Chapter 10 – Leaz in Trouble!

Authors Note: Some of you will like the in depth about information about cooking, some of you will feel it is a bit much, This is a one time thing just to allow you to understand how detailed cooking in End Online is. Although, I must say, what a wonderful recipe it is. If you wanted to add it to your mother’s cook book, who could blame you, I’m sure she would be delighted to have it.
You can now get the paperback copy of End Online – Volume 1. Head over to the ‘Purchase the Book’ page for the details. The more orders we get, the cheaper it will be for everyone too!

-Lost-

I arrive at the north gate with Fen in mere minutes. Although unfortunately, it appears Verde is not here yet.

“Fen, please do at least try get along with her.”

I question whether the two of them in a party together was a good idea, but it should work out. My biggest worry is this girl in front of me, giving me a blank stare and refusing to answer.

Turning away from the look she is giving me, I notice Verde approaching from down the path

She is strangely wobbly on her feet, almost as if she is… Drunk.

“I-I’m here! *hic*” Verde is also talking a little loud, most definitely drunk

“Thanks for coming, I’m sorry for the trouble!”

“N-no not at all!” Franticly waving her hands in the air, her face turns red.

“Mmm, shall we head off?”

“Yes, I think that would be best, the Swords of Light guild are probably on a search for us *hic* as we speak.”

“Isn’t that just great,” Kneading my temples I still have the headache from earlier, and the thought of those guys chasing us did it no favours, “Do you know the way? I remember you saying that you had been up north before.”

“I actually have a map from when I went there last!”

“Then please, I will leave you to lead the way.”

Our conversation started off a little stiff, but it eased off and we gradually became more natural talking to each other. 

My initial opinion of this girl was like a goddess. She walked passed me in the bazaar and it was like everything else was gone except her. And then she disappeared, as if she was merely a fragment of my imagination.

After that, she appeared in front of me once again. My impression of her changed, she seemed like she had ulterior motives. Then, the kiss happened and an awkward tension separated us.

As of right know, the awkwardness is still there, but it is slowly fading away. I am happy that Verde is coming with us. She is, after all, the closest thing to a friend I have in this game.

Opening my menu, I know exactly what to look for this time, initiating the party invitation in only a moment.

I would have enjoyed spending more time in Iceridge, at least to restock my herbs. However, Verde has a point about the Swords of Light finding us. The only method of losing them is to get far enough away that if they do use a locate spell on me, I will be far enough away and they won’t bother chasing me.

With Verde taking the lead, the three of us casually stroll out the north gate, putting Iceridge behind us. There is a small sense of loss, like when moving house, but there is also the excitement of new exploring new areas.

We walk through a wolf hunting ground full of new players, one that holds some rather nostalgic memories for me. A few wolves break off from the new players to come attack me, sensing my intimidating aura and feeling like I am the biggest threat that needs eliminating. 

Players shout at me for using an ‘Aggro’ skill on the wolves they are fighting, but I pay no heed to them. Any wolves that attack me receive one of my blades flashing through them.

Most players shut their mouths after seeing me easily kill a wolf in one strike, yet there are a few that continue making a racket. Sorry, but this skill of mine did not come with an ‘off’ button.

Looking at Fen next to me, it seems she has not even deemed the players worth her attention. Following suit, we pass through the area with no complications, only a few yells trailing behind us.

Verde didn’t seem to notice them much at all, still a little drunk. Considering one of this game’s alcohol inhibition features, she is still a little off balance on her feet. She is most likely simply concentrating on walking straight.

A little past the field I pick up a glint of silver coming from the trees in front of us. A player exits the particular dense crop of trees in question as we get closer, walking directly towards us. For some odd reason, Prince Charming has appeared directly in front of us.

“My Lady,” He spoke, going to one knee in front of Verde, “I was just heading back to Iceridge when I saw you. Is there anything I can do for you?”

“Oh,” She tries to sound surprised, but doesn’t seem to be in the slightest, “Lost and I are currently going to the Forste, would you like to come?”

“My lady, it would be my honour. I would happily go anywhere if it was with you.”

“Well, I guess that should be fine? Is it okay with you, Lost?”

Verde turns to me, waiting for an answer.

“It’s fine, just give me a moment to send the party invite.”

I get the feeling that this encounter is not as coincidental as it may first seem. I only wonder because the entire conversation between Prince Charming and Verde seems scripted.

Far too scripted. 

However, I will let Prince Charming into the party anyway. He seems rather obsessed with Verde and would probably follow us regardless. At least he can be useful as a good meat shield against the enemies.

