Author’s note: The end of the arc. I’ll take a week off to edit the previous chapters and get some work on the prologue. I also have an “how to write” article in mind, so I’ll keep you guys posted. (will most likely appear similar to snow’s writing classes)
“FieryRed, get back!” Faura screamed.
“If I try to retreat, I’ll be done for! Either run or help me out here!” FieryRed responded through gritted teeth.
The Kobolds on the 2nd floor of the Desolated Catacombs had the party pinned down. Even though FieryRed blocked the entrance at first, with the absolute number advantage the Kobold possesed, it was impossible to keep control of the entrance for long.
At the very moment, the whole corridor of Desolated Catacombs was strewn with Kobolds’ hacked bodies. They didn’t disappear after the killing blow was dealt, hindering the maneuverability of the party.
However, even though a lot of the Kobolds were slain, at least 25% of the original force was intact. The situation didn’t look too good for the adventurers as they were on their last breath.
“I’m not a little bitch who would leave her teammates behind.” Faura snorted.
“I’ll take care of the big guy, finish off as many as you can.” Enna said, rushing into the direction of an Elite level Kobold.
“Headshot, Inferno you two cover Enna. I and SilentStep will help out the redhead.” Faura ordered.
With their health dangerously low, Faura and her team fiercely counterattacked, dodging the elemental blows of the Kobolds. Headshot fired arrows incessantly, drawing the aggro of many Kobolds. He was about to finish off yet another ugly monster when the elite Kobold waved its giant staff at him.
“Shit!” Headshot cursed, he didn’t have any time to dodge.
A giant fireball exploded on Headshot’s body, making the party look in his direction with dismay. The numbers were all they had right now. If one fell, the rest would go down like the domino.
“Huh? He’s fine?” Inferno stuttered, looking at the health bar in the party screen.
“Thanks Enna.” Headshot muttered, quickly standing up.
Right before the fireball hit him, a protective barrier appeared around him, blocking the incoming damage. All Headshot has experienced was the knockback from the collision.
“What a monster. She had the time to actually cast a spell while dodging the blows of an Elite monster…” Faura stared wide-eyed.
“I’ll have her teach us whatever she’s using to dodge those impossible to foresee blows once we’re done here.” Faura thought, shaking her head at Enna who was avoiding the strikes from her blindspot with ease, as if she had an additional pair of eyes. “Both her and Icicle are monsters!”
“Wait, Icicle? Could it be that she has gotten this ability from him?” Faura wondered. “I’ll ask her later.”
“We’re literally one hit away from dying.” Inferno gasped for breath.
“Let’s kill whatever we can.” Faura nodded. There were only around 15 Kobolds left, including the Elite one.
“I got that one!” Faura screamed, attacking the Kobold on the right side of the corridor.
As the Kobold died from the lightning strike, a green ball of light emerged from within his body. It floated in the air for a moment, suddenly flashing with a blinding light.
“Huh?” FieryRed looked back and saw roots growing out of the green ball of light, spreading throughout the corridor. A giant Oakling that resembled an Ent appeared, glaring at the Kobolds with contempt. This has taken all of the monsters’ attention, making them attack the tree.
“Oooogh!” the Oakling grunted, waving its giant branch-like hand in the direction of the party.
Green light glittered in the air, enveloping the six man team. Their health and mana were recovering in a ridiculously quick rate.
“This Oakling is a healer?” Headshot muttered.
“Stop staring, kill them all!” FieryRed roared. So what if the tree was a little useful? They needed to kill the Kobolds before another group patrols into them or other players enter their side of the dungeon.
“Careful, lightning strike.” SilentStep shouted.
The Elite Kobold leaned, gripping its staff tightly. Sparks flew around its staff, forming into a swriling mass of cracking energy.
The lightning ball flew through the air, releasing terrifying noise. Enna dodged nimbly, infusing mana into her fists to strike the Kobold’s body.
“Ouieee! So tough.” Enna massaged her soaring hand, jumping a little from the pain.
“Silly girl.” Faura smiled, peppering the little Kobolds with basic mana attacks.
The Oakling wasn’t done either. Its branch-like palm balled, making roots spring up from the floor, locking the Kobolds in place.
“Now Inferno!” Faura shouted, casting a full force [Lightning bolt].
