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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chapter 4: City of Heaven, Lavias






Dr. Cha Eunhee from the Great Society Rehabilitation Centre was a world famous psychologist, who had patented a novel method of therapy for the treatment of psychological illnesses.Her relentless work schedule usually left her no time for rest.


She had a constant barrage of patients to attend to and weekly journal articles to submit in a never-ending cycle of monotony.


“Boring. Dull. Tedious.” These were her daily complaints. But despite her desire to escape it all, she simply could not bring herself to just abandon her responsibilities.


Hence, she now found herself in the midst of a counseling session with a middle-aged woman.


“I’m truly sorry about your daughter’s circumstances,” Dr. Cha said, blinking away the moisture in her eyes.


“I know it’s already been 5 years.” The woman smiled sorrowfully as she confided in Dr. Cha.


“But ever since that child tried to throw her life away, I haven’t been able to concentrate on anything.”


“It’s time for you to tear your thoughts away from your daughter’s well-being and begin searching for your own purpose in life.”


“Actually doctor…” the woman asked, grasping Dr. Cha’s hand tightly.


“… I believe that she’s trapped in there somewhere… She’s…”


*****


The Heavenly Tree randomly extended skyward but soon began shooting towards a specific direction.


Weed and his companions held fast onto the trunk as it sprouted towards its target at some speed. The buffeting wind left them battered and the ground below was a distant memory.Within seconds, Baran village had disappeared from sight.


They passed through the clouds and arrived at a seemingly huge island. An island floating in the sky! Riding the growing tree stalk of the Heavenly Tree, Weed and his companions rose above the fog blurring the area.


“This is the City of Heaven!” the party exclaimed, feasting their eyes on their surroundings.
A maze of buildings sprawled out before them. In the center of the extensive labyrinth rose a massive tower with a myriad of birds perched on top of it. Beyond the large tower were rolling hills and lush fields.


“Oh! The tree’s withering away!” shouted Irene as she glanced back at the tree.


The Heavenly Tree’s trunk withered and splintered before their eyes. The fragments disappeared into the clouds, severing the floating island from the distant ground below.


“Our way back has been destroyed. What do we do now?” Surka fretted. Her companions, on the other hand, did not seem particularly concerned.


“The real adventure starts here. Since the tree is gone, we’ll worry about returning when the time comes.” said Pale.


“But, Pale-nim…” Surka was on the verge of tears, already missing the solid ground.


Weed attempted to cheer her up, “If there’s a will, there’s a way.” But Surka seemed unconvinced by Weed’s words of encouragement, at which point Weed nonchalantly said, “Well, if we can’t find a way we can always jump right?”


“B-but…”


“Well, you’d surely die once, but you’d definitely end up on the ground.”


Surka’s face went white. Truth be told, she had always been terrified of heights.


As the Heavenly Tree grew, she had held on for dear life, afraid of plummeting to her death.
Perhaps she would have passed up on this adventure if she had known it would take her all the way up here.


The party continued on, consoling Surka along the way.


*****


The City of Heavens was home to a unique species.


“They look like birds…”


Standing on two legs, with their small beady eyes, pointed beak, great wingspan, and rounded cheeks, they resembled sparrows.


The old birds seemed to have white beards around their beak.“Kyaa! So cute!” Surka exclaimed, her affection for the birds overshadowing her acrophobia. She was no longer trembling in fear, but excitement.


The old bird slowly walked towards the group, ignoring Surka’s unwelcomed affections.


“Greetings travelers, welcome to Lavias.”


The whole party shifted their gaze to Weed.


Based on previous experiences, Weed was deemed to be best suited to lead.


Furthermore, it had become clear to the party that Weed’s every move was calculated, since he was the type to sweet-talk any NPC into giving him what he wanted.


“Thank you. We’ve endured a perilous journey from distant lands before setting our weary feet on this beautiful place. But in the face of such unimaginable splendor, our fatigue has all but dissipated. Is this place Lavias?”


“Indeed! Our city is home to the noble and dignified Avians. Only here will you find the sun so brilliant, and the air so fresh!” The white-bearded bird gushed with pride as he shook his wings. Even his feathers quivered with excitement at the praise.


“The air here is indeed the freshest and the sunlight most impressive. No doubt the passing clouds paint a beautiful picture. But what are the specialties here in Lavias?”


Weed jumped at the chance to learn about the city’s specialties. If there were items exclusively found in Lavias, he would make a lot of money by purchasing them in bulk and reselling in Rosenheim Kingdom.


“We are not on familiar terms yet to permit you to ask such an impertinent question. You need to get better acquainted with me. It would help if you could bring me some delicious treats. In fact, I would like that very much.”


The bearded bird flapped his wings and hobbled away from them.


Weed tried to chase after the bird but soon gave up and returned to his party.


“Okay, let’s split up to explore the city from here on.”


If all five of them explored the city together, it would have been too time-consuming.


Therefore, they decided to split up in order to cover more ground.


“The city seems to be safe since there are no hostile zones.”


