The Royal Demands
Trotting behind the royal guards, they weaved in and out through buildings, crossed bridges, and finally arrived at the foothold of the castle. The castle was a beautiful pearly white glimmering underneath the sun’s rays. But unfortunately, the dazzling white castle made it difficult for people to focus on it because it was too bright. Only on cloudy days was it easier to glimpse the proud standing castle that towered over the city.
The crystal clear waters of Lake Jewels sparkled vibrantly light blue as they reflected the sky. Small luxurious boats floated leisurely around the lake as nobles took their daily pleasures. The cheerful laughs of the adults and children playing in the lake could be heard loudly as Zero passed by. He stared enviously, for he, too, wanted to take a cool dip on this hot summer day. But, of course, having a black feathery fur coat didn’t make it any better either.
Zero was starting to feel slightly uncomfortable, even though he could withstand heat. Maybe it was all in his mind due to the beating sun making him uncomfortable, or it was possibly meeting the King himself.
It’s just a game. Zero reminded himself. What was there to be antsy about?
After crossing the bridge, walking through the small island, and finally, through the winding path up the steep mountain-like hill, they arrived at the castle gates. The gates opened up with loud grinding sounds of metal against metal for them to enter.
Streams of royal purple and silver banners decorated the walls of the interior hallways. The Lion crest decorated the walls. Loud trumpets blared, announcing their entrance. Up on the dais, a middle-aged King and his wife sat comfortably. Their elegant and majestic attire was a simple mix of summer clothes that were not overly covered with fur but more like thin cotton clothes so the breeze could keep them cool.
The King leaned forward as he watched with interest. The King had never seen a creature like Zero, which fascinated him. Both Zero and Agnis stopped at a distance away from the King and the Queen. Agnis bowed elegantly, while Zero nodded his head. In his Origin form, he did not know if he should go on his hind legs and bow like a human or give him a deep grovel-like bow. Both thoughts did not agree with him; instead, he gave him a short nod with his long neck.
Zero thought the King would topple out of his chair for a moment from leaning towards them so much.
“Are you the creature that slew that giant?” asked the King? His voice was loud and strong.
“Yes. I am,” said Zero, “but I was not the only one who stopped Lilith. The other Adventurers helped chip away at her health. I was lucky enough to be present at the last blow.” Zero humbly replied.
“You are humble, and you put your companions first. I like that.” The King replied. “For all the Adventurers who helped in the suppression of the rampage of Lilith, they would be handsomely rewarded. But, on the other hand, I am sad to hear that she was once our past famed Hero. To see the legends come back to haunt us in the most unexpected ways was truly shocking.” The King sat back, his voice slightly wavering.
“I hope you don’t mind if I speak out of turn.”
“The true Hero Lilith was not at fault; it was the demon blood that contaminated her body and mind that warped the once great hero.”
“That is true, but I am afraid the citizens might not see the truth. Once disaster strikes, they need a scapegoat to take away their pain and suffering. It seems already the citizens had spoken out in outcry to take down her statue.”
Zero understood, but at the same time, he was baffled by what he was hearing. The citizens all saw the illusion magic display in the movie. They knew what had happened to Lilith and how she ended up in such a way. He took pity on the great Hero who fell and became a monster.
“It does not matter what she has done in the past anymore. The recent rampage has affected the lives of many. It is difficult to erase such a disaster from the minds of the citizens in one day. Only time will tell and heal the wounds. The honor of Lilith is not what I have called you here for.”
Zero did not go any further with the argument; He did not want to make an enemy out of one of the world’s highest-ranking NPCs right now. So instead, he silently listened.
“Like the other Adventurers that had come before you, they were all rewarded for their dedication to this Kingdom. Likewise, the leaders of Hercules guild and Grand Legion had been summoned before you. They have received their rewards and have already left.” The King stood up. “For your dedication and service to the Kingdom, I award you this weapon. It has been crafted by the best blacksmith of the Kingdom.”
A man comes from the King’s left side, holding a pair of claw-like weapons. It was completely black with gold designs on the weapon. The man walked up towards Zero and handed him the claw weapons in hand. Zero gratefully picked it up with glee and slipped it into his hands. It twinkled like radiant stars. The man quickly inched away nervously when Zero picked up the claw weapon.
Talons of the falcon
Minimum weapon level requirement 130.
This weapon was made by the finest blacksmith in the Kingdom. The claw weapon protects your own personal claws from breaking.
+ 50 attack power
+ 33 defense
+ 1% chance of breaking low-level weapons
+ 3% chance of causing heavy bleeding effect
+500 Fame has been given by the King for your effort in slaying the rampaging monster called Lilith.