The prince shortly spots Fen, who is currently slightly behind me. I glimpse a strange light enter his eyes upon seeing her. Actually, it makes me feel a little scared.

Faster than I have ever thought he could move, he circles us and approaches the wolf girl.

“Princess,” Down on one knee again, his head facing the ground with one hand clenched and held to his chest, “It is my honour to be in your presence. May I have the pleasure of knowing your name?”

Verde and I are both stunned and gaping at the sight. I am shocked at how this guy has the nerve to shamelessly hit on two women at once. I assume Verde feels the same, who wouldn’t be after seeing such a sight?

Fen walks around behind him, gently placing a hand on the back of his head.

“…Idiot…”

A small flurry of snow is raised as Prince Charming’s pretty face plummets into the snow, a soft ‘thud’ marks his face connecting with the earth beneath. With considerably more force than when she attacks me, the victim’s health visibly drops by twenty percent with a ‘stunned’ status next to it.

‘No mercy!’ The thought resounds through my mind.

As soon as he can move again he stands up, pretending nothing at all happened. However, Verde whispers something into his ear and his composure breaks, a look of shock coming over his face as he looks at Fen.

After the drama, we decide to simply continue our journey. Encountering various animals along our walk, I remember to analyse every single one. After a few kills, I even manage to gain more information about some of them. 

Name: Snow Rabbit
Level: 2
Health: 21
Magic: 0
Stamina: 0

The snow rabbit has extremely acute senses. Its ears are
capable of sensing the faintest vibrations in the air,
causing it to flee at the slightest movement around it.
Name: Thèr Deer
Level: 4
Health: 29
Magic: 0
Stamina: 10

The antlers of this deer are highly valued by poachers all
over the continent. However they must be cut off while the
Thèr Deer is still alive, else the creatures essence is 
drained from them and they lost their value.
The Thèr Deer is extremely agile and the density of their 
antlers are incredibly tough

They were not very strong and dropped next to no experience,. A single throwing knife from a discreet location was usually enough to kill one.

While I did try and cut off some Thèr Deer’s antlers once the information of their value was revealed to me, I could not even manage to remove a single one. They were not only incredibly tough, but more so they were classed as shields for the deer. Meaning, no amount of speed to negate their defence, I needed brute strength to break them off.

I was quite surprised at first. In the loot menu of these animals, I had the option of using my cooking skills to harvest the corpses for meat. Eventually, I had managed to secure a decent amount of both ‘Snow Rabbit Meat’ and ‘Thèr Deer Venison’.

We crossed paths with only a few players. Some were in parties that offered for us to join them and form a bigger party, discouraging any potential player killers. Others practically begged to join our party, after seeing Verde and Fen that is.

Prince Charming was always alert of these kinds of people and would usually chase them away, shouting out ridiculous lines such as, “You should be beheaded, laying your filthy eyes all over my lady in such a way!”

Fen on the other hand, didn’t even notice them! Sticking relatively close to me, I did not see her spare each any more than a glance. Although, while hanging off my arm, she would occasionally gaze up at me with hungry eyes.

As the sun begins to sink on the horizon, vibrant hues of red and orange lighting the sky, I spot a small thicket of trees together. There is nothing different about the trees themselves, but something about how they were placed seems to attract my attention.

‘That’s it! It has a similar feeling to the parks back in Iceridge!’

Leading the party to the spot, I inspect the area by brushing the snow aside at various spots. Fen joins me in brushes aside snow in random spots and surely soon enough, I find a green medicinal herb.

Delighted at my find, I got Fen’s help with finding a large amount of various herbs in the area. I am forced to prevent her from actually pulling out the herbs from the ground, considering she destroys them every time she tries.

Behind a tree, I also discover some kind of strange blue berry bush. It only stands about half way up my shins, and has a mere three bunches of berries attached to it. From the bush, I collect a total of forty five berries.

 “Analyse!”

Winter Berry
??
    
Requirements for Use:
- Adequate Herb/Cooking Knowledge

Item Type: Berry

Effects:
??

‘Orange! It’s a rare item!’

I tried eating one to test the effects and it felt like there was a cube of ice travelling down my throat. Coughing a few times, a chill spread throughout my body, freezing me from the inside out. 

Fen puts one in her mouth too and also starts coughing shortly after swallowing it.

“Analyse!”

Winter Berry
A rare berry that is sometimes found in cold or icy
climates.
Drops the temperature of the body from the inside
out
    
Requirements for Use:
- Adequate Herb/Cooking Knowledge

Item Type: Berry

Effects:
- +7% Ice Resistance
- 20% Chance of contracting a cold.

