The farms of Vilen Town were unnaturally silent today. The eerie atmosphere seemed to last for eternity. Wind swayed the lush grasslands, carrying with it a faint stench of blood.
In the shed on one of those farms, a trembling familly hugged each other, shaking from fear. “Mom, dad, are we going to be okay?” the little girl with brown ponytails asked, her eyes watery.
“We will be fine. The guards should come to rescue us shortly.” The girl’s middle-aged father replied, his voice somewhat shaky. When the lizardmen rolled down the mountain, those scared farmers quickly hid in a closest building, which was this shed used to storage tools.
Once the wolf infestation was repelled, the farmers could finally take a breather. Their lives were safe, their crops were no longer trampled by the scared animals escaping their territories. As soon as the farmers relaxed, their farms were isolated from the Vilen Town by a horde of lizardmen.
Equipped with only their farming tools, how could the farmers break through such an encirclement? Even if they had the necessary strength, could their meager numbers have a sliver of chance against 3000 elite lizardmen?
Faced with such an unfortune situation, the farmers and their families hid inside the buildings, awaiting the rescue. Mothers hugged their children, trying to comfort them, while their own eyes looked for comfort in their husbands’ eyes.
As many of the hiding adults dejectedly sighed, they held their children close. For some unknown reason, the lizardmen didn’t attack them. This caused a glimmer of hope to blossom in their hearts, making those poor souls pray for their saviors to arrive soon.
Faint sniffing and sobbing could be heard among the farms. In this gloomy atmosphere, the afternoon sky was suddenly blotted out, making the area around the farms dim. This phenomenon alarmed the adults, prompting them to look through the windows and the cracks of the wooden sheds. They feared the worst.
“Ah!” one of the mothers cried out, slumping to the ground.
“What is it honey?” the farmer asked, his expression severe. He didn’t know whether it was the good or the bad news.
“Martial Eagles are flying our way!” the woman muttered, holding her wide opened mouth.
“We’re saved!” the family rejoiced shedding warm tears of happiness.
In the bright afternoon sky, Adian flew on top of the Martial Eagle. With a wave of his hand, the other four elite guards guided the beasts to descend towards the farms. Scared farmers exited the buildings one by one, their expressions tearful. As the guards were thanked by the scared townsmen, they nodded harshly and ordered the civilians to hurry up. They didn’t want to appear heartless, but there was no time to waste. There were other families that required rescuing so they couldn’t dawdle.
Adian landed next to the farm closest to the lizardmen blockade, opening the wooden shed. He felt the presence of a few people there. “Come out quickly, I’m here to take you back to town.” Adian’s voice was firm and warm but not too loud. The words of his father clearly rang out in his head. “Remember little rascal, I’m sending you to rescue the townsmen. If they happen to get into trouble or if you somehow provoke the lizardmen attack because of your antics, I’ll throw you behind bars for 10 years! Ten whole years, you hear me?!”
As Adian remembered the words of his father, Cus, he shuddered. He honestly wished to just ran into the horde of lizardmen and have his fun, but then he remembered that the reptiles were actually low level creatures. They were similar to the wolves he could dispatch with a few slashes during [Ingrained Enmity] event. Only by repeating that the creatures weren’t worth his time was he able to temporarily suppress his bloodthirtsty nature.
‘Thank you Captain.” the scared family quickly walked out of the shed, letting their children hop onto the giant Martial Eagle. The proud bird spread its enormous wings which reached over 6m in wingspan. Coupled with its formidable, muscular body and unmatched resilience, it was a perfect transport method. Only the top Beastmasters could make such a wild and prideful creature submit to them and then be used by regular humans.
Adian knew that Lord Marcus Vilen spent a lot of resources to invite the Beastmaster to the town. If it weren’t for the help of the Minaeryth Kingdom’s royal family, he wouldn’t be able to afford even that.
“Mount the Eagle. I’ll keep your children safe.” Adian took both of the rascals on his lap, whispering “Grab on to me and hold on tight.” the two children nodded resolutely, wiping their watery eyes with their cotton sleeves.
When every person from the farm mounted the gigantic Martial Eagle, Adian patted the feathery beast’s back. Once given the sign, the giant Martial Eagle flapped its wings, quickly rising into the air. As the sound of whistling wind rose over the horizon, five Martial Eagles accompanied by the rays of the afternoon sun flew towards Vilen Town.