Zero’s grinned. Today was truly like a birthday from all his gifts and good fortune. He did not expect there to be something his Origin form could wear. However, the thought of his Origin form being allowed to wear armor excited him about the future combinations and possibilities given to him.
“Thank you.” Once again, Zero gave him a nod but a bit deeper. “It fits wonderfully.”
“Now then, on to the next problem.” the King sat back with his arms on his lap. “The issue is with the Royal Library. Have you heard of the Drezo Regalia?”
Zero’s ears perked at the word. How the King knew this, he did not know. “That would be me, sire. I am a Drezo Regalia.”
“You are.” The King perked up from Zero’s answer. “You are this so-called Drezo Regalia?”
“I see. Then with this in order, since ancient times. In the contract between my past relatives’ bloodline and the Drezo Regalia, we must administer one test to see your worth to keep the Royal Library. I do not feel this is enough to even consider giving the Royal Library to you. Royal property is not lightly just given away.”
“If you don’t mind,” Zero had begun to rummage through the Zenith bag. Then, finally, he pulled out the contract and rightfully gave him the Royal Library. “In actuality, it’s called the Draconis Library.” He corrected, and he handed the document over to a page that brought it to the King.
“I see…” The King scanned the paper, “the mark of the Infinity. Truly this is the mark that can not be forged.” When finished reading, the King handed it back to the Page, and the Page gave the paper to Zero.
“Even though this is proof, there is a second part to the contract that I have. All I ask you to do is one task. Hunt down the Minotaur that resides in the Maze of Geruem. Then I will not ask you about the Royal- I mean Draconis Library anymore. There is a second part to the agreement between my ancestors and the Drezo Regalia to do one favor that equals the value of the Draconis Library. Bring me the Golden Eye. Then I shall give you the other half of the contract between our two species.”
Zero was taken aback. He thought he had gained the Draconis Library without many difficulties, but he should’ve known that it was not that simple. Gaining such a large reward without effort was like an illusion considered false hope. He already saw the possibilities of his flying Draconis Library. It was considered a huge benefit in the long run.
“I’ll do it.” Zero replied in a stern tone. “He was ready to take on the challenge laid before him.”
“Good. I am glad to hear such words,” said the King. He motioned to the same young Page that gave him his weapon and handed him a map. “This is the clue where the Maze of Geruem lies. So someone like you might understand where it could be.”
Zero gratefully received the map while Agnis looked over his shoulder to see what it was about.
The Quest to retrieve the Golden Eye has been initiated and accepted.
An ancient contract between the Drezo Regalia and the King has been brought back to life. The King has asked you to bring back the Golden Eye from the Maze of Geruem in the Continent of Electric for the Drezo Regalia to truly own the building of Draconis Library.
Reward: The 2nd half of the Certificate of Draconis Library.
Failure: The loss of Draconis Library
“Electric Continent…” Zero softly whispered. Agnis heard what he had said, and her eyes became wide.
“There? Oh man, we might need more firepower for this.” She quietly whispered back towards Zero. “Nobody has been there for a thousand years.”
“Either way, this needs to be done.”
“I knew you wouldn’t back down.”
“Young lady, the same rule applies to you because you are his companion. Would you help him or let him take on this mission alone?”
Agnis straightened up and replied, “I’ll help him, Your Majesty. We are two peas in a pod.” She smiled beautifully in a way that could even sway the King’s stoic personality for a moment.
The King stuttered and cleared his throat to get his bearings again. “Ahem, with that being resolved, you are dismissed.” The King waved them away.
Zero and Agnis bowed. While turning around, they saw a young nobleman walk up briskly past them at a hurried pace. He wore clothes similar to the King and the queen they had just met. Following him was another young man who looked more like a commoner than a noble.
The noble man passed them with no regard and kept walking forward. Only the player turned towards Agnis and Zero, curious about who they were and what they were doing there.
“Father,” The young nobleman spoke loudly as he walked over to the King. “Father. This is the Adventurer Russ that has saved my life.”
The player name Russ bowed curtly towards the King. Zero was even more curious about what they would discuss, but he was hurriedly motioned away by the guards. The door closed behind Zero and Agnis; once again, they were out in front of the castle.
They headed back to the Town square, where the bustling crowd was still looking over at the Draconis Library.
“I need to go do something first,” replied Zero. He was already thinking about who to send to help renovate the Draconis Library. “How about we meet at the south gate in thirty minutes.”