The amount of information revealed by eating a single berry was incredible, although I did just experience the effect of the berry with my own body. Placing the rest in my inventory I decide to try the rest of my unknown herbs.

In turn, I broke into a fever, suffered a full body paralysis, and the ‘Black N’ herb has caused my vision to corrode for a full five minutes!

Having herbal proficiencies in a legendary skill is definitely devastating when even eating herbs raw. A single green medicinal herb would currently heal about forty health in ten seconds, just as useful as my original potions.

Verde and Prince Charming came over as the sky fades into night.

“Lost,” Verde spoke to me first, “it’s about time for dinner. All of our hunger should be pretty low now as well. Sir Laurence has a large amount of bread we can eat for tonight. I doubt it is very nice but it’s something.”

“Actually, thanks to all the meat I collected today, I thought we could have something cooked.”

“Oh, you managed to buy the cooking skill?!”

“Mmm, well, not exactly. I kind of got it elsewhere.”

“You must tell me where!”

“Forgive me, but it would be useless to you.”

Apologizing to Verde, she and the prince silently agreed we would have proper cooking tonight. 

Nearly Every production skill, from crafting weapons to creating potions, was extremely simplified in order to avoid teaching actual skills people may be able to use outside of the game to harm others. 

Other skills, such as tailoring, were more in depth and often requiring manuals to learn how to do properly. Cooking was possibly the most advanced skill in that regard, aiming to imitate real life cooking in the game. It not only taught fantastic skills, but allowed people to bring their skills in to the game as well.

In the real world, I am quite the formidable chef

Opening my inventory, I place a few wooden boards down on the ground. Removing a large portion of each meat out of my inventory, I begin cutting them up into slices and laying them out on the boards. Naturally, I ensure to cut off the excess fat as I go.

Recruiting Fen, she may not be able to do any cooking but I have her clear a large area of snow for us to cook and sleep on. Meanwhile, the other two party members leave to collect firewood.

The sky is nearly pitch black by the time everyone is done with their tasks. A camp fire is fortunately burning thanks to Prince Charming having a flint and steel, at first we all turned to panic when we realized we couldn’t ignite the flame.

A large iron cauldron full of snow is situated on a tripod above the fire. As soon as the snow melts and water boils, it will be time to cook the meat.

Unfortunately, meat is all I have, but if the prince shares around a small amount of bread as well it could be a nice meal.

There is only one difficulty I have, and that is that inside this game there are none of the herbs and flavourings of real life. The only flavourings in End Online you can use are the herbs connected to herbalism, which all have foreign tastes. The only thing left to do is use your better judgement and experiment.

At least, this is what I have learnt from the internet informing me that “there ain’t no salt n’ pepper” in this game, and the old lady at the apothecary telling me I can use herbs in cooking.

Bringing out my mortar and pestle, first off is to put something in the water to replace the salt I would normally put in. Going through my inventory though, I have an extremely limited number of available herbs. Making a decision, I take out five green medicinal herbs, grind them to dust and pour the contents in the large cauldron.

After mixing it through, I drop all the meat in and let it cook in the boiling water.

Thinking that the meat may become a little bland without anything extra, an idea comes to mind. Both the ‘Fire Flower’ and ‘Winter Berry’ have quite nice flavours, it is just the effects that taste bad. Grinding them up with a ratio of one flower to one berry, I create a paste where the hot and cold effects should cancel each other out, leaving the flavour behind. 

Using some spare firewood, I create a small fire next to the main one. On top of if the new mini blaze, I place a small pot with the new herb paste and a portion of the fat I previously removed from the meat.

Stirring it all together I slowly cook it until it becomes something similar to a thick red sauce. 

I am a little sceptical thanks to the colour, but a quick taste test reveals it to be rather nice, albeit a little spicy. As soon as I taste it, a message appears in front of me.

You have discovered Summer Hot Sauce!
Recipe will be added to current list of known recipes.

Summer Hot Sauce
A sauce created with a ratio of one Fire Flower to
one Winter Berry. Thanks to the Fire Flower being larger
in size the end result is it has the domineering flavour
in the mix. Thanks to it being filled with animal fat
it goes excellently with all meat
The sauce is filled with the heat of summer, when eaten
it will stave away the cold

Ingredients:
- 1 Fire Flower
- 1 Winter Berry
- 0.2lbs of Animal Fat

Method:
- Grind Fire Flower and Winter Berry in a Mortar 
and Pestle
- Add into pan with Animal Fat
- Cook until a thick sauce is produced

Effects:
- 20% Resistant to Ice attacks for 24 hours
- 30% Less chance of catching a cold for 24 hours

‘That’s incredible! Who knew cooking could have such an effect!’

