Editor: Vincent, genericIntent, Shieldbasher
Author’s Notes: We have finally finished volume 3! This volume was quite the long one, roughly 15% longer than the previous ones. But I am glad to get it done. Next, it is time to start on volume 4. ^.^
As this is a full chapter release, please do take the time to click on the following link and vote for End Online at TopWebFiction.com.
We will also be welcoming our new editor soon, whoever that will be ^.^
Chapter 19 – The Ghost of Eltreant (V2.0)
“Mason, I see you have revived. Did you lose many stats?” I private message him the moment he respawns back at the church in Grenton. Fortunately, he isn’t from Iceridge like I am, otherwise it would be a catastrophe for completing this quest.
“A bit, I lost a total of ten points all around. How did everything go on your end? Did you die as well?”
“Well… I didn’t die. Which is good news.”
“So you won?”
“I wouldn’t necessarily say that I won, either…more like I escaped.”
“There were so many of them, yet how did you manage that?”
“I took care of the boss, then ran during the confusion.”
“Took care of him? Wasn’t he insanely strong?”
“To tell you the truth, the battle didn’t really last very long. He did have an insanely high defense, though.”
“Then what did you do?”
“I…set him on fire.”
“… I ran during the confusion.”
“… I feel like there’s more to this, or this conversation wouldn’t be so awkward. What else happened?”
“… I also got a player killer’s mark from killing one of the lesser players who apparently didn’t attack me first.”
“… Still not a big deal. What haven’t you told me?”
“… Once he was on fire, he started to roll around and such like an idiot, and spread the fire around a rather large area.”
“… You set the forest on fire?”
“… It was all him being a foo-“
“You set the forest on fire, didn’t you?!”
“… Yeah… I’m sorry.”
A little after Chronix had fled to search for a body of water in the futile attempt to snuff out my ‘Minor Dire Flame’ covering his body, I receive a notification.
You have successfully killed a player utilizing your dire flame. - Belief has increased by 2 - Alignment has decreased by 1
“You’re an idiot!” Mason cries as he hits me over the back of the head.
We are all standing on the grasslands area a good 500 meters away from ‘Eldenweiss Forest’. It is currently nighttime in the game, but not even the stars can be seen tonight. Not with all the black smoke rising from the forest and blocking out the sky. The light coming from the forest is extremely bright as the flames emit a large orange glow.
All I can smell is smoke and burning wood. The stench covers the area as thick white flakes of ash that rain down from the sky.
Off to one side, Shai’en stares at the sight, in tears. Several players with water style magic and even Grenton’s Royal Magic Corps all drench the forest in water, but nothing is stopping this fire.
“We have been here for five and a half hours now. The fire shouldn’t last much longer.” I said submissively while counting down the time until the fire should naturally go out.
The fire here is magnitudes more devastating than the one I released within the city of Grenton. Clearly, the capital must have had some form of magic protection against the destruction of property to mitigate the damage as much as it did.
Half an hour passes and slowly the smoke billowing out from the forest comes to a stop and the light from the fire fades away, almost as if it never existed in the first place.
Even from where we are, we can see the damage those six hours caused to the forest. Only about twenty percent of the forest is burnt, but the area that twenty percent encompasses is enormous.
“Lost,” Mason says morbidly, “You are never to use that spell again.. ever!”
“Please, Lost.” Shai’en looks at me with her red, teary eyes, “When we are at Eltreant, promise me you won’t use that spell.”
“But wouldn’t it be a great way to flush out all the bandits at once?” I ask jokingly, trying to lighten the mood.
“Not a good time for jokes.” Mason says seriously.
“Don’t worry about it. When all this is over, I’m going to go find all the boxes of matches we have around the house and change the warning labels from ‘Keep away from children’, to ‘Keep away from Lost’.”
“Didn’t you just say this wasn’t a good time for jokes?!”
“I didn’t start the fire…”
Everyone except the two NPCs has a quick laugh at that. If anyone can lighten the mood, it’s Mason.
We quickly head toward the forest in the far north of the continent. Making certain we circle around the currently damaged portion of forest in front of us, we decide it is best to avoid a place full of players and NPCs trying to find out who caused the damage. I am in a hurry to get away in case anyone recognizes me as the person who came out from the forest the moment it caught fire. Meanwhile, the others would rather be elsewhere in case they get falsely accused as accomplices.
We travel throughout the night, slowly circling Eldenweiss Forest in order to avoid any unwanted attention. Nearly half way around, we arrive at some spring groves. The grass is a rich green, with patches of mud and tens of thousands of medium-sized flowers throughout. Red, blue, and white flowers blossom from the earth as far as the eye can see.
Large trees litter the area in no particular order. Each and every one is covered in leaves of various sizes and various shades of either green or pink. Most of the trees are separated from each other by vast distances, but there are a few crops of trees that all cluster together. From underneath one of these groves I get the sensation that I can collect herbs there.
With the party in tow, I lead us through the field toward one of the copses of trees where I catch a strong scent of pollen emanating from. In the corner of my vision, I see a couple of blurs heading in my direction, buzzing with each movement.
Without thinking for more than a fraction of a second, I quickly dive to the side. Unfortunately, I am not fast enough as an enormous hornet lands a piercing attack on my hip with it’s stinger. Five percent of my health instantly vanishes and I’m overcome with a fatiguing dizziness. A flashing green icon appears next to my current row of status effects and enhancements, indicating a ‘poisoned’ status.
My loss of health from the poison is minimal, but the dizziness it induces is a problem.
There are a total of three hornets attacking our party. One attacks me, while the other two split up between Fen and the brothers. That is, until the oversized hornet that is attacking the brothers falls under my aggravation effect and starts flying toward me at breakneck speed.
“Creature analyse!” I call out hurriedly.
Name: Mutant Hornet Level: 85 Health: 634 Magic: 0 Stamina: 108 ??
I understand exactly why players prefer the role of a ‘tank’. These bees are incredibly quick, to the point where it is simply pointless trying to compare with them in speed. The only way to properly fend off their attacks is to use a shield to block them as they strike.
With two hornets buzzing my way, I activate one of my skills. Disappearing into smoke as two stingers nearly pierce through me, I appear behind one of the wasps and land a critical hit with my blades, taking away the majority of its health. It is unfortunate, but the creature is too quick and flees before I can land another blow.
As my target retreats from my attack, Fen’s rain of ice bolts comes down on all the hornets in the vicinity, narrowly missing them as they zigzag through the air.