“We can do that. I’ll go gather some supplies.” Agnis agreed. She went ahead, already popping into the nearby general store.
Zero walked in between the thick crowd and squeezed his way past them. Finally, he was able to reach Tony’s pet store. With a loud clang of the doorbell, a young petite water elf username Coco answered loudly. “Welcome to Tony’s Pet-shop. How may I help you?”
“Hi. I’m looking for Tino and Tyrell; just tell them it’s Zero looking for them.” Zero walked in the tight doors of the shop. Her eyes became wide because of his appearance. His tail bumped into the edge of a table where various eggs were placed. Coco ran forward and dove toward an egg that fell off the table. She gave a loud sigh of relief.
“Sorry about that; I didn’t expect this shop to feel so small. But, last I remembered, the whole store felt very large,” said Zero. He caught a wobbling egg about to fall off the side of the table. He gently placed it back into the nest and tried his best not to bump into anything else.
Moving around the tight space was a bit difficult; the number of eggs seemed to have tripled since the last time he was present. In addition, one could not help but get a headache looking around the chaotic store.
“He’ll be right out with you. Please just stay there.” Coco sternly stated. She held up her hands, motioning him not to move. “Why can’t you be a cute small monster instead?” she grumbled underneath her breath.
While Coco walked towards the back of the room, Zero shifted back into his human form. He wondered why he didn’t choose this form when he first entered, but he was so busy thinking about other things that he had forgotten to switch over. It wasn’t until he bumped into the table that he realized he was still in his Origin form. Being in both Origin form and human form was becoming so natural to him that he sometimes forgot which one he was in.
Zero walked around the store, looking at the new products. There were salamander eggs, bird eggs, insect eggs, and even monster eggs that he had never heard of before. From the different designs, shapes, and sizes, he was interested in the possible pets that would come from each.
“Zero?” A deep man’s voice called out from behind him. Zero was inspecting a speckled egg when he heard the voice. Turning around, he noticed Tino and Tyrell with weapons present before him while Coco was standing next to them.
“Where is the large monster destroying our store?” Coco asked, confused while she whipped her head around, trying to find an answer. She stared at Zero, lost for words. “You’re Zero?”
“Zero!” Tino and Tyrell went over to Zero and slapped him hard on his back. “It’s great to see you. You have grown so much since the last time we saw you.” Tyrell replied jubilantly. “It felt like yesterday when you just hatched out of your egg. Is your partner feeding you well?”
Zero shook his head and grinned, “I’ve been starved, overworked, and lost patches of fur. I would like to terminate my contract.”
“Don’t be like that. She seemed like a great partner for you.” Tyrell nodded in agreement with his statement. “Sadly though, I can’t do much in terminating a contract. I only know how to create them and not how to break them. So it’s my policy of one family, one crew.”
“It was worth a try.” Zero shrugged his shoulders.
“So, what brings you here?” asked Tyrell. “Are you here for another pet? This time for you? I highly doubt you need one, but it never hurts to ask.” He carefully asked while rubbing his hands together.
“No. I came here for a request.”
“I was wondering if you don’t mind setting up your pet store on the land where Draconis Library is. Then, there won’t be high taxes, and you will be able to expand your store.”
Tyrell thought it over. He wasn’t too sure about the prospect of moving.
Zero gave another push, “We’ll be traveling around the world on a flying library, where you will be able to gain new monster eggs that you have never seen before. Wouldn’t you like your store to grow?”
Tino and Tyrell’s eyes sparkled with interest at the thought of new monster eggs. “We were having difficulties in finding more exotic pets. Our store has been filled with common monsters these days.” Tyrell replied.
Common monsters? Zero thought. There was nothing common about these eggs.
“Let’s try this,” Tino replied with enthusiasm. He was excited about the prospect of finding different monster pets out there. “Who knows? We could become famous for gaining rare pets that nobody has ever found before. Also, there has been more competition lately, so it’s been difficult for our business. A change of pace could possibly help bring in more customers.”
“I’m in. Let’s go, Tyrell. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to spread our name.” Tyrell pushed Tino for an answer. “Wasn’t our dream to make it big together? But, unfortunately, it won’t be just a dream but a reality.”
The last push hooked Tino in.” I’m in. It’s sink or swim. Coco! Get ready to move into our new place. We need to pack everything up and get things ready.” Tino excitedly shouted out towards Coco.
“We’ll see you at the flying Library.” Tyrell was already up and about starting to move eggs around the store. “We’ll be the world’s best pet store in history.” Both brothers were joyfully singing with enthusiasm.