Flabbergasted at the window before me, I realize I have a full recipe that nobody else knew about, and the effects are impressive as well. 

Tasting the meats and water also provided three new recipes, ‘Rejuvenating Water’, ‘Boiled Snow Rabbit Meat(Rejuvenating)’ and ‘Boiled Thèr Venison(Rejuvenating)’. I can check them all from my recipe menu, where I have a tab for potion recipes and one for cooking recipes. The items I currently have in my inventory also glow green on the recipes, allowing me to visibly see what I can and cannot create.

The lists are a little short, but surely they will grow over time.

With my cooking done, I serve up a four plates of meat, leaving Prince Charming to hand out bread. Of course, I didn’t forget to pour my new sauce over everyone’s meat. 

The thick slabs of juicy venison give everyone a sense of bliss, simply melting in the mouth. With the mouth-watering aroma it gives off, I am actually a little concerned it may attract some hostile beasts.

“This is delicious!” Verde exclaims, stuffing the food in her mouth, “Lost, what is your cooking skill level at? It must be quite high to have food tasting this good!”

Apparently the higher the cooking level, the better the food tastes, to the point where even a simple steak can become gourmet. But this food appears to me to be the result of two things.

Firstly, the fact that it is a part of a legendary skill. And secondly, combining skills, that being herbalism and cooking in this instance.

“It’s not very high,” I reply modestly, “I just have knowledge on how to cook is all.”

“That’s still amazing. I wish I could cook like this.” 

She has her hood down while eating the food so I can see her eyes sparkling across from the camp fire.

 “My lady, I will cook for you whenever you like!” Prince Charming starts his usual show off to Verde.

“But Sir Laurence, I didn’t think you had the cooking skill.”

“Well… No, not in the game. But, I’m sure I can still cook.” 

This guy, is he asking to cook for her in real life? She is definitely a beauty, more so than many of the famous models I have seen, but he really is set on her, isn’t he.

“…Lost… More…”

Fen turns my attention away from the other two and onto the empty plate she is holding. Fortunately, I had foreseen her having an appetite completely different than some ordinary girl her size. This is the exact reason why I used such a large cauldron. 

There is no more sauce left yet she happily finishes everything I cooked.

After cleaning up, Verde and Prince Charming pull out a sleeping bag each, the prince also removing an extra one for me on Verde’s request. Unfortunately, there are only three sleeping bags between us, but Fen deciding to stand guard for the night solves that problem.

Falling asleep in game is incredibly easy, you only need to follow a few simple steps. Get into a bed or sleeping bag at night. Close your eyes. Wish for sleep.

Oblivion.

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

When I open my eyes, I feel a pressure against my chest emanating a considerable amount of warmth. Looking down I see a lump of messy white hair sprawled all around inside the sleeping bag. 

The figure is making very slight breathing noises and upon brushing some of the hair aside, revealed Fen. The wolf girl has crawled into my sleeping bag sometime last night and is currently curled up, attached to my chest with one leg casually stretched out over me.

My chest thumps harder with the awareness of how close this girl is to me. She may be some kind of AI designed for this game, but right now in front of me is an adorable girl hiding in the sleeping bag, holding onto me.

Sweat trickling down my face, I consider waking her up. She seems so peaceful and content that my heart wavers, letting her remain sleeping.

A strange sound comes from below that causes me to open my eyes again. It almost sounds like someone chewing. 

Below my head Fen has pulled herself slightly closer to me and is chewing on my cloak. Gradually taking larger bites, she eventually places one that bit into my chest itself.

“Ouch!” 

Before she goes to land her second bite I awkwardly swing my only free hand to karate chop the top of her head with a considerate force. 

“What do you think you’re doing!? Glutton Wolf!”

The girl does not wake up, despite the edge of my hand coming down on top of her head. Her face emits a sly grin as she squeezes her body completely against mine.

Inwardly letting out a sigh, I climb out of the sleeping bag.

Fen wakes without my presence next to her, shortly following behind me with some lazy stretches. Verde and Prince charming appear to be waking up slowly too.

“Now that I think about it. Weren’t you supposed to be keeping watch last night? Fen?” I raise an eyebrow at the girl.

“I… got lonely…” She puts on a sorry face, but I highly doubt she is.

I decide not to interrogate her about it. Fen simply does what she wants, when she wants. It is considerably irritating at times, but she is always there when I need help.

Altering our direction slightly west, we travelled for a full week, equivalently three weeks in game. During that time, everything around us began to change. 

