Eye of Adventure

by

ziki

Chapter 38 “Savage lands of the west.”

Advertisement
Remove
Settings

Chapter 38 “Savage lands of the west.”

One day has already passed since Arata’s encounter with gigantic spider. Thankfully, the plan with the decoy has worked and the party successfully managed to escape the widow’s forest. Still even after escaping the forest to the ‘open green lands’ that was behind it, it was still not the time to celebrate.

After leaving the forest, it still took them half a day to reach their first planned ‘stop point’. It took them this long not only because on their way they once again encountered difficult enemies but also because the place that Shin choose for their stop was filled with wild animals that defended that place. Nevertheless it was really a good place for ‘the first stop point’ as there the party was surrounded by walls of rock that would not allow any enemy to make a flank attack on them. In a way it was like a fortress with only one entrance to this rocky valley. That entrance was consistently guarded by someone all the times while the others were resting. After all, there was no truly safe place in the west.

Currently, it was a night time and Arata just finished his turn on ‘guard duty’. Before his turn started he already managed to catch four hours of sleep. At that time a dream came to him immediately as he was really tired after what have happen in last two day. The anxiety he has gathered while running away from the lair of spiders in widow’s forest was with him for the whole time until they reached this place. After those four hours he took the guard’s duty together with Vivi as the guarding duty was done in pairs but somehow the conversation did not go well as they still remembered what has happened before they reached this place.

After Yume’s noble sacrifice the atmosphere in the party got drastically worse. Even though no one said anything, everyone kept on thinking it.

Arata also was thinking about that person, still rather than focusing on what has happen yesterday, he rather focused on good memories that he had of her.

Yume was the first person that Arata meet after completing 100th level barrier. Despite the fact that their first conversation had to be ended quickly, Arata then meet Yume once again in Karma. At that time Yume was trying to find someone to solve a ‘Morgorian riddle’ and Arata was in the need of gold. It was something simple as that but if Arata did not get interested in that job, so many things could go different way.

“I guess if it weren’t for Yume I wouldn’t be helping you with this quest right now.”

Arata looked at Rin and thought like this, he would definitely not voice his thoughts to her right now though.

Currently Rin, similar to Arata was not sleeping and she was sitting in crouching position and she was looking at the campfire. Arata was also sitting next to this campfire but nearly at the opposite side of it. He was not sure what he should say to her right now. She was sitting there like this, while wearing her red hood on her head. Her face was not visible right now as it was covered from the top by the hood and the rest of her face, was hidden behind her arms, in which she was placing her head. Only her eyes could be easily visible as they were reflecting the light from the campfire.

Arata already considered telling her some words like, ‘It’s not like Yume is dead’, or ‘you will meet her soon after the quest is done’. Still, there was no need to tell her something like this as Rin knew it perfectly, just like everyone else knew it perfectly as well. Still, it was not that easy to get over it as no matter what they would think the fact was that currently Yume was not with them anymore and there was not a single person in this party that did not have good connections with her.

“Well, I am sure that when the new day arrives and everyone will get enough sleep, they will stop being so negative about it.”

No matter what would happen, dying in games was a common thing. After four hours of sleep, Arata was no longer trying to think if there was something else that they could do at that time, so Yume did not have to do what she did. Right now his thoughts changed to something different.

“Yume sacrificed herself so we could reach the heaven’s gate and complete that quest, the only thing we can do right now is to complete that quest and later on return in glory with ‘world first’ in our grasp.”

Arata thought like this but completing the quest of the rank three would already long be done by someone if all it took was one person dying. At most so far Arata made only one small step towards completing it. After seeing Yume’s death on the first day, Arata expected to see more people dying as well. He was not optimistic enough to think that everyone will be alive after completing the quest. Actually the chances of everyone dying were rather high naturally Arata included but Arata already decided that if he will be in a position in which he can choose a single person that he would want to see alive at the end then it would be Rin. It was true that Arata’s current objective was to get the world first himself, still it was only the promise that he made to himself. Even though it was important, for Arata promises to others were more important and he already promised that he will help Rin to complete her quest and he had resolve do to it even if he had to die.

“What is she doing anyway!? In few hours our break will be done and I don’t think there will be many occasions to rest.”

After waiting for some more time, in the end Arata decided to call out to Rin anyway. He walked towards her although he did, she didn’t even move her head in his direction as if she didn’t realize he came closer although it was probably more that she simply ignored him. Not seeing her face he started.

-Rin, if you don’t go to sleep right now, you will be tired during the whole day afterwards. It’s not good to be sleepy doing the fights.
-even if I will be half awake I will still be doing better than you.

Without looking at him, Rin answered to his worry with an insult.

“That’s how you answer to my worry!”

Not only she did not listen to him but also he decided to step on his pride a little bit, Arata was little pissed by it but he couldn’t say anything back to what she said.

-still, it would have been better for everyone if you were in your best condition.
-by everyone you mean who?

This time Rin replayed with a strange question.

-well, everyone who is here. Both those that are sleeping and those that are guarding the entrance.
-they will do fine on their own. They don’t need my help. Then in cases they will need my help they will decide to not ask for it but rather ran away. So tell me Arata, why should I ever bother?

It seemed like she still had yesterday’s events on her mind.

-then what!? Would it have been better to fight against ‘that’ and lose more people!?

Arata ended up raising his voice.

-quiet, can’t you see that everyone is sleeping.

To that however Rin simply pointed out this fact. In comparison to Arata and Rin, the party was not wasting any second of rest that they could get so nearly everyone were either sleeping or at least they were trying to sleep meaning they were in sleeping position.

-yes, my bad.

Arata returned to his previous tone.

-Arata, you know… I think that most people here, just like you said would prefer to try and fight that spider and die trying rather than sacrificing someone. Still, they decided against that as even if we managed to somehow win, just as you said many would definitely die, no argue about that.
-well. If we want to have a chance to reach the heaven gate then that was the most logical choice.
-ah, don’t start talking like that white four-eyes again…

“White four-eyes?”

Rin had an interesting nickname for Shin.

-everyone knows that it was a logical choice, still you are forgetting about something Arata. The only reason that they want to get to the heaven’s gate in the first place is because of us. If it weren’t for us joining them, they would probably be satisfied if their expedition ended with a great battle against some creature that made even you run for your life.
-well, you should have seen how it looks.
-ahhhhh!…

In this moment Rin finally looked up to him. Arata so far was standing over her.

-what I wanted to say is that we are getting in their way. I already saw that they, by themselves can have their adventure in the west without us. Then I, you and Levi also should be able to get to the heaven’s gate by ourselves. Still, because we joined with this group they ended up also going there and now you see what happened.
-well, all you said is true but I think that right now they also want to reach heaven’s gate just as us. Even if they don’t have the quest, this is still adventure worth remembering.
-still, it’s our fault that Yume had to die alone… Anyway Arata! Remember, when we first were joining with this group you said that I can decide at any moment when will we depart from it without giving any reason and I have been thinking that now is the time to…

“Ah, what is she about again?”

Arata decided that listening to what Rin was saying right now wouldn’t turn out good so he stopped listening to her and decided to do something about it. Although he knew perfectly that right now the words wouldn’t be of any use so he used a different approach.

-hey what are you doing!

Rin shouted at him as Arata caught her with his right hand in a place where the collar of her clothes should be and picked her up to the height where her legs were not touching the ground anymore. It wasn’t that hard as Rin was considerably shorter than him and was also quite light.

Surprisingly apart from that shout, Rin was not resisting at later point anymore. It was probably because the way that Arata picked her up right now was quite similar to the way his grandfather would pick up Rin whenever she would worry about things that she couldn’t do anything about anyway.

-now then…

Arata started.

-first of all, stop blaming yourself for what happened. If you want to blame someone then blame me because it was me who ‘pulled’ that creature and it started hunting us.
-then are you blaming yourself, Arata?

Rin decided to ask while still being in the air.

-not really, things like this happen and when there was little I could do about it anyway why should I spend my time over blaming myself…

For a really long time in his life, Arata was blaming himself for ‘something more important’. That’s why stuff like someone’s death in the game that happened and will happen all the time did not have much effect on him anymore. When he first started EOA he didn’t have that conviction right away as the world was too realistic but later on, he himself slayed many players already so Arata took it as natural element of the game as it should be taken.

-rather than blaming anyone or thinking about it, it would be better to just rest and prepare for tomorrow so we don’t have to repeat what happened again. And that leads to the second thing I wanted to tell you so… Amanda, be a good girl and go to sleep already.

Arata decided to use Rin’s other name while saying that. It was partly because if he was already trying to copy his grandfather right now, he might as well go all the way. Arata said those words to Rin in the exact same manner that his grandfather would have and it actually had a magical effect.

-fine, I am sorry. I won’t do it again…

“Oh, she also played along.”

It seemed like Rin also well remembered those scenes as she also answered in nearly the same manner.

-now, let me down already…

Rin said that to him and Arata put her back on the ground right away.

-don’t think it’s because of what you just said, but I am going to sleep now.

With that said, Rin started to walk away.

-yes, yes.
-but before I go, Arata…

She stopped and turned her head again and then she said.

-the next time you try to call me like that prepare for the consequences.

When she said that, her face was not laughing and her voice was cold so Arata decided to took that advice to the heart.

“Ah, now that I think about it we still didn’t get over that fight?”

By ‘fight’ Arata didn’t mean here a real fight but argue that they had.

“Well, I guess that before I can do anything about that, I need to somehow win against her in fight… that might be impossible for now though.”

Currently Arata didn’t have time to think about that matter though. Then even if he managed to think of something new, right now, he still couldn’t just ask Rin for the fight. Fighting in the middle of the savage lands of the west was probably not the best idea. Not only they would weaken themselves but also the fight would probably call the nearby enemies that were lurking in the shadows everywhere. Although saying in the shadows may be wrong as in the west the monsters were out in the open and with their brute strength they didn’t really on any tricks.

“I told her to go to sleep while I stay awake.”

About 10 minutes after Rin went to sleep, Arata arrived at this thought.

“Well, four hours should be enough anyway and in this world the sleep works on its own rules.”

The Rules that Arata unfortunately, did not know.