Coco sighed as she looked at the mounds of work they had to do. Zero understood her sentiment; the number of eggs to be boxed and transported was ridiculous. Even the thought of it made his head hurt.
Draconis Library gathering of residents’ Quest
The Draconis Library has come alive from its ancient slumber. As the guardian of the building, one must take care of a special building given to a Drezo Regalia to watch over. Residents with different skills and species must be willing to move into the Draconis Library. Please go out and find residents for the area. Only having the same race will not suffice.
As the new guardian of the Draconis Library, one must invest in the future of the building. Continuously investing in the library’s growth will help bring wisdom and knowledge to different races worldwide. Therefore, completely invest in the building of Draconis Library and see it flower into something new.
Renovation of the building: 5.2/100
Percentage of finding traders: 3%
Reward: Increase in handing out higher-level quests and information.
Failure: Loss of productivity and eventually the loss of the building.
With the first resident sent towards the Library, Zero headed south towards the gates where Agnis was patiently waiting. She waved him down and noticed Jack, Alan, and Zeraph present next to her.
“What are you guys doing here?” Zero asked, perplexed. He didn’t remember calling for the others.
“I called them over. I thought it would be great to have a couple more people to help with the Quest. The quest level is a B. It will be very difficult to complete it with just you and me. In all honesty, I think we should bring a lot more than this.”
“Agnis here begged us to come,” Jack replied with a grin.
“I did not beg. Instead, I politely asked,” said Agnis.
“It’s okay. We’re friends. A little begging doesn’t hurt anyone.” Jack continued to poke and tease her. “Oh, and Zero, I finally finished the armor. Here you go. So far, this is the best that I can make. One day I’ll be making legendary weapons and armor.”
Zero gladly took the armor from Jack. “Thanks, Agnis and Jack.”
“No problem. I told you I’ll give it to you. It might not be exactly what I said, but you know…” Agnis’s voice trailed off.
Zero actually took the time to observe the complete black armor. Even the helmet had tall black ears like a dog. It included a top, bottom, and helmet piece all in one.
Black Hound Light Armor Set
Level requirement: 150
Armor made by a dwarf artisan named Jack. A budding blacksmith that has made a name for himself in the City of Diadem. Already his work as a blacksmith has grown closer and closer to that of a master blacksmith. The Black Hound armor is made through constant grueling work through blood and tears. Endowed with magical abilities, it has a natural ability to increase fire elemental magic. Inspired by watching dogs hunt.
Armor restriction: only humans can wear this armor.
+5% increase in fire magic
+ 5% resistance to water and ice magic
+ 20 defense status increase
+ 15 magic status increase
+ 10 increase in speed
+ special ability to increase the sense of smell in human form
Zero happily equipped his Black hound armor.
Agnis couldn’t help but hold back a small chuckle. Even Jack grinned. He was proud of his masterpiece.
“I needed an escort past the Forgotten Forest to search for an herb for a quest. So I thought it would be best to stay with you guys,” said Alan.
“It seems my Quest and your Quest correspond with one another. So I’ll stick around till mine is complete.” Zeraph winked at the passing girls. They giggled and blushed as they walked away.
“Alan, I haven’t seen you since you gave us a ride. How is your business going?”
“Pretty decent, I supposed. I’m waiting to hit the motherload.”
“Aren’t we all,” Zeraph spoke.
“Well, it is good to see you are doing well.”
Zero pulled out the map the King had given him. It was an old brown parchment that looked ready to fall apart. A couple of black ink spills on the paper made it a bit difficult to read. He spread it out on the floor while everyone huddled around it.
“It seems we need to go east past the Forgotten Forest that reaches close to the edge of the Fire Continent and into the Valley of Swans. Meaning we are crossing over the border of the Electric Continent. Somewhere around there, there should be a cave that we need to enter. There’s some marking that shows us the passage to get inside.”
“The Forgotten Forest,” groaned Jack. “I wanted to avoid that forest as much as possible, but it seems fate slaps you in the face and says no.”
“Why? What about it?”
“You don’t know?” Jack gasped as if he heard Zero ask such a question.
“What? I’ve never been there. I usually leveled up in the city dungeons, Magic Forest, or the Mining Town Sofia. I never stepped foot inside that particular forest once. It gave off an eerie feel, so I never went hunting around.
“You’re damn right. That place is known to be haunted. People disappear during the middle of the day, you hear ghastly female screams, and you get lost in the forest. Some state that you won’t be able to get out of the forest for days if you’re not careful.” Jack shivered.
