Chapter 8 – Grigor

Authors Note – Done a full line by line proofread, taking my time to hopefully give you a grammatically perfect on its original release! I have also updated the About Me, Copyright, and Purchase the Book pages, don’t forget to check them out!
Usual updates to the Weekly Update page and Game Info page are being worked on, but I’m sure this chapter release is more important!
I am also creating a kickstarter campaign to help fund the book, lower the prices and hopefully get paperback copies in as many bookstores as possible! Please do continue to support the book, if you know people who may be interested in my work, please do let them know that I am here!

-Lost-

The Christmas update that the game developers released was a massive shock to me. All of a sudden I needed to not only maintain my equipment but also my satiety levels as well. Yet, it was nothing compared to the surprise of Fen’s invasion of my locker.

I was originally worried about what she does when I was offline. Did she wander around? Go into hiding nearby? However, that was no longer a mystery after finding her hiding in the kitchen in my locker.

The only question remains as to how. How does an AI that lives in the game exit it, especially into my VL. She could have somehow downloaded herself onto my VL, connecting to it the same way I do to the game.

‘It’s illogical, but it is the only possibility.’

***************************************************

The next day I return to virtual reality and find Fen comfortably sleeping on one of the couches in my locker. It appears when she is outside of End Online and its rules, she can shrink her body at will.

She wakes up as I enter and begins following behind me, tail flicking back and forth. Ignoring the overly playful wolf I stroll directly to the console and log into End Online.

I return to where I left, the goblins from the nearby encampment have respawned overnight so there were a few the vicinity of my new ‘Intimidating Aura’ skill to receive an ‘aggro’ towards me.

‘No! I had completely forgotten, I no longer have that skill!’ 

My ‘Intimidating Aura’ skill had transformed into my new class skill so maybe that will no longer be the case! A class skill is said to be defined by the skills that make it up, but the majority of class skills had not even been discovered let alone studied!

Opening my player information window I see not only the four free slots but also my new class skill, the ‘White Warrior’. I did not expect overly much from it considering the simplicity of the name, but it did consume a skill of ‘Epic’ rarity after all.

Class Skill: White Warrior (SLvl 1, 0%) -Active
Obscured within the myths of Glace, the White Warrior has
been secret knowledge for so long the nobody can recall 
exactly what it is.

Utilizing godly speed to tear through the opponents defence, 
the White Warrior is unmatched in battle. Strength holds
no meaning before the might of something you cannot touch.
The White warrior is also highly proficient outside of
battle due to various survival skills in maintaining a 
healthy body and being able to analyse any situation.

Through its power the White Warrior gives off an
intimidating aura that all nearby life forms can feel.

SLvl 1:
- Fighting Prowess + 2 
- Short sword proficiency
- Short sword damage bonus 2.0 X base damage
- Thrown weapons will do 2.0 X weapon damage
- Cannot equip heavy armour
- Cannot equip medium armour
- Cannot equip shields

- +40 Agility.
- +25 Dexterity.
- +5 Strength
- Movement Speed +30%
- Attack Speed +15%
- Intimacy can not be grown with NPC's under normal 
circumstances due to your intimidating aura.
- 15% chance every 20sec nearby enemies will get the 'Aggro' 
status towards you for 3min. 20% reduction to attack and
defence to those affected.
- Capable of identifying all herbs, but not unknown effects.
- Capable of utilizing a raw herbs effect, can be used on 
others if you do the application of the herb.
- Capable of analysing all life forms, no matter the level.
- Powerful eyesight allows you to inspect distant object
much clearer.
- Can use the sacred art 'Perceptual Sight'

- Can use the sacred art 'Multi Mirage'
- Can use the sacred art 'Pincer'
- Can use the sacred art 'Back Stab'

- This ability is Soul Bound, cannot be unequipped
Bonus:
- Health +10%
- Capable of cooking any ingredients you personally harvest.
- Moving at high speed will leave an afterimage, being struck by
any solid object or attacking will disperse the image.
- Through a genetic mutation you are naturally more agile than
others, your agility rising faster than normal.
- All equipment worn will naturally become tones of white.

A purple border… It is a ‘Legendary’ skill! If it was physically possible, my jaw would have hit the ground. Although, I have been through enough illogical things lately that it still might do so.

Holding my jaw in superstition I take all the information in. There were so many enhancements in this class skill that I could barely take it all in.

I had already suspected I would not be able to unequip it, and that the curse of ‘Aggravation’ would remain. Yet, in addition to that the last bonus effect caused me to furrow my brows slightly.

Holding open my cloak I look down at the equipment I’m wearing. Surely enough the originally brown leather of my armour had turned white, some parts almost silver. The rest of my equipment is completely white as well, like I had gone swimming in a vat of bleach.

Even my weapons maintained were altered. It was only a superficial changes, everything still appeared to be the same materials, simply a different colour.

In a sense of curiosity I stuck a hand under my hood and removed a few strands of hair. Letting out a sigh of relief, at least my hair was still its original colour.

The skill promoted me with some odd sacred arts as well. I press on them to view their information, revealing they were all related to the bonus effect of being able to leave an afterimage of myself.

