiddo. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you finally find the time to visit me.” Ganish guffawed, hammering at the anvil with even more force.
After receiving the news, Ivir hurried back to the Mage Guild. As soon as she entered, Cindy’s gaze locked on her, making Ivir feel incomparably pressured. “Good, you’re back. Take those toddlers out for a walk. They seem to have never seen a lizard before.” Cindy said sarcastically as she gazed with disdain at the chaotic crowd of adventurers.
Ivir was shocked to find Cindy in a lenient mood. She nodded, quickly restoring the order. “Alright, that’s enough! Every Mage apprentice and those who have yet to finish copying the scrolls can come with me to enjoy some fresh air! Those of you who haven’t yet learned the skills will be brought up to speed by your respective teachers!” Ivir’s voice thundered about the Mage Guild’s lobby.
Excitement rose in the players’ hearts. Especially those who lagged behind or haven’t had the time to play. This was a windfall they didn’t expect. Unfortunately, Ivir wasn’t finished.
“You’ll gather in groups of 8! If your group can’t even kill 1 lizardman during the whole ordeal, each of you will pay 5 gold coins for the tutelage! If you can’t afford that, you’ll have to work it off!” These two sentences made most of the hopeful adventurers depressed.
Ivir obviously didn’t want anyone to pay the 5 gold coins, but giving adventurers some pressure would definitely raise the young mages’ fighting spirit. After all, Warrior Guild’s students will participate as well. Mage Guild can’t be the weakest link.
As people discussed the unexpected proposal, Vilenne’s mana-infused voice resounded in the lobby, “My little students, I have different requirements set for you. Since you practiced swordsmanship under me, you’ll use just that. I’ll hand you the swords in a second. If your group is able to behead one of the lizardmen, you’ll be able to learn the skills from me, free of charge!” when Vilenne finished speaking, her aura exploded, covering the whole lobby.
“However, if you can’t even kill a small lizard in a group of 8 or less, don’t you dare show your face in front of me ever again!” Vilenne’s coercion was mostly locked on the students next to her. Most of them were obviously male, following Vilenne because of her looks. They didn’t care about becoming a Water Mage at all. Seeing Vilenne’s aura suddenly break out, those players remembered the beatings they received. Even though Vilenne only used a wooden stick, their whole bodies hurt. Those who were lucky enough not to participate in the swordsmanship lessons swallowed their saliva. They finally realized how horrible this beautiful Water Mage’s power was.
“Those who want to participate, follow me! As for the rest… hmph!” Vilenne cutely snorted. To the male followers this was equal to being called a wuss. After a slight moment of hesitation, every single one of Vilenne’s students followed her to the armory.
Other students looked with dismay at the unlucky souls who followed Vilenne. That woman was a tyrant through and through!
Cindy looked appreciatively at Vilenne. She wanted her to teach the adventurers equally, but Vilenne was always so stubborn. “I’ll teach them how to fight.” she used to say, giving Cindy endless headaches. This time around, the blue eyed maiden gave her a nice surprise.
Coming back with the swords, Vilenne told her students to follow Ivir to the event. “I’ll join you in a second.” she said, turning to Cindy.
“You think that little bastard will come back?” Vilenne asked tentatively.
“You mean Icicle? I don’t know, he’s probably trying to get the heart.” Cindy smiled faintly. “Besides, aren’t you a little cold? You shared so much… sweaty time with him.”
“Don’t even insinuate such a thing! Me, with a younger…” Vilenne’s mouth suddenly froze, as she remembered being called a “little brat” by Icicle. “Ugh!”
Vilenne’s foot fiercely stamped the floor, making it cave in.
“Hey, those panels are expensive!” Cindy frowned a little.
“I-I’m sorry, Guildmaster.” Vilenne hung her head down, her first balled.
“Now, now. I was just teasing you. Go to your students, your friends from the Warrior Guild will most likely be there too.” Cindy patted Vilenne’s back.
“If the little bastard comes back, I swear I’ll hack him to pieces!” as Vilenne thought of the previous embarassment, she bit her lip and reluctantly exited the Mage Guild.
“What? Lizardmen besieged Vilen Town?” Jasik, the hunter who sold Icicle the furs, heard the news and quickly called other Hunters for a meeting.
“I say we make a trip to Vilen Town and earn our share!” one of the Hunters said, banging the table with his fist.
Other Hunters quickly smiled, nodding their heads.
“It’s settled then! We’ll move out shortly! Do we take the adventurers?” Jasik asked. As the one who earned the most recently, he gained quite a bit of prestige.
“Why not? Let’s confer our skills upon them once they show some results.” one of the old Hunters smiled slyly.
Few minutes later, the Hunter Village became really busy…
Vilen Town’s Pier
“Oh? Lord Vilen asks for our services? It’s been a long time.” Mercenary Leader Magent laughed out loud, slapping his thighs. His eyes showed excitement. “I yearned for a bout for quite some time.”
“We’re merely striving for civilians’ safety. Lord Vilen asked me to bring at most 200 Mercenaries with me.” Lord Vilen’s personal guard said hurriedly.
“Well then, since time is of an essence, let’s get going.” Magent barked out the orders. “Bring me 100 ranged Mercs, 100 melee Mercs and all the young’ins that want to participate!”
Players who decided to become Mercenaries quickly assembled on the pier, ready to go.
Soon enough, 350 strong squad marched towards the Vilen Town’s walls through the secret passage.
Meanwhile, Icicle made his way through the Blue Lizardmen Cave. His hair was disheveled, his expression frosty. “Damn those archers, I have only 30 antidotes left.” Icicle cursed. He hasn’t even made it to the boss, yet he had to spend so much resources. What’s more, he didn’t know whether the green lizardmen used poison or not. If they did, he would have to restock on herbs before going to the other cave.
Icicle started missing Blackie more and more. Without knowing what he’s about to face, his fighting style had to be somewhat restricted. The dog might not be useful in the fighting itself, but he was a great scout, providing valuable information about the nearby enemies. Without Blackie, Icicle had to be vigilant all the time.
Turning right, Icicle found an empty room. He slumped to the floor, bringing out some food to eat. “Rhan was a powerful adversary, his pops must be even stronger. What can I use to get rid of him?” Icicle rummaged through his inventory, looking for a solution.
“Sigh, nothing here. Since I can’t use any of the items in the inventory, I need to look elsewhere. I recently learned the power of vibration, but I can’t really use it well, so it’s crossed out. How about Alchemy? Is there anything that can help me? Maybe a poison or some corrosive potion…?” Icicle checked the game menu, looking for the alchemist compendium. He wasn’t too hopeful though. Even if there was a recipe, he definitely lacked the herbs to make the concotion.
Just then, Icicle had a crazy idea flash through his brain.
“Hahahaha!” Icicle broke out in a crazy laughter. He quickly covered his mouth with his hands, smothering the sound.
“Who would have thought that a failure of an experiment might actually help me here! Last time when I tried to improve the quality of the potions with mana, they exploded. I obviously wasn’t proficient enough in mana manipulation, so the result was predictable. What if I use the vibrating mana to stir those potions? Won’t it result in an even bigger explosion?” Icicle’s eyes shone with a crazy light as he brought out vials filled with various liquids!