At first we travelled through various snow ridden areas of forests, hills, and even some frozen plains where the wind could freeze most players. Yet slowly the snow gradually gave way to the dirt and grass beneath it. 

Sometimes the others would log off. That idiot prince, as it turned out, was a university student and had classes from time to time. During the times when it was just me and Fen, we spend our time exploring the local areas.

Often we came across small towns where I have Fen sell any extra loot I had picked up. To my dismay, it turned out I still gain infamy points if I am in the same room. 

The further we travel, the more the snow starts fading away. As our surrounding slowly start to blossom into spring colours, the amount of players we encounter also increases. 

A group of two players trying to kill us had to be the most memorable moment for me. They had originally come over, mocking us after seeing the symbols on our hands, indicating we were from the Kingdom of Glace. 

Shortly afterwards they offered for the girls to join them and they would spare them, but not us two guys. Prince Charming, in the finest moments of his brilliance, decided to step forward and protect, “The beautiful ladies.”

As it turns out, those two players had only just reached level fifty without paying any attention to their stats. Sir Laurence was a level not much higher than them, but he had improved a lot since I saw him fight. 

His sword all of a sudden seemed to flow like water, cutting down his opponents easily. This is the reason in the game why people who simply try to get levels as fast as possible usually don’t have the strength to match them. It is also the easiest way for a player, such as this prince, to get the large red skull of a player killer on his back.

During our travels, I only manage to gain four levels, but I do level up some of my skills a fair bit.

Although, I was disappointed how ‘Potion Creation’ was not showing much progress. Despite its current level, it could not compare with the herbalism from my class skill, with raw herbs nearly as potent as potions themselves.

Name: Lost(Man in the Hood)
Health: 655/748
Stamina: 273/273

Lvl: 55
Lvl UP: 12%

Str: 55 +10
Agi: 180 +40
Dex: 56 +23
Int: 11
Mnd: 40
Lck: 22

Infamy: 190
Alignment: +0
God: -
Belief: 0

Equipped Skills:
Class Skill: White Warrior (SLvl 9, 47%)
[Unavailable]
Potion Production          (SLvl 14, 17%)
Mining                     (SLvl 1, 0%)
Smithing                   (SLvl 1, 0%)
[Empty]
[Empty]
[Empty]
[Empty]

Reserve Skills:
[Empty]

From time to time, I also check the auction on the two pieces of equipment I had put up.

Each time I do so however, I feel a sigh overcoming me. It had been a full week in real life and their value had only gone up to a hundred dollars each.

They should be more popular than this, considering that their requirements met what the current average player’s level was. All items that are for the average level of players are generally the most sought after items. But mine didn’t seem to be getting much attention for some reason.

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

Walking up a lush green hill we enter the town of Leaz. Taking a deep breath at the sight before us, smoke is rising from houses that are half burnt to the ground. There are even a few that are little more than scorched remains.

“I don’t understand, what could have happened here!?” Verde’s face looks mortified, disbelieving what has happened.

“Is it that bad?” I ask her, confused as to why she is so shocked.

“It is! This is a major town, over ten thousand people live here and it has its own garrison. How could it have possibly been destroyed like this!?”

I see, she is shocked at whom or what could do this. Even I can understand that this level of damage to a large town would have been done by quite the formidable force.

“Well, let’s go have a look around. Surely there are some residents left.”

It’s oddly quiet where we are, no NPC’s walking around, and no players either. Where exactly could they have gone?

Strolling through the town we split up into two groups, Fen coming with me as if it is simply the natural choice.

Walking directly into the centre of town, Fen and I turn left in our search for survivors. 

We make sure to check in every home that is not completely destroyed, in case people are hiding inside. I have Fen go in first whenever we do go inside. Not because of any possible danger, but because my intimidating aura would probably cause the people to think they are under attack again.

‘Every house is deserted. Surely there must be a few survivors, considering I haven’t seen any corpses. Did they flee the town?’

Fen leads the way into a large triple story building that still had the entire first floor intact. At first glance, the interior appears to be an inn. Fully equipped with a kitchen and a platform for a performer, what else could it be?

However, the entire upstairs was destroyed, eliminating the key feature of an inn, the guest rooms. Perhaps I could now call this a bar.

Standing behind a counter is a man with the physique of a barrel. Quickly ducking back outside the shop, I leave Fen to talk to him with the words I told her to say. 

Pressing the side of my face against the door, I listen to the conversation

“Young miss! Welcome! Sorry, but we currently have no rooms… Available. Can I help you with something else?”

“… What… Happened here…”

I frown slightly. She possibly could have worded it better.