“Still, I finally have some time so… hihihihi.”

Arata made an evil grin and summoned the menu system by crossing his fingers in the left hand. From there, he went to inventory section and then he took out two items from it, namely [Sword enchanter’s skill book] and [The twilight swordsman’s skill book].

In the middle of yesterday’s battle for survival, Arata managed to level up once up and now he had 110th level. Ignoring the increase in level, at that time Arata focused only on one message and that was [new skills unlocked]. Right now, Arata did not even remember when the last time that he saw this message was. Some time ago, Arata learned Shin’s theory about getting new skills. Whatever it was true or not, Arata did not know but according to that theory, Arata was not doing what he was supposed to do as either twilight swordsman or sword enchanter. Well, so far Arata got many new sword enchants and other skills so he at least was probably doing the better job at his second class.

Despite the fact that today’s skills were not unlocked by his own effort, Arata was definitely not going to complain, even if those turn out to be some random passives once again.

“If I see the word passive again then don’t blame me for what will happen.”

Well… maybe he would complain.

“Now then, I want some good spells that will help me win against Rin.”

With this last pray, Arata opened the first book [Sword enchanter’s skill book].

On the first pages there was the same old description of the class that Arata newer even bothered to read and this time was no different. After skipping the description, Arata reached the old spells that he already learned. If Arata wanted to see them again, he would better do it in the menu’s [skill section] as there he could get much more information about his skills, including his progress on those skills and how they changed after leveling them up. In skill books however, the skills were still in their original states. The class skillbooks were not the place where you check out your skills but rather the item from which you learn new skills after unlocking them.

After going through few pages, Arata reached the point where just few days ago, the blank pages were. Now however, there were two new pages filled, which automatically meant two new skills as each skill usually took one page in the skill book even if its description or the picture next to it was small.

“Please, no passive, please no passive. Also please no another type of enchant, anything but that.”

One might laugh at Arata’s thoughts but passives and another types of enchants was what he usually got. After getting mentally prepared, Arata started reading his first new skill and the name of it was.

[Thunder enchant]

“Nooooooo!”

After reading the word ‘enchant’ Arata went into agony and only the fact that he was surrounded by sleeping people stopped him from yelling out loudly.

“WHY!!!! … No wait, it’s not just another sword enchant type as those always started with sword enchant before it.”

After a minute Arata calmed down and saw the light in the tunnel.

“Now that I think about it, new sword enchants types just appeared on the same page under the word type. Okay, so this is at least not another simple sword enchant.”

After calming down, Arata went back to reading.

[Thunder enchant

With the use of lightning nature, you enchant your sword with a strong electric charge which will make your next successful strike, stun you opponent for ‘5 seconds to 5 hours’ depending on your opponent. The skill works on nearly every organic creature and many not organic creatures. To stun ‘gigantic creatures’ you need to sacrifice ‘appropriate amount of mana’.

Note: Skill brings unexpected results when used on mechanic creatures that are powered by electricity.

Coldown: 3 minutes.
Cost: 300 mana (for human size enemy)
Current level of skill 1(0%)]

“So in short it’s a stun spell.”

Arata make quick understanding of his new skill. ‘Stun spell’ was a spell that’s purpose was not to damage the opponent but rather disable its ability to move. Still, once someone is not able to move, it was rather easy to finish off that opponent.

“I still need to hit someone with my sword for it to work and what’s worse I probably need to use this enchant right before hitting someone but fine, fine, I will not complain…”

Arata thought like this although.

“This skill does not help me against Rin in the least.”

Currently for Arata, it all came to that. Arata couldn’t hit Rin normally anyway so this spell with the condition of hit the enemy to work would be completely useless against her. At least it was useful against nearly everything else but Arata cared little about that, he had other values.

“Okay, what’s the other spell?”

Arata looked at the other page of the book.

[Reflect enchant

You enchant your sword with the powerful counterspell magic that reflects the incoming magical attack back to its caster. Your weapon must to come in contact with the spell for ‘Reflect enchant’ to work.

Note: Should the skill fail because of insufficient mana, your mana goes to zero and there is no effect.

Cost: Mana cost of reflected spell.
Current level of skill 1(0%)]
]

“Do I really need more anti magic spells?”

Those were Arata’s first thought’s after reading the other spell. It once again turned out to be another ‘enchant’ but given it was from the class called sword enchanter he probably couldn’t ask for anything else. Luckily this also was not another type of ‘basic sword enchant’, so it was not that bad.

“I guess that makes this profession to be anti-mage profession, right?”

Arata arrived at the conclusion to which he should have arrived long time ago.

“Well, I can already cut down the spells but this one might be much more fun. It’s slightly less mana efficient but its effect is much more as reflecting an attack is also an attack and who would expect their attack to turn against them. But then again this counterspell works only on magic that can be taken on the swords. I don’t think that I can reflect just about anything with it.”

Some magic simply did not have a shape. It would be easy to reflect a spell like a fireball but for example a magic that summons a snowstorm like the one that Arata saw Yuki use was probably not ‘reflectable’ by Arata’s new skill mostly because there was no logic on how it would work.

“Ah, I want to test it out somehow.”

The thunder enchant was quite easy to understand and there was nothing complicated about it, it was a stun spell. In comparison Arata wanted to test out his reflect magic right away. After thinking for a second, Arata remembered that right now one of two magicians that were left in this party was now guarding the entrance so Arata decided to go to him right away.

-hey Hiro, can you help me out with something.

After walking towards ‘the entrance’, Arata said it to the magician with the azure hair. Currently Hiro and Flynn were on duty of guarding the entrance. Arata remembered that Hiro is here because he was the one who was switching with him. Actually Flynn’s and Hiro’s shift was also nearly its end.

-sure what do you need?

Hiro answered to him in sleepy voice. It didn’t seem like there were any attacks lately.

-great, in this case, can you shoot one of your water balls at me?
-do I look to you like portable shower machine?
-hahaha.

Flynn who was also standing there ended up laughing.

“Well this one was a good one.”

-no I didn’t mean that I need to clean myself, characters in EOA can’t get dirty for really long right?

Just like minor wounds would eventually heal with the hp regeneration, the dirt would also go away.

-I know but if you really wanted to clean yourself then you wouldn’t be the first one who ever asked me that question.

It seemed like Hiro already had experience as ‘portable shower machine’.

-aye, that actually happens a lot.

Flynn added.

-well I will explain myself. I just got new skill and I wanted to test it out.

Arata explained the matter.

-well I don’t know why you need me firing water balls at you but sure. So what do you order? With spin, extra power or really gigantic one, or all of those combined?
-hmm, it should probably be simple one, that wouldn’t make much damage, but just ended up wetting someone.
-are you sure that you are not using me to clean yourself?

After Arata asked with a specific like this Hiro had to ask once again.

-it’s really not this. Anyway just shoot it.

With that Arata moved four meters away from Hiro and unsheathed his black sword.

[Reflect enchant]

-okay here I go.

Hiro ended up swiftly casting a simple water ball that somehow lacked the power in it, still this one was the one Arata asked for. Nevertheless the water ball had its usual speed.

When it came, Arata attacked that ball with his sword the same way he would usually cut the spells in half. But then right before the water ball got in contact with the black sword, a purple barrier appeared right between those two and the water ball ended up being reflected and flied back to Hiro, who surprised by what happened ended up letting that water ball hit his face, which even though probably didn’t do much damage physically, it made his face and all cloths wet immediately.

-hahahaha… .

Seeing Hiro getting a treatment like this, Flynn could not help but laugh again. In a way, Hiro looked just as if some kids shoot him in the face with a water gun. Hiro tried to remain calm but after seeing Flynn laughing at him so hard he couldn’t let it go. He pointed his hand at Arata and started.

-I have seen the ocean, the endless blue… .

“Ups this is bad.”

-well, I really didn’t mean to do that. It was just a test.
-everywhere I look, the endless blue… .

“Okay time for the strategic retreat.”

Arata decided to vanish before Hiro could finish off his basic magic poem. Luckily he was not chased.

“Well, reflect enchant works more or less as I thought it will.”

Arata returned to where campfire was and sit down on the rock that was around it and served as the chair.

“Now then.”

Arata looked with disappointment at his other skill book, the twilight swordsman one.

“I don’t know what you want from me to do as a twilight swordsman but if you don’t give me some good skills I am stop calling you my main profession and switch to being sword enchanter.”

There was a reason why Arata was angry at this class. That profession despite having rank two was actually not that useful. The profession that should be second only to those of rank one should be much more useful but right now Arata found his second profession sword enchanter much more useful. It had strong attack in from of sword slash and many useful utilities like changing the nature of his attacks to that of different elements. If there were enemies vulnerable to fire he would use fire enchant, if there would be enemies vulnerable to light, he would use light enchant. It would be especially good if he encountered an enemy that was immune to physical attacks. Even in the last fight just by using water enchant he could without problem cut through the spider web which otherwise was incredibly hard to get rid of. Then lastly there was the fact that Arata could cut through the spells as long as he knew of what element they were and most of the times it was easy to guess. Sure it might not be useful when enemies did not use magic but when they did, that ability was outstanding. Also just now he got another two quite useful skills as well.

“If opponent uses magic then I can deal with it in many ways now and if he wants to fight in melee then I will gladly take anyone with my swordsmanship. Then the one good thing about reflect enchant in comparison to normal cutting is that I don’t need to know the element that was used. So just so you know you useless profession you have a good rival here. So if you don’t stop being useless I will not only stop calling you my first profession but also I will start looking for a class change book and replace you.”

Even though the class change books were rare, Arata already seen one so he did know they existed and if something existed, it should be possible to get it.

After ‘trying to have a talk with his profession’ Arata opened his skillbook and went to the last pages quickly. Even though the new skills were probably the result of Hikari’s ritual, Arata would not be surprised if he got nothing yet again. He did not remember when the last time was, he got anything from this class and the only skill that he was using that was directly connected to the twilight swordsman skills was black dash. Apart from that, Arata also had ‘stream of night’ but Arata rarely used it as it only served as a temporary increase in his damage. The other skills would be more of normal warrior type meaning, [leap] and [strike]. Strike in particular was a skill that Arata got the moment he got his profession and so far, despite playing for few months now in game time, he never used it and did not plan to use it. Apart from those skills there also were four passives.