“Everyone, they’re not strong, but they’re incredibly quick. Be careful!” I call out loud enough that everyone can clearly hear me.
Mason and Matrix follow the orders I gave them earlier, making sure they remain close to Shai’en to protect her from any danger. As such, Matrix becomes relatively useless in battle while the older of the two brothers is somewhat less useless with his bow.
“Mason, do you have a spare, low-levelled bow?” I ask him while attempting to redirect one of the stingers attacking me, barely managing with a combination of my strength and dexterity.
“I do. Did you want it?” He responds while rapidly firing off arrows at my aggressors, each missing by only a hair’s breadth, but at least managing to open some distance between me and the hornets.
“No, I don’t. Could you please give it to Shai’en along with some arrows? Also, make sure you don’t kill the monsters, just bring them near death. That goes for you too, Fen.”
The wolf girl is having no problems with her hornet. She has taken it beyond the range of my intimidation aura and is easily fending off its high-speed attacks with two short ice daggers. Being an AI with an extremely high agility, she has no problem following and reacting to the giant insects’ strange movements.
I activate my first sacred art, ‘Triple Thrust’, against an incoming hornet, only managing to land just one of the thrusts on its body before the hornet creates distance between the two of us and causes my second and third thrusts to miss. It’s unfortunate that the insects move far too fast to allow me to move around much, preventing me from creating an afterimage to deter their attacks.
As soon as she receives the bow and some arrows, I tell Shai’en to attack the weaker enemies. It appears that my predictions are correct. Just like the elven guards back in the Eldenweiss Forest, Shai’en also has an immeasurable amount of accuracy with a bow. Her shots almost seem to anticipate where the hornets will be, creating the illusion of them homing in on the creatures.
Several arrows later, the level 30 companion successfully kills all three of the weakened level 85 Giant Hornets, gaining two full levels in the process.
“Amazing, they give excellent experience, but they are incredibly difficult to hunt.” I say to myself as we all reform together.
“Indeed, they do.” Mason nods his head in agreement. “I’m a little confused however. Why does Shai’en have to deal the finishing blow? The stronger we are, the easier this quest will be.”
“Wrong. A part of this mission is to protect Shai’en.” I speak as if she cannot hear me. “The stronger she is, the harder it will be for her to die. That is what will make our quest easier.”
Mason makes an “ahh” sound as he understands where I am coming from. Rather than making it easier for us to complete the quest, I am aiming to make it harder for us to fail. As things are right now, we simply have too much at risk.
We spend the entire day in the fields of green and pink. Around noon, the warm scent of pollen and the sound of hornets replace the morning freshness as the sun reaches the apex of its journey through the sky. It is also around this time that the number of ‘Giant Hornets’, along with various other ‘Mutated Wasps’, and even a few ‘Hive Mothers’ appear.
The ‘Hive Mothers’ are the most difficult to battle. They have incredibly high health and depending on the breed of ‘Hive Mother’, they continually spawn either ‘Giant Hornets’ or ‘Mutated Wasps’.
Over the next four hours, we wipe out several hundredinsect monsters. Well, Shai’en kills them at least. While the rest of us bring down a few, it is mostly by accident.
The enemies give quite a lot of experience with each kill, but I cannot help but note something odd going on with the speed at which Shai’en levels.
Even considering the high amount of experience killing an insect gives, the elf gains levels at an incredibly frightening speed.
‘Could this be some form of racial trait?’ I wonder to myself.
In the period of a single day, Shai’en goes from being level 30 to level 82; higher than anyone in the party could have possibly imagined.
Later that night, we’re all sitting around a campfire as I carefully prepare a large meal, combining some ingredients I have stored away with meat from some local wildlife. The meal is rather lively with the elf’s incessant complaints about how eating red meat is wrong and Mason rebuffing her by trying to explain why eating meat is good for us. In the end, she ends up only eating a few vegetables before quieting down.
“Well, let’s call it a night, shall we?” I look around at everyone through the darkness. We don’t have any torches, and the moon is only half full, so fighting monsters under these conditions is unfavourable.
Everyone nods their head in agreement. Mason and Matrix pull out their sleeping bags, but the younger of the two brothers hands his over to the elf, telling her to use it as he will remain on watch tonight. At the same time, I pull out my sleeping bag and have a sudden realization.
‘I only have the one sleeping bag. I forgot to get one for Fen!’
Feeling slightly guilty, I offer her my sleeping bag but the girl refuses it and says it is for me to sleep in. She doesn’t mention the fact that she will climb in with me as soon as I am asleep anyway.
Feeling the end result is basically unavoidable, I voluntarily let her climb in just before I fall asleep. Of course, I turn and face my back to her as I doze off.
I wake up to a pair of arms wrapped tightly around me from behind.
‘You are meant to sleep with your back to me, idiot.’
We all get up at relatively the same time, climbing out of our sleeping bags looking half-asleep. The others must have woken up a little earlier than I did, considering the blushing faces they made at us.
“Cut it out you guys. Geez.” I laugh while shaking my head at them.
The journey from the field of flowers to the forest at the far northern tip of the continent takes an additional five real-life days.
By the end of the second real-life day, I had finally spent enough time online for my player-killer status to dissipate. I had only personally killed two of the swordsmen, while Fen had killed the third. As it turns out, any player Fen kills counts as the equivalent of me killing them. I can only come to the conclusion that it is related to how she is considered my companion in the system.
I had a full thirty hours of player-killer status accumulated; ten hours per player killed. Fortunately, I didn’t run into many high level players during that time. Those players that I did cross paths with stopped and looked at me with some consideration, but decided against attacking upon seeing that I was in a party of five.
During the rest of the week, I lead the party through a massive amount of different areas. Lush open fields slowly turned into honey-scented forests and pollen-rich hills covered in small white and yellow flowers.
There was one particularly dense and humid, mosquito-infested rainforest that proved to be rather difficult to traverse.
The rainforest was home to strange little black monkey-like creatures. While being only level 30 each, these monkeys were easily as fast as the Giant Hornets, if not faster. My main concern with the monkeys wasn’t their speed, but that they had a habit of stealing our belongings. Anything hanging from our hips, our jewellery, and even some stuff that was in our personal inventories were fair game to the nimble, little thieves.
I spent a good part of the day chasing one thieving monkey through the trees after it stole my ‘Fire Imbued Meridium Scramasax’ barely hours after entering the area. I was once again saved by Shai’en’s miraculous archery skills, as she managed to finally hit the monkey with an arrow from a distance of fifty meters away. On the bright side, chasing the monkey did raise my agility by two more points, bringing it up to a total of 248 after my bonuses were factored in.