“It was devastating,” the man sounds physically strained, “A week ago, during the middle of the night, we were the victims to an onslaught of Stone Kobolds. Normally we receive an attack by a single group of twenty or thirty, but our guards can always hold them off. However, this time, we received an attack of twenty thousand. There were even Boulder Ogres mixed in with the group.”

His voice grows even tighter as he continues to talk.

“I sent an urgent message to Forste as soon as it started. Alas, they could not make it in time… They took them! Men, women, children. There were next to no survivors, only a few survivors like me, cowering in hidden rooms.”

“Then, the worst came. A pitch black dragon easily a hundred meters long!”

I’m sure saying it was a hundred meters long is a bit of an exaggeration, but I wonder how bad it could have been. All hope drain from his voice after that, leaving only emptiness.

“It flew over once, and it breathed hell down onto Leaz… Our entire town… burned for six full days!”

“… Oh… Okay…”

Fen! How can you be so heartless! 

“Young lady, I can see you are not from around here. Did you come with any warriors?”

“… I did…”

“That’s great!” I can visualize his eyes sparkling just from his tone, “Would you please ask them to help us. Our townsfolk have been taken to the eastern mountain range and enslaved by the monsters. Who knows what they are having them do. Please, save them!”

“… No…”

I can feel tears of blood running down my face, why would you say “No”!? I did all the calculating, if I returned with even a few hundred prisoners I would surely gain enough fame to clear my slate of all the built up infamy. I don’t like being seen as a bad person.

A few footsteps later the door opens, causing me to lose balance but not completely fall over. Fen stands in front of me, looking at me as if not knowing what to do next.

“… I found out… What happened…” 

Behind her, I can see the inn owner crumpled over the counter, defeat riddling his face. 

“Argh! How could you!?” I nearly pull my hair out in frustration. 

Verde and Prince Charming approach us, showing proud looks on their face.

“Verde!” I call out before they can say anything, “Please go inside and offer our help to that man!” Bending forwards at a forty five degree angle from the waist, I beg her.

“W-What!?” She is stunned at my actions, “Why would you want me to do that.”

“I wish to do this quest and save the townsfolk, so please go accept the quest from the man in there.”

“Well,” I stand up straight to see the bottom half of her thinking face. “I heard the story from a family hiding in one of the houses. Apparently, the grim reaper covered the sky in darkness and rained down fire. Don’t you think it may be a little out of our league?”

“I believe there are some benefits I should not pass up on.”

“Can I ask… Why didn’t you go accept the request from him.”

“I kind of, have this skill… It prevents me from interacting with NPC’s properly. Whenever I do, I end up gaining infamy. Also, I can’t unequip it, so that is not an option.”

Averting my eyes, I feel slightly awkward as she laughs at my situation

‘It’s not that funny you know, it is quite serious for me.’

“I didn’t mean to laugh. I’m sorry,” She is still giggling despite saying that, “But I still think that whatever creature did this to the town in a single town is too much for us.”

“We don’t need to fight it, just rescue the townspeople. Plus, the uncle in there said it was a dragon.”

Prince Charming widens his eyes with my words, a strange light entering them. Surely this guy isn’t thinking of…

Like a bolt of lightning, he enters the building behind me and with one bellowing shout…

“Good Sir! Please permit me, Sir Laurence, to slay this dragon for you!”

“A warrior!” The man in the store is so easily filled with life again, “Forget the dragon. Please just rescue our-“

“I will slay the dragon!”

Just as I imagine him being instantly turned to ash before some almighty dragon, a window appears in front of each of us.

One of your party members has accepted a quest!

Quest: Rescue the citizens of Leaz
The innkeeper of Leaz, Rouze, has requested you to head to
the mountains east of Leaz and rescue as many of the captured
townsfolk as possible.
If you kill the dragon like you claim you will, you will be
bestowed honorary titles befitting you feat. 

Refusal will cause the citizens of Leaz to lose trust in you, 
resulting in an increase in the purchase price of local goods.
Grade: Blue

The down side to turning down this quest wasn’t all that bad. However, Prince Charming and his child like dream of slaying a dragon has already accepted the quest for all of us.

Out of curiosity, I open my quest log. In there at the start of the ‘Rescue the citizens of Leaz’ it describes the acceptance of the quest.

Closing the window immediately, I could not possibly continue reading the words of some medieval poet writing about the venerable actions of Sir Laurence in Leaz and his oath to slay the dragon. I had hoped it would mark his foolish actions, but my quest log appeared to like him just as much as everyone else did.

He walks out of the inn beaming, incredibly proud of his actions.