‘Multi Mirage’ caused multiple afterimages to appear at irregular places, ‘Pincer’ would create two images of me mirrored on three sides of an opponent, and ‘Back Stab’ would basically transport me behind the target, leaving behind my original image that the enemy would attack while I stabbed them in the back.

The only down side was they took off massive portions of my stamina, using a corresponding eighty percent, sixty percent, and fifty percent. But that should lessen once I level up more and use the skills enough to lower the cost slightly.

They were excellent sacred arts, this ability to create false images of me could be incredibly useful in a fight. But I can’t help but notice they will become less effective with more opponents. I was the warrior that specialized in one on one fighting.

The rest was too good to be true. I even got a cooking skill! The timing could not have been any better. I should possibly test out my new post bonus speed. If I’m not used to it I won’t be able to fight properly.

“Fen,” I call out to the full sized wolf, who was busy eliminating the goblins that came to attack me while I was reading my new class skill, “As soon as you finish that goblin let’s race back to Iceridge, if you can beat me I will do whatever you want for an entire day!”

Fen’s ears shot straight up, immediately killing the last goblin with ice bolts in an instant, penetrating it from five different directions.

The wolf turned to look at me before taking the lead with an early start.

‘She doesn’t know what she is getting herself into.’

I laughed inside my mind as I took off. The extra thirty percent plus agility bonus surprised me. It didn’t exactly make me feel lighter or like I was running faster, but each time I pushed off one of my feet it was like I was throwing the world behind me.

I actually felt somewhat of an out of body experience while running behind Fen. Glancing around me at all the trees I notice something out of the corner of my eye. There was someone chasing us, about ten meters behind me. They are incredibly quick, running almost as fast as I am.

I make a sharp turn to stop whoever it is, only to see a man in a white cloak made of a trimmed fur. I see an exact image of me.

Moments after I stop, all of a sudden the image breaks into a mist and is gone in seconds. Is this what the afterimage of me running is?

‘Oh no! I completely forgot about the race with Fen!’ 

Coming to realize that I was the hare who had just stopped for a break I take off in the direction the wolf had gone, leaving the afterimage of me standing behind. Activating ‘Perceptual Sight’, I used the heightened senses to weave through the trees much smoother, travelling through them faster than before.

As I break out of the woods, Iceridge is on the horizon and Fen is only a hundred meters in front of me. If it wasn’t for the new class skill, I would have no chance of winning this race. But right now I have the speed boost to overtake the wolf with half the distance left. Speeding over the landscape I make sure to keep an eye behind me in case Fen tries anything.

And without a doubt the she did, she was so eager to win that she stooped to trying to sabotage me. Shooting ice bolts at me and in front of me.

Strangely enough though, she tried to interfere with my afterimage and not me. The ‘fake’ me also appears to be slightly more than just an image of where I was before. I imagined the image dodging the incoming attacks and to my surprise, instead of following the path I took, it seemed to follow my directions.

Running and trying to give directions to the mirage of me was incredibly difficult, to the point that even with the system assisting my commands the image dodged the attacks rather awkwardly. Eventually one of the attacks connected, immediately dispersing the image into mist.

‘She can’t see me! All that is visible is the afterimage!’ 

It was incredible information that would be useful in the future, as is the fact that the dismissal of the afterimage reveals my location. It only takes the stunned wolf a moment to recover before she sent more ice bolts, this time aimed at where I actually was.

But I had already left behind another after fake, swerving around the poorly aimed spikes of ice and lengthening the lead even more. It would be a little different in a confined space where my speed would be limited, but in the open expanse like this I clearly have the advantage.

The entire trip back I maintained the lead, touching the walls of Iceridge first. Fen was clearly in a bad mood. Her cheating had failed, causing her to lose the chance to order me around for a day. Well, I suppose maybe I will still play with her tomorrow like she would have wanted. I need to see how much easier my agility will rise. It was around the point of being at a standstill and not increasing very much, before getting the class skill that is.

“Fen, I’m sorry, but you will have to wait outside for today. I don’t have another scroll, but I will get one for next time if I can.”

The wolf let out some kind a snort and turned around, disappearing into thin mist that dispersed almost immediately.

‘I catch her in my locker once and now she has no problems coming and going whenever she pleases? Sheesh, what a bad sport, she only lost a race.’

I, on the other hand, am incredibly happy with the ability to create afterimages. I feel like all of a sudden I have run into a great fortune, gaining the upper hand in battle.

Putting aside all the self-gloating about my new class skill, I walk through the gates of Iceridge in order to sell the loot I have collected.

Inside the main courtyard, an incredible scene comes into focus. Thousands of players are blocked up all the way to the church, like some peak hour traffic jam. As I get closer I pick up various voices in the crowd.

“What the hell is this? I’m just here to buy the cooking skill and I have to wait in this frigging line?”

“I’ve been here for twelve hours already! How long is this going to take?”

“Everyone! I’m a celebrity in real life, make way!”

“Screw this! I will just buy food from stores. Hey! Get out of my way, I want to leave!”