Also during our trip, I kept an eye on my ‘Nightingale Helmet’ auction. Once the auction closed, with my heart racing at a hundred miles an hour, I read the total sale price of $2,462! Having sold an in-game item for such an exorbitant price was beyond my wildest dreams!
We made a lot of kills while travelling and gained a few levels each, but the elf still took most of the experience and continued to level at an alarming rate. It helped that she was fighting enemies immeasurably stronger than what she could manage on her own, but she gained a further 20 levels, overtaking both my and Fen’s level.
She may have become more than ten levels above Fen, but I believe that in a contest of strength between the two of them, the wolf-girl would still win.
I look up in awe at forest in front of me, filling my sight with the countless shadows of ancient, fifty meters tall pine trees. A thick mist gently swirls and drifts throughout the forest, preventing anyone from seeing beyond a few meters. Fortunately, we haven’t entered the misty area yet so our sight remains unhindered.
Far off to the east and west, beyond the boundaries of the forest are enormous snow-capped mountains. The forest seems to pulse with a deep, icy chill that covers the grass in frost and sends a shiver down my spine. It almost seems as if the forest is alive.
“This is your home?” I say with a mild shock to the elf.
“Yes. Although it has been corrupted by the evil of humans and has become somewhat more sinister, it is indeed my home.”
“Somewhat more sinister? This forest gives me the damn creeps, I wouldn’t be surprised to find the origin of all evil here, holed up in some old run down mansion with doors that need oiling and windows that don’t open.”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“Never mind, it’s nothing.” I shake my head at the elf. Of course she doesn’t understand the cliché, she is just an NPC in the end.
“We need to be careful here.” I speak across the party chat, directly to everyone. “We have no idea what’s in there. How many bandits, monsters, or even their levels. Keep an eye out for anything suspicious.”
I lead us carefully into the forest; the mist swirling as our movement disturbs the air around us. Thinking back to the ‘Vexl Underground Prison’, I am already aware that my speed and the mirages of my body will be useless in here thanks to my real body disturbing the mist while the fakes do not.
“Lost,” Shai’en whispers right next to my ear, “I saw some movement over there.”
She points through a pair of trees where the mist seems to blanket the area.
“There is nothing there,” I quietly murmur, squinting my eyes and trying to follow her gaze.
It’s almost as if she could see the future, because the light of four torches suddenly flare to life within the mist, slowly lighting up the surroundings with a dull yellow glow.
Four human figures in rough leather armour appear from inside the mist, happily talking amongst themselves. Our entire party immediately ducks behind the large trunks of various pine trees in the area, getting out of their line of sight.
“That Jire’min is one stunning girl. I may even give up this cruel life just to be with her.”
“I heard she has a husband though?”
“Oh? Not anymore she doesn’t. I took care of him three nights ago.” Laughter erupts from the group.
“You could never give up this life. You enjoy it far too much!”
Just as they were distracted, I creep around the tree trunk until I can see them and breath the words “Creature analysis”, bringing up their data.
Name: Northern Bandit Level: 115 Health: 2470 Magic: 0 Stamina: 280 ??
‘What’s with that enormous health?!’ I scream in shock inside my head.
“They are level 115, have an enormous amount of health, and appear to be close combat specialists.” I spread the information over the party chat, informing them of what I can tell from my analysis.
“I don’t think we should have any problems dealing with only four of them though.” Mason speaks back across the chat.
“No, we should be fine. Fen, you and I will take the two on the right. Mason, Matrix and Shai’en will take the two on the left hand side.”
Without notice, the bandits stop walking and two of them speak up in sync.
“Something, or someone powerful is here. Be careful and take them out.” They say in voices just loud enough that we could hear them too.
‘Shit, they are already affected by my ‘Intimidating Aura’!’
Even though I don’t give anyone the signal to move. As soon as I take action, so does everyone else.
I dash straight at the group with Fen’s ice attacks covering me and launch an all-out assault against the first bandit I reach. Mason and Shai’en send down a barrage of arrows onto the farthest two bandits, keeping them away from the rest of the group.
Mason’s bow glows sky blue as he launches a single arrow into the sky. Shortly after the arrow disappears, tens of arrows rain down in a five meter radius around the enemy. Shai’en starts to exude a faint blue and gold aura as she uses magic with a new spell she recently learned. She simply draws her bow and a thin arrow of highly condensed wind forms almost instantly.
This is different from Mason’s ‘Sky Piercer’ sacred art, which will fire an arrow of wind, only to dissipate and launch hundreds of wind blades in every direction. Shai’en’s wind arrows maintain their condensed form and have an incredibly high armour penetration. I suspect the arrows could potentially even pierce through some shields. The best part is, due to using minimal mana and not having to prepare arrows, she can continually loose these arrows at a frightening speed.
“The land is my strength. My soul is the burning flame of the roiling magma beneath our feet. Feel the wrath of my inferno. Flame Blade!” Matrix, devoid of all shame, sings out another one of his bogus incantations while using an advanced spell.
Flame erupts and swallows the entire length of his blade. The flames condense and extend beyond the tip of his sword as well, lengthening the weapon by a full meter. Matrix kicks off from the ground, arcing his fiery sword through the air and tearing through the bandits.
‘How can that guy be so nervous most of the time, but when it comes to reciting self-scripted poetry, it’s like he is a completely different person?’ I thought to myself.
Seeing everyone going all out, I decide I can’t possibly do any less. I spread out my mental senses and visualize eight different clones of myself.
Allowing my vision to shift to another perspective, my original body dissolves in the wind as I reappear elsewhere along with seven false images of myself.
I rush at the nearly dead bandits and launch one attack after another. I send my throwing knives piercing through the air only moments before sliding my shortsword toward their throats, shoulder tendons, and the Achilles tendons. Each and every one of my hits are critical strikes, crippling blows, or both. All the while, my attacks travel at such speed that they practically negate each opponent’s defense rating.
Then, the bandits start to counter-attack. They manage to split up right before dying and escape the area-of-effect attacks. Using the trees as cover, they make it nearly impossible to hit them with ranged attacks. Even when Shai’en unleashes one of her magical wind arrows at them, they somehow manage to use a tree to intercept the projectile.
Dodging back and forth, they eliminate four of my mirages in a single attack.
‘At least they are under my ‘aggro’ and will not attack the others like this.’ I silently chuckle in my mind.