Under the combined efforts of the rejuvenated party and the oakling, the Kobolds fell. Only the Elite Kobold was still alive, hanging by the thread.
“Do the honors, redhead.” Faura laughed, seeing FieryRed glaring at the rest of the party furiously.
FieryRed used a beautiful overhead slash to finish the Kobold Elite off.
Gold coins flew into the air as the Elite kobold died. All the nearby bodies of the fallen Kobodds have disappared, leaving the loot behind.
“Another skillbook!” Faura rejoiced, picking the Elite monster’s loot. “Let’s see what it is…”
“Enna, this is for you.” Faura threw the book, checking the other loot.
“Thanks.” Enna caught the book and curtsied.
Faura collected the gold coins and noticed something else. “A key?” she picked it up.
“Probably leads to the boss room.” SilentStep said.
“Can we even take something stronger than this?” Inferno asked.
“Not likely unless we get two more people.” SilenStep shook his head.
“Where’s Teddy?” Faura asked. She didn’t see the fat brown bear around.
“He died shielding Enna.” FieryRed shrugged. “For once he acted like a male would.”
Faura gently ruffled FieryRed’s long red hair. “It will be alright.”
“Huh?” FieryRed stared. “He’s not dead forever, I can summon him again in 24 hours.” she shrugged.
“Oh, that’s good” Faura smiled sheepishly. “Let’s check the room up front.”
Entering through the hole Teddy made earlier, the party walked into the Kobold Elite’s room, immediately noticing various ores and rocks jutting from the ground. On the right side of the room stood a cart full of rusty tools.
“I guess you’ll have your field day, Headshot.” Inferno laughed, pointing at the rocks.
“I don’t really have a pickaxe.” Headshot smiled wryly. He hoped he could extricate himself from work.
“There’s plenty of those in the cart.” Infenro pointed his finger to the cart full of pickaxes.
“This seems like a chain subquest.” SilentStep chuckled. “First the Mining skillbook, now the necessary tools. We were supposed to find this room. Maybe the key isn’t for the boss room, but for some kind of hidden vault. After all, this room wasn’t very visible either.”
“Heh, we can only dream.” Faura smirked. “Unless we’ll have FieryRed bash into all of the walls ahead of like her pet did before, I don’t think we’ll find whatever this key is for soon.” Faura quipped. “Who knows, maybe it’s a windfall for some Scout class that we don’t know anything about.”
Raren City, Princess Saress’s domain
Ten Martial Eagles were currently resting in one of the majestic royal stables. Beastmasters attending to the creatures were selected from the finest of the Fashin continent.
Inside the palace, a sleepy red-haired woman in violet dress walked in from the side. She looked around the room lazily, saying “The mercenaries that plagued our land have been thrown into the dungeon. Your service for the kingdom won’t be forgotten. However, it’s the middle of the night, so I invite you all to stay and get some rest. We’ll continue tomorrow.” Princess Saress yawned and then whispered something into her servant’s ear. As the servant nodded a few times, Saress left the palace, going to her chambers.
“Good evening everyone, my name is Carret, a servant of the princess. I will be responsible for your accomodation. I’d like to ask the rescued people to stay for a moment, so that I can send someone to inform your families about your current status.” Carret smiled.
“Come on girls.” Carret beckoned and three more servants scurried towards her. “Take our guests to the guest house.”
The three women bowed and said, “Please follow us.”
“As for you, lady, you’ll come with me.” Carret smiled sweetly at Vilenne.
Vilenne followed Carret through the royal palace, while Adian, Shurya, Jasik and their respective teams were guided to the guest house.
“Did you see that white pajamas in bears that princess wore?” Jasik smothered a laugh.
“Unless you want to be a sight to behold, I suggest you forget what you saw.” Adian smiled wryly, pointing at the wall where a spear jutted out.
Jasik shuddered at the thought of hanging there, killing the joy within him on the spot. The stare the female servants gave him was enough of an intimidation.
Vilenne was led to a spacious room within the palace. “This is where the other royals stay.” Carret beckoned, opening the large wooden door.
“Pretty comfy.” Vilenne smiled, seeing velvet sheets on the king size bed. A yellow lamp decorated the nightstand, oppposite which stood a polished wooden bar.
“If you require anything, just ask the guard outside.” Carret said. She watched as Vilenne slumped to the bed, smiling.
