Rekk glanced at Icicle from time to time, noticing the seriousness the human worked with. The little human was shaking the vials, mixing the liquid inside. He often frowned, bringing the bottle for a closer look, then outstretched his hand to glance at the concoction from some distance, as if looking for flaws.
“Your Highness, your invigorating concoction must remain in this static state for at least 30 minutes.” Icicle said weakly, bowing. He stood up, walking outside the cave.
“Could Your Highness breathe some fire for me?”
Rekk noticed Icicle’s eager expression, thinking, “What a dumb human. He truly believes I’m a dragon.” Sighing inwardly, Rekk thundered “My fire source is too precious for you humans to use.”
Icicle hang his head low and nodded, walking away dejectedly. He entered the cave once again, plucking the Netherworld flower. After cleaning the bowl with some water, Icicle pocketed the canteen into his inventory, proceeding with the grounding process.
As Icicle continued his work, Rekk received reports after reports from his underlings. Apparently, there were no humans to be found in the near vicinity. Rekk look at Icicle with some mild suspicion, asking “We couldn’t find the humans you spoke of, are you sure they were here?”
Icicle looked back, his face somewhat frightened. He quickly bowed, replying “Your Highness, you may not know, but in the recent times, as was foretold by the Gods, the adventurers from the other world arrived in the various corners of the continent. They have really strange abilities, capable of disappearing on the spot, as if they were never there. I didn’t have much interaction with them, so I don’t know much else.” Icicle said apologetically.
Rekk looked Icicle over. He couldn’t believe that such a tiny human could actually slaughter his underlings and then shamelessly come over, lying straight to his face. However, just to be sure, Rekk decided to do a little test.
The ground shook as Rekk let out a menacing roar, making the white crystals on the ceiling tremble, distorting the reflected light like a disco ball.
“Ah!” Icicle’s whole body shook as he dropped an empty vial, making it shatter on the ground. He looked back fearfully, glancing at Rekk as if the reptile was about to eat him.
Rekk carefully observed the tiny human’s reactions, finally satisfied.
“Did something happen, Your Highness?” Icicle asked weakly. His appeared terrified.
“No, everything is fine. I was just checking if there were any adventurers you spoke of by releasing my aura.” Rekk quickly thought of an excuse.
“I see.” Icicle weakly nodded as his body trembled. He shakily fished out another empty vial, shakily pouring the mashed to a pulp Netherworld flower in.
With his back turned to Rekk, the seemingly scared Icicle flashed a wicked grin. “If I let myself be spotted so easily, I wouldn’t dare to rob you in the first place.”
Glancing at the item in his inventory, Icicle scanned the angular brownish-red object with his eyes.
Icicle’s brows furrowed as he saw that mysterious inscriptions glowed on the surface of the brownish-red object. Icicle couldn’t recognize the language. He inferred that it must be one of the in-game ones.
“I guess I’ll have to look for some information when I get back to Vilen Town.” Icicle thought of Cindy, who seemed powerful enough to have knowledge of many secrets of this world.
His gaze returning to the potion at hand, Icicle quickly filled 9 other medium vials with the rest of the [Netherworld flower]’s pulp.
Casting his sword’s [Nasty burn], Icicle targeted the ground where a fierce flame came into being. Grabbing the vials one by one, Icicle carefully mixed the concoction over the fire. As the ingredients began to fully fuse, Icicle’s other hand added a few pieces of the previously plucked lotuses. This was his experiment on the quality of the potions made.
Icicle had to drink a few mana potions inbetween the process to keep the fire going after its 60 sec cooldown. The Netherworld flower was supposedly quickly releasing its essence, thus it was crucial to turn it into secondary product right after plucking the plant.
Repeating the process 10 times, Icicle checked the results.