“Look, it shouldn’t be as bad as what we had to deal with in real life.” Zero replied. “Compared to the real-life quest, this should be a walk in the park.”
Jack sighed. “I don’t do well with ghosts, though.”
“For a weapon vendor to be afraid of ghosts,” Agnis shook her head in disbelief. “How did you hide all that fear when you did the Real World Quest?”
“I didn’t show it, but I bravely overcame my obstacles. Plus, ghosts are intangible, and you can’t harm them physically. So how am I supposed to defeat that?”
“It’s okay, Jack. It’s okay.” Agnis patted his back, reassuring him everything was going to be okay.
“Well then, we know where to go. Let’s get this over with.” Zeraph, listening quietly, replied as he motioned them forward towards their destination.
Throughout their walk, they bypassed low-level monsters without a blink of an eye. The monsters scattered like roaches as they feared death from high-level Adventurers, especially when all of them were either level 150 or more.
“We should stay on the safe path until we get closer to our destination so we don’t get lost in the Forgotten Forest,” said Zero. He pointed towards the long winding dirt road connecting one city to another.
After a little more time, the group entered the Forgotten Forest. Seeing Jack was a bit skittish as a buff, burly dwarf with a wicked-looking hammer, Zero couldn’t help but try to hide his amusement.
Suddenly, a message appeared around the world to all Adventurers.
Growth’s Second Stage Germination has fully gone into effect. Therefore, the final Major update is complete.
“Second Stage?” thought Zero. “I thought it had already gone into effect.”
“Yes, it has. I heard rumors that the World Quest was just the preliminary for Growth’s Second Stage. I can’t believe this. If I remember correctly, this message wasn’t supposed to appear for the next couple of months. It all depended on the rate that Noriene was supposed to expand.” Agnis replied with a bit of concern. “It’s only been less than a year. How did it activate so soon?”
“Wait, you knew this was going to happen?” Zero asked.
“I only heard bits and pieces,” Agnis told Zero. Her eyes were scrunched up in concern. “If I’m not mistaken, the enemies would be much stronger than before. We could possibly even have another crazy world quest.”
Jack whistled. “I’ll be honest with you. That Quest was a bit exhilarating. Going through battles of such caliber was something you don’t get to enjoy often. I would love to go into a battle like that again.”
“I’m going to decline,” replied Alan. “I’m just a simple merchant being dragged around mercilessly by you people.” Alan pretended to feign weakness.
“Aw, come on. Don’t say that. We’re friends now.” Jack clapped him on his shoulder. “We went through hell and back and again. Who wouldn’t think we don’t have blood brothers and sisters after all that.”
“You jest. That’s a different matter. I’m just a simple poor merchant.”
“A poor merchant, my ass. You have a bag filled with items.” Zeraph grinned. “I wouldn’t be surprised if I don’t call you a swindler by the number of deals you have cheated out of poor and rich folks.”
Alan innocently batted his eyes. “I don’t know what you are talking about. You must be mistaking me for a different Alan. You should know me by now if you say we are blood brothers. I take from the rich and give to the poor like Robin hood.”
“Robin hood? Bwahahahaha. How about the Scourge instead.” Jack boisterously laughed with his hand on his pot belly while spit escaped his lips.
Alan glared at Jack to shut up with his eyes. Everyone else couldn’t stop grinning at the two. A message appeared before the group as they had begun to read it. Their laughter quickly faded away as their smiles turned into frowns.
New Patch has been updated. All Zenith bags from henceforth will no longer hold an infinite amount. The set number will be half a million. Extra slots to refine the Zenith bag have increased. The whole world will have an active Zone Alpha placed in effect. All attacks and defenses will go into real-time. Fatality, wounds, dismembered body parts are active, and many more. The protection of the Hero will have come to an end. All magical boosts placed on the Fire Continent’s borders will not be functioning anymore. Siege wars between cities are now possible.
Dive synchronization: Safety features have been upgraded and inputted into your Deep Dive gear. Safety procedures for personal health have been updated in the Avatar. Players will be forced out until one’s body’s needs and personal health has been taken care of. Players will not be allowed to log in if the safety health rating reaches below fifty percent. Please understand that this world is a game. We appreciate your safety and your life. Thank you for your understanding.
“Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!” Allan gasped with a scream. He was the loudest of the groups to cry out in outrage and fell defeated onto the ground.” This is an outrage. It’s sacrilege. How could they do this to us?” He burst into tears.
Even Zero couldn’t help but stand there shocked. The Zenith bag has been very useful in his collection of items. He picked up everything and anything that could be sold. Now he had to waste extra money buying bags if he wanted to carry more.