“I didn’t think I would meet a princess so soon.” Carret muttered.
“In name only.” Vilenne responded.
As Carret was about to leave, she turned and asked, “If you don’t mind me asking, may I know how you and the princess met?”
“Ah, that.” Vilenne smiled sheepishly. “It was a couple years back, in the ballroom.”
“What happened?” Carret’s curiosity was piqued.
“One of the important nobles in the Glacia Kingdom was celebrating his birthday. It was also right after his son was born, so he made a great feast, inviting royalty and nobles all around.” Vilenne smiled. “I stood in one corner of the ballroom, sipping champagne that was forced into my hand, completely bored. Those lady-like things didn’t really interest me. I preferred the sword.”
“After some time, I was so bored I took out a book, walked next to the window and started reading. That’s when a redhead approached me from behind, introducing herself.” Vilenne’s mouth curled into a wry smile.
“Princess Saress came forward to meet you? No way!” Carret exclaimed, quickly covering her mouth.
“Yes, she did. As we were the only ones of similar age, it was quite natural that she came to me.” Vilenne sat up and shrugged. “If you want to know what we talked about, you can ask the redhead herself.”
“Please don’t send me into my grave, princess.” Carret smiled wryly and hurried to the door. “Goodnight.”
After the doors closed, Vilenne’s thoughts went back to that memorable evening…
Fragrant dishes adorned the long tables in the ballroom. Maids shuffled to and fro, bringing colorful drinks and delicous, sweet desserts.
A black-haired young woman stood next to the window, turning pages of the book in front of her. The way she has acted during the whole event made her seem like an outcast, a person that didn’t belong to the aristocracy.
“Get me a drink.” an authorative voice of a woman rang out behind Vilenne.
As if she didn’t hear that, Vilenne kept on reading.
“Did they really hire a mute servant? Not only are you lazing around, you can’t even respond to calls?” the voice rang out again.
This has risen quite a commotion. Some of the guests looked in the two womens’ direction, trying to get a gist of what was happening.
“You have a pair of hands, go grab a drink yourself.” Vilenne said coldly.
“Huh? What did you say?” young female’s voice went up a notch.
Vilenne decided to ignore the pesky female, taking a sip of champagne.
“Ridiculous, such an impudent servant.” the woman behind Vilenne reached out with her hand and shouted, “At least face me when I’m talking to you!”
Surprised by the sudden grab, Vilenne dropped the glass of champagne, making it shatter on the stone windowsill.
Glancing at the book that was now soaked with liquor, Vilenne’s gaze turned frosty. She glared at the slim young female dressed in violet, grabbing her curly red hair.
“Why don’t you get some fresh air.” Vilenne spat out, hurling the female out through the window.
If the previous shouting has only made some commotion, the whole window breaking apart made everyone in the ballroom stare at the two.
“A catfight?” some of the guests muttered.
“You impudent servant, how dare you!” the violet-clad female roared as her green eyes turned yellow. Red aura suffused her, visualizing a Red Winged Snake.
Approaching Vilenne with neck breaking speed, the roaring woman unsheathed her twin daggers!
“Hmph!” Vilenne snorted, grabbing her sword. Blue aura exploded from within her body, carrying with it a dragon’s roar.
The two women collided, sending a shockwave through the ballroom.
The daggers flew through the air gracefully, cutting some of Vilenne’s fine, dark black hair. Vilenne glared at the woman opposite her. She was smirking, rejoicing at her misfortune.
“First my book, now my hair. You went too far, bitch.” Vilenne spat coldly, slashing to kill.
Utilizing her mana, violet-clad female retreated backwards, losing a few strands of her curly hair in the process.
As the two women prepared for the final showdown, their collars were simultaneously grabbed.
“Saress, Vilenne, that’s enough!” Glacia Kingdom’s king and Minaeryth Kingdom’s ruler appeared next to the two unruly women, reprimanding them. “Two royal children fighting, what example are you giving to others?” they berated.
“Royal?” Saress stammered. “That servant bitch is actually a princess?”
“Shut your mouth.” Saress’s father roared. “I apologize for my daughter’s rude behavior. She’ll take her leave.” the king turned to the guards and said “Take her to her room.”
Vilenne glared at the leaving figure. That spoiled brat has actually ruined her favorite book! “We’re not done yet.” she thought insidiously.