The other five potions were either mishandled or mixed incorrectly, resulting in a flawed product. Those could be only thrown out. Icicle wasn’t too discouraged though. 50% efficiency at the start of his alchemic adventure was already something he could be proud of. Besides, no one could tell him that he wasted ingredients since no one else wanted to do the job. The only ones who don’t make mistakes are the ones who do nothing.
Pocketing the five vials, Icicle noticed a rapid progress in his Alchemy. His level 1 Intermediary level Alchemy went up by a staggering 30%.
“As expected of a Legendary grade ingredient.” Icicle smiled faintly, walking back to the entrance of the lair where he left the vial filled with Rekk’s blood. His expression was thoughtful as he looked at the concoction with, how Rekk saw it, the pride of an Alchemist.
This was where the two differed. Icicle’s eyes indeed blazed with a light that was similar to pride, what he saw, however, were numbers! “How much progress is this one going to get me?” he thought, his expression joyful.
Icicle finished boiling the potion over the fire, turning to Rekk “Your Highness, your concoction is ready.”
Rekk pompously strolled over, showing off his majesty.
“According to what I read, this concoction can cause Your Highness to feel an excruciating pain, as it brings out the life out of Your Highness’s cells. I wouldn’t want to disturb Your Highness during this miraculous transformation, so it’s about the time I leave.” Icicle bowed and handed over the vial. He looked at his progress and saw it jump to Intermediary level 1, 40%. This made him satisfied.
Rekk took a breath and the vial in Icicle’s hands quickly flew into his maw. Crushing it with his teeth, Rekk gulped the liquid down, turning to Icicle. He was about to ask the human to wait, to check if the potion wasn’t a simple counterfeit. He didn’t believe the human could poison him after all. That’s when Rekk noticed that there was some soil on Icicle’s hands.
Icicle felt the suspicious stare boring a hole in his back as he turned and smiled brightly. “Your Highness is really intelligent.”
Rekk’s alarm sensors went off. His eyes turned red as he opened his maw. He was about to swallow the human whole when Icicle fished out a couple of colorful lotus flowers. Their roots were covered in muddy soil. “I added some extra ingredients since Your Highness was so nice to me.” Icicle flashed an honest grin.
Rekk’s expression softened. He ridiculed himself for suspecting the dumb human, shaking his head helplessly. There were just so many strange things happening around the tiny creature. He thought he was getting old. “Go, I asked my underlings not to bother you.” Rekk glanced at Icicle one last time then walked into his lair, preparing to digest the explosive, revitalizing force of the concoction.
Icicle bowed once again. He was sure Rekk’s [Sense presence] was much greater than his, so he had to keep the appearances for a little while longer. His heart was thumping wildly. The soil on his hands had almost betrayed him. If he didn’t quickly think of the cover up with the lotus flowers, his cunning plan would have ended up in a total failure. The Meteoric rune he found would most likely drop, along with the medicine he has just made.
Strolling to the exit of the spacious room, Icicle bowed in the direction of the lair, leaving a few words behind, “Thank you for your grace, Your Highness.”
Taking his leave, Icicle unimpededly traversed the cave. He was about halfway there when he heard a loud roar.
A blood-curdling howl resonated throughout the cave. Rhan, who seemed to just respawn, wasn’t aware of the orders of his ancestor. He madly rushing at Icicle, swinging his two-handed waraxe.
Icicle’s mouth curled up into a wicked grin. “This play pretend with Rekk has really exhausted me. Who would have thought I would be so happy to see you.” Icicle muttered under his nose.
Throwing one vial after the other, Icicle spent a lot of previously made health potions. As soon as Rhan’s body was completely covered wtih red liquid, Icicle ignited the [Fiery Blazing Sword], releasing a terrifying fireball straight at Rhan.
Rhan shrieked as the leftover of the explosive liquid covering his whole body ignited, making him go through hellish torment once again. Icicle watched the lizard with amusement. As he expected, Rhan quickly resulted to desperate measures.