“Still, Lavias seems to be too big a city to explore alone. Let’s all meet back here in 2 hours.”


“If you come across a good quest during your exploration, just come back for the time being, and share it with the rest of the party. We’ll decide together as to which quest is best. Now, let’s get started.”


“Okay, got it.”


And thus they set off to explore the city.


To begin with, Weed proceeded towards the bustling city center to see if there were any shops.


Merchants were waddling like ducks through the streets, hawking their wares to the pedestrians.


As the name suggested, the residents of Avian City possessed traits common to birds and chubby torsos and stumpy legs were the norm, their heads ranged from those of owls to hawks.


‘To think there’s a city like this, amazing...’ Weed thought.


Opening a chicken restaurant here would definitely be the wrong move here, since the locals could misinterpret it to be cannibalism.


Unlike human cities, carriages did not exist since the birds themselves were big enough to carry the horses. If the roads were blocked, all they had to do was spread their wings and fly away.


From all the stares he received, Weed felt like a monkey in the zoo as he walked amongst the Avians.


Weed entered a weapons store.


“Good day.” Weed said as he entered.


“Ah! A human traveler! Is there something you need?”


“There are many things I need. However, I’m not familiar with the items on display. I’d like a closer look.”


“As you wish”


Weed inspected some of the items.


*Ting*
————————————————————————————————
Item: Baravo’s Steel Beak:


Durability: 90/90
Damage: 21-23


Equipped:
Ability to grasp food items that grant bonuses.
The long length makes it easy to reach buried worms.


Price: 100 gold
————————————————————————————————


Weed sighed and turned his attention to a different item.


*Ting*
————————————————————————————————
Item: Silver Pitchfork of Saigon:


Durability: 30/30
Damage: 17-19


Part of a set. Low durability since it is made out of silver.
Good for snatching the heads of the undead while flying low.


Price: 70 gold
————————————————————————————————


*Ting*
————————————————————————————————
Item: Feathers of the Goddess:


Durability: 15/15


Restriction:
Females only


Effect: Enchantment.
The brilliant and sparkling multi-colored feathers grant relief from enemy attacks when equipped.
Light enough that you can’t even feel it. Allows for unrivaled gliding, guaranteed to prevent a fall.


Price: 45 gold
————————————————————————————————


The items ranged from pitchforks and telescopes to peculiar, hollow weapons that were conical and tapered towards the tip. These seemed to be the Avians’ weapon of choice.


“Do you have any weapons suitable for humans?” Weed asked the shopkeeper, who greatly resembled a badger.


“Of course I do! Just wait a moment. Since human customers are so rare, I had to put them in the warehouse.”


As Weed waited, he felt intense stares from outside.


One by one, the passing Avians stopped in their tracks to again watch Weed like an escaped monkey from a zoo.


“I hear this guy is a human!”


“How odd. Must be difficult to eat with a flat beak”


“Look at that. No feathers, either. He must freeze during the winter, the poor thing.”


No normal bird could ever enjoy the cold. From their perspective, Weed seemed like he would easily freeze to death.


An Avian in Rosenheim, or any city in the Continent below, would draw a staring crowd as well. But in Lavias, the Avian City, Weed the human was the spectacle.


“Here are the things you asked for.”


The shop owner set out some armor, a shield, two hammers and five different blades. Weed had no use for the shield, so he immediately moved on to the blades and armor. After all, he only had 70 gold from selling the items looted from the Lizardmen.


*Ting*
————————————————————————————————
Item: Clay Sword:


Durability: 90/90
Damage: 23-25


A magic sword imbued with the spirit of ice.
Does 2~5 bonus damage to armored target and decreases movement.


Restriction:
Level 60
STR 200


Equiped:
Grants additional 2-5 Ice Elemental damage.


Price: 188 gold
————————————————————————————————


*Ting*
————————————————————————————————
Item: Sword of the Dusk Wraith:


Durability: 200/200
Damage: 14-15


Work of the Dwarf Theodore. Forged from steel mined from the Forest of Death.
Lowers vitality, has small chance of dealing triple damage on a critical hit.


Status effect: Cursed Item


Restriction:
Level 70
STR 250


Equipped:
Rare chance of dealing a deadly attack.


Price: 160 gold.
————————————————————————————————


Weed stopped browsing at that point and shook his head.


The prices were ridiculously exorbitant but it was not completely unexpected since this was an Avian city after all. Even though the Clay Sword and the Sword of the Dusk Wraith were evidently rare items, they would only sell for half the price at the Citadel of Serabourg.


“I don’t have enough money right now, so I won’t be buying anything.”


“In that case, come back again, except these might already be sold, so you better earn money as quickly as you can,” said the badger-like shop owner, sounding disappointed.


Weed’s party was the only human travelers here, and for the most part, doing business was his main focus.


Weed left the shop and slowly made his way to the east side of the city.


Beyond the city’s periphery lay an endless expanse of fields and patches of nothingness here and there.


“Chirp Chirp!”


“Cheep!”


“Tweet tweet!”


Cute Avian children were singing, perched on top of clotheslines. Amongst them the yellow chicks were particularly adorable.