One of them was [Warrior’s eyes] that Arata never understood what it actually did. The skill said that his eyes should get more adjusted to the weapon attacks but Arata’s eyes were already adjusted to those attacks after his training anyway so it did not help him much and he did not feel any difference. Then there were two other passives. One originally increased his strength by 10% and other agility by 20%, after leveling it up it was not 15% and 25%, still Arata did not know how it actually helped him in any way. In the first place, Arata did not know what stats actually did as he never really felt any difference from them. Sure he knew that if he were to use his lighting speed ability which increased his movement speed originally by 100% now after leveling it up once by 105%, Arata could move with double speed. Understanding something like that was simple but Arata had no idea what other stats do. Like for example his last passive which increased his damage with use of swords by 30%.

Arata had no idea what the stats that were in ‘character menu window’ do. Before reaching 100th level Arata could at least see the difference in ‘attack stat’ in his weapons, as monsters had HP bars visible and attack from one sword would do more than other despite Arata not having any difference in strength between the two. Still now that those HP bars were gone, Arata couldn’t get the obvious answer. Although sometimes he still felt that his class weapon, black sword ‘Kuroi’ could cut through many more things than his red sword that he got from Loki.

Anyway because Arata did not feel any difference because of his stat increase, he did not consider stats really important so all his passives which increased those stats to him were ‘useless passives’ and the class that focused mostly on those, for Arata would be called an ‘useless class’.

Arata arrived at the end of his book quite quickly as there was no much to go through. Despite having some bad thoughts it turned out that Hikari’s ritual really did the trick and there were two new pages filled. Arata would need to turn the page to see the second skill so he only confirmed that it’s there and started with first one. The first thing he did however was not reading it but rather Arata scanned the whole page in the search of the word passive.

“Good no word passive in sight and this picture also looks good.”

Apart from the description of the skill, on the pages, there were also pictures. In sword enchanter skill book those were mostly just pictures of swords with different kind of ‘effects’ surrounding them, here however the picture looked much more interesting and could already tell much. Still, Arata went right away to reading the effect of the skill.

[Shadow hand.

Using the energy of the darkness you materialize the hand of shadows that can catch the enemy bring them to the range of your swords. The range to which the shadow hand can spread is five meters. Depending on the size of your enemy the size of your shadow hand will also increase.

Cost: 300 stamina (for human sized opponent)
Current level of skill 1(0%)]

After reading the skill, Arata had mixed feeling. Sure it did seem useful but after seeing the picture in which a black hand was coming out from person’s body, he thought that it will be something different.

“Hmm… well it will be useful but it can be a little bit more useful. I already learned that skills can be used in different ways depending on what the player wants to do with it.”

Arata was using black dash to land from the impossible distances or his sword enchant to cut through other people’s spells, he already was quite creative with those skills and he even lately managed to learn that doing that is generally called ‘skill manipulation’ by players.

“Let’s test some other uses than pulling over other players, let’s start with picking up something rather than griping it.”

Arata ended up standing up and looked at his previous chair, the large rock.

“Okay, strength test, can I pick up something like this?”

[Shadow hand.]

Arata activated the skill with the thought of picking up the rock rather than pulling it over to him. He even walked away by two meters to see if it won’t be pulled.

From Arata’s right arm ‘black something’ started to form. Soon enough that ‘black something’ was covering a large part of his arm as well as some of the body and it stretched out towards the rock. It looked like a black hand but its contours were not static and were moving.

The black hand ended up being large enough to be able to catch the rock in grip and in the end, it ended up picking up the rock that weighted who knows how much. Arata was not sure if he would be able to pick it up normally and even if he did he wouldn’t have keep it in the air for too long.

“Oh, it works.”

Arata ended up smiling seeing that his experiment worked as the shadow hand did not pull the rock towards him and as Arata wanted, it just picked it up and was not holding it in the air.

“Now then, how about moving it afterwards?”

Arata continued with the tests. The black hand ended up moving around just like he wanted.

Moving it was not the same as moving normal arm as the shadow hand was more like a hand on some long black line. That line was not similar to human’s arm although advantage went to the black line as it could bend in any direction. Still by giving the thought commands to the hand, the black line that was connecting him with it moved on its own.

Arata ended up moving that hand all around, while still holding the rock. After trying to move it to some impossible places the place from which the black line emerged changed. Actually, it turned out that Arata could move the ‘connecting point’ to anywhere he wanted on his body, to his back, to the belly, legs or even the head although after testing the head Arata was never going to do it again.

“Okay next test, let’s try throwing that rock.”

For the whole time Arata was playing around with that hand it was still holding the large rock that he picked up earlier. Now he decided to see if his shadow hand had some throwing power.

Arata ended up moving the connection point to his right hand as it was easier to throw it that way. He made a throw by shorting the black line to the minimum and making a move with his normal arm.

“It works!”

The rock ended up flying outside the campsite and passes the rocky walls. It filed as if he just threw a tennis sized ball.

“Okay, I think I will find a lot of usages of it, let’s test it in other ways.”

Arata still had many ideas for that hand, so he moved to those. This time, he wanted to see if he can levitate in the air on his black hand. It was an easy test as all he needed to do was to make that hand touch the ground and push with it.

“It works!”

It seemed like this hand just like any other spell could be used in many different ways others than what was written. Still about ten seconds after successfully try on lifting himself up, the shadow hand suddenly disappeared and Arata fell to the ground from two meters height to the back.

‘boom!’

“Auch.”

After falling down like this Arata opened his menu right away and looked as his stamina bar because he had a guess of the reason why the skill disappeared.

“As, expected I ran out of stamina.”

Despite the fact that the skill said 300 mana on the human sized enemy it was probably the cost of using that skill normally. With skill management and using the skill that way, it was obvious that it will cost more and Arata expected it to happen from the start.

“Shame, I still wanted to try drinking tea with the use of it.”

After seeing the picture in the skill book, Arata got many inspiration on how could he use it even before reading the spell. Drinking the tea with it was actually high on his list.

“Still, it seems like I can use it for about five to ten minutes with this size so it should be quite useful. A hand like this actually has unlimited uses. I already tested on it but I can simply pick up nearby objects and throw it at people. Even simple punch would be quite good if I make it large.”

Arata was thinking of possible ways to use it in battle. Even though the skill said pulling people close, there were much more effective ways to use a hand like this.

“Hmm, getting some gigantic sword and swing it around with that hand sounds like an option too.”

Arata had ideas like this as well. Still he soon stopped thinking like that and started thinking other, really important thing that concerned that spell.

“Still, skill like this can’t be without downsides and I think I know what few downsides are already.”

Despite it unlimited usages there was something really concerning about the shadow hand which made that skill not safe to use. In particular Arata had the feeling of touch while using the shadow hand. That also meant that he had the feeling of it being hurt. Arata realized it when he tried to see if the shadow hand will survive the meeting with the campfire. When Arata did that he immediately got pain as if he got burned and in fact the place in which the shadow hand was connected to him at that moment got burned. Arata at that time also checked the menu and the HP also went down by the same amount as if he were to put his normal hand in the fire.

“It’s a funny skill though and even though it’s not safe to use, it is definitely useful. It should be useful even against Rin which I can’t say about the other two although if I use that skill when she uses her ‘flying red things’ it can end really badly as I will be just a bigger target. Then again, using it here in practice was easy as I was just controlling the [shadow hand] but I don’t think I will manage to do that and at the same time fight.”

Then Arata arrived to the last problem with his new skill. Using it for limited time or the damage transfer was more or less fine. The biggest problem was that Arata was not simply using the skill but he was using it with skill manipulation and skill manipulation required a certain amount of concentration from him. The ultimate way in which Arata would want to use his new skill was, him fighting with his swords normally while using his shadow hand to do additional damage at the same time. Something similar to what Rin was doing with her ‘red flying things’. Still, by the test that Arata did so far, even though it that wasn’t super to use skill manipulation his shadow hand, it still required to be focused on it. Skill manipulation depending on what one wanted to do could be really hard and Arata knew well that at the current time, he will not be able to use his shadow hand the way he wanted. Leaving the control problems, the shadow hand could also get in the way of his movements which would do much more harm than good.

“Well, for now using it in fights may be risky but it’s always new option to consider in times of need. Once I train with it and find the ways in which this skill will not get in the way of my usual fighting style. Well, in the end it’s swordsman skill so it should work well with swordsmanship. Well actually grabbing enemy from the distance to attack them with your sword, meaning original purpose of this skill is actually just that. My guess is that I will probably not using this skill consistently but rather use it as a fast casts with a single comments, that way the stamina consumption won’t be that big, I won’t have to worry about controlling it and also it won’t get in a way of my normal movements.”

Skill manipulation depended on each player and their own ideas. Still while normal skills were designed to be useful, the ideas that someone may try to come up with use of skill manipulation often backfire rather than actually help. Not to mention that skill manipulation did not have 100% chance of working.

Arata once again pick up his twilight swordsman skill book which ended up closing itself when he was playing around.

“Well, you managed to dodge the bullet this time.”

Arata thought to himself as if speaking with his class and then he hid it back to his inventory. After playing around with his new [Shadow hand] ability which despite its many downsides was not only useful but also quite fun to use, he forgot about ‘something quite important’.

“Well, when this quest is over, I will have to think of the ways on how to unlock more skills for this class.”

Completely forgetting about ‘something quite important’ Arata added another thing to his ‘TO DO list’ when his quest is over. He actually made a note in his menu’s [note section] so he remembers everything. Currently his note looked like this.

[
Things to do, after the quest is done in order of importance.

A: Go meet up with Kotori
B: Go meet up with Kotori
C: Go meet up with Kotori

X: Understand the secret of unnatural speed.
Y: Try using the basic magic of the dark side.
Z: Find the way how to unlock new skills for your ‘not so useless class anymore’.

Note: For three last points, in case of problems there is possibility to gather some gold and buy some hopefully useful information from the black market. Before that however try to check the net as something might be quite simple and vastly known and there is no need to spend money on things that I can get for free.

