Although he was exhausted to the point he was out of Stamina, Drake felt much better after crushing the monster's body to nothing but mush. He also realized two things.
His own stubborn obliviousness had gotten Drake into this situation. He, as a rule, refused to ask for clarification on an assignment. He had no wish to be an ass kisser, and Drake knew that Sydney wouldn’t appreciate it. But when he then began to get furious at her for failing to give him the proper guidance on this fucked up mission…
If he had just known that he was to seek out Roy and kill him, he could have moved so much more quickly through this godforsaken place.
But there was a new, unforeseen variable. Drake looked down at the Item in his hand. It was almost like a half of a ying-yang symbol, with a deep blue color. It fit naturally in his palm.
Longing of the Naga (S) Lvl 60: A special calcification of energy that occurs when a lessor bloodline of the Naga holds a great amount of dissatisfaction in its heart. Part of a pair. Reuniting the Longing of the Naga with the Hope of the Naga will reveal the item’s true purpose. Distinct Smell V.
Distinct Smell V: Monsters of a certain type can detect the scent of this item from a great distance. Just by touching the item, you will attract such monsters like flies. Monster type: Bloodlines of the Naga.
Drake sighed theatrically as he cursed his mixed luck, but there was only Ryx watching. On the one hand, this meant there would likely be a lot of those fucking Frogipede’s coming. For all that they were good experience, a mass of them would tie him down and crack him open like an egg.
On the other hand… Drake had found what appeared to be a quest item. In the wild. Drake had never seen a quest item himself: they required certain buildings bought from the Village Store, and even then they were extremely rare. Quest Rated bosses were apparently incredibly difficult, but also incredibly rewarding.
The only Quest Item that Drake knew of was the feathered headband that Annie had taken to wearing recently, and that was only because Dozer grew drunk and boast about it one night. As to the exact specifications, no one truly knew.
But it meant something that its specs were enough to sway Annie, the White Archer of Donnyton.
It also did a lot to assuage Drake’s frustration. It had felt like he was wasting his time here on the whim of Sydney, due to his own stubbornness. But he suddenly stumbled across a very good reason to remain here and explore the area. It also lent credence to their being something particular in this Danger Zone. perhaps not the fountain of youth, but still…
The only problem was finding this Hope of the Naga. There were two possibilities that seemed likely as to that. He would need to find and kill more blue Frogipedes, or maybe even a different variant color. Or…
Drake turned and looked at the grey geometric shape with the regular doors. In his palm, the Longing of the Naga grew warm to the touch. Shaking his head, Drake could only begin to walk towards the grey lump. He supposed that was one sort of answer.
What he found did not please him: inside the door was a fucking maze. Clicking his tongue, Drake turned around to depart and get a better lay of the land but found that the door he used to enter had abruptly turned into a solid stone wall.
The high walls met a ceiling about five meters above, but the passages forward were only one and a half meters wide. With Drake in his bone armor, it was very close to him brushing up against the walls. He considered dismissing the armor, but Ryx strongly whined in opposition. That sharpened his attention; Ryx only grew this agitated when the death energy nearby was strong.
With no other choice, Drake entered the maze. There were three passages available to him, and he randomly selected the middle one. The passage was long and winding. Drake was not pleased to notice that the walls of the passage were old and scratched, as though something had dragged itself through this place a long time ago.
Swearing under his breath, Drake continued walking until he came to a turn.
He went left there.
At the next junction, he also went left.
At the next, he went right. The passages continued to curve slightly away in front of him, meandering like a snake, back and forth, before returning to a junction. By the time he arrived, Drake had no idea which direction he should be heading in. The junction portions were rather small, three by three-meter squares amongst the twisting passages. Based on the fact the entrance had disappeared, Drake strongly suspected that he was now hopelessly lost.
There was a bright point. After a few such turns, Drake realized that when holding the Longing of the Naga, it would become warmer when he faced certain twists and turns. By following those, Drake felt like he backtracked for a few, and then found the right path forward. It was nice that he was provided with this Quest Item that acted as a guide, but it made him worried what he would have done if he hadn’t found it. Perhaps you always found this as a key, and at the core of the maze was the Hope of the Naga?
Plus, there were no Frogipedes inside the maze so far, so the downside of the item didn’t even-
A dollop of saliva the size of a fist dropped onto the path in front of Drake. He paused briefly, then looked up. Three frog eyes were clustered together above him, the three Frogipede bodies clinging to the ceiling.
As soon as he looked up, the first exploded into motion downwards towards him, leading with its head and forelegs.
That was a mistake. Drake simply set his feet as best he could and raised his huge blade and the Frogipede did the rest of the work itself. In the enclosed space, Drake couldn't’ dodge anyways, and he sure as hell couldn’t swing his sword in any complicated way. But with the pointy end in the right direction, this blue Frogipede died almost immediately, although it pinned Drake to the ground and knocked the wind out of him.
The two others followed quickly, and Drake took his left hand from his sword and grabbed the spiked shell on his back on his back and pulled hard. “Ryx!”
The shell transformed into a smaller bone disk covered in strange letterings and Drake whipped it up at his enemies. Midair, it twisted and seemed to ripple like the surface of a calm lake. It sank into the fleshy body of the first Frogipede, whose back end was only now detaching from the ceiling as it realized it was dead. The other two rushed downward towards Drake, their eyes red in fury.
The dead body exploded in a huge wave of concussive force and body shards. So strong was the force that Drake abruptly snapped back up. He was laying on the ground. The hit had briefly knocked him out. He always knew that Ryx’s power over dead bodies was the stronger the more recently dead it was, but… This was ridiculous. The hallway was covered in blood and bits of gore. The grey stone was almost completely soaked.
But as Drake staggered to his feet, scraping his bone armor against the walls, his ears slowly came back to focus. The two Frogipedes were heavily wounded, but still moving. Grimacing, Drake searched for his sword for a while, before finding it in a squeaky pile of skin. Then he got to the grim work of butchering these things in the small space.
It was exhausting but doable. After finishing them all off, Drake moved some distance away from the spot of the fight and meditated. Please with itself, Ryx trotted over to Drake and presented itself for petting. After giving Ryx a sufficient amount of attention, Drake let out a long breath. Then he continued forward, refusing to pause.
There was meaning to this. If Drake could truly accomplish it-
Drake paused at the next junction; the item in his hand was almost burning hot. Drake looked up, and as he did so, he felt the ground open up beneath him. By instincts more than anything else, Drake spread his arms and expanded the bone armor to lengthen his arms. It took a bit of doing, but his hands extended far enough to touch the corners of the room about the time his waist was flush with the previous ground.
Then his heart went cold: he had dropped the item.
Instantly, he twisted and his bone gauntlet formed even as the strange pain shot through his Class. He twisted and reached, aiming for the Longing of the Naga, but abruptly stopped, and instead withdrew his bone gauntlet to once more steady himself in the pitfall.
The Longing of the Naga fell slowly and began to glow. There was a figure below. As the shaft went down, it slowly widened. So the figure had been forced to lay sideways and only then could press his legs against the one wall, and his head and neck against the other, barely keeping himself from slipping deeper.
As the Longing of Naga fell, a light came from the man’s hand. It rose and met the falling light, and there was a clap of thunder. Drake blinked away the stars, and there was a strange disk floating softly down to the figure below.
Roy, the Undying Hero, coughed awkwardly, then smiled at Drake. “Well, this is certainly a surprise.”