A few hours had passed. Thaezos and Anya were farming again, this time in their way to the tower.
“What’s this?” asked Anya when she saw two gleaming eyes between some nearby bushes.
They were in a sparsely populated forest, with tall sequoias and pines separated by several feet. Although the tree’s crowns branched out and intertwined, they let go through enough sun light.
“Hm… it seems another wolf. Let me see.”
They both stopped walking.
Pack of wolves x5
“It is,” he explained after a moment. “Level 4 Wolf. And it has an interesting ability to call other wolves which is giving me an idea… We could make the most of this opportunity and gain some experience since wolves are easy to kill.”
“So, do you want to always keep one alive?”
“Exactly,” he beamed.
“Do I shoot?”
“Wait. First, I’m gonna put Drooly on your back to protect you. I’ll do the same for me with my shield,” he explained while he picked up the slime.
Thaezos’s pet had grown and now, he was the size of an adult dog. However, he didn’t weigh much. After that, he equipped his two hatchets and asked Anya to take her bow. She could leave her short sword and daggers sheathed.
“Now, let’s play! Don’t shoot until I tell you.”
Thaezos run towards the wolf and it jumped out of the bushes. It had a damage of 12/18 and 90 health points. Thaezos had 88 health points and his damage with his hatchets was 11 with his left hand and 22 with the right one. He first blocked the creature attack and struck its side with both his hatchets, dealing 17 (14 + 3) damage points. The creature’s skin had avoided 8 damage points from every strike. As the dwarf wanted the wolf wounded, not dead, he struck it twice more with both hatchets and, next, he dodged its remaining attacks until four more wolves appeared. Then, the fun started.
“You can shoot!” he shouted to Anya.
Fast, the dwarf slew the first wolf and tried to keep the rest away from Anya. If any of them approached the girl, he hit them with his hatchets.
Anya stood still, shooting arrows at the wolves. Her aim was getting better. As Thaezos sprinted from one wolf to another, hitting and dodging the creatures, she shot without problems. Anya’s arrows dealt 22 damage points. She aimed at the wolves’ weak points: eyes, head, neck, and belly. She wasn’t able to hit any eyes, but with four shots in the belly, she could kill a wolf. A shot in the belly had a 30% damage bonus and, as the skin was thinner there, the damage reduction was only four. In the neck, the bonus increased to 50%, so she could slay a wolf with almost three arrows. With a head shot, the bonus increased to 70% and, as the skin’s damage reduction remained at 4, she could kill the creature in three hits. And all this without considering Anya’s bad luck, because the creatures sometimes tended to stumble into each other’s legs and fall.
The wolves started calling more creatures with their single mana point. However, Thaezos and Anya were quick to kill them and, if some wolf managed to run towards the girl, she shot it. And if there was more than one, Drooly protected her back, trapping the wolf that wanted to bite her neck and progressively killing it with his corrosive attack.
It was a slaughter. Both Thaezos and Anya gained a lot of experience.
While Anya was killing her eleventh wolf, Thaezos had just drunk another regenerative potion because he was at half-life and a pop-up appeared in front of the girl:
You have obtained a new active spell: Desperation Area
Desperation Area creates a zone where the deepest despair takes roots in the enemies’ hearts, draining their living desire, filling their souls with death and the gloomiest melancholy.
Desperation Area has increased to 1.
Effect: Psychological demoralization.
Effect: 10% slowed down speed and movement.
Effect: - (10 health points + 5% caster’s magic damage) per second.
Size: Circular area with a diameter of 12 yards.
Reach: Center of the area: 15 yards.
Cost: 1 violet mana point per minute.
“Thae!” she shouted over the commotion. “I have a new spell. It has an area of effect.”
“What does it do?” he asked while blocking a wolf’s attack with his right hatchet and hitting it with the other.
Another wolf was on his back, trying to get past the shield that covered his neck and head.
“I don’t know. It seems to be some kind of desperation curse and it deals damage per second,” she said, excited.
“Perfect, cast it! And when you recover your mana, do it again. You have to use it to level it up! If there are problems, we can always run.”
She put her bow on her back and activated the spell. In front of her eyes, made by violet flames, two lines of words appeared. She thought that it was like a creepy karaoke and read them aloud. But nothing happened and, without her arrows to help, Thaezos was struggling to avoid that some of the wolves attacked her instead.
Anya read the words aloud again, but still didn’t get results. She got nervous. What was she missing? She forced herself to breathe deeply and slowly. Next, she reread the spell information. Two wolves escaped from Thaezos and ran towards her. As she realized the attack too late, she had no time to take her bow, so she unsheathed her dagger and fought hand-to-hand with one of the wolves. The other circled her and jumped onto her back. Luckily, the slime was there. Drooly, which had already finished with the last wolf that had done the same, took care of it.
Anya ended up with claws and bites wounds which hurt like hell, but she managed to stab the creature until it died. The black dust fell over her shoulders, belly, and chest and, staring at it, she realized that there was a dim light in her right shoulder which spread towards her back as if it was some violet dust floating static in the air.
Could it be?
She moved her shoulder back. Then, the violet dust appeared in the tip of her fingers, painting the beginning of a path. She started following it, and it was as if she were dancing with her hand. The spell words, which were still in front of her, started to flicker. She knew what to do and recited the words. At the same time, she moved her other hand whose finger tips had also that violet mist.