PS: if you are really, really, really, really … really desperate, you can in theory ask ‘that guy’ for help. THIS IS THE LAST EFFORT THOUGH! DON’T USE IT!
]

Arata wrote all important parts so he doesn’t forget about them as right now, he did not have enough time to take care of it. He also wrote all important notes that in a way were a message to future him although the future him would probably remember the thoughts.

The remaining hours of the break went by quickly and the dark sky was brightened by the morning sun. During the break, the party was not attacked by anything that would require ‘the guards’ to call for help so it turned out to be really good camping spot. Still, the heaven’s gate was still far so there was no time for the rest. Also from what Arata learned, staying in the one place for too long was quite dangerous and after leaving the rock cannon everyone found out why.

-Shin, we are surrounded by centaur-like creatures.

It was nearly the moment to move out and everyone was already awake and prepared to continue the journey. Still when Vivi was sent to scout ahead before they move out, she returned with those news right away.

-no, need to call them centaur-like creatures, they are legit centaurs…

Shin answered not surprised as if he knew it will happen.

-anyway I did mention that any time we stop anywhere we will have something to fight right away the next morning. That’s how the west is at least and the area which we are going to traverse through today was for a long time was centaurs’ territory. It’s only natural that the will attack us the moment they find us about.
-are those intelligent creatures?
-if you are asking if we can communicate with them Tras then the answer is no. Sure they have their own language and they even have small villages but they are considered as monster NPCs. Well, it may be that my information is wrong but we won’t be looking for the ways to communicate with them anyway, rather than this we will wipe them out.

“Merciless.”

Though Arata hearing the plan but in EOA and especially the west it was kill or be killed.

-so how are we going to do this, attack them with the usual formation?

Musashi ended up asking.

-it probably should work, there aren’t that many of them out there, right Vivi?
-I saw about fifty or so.
-then at best they triple us with numbers so it will rather be easy. My guess is that we were found by some scout team that after founding us managed to gather their friends that were nearby. They probably did not call for the reinforcement and even if they did, the base of centaurs is four days away from here to the south so it’s nothing we should worry about. Our plan is to leave their lands in this one day and I will say it once again but we are not in the west to look for random fights, we avoid anything that can be avoided. Anyway, as to what we will do with those that surrounds us. Simple attack would work but there is always better way to do things. If you think about it for centaurs, it would have been much better to attack at night before we realize they are even there. Not to mention that we would be unprepared and most of us would be sleeping. Still, why did they not do it?

Shin ended up asking the question as what he said was true.

“Hmm, I doubt it would be because they are too prideful to make sneak attacks. Well the answer is quite easy, there is probably no need to say it though.”

-it would probably be because they are simply too big to fight in this place. I mean, fighting against centaurs is similar to fighting against horse riders. With a narrow entrance between those rocks in our camp it would be very disadvantageous for them. Not to mention that they wouldn’t be able to use their number advantage.

Although most of the people remained silent as they knew that whenever Shin was asking question like that there was no need to answer and simply wait for him to continue, Levi ended up answering as he was not familiar with this custom. There was nothing bad in answering though, especially when the answer was correct.

-yes, just like that. That’s why we chose this place as our resting point and walked all the way till here after leaving the widow’s forest. Anyway, as long as they would were to fight here it’s really disadvantageous for them, and that’s why they are waiting for us to come out. Still, it doesn’t mean that we have to give them the fight they want rather we will make them regret the thoughts that surrendering us will help them. So the plan is simple. We will use the ground advantage and position all range dps on various locations on the rock walls. From there the range will just start shooting at the centaurs until they start running. After that we can’t do much as they are just as Levi said, similar to horses. We won’t even try to chase them as it’s meaningless.
-but if we let them go, they will gather more troops and attack us later on right in the open.

Flynn pointed out.

-well, it’s only natural that the will do so but we won’t be able to avoid all fights anyway, it’s the west after all. Just as yesterday we will once again be fighting for the whole day. Still, if we do enough damage right now, the monsters at least in this area will think twice before attacking us again. We will be firing death at them from above so maybe other creatures in this area will get slightly scared of us, which will result in them not attacking us. That is the best scenario we can hope for. Anyway for now, reck the havoc on those centaurs.

“Well, I only have five sword slashes to fire out but I guess I might as well help as well. There are not that many range in this group.”

Arata thought like that and just like few others started looking for a good rock to stand on. The first one to move however was Rin. After hearing the explanation she started run towards the rocks and then, one by one she started to jump from one rock to another and in thirty seconds she climbed the highest rock that was about four meters in height and was right in the middle.

The other ranges including as well as few melees started to move to the rocks at the edge of ‘rocky fort’ but when they reached their positions they didn’t do anything as there was no longer need for it. Instead they watch the ‘Rain of terror’.

Rin was not playing around, when she heard that their best option is to scary everything in surrounding area, she really was going to scary everything in the surrendering area, including her teammates.

Without playing around, after quickly arriving at the top of the highest rock she activated the golden mist and the ‘rain of terror’ began.

The centaurs, horse like creature that at the front had human bodies were in distance of about thirty meters away from ‘rocky fort’. Few minutes ago they probably thought that they will have the glorious battle against the oppressor that invaded their lands, still probably no one of them expected to be slaughtered in this way.

From the golden mist, the ruby weapons ended up firing in every direction to everywhere the centaurs were and in about a minute it was simply over. There wasn’t even single centaur that managed to survive this despite what Shin said earlier about them running away.

Arata positioned himself at the edge of the rocky fort on one of the rocks and he saw the whole scene himself. The poor brown creatures were left with no chance of escape. Some of them had shields but their shields could not save their large horse bodies from the rain of terror. The weapons ended up falling from above and pierced through the bodies of the centaurs and they all changed into hedgehogs with ‘red spikes’ coming out from their bodies.

“It seems that this skill works even better as an AOE skill. Still, does it mean that in EOA you can get skill that allows you to wipe out the small armies by yourself without breaking a sweat? Now that I think about it Gerald did mention wiping the whole city with a single skill once, I thought he was half joking but he probably was not.”

Arata was always confident in his ‘1 vs 1’ fights but destroying fifty centaurs in a spawn of minute would be hard even if he start sword slashing left and right. Although, Arata did once killed about 100 golems when he did combination attack with Levi. Still at that time it required a lot of preparation as well like positioning the golems in the right spot. Here however despite the fact that enemies were quite scattered, Rin just climbed the rock, activated the skill, went down the rock and it was all over.

“Well, I just need to get that world first and I will get something even better.”

Arata tried to stay optimistic and returned to the campfire. He did forget the detail that even if he manages to complete the world first and get something incredible, Rin also was doing that world first as well, so once again it would not help him to win against her.

-well, that wasn’t how I expected it to happen but the monsters that saw this spectacle will definitely think twice before attacking us…

Shin commented when everyone gathered back.

-still, Rin. Can you still use that ability after all this?

And then he ended up asking.

-yes, but it’s probably better if I hold back now and start regenerate my mana.

Rin answered, it didn’t seem like she was too tired though but in essence she was a melee fighter after all.

-you have mana as one of your resources? But your class shouldn’t allow you to use mana, right?

To her answer however Shin asked immediately surprised. In EOA, everyone had stamina as a resource but only the classes that were connected to magic had mana. There were also few other kind of resources that would be unlocked for specific professions but in general all those resources worked the same, so the unlocked resources would just be different in name.

“Now that he asked that question, a crimson bladedancer does not look like a class that would use mana to me. My twilight swordsman doesn’t have any mana spells either.”

Arata also realized it and before he thought that Rin’s ‘flying red things’ was just a skill that used stamina as even though there were skills that used stamina they were still magical enough.

-I obtained mana as a resource together with this skill.

Still Rin just explained.

-so it means you can unlock other resources if you only get a skill for it. Interesting right, Shin?

Vatras ended up commenting.

-I guess but I guess it is hard to find a skill that would grant you additional resource. Anyway let’s move out. Team B will be on resting duty so Rin can freely regain her resources.

The party left the rocky fort and went out in the open.

The area around them was mostly a grass lands with rare tree appearing here and there. There were also rocks lying around. Still there was no other gathering of them like in rocky fort.

Still even though it was a grass flat land it was not empty at all. Anywhere Arata looked there would be some different kind of monsters running around. Some of them would resemble animals but some would be something completely exotic that would be hard to describe, still after the show that Rin put out, most of the monsters ran away in hurry as they were scared for their lives as they should be.

Also normal monsters that were on the plains rather than attacking them would rather back off because it was simply 17 vs 1. Only organized group of monsters could hope to accomplish anything still it also did not mean that random monster would not attack them as some of them possessed little intelligence.

As planned, the party moved out in the formation of group A standing on the right flank, group C standing on the left flank and group B being left with ‘slacking duty’. There were minor small changes though as Shin would always remain in the middle until a battle begins so he was on the same position as always. Then in the middle of the front line, there was Flynn acting as a main tank. That made Arata move to the front a little more and he was now positioned at front right edge of formation in comparison to before when he was more on the right.

Rin’s show really did the effect and for about an hour the party marched forward without fighting anything. Still in this hour they moved quite a distance so now the monsters weren’t that scared. Some would still walk away seeing the numbers but some would simply attack as any mindless monster in MMORPG would.

Still those fights against small number of monsters at the time weren’t that hard. Anytime any of them would attack it was usually really one sided. Luckily for Arata he stood at the edge of formation so he could play around with monsters more than others.

In those fights Arata’s focus was on finding out to which degree he can use his new skill shadow hand with skill manipulation to use that skill in different ways than just pulling enemies. Despite what he thought earlier he still tried to use it in the ‘ultimate way.

The results of those test were… well Arata hoped for a little more.

Arata would want to use that skill, at the same time when he attacks with his swords or dodge anything else. He wanted to use it as something extra, which would add to what he can already do, in times of need. Unfortunately though, after testing it in practice it was quite impossible. Ignoring the fact that it was quite hard to control the shadow hand with skill manipulation and at the same do other things, the main problem was that the shadow hand got in the way a lot and that restricted Arata’s movement by much. That’s why Arata gave up on using it that way quite fast. Even though with enough practice he could get a hand of using it, the second problem would not disappear.