Seems like over half the players from Iceridge have converged on this point to buy the cooking skill. It has been about twenty four hours since the update so most of these players must be tired and frustrated.

My limbs start shaking slightly and all of a sudden I notice how weak my body is feeling. It isn’t like how weary you feel when your health drops low, but almost like all my strength was being sapped away. Looking at my hunger bar I witness that it has dropped below twenty percent!

‘It was still at a hundred percent an hour ago! What happened to it?’

My thoughts roam back to the race. It looks like physical activity will deplete the hunger bar faster than it would naturally drop. Well, that certainly will make me pay closer attention to how often I use my speed. I probably should not use it unless I am in battle at the very least.

First, I need to sell all the loot I have collected. Planning on selling the most valuable items first, I walk into the jewellery shop and approach the young female clerk.

“Excuse me. I have some jewellery I would like to sell.”

“Oh! Umm,” The young lady turns her eyes away from me, acting incredibly meek, “What would you like to sell?”

“I have five pieces of jewellery here,” I place the items on the counter in between us, “some appear to be of higher value than others.”

“I-I see. By looking at them, how does f-fifteen gold for the lot sound?”

She seemed to be stammering a lot. Looking at the face in between her blonde bangs, she for some reason would not look me in the eye. Was she trying to rip me off?

“Do you think you could inspect them on more time?” I was happy with fifteen gold but I don’t want to be ripped off if they worth more.

“Ah! Well, they aren’t really worth any more. B-but would sixteen gold be better for you?” She seems incredibly nervous, she wasn’t like this last time.

“Yes, that should be fine. But please remember in the future I really do not appreciate being ripped off.”

“Of-of course!”

The clerk grabs a cloth out of her back pocket and gently dabs her forehead and cheeks, removing the cold sweat from them. I passed over the goods and once I received the money, two short messages appear in front of me.

You have extorted an innocent young female clerk.
Word of your deeds has spread throughout the land,
guards and NPC's alike will be more cautious of you.

Infamy + 50

Total Infamy: 50
With your true identity hidden, you have become known
as the 'Man in the Hood'. Any infamy or fame gained with this
identity will only be applied to the man known the 
'The Hooded Man'.
If any NPC discovers your true identity both reputations 
of 'Man in the Hood' and 'Lost' will be converged

New Title: (Man in the Hood)
Effects:
- Grants the holder a second identity.
- True identity hidden from all analysis skills.
- If true identity is discovered, this title becomes
invalid.

‘What the heck is this? I didn’t intimidate anyone!’ 

Thinking back I recall how ‘Aggravation’ got upgraded to ‘Intimidating Aura’ before becoming a part of my class skill. I glance back through it and see that it is indeed there, I must have not paid enough attention to where it speaks of my intimidating aura.

Plus, this title is extremely weird. It seems almost custom designed for me, but I assume anyone would get a similar title if they hid their identity for long enough.

I don’t particularly feel much from gaining a bit of infamy. it was bound to happen sooner or later anyway.

My next destination was the blacksmith, where the enormous blockade of players ended. I was fortunate the rusty armour sold for a great deal more than the rusty weapons. It turns out that scrap metal is sold by weight, and a chest plate can weigh up to fifteen times a standard sword.

Although, even the blacksmith seemed to be intimidated by my aura, despite the tough visage he usually gives off. I may have walked out with a few more coins clinking in my coin bag but it had cost me another ten points of infamy.

I didn’t even dispute his price, accepting what he originally offered still led to me gaining infamy.

At this point I had forty five gold coins in my possession. But that was reduced to thirty once I purchased a large quantity of cheap cooking equipment. I also stocked up a large quantity of proper precooked meals that had a decent lifespan, not that rubbish sugar food I had in my inventory.

One of the store clerks threw in a free water canteen with my purchase of food. But at the end of the day I garnered another fifteen infamy from the purchases, proving that every transaction with an NPC resulted in an infraction of infamy.

It is slowly turning into a bad situation. If I don’t do anything about this my infamy is going to rise every time I trade with an NPC. Eventually they will refuse to even trade with me and in the worst case scenario, I will even be denied entrance to the city.

I had originally considered purchasing some new skills to fill my newly freed skill slots, but one glance at the crowd of players that seemed even larger than before deterred me from doing so.

‘I don’t really need any new skills at the moment. Plus, the cost of them for me is enormous.’

Leaving the main courtyard behind me I travel around all the parks I am aware of, restocking my pile of herbs I use for healing myself and potion creation.

Inspecting the information of herbs I have gathered, my improved herbology also bears fruit. Where I previously could not determine any information about an unknown herb, I can now view the herbs name even if I don’t know the effect of it. ‘Green Paralysis Herb’ and ‘Fire Flower’ were two of the herbs in my inventory where the revealed name provided decent idea as to what their effects were, but there was a ‘Black N’ herb that I could not discern the effect of.

I left the city shortly after that, there was nothing left for me to do other than gather unnecessary infamy points.

Fen was back in the game and waiting outside the town. She seemed to be ignoring me but she quietly followed behind me as I headed off towards the ‘Unknown Goblin Lair’ for more training.