“You, enemies that surround me. You, foolish, are doomed. The forbidden spirits of those who have fallen before, the thirsty demons, the ominous banshees, the creatures that dig out of the earth’s grave, have marked you. You, cursed and foreboded to find an early death, listen to my warning: there is no escape, no release. Death is coming and possesses your name. Call of despair!”
The letters disappeared and the power that she felt gathering inside herself was suddenly released. An unexpected blast of wind, as if she were the center of an explosion, blew from her, raising the heavy cloth of her skirt and the red locks of her hair. While the shock wave advanced, the ground in a twelve-yard diameter around her darkened. It was as if night had suddenly reached the ground and the sunbeams that entered through the tree branches couldn’t illuminate the forest. At the same time, a deep, desperate sensation expanded, flowing from the ground in black plumes of darkness and hopelessness. One of them coiled around Anya’s legs and crawled upwards until reaching her mouth, into which it entered. She suddenly felt sad, depressed, as if even breathing was too much effort. But, it disappeared as suddenly as it reached her, and she realized that the same happened with Thaezos.
Now, with her eyes wide open, she saw that the strong wind had done nothing but spread her spell. It was the ground that seemed to be damaging the wolves. Besides, it was not only affecting the hostile creatures, because the weeds and the bushes were turning gray and withering.
Those plumes of darkness had entered the wolves’ throats, and they were suffering desperation and reacting slowly.
The spell didn’t last long, just one minute, but it was enough to overkill all the wolves that were inside the affected area. Thaezos took care of the ones that were not, striking their heads for quick kills. Anya helped him with her bow, hitting at the creatures that tried to get out of her spell. The dwarf observed how the health points of those beasts inside the dark area were lowering fast. In about eight seconds, they were all dead, and the only wolves left were the ones he was fighting. Before he could finish exterminating them, they recovered their wasted mana point and call the pack again.
“This has no end!” yelled out Anya.
“If you feel tired, tell me.”
“No problem, I can fight. Besides, I want to cast my spell again.”
They continued for hours, resting from time to time. When the bow felt like a heavy weight in her hands and her arms ached from shooting, she asked Thae for a final rest and they killed the remaining wolves fast, not giving them time to call the pack.
Once the battle had finished, the pop-ups appeared:
One of your spells has leveled up.
Curse level 4: You bring bad luck to nearby enemies.
Area of Effect: 4.5 yards.
Archery Skill has increased to 5.
Effect: +2.5% damage bonus.
Effect: +2 yards range.
Axe Skill has increased to 6.
Effect: +3% damage bonus.
Effect: Bleeding. DoT: +2.5% of the damage dealt in the last hit. +4% if the target is moving. Duration: until the wound is bandaged.
Fists Skill has increased to 4.
Effect: +2% damage bonus.
Physical Resistance level 12. (Thaezos)
Effect: +1.2% physical damage reduction.
Block Skill has increased to 5.
Effect: +0.5% blocking.
Effect: +1% defense when blocking.
One of your spells has leveled up.
Stone Skin level 2: Your body toughens, making you more resistant to physical damage as if your own skin turned into an armor.
Effect: +4 defense.
“I’m exhausted,” she said after sitting down on the ground. “I don’t want to move for a while.”
“Well, this isn’t exactly a good place to rest. Come with me to the nearest clearing where I’ll cook for you,” he said with a wink.
“You’re a slave driver,” she teased back. “Where have your manners gone? Fine, I’ll stand up, just give me a second…”
The dwarf helped her stand up and they went to the clearing, where Anya collapsed onto a stone.
“We should also log out after eating. It must be late in the real world,” she said about half an hour later.
The dwarf had lit a fire with fallen branches and was cooking a roast.
“I imagine I’ll be exhausted there too because last time we were farming, when I disconnected, my body was aching.”
“Hmm, so you too realized. I think it is a secondary effect of the immersion technology. The VR is so real that our brains made our muscles move, and the jelly substance we are lying in just stops us from hitting the capsule walls.”
“I guessed the same. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one with aching muscles.” She gave him a tired smile. “By the way, what are you cooking? It smells delicious.”
“Roasted wolf meat,” he said.
“I’ve never had wolf in real life. At least it’s not a rat.”
Thaezos frowned. He did not like the idea of his little red-haired friend eating rat meat. As there was only one cybercafé in the city, perhaps he could wait for her at the exit.
That was one of the reasons by which he wanted to oversee the neighborhood’s security. In the game, it was easy to beat one enemy or two (for example, those PKers of the other day). The security level inside the cybercafé was high. Of all the rooms, you could only access to the chamber where your capsule was located and, if you approached another player’s capsule, a voice politely asked you to go backward and sent an alarm to the security guards. So, the only place where PKers or other hostile players could attack you in real life was the cybercafe’s exit. He hadn’t seen anything unusual these days, except for some menacing whispers between some guys that resolved without violence. However, he knew it was just a matter of time.
Definitively, he decided that he would wait for Anya, as he had done on other occasions without being seen. However, this time he would wave at her and invite her to have some fruit from his gang’s greenhouses.
He finished roasting the meat over the fire and a pop-up appeared:
Cookery Skill has increased to 4.
Now you can use finer ingredients and prepare dishes that recover more health or apply other beneficial effects.
He shared out the meat and, as they were eating in silence, he had a look at his character sheet because he had raised some passive stats while fighting the wolves. His health points had risen too:
Class: Not unlocked
Survivor bonus: 0%
Physical condition: Normal
Free stats: 10
Build level: 9
After eating, they logged out and agreed to wait for each other in the clearing.