The only way in which the shadow hand could be used without stopping it, meaning for the whole time till stamina runs out was when Arata would stop doing anything else than using that skill. Which was naturally bad as Arata’s normal fighting style was much more effective than him trying to make punches with his shadow hand or throwing rock with it.

Still despite the fact that the best option did not work, the shadow hand was still useful and with skill management Arata started to use it in a way that was slightly closer to the original purpose of the skill which was a single instant cast just as he arrived while testing it at the stop.

Pulling enemies from afar was quite good by itself as it always left them disoriented. Even though Arata at first thought that the original goal of this skill was not much it ended up with it being the best. Although Arata still didn’t try to drink tea with it so he couldn’t say for sure.

As for other usages, although they were effective and shadow hand gave a lot of freedom in its use, in the end after testing Arata did not see using that skill that much as there was simply no need for it. Once again in the end, as long as Arata did not see the need, he would refrain from using spells as there was no need to do any overkill.

While looking at the group, Arata realized that it was actually not that uncommon for people to play like this. He didn’t see them using that many skills either. They were just using their normal attack to fight. After seeing those normal attacks Arata finally understood why everyone was always complementing his fighting style.

Most people in the party were simply attacking, and sure their attacks were landing on the enemies but their style wasn’t something that would impress Arata. Well it depended on the person and some were better some worse but it was a mile away from what Arata could do with his swords. Actually even though he was best with swords, Arata would still probably end up being better than most while using their weapons. Sure it’s been a while since he used anything else than swords but Arata still learned refined styles in various weapons. In comparison, what everyone was doing here was mostly freestyle. Although their attacks did hit the targets just as well so there was nothing to really complain about, it was simply that they could fight but Arata was simply on completely whole different level than them when it came to simple attacks.

Well it still differed from person to person as for example Levi, whom Arata once mocked for his fighting style was also coming up with upper hand over most of the people in this party. Also because Arata ended up pointing out the mistakes that Levi was making, Levi ended up quickly correcting them, although Arata did not see to what degree he did that as it’s been some time since he actually saw Levi fighting from up close.

As for range, they were also using simple attacks. Vivi was simply shooting her bow and Bran was simply shooting his crossbow. Then there were the two remaining mages of the group Shin and Hiro. When attacking Shin was using the simplest magical bolt spells although he was more of focused on using some kind of runes to buff up the others. He was using skills but it seemed that those rune buffs were also something really simple.

Then as for other mage, Hiro. The only spell that Arata saw him casting today was his water ball, sometimes even without using adding the spin to it.

In the end, actually as strange as it was, today it was Arata who was using his skills them most as he was testing his new skills. He still never get hit by enemy to trouble healers though while others would get hit from time to time but it was probably more unnatural to not get hit even once rather than getting hit so it was Arata who was the strange one. In the end the type of healer that would be useful for Arata was someone who would block the damage that was coming for him rather than healing him back. By blocking, Arata would not worry about avoiding that attack and he could attack freely. Still even though there were three different healers in this party, no one had any spells like the ones that what Kotori had. The healers here would only heal back the damage that was made so when Arata compared them with Kotori they somehow looked blank in comparison as Kotori could both block the damage and heal people at the same time although usually no one really need healing with her around as she would not let anyone get hurt in the first place and do fine with blocking everything alone.

In the end the random fights against one or two enemies charging were quite easy despite it being the west, what the problem was though that fights like this made you relaxed and in west anything could happened at any given time without any signals.

Arata was continuously walking and once again he spotted some creature charging in his direction. It was moving on four legs and it’s bottom would be similar to a dog. Still that creature did not have a head. On the other hand it had two human-like hands.

That creature was charging at Arata’s position so it was Arata’s job to take care of it. It was really strange creature and Arata couldn’t even go for his instant kill, meaning cutting the head of. In the course of playing EOA, Arata found out that the best thing to do is imply cutting off the head and move on, still sometimes, the head did not even exist so it was impossible to cut it off.

As the creature was getting close Arata made a quick move to the left and with one sword he went over the body of that creature while cutting it in half while with other he cut off the hand that attacked him. After being cut in half, the creature died instantly.

Unless it had high level, simple creature like this died like nothing when they walked in Arata’s way. Also even if level was bigger it seemed like it still did not change much. Well currently Arata could not tell what level creatures have and from what he has learned, it seemed like the level was more of a decoration that still meant something but because you could not see any other level than yourself, you could not tell if something has a big level or not. Still leveling up did increase the stats although Arata still had no idea what those stats actually did anyway so he did not feel any change. Still no matter if someone knew what stats did or he did not know, EOA was an MMO and in MMO stats meant a lot and there was no difference here either.

“Another easy kill.”

Just after Arata thought like this, the unexpectedness of the west happened. The ground beneath him started to tremble and after Arata looked down he saw that it was not an illusion. Seeing the ground actually moving, Arata immediately jump back from that spot and just in time as about five seconds later at the position where Arata was before a giant worm appeared.

In color and look, it was quite similar to a simple earthworm still in comparison to those small creatures this one was as large as a tower both in height and width.

-boss-class!

Arata heard the shout coming from his left although he was not sure whose it was.

What just happened was the essence of the west and the same time the worst thing about it. ‘Random attacks’ could happen at any given time, even if the party had good scouts. And it was not only normal monsters in small number, but even random attack of boss class monster could happen as well, or a combined attack by many normal monsters or combined attack of many boss class monsters, which was actually happening to the party right now.

Following the first earthworm two others came out as well. They were slightly different though. One was green in color and other was covered in some type of black plates around its body which probably served it as armor.

“Nowhere as big as that spider.”

Still, currently Arata had different definition of boss-class monsters. After all, compared to ‘the creature’ he met in widow’s forest, those three earthworms were quite small. Actually anything that Arata meet so far was small in comparison.

-there are three of them. Flynn, take the one on the left! Musashi, take the one from the back! Everyone else focus on the one on the right!

Shin shouted out the general tactic right away and the battle began. The first target was the worm on the right although everyone still had to be wary of the other ones as green one for example shooted out from its mouth some kind of green slime that naturally should be avoided. Still Arata was not looking at what was happening behind his back and quickly went for the target before him.

[Leap]
[Shadow hand]

The worm appeared right before him so Arata first jumped to the air and then he used his newest skill to catch the worm’s body and climb at the top of it. For some time now, Arata already found out that attacking giant monsters from the top of their bodies was quite effective and his newest skill shadow hand was quite useful if he wanted to get on top of large creatures like this.

After getting in the position Arata started to unleash havoc on earthworm’s body but the earthworm while being assaulted by many attacks from everyone was not going to just stay and look at them. He soon moved and he jumped out from the ground and with his head he attacked in the middle of the party. Still seeing it everyone managed to get out somehow from the range of that attack, some with the use of skills. As for Arata while he stayed at the top, while the worm was jumping, he had to jump down from it after it went under the ground so in essence he did not stay at its top for way too long.

-now switch to the green one!

After landing Arata ended up recognizing Shin’s shout.

-shouldn’t we finish other one first!?
-there is no need!

Right now, Arata still could not recognize everyone by their voices. Well he could more or less recognize people from his team and few others like obviously Rin and Levi. Apart from those two he could also recognize Musashi, Bran and Shin. Shin in particular was someone who despite not seeming like the type, actually talked a lot, still that came only from the fact that he was the raid leader so he had a lot of talking to do. Despite the fact that Arata had occasion to play with really good raid leaders in his life, Shin would probably not lose to any of them on any levels and Arata could say that in few he was even better.

The best way to see if the raid leader is good is to analyze any decision that he makes and try to think of better ways on your own. Well, Arata was not trying to test anyone but in games he always tried to think on his own for other possible ways anyway. That was actually what every player should do as every person is always just one person so if someone come up with better plan there was no reason to not use it. Still Arata did not know if he got rusty after all this time of not playing in any raid groups but he soon arrived that Shin’s decisions were never wrong and they were usually more or less what Arata would do as well. Still, when situations like now appeared, when everyone would try to grasp what just happen, Shin would already have the basic strategy ready and that strategy was never bad so when he shouted it there was no need to overthink it, even despite the fact that normally in games it’s better to kill enemies one on the time so in this case it would have been theoretically better to wait for the first worm to reappear. Still, Arata was sure that there had to be some reasons for that that he simply did not know, so he just started attacking the green earthworm.

The green earthworm was mostly shooting its green slime at people but it never hit anyone as no one wanted to test out what that slime did.

This time, Arata was not trying to climb at the top of this one and he just run up to him and started slashing with his swords at the ‘green wall’ before him.

After a minute of attacks the green worm ended up doing something similar to the previous one and so he ended up digging back into the ground. Following him the armored worm ended up doing the same without even being attacked. In the end it turned out that none of the worms ever came back for more so the fight ended up without ‘anything’ dying.

Arata was not sure if it was intelligence or instincts but the worm boss-class monsters seeing that even if they manage to kill someone will probably end up dying themselves, decided to run away while they were still healthy. Even though it was really strange for a game, now that Arata thought about it he arrived at a conclusion that other games having their monsters always fight to death simply meant that those monsters were all stupid. No one would really care to think about it but why should ‘monsters’ stay and let the players kill them while they could have a chance at running away?

“Well, I guess they can make reasonable decisions.”

For gigantic worms, running away was really simple and they didn’t really have a reason to fight the party in the first place, so fleeing was the best option for them. Still, if you let monster run away you won’t get the experience so it is in player’s best interest to kill the monster if they could. Still there was little that party could do to stop those worms escaping.

The fight with worms had some difficulty in it but no one died and the walk continued but then about 10 minutes after the worms fight another boss class monster appeared in sight.

This time it was not a surprise attack as the target was spotted easily from a distance. In short it was a large lion. Once again it’s size was once again unreasonable for it to be a normal lion. It was at least five meters in height but naturally lion being the four leg creature was bigger in length.

At first the lion was just lying down on the ground and observed the party from the distance without any movement. Seeing him not moving some thought that it will not attack them as it wouldn’t be the first time that some monsters simply let them pass. This time however it was not the case and after observing the party for some time the lion get up and started running in their direction.