The bandits, while not being of any significantly large level, are incredibly cunning. They split up and use the surrounding woods to their advantage for cover, while converging and attacking from multiple directions shortly after.
However, we occasionally land an attack on them, despite the trouble. Thankfully, due to our initial surprise attack taking away the majority of their health, they slowly die one at a time.
The battle seems to take forever,but in reality, it only lasts a total of four minutes. During the course of the fight, we had all spent most of our mana and stamina. Except, while everyone else only lost about fifteen percent of their health, I’m already down to forty percent health.
“They weren’t so tough. And they dropped a fantastic amount of experience, too!” Mason is overjoyed by the amount of experience he gained from killing just one bandit. With just one kill, his experience pool instantly jumped seven percent towards his next level.
“Umm.. Their attacks were rather, umm, weak.” Matrix nervously says while looking bashful.
“What are you guys talking about!” I shout at the brothers shamelessly, “They were simply aiming all of their attacks at me!”
“Psh, what are you talking about? You got two kills didn’t you? It is only fair to pay the appropriate price for getting the most experience.” Mason complains in a mocking tone.
Ignoring the two, I simply lead our party further into the northern forest and the strange, chilling mist.
We encountered three more groups of bandits shortly after that. Each successive group being larger than the last. The second company of bandits were somewhat troublesome as we didn’t manage to land a sneak attack on them and I was nearly killed thanks to my ‘aggro’ affecting four of the five bandits.
The third group was not as much of a hassle, we had learned how important it was to deal that preemptive strike and wipe out as many bandits as we can. If we concentrate our attacks right, we could instantly wipe out three bandits while ignoring the others.
A fourth and fifth battle proceeded in turn not long after. The deeper we got, the more bandits that we came across and the more frequently they appeared. If not for me picking up a large amount of medicinal herbs along the way, I would have been in trouble quite some time ago. Nobody else even seemed remotely concerned about death, after seeing how I am basically the only one being attacked.
All of a sudden, I stop in my tracks. Before me is a massive wall of wood. Unlike some man-made walls of timber planks or logs, it is almost as if this wall sprouted from the ground of its own accord to deny passage to trespassers. With our limited visibility, it isn’t far before the wall disappears into the fog. However, I could see the top clearly, and instead of foliage like one would suspect of such a natural wall, it ends abruptly in a completely flat line like a natural fortress.
“I believe we have arrived at Eltreant.” I say softly to the others.
“HEY! WHO’S DOWN THERE?” A thunderous shout comes from the top of the wall as a shabby looking man in worn leather armour pokes his head over the edge.
“THEY MUST BE THE ONES WHO HAVE BEEN KILLING THE SCOUTS! MEN, KILL THEM.”
As his shout dies down, a gate somewhere nearby within the fog creaks open and a small army of thirty bandits comes rushing forth. At least, it sounds like thirty bandits are approaching, according to the footsteps I can hear. Although I can’t actually see them, thanks to the fog.
“We need to retreat, quickly! There are too many of them.” I call out to the others through the party chat.
We all hasten into the trees behind us, a few arrows falling from the top of the wall land where we were standing only moments ago.
Ten minutes pass before we are confident enough to stop fleeing.
“I hope they aren’t still following us.” Mason whispers to the group, clearly aware of how dangerous that many bandits can be.
“I think we are safe for now,” I reply to him, “But, I think that they will probably split up into smaller groups, like the ones we fought earlier, in order to search for us.”
“Let’s go back to Grenton.” he lets out with a resounding sigh. “Even I know when something is impossible. We need to recruit an army of players to siege these walls. Otherwise, we are pointlessly wasting our time here.”
Not just me, but everyone else is silent as well. He is absolutely right, there is no way for us to break through a wall of this magnitude. I ponder on the issue while everyone starts getting ready to leave. Gloom settles over the group, but Shai’en is clearly showing the most signs of depression.
‘Wait. Hang on! If we can’t go through and we can’t go over, we will just have to-‘
“Go under!” I call out verbally, no longer simply thinking it in my mind.
“Huh, what?” Mason arches his eyebrows in curiosity.
“No need to leave just yet.” I laugh slowly under my breath, “We are going to go under the wall!”
Everyone stares at me with looks of indifference, and a hint of confusion on their faces. One by one, they exchange glances and gently shrug their shoulders.
“I’m… coming.” Fen says in an uncaring voice while leaning her body onto my back.
‘What is with you guys! Can’t you look a little happier at my great idea!? Look at Shai’en. She is nearly in tears of joy over there. The least you could do is pretend to be enthusiastic!’
We all walk back towards the city wall while I cry out complaints in my mind.
“Speaking of which? How are we going to travel under the wall. I don’t know of any skills that give the abilities of a mole.”
“Oh, but I have a skill to do just that.”
Once I estimate our distance to be about a hundred meters away from the wall, I pull out an iron pick that has been in my inventory so long I thought it was going to rust.
Mason laughs and nods his head when he sees what is in my hands.
“Of course! That could work! Lost, what is your skill level in mining?”
Mason’s hearty expression suddenly disappears from his face.
“Don’t worry too much. We are only tunnelling through dirt so it shouldn’t take too long.”
Despite my reassuring words, he still doesn’t look like he has much faith in me.
I take the first swing with the pick, digging into the ground. As soon as the pick lands in the ground, a notification appears in front of me.
You have inadequate skill in ‘Mining’ to dig new tunnels:
- Tunnel digging speed has been reduced by 85% - You will lose 10 HP every swing of the pick
Silently cursing, I ignore the pain in my body as I continue swinging the pick. Unfortunately, the head of the pick is not wide enough to effectively scoop out the dirt as I dig, so Mason and Matrix use their hands and buckets to dig out the loose dirt and deposit it outside the slowly forming hole.
I ensure I dig in a diagonal direction down, so that we can all easily get in and out as need be. I spend an entire day digging, but the progress is extremely slow. I only manage to extend the tunnel by ten meters. I did, however, raise my skill in mining to level 4 which is a benefit.
Looking through my inventory, I realize I don’t have enough medicinal herbs to keep going at this rate.
The second day, I dig twelve meters deeper. My pick had dropped to 50 percent durability, but that was partially due to me mining out a small amount of iron ore that I came across.
The third day, I dug another fourteen meters, finally reaching a third of the distance towards the wall. I was running low on herbs, so I spent this day not using any and simply waited for my health to naturally recover whenever it fell below ten percent.