Marcus Vilen left his palace and stood on top of the northern wall. His furrowed brows slowly relaxed as he gazed at the Martial Eagles flying over the grasslands. The giant beasts brought his people back safely.
As the first Martial Eagle landed, farmers bowed deeply to the lord. Soon after, an elite guard kneeled beside the Vilen Town’s lord and reported.
“Lord! With another flight all of the civilians will be rescued. Should we prepare to attack?” the guard’s metallic armor reflected the sun rays.
“The lizardmen don’t seem to be hostile towards us. Let’s wait.” Marcus waved his hand to dismiss the guard. He wasn’t sure why the lizardmen were so passive. When the lizardmen rumbled down the mountain, they shouldn’t suddenly give up their momentum for no reason. Thus, Marcus decided to wait and see if there’s anything he should take note of.
“Yes lord!” the guard bowed and excused himself.
“What’s your opinion on all of this, Cus? Is it just one of those “events” the gods spoke of in their prophecies?” Marcus asked, his hands interlocked behind his back.
“Sigh, honestly, this is one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen. Just look at those reptiles. They’re not attacking anyone despite being so aggresive in nature. If you look to the left, you’ll see a wall peppered with arrows. That’s the exact location of one of the “runaway” adventurers who crossed the gate to run. As soon as he left the town, he was instantly turned into a porcupine. According to my guess, those newcomers must have angered the lizardmen in some way. There’s no need to shed blood for no cause. I mean, the town’s in no danger, nor are its residents. We should let them resolve it by themselves.” Cus honestly replied.
“Let’s watch for a little while longer then. If the lizardmen are not hostile towards us, keep the tight watch for the next two days, then return to the normal schedule.” Marcus nodded.
Soon after Cus’s firm voice rang out among the walls of Vilen Town, repeating the lord’s orders.
“Yes Commander!” the guards responded in unison.
When all of the civilians were rescued, one of the blue lizardmen with vivid, shining scales took a few steps forward, suddenly screeching.
“We. No. Kill. Humans.” Russh spoke in a broken human language, each word with a hard to understand accent. “We. Here. Kill. Invaders!”
“So it’s as we thought.” Marcus sighed, his face expression turning severe. Adventurers were called “Invaders” by some. It was natural that not every person wanted some other beings suddenly summoned into their world, not to mention they were immortal and not regulated by most laws.
Marcus was a responsible and smart man, thus he quickly made a decision.
“Vilen Town, listen up! All of the civilians were saved! The lizardmen are clearly not here to provoke us! By the order of I, Marcus Vilen, I hereby forbid attacking the lizardmen unless they try to enter the city! Any insubordination will be met with punishment ranging from flogging to yearly imprisonment! Those who dare to incite others to break my decree will be stripped of their titles and possessions and then jailed for a decade!” Marcus Vilen’s mana empowered voice thundered throughout the town.
As the residents of Vilen Town heard that, they gulped loudly. This was barely any different from a monarch’s decree. Although there were many daredevils in the town, they wouldn’t risk all of their possessions and hereditary titles just to make a stand.
“As for you adventurers, you’re the one who provoked the lizardmen, so you’re in it on your own! I would like to ask the Mage Guild, the Holy Light Church, the Warrior Guild and all of the Artisans to let the adventurers deal with their own mess! After the battle is over, they will be allowed to use all of the town’s services again! For now, you’ll have to rely on the Artisan’s and respective guilds’ disciples! That’s all!” Marcus nodded towards Russh. His gaze held a heartfelt gratitude. He knew that although the lizardmen didn’t pose any danger to him nor the guards, the farmers were a different matter. They could be slaughtered like sheep or even worse, taken prisoner. This would force many concessions out of Marcus, not to mention destabilize his firm position.
The players below the wall looked at their teachers despondently. They wanted to receive some buffs or at least guidance in battle, but now it was all gone. The decree of the lord turned into a system message that made all of them reluctantly give up on the idea of receiving any help. However, the artisans’ disciples were overjoyed! This made their services the only ones available! How good of a windfall was that?
“Tasty food here!” chefs showcased their goods, moving their plates in the air to make the salivating aromas pervade the area.
“Leather armor repairs! Really cheap! The better the armor, the better your chance at surviving!” the tailors screamed. Their fingers were patched with adhesive plasters, the result of unskillful use of needles.