As the dusk fell, Vilenne made her way through the secret passageway in the ceiling. She stopped right above Saress’s room, making a small hole in the tile underneath her.
“Sweet dreams, bitch.” Vilenne channeled the mana through her hand, creating a water bubble filled with water. She let the water bubble slowly descend unto the sleeping Saress.
As the spell was ready, Vilenne scurried through the passageway, backing out to a safe distance. Although she couldn’t be caught doing that, she couldn’t miss the show either. Thus, she waited in the earshot range.
The water bubble broke, releasing all of its water straight unto the sleeping red-haired maiden.
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” a youthful scream came out of Saress’s bedroom as she has fiercely woken up. Vilenne snickered as she exited the passageway next to the terrace on the first floor of the palace. After closing the secret door, she slid down the ivy covered palace wall, straightening her clothes.
Taking a few deep breaths to control her incessant laughter, Vilenne entered the palace through the front door, meeting with the guard on the way. “Back from your walk, princess?” the guard asked.
“Yes, it was very enjoyable. Thank you for looking out for me.” Vilenne smiled sweetly.
“Hehehe, it was not a problem, princess.” the guard laughed emabrassedly. Such a beautiful young woman flashed him a sweet, brilliant smile. This made him quite moved.
“I’ll go back to my room.”
“Certainly, princess. Have a nice rest.”
A brilliant smile pasted itself on Vilenne’s face as she remembered what happened that day 5 years ago. A lot has changed since then, yet the memory was still so vibrant. “Those were the good times.” Vilenne muttered, heading to sleep.
Jeremy panted after running through the nearby forest. This was his everyday morning routine, a jog to clear his mind.
“In 6 days, all the big shots will gather yet again. I hope they’re going to agree to the proposal I made all those years back.” he thought.
“There were no more findings about the wanted target, huh?” Jeremy looked at the screen of his phone, somewhat disappointed. “That damn vixen sure knows how to hide. Don’t worry though, even if I have to upturn the whole Earth, I’ll get to you sooner or later. After all, you owe me. You owe me way too much.”
Back in Loiterous, Icicle sat on the bench in the Mage Guild’s backyard. He joyfully summoned Blackie. “I missed you, you black furball.” Icicle hugged the dog.
“God!” Blackie barked happily. “I missed you too!”
“Here you go, eat this.” Icicle took out the lizardman’s heart and threw it to Blackie.
Blackie glanced at the half-eaten organ and asked, “What’s this, God?”
“If you want to become strong like me, then you’ll eat it, no questions asked.”
Blackie’s eyes blazed as he heard God talking like that. Be strong like God? That was his greatest dream.
Blackie munched on the heart without reservation and quickly swallowed it. Compared to Icicle who had problems chewing the sinewy organ, Blackie didn’t encounter any resistance.
Icicle shook his head seeing Blackie like that. He was looking at the panel to see whether the black dog’s stats rise.
“That little bastard gained over a 100 health.” Icicle shook his head helplessly. He felt somewhat cheated. Although the stamina gain he received was great, a few points in the health department wouldn’t hurt.
“Do you feel any different?” Icicle asked.
“Mm, I feel stronger now, God.” Blackie nodded his head like a chicken pecking rice.
The door to the backyard opened, letting a beautiful blond inside.
“Here you are, little guy.” Cindy ruffled Icicle’s black hair, crouching to take Blackie into her arms.
“You have made quite a ruckus, you know?” Cindy looked at Icicle playfully.
“Oh really?” Icicle smiled.
“Adian, Vilenne and a girl from the Warrior Guild made teams to resolve the mess you’ve made at the mercenary camp.” Cindy giggled, caressing Blackie’s smooth fur.
“Oh, that.” Icicle remembered. “I thought Jasik had it covered.” he shrugged.
“Well, he did. At least technically speaking. Practically, it was a different story.” Cindy sat next to Icicle. “Once Vilenne and others arrived, they had to clothe those enslaved people, feed them and then transport them to the castle.”
“Before they could clothe them though, they had to let those people wash themselves, so the Hunters were sent to get some meat, while Warrior Guild, Mage Guild and the guards took care of the water. With the help of our mages, they created a sauna so to speak, erecting a barrier for both men and women, so they don’t feel embarrased in the open.” Cindy narrated.