I was completely broke again, spending my last thirty gold coins on two scrolls of shrinking.

***************************************************
***************************************************

-Fen-

It was the first time Lost logged off in front of me that it happened. When I saw him disappear I desperately tried to find out where he went. From the point where he vanished I remember feeling some kind of distortion, making all the hairs on my body stand up.

Pushing myself into the distortion I felt like I was a trying to push myself into a tiny rabbit’s hole. After pushing on it for long enough however, it began to slowly be forced open by my body. Sliding deeper and deeper into the distortion I eventually seemed to fall in.

I fell for a long time, until I came out the other end of whatever kind of tunnel it was.

I was in a small room, and it was decorated extremely strangely. There were odd seats and furniture, not to mention all the mysterious machines around. Lost appeared to have left from here already, but unlike the earlier distortion, I could not tell where exactly where from or to.

I notice I was also a lot smaller than usual, the same as when he cast that spell to shrink me. I transform into my human form with a motion of standing up, getting a better view of the room. The alien view outside of the window was especially terrifying, I knew I had somehow left my world and entered another one, but it was such a shocking sight.

I haven’t revealed my human form to Lost yet, he is possibly the only one I can’t show it to. After all, not only am I terrified I might frighten him away with it, but it would also be far too embarrassing for him to see me without clothes on!

I had quite a lot of time to myself exploring this strange room before he got back. I spent most of it sitting on a couch playing with a strange machine on the table. After poking it a few times all of a sudden a black liquid came pouring out, spilling all over the table and even onto the floor.

Panicking, I found some kind of fabric cloth in the strange kitchen to wipe up the mess, which soaked it all up and surprisingly was still dry afterwards. There are a few cups on the table so clearly this stuff must be for drinking.

Placing the cloth down on the table, and one of the cups on top of it. I press the same button on the strange drink machine, picking it up and holding it over the cup so the strange liquid filled it. The cloth soaking up the rest that overflowed.

‘Bitter!’

The drink was horrible, how could someone drink this? I spent an hour taking little sips from the cup. Half way down the drink had gone completely cold. I couldn’t drink anymore even if I tried, so I poured the rest of it into the magic cloth.

I was lying down on the couch, completely exposed in my human form, when Lost appeared again. Fortunately the couch was facing the other way, so he could not see me, but it did not help my anxiety.

In my panic to get out of there I somehow recalled the feeling of the distortion, easily reopening it and entering back into my world, transforming into the wolf as soon as I got there. I was not a moment too soon, Lost appearing only seconds after me.

After that incident it was almost as if I was connected to the other side of the distortion, easily able to move in between. There was also the feeling that rather than entering into that other world, I was returning to it.

I started entering Lost’s room time he disappeared back to the other world. Only, I got a little to overconfident and got caught.

It was the day that he gave me the fluffy red and white hat. When I returned to the other world, the hat I was wearing had fallen over my eyes, causing me to walk into a cupboard.

Lost, hearing a strange noise that surely was not supposed to be there, came rushing over. That was when our eyes met, and I knew there was no escaping this one.

“Have you seriously been logging out into my VL every time I leave End Online?! Is that even possible?!”

His voice contained an extremely large amount of surprise. He used some strange terms I was unfamiliar with, but I could tell that at least he wasn’t mad like I thought he would be.

He didn’t do anything else, not expecting a wolf like me to be able to answer him, so he walked off shaking his head. He was completely gone by the time I came around the corner to follow him.

I transform back into an eighteen year old girl. Sitting on the couch, I have slowly acquired a taste the black liquid over time and could pleasantly drink it now. It was quite a risqué scene, but there was no shame as long as no one ever saw it…

***************************************************

When we returned to what Lost called ‘End Online’ he proposed a race to me back to the city, Iceridge. He also promised he would do anything I liked for a whole day!

I had a few thoughts about what I would do, but having him play fight with me would be a waste of an opportunity. Maybe we could go hunting for the succubus and cause her pain. He did say he would do whatever I wanted!

I made up my mind as to exactly what I wanted. Steeling my resolve I eradicated the goblin in front of me and took off, eager to get as much of a lead as I could. I was extremely confident in my speed, but I was more than aware of how fast he was. It was that speed of his that originally impressed me after all.

The contest took us through the woods where I somehow managed to create a large gap between us. But his speed was somehow beyond what I remembered, closing the gap by the time I was half way towards the city.

The terrain was rough, and four legs should technically hold the advantage, but he kept closing the distance. Before he got too close I sent off some ice bolts to slow him down at the very least.

I finally hit him with one but for some reason he disappeared as if he was never there! Another image of Lost appeared slightly in front of me. I have no clue what he is doing, but even as I continue sending ice bolts at him, every time he all of a sudden is no longer there but somewhere else instead. Each time he moves he is even further ahead too!

The rest of the contest was so unfair I got angry at myself for not doing better. If I was in human form I would have been faster! The same human form I wanted to reveal to him, then use my demands to have him buy me clothes and spend a day with just me! No hunting, no parties, just him listening to my demands for a day!

Fuming I retract myself from the world, back to the ‘Locker’.