In comparison to the worms the problem with the lion was not its size, well the size was still the problem but the worst thing was him was his speed. Jumping from front legs to the back legs and legs being as big as they were, naturally resulted in devastating speed.

The lion first attacked at the ‘left flank’ which did not have their main tank. Although having a tank there probably would not change anything as in the face of an enemy like this, tanks could do little to stop them.

While attacking the left flank, the lion first bitted with his jaw at the largest person that was there which was Kuma and actually Kuma nearly lost the half of its body from that attack but he was pushed down to the ground by Levi who actually attacked him with a shield to get immediate effect of knocking him down. Still that was just the first attack that the lion did on the side as its main attack was the charge right through the party formation from the left to the right. By stomping with its large feet the Lion’s run was devastating.

Thesar was stomped upon and only thanks to his armor survived the blow but in seconds he was not in moving condition. Then Mika survived only because Flynn jumped right above her with his shield and stopped ‘one step’ of the lion, although he also got pushed right into the ground right after. Those two were closest to dying after first charge. The lion somehow ended up attacking both active healers and was it a fluke or not, no one knew.

-team B, join the fight! For now everyone spread out and try to surround that guy!

As always Shin was quick on uptake and he immediately recognized that the strength of the lion was on completely different level, than anything that they fought today so far or maybe apart from the gigantic spider which they did not fight, the strongest monster in the west they meet so far. Once again the essence of the west. The worst thing was that, a monster as strong as that was something that they encountered just by the fluke.

While in the dungeons the bosses usually waited at the end of the dungeons in some special place. In the west they could just sleep on the ground anywhere and you could find them at any given point in time. This fact alone was horrifying. Although it might also be that monster of so called boss class level was something normal for the west so one shouldn’t be really surprised by meeting them everywhere.

‘The range’ immediately started shooting at the lion but the lion was not going to simply take those attacks. He circled around the numberous attacks and started additional charge.

“No choice again, I have to get on top of that guy. Otherwise I will never land a hit on him.”

Arata still was not sure what his role in large raid boss fight should be but against enemies like this he could think only of this. Still even though he should have a chance on getting at the top of the lion as the lion was going to run next to him. The gigantic fast movements of lion were simply too much. For Arata it was just a quick stomp next to him and second later the lion was five meters away from him.

Still it seemed like it was not only Arata who was not sure what he should do. Others also weren’t doing anything useful. ‘The range’ sure were attacking but they weren’t making too much damage anyway as the lion just charged from one side to the other and it was hard to hit him. Even Rin’s ‘flying red things’ were not useful in the least against opponent like this.

“And what I am supposed to do against it? He just uses some kind of hit and run tactic which is way too effective.”

Arata experienced in his life much but this situation was nothing like that.

-everyone! For start, we will have him to stop him from running around like that. To achieve that we will naturally attack the legs! I will stop this guy movement in two charges from now. Musashi come and defend me in case that guy charge at me, afterwards when the spell is ready you will also taunt the guy in this direction. When I stop its movement it will probably be only for few seconds so in that time everyone focus on attacking the back legs!

Despite the unexpected situation that seemed somewhat impossible, Shin had the tactic ready once again right after it happened.

“Well, if he can stop him, that’s a different matter. I could probably use that moment to finally jump at the top of the lion, but it won’t do good if I just start doing things on my own.”

During the raid battles there was no time for dispute and there was also little place for individuality. One just had to follow the general plan as otherwise, bad things could happen.

[Sword enchant: fire]

Arata also realized that this will not be the time for ‘normal attacks’ but rather it was time for everyone to go all out in their dps as if this won’t work, it could be that stopping the lion again with the same tactic might not work.

“Hmm… what I am going to do may be a little overdoing it but I think I need to do at least this much to do anything against this guy.”

The lion made another dash and once again he nearly bite off someone’s head but then there was still another dash before Shin would be ready and it seemed that Lion already had someone whom he really wanted to eat.

In that he charged right into some ‘range attacks’ the Lion went in the straight line which surprised everyone. His prey was the same guy that the lion targeted first.

The lion run up toward Kuma and this time rather than attacking while running he stopped. There he made first bite, then second bite after which Kuma rolled away but then the lion made a third bite while Kuma was on the ground and in a single second, Kuma disappeared from everyone’s eyes. The lion light nothing once again continued to run.

To be truthful, seeing this death happen, Arata was not really affected by it, partly because there was very little interaction between him and the man from unique cat/lion like race called Quantin. Actually Arata would want to find a little bit more about that race but it seemed like he won’t have an occasion anymore. It was somehow ironic though as the guy who himself looked like lion was eaten by the real lion, although that might actually even be the reason for the lion’s focus on Kuma, still no one would ever know.

In comparison other party members looked shocked seeing their friend disappear before their eyes but rather than sadness, it was rage that filled them. The rage towards the large lion. Also there was the fact that this party played together for so long so they were probably very used to seeing themselves dying from time to time. Although, it was truly unfair for someone’s journey to end in a random fight like this. Still those fights were the representation of the west.

-everyone get ready, this will be the time! Uryaaaa!

Musashi shouted to his teammates and afterwards made a really loud yell that was so loud that one would wonder if human was actually able to do something like this.

The shout ended up picking the interest of the lion which probably meant that Musashi used some kind of ‘taunt shout’, and the lion ended up charging into Musashi’s direction. And then Arata saw that in the place where Musashi and Shin were was now a large yellow circle, and Arata recognized what that circle did as he himself was once caught by it.

“I see so it’s like this.”

Arata realized that the plan was to simply catch the lion in that circle as Shin already ran out from it and Musashi was standing at the edge of it taunting the lion and afterwards attack the lion’s back legs.

“Still, even if we do it, there will still be a chance of someone dying later on. No, this time it’s better to take a risk now rather than have another unexpected death later!”

Arata planned to follow the plan but now after seeing someone dying and the thought that someone might soon follow changed his mind. He decided that disabling the legs of the lion would not be a sure way to deal with him. Even if lion could no longer make runs later on, the lion would still be able to put up the fight and just a single bite was enough to take someone’s life.

“No, I will end it in one go.”

[Lighting speed.]

Arata who was currently ten meters away from the circle started ‘the sprint’. At the same time the lion was also going to enter the circle right away.

Seeing Arata’s run, everyone probably thought that he was going to attack the back leg but that was no longer Arata’s intention in the least.

The lion run right into the circle and he made an attack at Musashi with its front leg by kicking with it. That attack made Musashi’s crystal defence activate on its own but even then Musashi was sent flying to the sky few meters to the sky. When it happened, Vatras ended up running after him to get back in his healing range. He even turned into ‘black panther’ to get a better speed.

In the meantime the lion wanted to chase after the Musashi and probably finish him out for good but as he wanted to move forward, he was stopped by Shin’s rune. At that time all dps started attacking the back legs which made the lion slowly stop as the dpses were unleashing their best spell and they were not playing around with simple attack. Still the only dps that was not doing so was Arata.

In the mid of everything Arata run up toward the lion and because he was using lighting speed he did it in the instant.

[Leap]
[Shadow hand]

Once again by using this combo he got at the top of the giant creature. But he didn’t go there to simply attack the lion from above with his swords.

After landing at the top of the lion’s body, Arata continue his run towards lion’s front, namely his head. It was not that easy as Arata had to cut through the lion’s fur on his way but he soon reached the top.

The moment he did that the lion ended up siting down to his back as it seemed that his back legs were now heavily wounded still apart from that lion was still healthy but not for long.

[Leap]

Arata ended up jumping off the head up to the air and there.

[Sword slash]
[Sword slash]
[Sword slash]
[Sword slash]
[Sword slash]

One after another Arata made five horizontal slashes with his swords in the exact same place which resulted in sending out five arcs of fire one after another. Arata made all attack quickly enough for the arcs to be quite close which ended up resulting in all arc combining together into one gigantic fire arc which was even bigger that the one that Arata would make in combination with Levi’s skill. Although the shape was slightly different as this arc became only longer in the length rather than width. Still it was rather the width that would have been better as the length would only increase the range of attack. Arata’s target which was naturally the lion’s neck and the ‘combined fire sword slash’ ended up hitting right into the back of that neck. The lion didn’t even see what attacked him before he died as the result of Arata’s attack was Lion’s head being cut off and the wounds burned as well.

Arata’s attack ended up cutting through the lion’s neck but also it went right into the ground. As to why Arata used the fire, it was because even though Arata did not understand the stats, his coat did give him +5% to fire damage so why not use it.

After the attack, the force made Arata backfire to the sky even more.

“Ah, once again I am floating in the sky.”

Flying in the sky was happening so often that Arata simply did not care anymore and he simply enjoyed himself whenever it happened.

“At least that guy won’t kill anyone here.”

Arata saw as the giant body of the lion fell down and got relived. Even though he did not know that well the person who died in this fight it did not meant that Arata could simply tolerate if someone else were to die second after, especially when Arata could do something about it. After Yume’s death, there was no longer excuse for Arata to slack around and if there was something that needed to be killed, then the killing had to be done as quickly as possible.

“Well cutting off the head worked as good as always. I am surprised it worked with just single attack though.”

Arata was surprised but if he thought about it rationally what he just did was in a way equal to the work of ‘5 other sword enchanters’ that would work together in perfect synchronization to make a combination attack of five sword slashes, and despite the fact that Arata’s sword slash did now take only 20% of mana, this was still an ultimate attack that normally took all user mana. Combination attacks are really strong but there is no rule that it has to be executed with others. One could do combination attack on his own.

“Anyway, hopeful the black dashing landing will work this time as well.”

Despite having a lot of experience with it, landing from the large height was not safe. Any time it happened, if Arata uses his skill just a slightly late he will meet the ground and possible die second after.

Still it seemed that this time there will be no need for it.

Arata saw as a light blue magical ball is flying his direction. Seeing something like this Arata would usually cut it down as so far, there was not a single time in which it was not the right decision but this time Arata saw that it was Shin who fired it at him. The chances of some strange mind control taking over Shin that moment and making him shoot flying Arata was practically none, although for a second Arata considered exactly that. Although there should be a limit to overthinking things.