“I can’t live like this.” Alan rebuked as he stomped around, furious. “This is like stealing from the merchant’s life and blood.”
“Quite exaggerating.” Zeraph rolled his eyes. “There are always profits to be made around this situation.”
“But but-” Alan’s lips were twitching. He was already ghastly pale from the news that was brought before them.
“By this rate, they’re trying to make this game as close to reality as possible.” Agnis’s voice rung through the group. “I’m assuming the beginning stages for the Adventurers to have time to get used to the game and even build up guilds are over. It is now the frontier, the age of exploration.”
Zero thought he saw Alan’s soul leave his body; he became lifeless like a zombie still lost in his own thoughts at the whole news.
“That’s not the major problem here, you guys.” Zeraph cut in. “We’ve got the issue with the holy protection of the Hero’s Will ending. This means no more protection from monsters coming straight into the Fire Continent. As a result, our lives will become more difficult, possibly even some stray high-level monsters that could wipe out a small village.”
“It’s alright. We can power level together and beat them all.” Jack hoisted his large battle hammer over his shoulder. “Working together will get us through. Just like the Real World quest.”
“This and that are slightly different matters. We’re talking about the Electric Continent where the Land Sharks appeared from. We won’t know what else could be more dangerous than the monsters in the Fire Continent. So we should be careful where we go and not split apart from the group.”
“Don’t worry so much. You’re going to have creases in between your eyebrows, and they’re going to become permanent if you continue.”
“I am not worried. I am just stating the obvious thing. We need to watch each other’s backs.”
Everyone understood and nodded one-after-another. Not many lights peaked through the thick forest, nor could he hear bugs, crickets, or birds singing their familiar songs. Thick vines covered densely around the forest as a light mist covered the ground. Instead, the stale smell of decayed plants hung in the air.
They had begun to walk through the winding paved roads of the Forgotten Forest. Jack was always checking behind him to see if anything was following them. Zero led the group, and Zeraph was stationed in the back, covering their rear. Agnis had her bow out, ready to shoot at a moment’s notice. It didn’t take long before monsters swarmed them.
“We’ve got baby spiders coming in from the right,” called out Zeraph. He shot a couple of arrows in the direction of the Baby Spiders. They were all level 125 and did not run away from Zero’s group. Instead, large swarms of them were coming toward them.
“Where?” Agnis sharply turned towards Zeraph. Her face turned white like a sheet. She already had a couple of wind arrows knocked in her bow. The moment she saw them, arrows were sent flying like missiles. She was not a fan of bugs. Especially spiders, centipedes, and millipedes. Already the Baby Spiders were looking like little porcupines. Right after, she sent a blazing blue fire that incinerated the Baby Spiders in seconds. The Baby Spiders were appearing from the dark forest, one-after-another like a swarm of undead that never stopped.
Jackhammered down with a thunderous roar on top of a Baby Spider. “Hammer Falls!” An earth-shattering ability that sent out a shock wave stunned the surrounding Baby Spiders. Alan was shooting with his slingshot. Even though the merchant class usually focused heavily on trades, they had a couple of abilities and weapons that allowed them to fight. They weren’t completely defenseless.
Zeraph dashed around, zigzagging in between each Baby Spider. Zero following closely behind with his twin set of daggers, Excursion. Both were engaging in close-quarter combat that required more skill to avoid the swarm.
Zero couldn’t help being satisfied with his small group. Even though they did not have a healer class, the small team of five did exceptionally well, playing off each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Jack acted more like a tank that could handle the heavy swarms of monsters. Zeraph and Zero were crowd control that darted in and out of the Baby Spiders, picking them off quickly and efficiently. While Agnis used more of her fire ability to decimate them in seconds. On the other hand, Allan took care of the Baby spiders with a slingshot that was about to ambush the group to draw their attention away, allowing the group to come back and kill the Baby Spider.
“Zero behind you!” Alan yelled as he aimed and hit the Baby Spider in the head. The monster turned toward Alan in rage as it clacked its hairy pincer-like jaws towards him.
“Thanks!” Zero whipped around and dashed forward with daggers in hand. He did a quick turn and rushed in towards the Baby Spider. “Trinity Fall!” In three continuous sharp movements, a blazing trail of fire erupted from his dagger, adding additional damage. The Baby Spider bursts into flames as Zero slices away the Baby Spiders’ legs and three-fourth of its health.
After, Zero did a four-hit combo that finished the Baby Spider.