***************************************************
***************************************************

-Lost-

We spent the entire next week in the ‘Unknown Goblin Lair’. I was a little concerned that Verde hadn’t logged on since the incident. I really wanted to apologize to her.

I had also been back and forth to town multiple times already, just to sell loot and ensure I have enough shrink scrolls for Fen. Thanks to that my infamy has climbed to a grand total of 145. The guards were already warning me to watch myself.

“Fen, let’s head down to the next level, we are already strong enough.”

I was already too strong for the goblin warriors, to the point it would have been one hit kills if I had weapons more appropriate to my level. Not only that, but I had also figured out the secret methods to silently activating my new sacred arts.

We walk down another small ridge along a wall to get to the third floor.

It was strange down here. The air was just as dry as the rest of the dungeon, yet there was a humidity in the air that even I could feel through my cloak, causing me to start sweating. We run into the first group of goblins down here. It is another group of ten, but only five of them are ordinary goblins. Three are goblin warriors, and the other two are something new, wearing torn robes and twisted oak staves.

“Analyse!” Calling my skill I see their name, confirming my suspicion.

Name: Goblin Mage
Level: 65
Health: 412
Magic: 332
Stamina: 0

??

Yes, they exist, goblins with brains.

Without giving them time to react, Fen and I sprint forward to take the initiative. My speed becomes extremely confined when fighting the goblins in close quarters, preventing me from creating false images of me half of the time. Thankfully I learned to fight before I had them, so I am more than competent.

While running down the corridor however, I can take full advantage of my speed, leaving afterimages for the goblin mages to shoot their fireballs at. Which they do.

The goblins are stunned for a moment, but they seem to lack enough brainpower to actually think about the situation and continue attacking,

As we get closer, Fen launches her signature ice bolts. Meanwhile, tuning my mind to operate my afterimage, I use about forty percent of my stamina and activate ‘Back Stab’.

All I need to do is manipulate the shadow image behind to attack the target. It would not do any damage though, it’s all just for show. But once I do that I can allow the system to teleport me behind the opponent.

The movement is quite simple, while the enemy is concentrating on the enemy in front of it I appear from behind and deal a critical hit.

Just like I do on this goblin mage, Its magic may be powerful but like all mages, their physical defence is weak and a critical hit from me leaves it with less an a quarter health remaining.

I quickly finish it off and move to the goblin mage next to it, removing the bulk of the goblins firepower. I am currently a little sour however as Fen is getting at the very least two of every three kills. My level had grown to level 46, but Fen’s had grown to 49.

My Agility had shown significant growth too, gaining about seven points. Not to mention my intelligence stat is back up to ten thanks to casting the magic from the scrolls of shrinking.

Using scrolls doesn’t improve intelligence much, but it does raise the stat slowly. My class skill began to increase in level as well, but the growth was incredibly slow and apart from weapon damage increases, the rest of the bonuses increased slowly as well.

Name: Lost(Man in the Hood)
Health: 453/640
Stamina: 214/237

Lvl: 46
Lvl UP: 44%

Str: 54 +10
Agi: 178 +40
Dex: 53 +23
Int: 10
Mnd: 38
Lck: 20

Infamy: 145
Alignment: +0
God: -
Belief: 0

Equipped Skills:
Class Skill: White Warrior    (SLvl 5, 72%)
[Unavailable]
Potion Production                (SLvl 11, 68%)
Mining                                    (SLvl 1, 0%)
Smithing                                 (SLvl 1, 0%)
[Empty]
[Empty]
[Empty]
[Empty]

Reserve Skills:
[Empty]

I had personally thought the third floor of the dungeon would be harder than this.

Fen and I continue exploring the third level relentlessly, If we didn’t I would not make enough money to afford Fen’s shrink scrolls.

It turned out the wolf had satiety requirements as well, and consumes about five times what I do. It had only been a week and the massive quantity of food I stocked up was already nearly exhausted.

I wander around with Fen for the good part of a few hours, eliminating various groups of goblins.

We enter an area slightly larger than the rest, the path opening up into a large area. My eyes go straight to the centre of the room, resting on a typical wooden chest.

‘Loot!’

Well, I do consider that it is probably of a trap or that the chest is trapped itself, but the possibility of gaining items I can sell far outweighs that.

There appears to be no signs of any goblins in the area, and inspecting the trap revealed no obvious trap triggers, but then again I do not have any kind of trap detection skill. Without any other method of determining if there is a trap or not I open the chest.

Inside I can see the loot on the floor of the chest, but a loot menu also appeared in the chest, facing upwards.

Loot:

◊ 36 Gold Coins
◊ 27 Silver Coins
◊ Meridium boots of Haste

Take  /  Take All

There is no need to select what I wanted individually, I immediately press ‘Take All’. Opening my inventory I go to inspect what these boots were, but a low growl coming from the wolf behind me prevents me from going any further.

Turning my head I see what has Fen on edge. There are countless goblins climbing out of holes in the walls. They quickly number about fifty, half of which are goblin warriors, and half of the remainder being goblin mages.

‘Hah, so that is why the loot menu of the chests are inside of it. You have to bend down to read it which allows monsters to sneak up on you.’