“Maybe it’s some spell that reduces damage when someone is crushing into the ground but I won’t need it.”

Arata thought like this as he was going to land with his black dash anyway but he still ignored the magic light blue ball which hit him and after that the speed on which Arata was falling down started to become smaller and smaller to the point where it was no longer ‘crushing to the ground’ but ‘controlled landing’. Arata didn’t even have to use black dash.

“No way! I finally saw someone casting the slow fall!”

There were already few times when Arata saw people, mostly Anari, imitate slow fall but seeing the true slow fall was much different and definitely much more effective, especially for Arata who remembered crushing into the ground after Anari’s slow fall once.

Arata ran up towards the party as he ended up flying quite far from them.

-well, that’s a twilight swordsman for you.

The first one to comment on him was Vivi.

-now, I understand what the class of rank two means.

Flynn ended up adding something like this. To which Arata immediately though.

“What twilight swordsman!? That useless class! The sword enchanter is the one that is good, and this one always steals the glory.”

And so once again despite getting new good skill just today, the ‘rank two profession‘ was once again labeled as useless by Arata.

-hey, it’s already RIP Kuma but is it RIP Musashi as well?

Now that the battle was ended it was time to ‘count the bodies’.

-who do you want to kill off Bran?

Still to ‘ever so smiling dwarf’ the reply came quite quickly as despite taking a shoot Musashi was as alive as always. Not to mention that Vatras already healed him up.

-hmm, our team’s cat has been eaten by other cat and because there are no longer any cats around there is also no one to cry over the spilt milk. Let’s move on we still have quite a distance to go today!
-hahaha… Shin that was heartless but… hahaha.

Bran answered to him but he was rather laughing at that comment. Still it seemed like the people in this party were really used to dying.

“So, I guess it was not exactly because of dying but rather Yume’s sacrificing herself what made others sad.”

Arata arrived at the conclusion as after Yume’s sacrifice everyone was in bad mood but now after Kuma’s death, Arata was not really related to him so it didn’t do much but it seemed that others were similar. As Arata suspected they were already used to see themselves dying and also, after Yume broke the ices, the following deaths on this expedition were a naturally occurrence.

-don’t say heartless, wasn’t our original plan to continue this expedition till everyone’s dies.
-Shin, saying that us all dying was the part of the plan anyway is not just heartless but evil.

Vatras ended up telling Shin this.

-anyway, after the spectacular kill by team’s A team leader I think that the team A should now deserve the rest so team B will switch with them and the team A will be on ‘slacking off duty’. Let’s reform the formation and move on there is no time to it. If someone got loot from that lion then leave it for later if you want to give it to someone else.

Arata found it really strange but this party had random loot distribution meaning that it landed in random hands of people who could use the item. It was really strange because that was a loot system that a random party would use and not the players that were know each other for years.

“Still it might be that the loot is like this because the three of us joined.”

Arata didn’t give it much thought earlier but that might have been the reason for it.

The march through the savage lands of the west continued, although this time Arata was officially slacking off. Well, it was not that he had to fight all the time before. From time to time something would attack and that something would need to be dealt with, also killing monsters was everyday bread for adventurers. Still the plan was for every group to rest and now it was Arata’s turn to do so.

-um… .
-what is it Mika?

Now that they did not have to be focused all the time, the azure haired siblings started talking although it was more Hiro trying to cheer up his sister.

-why do you even ask!? Kuma just died.
-yes, but there was nothing we can do for him now.
-but we could before!
-what could we do? He just vanished in an instant. Even as a healer you couldn’t do anything to help him right. That’s just how it is.
-… .

“If I risked jumping on that lion while he was running around, I could also prevent that death from happening.”

While listening to this exchange Arata thought like this. In the end he did kill the lion but he started seriously only after seeing the large cat-man getting eaten.

-Mika, don’t overreact again just because someone’s dies, we have been through it many times.
-but someone could probably help him… .
-Mika, don’t take it on your brother only because Kuma was eaten by some crazy lion. Also if it’s someone’s fault that Kuma died then it would be Kuma’s fault most likely. Here, it’s a survival of the finest, if you can’t survive on your own then you are bound to die sooner or later.

Flynn, the tank’s group interfere the talk as the mood was going bad.

-I have to agree on that, you have to think about your own safety on your own, if you can’t do that you are simply out.

Vivi added.

-I wouldn’t say that Kuma did anything bad but just simply he was unluckily. For some reason the lion targeted him twice and in the second time, despite many successful attempts to survive the lion just simply really wanted to kill Kuma for some reasons. Earlier on he was just running around but there he stopped and was biting and biting…

Julia started and continued.

-still, if it’s anyone’s fault that Kuma died it’s the Flynn’s fault as he didn’t hold the agro.
-hey some monster’s just doesn’t attack just single person okay, EOA is not that simple game that follows all MMO rules.
-well sometimes both healers and tanks are useless as monsters just run around and kill everyone in one shot. Was that what you wanted to say Flynn?
-you are implying that I am useless when in previous battle before Shin caught that lion no one managed to do any dps either so dps are also useless. In the end sometimes everyone is useless.
-so if everyone is useless then why someone even need to use that word.

Julia stated the obvious fact.

-aye it has no meaning. In EOA’s raid fights everyone just has to do what they can and do not worry about things that they can’t do. Also realizing that death is a natural element of games.
-you heard him Mika, when will you realize that as well?

Hiro asked his sister.

-um.

Mika did not answer but simply nodded to her brother but that nod did not really answer the question, nor did it signal that she understood or not. Still Hiro didn’t say anything else about that.

-anyway, you want a piggy ride?
-no I am fine.

“Well, I guess I can understand her a little, I also still get too emotional when I see peoples dying in this game. Even after seeing someone I didn’t really know well dying in the game the hot blood boiled in me and I actually ended up ignoring the plan and went for the kill. I should think about it a little better.”

Arata thought like that but at that time, he was sure he will not fail. There was not an inch of hesitation but just an enemy before him that needed to be slaughtered.

-anyway guys, so far we are doing great, right?

After some time Julia started like this.

-what do you mean by great?

Hiro ended up asking back.

-you know, we already have to deaths but they are not from our team right? The team A still has all its members.
-ah that, well the deaths so far were so random that it’s not like we did anything special.

After this answer Hiro looked away as earlier he was thought that the topic could fight the boredom but it turned out to not be the case.

-Julia rather than saying that it’s a good thing, judging by how it goes the next person to die will be one of us six.

Flynn pointed it out.

-what’s with that negative thinking?
-well it something to think about but does anyone wants to take bets on who dies next?
-hmm, in this case I will put 30 gold on certain orange bearded dwarf.

Hiro’s attention returned somehow returned after Flynn started talking about the bets.

-oh, in this case I will also put 30 gold, but my bet will be on the azure haired magician as he is definitely more likely to die.
-then how about raising the stakes? Just between two of us, the first one to die will have to pay the winner 300 gold.
-deal!

And so some strange bet was played out between Flynn and Hiro. They even shake their hands and ended up asking Arata to be the witness and cut through their hands.

-you guys are sure you wanted to do it? It’s like asking for misfortune.

After the ceremony Arata ended up asking.

-it will only help us stay motivated. It’s always feels so good to win against this pesky dwarf.
-aye, there is nothing better than winning against this arrogant magician.
-aaa, you two are getting along as always.

Vivi ended up commenting.

The walk continued. Even though there were few quite ‘threating opponents’ that appeared on the way there was not a single time in which Arata had to join in the fight. Because there was nothing really for him to do Arata more or less was looking how others were dealing which incoming enemies. Although it was still mostly the same basic attack all the way and no one did anything too flashy either.

For the most part Arata tried to analyze Rin’s ‘flying red things’ ability as he called it. Because Rin was in the position of the ‘range dps’ she was using it as her ‘basic attack’. Still, she was not really into it and she would fire at something from time to time but usually she would leave it to others. Still when it seemed like the difficulty was slightly higher the number of ‘flying red things’ would increase.

“She said that she doesn’t control it well but from where I see it, she is so used to it that she doesn’t even think about it.”

Arata arrived at this conclusion when at one time, in the middle of shooting out her weapons, Rin ended up closing her eyes, stretched her hands and yawed out loud. At that time she shot out around 10 red weapons and they flied perfectly right above Musashi‘s head and right next to one of melee fighters in group B, Lee. Even though Rin probably did not lie when she said that she doesn’t have experience in using that ability in in the group, she had absolutely no problems in using it when other people were around as she was controlling it perfectly.

-hey Julia, do you have an idea why males in our group are so obsess with that girl?

At some point Vivi ended up asking that question.

-em… what?

It seemed like Julia was also distracted by looking at someone else though.

-never mind.
-no, no wait. You just asked let’s see let’s see. But isn’t Flynn sleepwalking right now, how can, he be obsessed.

Julia looked around and just as she said currently Flynn was walking with eyes closed.

-I meant the other two.
-well, if you want to know then let’s ask them…

Julia ran up to Arata and asked.

-hey Arata why are you staring at Rin?
-this is probably one of few occasions in which I can see that ability and look for its weak points so it’s obvious that I am going to use it. Then again, there is nothing really better to do?
-I guess, you are right. I am also bored. When will our group finally switch? Anyway thanks for answering…

Julia returned to Vivi.

-see, it was quite obvious if we thought about it but Arata is simply looking for Rin’s weak spots.
-I don’t think that she has any weak spots though.
-even if they are hidden everyone has a weak spot.

Arata ended up saying it to his back to where they were walking as he did listen.

-yes, keep believing in it.

Vivi answered to him with the ‘words of encouragement’.

“There has to be something that I can use.”

-so there you have it Vivi, rather than staring at Rin he is keep on looking at that ability, look how his heads follows the trajectory of those weapons. And then you can probably easily guess that Hiro is doing the same.
-well I guess you are right.
-anyway now that I mentioned it, I am really eager to stop slacking off on the backs anymore and fight a little. I will go ask Shin when our turns come…

Julia ran up towards Shin who was not that far as he was still in the middle of the formation. Well maybe slightly to the left now as he was shooting some magic shoots from time to time as well. Still Julia returned with sad expression few moments later as she probably got a fast answer.