“Then they have found a “slave” that was way too muscular for long days of enslavement. One of the mercenaries actually hid like that, the sly bastard.” Cindy smirked.
“After some time, Adian’s boys arrived on the Martial Eagles, transporting both the mercenaries and the rescued people to the Raren City, where Princess Saress resides. They’ve returned a couple hours ago, as the princess had all of them stay for the night. I heard that the princess is looking for you now.”
“Really? What for?” Icicle asked.
“To reward you for finding those criminals. Vilenne said that the redhead was quite convincing when interrogating Jasik, making him spit everything out.”
“I see. Well, I’ll visit when I have time.” Icicle shrugged. Who knows what Jasik have said. Killing all those mercenaries on his own could be seen as bad. Even if it wasn’t and the princess really wanted to reward him, this would give him too much spotlight. That’s not something he needed while preparing for Ice Mage Trials. Taking all of that into account, Icicle wasn’t too thrilled about the invitation.
Cindy looked at him and shook her head. He’ll visit the princess when he has time? That little bastard truly didn’t know how fortunate he was.
“Anyways, I heard that you have made quite a mess by enraging a giant lizard. There was a burned patch of grass on the way, an aftermath of a big fight.” Cindy looked at Icicle meaningfully.
“I had nothing to do with that.” Icicle spread his arms and smiled.
“Oh I’m sure you didn’t.” Cindy ruffled Icicle’s hair. “So, what did you get?”
“Heheh, something very useful.” Icicle flashed a sly grin.
“Let’s say I might have scammed a Grandmaster level Water Mage a little.” Icicle smirked.
“Not bad.” Cindy patted Icicle on the back so hard he almost choked. “That’s my boy.”
“You wanted to see me, what do you need?” Icicle asked.
“Oh, that. I am grateful for your help with the heart, but there’s one more thing I need from those lizardmen.” Cindy said.
“A chain quest!” Icicle thought.
“One of our own went to the Lizardmen Cave and never returned. I was wondering what has happened, but now that I heard about that giant lizard laying in there, it’s pretty obvious.” Cindy sighed. “That magician carried a brown rubik’s cube with him, one that grants entrance into the underground levels of Mage Guild. I wouldn’t worry about it normally, but now that adventurers like you have arrived in this world, I’m afraid that the cube has to be found rather quickly.”
Icicle furrowed his brows as he listened. He looked at the brown cube in his inventory. “This could probably give someone else a quest to rob the Mage Guild.” he thought.
Cindy noticed Icicle’s action, asking, “Why do I have a feeling that you know exactly what I’m talking about?”
“Well…” Icicle took out the cube from his inventory. “Is this the one?”
“Y-You’ve found it?” Cindy took the brown cube from Icicle’s hands and glanced it over. “Yes, that’s the one.”
“I was going to ask you to get access to the library as a reward, who would’ve thought I have actually found a key myself.” Icicle laughed out loud.
“That’s not a problem, I’ll let the guys below know.” Cindy said. “Well, you’ve fulfilled two of my tasks, so you deserve some other reward. Do you want anything specific?”
“Access to the library should suffice.” Icicle thought and answered. He had 30 gold coins, so there wasn’t much he lacked. The direwolf set was ready for him to take and he still had to get his share of sandwiches from Chef Wurtox, so the food wasn’t the problem either. When it came to Alchemy, he could always go and visit old man Nurte.
“Well, that’s fine. I guess I’ll owe you then.” Cindy looked at Icicle meaningfully and sighed. “Sly bastard.” she thought.
“Actually, there is something.” Icicle remembered. “I might need some guidance on the water droplet thingy. I had a breakthrough yesterday and I don’t really know what caused it.”
“You’re asking me for library access and practice guidance, where are you going once you’re done with those two?”
“Who said I’m going anywhere?” Icicle asked.
“Well, most of you adventurers have left this place after the yesterday’s lizardmen event. I assumed you would do so as well.” Cindy shrugged.
“I will be leaving for Ice Mage Trials once I shape up a little.” Icicle blurted out.
“Then you should speak with Vilenne. She hails from Glacia Kingdom, after all.” Cindy chuckled.
“Well then, I’ll talk to little brat after I’m done running a few errands. See you later, Cindy.” Icicle said his goodbyes and left the premises of the Mage Guild. It was high time to get his new set!