I find it incredibly surprising that by exhausting my body through mining until I nearly collapse causes my mining skill to gain proficiency twice as fast. By the end of the third full day of mining, my ‘Mining’ skill reaches level 9. My tunnelling speed is now only sixty percent slower while I only lose 6 HP for every swing of the pick.
On the fourth day however, the pick breaks.
“Damn it.” I cry out. “We didn’t even get halfway!”
Everyone else also looks dejected, as if they are starting to doubt my plan.
“Don’t worry too much.” I try to to reassure everyone. “We can still keep on going. Everyone, we need to go collect some loose wood from the forest.”
While they all silently stare at me, I bring out the furnace from my inventory and silently nod to them, as if telling them everything is going according to plan.
Half an hour later, I am at the tunnel entrance and staring at the furnace with no firewood. No matter where we look, there is no loose wood on the forest floor larger than kindling. At the same time, none of us have the ‘Logging’ skill to chop down one of the trees and turn it into timber.
A spark of insight flashes in my mind.
“Minor dire flame!” I call and form that malicious fireball in my hand.
All around me, apart from Fen, everyone’s face darkens.
“What?!” I call out to the accusing looks, throwing the flame behind me and into the furnace.
The fireball splashes as it hits the base of the furnace cavity, lighting up the small interior in a deep crimson.
Picking up a piece of iron ore in between a pair of iron tongs, I hold the ore over the naked flame. Once it starts to glow red hot and reaches temperature, I place it on an anvil and start hammering out the imperfections in the ore. I repeat this process smelting several times. I continue my work with multiple pieces of ore until I have a small collection of small glossy pieces of black iron.
I then place these pieces of iron into a small crucible made of the same type of stone as the furnace. Firmly grabbing it between a large set of stone clamps, I place it inside the furnace on a small rack above the flames. I wonder to myself how long the process of melting the iron will take.
The flames slowly lick the crucible, and cause its contents to melt and start glowing the red of molten metal.
Removing the crucible now full of molten metal, I pour the contents into a readily prepared pickaxe head mold I bought not too long after I got the furnace. I also have a bunch of standard sword blades in various sizes as well as an axe head mould in my inventory.
Once the mould is full of molten metal, I set it inside a tub of water to cool. Once it is the red luster dims, I use a mid-sized hammer to separate the mold at the seams and reveal a fresh pickaxe head.
‘Apparently, if you get your ‘Smithing’ skill above level 20, you can use a special tool to carve out your own moulds.’ I lose myself in thought and don’t even realize the fully formed pickaxe head in front of me.
With the head formed, I just need a handle to complete the new pickaxe. Since I lack the ‘Wood Crafting’ skill, I have Mason go and procure one from a broken branch on the ground.
“Interesting how we find wood now when there was nothing in the area not too long ago.” Mason states while watching me finally put the pickaxe together.
“It is rather peculiar. And it looks like we will need to gather more materials to make a few more pickaxes.” I sigh while looking at the item window for the pick in front of me.
Fragile Iron Pick A pick made by a complete amateur in smithing. The iron is flawed and the weight is completely off. An item of such low value was not known to exist until today. Requirements: - Level 1 - Str 14 - Dex 15 Weapon type: Tool Attack: 3 - 5 Durability: 6/6 Weight. 4.2lbs
I spend the next four days going between digging and casting more pickaxes. As a result, not only does my ‘Mining’ reach level 14 and ‘Smithing’ level 9, but the tunnel finally passes under the Eltreant wall and enters the city perimeter.
“About time!” Mason cries out, nearly in tears. “We have been in this tunnel for the past three days… And I’m not talking about three days in the game!”
Digging the tunnel took a grand total of eight days time in the game, just eight hours short of three full days outside End Online.
“How was I supposed to know exactly how long it was going to take?!” I complain back at him.
“There was also the difficulty of getting through those tree roots under the wall and the, umm, multiple collapses in the tunnel were hard too.” Matrix bashfully adds from the side.
Without saying another word, I start digging an upward slope. Large chunks of dirt come off the wall with every swing. The speed in which I can now dig is incomparable to when I first started. As my forged pickaxes are now of an ordinary quality and my mining skill has increased a lot, I can dig at a much greater speed.
Another half a day passes with Mason in a dark mood before I finally break the surface. The roof of the tunnel slowly crumbles like sand, revealing the interior of a reasonably large residence.
Every piece of furniture in the place is overturned and all the loose items have been thrown everywhere. The evening sun shines through a few windows around the room, and the soft golden rays of light reflect against all the dust floating in the air. Outside the windows, we see countless bandits in the immediate area. They are gambling in the street, climbing on top of some of the other residences while making fools of themselves, and others simply patrolling.
“Lucky. I was worried about coming out in the middle of a group of bandits.” I whisper under my breath, but still loud enough that the others hear.
“Shouldn’t you have told us that before?” Mason says in a cold tone.
“I didn’t want you to worry.” I speak in all honestly.
“The rest of us still could have waited a little further back…”
“But if we are all together there is a better chance of us all escaping. I don’t want to be a sacrifice.”
“Fine.” Mason kneads his eyebrows in displeasure.
We all look around the room for anything valuable despite Shai’en’s complaints. We may be here to help her, but we still are only doing it for ourselves in the end.
While avoiding the windows, we find nothing but chipped and broken clay plates, bowls and utensils. We regroup in the center of the house, confused as to what to do next.
“Now what?” Matrix asks, looking away from me while talking, “We have to go outside. But, umm, those bandits must be everywhere.”
“No, there are probably tens of thousands of them. While not being comparable to one of the three capitals, this is a big city. So far we have seen a few hundred bandits pass by just outside this window.” I say while shaking my head.
“Well how should we do this? Are you going to scare them all away? We need an army!” Mason utters coldly.
‘Sheesh. This guy! Is he still in a foul mood?!’ I complain in my head.
I fall deep in thought while the light in the room begins to fade. I run through every possible scenario in my mind and no matter what I think, it all ends in failure.
‘Rush outside and wildly attack every bandit? Ridiculous and doomed to fail.’
‘Sneak out at night and kill a few bandits at a time? We will be here for the next year if we do that. Assuming we don’t die first.’
‘Go back to Grenton and recruit an army of players? We are full time gamers trying to make a living here. We need to try get in front of the other players and can’t be sharing our rewards with everyone else.’
‘Or like Mason jokingly said, we could scare them away. Who am I kidding, that is simply ridiculous… Wait, now that I give it some thought. This may work.’