“Hiya?” Weed said to them, walking over to look. But they merely giggled and gave no other response.


“Good day.” Weed greeted every Avian he came across.


One of the Avians, who had been in front of the weapons store, excitedly asked him, “You’re a traveler I haven’t seen before. Are you part of the strong group from the land below?”


“I am not strong yet. Though I love peace and admire the sky, I also respect the military arts. For strength is required to ensure peace.”


“I feel the same way. I happen to have a request that you may be able to fulfill. Truthfully, Lavias isn’t as peaceful as it seems. This is an ancient land and there are great evils lying underground, gathering their powers to destroy us. Will you help me?”


*Ting*
————————————————————————————————
Quest: The Undead of Lavias


Undead lurk in the depths of the City of Heaven, Lavias.
The Avian residents cannot sleep for the nightly wailing of the undead.
If you return after killing at least 30 Skeleton Soldiers in the Underground Passage, good things may happen.


Difficulty Level: D


Quest requirements:
Failure will decrease friendship level with Crows.


Reward:
Unknown
————————————————————————————————


Weed and his party had not expected the City of Heaven to be more than a regular, undiscovered city and had only hoped to buy or attain unique items that could not be found in the Citadel of Serabourg.


They had assumed that a quest related to the Rosenheim Kingdom was the best they could get.


Surprisingly, there were hunting grounds in the City of Heaven. Not to mention, it was a rare undead hunting ground. Skeleton Soldiers were known to be around level 80 or so.
Weed thought for a second, and shook his head.


“I understand that defeating the undead is my quest, but I am here with companions. I will return once I’ve consulted them.”


Weed continued touring the area and spoke to Avians he passed.


For some, it was their first time seeing a human traveler and so they made certain requests. They were mostly related to the undead that plagued the region.


Through various conversations with the inhabitants of the city, Weed gathered information about the underground areas in and around Lavias and the paths leading there. However, the place was practically a war zone. The majority of its inhabitants were skeletons, as well as Death Knights, Demonic Wardens, Dullahans, Liches, Specters and Shades.


Dullahans were powerful and exhaustive undead, who carried their own heads. Not only were they around level 140, they were fast and had excellent combat ability, making them very difficult to defeat.


Liches specialized in black magic and due to their high intelligence, they were known to flee if they found themselves in danger.


Needless to say, the Death Knights were the harbingers of death. They rode on horseback just like the Ringwraiths from the movie, The Lord of the Rings. They were the stuff of nightmares! In terms of level, they were nearly 200!


To think that such powerful undead were residing underground, Weed’s heart began to race.


‘Ah, lovely EXP.’ he thought with a wolfish grin on his face.


While wandering through the city, Weed discovered a large signboard. In large letters, it read “Beginner's Class Training”. Weed entered as if driven by some mystical force.


“Welcome. I see you are a human,” greeted the Instructor, who looked just like a rooster. His hair, which resembled a rooster’s comb, was particularly noticeable.


“I was just passing by and wished to offer my greetings. I’ve completed the Beginners Class Training in Rosenheim Kingdom.”


All Instructors in Training Halls had high regard for those who respected the military arts and despised evil. Completing training also gave some reputation. Weed had entered the Training Hall expecting to build an instant rapport with the Instructor and gain some useful information. But the reaction he received fell far from his expectations.


“Mmph?” The Avian Instructor smothered a laugh. His eyes showed his amusement even as his beak remained still.


“That can’t be. It’s hardly possible for you to have completed the Beginner Class Training. You don’t have that look about you.”


“Huh? But I have completed the Beginner Class Training at the Citadel of Serabourg.”


“They only have a Basic Training Hall there.” Weed’s eyes lit up with the flames of desire.


‘Basic Training Hall! So then this place is the next phase!’ he thought excitedly.


“Can I attempt the Beginner’s Training once?”


“Looks like it. Those who completed Basic Training are eligible. However, this here is different from your Basic Training Hall. There’s a high possibility of danger so don’t push yourself.”


“I want to try it.” Weed said eagerly


“You mean the Training?”


“That’s what I said.”


“Your spirit is admirable. Well then, follow me.”


Weed followed the instructor accordingly.


He led Weed to a structure at the rear of the training hall. Its entrance was a yawning, pitch-black, beak, within which lay a dark passageway.


“All you need to do is go through this passageway and exit safe and sound on the opposite end. It’s simple right? However, your combat skills will be unavailable. And a word of advice, don’t light a fire, that would make it too easy, no, too convenient.”


“Understood” Weed’s response was brief. With long strides, he entered into the passage.
At first, there was nothing that could dismay Weed. However, as he progressed through the passage, his resolution slowly began to fade.


He began using his hands and feet to blindly feel his way through the passage. He did not know what could emerge from the eerily calm passage. It was then…


*PYIING!*


Weed reflexively ducked his head under the onslaught of slashes. As strands of hair flew off, he realized that the calm was now over.


‘An attack? Great’ His body moved as soon as this registered.