“Weapon repairs, heavy armor repairs! All in one place! Come to the smithy!” a couple of blacksmith apprentinces waved their hammers around. They could finally earn something from their hard, strenuous work.
“Potions! Cheap potions to save your life in battle! One potion regenerates up to 150 HP! Only 25 silver a bottle!” Alchemist disciples shook their vials to attract customers as they advertised.
Marcus sighed and was ready to get down the wall when a group of bowmen came running from the woods on the eastern side. The lizardmen stopped them. Green lizardman with vivid green scales, carrying a silver trident and a metal net stepped forward and hissed “Humans!”
Russh moved from the north side to the eastern gate. Seeing the humans, his yellow reptile eyes narrowed, as if he suspected the group to be waiting in ambush. Something was wrong though. If it was an ambush, why come alone? And why at this unopportune time?
Jasik and his hunter friends nocked their bows, ready to shoot when a thunderous voice resounded.
“Lower your weapons!” Marcus’s face darkened. How many mishaps could befell him in one day?
Shaken by the voice, Jasik looked at the Vilen Town lord’s imposing posture, making him instinctively do as the lord said. His companions quickly followed, waiting for explanation.
However, one of the impatient players shot an arrow straight at the lizardmen, provoking their anger. The arrow lodged itself into green lizardman’s shoulder, sticking out like a sore thumb. Russh outstretched his hand to block his furious brethren, glaring viciously at the town’s lord.
“Grab the one who shot and throw him to the lizardmen!” Marcus heartlessly ordered.
Seeing the manner of the Vilen lord’s, Jasik nodded his head, grabbed the astounded adventurer and flung him towards the reptiles. As soon as the player landed, lightly coughing from the impact, the tridents and spears descended upon him, extinguishing his life within a second.
As the silence reigned over the place, couple of guards on the walls swallowed their saliva with difficulty. The domineering aura their lord released was something they have never experienced before. They felt as if a mountain was weighing down on their shoulders.
“I expect you came here to help us fight off the lizardmen, Jasik?” Marcus’s cold voice rang out.
“Yes lord! However, it seems you don’t need any help…” Jasik looked around, somewhat stunned. He couldn’t quite grasp what was going on.
“Lizardmen came here to settle their blood feud with the adventurers, letting us save the civilians without bloodshed. Thus, we made an agreement. We won’t interfere in their battle. However, since you went to all the trouble to organize your village and come here, I can’t let you return empty handed.” Marcus sighed, turning to Russh.
“Would you let those humans enter the western mountain area without coming close to your Red Blooming Valley?” Marcus asked amiably.
Russh thought for a while and nodded reluctantly. He didn’t want to face the allied forces of humans and the invaders. Besides, looking at the group of invaders behind the humans with bows made him salivate.
“Very well. Jasik, take your boys and head towards the mountains. You can get your share of bear furs there. If you break the promise and enter the Red Blooming Valley, I’ll personally behead you.” Marcus’s “gentle” smile sent shivers down Jasik’s spine.
“Yes Lord!” Jasik replied faintly, briskly walking to pass the blockade. The lizardmen willingly made way, letting the Hunters pass. However, when the players neared, the reptile warriors barred the entrance.
“Now now, killing all those adventurers in this manner would be rather tasteless, wouldn’t it? Let them regroup for 15 minutes after which you can start your battle. If they don’t exit the town on their own, I’ll push them out myself.” Marcus smiled faintly. The startled players next to the lizardmen obediently hurried to the town.
Russh and Rhukka glowered at the backs of the adventurers, their killing intent rising. They knew they held the advantageous positions outside so they couldn’t complain too much.
“All the guards except those on the watchtowers, get off the walls! From now on until the battle ends, the walls are off limits! Any adventurer who dares to climb them shall be shot down! Am I understood?!” Marcus’s cold voice resounded over the area.
“Yes Lord!” the guards responded in unison.
“Very well. Adventurers, you heard me! After 15 minutes, those of you who wish to fight will sally out of the town! Make your preparations, we won’t disturb you!” Marcus gave his orders to the guards and calmly descended.
Meanwhile, Magent arrived with the group of mercenaries from the southern part of the town. Hearing the news, he was somewhat dejected. “Tch, I was itching for a fight.”
“Don’t worry, you’ll be paid accordingly.” Marcus waved his hand and walked towards the plaza to talk with the rescued townsmen. As a shrewd person, he knew it was a great time to earn some additional respect amongst the people.