I do admire the creativity that was put into the ‘chest ambush’.

I am brought back to reality by the completely unknown goblin at the very front of the horde, It stood a monstrous two meters tall, and with a black solid metal plate armour covering its entire torso and shoulders. However the most domineering factor of it was the enormous quantity of fat all over its ugly green body.

‘Guess blunt weapons would be useless here, it would just absorb the blows with its fat’

On its belt was some kind of shortshort which I felt an overpowering urge to own. It was beautiful, a pure white hilt of wrapped leather. But the most eye catching was small carved ruby embedded at the base of the blade, which seemed to emanate a faint warmth.

‘It may be small, but that gem will surely be worth a fortune! I may not be able to sell it for cash, but I could get enough gold to last months!’

It has a strange blade though. Not because it was perfectly straight unlike my slightly curved swords, but in respect to how the cutting edge of my blades is on the side that curved at the end to meet the tip, it was on the other side of the blade. Almost as if the sharpened edge was on the back.

In its hands though is some kind of oversized cudgel with fragments of some form of crude metal seemingly growing out of the wooden weapon. It wielded it in a single hand and I suspect it is a slow weapon, easy to avoid with my speed.

“Fen, take care of the mages first! Then eliminate all the warriors around the big one. Get rid of all the small fry so they don’t get in the way!”

Giving my orders, we both rush into combat. Fen unleashed a rain of smaller ice bolts, dealing damage in a larger area at the cost of concentrating damage on individual goblins.

“Analyse!”

Name: 'Grigor' (Boss Class)
Level: 110
Health: 3440
Magic: 0
Stamina: 2120

??

‘A boss monster!’

With a nearly full stamina bar I activate ‘Multi Mirage’. To silently do this I extend my mind and visualize multiple images around the enemy, choosing one to be the ‘real’ me. The rest is controlled by the system.

I can never get completely used to my viewpoint completely changing locations, but at least the system transitions the shift to be easier on my eyes.

Eight images of me spread out assault the horde from various directions. Well, technically only one of me does the attack. I can’t control seven fakes very well, so all I can have them do is either rush in and make a couple of blind swings to distract some of the enemies, or be exact reflections of my actions.

I am incredibly lucky that this room was larger than the rest of the dungeon paths and areas, allowing me to use all my skills. Although this skill is extremely ineffective against large numbers of enemies, it is sufficient to create a safe distance between me and the boss goblin Grigor.

The flurry of ice bolts onto the enemy kills a few goblins, but most of the goblin mages survive the onslaught and release their own magic. Fireballs arc the air at Fen and the reflections of me. Our speed far outclassed the attack so we manage to dodge them easily enough, only a few of my mirages becoming casualties.

I launch my throwing knives at the goblins before they get too close to me, the copies of me do the exact same, confusing the goblins. Except, only my knives deal damage, the fake knives do stick into the goblins where they hit, but they are just fakes in the end.

The goblin Gigor approached one of my mirages, and with it weapon leaving a red trail of light along its path, swung it single handed down onto a mirage of me. The felt the entire earth shake from the blow. If that was the real me underneath, it would surely be a one hit kill.

The goblins get too close to continue throwing knives at them, so dashing forward I carve my way through the small fry, killing most of the previously damaged goblins in one hit.

The goblin mages did not just shoot fireballs at us, they also spawned pillars of flame from the earth. Due to being unaware of one until it broke through the ground, all the remaining images of me were dispersed. They also spawned under my feet, only grazing due to me constantly moving, but each still removes ten percent of my health.

Fen has the flame pillars under control, creating a disc of ice underneath her that negated each pillar of fire, turning into steam in the process.

My first goal is the goblin mages, but Grigor was heading in my direction so I had to be quick. Two more pillars graze by my feet, bringing my health just under half way. But I manage to quickly make short work the final few mages.

The remaining goblins encircle me. There were only about ten left, including the boss, but I have had some bad experiences being surrounded by these little green creatures.

They all swarm in to attack at once, the minor goblins the fastest. Jumping at maximum speed, I leave an afterimage of myself still standing for them to attack while I break their encirclement.

The minor goblins immediately slash the image, watching it disappear as if it was never there before spotting me soaring over them. I am passing over Grigor by the time he notices, which is too late for him to respond with an attack before I pass by.

Except, Grigor proved to be surprisingly dexterous and agile. Leaning backwards, he swung the oversized cudgel at me as I am directly above him. Swatted like an insect, I flew across the cavern and into the wall, my health flashing red and five seconds of being dazed left me in a critical condition.

When the daze effect is lifted, I only have seconds before the goblins reach where I landed.

Fen was doing a good job at flanking the enemy and picking off the minor goblins with her ice bolts, but they were all already caught under my ‘aggro’, and would only attack me.

Opening my inventory I quickly grab a handful of green medicinal herbs, stuffing them in my mouth before escaping from the approaching goblins. My entire body feels like it’s about to collapse but I manage to keep my distance while my health slowly recovers. In the end I barely manage to recover a third of my health.