Hopping from one monster to the next, Zero made his way around the group in a full circle. He was busily fending off the Baby Spiders coming down from the trees while Agnis impaled them with her arrows, thinning the crowds.
“Hammer Falls!” Jack yelled. Thirty seconds later, he yelled the same skill again. “Damn these critters. These annoying bastards just keep coming.”
“It looks like they’re starting to thin out,” Agnis replied. She nailed a Baby Spider perfectly in its eye and whacked a falling spider out in the air with her bow. “At this rate, we should be finished with them soon.”
In minutes, the Baby Spiders were dispatched with barely any loss of health.
“That wasn’t even a warm-up,” Zeraph started with a smirk. He stashed away his sword into his belt and walked up towards the group.
Zero and Allan were scurrying around collecting fallen loot on the ground as if they were competing against one another for the upper hand.
“We’ll equally share the loot,” Zero said to his team. Usually, when there were groups, the loot was split up equally for cash at the end of the hunt. Everyone agreed with Zero’s statement.
Zero noticed a couple of new plants beside the tree.
“Hey guys, give me a moment.” Zero walked up to the new plant beside the tree. With his herbology skill, he successfully gathered the new plants without destroying them in their natural state.
Rosemary was acquired. It is a great culinary ingredient to spice up the flavor of any dish and has additional healing properties.
“Agnis. I got some ingredients for you to cook for us.” Zero was busily picking up more herbs. He was going around picking up more and more.
“What kind?” asked Agnis.
“Rosemary. Sweet! I know a couple of dishes I could try out with that.”
“What are you doing?” Zeraph asked, perplexed at Zero actions.
“Collecting edible plants. Some of these we can use to make food with. Agnis has a second job as a cook.” Zero replied. He pulled out his stone mortar and sat down.
“Agnis cooks? Really?!” Jack said with excitement. “I haven’t met many cooks in the game. What kind of dishes can you make?”
“Everything.” Agnis proudly stated.
“She fails half the time,” Zero loudly reported back to the group while he was picking more plants.
“No, I don’t. My cooking skills have a 60% chance of success now.”
“That’s great. Now we don’t have to eat your failed dishes any more.” Zero teased.
“Those dishes are god sent. You should never waste food.”
“I don’t want to die.”
“Hmph.” Agnis folded her arms in disapproval.
At that moment, an idea struck Zero’s mind, “I just thought of something I have to try. You guys give me a moment.” Zero rummaged through his bag, pulling out different plants that he knew were considered safe. Then, using a couple of combinations, he put them into the mortar and ground them together.
You have failed.
You have failed.
You have failed.
You were successful in creating a small health pellet that recovers 500 hp.
“It worked.” Zero eyes sparkled with joy. He forgot that combining different plants could make medicine.
You have learned the skill to create Herbal Medicine using herbs.
Creation of Herbal Medicine
Beginner level 1
Using different combinations of herbs, plants, roots, trees, and even animals, one can create different tonics, pills, teas, potions, and many more.
“What worked?” asked Agnis as she looked over his shoulder.
“This.” Zero held the medicine that looked like a brown pellet ball in his hand. “Our possible lifesaver.” His mind went into overdrive; he had already thought of the thousands of different combinations he could try.
“That is?” asked Jack. He leaned in to see what Zero had in his hand. “It looks like hamster pellet food.”
“Nope. It’s medicine. The next closest thing to a potion.” he proudly showed off to them.
Zeraph took medicine off his hands. “It’s barely worth eating. You must eat a thousand of these before your health could recover to half.”
“It is just the first product. I haven’t tried many other things out there yet.” Zero said with slight disappointment in his voice.
“Let’s get on our way. I personally don’t have all day to be playing,” said Zeraph. He took the Health Pellet and stashed it in his bag.
He still took the Health Pellet; Zero smirked. He grabbed more plants that were on the ground. His identifying skills in Herbology had increased to the point where he only had to pick up the plant to understand if the plant was edible, poison, or a dud.
Traveling through the Forgotten Forest near the road helped the group travel quicker. In addition, they did not meet large swarms except on rare occasions; most of the time, the monsters were low-level creatures.
At times they met travelers, merchants, and mercenaries, where they exchanged quick words, but those were on rare occasions. Instead, Zero was busily gathering as many plants as possible so that later on, he could create more pellets.
“How much further until we get out of here?” asked Jack.
“Well, according to the map, we’re about halfway there,” said Zero.
“Only halfway?” Jack groaned. He wasn’t too keen on staying in the forest any longer. “Ugh, Alan, why didn’t you bring your horse and carriage so we can get there faster.”