Weed had already drawn his sword and thrust it forward. Though he could not see, he could sense something approaching.


*CLANG!*


The Iron Sword clashed against something metallic. Judging by the impact, the blow was neither blocked by a shield nor parried. The enemy’s body had felt as hard as stone!


‘From the right!’ Weed sensed the attack coming just as it sliced through the air. Now he was certain that the next one would also come from the right. Since he could not see, he had no choice but to rely on his other senses. Weed had faith in his instincts.


At that moment Weed’s sword moved as if it had a mind of its own. It smoothly swung to deflect the oncoming attack in the pitch darkness. Someone who had no real life experience with a sword would never be able to do this.


‘Ten, maybe more!‘ thought Weed.


The relentless attacks gave him no respite.


“Yatz!” Weed shouted a battle-cry as he launched into the air. As he rolled onto the ground, he firmly held the sword sideways, aiming to slash at the ankles. Sparks flew as his sword scraped against something made of iron. In that instant, the area was briefly illuminated.
There were dozens of Barbarians clad completely in steel. They held swords, batons, sledgehammers, axes, clubs, hammers, and maces.


‘Well crap!’


A chill ran up Weed’s spine as his burning will was snuffed out like a candle in the wind. But attacks from the Steel Barbarians were not over.


He was able to parry several more of the attacks, but in the lightless passage it was impossible to deal with all the attacks at once. A blow landed on his back, smashing him into the ground. The Barbarians descended upon him from all directions like hyena’s.


*****


“You failed.” Hearing the Instructor’s voice, Weed slowly sat up. His whole body felt sore.


‘What is this place?’ He thought as he looked about. He quickly noticed he was back at the entrance to the Training Hall. The Instructor must have carried him back here.His health bar had decreased. He had been attacked to the point that his HP was now less than 30; even a light tap could kill him. Fortunately, he wasn’t bleeding, so his HP was no longer decreasing.


“This is what happens when those without sufficient skill challenge this place. I saved you this time, but if you try again, you’ll die.”


Weed shook his head to regain his wits and asked, “Do I need to be at a higher level in order to succeed?”


“That’s not it. The Infinite Steel Men adjust to the challenger’s level.“


“Then that means my true skills aren’t up to par.”


“Apparently so”


“How long has it been since I entered?”


“About 4 hours.”


“My companions must all be waiting for me. I’ll be sure to come back again.” Weed promised and left the Training Hall and proceeded to the designated meeting place.


*****


Weed ran quickly! At the rendezvous point, he found the rest of the party, their faces glowing with excitement.
“I’m sorry I’m late…” he said apologetically.


“Weed-nim!” Surka exclaimed, quickly running up to him.


“We’ve found a great quest!”


“We were waiting for you to return, Weed-nim, so we could all decide if we should take it.”


While Weed was gone, the rest of the party had zealously explored Lavias in order to gather as much information as possible.


First, how to get back to the ground below. The Feathers of Lightness, sold at the supermarket, would slow the descent of any falling object. Using the feather to leap off of Lavias might be exhilarating for Weed, but it would be a terrifying experience for someone with acrophobia like Surka.


The second was the slightly disappointing news that Weed’s party was not the first to discover Lavias. They had been expecting it to some extent since their fame had not increased when they first set foot on the City of Heaven.


Next were the quests!


Irene had found a quest to slay 20 Skeleton Knights. The reward was a Ring that increases Mana regeneration rate by 10%.


Skeleton Knights were, of course, tough opponents to face with their levels ranging in the 100s. But the party was bewitched by the reward. After all, a ring that increased Mana regeneration rate was very rare. Its value in any of the big cities of the Versailles Continent was priceless!


“Where is the place?” Weed asked, also amazed by the reward.


Just like that, they accepted the quest to slay Skeleton Knights.


*Ting*
————————————————————————————————
New Dungeon: You are the very first players to discover Memphis Hall:


Benefits:
Fame increased by 200 (+200 FAME).
Double experience and 2x normal item drop rate.
The first monster killed will drop the best quality item it can drop.
————————————————————————————————




The words floated in a message window the instant Weed and his companions entered the underground passage. They immediately froze on the spot.


“This is…”


“We’re the first visitors!” Surka and Romuna exclaimed joyfully.


Pale had a large grin on his face as well. Hunting grounds that grant double EXP were worth entering, no matter how dangerous they were. It was a waste to leave and lose all that potential EXP.


‘Others may have come to Lavias first, but they didn’t come to this hunting ground. No, perhaps they weren’t able to discover it. Let’s not get our hopes too high.’ Weed thought.


Weed tried very hard to maintain his composure, but his excitement was undeniable.


“For the time being, let’s take our time looking around. Our primary goal is to defeat the Skeleton Knights, however, since we need to know if we can even do that, we should hunt everything we pass first. Irene-nim”


“Yes!”


“Please take care of us, especially with your healing.”


“Yeah, and since this place is infested with the undead, I will definitely provide my Blessings as well.”


Priestly Blessings and Holy Magic were fatal to the undead. The Blessings served to increase damage by 1.5 times against different enemies, and inflicted additional damage if the opponents were undead.