“Everyone, I have a plan. But I will need to go back out into the forest and gain twenty levels.”
“And what is your plan this time?” Mason says with a frown.
“Do you really want to know?”
“… No. I really do not want to know…” He exhales depressingly.
“Well then, off I go.”
“Hmph, don’t think you’re going by yourself!” Mason calls out as not only him but everyone else follows me back into the tunnel.
As soon as we exit the tunnel on the other end, I take the lead in searching for groups of bandits in the woods. I drift through the foggy moonlit forest like a white ghost. That’s right, a ghost.
Four days in game pass by while I hunt bandits. The only delays in levelling are from looking for the next group of enemies or when the other party members deal the killing strike.
Just like when I left to power-level, I return to the entrance of the cave in the middle of the night. A few owls break the silence of the night, hooting from high places in the pine trees.
“We’re finally back.” I whisper.
“I’m sorry,” Shai’en chimes in a sad tone, “I could only locate the direction to the city, not the opening to the tunnel.”
“Don’t worry, nobody blames you.” Mason gives her a gentle smile.
A lot happened over the past few days. After only two days of hunting, I finally reached the extra twenty levels that I need, while everyone else got nearly that as well. Mason also seemed to get over his grumpy mood after taking out some of his frustration on some bandits.
With the extra two days of hunting bandits and searching for the tunnel, I gained a further fifteen levels. My stats also grew slightly, but no more than one or two points in any stat. I was focusing on my level after all.
Lost lvl: 136 Health: 1481/1720 Stamina: 597/597 Mana: 1152/1152 Mason lvl: 122 Health: 1608/1608 Stamina: 311/389 Matrix lvl: 134 Health: 1590/1882 Stamina: 215/425 Mana: 378/446 -Companions- Fen lvl: 119 Health: 2312/2573 Magic: 689/798 Stamina: 418/750 Shai'en lvl: 130 Health: 1266/1340 Magic: 389/881
“Everyone,” I turn around before the entrance of the tunnel to speak to them. “From here on, I will mostly be acting on my own. It will be best for all of you if you could hide somewhere nearby, and watch each time I go in, just in case I need immediate backup.”
“I don’t understand,” Mason addresses me in response, “What could you possibly be planning to do?”
“Something crazy,” I laugh while turning around to go back into the tunnel.
At the other end of the tunnel it is still dark, so I don’t waste any time and put my crazy plan into action immediately. Making sure there are no bandits in the vicinity, I quickly leave the building and enter one of the alleys. Everyone except for Shai’en follows soon afterwards and sticks to the shadows, tailing me in case I come into any trouble.
The elf has to stay at the house so she can send up the location beacon afterwards so we can find our way back to the right house before daybreak.
The clean, crisp air enters my lungs one deep breath after another. I dodge in and out among the dark alleys until I approach a night patrol of bandits.
I silently activate ‘Multi Mirage’, keeping the false images hidden from view in various alleys, except for one which appeared in front of the bandits.
“Geeet oout, Leeeave thiis tooown.” I draw my words out and control the mirage to speak them.
“You can’t possibly be serious!!” Mason shouts over the party chat.
“Who is this fool?! Hey guys, let’s cut this joker down.” Not one of the bandits seem even remotely frightened.
“Leeeave… Or dieee.“
At the same time in the alley. I start to recall all the things in my life that have made me angry. I build up on those thoughts and relive them in my mind until I start to become furious myself. As soon as the murderous urges emerge from my stomach, another force rises from my character as well.
This is one of the two techniques I practised in the forest over the past few days. It is unfortunate that there are no words that can be used to release this, as the activation stemmed from emotions.
I, and each of my clones, develop a blood red aura around our bodies. The aura is only barely visible around the body as a slightly red hue throbbing in the air, like the heart of a dragon. This is the dragon’s bloodlust I received as a side effect of Grael forcefully putting a small piece of his power into my body to keep track of me.
The small group of bandits suddenly stop in their tracks, their faces instantly paling.
“H-hey, what’s with this guy!?” One of them calls out, hesitating to move another step.
This is why I needed to level up. The dragon’s bloodlust is only effective on enemies of a lower level than mine. In this scenario, the bandits are level 115.
My stamina depletes by one point per second while the effect is active. One of the bandits suddenly breaks off from the group and charges at the mirage. The bandit screams while driving his dagger down upon my mirage, which dissipates into mist and vanishes. He stumbles forward to where the mirage used to be, his face completely ashen.
I then allow another one of the ‘ghosts’ to charge out of the alley at that bandit. The mirage travels at my top speed, cutting through the air while leaving a large trail of bloodlust behind. The bandits pale even more as this mirage charges into the body of one bandit who simply has no time to react. Once again, the mirage disperses upon contact.
Not wasting any more time, I allow the rest of the mirages to disperse and charge out myself with the second technique I was practising over the past few days.
Crouching down, I take off at my top speed in an instant. I consciously control my afterimage to stay behind in the alley as I stop and reappear behind the bandit who had rushed out to attack my afterimage in fear.
“Watch out! Behind you!” The other two bandits call out fearfully from about ten meters away.
Unfortunately, it’s already too late for this bandit. Two quick attacks to the back of the neck are critical strikes and I follow up by slipping the shortswords through the gap between his neck and collarbone, driving it down into his torso. Executing four critical hits in the blink of an eye, I don’t even leave enough time for the bandit to react before he dies.
“Leeeave.” I say to the other two bandits who are far too frightened to even move.
It is quite the dilemma for the bandits. They can’t run away because they are currently under my aggro, but they can’t get any closer due to the fear conceived by the dragon’s bloodlust.
Taking this as my cue, I slowly turn around and stride off into one of the alleys. Immediately leaving the area using my speed, I return to the abandoned home before day breaks out.
Despite Mason’s objections to my plan, I continue this act for a full week in real life. I approach and attack up to four or five groups of bandits every night in game.
“Jason, did you hear?” one of the bandits outside the residence says in a rough voice. “That elven ghost struck again last night. My best friend Honley was killed!
“It is absolutely terrifying.” Another voice replies, “They say whenever you strike it, it disappears before your very eyes. But when it strikes you, you die!”
“I can’t stand it anymore! I don’t care about what the boss thinks. I am leaving tonight with Kir and the others and never coming back. I’m not waiting around to fall prey to that aberration.”
My plan is slowly succeeding. Each day more and more bandits flee the city in fear of being helplessly killed in the night. I honestly really cannot begin to fathom how many bandits have fled the city, but the number of bandits on the street has halved.