“Hah–hah-hah! I knew my day would come!”

“”Go die on your own!”” Verde and I mimic each other’s words at him, Fen simply giving an irritated look at the man.

“Well, shall we go?”

Looking at Verde and Fen and giving a small shrug of my shoulders, we all decide we may as well go. The four of us head off east in no particular rush, not exactly eager to chance running into a dragon.

“Remember not to die,” Verde said casually as we walk, “These marks on our hands indicate we are from Glace. If any of us die, that is exactly where that person will respawn. There’s no changing our spawn point after all, it’s set to your home country and that is it.”

I visibly swallow, the thought of travelling all this way only to respawn back in Iceridge was quite terrifying.

“What if another player kills us, we would be sent hundreds of miles away.”

“That is the reason why a lot of players will often try to kill players from other kingdoms. Considering that if they defeat them, they are automatically far enough away from the respawned player that they are basically free. Most people call it the ‘Home Ground Advantage’.”

“I suppose you do have a point, I can also imagine if they lost and died they would respawn a lot closer as well.”

“Exactly,” Verde raises a finger and nods her head.

“But, what about the player killer status if the other person initiated the combat, is it not a little unfair if they receive it just by defending themselves? Prince Charming here got it”

“It would if that was the case,” the prince turns red, knowing exactly what she is about to say, “This idiot here didn’t receive the red skull for killing the first player who attacked him. He received it for killing the second player who he attacked first. It is a common ploy that is used quite often. They do this so the second person can finish off the player without receiving a red skull.”

We discussed various tricks and scams some players pull on each other until nightfall, finally settling down inside a small crop of trees for the night.

I’ve learnt a lot of information from Verde during our journey. One of those was about sleeping in game. Not only can it be dangerous sleeping in the wilderness at night, but there always had to be a lookout. If there wasn’t you may wake to find some of your stuff stolen by wild animals or even that you’ve been attacked.

Yet a lot of people choose to sleep in the game, each for their own various reasons. The most common were either the people who did it simply to immerse themselves in the game, or the people that did it for the five percent experience bonus you gained for the next five hours while the sun was up.

Deep in thought, it took me a little longer to get to sleep than usual

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

The next morning Fen is once again in my sleeping bag. This is the fourth time it has happened, and the third time she is chewing on me!

The only time she did not chew on me was when I didn’t feed her any meat the night before. Does she simply savour the taste in her sleep?

I had thought she would not be here this morning. Considering she was not the one on watch duty last night, there is now currently one empty bed.

The person on watch last night was Prince Charming. Did that idiot prince not see her move? Or did he simply not do anything about it?

Speaking of the person, he is sending me glares as I drag the sleeping wolf girl out of the bag.

I hear him grumble about, “Waking a sleeping maiden after she-.” Only hearing up to a point where his voice became too quiet to understand.

It was only one more day in the game until we arrive at a range of mountains tall enough they block off the sunrise. Our entire current surroundings are hills of various sizes right before the enormous mountain range.

“I wonder where this army of Stone Kobolds is? Surely it would be pretty hard to miss.”

I wonder out loud as we climb to the peak of the tallest hill around us.

Our entire surroundings unravel as soon as we stand there. Just to the north of us, an epic battle is taking place.

‘Just how many players did that uncle send here!?’

It is practically a thousand players against ten thousand enemies. I suppose about half of them are here without the quest though, only interested in the massive amounts of experience available.

The ground is looted with corpses of both Stone Kobolds and players alike. There are a few Boulder Ogres dead as well. They both really lived up to their name, enhancing my eyesight I have a closer look at them.

The Stone Kobolds appear to be roughly five foot tall humanoid reptilian creatures, dressed in various leather armour pieces. They are wielding mostly battle axes and although a few have large swords, the most noticeable part is their stone grey skin.

The Boulder Ogres are hulking brown giants about the same height as Fen when she is a wolf. They have bulging muscles coming out of every part of their body and while they are somewhat slow, the swinging of their club like fists decimates everything in their path.

Using my analyse skill I see the Kobolds are mostly around level sixty while the Ogres reach a massive level one hundred and fifty.

“I really don’t want to die,” I speak to the rest of the party, “I also suspect the prisoners should be in some cave behind them, I can’t see any sort of camps out in the open at least. Do you think we could circle them and release some of the prisoners while they are distracted?”

“That sounds, like it could work actually.”

“A true man would charge sword first through the battle field!”

“”Again, go die by yourself!”” I am in sync with Verde again with responding to the idiot prince.

Despite his words, he still follows us as we travel into the mountains.