“I would love to, but it’s not possible when crossing the valley. The terrain is too uneven.”
“Anybody got anything to lighten the mood? This dreary atmosphere is making everything seem so serious.”
“We could tell stories?” replied Agnis. “Or some News that’s been going on in the world.”
“Actually, I was wondering what’s been going on with the murder case at the College,” asked Jack. “We could have lost our lives on that day.”
“What do you mean murder case?” Alan asked. He was not sure what they were talking about.
“Yea. Zeraph, Jack, Zero, and a couple others stumbled upon a crime scene while it was happening. We were lucky that we got away before something happened to us,” said Agnis. “Lately, they’ve called this the Posture Art Serial murder case. You know those strange poses that the murders have been found in that we have heard about? Apparently, they’re saying it’s done by the same person.”
“You’re saying that masked man.” Zero shivered, remembering the day they were sent to do a real-world quest. He had never met such an overpowering aura before till that day. His senses were completely overdriven, telling him that the man in the mask was no ordinary man.
“Yes. There have been more Posture Art murder cases around the U.S. Some are just copycats, but the genuine ones are his signature murders. What was the madman’s purpose in even being at the college anyways? Why would he go to a high-profile place in the first place?”
“Posture Art Murder cases? What? Why such a weird name?” said Alan.
“Probably because they’re all in some kind of weird poses.”
Everybody was in deep thought. Alan spoke up first, “What were you guys doing there anyways? Where were you all going to the same school when this happened?”
“We don’t go to that particular school; it’s just that that school was where the Quest took place. We had a Real World Quest handed to us at the time.” Zero leaned over to snatch a plant he noticed while walking. “My theory is that he was purposely there for a reason. To be a hindrance.”
“To who? Us?” asked Agnis. “What benefit would this masked man get from stopping us?”
“That I’m not sure, but remember how I told you I had an Easter Egg, right.”
“Yea, what about it?”
“It was a Hidden Quest. An Angel Quest.”
“An Angel’s Quest? Is there such a thing?”
Zero nodded, “If I remember correctly. The Quest asked me to stop the masked man by stealing his round obsidian stone.”
“So, did you succeed?” Alan quickly asked, his curiosity piqued.
“What did you do with the stone?” Zeraph asked. He quietly listened to their conversation until he finally jumped in when Zero was speaking about the Angel Quest.
“I threw it into a pond and played skipping stones with it.” Zero flat-out spoke.
“You did what? All that trouble to gain a stone, and you threw it away.” Zeraph was shocked at what Zero said.
“I felt like I had to. I know the stone gave off a negative feeling, and I didn’t want it anywhere near me. So it’s best forgotten.” Zero did not like how the stone felt when he had it in his hands. The stone gave off a static shock that shocked him repeatedly throughout the whole time he had it.
“Have you thought it could possibly be used for something?” Zeraph asked. He was still appalled at what Zero had done.
In actuality, Zero did not want to know what the stone could be used for. The message on his Alive gear at that time told him it was not good having a cursed object near him, but he didn’t tell them any more than he had to.
“This conversation went too serious.” Jack replied, “It fits perfectly with the surrounding mood of this forest. I asked for something to lighten our mood, not darken it even more.”
“Well, nobody spoke up, and everyone went with the flow. At least we’re almost out of the Forgotten Forest.”
“You know, this is off tangent, but I heard from the locals there is some kind of Leprechaun sanctuary in the Forgotten Forest,” chimed Alan. “There’s supposed to be pots of gold as far as the eye can see.” His eyes twinkled at the thought of a mountain of gold. “How about we search for the rumor when we are done with the quest?”
“Who did you hear such a ridiculous rumor from?” Jack couldn’t help but scoff at Alan’s words.
“Want to bet 5 gold?” Alan retorted back, scowling at Jack.
“Sure. I’ll add 10 gold.”
“Deal,” Jack pulled his beard, twirling it around his fingers. “Leprechauns, in the forgotten forest? More like ghouls and ghosts would love to live here than happy-go-lucky Leprechauns. Think about this landscape with goofy-looking old men with red beards and green clothes about three feet tall. It would be quite a contradiction in itself.”
“Jack,” Zero called out to Jack, trying to stop him in his rant.
“Shouldn’t a pot of gold be at the end of the rainbow? I don’t see a rainbow a mile away. The closest thing to a Leprechaun would be us Dwarves.”
“Jack,” Zero spoke out louder. This time it caught Jack’s attention.
“What?” Jack turned around towards the direction where Zero was pointing.
Alan stretched his hands towards Jack, motioning for him to pay up.
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