“Heh heh, look at that. There’s actually someone who wants to fight!” Adian’s voice rang out from the southern part of the town. He has just returned the eagles to the stables. Hearing there was actually someone who wanted to fight, his dejected expression quickly brightened.
Magent turned around, his somewhat somber face seemed to become 10 years younger. He let out an exuberant laugh. “Oh? So you want to dance with me, kiddo? I’ll be glad to lead you!” Magent guffawed.
Adian cracked his joints. The plaza in the middle of the town was quickly deserted, making room for the two big shots of the town. Bored magicians on the side set up a translucent barrier to keep the civilians out of the harm’s way.
Marcus has just finished talking to the townsmen and raised his head. He gazed at the two in the middle of the plaza. His eyes drifted to Cus. Seeing him nod, Marcus could only sigh.
Although the crowd all around was excited, venting off the vexation from the lizardmen attack, Marcus knew the difference of strength between the two. This could hardly be called a fight.
“Well, if you’re fine with that…” Marcus muttered to Cus, nodding his head in acceptance of the sudden duel. Any sort of entertainment would be good for the crowd at this moment. He passed the order to the rowdy subordinates of his to prolong the bout for some time so that the crowds can be entertained.
Soon after, the news about the lizardmen attacking and then coming to terms with the Vilen Town’s lord spread. The people on the pier had barely any time to chew on the news when another interesting piece of information circulated on the markets. Two big shots, Magent – the Mercenary Guild’s leader and Adian – the Guard’s Captain were going to duel in the middle of the Vilen Town’s plaza!
Another vial exploded, making a lean, raven haired youth fly backwards. His body hit the tough, cold wall of the greyish Blue Lizardmen Cave, making the youth cough blood.
Icicle wiped his mouth, fishing out a health potion out of his inventory. As the bitter dark red liquid flowed down his stomach, his whole body felt hot, then his missing health points slowly creeped back in. “Well, it seems the effect is strong enough.” Icicle’s mouth curled into a devious smile.
“From what I saw, the worst of it isn’t the explosion of the liquid inside the vial, but the glass itself scattering all around. If only I had bigger vials…” Icicle sighed, shaking his head. Medium sized vials were quite formidable when exploding, while the small vials should probably be used for distraction only. Their damage was plentiful, but the area of effect was limited. Thus, they required precision and careful managing. With Icicle’s pitiful control over the mana and mana vibration, it was nigh impossible to not have at least half of them explode right at his face.
“This potioneering really is a two-edged weapon. I can barely ascertain 50% efficiency in using the full blast radius of the explosive potion. If I stir the mana only a little, it will explode for sure, I’m just not sure how soon. In case I throw the bottle at the lizardman and instead of exploding it just shatters on his skin, wouldn’t I waste a valuable potion?” Icicle shook his head.
“Health potions are already pricy, but mana potions are barely available on the market. Sadly, the blast radius of mana potions is at least two to three times that of health ones. Icicle suspected the result but it reflected on his expenditure. Yes, he could be called rich, but how long will it last with such an extravagant style of playing?
“I hope that the final boss doesn’t have too much health, otherwise I’ll have to throw most of my small fortune at him.” Icicle looked at the numbers of potions in his inventory and sighed deeply. There were over 500 potions, out of which only a little over a hundred were mana filled vials.
Since Faura’s party was offline and Icicle didn’t log out, he was completely impervious to the news outside. If he knew what was happening, his movements would most likely quicken, making sure to take the full advantage of the deserted hunting ground.
Ten minutes passed in the blink of an eye. The players were congregated near the three town gates. The few chosen amongst them started formulating a plan for the whole battle.
At the same time, Adian and Magent started exchanging blows in the middle of the plaza. Under the direct orders of Marcus Vilen they started off slow, entertaining the crowd. Their movements were fairly visible, yet mighty. The sound of axes and the longsword clashing reverberated throughout the town square.
In the middle of the crowd stood 12 players. Those individuals were mostly acting up on their fame in other games, where their followers were quite numerous. In the time of need, they wanted to reclaim the fame they once had, entering the spotlight once again. After discussing for a few minutes, they came up with a bold plan.
“Listen up guys! We’ll be frank with you. The situation doesn’t look too bad. However, most of us will die at least once. Some of us will die some more. You need to be prepared for this.” Zunix, one of the chosen leaders spoke firmly.