“Let’s go.”


Everyone in Weed’s party got every available buff, increasing their Strength and Vitality. Defensive buffs were focused mainly on Weed and Surka. They then began moving out.


“Hu…man? There…are liv-living humans.” Four to five skeletons had gathered in the underground passage.


The small, diverse group of undead consisted of two Skeleton Mages, one Skeleton Soldier and a Skeleton Archer.


“Hu…man.” The Skeleton’s empty eye sockets flashed. A murderous red aura exploded as they ran toward the party, their bones rattling as they jostled in time to their movements.


“Get ready to fight.”


*CLANG*


Weed was the first to spring forward, blocking the Skeleton Soldier’s sword. Instead of stopping at a simple block, Weed smoothly parried the attack aside and dealt a counterattack.


It was not an in-game skill. Weed had naturally executed the art of sword fighting by using appropriate movements of the wrist.


Triple!


*POP* *SNAP* *CRACK*


He dealt three consecutive attacks. By nature, Triple was a very difficult skill to follow with the eyes. It thrust forward, then slashed diagonally, and as the sword draws back it utilized the entire body’s momentum to slash once more in a continuous attack! Mastery of the skill gave the potential for additional slash attacks, but even then, it would still be called Triple since the name was derived from the three original attacks.


In the midst of the intense melee, Weed executed the skill without shouting ‘Triple’.


Even a split second could determine the difference between life and death. Especially if one was capable of utilizing that moment to aim for the enemy’s weaknesses.


If all three continuous strikes were somehow blocked, there could be a chance for a fourth slash to be executed. In case this was deflected too, there was always the minute possibility for an impressive fifth.


‘Triple’ was originally meant to be three swift slashes, which took advantage of the enemy’s weaknesses to deliver a successful attack. On top of this, Weed was able to maneuver his sword using his innate abilities to create openings in his opponent’s defense. Unsurprisingly, the Skeleton Soldier’s ribs completely shattered under the onslaught of Weed’s sword.


Only someone like Weed could think to use such an overpowered and cruel method to kill his enemies.


At that point, the Skeleton Mages in the rear began chanting spells aimed at Weed. However, Romuna’s spell was the first to be cast.


“Fire Strike!”


Due to her high proficiency in using this skill, six fireballs were fired in succession at the Skeleton Mages. This served to interrupt and effectively cancel the spells that they were about to cast.


“You’re mine!”


Pale was focused on the lone Skeleton Archer. The two were furiously firing arrows at each other.


“Eat this! Blessed Arrow!” Pale let loose an arrow which emitted a blinding flash of light.


By nature, the undead hated light, and skeletons such as these were particularly weak to it. Higher level undead, however, could walk around in broad daylight without any issues.


Pale’s arrows lodged themselves into the Skeleton and shone brilliantly.


Meanwhile, Surka delivered punches to the Skeleton Mages at close range with Romuna supporting her. Since this was their first time fighting a formidable opponent, they were all putting their lives on the line.


Weed only had to deal with the Skeleton Soldier.


“Dieeee…”


The bones of the Skeleton Soldier rattled as it leaped into the air and executed a powerful strike as it descended. Although its sword was riddled with chips and cracks, the strength behind the strike was too great to ignore.


‘Even so, the moves are too obvious.’


Weed activated a skill.


“Backstab!”


By the time the skeleton’s sword reached its target, only Weed’s afterimage remained. Weed, who was already behind his enemy, sliced into the Skeleton’s neck.


*Ting*
————————————————————————————————
CRITICAL HIT!
————————————————————————————————


A critical Hit!


Such precise timing was required that even a thousandth of a second mattered in the delivery of a successful critical hit.


However, aiming for one had its own risks, therefore, succeeding in it was all the more satisfying.


Having sustained damage from both Triple and Backstab, the Skeleton’s bones fell apart into a lifeless heap.


“Weed-nim, over here!” Surka cried, fatigue evident in her voice.


Fighting two Skeleton Mages was too much for her, and she was gradually losing ground.
As a monk, she had high Agility so her movements should have been quite fast. But at the moment this was not the case.


*Ting*
————————————————————————————————
You have been poisoned!
You have been cursed!


Strength Decrease
Agiltly Decrease
————————————————————————————————


Both resulted from poisoned wounds and curses that had left her bleeding continuously. Suffering from the Skeleton Mages’ curses, Surka was engulfed in dark smoke. The curses were both stronger and faster than Irene’s Cleanse spell.


“…….”


Weed hastily rushed over to save her.


“Sculpting Blade!” he yelled as he charged into the melee.


Each time Weed recovered enough mana to utilize the Sculpting Blade technique, a Skeleton Mage with low health disappeared with a flash of grey. They were dying faster than expected since Romuna had bombarded them with spells till all her mana had ran out. The remaining Skeleton Archer was quickly finished off by a well-timed combo from Pale and Romuna, who had since recovered her mana.


“Wow! We won!” Surka let out a cry of joy as soon as the battle was over.


“Even our levels rose,” Pale said, grinning.