An axe whirled through the air, approaching Icicle’s head at breathtaking speed. However, if you expect the move, it’s child’s play to avoid it. Icicle sidestepped, letting the axe whirl past his left ear, lodging itself into the grey wall.
Walking over to the axe, Icicle glanced it over, somewhat dejected that he couldn’t pocket the item.
Dispersing the thought of throwing it right back at Rhan, Icicle dashed forward, utilizing his nimbleness.
Rhan’s tail swiped horizontally, making Icicle duck. Erupting like a geyser, Icicle lodged the throwing axe into Rhan’s head.
Rhan has disintegrated soon after. It seemed that the throwing axe really was his greatest demise. Icicle looked at the two objects on the floor, quickly swiping them.
A crystalline white box containing a red object resembling a heart laid in Icicle’s hand.
The other item was a green, polished crystal shard. It was warm to the touch.
“I didn’t even need to identify the item. It’s unlikely that the stone being a Misc item is the cause. Could it be because of Blackie? In Blackie’s Status window, there’s a “Summoning requirements” line. Maybe this stone is used exactly for that. The stronger the familiar you manage to get your hands on, the higher its summoning requirements.” Icicle surmised.
He had to give it to the devs. Some items had vague descriptions like the Meteoric rune he has stolen from Rekk. If he wanted to know what it is or if it’s even the “Meteoric rune” it goes as, he had to look for more clues. On the other hand, useful items like Summoning stones were handed to players without the redundant identification process.
Icicle walked to the exit of Rhan’s chamber. He peeked a little to see if there were any patrols coming his way. Learning from Rekk’s reaction when he smell the blood of lizardmen on him, Icicle cleaned up Rhan’s burned skin and spilled blood. This process somewhat tired him as he had to constantly use his mana to cast [Water drizzle] and [Water prison]. He wasn’t as skilled as Vilenne to directly spurt water from his hand.
Taking a deep breath, Icicle strolled out of the cave, rushing to the entrance at top speed. He had a feeling Rekk is going to finish consuming the concoction soon.
One corridor after the other, Icicle ran madly. He thought he was running in circles for a second, but his map clearly showed otherwise. Patrolling lizardmen just glanced at him, letting him go. They seemed to be laughing at the cowardly nature of the human.
Icicle saw the light flowing into the cave, sighing in relief. He had finally made it to the exit.
Walking outside, Icicle looked around the empty valley. His eyes envisioned the lotuses he could gather, but they haven’t respawned yet.
Icicle glanced in the direction of Vilen Town. He didn’t know whether the event had ended or not. He considered logging off for the day.
Rekk’s monstrous roar reverberated throughout the valley, spreading out far and wide. Although the sounds of the lizardmen fighting never came out of Red Blooming Valley, Rekk’s monstrous roar bypassed the restriction, making the entire area tremble a little.
Icicle’s pupils contracted as he realized that Rekk wasn’t as stupid as he thought. The potion he made could indeed work wonders, but it was on the condition it was given to a human. With such a miniscule amount given to a formidable creature like Rekk, it was like feeding them a tablespoon of chocolate, leaving them wanting more.
“He had probably realized that the rune is gone too. Have to run!” Icicle knew he couldn’t just log off and leave his character here. If he did, that was equivalent to foregoing his quest and considerable gains.
Icicle considered luring Rekk to Vilen Town, but soon realized this was an awful idea. The western area might have been blocked by his underlings. Icicle glanced to the left, noticing the narrow path between the two rockfaces.
“If this quest is really doable, that’s my only chance!” Icicle bolted towards the narrow path, approaching the unknown area.
Russh was about to fall. The leader of the blue lizardmen was outnumbered, at least 10 to 1. His brethren were dying next to him, yet he couldn’t do anything. This was truly a hopeless situation.
The previous stalemate quickly broke as the lizardmen reinforcements were thinned out. This problem only occured on the blue lizardmen side, bringing Russh shame. He thought his brethren had decided to abandon him here.