The only concern our group raises is that when the bandits flee, they often take an elf slave or two with them. Seeing elves in collars and chains being led away from their home causes Shai’en to turn silent. Matrix, at one point, tried to console her, but she only replied with silence.
A few days after that, the rate at which the bandits fled dwindled, eventually coming to a grinding halt with 25 percent of the bandits still in the city.
“You know, we may be able to kill them all now” Mason says, his voice brimming with confidence.
“I wouldn’t rush it. If there was forty thousand to begin with, then there are still ten thousand remaining. Are you still confident in being able to fight that many?”
“…No, I guess not.”
“Well then, what we need to do is find out how to get rid of the remaining quarter. We have all heard their conversations and they are dead scared. They practically soil their pants the moment they see me at night. What else is keeping them here?”
“It’s their boss.” Matrix joins the conversation. “I mean, umm, I remember hearing the conversation between two bandits the other week about how he didn’t care what the boss thought, he was leaving regardless. Umm, I think their boss also has them fearing him.”
“True, you have a fair point there. And where would we find him then?”
“In the castle. Where else would we find the final boss but in the biggest and most extravagant house around.”
“Another fair point. Very well, everyone, gear up. We will leave at sundown.”
It is only a quarter-moon tonight, meaning there is a lot less light than usual. It is almost as if we were destined to sneak through the city tonight and infiltrate the castle at the center of Eltreant.
We stay away from the rooftops. While being the quicker and more popular mode of infiltration in the movies, not only would it reveal our silhouettes to anyone looking in our direction but it is also practically impossible with the roofs being constructed by some kind of natural foliage.
More than half the night goes by and we finally arrive at the entrance to the massive structure in the center of the city. The castle, unlike every other building in the city, is made out of stone bricks. The entire building also has an excessive amount of vines growing all over it.
‘I wonder exactly how long this has been here?’ I think while staring in utter shock and admiration at it.
“I’m surprised at the lack of guards.” Mason says over the party chat.
“It is certainly interesting.”
As we pass through the entire courtyard and walk into the building, not a single bandit is in sight. I begin to doubt whether or not this is the passage to the final boss as there’s no one guarding it.
I hear the low sobs of children and gentle hushes of mothers coming from inside one of the rooms. Creeping as close as I can, I wait until the final moment before swinging the door open and jumping into the dimly lit room at maximum speed.
I grind to a halt as I realize that there are no enemies here. The only ones here are the elvish citizens who couldn’t flee and have been thrown in cages placed against this wall. However, there are only a few hundred elves here, meaning that there are a lot more elves locked up in this place.
“Please wait for a while.” I speak to the petrified people. “I must save this city first, otherwise you will only be recaptured, if not killed. Do you understand?”
A few of them nod while the others remain silent with eyes devoid of all life.
“I-it’s horrible.” Shai’en looks down at the prisoners, taking short rugged breaths in between tears, “I had only heard rumours. That there was a place where the rebellious elves a-are locked up until they b-break.”
This may be a game, but this depressing sight is incredibly hard to witness without turning away and grimacing. These once-graceful people are now covered in dirt, blood, and even some gruesome mutilations that could unsettle the hardest of stomachs.
‘Of course, they can only do something like this in an 18+ game.’ I think to myself as I turn around and signal everyone to leave. Walking past Shai’en, I place one hand on top of her downcast head and whisper for her to hold on. Everything will turn around in the end.
We walk through the desolate castle, moans and cries occasionally seeping out of tightly shut rooms. The only one of us who seems to be unaffected by the miasma of depression this castle holds is Fen. The wolf girl simply strolls next to me without a care in the world. Sometimes, I wonder about her disposition.
On what must be the fifth floor, we finally arrive at a ten meter tall set of double doors with golden inlay that threads around, leading to leaf-shaped emerald slivers imprinted into the door. Behind these doors is surely the throne room and the final boss of this legendary quest.
Striding out in front of the rest of the party, I place one hand on each door and shove forward with all my strength. The massive doors slowly begin to creak and open an inch at a time.
Inside, the throne room is well lit with torches along every wall. There isn’t so much as a shadow inside. Seated on the throne at the far end of the room is an old man, far past the age of retirement and who has his head hanging down in a deep slumber.
“Hang on,” I hold my hand out to the others while slowly inching myself forward. “Something just doesn’t feel right. There were no guards, and then this?”
When I get within ten meters of him the man suddenly opens his eyes, revealing two sky blue pupils.
“Who goes there!” His dusty old voice croaks out. “Who are you?”
“My name is Lost. And I am here to put a stop to you!”
“Stop me,” He cackles in outrageous laughter, “I am afraid you are forty years too late. As you can see, the damage has already been done.”
“The elves no longer have a home to return to. And you are the only thing holding the last of the bandits together!” I yell furiously.
“You fool!” He shouted back, his voice breaking halfway through. “I scared them once, and a few have remained loyal. But what about now? Look at me! I am no longer the almighty warrior I once was. I have already lost eighty percent of them who have simply run away from some stupid rumour. It is only a matter of time before the rest leave.”
I remain silent as he doesn’t quite look like he is finished talking yet.
“Listen, rather than ending this now. Will you work for me? Together we can once again slaughter and punish these elves!” A cruel light enters his eyes, sending chills through the air.
Deep down inside, a rage starts to spill forth from the deepest essence of my being. I have learned about the history of the humans in real life. Even the thought of genocide and slavery is something that was drilled into me from a young age as being an atrocious act against humanity itself.
“Are you kidding me?! Who would want to fight for someone who is committing slavery and genocide against an entire race. And for no reason, too!”
“No reason?! Shut your mouth when you have no clue as to what you speak of!”
“OH!? You have some reason to do all this? Well, tell me, what could these people have possibly done to deserve this?!”
“You want to know why?! Because they murdered my wife!”
Our heated conversation instantly turns silent. Both of us take some time to catch our breath.
“They slaughtered her before my very eyes. ‘The traitor who tainted her blood with that of a vile human,’ they said. They even threw my two year old daughter off a cliff for being half human. I managed to flee for my pitiful life after that, but I didn’t even want to live anymore. It was fortunate that Gej’yu gave me her precious necklace when we exchanged wedding vows. This way, I had a reason to cling on to life: to eliminate all the elves and make them regret what they did!”
“… I had no idea.”
“Please, fight for me. I no longer have the strength to do so anymore. I will even teach you all of my old techniques I learnt through life.”