‘If I had known I would be fighting a boss, I would have prepared potions beforehand! Even if they taste disgusting.’

The rest of the minor goblins are already finished by Fen, and she starts launching various ice attacks at Grigor. The boss however seems to shrug off her attacks, most of them not even penetrating its skin.

The boss’s health drops by about twenty percent from Fen’s entire onslaught. But it is already close enough to strike me, launching another earth shattering sacred art at me.

“Back Stab!” I don’t have any time to think, nor can I concentrate enough to do a silent activation. I transport behind Grigor, narrowly escaping the attack by using the entirety of the stamina I had recovered.

Not wasting the opportunity, I stab both of my swords overhead and into the centre of the boss’s back. It may have been wearing armour, but striking any defensive equipment other than a shield is the same as striking the body.

My attack cuts sharply into its back, critical damage removing a further fifteen percent of its health. The cudgel comes swinging around along with the rest of the boss, but I had already witnessed how quick it could move and would not be falling prey to it again.

I narrowly escape the blow, the wind pressure does a little damage and blows me back a couple of meters further than I had intended. But I would call the attack successfully dodged.

The ‘aggro’ effect on Grigor all of a sudden wore off and he turned his attention towards the little white wolf, completely out of magic, dashing back and forth slashing at his ankles.

Pointing the cudgel at the ground, A red glow signalled a sacred art.

“Fen! Get away from there!” Panicking, I shout out to the wolf, trying to warn her.

But my warning came too late. Driving the cudgel into the ground like a tombstone, a shockwave buffeted the room. I was far enough away and even I took damage. Fen, who was much closer to the origin of the force, gets blown away, lying limply on the ground ten meters away.

“FEN!” I run over as fast as I can, any blow that could launch something weighing over two thousand pounds was sure to cause serious damage.

Through the party window on the side of my vision, I could see Fen was not dead, but that attack immediately had put her in a near critical state. There was also a strange icon I had not seen before flashing next to her name. Judging from her not moving and the icon, I will assume that it means she is unconscious right now.

Consuming a few more herbs, I rush at the boss. Any afterimage I had gets dismissed when I land an attack but it only takes me a moment to leave another one and escape its attacks. I may be acting reckless, but there was no timer on Fen’s negative status effect and I could not possibly pick up her enormous weight and move her to safety.

The only method to keep her safe right now was to get the boss’s attention, hoping I will be able to ‘aggro’ it again.

However, Grigor is still intent on attacking Fen, barely even swinging his weapon at me. With forty percent health left the boss was getting closer to the wolf step by step.

Glancing at my health, the herbs have recovered enough that I should be able to take an ordinary swing or two from its club. But if it uses a sacred art it is all over.

I don’t want to lose Fen! Despite everything, she has been the best partner to have.

My health is low, the same as my hunger and thirst bars. My entire body right now feels heavy and exhausted, as if there was a great weight on my shoulders.

Pushing myself to move as fast as I can manage, I appear in front of the boss. My first strike is a critical hit along his throat, but the subsequent moves were random hacks to anything I could reach. I was getting to the point where I could no longer leave afterimages from my speed alone.

Grigor’s eyes shift to me. Good! I have his attention and probably ‘aggro’ now. He suddenly grips his weapon in both hands, the club emitting the red hue of a sacred art!

‘NO! I won’t survive that!’

My entire mind goes in to panic mode. I instinctively resort to my primal instinct to protect as much of myself as possible, crouching down as low as I can and covering my head.

My weapons leave my hands as drop down, bringing my chest to my knees with my hands protecting my head.

I feel a strong wind pressure pass through me, rocking me back and forth. Slowly opening my eyes, I saw that the attack had just narrowly passed over my head.

If Grigor was any shorter I would have been doomed.

Jumping back, I started laughing like some evil genius who had just defeated the hero. Not because I felt like I had won, but because some crazy laugh was the only way to restrain my anxiety and stop my legs from shaking.

This was a game, there was no gore, not much pain, yet right in front of me I almost lost Fen forever.

I kept some distance now that the boss monster had the ‘aggro’ status, leading it away from my downed companion.

With Fen out of danger, I start launching my high speed attacks again, treating its defence like paper. I couldn’t create the afterimage but I landed multiple critical hits, and barely received any damage thanks to only striking as I pass by the boss, out of reach by the time it could react.

Once Grigor’s health reached five percent, he underwent a change in his attacks. Swinging his club in a frenzy, I was taken by surprise at the ferocity of it.

But the attack is not enough to finish me, as soon as the cudgel came swinging in my direction the contest was over. The weapon passed right through me, or at least, it passed right through a mirage of me.

While being surprised, I did not lose my composure. Silently activating ‘Back Stab’ and using two swords, eradicate the remainder of Grigor’s health.

The massive goblin drops to his knees. Falling face first on the ground and signifying the end of the battle. The corner of my view showing notifications that I had gained a level. It said that five times.

Now that combat has finished, all of the dead bodies generated loot boxes above their corpses, flooding the area.

The most important look however was the boss’s. It dropped twenty gold coins, its armour and fortunately the sword from its belt. Bringing up the boots I garnered from the chest before the battle, I inspect all the loot I gained.