He couldn’t know that it was one man’s doing. That this man’s obsession would propel him forward until he reached the boss room, sparing only those that didn’t cross his path.
The whole war expedition turned into a giant fiasco. It was too late to pull back, the lizardmen outside the northern gate were encircled. The eastern gate was being weakened with every passing second. Russh knew it was his fault. If the proper reinforcements came, he could have held to the northern gate and stopped the adventurers from taking over.
With a sorrowful roar, Russh’s life has been extinguished. He fell to the ground, his lifeless body laying in front of adventurers and his brethren.
Nearby lizardmen lost morale as they stared blankly at their deceased leader. Rage filled their eyes, making them attack madly. However, without proper coordination, they were quickly subdued.
Icicle scurried through the narrow passage. He could hear the looming footsteps of Rekk. He prayed that there was no other way to reach the place he was heading to.
The winding path between the two rock faces seemed to have no end. Icicle ran and ran, gazing at the towering walls of stones. After two minutes, he has finally reached the exit.
Rolling hills covered the grasslands wherever the eye could see. Towering mountains encircled the entire area, leaving a passage to this valley on the western side of the road.
Dark puffs of smoke rose into the air as the fragrant aroma of roasted fish and meat pervaded the air. Icicle looked at the giant palisaded camp full of soldiers, his brows furrowing.
“Why was Adian dispatched to handle the wolf infestation if there were this many soldiers around?” Icicle had his doubts. This place was suspicious.
One of the soldier patrols spotted Icicle, closing in on him. The soldiers’ heavy silver armor glistened in the setting sun, giving them a lordly disposition.
“It must be an elite regimen. I’ve seen Cus when he dragged Adian away though. Those soldiers are definitely not from Vilen Town. Who are they then? Robbers?” Icicle’s mind went over all the possibilities. He feared that Minaeryth Kingdom’s monarch might have sent those soldiers to plunder the caravans.
If so, then arriving here was hardly any better than letting Rekk deal with him.
“What brings you here, adventurer?” One of the soldiers opened, smiling amiably.
Icicle noticed the eyes that the soldiers looked at him with. They were not one least bit surprised. There must have been some players who explored this passage before him.
“I…” Icicle stuttered. He realized that the camp was way too hectic. “Shit, they must have heard Rekk’s roar.” he thought.
“I was gathering plants in the valley when a terrible roar surprised me. I ran without looking back.” Icicle said weakly.
“Come with us, we’ll shelter you.” the soldiers patted Icicle’s shoulders reassuringly, escorting him to the reinforced camp.
Icicle nodded his head a few times and let himself be taken. If worst came to worst, he would be held prisoner. Judging by the way this quest unfolded though, those soldiers may have something to do with Rekk and his treasure.
Arriving at the top of the hill, Icicle was escorted through the wooden gate, passing by dozens of tents and chaotic soldiers running to and fro. The soldiers took him to the middle of the area where a slightly bigger tent fluttered in the wind. Two imposing guards stood watch in front of it. After gaining the approval to enter, one of the soldiers slipped into the tent, presenting the situation to his leader. After a while, Icicle was asked to come in.
“Welcome adventurer. My name’s Gaius. I’m the Commander of this group of people. We’re a bunch of mercenaries who bundled together.” Gaius smiled wryly. “We’re currently resting in this area. You’re free to stay with us as long as you don’t cause any trouble.” Gaius smiled amiably.
Icicle sat on a wooden chair, his eyes looking over a few documents on the table.
“Thank you.” Icicle muttered weakly, hanging his head low. “Mercenaries? With that kind of armor? What vault did you rob?” Icicle mocked inwardly.
“Now tell me, do you know anything regarding the monstrous roar earlier?” Gaius didn’t beat around the bush.