“We formulated a plan, but it needs your cooperation to succeed!” as Zunix’s firm voice resounded through the crowd, there were many people nodding their heads.
“Although our forces are numerous, most of us is underleveled. The position the lizardmen already hold makes us start with a disadvantage. Thus, we need to use some trickery to gain an upper hand. Here’s what we thought of! Players of level 9 and below will go to the western gate and act as a meatshield. While you do that, the rest of us will divide into two groups. One group will stall the northern side, letting our strongest, elite force wreak havoc on the eastern side of the town. The reason is quite simple. Northern side can receive reinforcements from both the western and the eastern side. If we concentrated our forces there, the probability of getting flanked by a pincer attack is quite high.” Zunix continued in one breath.
“Now, for the western side. It’s a mountainous area. What’s more, the advantageous, elevated position is already taken by the lizardmen. Their bowmen hide behind the trees, making it extremely hard to target them. Going against such a group would turn all of us into porcupines in a matter of time. Thus, we decided to focus all of the elite force on the eastern side, letting them quickly break through the fortified line and help the others by flooding the lizardmen with overbearing numbers.” Zunix declared.
“Western side will be reimbursed. Any item of level 10 and below will be relinquished by the elite force! The same goes for crafting items, we will give up all of those for your service. Since players below level 10 cannot lose levels, we would like to request this huge favor from you. You’ll be the main heroes of this event, sacrificing yourself in a vicious battle against the lizardmen. If you manage to kill some of the lizardmen, what drops is of course yours, so go at it!” Zunix encouraged.
“Remember that there might be reinforcements, the previous event in the [Humming Forest] proved that! You should be prepared for this eventuality!” Zunix reminded, taking a deep breath.
“Enough of the talking, players with levels below 10 focus on the western side, levels 10-12 go to the northern area and wait for our reinforcements! All above level 12 follow me to the eastern area! Focus those reptiles one by one and don’t let any survive!” with the final rallying cry, Zunix charged out.
While some of the players cried out to raise the morale, others were clearly not moved. They knew their role was basically that of a filler. Feeling dejected, they slowly moved to the gates, sighing deeply.
However, the situation was completely different for the students of the Mage Guild. They knew from the start that the opponents they’re facing are way tougher than them. Thus, they never held much hope to begin with. Seeing the situation unfold now, they were actually somewhat excited. With no higher leveled players to obstruct them, they might actually kill one of the reptiles and earn the mage promotion for free!
Vilenne stood on the side, watching her students with a gleeful expression. She was satisfied, because she didn’t see any fear in the young ones’ expressions.
Cling! Clang! Clink!
As the battle raged on, the swords and sabers clashed with the crude spears. Lizardmen, although outnumbered, slaughtered their way through the adventurers. Every single kill filled their hearts with joy. They let out war cries, excitedly striking their muscular chests like giant male orangutans.
On the eastern side of the gate, Santi, Tiana, Puyo and the rest of their party logged in. They were somewhat tired after logging out merely 4 hours ago, but due to anxiety and constantly ringing phones, they lazily woke up. Seeing the messages on their phones, that sleepiness was quickly washed away before they donned their VR headsets and logged in.
“I’m glad our friends woke us up. At first I wanted to tear them to pieces for disturbing me in my blissful sleep, but if I were to miss such a giant battle, I would have definitely regretted it.” Tiana said through yawning, waving her reddish staff around. She lazily looked at Puyo who seemed incredibly excited. “Look at you, Puyo, did you finally find a decent bow to steal?” Tiana giggled.
“Hard to say. Those bows don’t appeal to me in any particular way, but they’re definitely better than these few twigs glued together that I have.” Puyo nodded, eyeing his bow with disdain. It was high time to change the equipment. His party’s weapons were much better than his. If this trend were to keep up he wouldn’t be able to keep up with them. Archery skills could make up for some differences, but an appropriate weapon would boost his damage significantly.
“Well then, where should we start?” Santi looked around, suddenly noticing a green-scaled warrior rampaging at the eastern gate. “What do you guys say about that greenie?” Santi asked, faintly smiling.
Tiana rubbed her little hands and cried out “Who cares what monster it is! Let’s get some experience!” hearing the excited cry of the maiden, the party made their way through the dense crowd at the eastern gate.