Old Bronyx Plate Armour
Plate armour that has never been repaired or maintained. It is
only in one piece today thanks to being made of pure bronyx,
an extremely tough metal that will slowly self regenerate over 
time. Any serious damage will not be repaired but scratches and 
cracks will.

Requirements:
- Level 98
- Str 84 
- Agi 51

Armour Type: Bronyx(Heavy)
Defence: 82
Durability: 52/60
Weight: 90lbs
Fire Resistance: 30%
Slash Resistance: 15%

Abilities:
Durability will self-repair. However, any durability lost 
under 30 must be manually repaired with bronyx.
- There is a 5% chance that fire attacks will be completely
nullified.
Meridium Boots of Haste
Boots made of the rare ore Meridium. The metal is rather
light and said to be easily enchantable. This pair of boots
in particularly have a strong haste enchantment on them.

Requirements:
- Level 64
- Agi 47
- Dex 22

Armour Type: Meridium(Medium)
Defence: 13
Durability: 35/35
Weight: 6.8lbs

Abilities:
- Movement speed increased by 10% when worn
Fire Imbued Meridium Scramasax
A scramasax made from high quality meridium. The ruby embedded
at the base of the blade has been around the goblin 'Grigor'
for so long that it has absorbed some of the goblin's fire
powers for attack and defence.
The metal has been tempered to have a sharper edge for longer,
but meridium is naturally stiff metal, causing it to easily
break under pressure.
The blade is 43cm long.

Requirements:
- Level 72
- Dex 65

Weapon Type: Single Edge/Short Sword
 Attack: 78 - 86
 Durability: 28/28
 Weight: 4.1 lbs

Abilities:
- Deals 7 - 11 Fire damage upon striking a target
- Can be used to cut/deflect minor fire magic.

What incredible equipment! But looking at the high requirements for them showed that this dungeon was clearly meant for players much higher levelled than me.

I also take note of these two new materials that the equipment is made of. Meridium appears to be a very stiff metal, quite strong but with a low durability. Bronyx was clearly your heavy armour providing fantastic defence that a tanker would wear, it even had a self-repair ability that massively increased its value.

Truthfully, I have been a little concerned with money, the apple sales have been great, but they barely payed for half of my expenses. I decide to keep the sword and sell the other two pieces of equipment. I could not use them anyway.

Walking across to Fen, I see that she is still unconscious. I think I may be able to wake her with cold water, but I have none left. Leaving her till she wakes up on her own I lie down and rest myself.

I held my left hand up and inspect the back of it. Just like I had heard, now that I was no longer under level 50, a black tattoo had shown itself on the back of my palm.

A symbol of a wolf inside a circle, the mark that I belong to the Kingdom of Glace.

My entire mind felt like it was still running on fumes. Mentally I was ready to collapse, but the game forcibly kept me awake in consideration to being inside a dungeon. Lying on the floor, my eyes are closed as I empty myself of all thoughts.

I don’t know how much time passed, the entire experience seemed to be out of focus from my exhaustion.

A faint nudge on the side of my face revealed Fen, wide awake and full sized. Standing up, there is a slight pain as my mind still seems to be spinning from the high speed movements in battle.

“I’m glad to see you are okay Fen, that one was far too close. I don’t want to lose you, you know.” I had a gentle touch to my voice, all my past anxiety turning into relief and calmness inside of me.

The wolf glances down, regretting its carelessness.

“Well it’s time to go, let’s shrink you down and-” I was cut off by a voice speaking directly into my head

“Lost, are you there? I need help. I logged back on where I left in the dungeon. I don’t think I would be able to get out by myself and Sir Laurence is currently offline.”

It was Verde! Back online finally after a week.

I was extremely unsure as to whether I should go and help or not though. While I did want to apologise to her, I feel scared to face her again after what I did.

“Please, Lost.”

“Don’t worry. I am nearby and on my way.”

How could I possibly refuse her when she asks like that.

“Fen,” I address the wolf behind me, “There is a slight change of plans. Verde is stuck in this dungeon so we are going to go escort her outside along the way.”

As I go to pull out a scroll of shrinking, a pair of slender arms suddenly wrap around me, pinning my arms to my side and preventing me from moving. My heart skips a beat, I can feel the body of the person behind me to be about nearly my size, but my equipment prevents me from discovering more.

Before I have time to react to the threat, a voice enters my ear.

“Don’t… Go to her. She is a liar. Let her die and just stay with me…”

While Verde’s voice was intoxicating. This crystal clear voice is pervading, causing my whole body to react, and leaving a longing to feel it again when it was gone.

Going from the events of me telling the wolf what we were doing to this person behind me. It couldn’t be.

“Fen?” I try to turn around but the grip of the person tightens, crushing my arms and preventing me from looking at them.

“NO!…” I sense a vague sense of uncertainty in the voice, “You can’t turn around. I don’t have any… Clothes…”

What I couldn’t feel was the shape of her body, although my mind was currently in the process of filling in the blanks from my imagination.

What I could feel however, was all the heat inside my body rising to my face.

Next Chapter

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