Icicle saw through the soldiers’ intentions long ago. He nodded a few times, making up a story, “I was gathering the herbs in the western mountain when I remembered that it was my sister’s birthday tomorrow. Some folk in the town spoke of beautiful, fragrant flowers growing in the Red Blooming Valley. I didn’t know of any other place, so I went there. Once I entered the valley, I saw plentiful of colorful lotuses growing around. I thought I was the luckiest man alive as I started to pluck them, one after the other. That’s when I heard the screaming.” Icicle gulped loudly.
“I ran into the cave. As an Alchemist, I could have saved a person’s life if need be. I am poor, but humans should help each other.” Icicle said naively. “What I saw made me shudder. In a giant lair, a human figure was halfly devoured by a giant, black wingless dragon. The dragon chewed the human lazily as the bones crunched under its razor sharp teeth. Behind the dragon, in its lair, there was a dug up hole. I noticed that next to the human’s body laid a piece of unremarkable, angular stone. It was brownish in color, resembling a kite. If it wasn’t for the greyish floor of the cave, I would have thought it was but a pebble.” Icicle narrated.
“What happened after?” Gaius asked as he signaled his men to hasten the preparations. This was the moment they were waiting for.
“The dragon didn’t seem to notice me. Maybe I was too weak to make it glance at me or maybe it didn’t want to bother with me… I don’t know. I stood up shakily and ran where my legs took me. After that, I arrived here.” Icicle sobbed.
“Was there anyone else?” Gaius asked.
“No, I was alone.” Icicle continued sobbing.
Gaius’s face hardened as his hand grabbed the hilt of his sword. His eyes widened as he saw the sight in front of him.
Icicle coughed violently, as his body fell from the chair he sat on. His hand clutched his throat. He grunted as foamy saliva escaped his mouth. His whole body convulsing, Icicle’s eyes slowly turned listless. He has disappered soon after.
“Those adventurers are really stupid. If you told me you were hurt by the green lizardmen on the way, I could’ve saved your puny life. Such a low resistance to poison, truly lamentable.” Gaius gazed at the place Icicle’s body used to be, leaving the tent with his officers.
Looking around, Gaius nodded towards a few high ranking soldiers, making them rush out of the wooden gate. Cavalry galopped through the western exit, while the infantry beelined it to the narrow passage north.
“Don’t let any new people in!” Gaius ordered the few remaining guards in the camp, following his troops to the Red Blooming Valley.
“Those old pricks will pay a hefty price for this baby!” Gaius’s eyes blazed with desire, imagining the wealthy life of his after he sells the rune to the Mages of Acalen Kingdom.
Icicle appeared in the tent 20 minutes after his sudden demise. He made sure to grab a bite and take a piss before logging in. He knew that Gaius was looking to kill him. After all, if he was trying to gain a priceless artifact, he would get rid of any witnesses as well. Thus, he faked a poisoning, logging off right afterwards.
“The amount of acting I’ve done in the recent time makes me think I should become an actor.” Icicle smiled wryly. He didn’t dislike the play pretend game, since it included a lot of thinking. Those mind games were quite appealing to him. The process was really tiresome though.
“Now then, Gaius is gone, so I might as well steal all that he has courteously left behind.” Icicle’s eyes blazed with greed as he skimmed through the documents on the table.
“So those guys really are mercenaries. Working for Qured and Acalen Kingdom, depending on which kingdom pays the better price, huh?” Icicle shook his head helplessly. It seems that Minaeryth Kingdom isn’t in the best shape. How could such petty thieves earn their living otherwise? Yes, they might call themselves mercenaries, but it was just a disguise. Like calling a murderer a felon. It doesn’t sound as scary if it’s put that way.
After over 10 minutes of searching, Icicle has finally noticed something worth of notice.
Icicle read through the whole page, realizing that the exact recipe required [Extract essence] skill. “I really have to get that skill soon!” Icicle thought as a message appeared in his chat.
“Do I have anything to trade? Heheh.” Icicle laughed cheekily. “I always do!”