The level 80 Skeletons, who were more than 15 levels higher, coupled with the doubled EXP gain, gave an incredible amount of EXP to the party. They were already close to leveling up just from killing a single group.


Having used all their mana on removing the curses and healing, Romuna and Irene sat down to recover mana through Meditation.


Meditation doubled the speed of mana recovery. Unfortunately, it was a skill exclusive to Mage and Priest classes, meaning Weed couldn’t learn it.


“Shall we see what items we got?”


Normally they would just grab whatever they wanted, but this time, just one battle had felt as if they had been walking on thin ice. So the party gathered around the items the skeletons had dropped.


*Ting*
————————————————————————————————
Item: Worn Bloodstained Gloves:


Durability: 7/40
Defense: 6


An item filled with the hatred and desire of the dead.
Although they strengthen the wearer, they seem to be best avoided.


Restrictions:
Level 50
Strength 100


Equipped:
Raises Strength by 20
Raises Attack Power by 10%
Lowers Health by -200
————————————————————————————————


*Ting*
————————————————————————————————
Item: Boots of the Cold Ones:


Durability: 9/50
Defense: 5


Shoes made to resist the embrace of the earth.
Since they are made from the hide of water buffaloes, they give great feeling when worn.


Restrictions:
Level 60


Equipped:
Raises Ice Magic Resistance by 15%
————————————————————————————————


Items like these were not bad at all. They could be sold to the merchants, but wearing them was much better. The gloves might lower health but the defense was high enough that wearing them was worthwhile.


At the moment, as part of the effect of discovering the dungeon, the item drop rates were doubled and the best items had not even been identified. So Weed and his party walked towards the sword dropped by the Skeleton Soldier.


*Ting*
————————————————————————————————
Item: Clay Sword:


Durability: 12/65
Attack: 23-25


A magic sword imbued with the spirit of ice.
Does 2-5 bonus damage to armored target and decreases movement.


Restrictions:
Level 60
STR 200


Equipped:
Grants an additional 2-5 Ice Elemental damage.
————————————————————————————————


A grin spread across Weed’s face.


‘Jackpot!’


A sword that in the store sold for over 100 gold was also attainable as an item drop. Of course, compared to a Clay Sword purchased at a store, the item drop was much lower in durability. In addition, the maximum durability of the sword would decrease little by little if the sword breaks and remains in an unrepaired state.


“This is…”


Pale looked over the items for a while.


He felt greed sinking in. He was human after all, so why shouldn’t he feel it? However, Weed slowly walked to the center of the group. All he wore was a simple, hardened leather outfit. Neither armor nor boots. Weed spoke, addressing Pale.


“That bastard’s attack power was really something. If there were two of them, they might have been trouble.”


“…….”


Pale bit back tears as he stood aside, allowing Weed to claim all three items. If Weed, their meat shield, did not have good equipment then who would replace him?


“These kinds of items should belong to Pale-nim…” said Weed’s using his ‘disappointed voice’.


“…….”


“Still, as I’m the one who has to fight them directly, it would be a bonus to be well-equipped. But the next item drops should definitely go to Surka-nim and Pale-nim.” This was classic example of ‘giving the disease and then offering the remedy’.


Weed was the one who would benefit most from the items, so this could be called a group decision. Weed would finally be free of the Hard Iron Sword that he’d received from the Training Hall Instructor. Suddenly, a voice called out.


“Humans… the beloved soldiers of the undead…”


A ‘le-wild’ Skeleton Knight had appeared without warning.


Everyone makes mistakes, but this one was potentially fatal. Until now, the enemies in the hunting grounds they had explored stayed mostly within their designated territories. Skeleton Knights, on the other hand, wandered wherever the hell they pleased. Oblivious to this fact, the party had been resting without a worry when it suddenly appeared.


A Skeleton Knight, with its eerie, glowing eyes, wearing scale mail over its body of bones, was an undead monster over level 100. This formidable creature now charged at the party.


“Kyaa!”


The Skeleton Knight swung its sword in a wide arc, cutting Surka’s hip. Fortunately, she did not die, but her health dropped by over 35%!


“Run!”


Weed leapt in between Surka and the Skeleton Knight, holding the Clay Sword he had just picked up. His quick thinking was a great help in the midst of such a crisis.


A monster of over level 100!


Weed’s knees began to shake. But not for fear of his enemy since he considered anyone within 30 levels of him a fair fight. Weed’s concern was for the Clay Sword with its pitiful durability. If it were to break during this fight… Unfortunately, nobody could swap weapons with an enemy right before their eyes.


‘Please, God… don’t break my new weapon!’ Weed prayed.


“Be careful, Weed-nim!”


“Romuna, Irene, wake up! A Skeleton Knight appeared!”


The party members quickly got ready for combat. However, that gave the Skeleton Knight enough time to begin its first attack: A powerful charge followed by another attack! For the first time, Weed felt that his brittle sword was needed.


‘I can’t lose this sword!’