Quest: Liberate Eltreant(Genocide) New information has come to light through your conversation with the bandit leader. You now have the option to change sides and proceed with slaughtering every elf in the town. If you succeed in this ordeal, you may even be entitled to govern a small group of bandits. Accepting will cause all elves to become highly hostile towards you. Grade: Purple
“Sorry, but I have to turn you down. There is no way I can go ahead with that.”
Quest deviation has been rejected.
“I guess there is only one way to finish this.” The old bandit leader draws a rusty shortsword in a shaking hand.
He dashes at me with a speed unbecoming of his age. Unfortunately, it is nowhere near fast enough as not just my sword, but two arrows and a few large ice bolts instantly pierce his body.
Emitting an agonized groan, the bandit leader falls to his knees and dies.
“What the heck! Is it over already? Just like that!?” Mason calls out in shock, running up to where I was still standing.
“I’m sorry.” I say to the corpse in a voice so soft that only I can hear, “I understand that you had your reasons. But you were stuck living in the past and couldn’t move on. There is no way I could fight for someone like you.”
Looking at the loot menu above the boss corpse, there was only one item.
Loot: ◊ Prisoner Key Take / Take All
Three more days in real life passed as traces of the bandits slowly withered away until they completely disappeared from Eltreant. During that time, Shai’en had split from the party, taking the ‘Prisoner Key’ to release all the captive and enslaved elves.
A few days after peace returned to the capital of the elves, the various communities that originally fled the city had gradually returned.
For every elf that returned to the city, the frigid temperature warmed and the mist slowly dispersed. Eventually, the midday sun broke through the mist, revealing a clear blue sky that I never realized how much I missed. The mist of the northern woods never completely left, but instead turned into a fine orange residue that caused everything it touched to be filled with the warmth of life.
The day after life returned to the northern woods and the elves began to flourish once again in their homeland, Shai’en comes running up to us with a never before seen excitement on her face.
“Everyone, come quickly!” She chimes out cheerfully, grabbing my hand with one of hers and Mason’s with the other.
Turning on her heels, she starts dragging us through the city with strength she should not have. We are pulled behind her like a chariot for about ten minutes, before she stops in front of a crowd of people, three of which I recognize.
“Rix?!” I call out, utterly surprised to see the innkeeper here. Right next to him is his wife, Zusa’jan, and the elvish child, Shai’lan.
“Oh, Lost! It is good to see you. I was wondering where you were, missing such an important event!”
“Event? What are you talking about?”
“Shh, just join the crowd and watch.”
Right as I am about to try and peek over the crowd to see what the fuss is about, another familiar face appears before me and the party.
“Lost, it is good to see you again.” Hon’ar, the leader of Eldenweiss’s guard says to me while bowing deeply.
“Hon’ar, I see that you are here too!”
“Haha, of course I am! Anyway, before the ceremony proceeds, I want to give you and all your friends something. Also, if you or any of your friends happen to find a ‘Compact Soul Gem’, you can come see me to be reincarnated as an elf.”
Your quest has been successfully completed As a reward for your hard efforts, Hon'ar has granted everyone the finest grade of Elvish bows. Intimacy with the Elven race has improved greatly. You have brought the Elven race closer to the human race and they are now willing to allow humans to 'Race Change' into elves. All one needs is sufficient intimacy with the Elven Race and a 'Compact Soul Gem'.
My jaw drops open just reading the notification. And just as soon as I start seriously worrying about money. I receive a top quality item that I can sell. Make that two I can sell, Fen got one as well!
Grand Elven Highbow A bow of the finest craftsmanship. It is lightweight bow with unparalleled accuracy. It is incredibly sturdy and the handle can even be used to block most swords. Sung redgum is a material where elven magic is placed into the wood to form the bow. Residual traces of the magic remain and cause the bow to slowly regenerate itself given enough time. This does not apply if the bow becomes broken. Requirements: - Level 115 - Dex 73 Weapon Type: Longbow(Sung Redgum) Attack: 113 - 125 Durability: 71/71 Weight: 3.4 lbs Abilities: - +110% range. - +70% accuracy. - 10% of player level is added to attack damage. - Has the ability to act as a shield at the cost of 5 durability. - Will regenerate 1 durability every hour of play time.
‘An item of legendary rarity!’ I exclaim in my mind, slack-jawed at the purple border around the item description.
“Wait. Did you say ceremony?” I ask Hon’ar quizzically.
“Of course, me and Shai’en are getting married!”
Not just me, but everyone else in the party are completely stunned. The woman in question, Shai’en, walks up next to him and links her arm around and through his. With one seemingly casual step, he leads her into the now parting crowd and up to a platform underneath a tree covered in pink leaves that bring a sweet fragrance to wherever they travel.
“This is it,” The innkeeper’s wife says next to me, “The Tree of Pink Blossoms. The only place in the elvish culture that allows them to officially get married.”
“Shouldn’t you be saying ‘us’, and not ‘them'” I laugh calmly at her.
“Please, I left this world a long time ago. Well, I suppose you could actually say that I was never a part of it in the first place.”
Before I could question her any further, the ‘Tree of Pink Blossoms’ starts to give out a peach-coloured glow as the two elves underneath exchange their vows.
“Shai’en. I, Hon’ar, swear to stay by your side for all eternity; through life and death, through joy and suffering. Should danger come your way, I will hold my bow steady and protect you. Should misfortune befall you, I shall be the one to turn the tides of luck. Should your life come to an end, I shall lie down next to you and keep you company, never leaving your side again.”
“Hon’ar. I, Shai’en, also swear to stay by your side for all eternity, through love and affection, through sadness and turmoil. . Should you ever stray from your path, I will guide you back onto it. Should you ever fall into despair, I will be the light to lift the darkness. Should battle ever claim your life, I will seek eternal vengeance on your killer before I join you in travelling the netherworld, always keeping you company.”
The light from the ‘Tree of Pink Blossoms’ suddenly erupts, illuminating the now husband and wife in a heart-warming radiance. At the peak of the brightness, two silhouettes, man and woman, lean towards each other and seal their vows with a kiss of affection.
Looking at the newly wed couple and seeing how joyful they are, I feel something cold on my cheek. I raise my hand and wipe off a single tear from my face, only for it to be replaced by another.
Beside me, I get a blurry glimpse at Fen. She is the staring at the two, full of an interest I had yet to witness from her. Gently, I close my eyes and let the joyous feelings around me wash through my body.