The terrain is incredibly rugged in the mountains. Fen and I move through them relatively easy, Verde is okay, but Prince Charming is hopeless in his heavy armour. These mountains prove to be clearly not meant for ordinary players to climb, often giving us dead ends where we cannot pass any further.

We spot a strange black and yellow striped tiger as tall as a person from a distance away. It has two slightly curved horns on its head which occasionally send sparks of electricity arcing between. Given its sinister look, I analyse the beast.

Name: Electric High Pantreal (Knight Class)
Level: 210
Health: 7,390
Magic: 9,430
Stamina: 2,000

??

‘Odd, it is a knight class? Grigor was a boss class while Fen is a Queen Class. I wonder what they could mean. We most definitely should not be here!’

Warning the other two about the creature and how dangerous it is, we all hold our breath and hope it does not notice us hiding behind this rock. A spark shoots between the horns, shortly enveloping its body as it flashes away like a bolt of lightning.

What a monstrous speed! Even Fen next to me has a startled look on her face.

“Okay, we need to head to that mountain over there, the one without the top on it. We also need to hurry before anything else that spells death happens to cross paths with us!”

With the other two agreeing, we flee across the terrain to the mountain I mentioned. If I recall correctly, this is the mountain behind where that army is fighting.

Approaching behind the mountain we find a small cave leading into it. Verde is the one who speaks up first.

“Umm. Just a question, is this possibly a back entrance to where the townsfolk are being held?”

We all look at her, nodding our heads that it is definitely possible. I personally can’t imagine a single mountain holding two dungeons.

Walking inside we see the notification saying ‘Entering Grael’s Lair’. 

“Mmm, Grael?” I question as we walk into the darkness.

The cave isn’t so dark that I can’t see at all, it seems to be a game element that in most dungeons, and various other places, that you can see even without a light. Although vision is limited to about ten meters in every direction, everything looking like dark shadows more than anything.

Mindlessly wandering for about ten minutes, I spot a natural light source. It is awfully suspicious that we haven’t come across any enemies yet.

Entering the light, my world suddenly becomes flooded with colour. Even if it is just stone walls, there are various minerals showing through where the walls have been cut.

Looking up towards the light source of this hundred meter diameter reveals this cavern has no ceiling. The mid-day sun blazes through where the top of the mountain should be.

The walls are strange, with deep gauges running up them. However, the most impressive thing is the hulking black mass in front of me. It is probably about seventy to eighty meters long, taking up most of the floor space in this massive space

It appears to be covered in some sort of crystalline black scales, almost glossy at close appearance.

We walk around the object, following the wall. As soon as we get around the front, we freeze in our steps.

I kind of already knew it, I’m sure the others probably guessed as soon as we entered the cavern. But I didn’t want to believe it.

“A-Analyse.”

Name: Grael (Emperor Class)
Level: 565
Health: 123,300
Magic: 74,200
Stamina: 0

??

“Hah… hah. I-it’s level is f-five hundred and s-sixty five…” I let everyone know just what we are dealing with, even though all our faces are already as pale as they possibly could become.

“Also,” I put on the smile of death, “Have I ever told you all about my skill, the one that automatically causes enemies to have the ‘aggro’ status towards me?”

Grael has one of its slitted dragon eyes open, fixated directly on me.

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31 Comments

  1. Hey, I really thankful for you to write this fantastic story. Thought, english not my primary language, so I can’t not help you with the grammar much. I try to help you with the donation by advertising/suggesting other people to try to read your story and donate since I don’t have any credit card or a paypal account, so I cannot really help you with that. Also, when he gonna do something about his sisters?

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    1. Since the beginning still now, I still doesn’t see he try to do anything about his sister or about his disability, but I hope he somehow can walk again.

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      1. His sisters are currently living with his Aunt, he doesn’t make any desperate moves about it because he knows they are well looked after (His aunt only doesn’t like him).
        And as for his disability, unfortunately without millions of dollars for a spinal regeneration procedure, there is nothing he can do about it

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  2. My mind would be blown if the dragon turns out to be another human shapeshifting girl that somehow gets impressed by lost in some bizarre way.

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    1. it’s impossible i think… in the first place the dragon is a male since his class is emperor not empress

      and who in his right mind would name a girl with grael… at least fen is a neutral name but grael???

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  3. When soloing, his Intimidation aggro effect is annoying. But in a large party, especially a raid sized party, it is a huge advantage to cause the tough monsters to be affected by both the damage reduction and negative defense effect. It means the MC should be one of the most desirable people to include in a raid because he will reduce damage to all the raid members plus make the boss monster easier to hit and to be damaged. All he needs to do is kite around.

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