It was already too late to run, but Weed trusted his movements and defense. Rather than blocking, he attempted to dodge. A minor injury was unavoidable, but he felt that a flesh wound was a worthwhile sacrifice to protect his fragile bone… of course, the “bone” this time was obviously his new sword.


‘Wait, did I repair the gloves and boots?’


‘Crap!’ The durability of the gloves and boots were nearly depleted.


A weapon like the Clay Sword would not lose much durability unless it made physical contact, but other equipment, like the gloves and boots, lose durability simply if the wearer is hit by an attack. Durability was a strange attribute; when near maximum, it would decrease slowly, but when low, a single attack could be enough to break the item.


‘Why now…’ Weed thought bitterly.


Weed quickly rolled on the ground.


*Clank!*


The sword of the Skeleton Knight swung down, just barely missing him.
Such skills oftentimes appeared in martial arts novels. This one in particular involved rolling on the ground in an attempt to evade attacks. What about pride? Something like that had no place in this situation.


The thought of his gloves, boots and new sword breaking was much more painful. While Weed was stalling, his party finished their battle preparations: Pale sent arrows flying, while Irene cast Divine Protection and Blessings. Romuna cast powerful spells, not hesitating to start off with the strongest ones.


“Fire Field!”


In order to catch the fast-moving Skeleton Knight, she used an area-of-effect spell.


*VOOOSH!*


Flames began to spread from the spot where the Skeleton Knight stood. Weed and Surka had to move quickly to escape the fire. In that spare moment, Weed put away the Clay Sword, boots and gloves and equipped the Iron Sword. He wished he could use the Repair skill on them, but the dire situation only allowed him enough time to unequipped the item.


“I doubt it’d die from just this,” said Romuna confidently. Fire Field simultaneously dealt heavy damage to a large number of enemies. Besides Weed’s sword skills, the biggest source of power in the party was Romuna’s Fire Mastery.


Out of all the skills that improve the power of fire spells and effects, Fire Mastery was the 8th most effective. Nevertheless, nobody believed that this was enough to kill an enemy over level 100 like the Skeleton Knight.


Soon the flames dissipated, revealing the Skeleton Knight still standing where it had been before. Its blade was glowing red-hot, and fire poured from its empty eye sockets and ribs, giving it the appearance of a Flaming Skeleton Knight. Though it had taken quite a bit of damage, it was still very much alive.


“These… humans…”


The Skeleton Knight ran forward to attack. Weed confronted the creature, confident this time. He had nothing to fear now that he was using the Iron Sword instead of the Clay Sword.


“Sculpting Blade!


Weed’s sword danced gracefully as it tore into the Skeleton Knight. Romuna’s magic, Surka’s fists and Pale’s arrows also hit their mark in quick succession.


“Grr….”


The Skeleton Knight was still going strong, and the fight began to take a dangerous turn. Weed’s mana had still not fully recovered since the last battle; so he couldn’t even execute a simple sword skill. So far, Weed had dodged the Skeleton Knight’s attacks with just his nimble movements, but had not been able to deal any significant damage. The other party members were in similar situations. Having spent all their mana, they were just barely surviving. Within minutes, the situation got worse.


“I’m completely out of mana. I’m afraid I can’t heal anymore… I’m sorry.” Irene’s words drove everyone to despair. Though Weed and Surka could still fight, once they died, the others would be sitting ducks.


‘In that case…’ Weed decided to use the most powerful finishing move he knew.


Sword Kaiser!


Sword Kaiser is the Imperial Formless Sword Techniques’ final form. However, this was just a nickname that Weed had created. He would have to wait and see if it was powerful enough to truly deserve the title “Kaiser of Swords.”


*Nnnng…*


Thin blue lines of light began to emit from the Iron Sword and surround Weed’s body. Weed instantly drew the Skeleton Knight’s full attention, however, its focus was the Iron Sword itself, which seemed to have grown big enough to reach the sky.


*Shoom!*


The sword compressed the air gathering an explosive power. As Weed prepared to stab, most of Weed’s sword skills usually involved slashing. Stabs, on the other hand, were more powerful, but had their own set of problems. If the stab missed, there was a huge risk of leaving an opening for an attack.


However, swinging is added weight to the blade, subtly changing the balance between the wielder’s waist, wrist and footsteps. Weed knew how to use this change to his advantage to dodge enemy attacks, and counter them by integrating offense and defense.


This was how Weed managed to fight stronger monsters, despite having lower health and defense compared to other players. If not for this strategy, even the fight against the Skeleton Soldiers would have been a flatout struggle.


Even though it was only a step or two away, Weed could feel all his health and mana draining out of his body and flowing into the tip of his sword. The Skeleton Knight’s jaw dropped in awe of Weed’s power.


‘Done!’


Just that momentary glimpse of this skills power was enough to satisfy Weed. However, even before the attack hit the Skeleton Knight, Weed felt the shock of the impact.


*Boom!*


Dirt and dust flew everywhere along with the deafening sound of an explosion.


Soon the dust cleared only to reveal Weed still standing his ground, battered and bruised.


‘How’s this possible?’ his mind said in shock.


Sword Kaiser was a monstrous skill that consumed 2000 mana. If there was not enough mana, the difference was paid in health points. Executing it had left Weed with less than 50 HP.


“Wh-where is it?”


Weed began heading towards the Skeleton Knight.


Skeleton Knight!


The Iron Sword was jammed into its abdomen. Cracks spread from that spot until the entire body fell to pieces. In no time at all, the party rushed over to see Weeds handy work.


“We worked so hard to beat this guy…”


Surka lowered her head, exhausted. They went through so much to defeat the Skeleton Knight, but the bastard only dropped some Iron Ore, a few silvers and a single Bone. Though the party had risked their lives on plenty of occasions, the first time for anything was always the hardest. Not to mention they had entered this fight in poor conditions.


Just like Weed, everyone had fought while being nearly out of mana. From then on, Romuna cast her ‘alarm’ spell when fighting skeletons, to check if a Skeleton Knight was approaching. When they were in decent condition, they would fight it. If not, they would avoid it.


In another dungeon or cave, they may have felt pressure to fight in unfavorable conditions due to competition for kills. But luckily, Weed and his party were the only players in this dungeon.


This, however, meant danger, because there was a surplus of monsters!


It was these kinds of situations that Weed liked best.


The moment they entered the dungeon, the unique ability of Moonlight Sculptors had been activated. In the sunlight, Weed’s skills were not at their fullest. However, in the darkness of the night, or in the shadowy depths of a dungeons, the true power of his class manifested,  by further increasing his base abilities by about 30%.


In addition, Weed had already read the Skeleton Knights’ fighting patterns using his innate combat ability. The bastards were no longer that much of a threat now that he knew exactly when to dodge. This knowledge alone halved the damage he took. Pale and Surka had Romuna’s support, as well as Irene’s Bless spell, therefore, solo Skeleton Knights could do nothing but quietly hand over their bones and disappear.


“Hahaha.” Weed chuckled.


Weed grinned as he watched the skeletons walking about. He could not help but smile since all he could see was potential EXP points and items!


“Kekeke.”


“Hehe”


“Hahaha.”


The whole party began to laugh.


To think that the sight of walking skeletons could make them so happy! The swords that the Skeleton Soldiers carried, though not all Clay Swords, could be sold at a better price than the Iron Sword. One just had to repair it and then sell it for instant money. It was a fantastic hunting ground since the drops included shields, gloves and sometimes even breastplates. And since the drop rate was doubled, it was no surprise that Weed’s inventory was soon full. Soloing Skeleton Knights, despite their high level, were no longer a concern to Weed and his party. However, Death Knights, which sometimes wandered past, were their biggest concern.


“Hu…man. A… human’s… scent… from here…”


A Death Knight, clad in dark grey armor, appeared on horseback. Weed and his party, who had just been killing skeletons and looting items, nervously hid behind a stone.


No matter what they did, there was no way they could defeat a Death Knight, known to be over level 200. The difference in levels was so great that their attacks would be considered misses even if they hit their mark.


In Royal Road, not only users, but NPCs as well, could grow stronger. A Death Knight that reached its second advancement had formidable set of skills.


This Death Knight, called Royan, had dark energy pouring out of his helm. Death Knights were named monsters and so each of them had a name of their own.


“The… scent… of a human… Oh… I… don’t have a nose.”


Death Knight Royan looked around for a bit, then slowly left to search a different area. Even after the Death Knight left, the sound of its horse’s hoof beats could be heard for some time.


“Whew.”


“It’s gone.”

Weed and his party breathed a sigh of relief. Nothing else could strike as much fear into them as the presence of the roaming Death Knights that sometimes came around.


{ 18 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. "Oh… I… don’t have a nose.”
    Please tell me I'm not the only one who giggles every time at this. xD

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    1. I will tell you, you are not the only one.
      I giggled like a school girl

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    2. I giggled!! but I swear I could almost hear him say "Oh… I… don’t have a nose. Yohohohohohoh!" XD

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    3. Am I the only on that thought of Brook in One Piece?

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    4. Nope I also thought of brook xD

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    5. I have thought about One Piece at the first time I heard " City in heaven ". It's skypia!

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    6. I thought of Brook from One Piece he usually says stuff like that yohohohooo

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    7. Skypeia and even giant jack xD

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    8. the kind of jokes that brook says yohohohoho xD 45° :p

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    9. Lol I also thought of Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter

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  2. *removes helm & afro pops out*..."Now I'm a Bone-a-fide knight! Yohohohohohoh!" - One Piece

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  3. A Dullahan! Hey, it's Celty's relatives! :D

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    1. if they kill a dullahan it's -100 FAME. Love Celty ^^

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  4. *Rattle rattle rattle*

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  5. I have to say that this book has an eerily similar plot structure to Life in New World when it comes to the trainers. http://royalroadl.com/fiction/638 This book here.

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    1. Life in new world was obviously taking inspiration from LMS, not the other way around. LMS is the first of the first from the genre and is more than 10 years old. Just saying it here to clear the possible confusion

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