-Shin said that if nothing happens, then probably the change will happen in no less than two hours.

“I see so this tactic is to switch either when there is a need or every few hours or so. The first switch also took about 5 hours at least. Yesterday it was the same”

When first Arata heard about that tactic with group switching he thought it would be much more often but with a fighting style like this where everyone only uses basic attacks to preserve mana there was no need for many switches. As long as there was not really hard fight the switch would be just mediatory.

-hey, how is it that no one managed to explore this lands before? I mean apart from few problems we are doing quite fine despite the fact that there is less than 20 of us. I heard about expeditions that had 300 people in it here wiping.

Arata ended up asking as something was not adding well.

-well, I don’t know much about west, what about you Vivi?
-hmm… I can tell you what I know. Currently we are going by the safest route that is in the west as it was Shin choosing it. The expeditions that you talked about Arata went completely different route as they started off in Karma. Still even though they encountered many difficulties people would not call them expeditions if they were wiped out in the first day. Also apart from those two, there were smaller groups going to the west as well.
-yes, I remember someone saying that is where you guys gathered your knowledge about the west.

Arata answered.

-anyway you asked why no one explored the west, as you can guess it’s not like no one was here before us but it’s simply that nothing of importance was found. By nothing of importance I mean a city. The biggest problem of the west is that there is no City anywhere, that’s why no matter how strong you are your results will be always the same. At some point you will be wiped out by some monster and then all your effort will disappear and you will respawn in Karma. Well in our case it will be Larisane I guess.
-oh, you know quite a lot about it.

Arata ended up commenting.

-well I was just listening when Shin was talking about it once. Anyway Arata being in the west for more than two days now, you can guess what problems every expedition faced.
-hmm, I guess that first one would be that unless you have a group with many people you will not get to rest too much as even though we don’t have hard fights all the time the small fights still occur. Then from time to time we ran into something bad that even if doesn’t wipe us all completely it can still kills someone. Right now I am seeing the west is more of test of endurance.
-a test for endurance? Well I guess it fits and that may be also the reason that all other expedition failed as well. Everyone’s endurance will run out at some point and because there is no city to rest in and regroup, in the west you will end up dying at some point and all your progress will vanish.

Vivi answered.

-I guess this is why everyone were saying before that our expedition will end up as a wipe no matter what as we are not playing on turning back…

Julia added and then continued.

-still, if Arata’s quest is to open the gates to heaven and enter the heavens then maybe the heavens will be like a new city with resurrection point and all. Then the exploration of the west would bloom as there would be a good point to start it from. If the gate stayed activated forever then it would be definitely possible as people would use heaven as their home base and by going through the gate they could explore the west freely. At least the fragment between that gate and Karma would get explored.
-ah, it does sound nice and if this were to happen we would be called the explorers of heavens.

Vivi added.

“If this is the truth then if we only manage to reach the heavens then the rest of the quest will be of the city type in which you just need to talk with some NPC in that silver temple.”

Arata had the vision of the happy ending, although that happy ending was based on ‘hopefully thinking’. Also there was no telling what there still needed to be done before reaching the heavens. After all it was a quest of rank three, the world’s first and right now even though the party was traveling through the savage lands of the west, they weren’t doing anything directly connected to the quest yet. It was just arriving at the given spot where the quest would take place. Although did EOA also involved in its difficulty the fact that one has to travel through the west to reach a certain point? No one would know the answer to this question as there was no one to ask.

The walk continued. In the hours of time the hardest fight of all would probably be when the group of rhinos looking creatures charged at the group. Given the standards of the west they couldn’t be called big but they were still at least twice as large as humans and that was only in height. They had fat bodies which were strong and durable and their main weapon a large horn at the end of their noses could do devastating damage. About ten rhinos charged with those horns at the group. There was no force that would stop them and even if Musashi was a tank he could block two of rhinos as maximum. At that time Flynn also joined the fray so it was four blocked of rhinos. Still all the rest were running around. To that the only thing that party could do was to spread around and use the fact that even though rhinos had the speed while charging forward they were quite slow in turning around. Their maneuver capabilities were low. That’s why surrounding each individual rhino. Attacking it from the sides was a perfect way to deal with them. The formation scrambled and it became everyone for themselves, attacking few enemies at once but still in the end, no one died despite few close calls and also apart from Flynn and Mika, the other four from team A were not called to step in.

After another hour, team A switched in with team C in slacking off duty. Although it was more of team B going to the left, team C going to the back and team A going to the right, so Arata’s position once again ended up being on the right flank. Also now that there were two tanks at the front, Arata was once again on the far right flank and his contribution to fights was slightly lower than earlier today. Also in Arata’s group there were two really bored now range, Vivi and Hiro, and they started playing a game called ‘who will be the first to shoot down incoming enemy’. With them going out slightly more serious there was really nothing that Arata or Julia who was going next to him, or Flynn who was at the front had to do.

-now that I think about it if Rin were to play the same game with them then there would be nothing left for anyone.

Arata remarked like this to Julia who was walking next to him.

-ah, it’s not fair! I also wanted to do some fighting now!
-unless it will be something bigger we won’t have much to do though.
-still, while we have some time now Julia. Can I ask you for an advice?
-sure Arata but if you wanted to ask for something wouldn’t it be better to do it while we were on the back?
-well, it was kind of embarrassing for me to ask you that while others were around.
-oh! It’s some embarrassing stuff!? Now! You grabbed my attention!
-chiii!… others will hear you.
-I see… then I will be quitter now, so what is it?
-well it’s probably nothing what you thought just now. Anyway… you know you are quite fast right?
-well, my speed is my pride and also my strongest weapon. I might be not as good in fighting as you but when it comes to speed then I am confident that I can outrun anyone in this party.

Julia really said it in full confidence.

-even Rin?
-… em… hmm… well I would want to say yes but for now I will tell you probably.
-a strange answer.
-rather it’s an honest answer as I don’t know how fast she is, still based on all that I saw so far I am faster.
-well, whatever you are faster than her doesn’t matter but I would say with that speed you could seriously try in professional sports.
-haha… thanks for compliment but obviously I can’t run fast like that in the real world. I mean it’s like that for everyone right? You yourself can’t do all those crazy moves like you do in real world, right?
-hmm… I would say that apart from game skills, I can. After all I learned fighting in real so I just doing the same here. Rin is the same by the way.
-really? Well that’s explains a lot. Your fighting style is just too refined for it to be improvised. Normally people just think of something on their own or based of somewhere rather than being officially trained by someone in general.
-I see that it more or less works based on how you guys fight, still if you really want to improve in short amount of time I would advise you finding someone who would explain you some things. Sure while you train it’s not like your mentor is with you all the time, it’s more of, he explains things to you while you have then try hard to understand them on your own. Still, having a mentor is important as he will point out your mistakes and at the same time he will tell you things that you yourself would never be able to think off. Or at least it would take a lot of time for you to learn it. After all, knowledge of material arts and of weapon arts are something that is passed down for many generations and each generation was adding its own element to it making it better.
-I see, that makes a lot of sense.
-by the way, even though you have some areas that you will need to work on, you are still doing quite good so how did you learn to fight like this?

Arata ended up asking as he was interested in which way people played this game normally.

-how? Well, I was just trying to imitate what I saw I guess. Also don’t make it sound like I learned it all over the night. I am playing this game for five years in game time now and I spent about two first years of it in Loris while trying to find the style of my own. As to how I learned it well… as I said it was try and error method by trying to imitate people who know how to fight. As my weapon of choice became reaper, I studied the materials about fighting with it, saw some instruction films and tried to follow them. Then I guess it would be learning the rest in the fights itself. Because I could actually execute what I learn in real combat, I naturally got better and better with time.
-I see, but then if this was your training method if you really find yourself a mentor then you could probably get twice as stronger in a really short amount of time. My grandfather has a dojo and there I saw that when people who trained on their own before came, they had a great improvement after one or two months of training.
-is that so? Well thanks for the tip although I also once thought about it before. It was not the real training though but learning it from someone in EOA, precisely the elite school for fighters that I heard so much about.
-elite school for fighters?
-you didn’t hear about it… well in short there is an organization that created a school in this game that teaches how to fight. The teachers there have the real life experience in fighting or people that had unexpected talent and learned everything fast. You know, there already are virtual curses and schools that use VR technology right? So I would say that this is quite similar to it but it takes place in EOA. Although, you are still paying for it with real money. Well it still depends and there are also those that want gold but the one I planned to go was the former one.
-so why didn’t you go there yet?
-well, soon after I learned that something like that exist I ended up meeting Shin and joined this party. Still, I do want to go there one day and I will.
-still, doesn’t it mean you will have to leave this party?
-ah… now you had to said that didn’t you!…

“Ups, did I just steep on the sore spot.”

-well, if you already started then I may tell you the whole thing. I already did tell you that I love being in this party and it matters to me much, right?
-yes you did, you even have that strange condition to not talk with male here.
-so you understand how much it matters to me. Still if there was one thing that I don’t like about this party is that many people here don’t have much of ambitions. You probably know that currently the highest level players are at max 299 level, right?
-I heard that someone managed to pass that.
-right now, we are not talking about the legends but the facts. Anyway you could treat level 299 as current max level, sure there aren’t that many of them but still that’s the fact. But then what about our party. Our average right now is around 150…

“Oh that’s way higher than mine.”

Arata thought like that as so far he didn’t really ask others for their levels. He only knew that Levi had like ten levels more than him and that was it. Although Arata already assumed that he had the lowest level in this party.

-but hear this Arata, even though this party exists for about 4 years now, this average was held for about two last years and it didn’t increase at all. Then the second matter that I don’t like is that the party don’t want to move out from Karma for too long and also for those 4 years were mostly staying there even since the creation.
-four years? That’s a little bit long.
-well we are talking about in game time naturally and there are many times in which people are simply logged out so it goes faster still it’s four years. I am in this group for not that long, in game time it would be six months but in reality it was one month in game time playing with them as most of them were on a long break for past five months. So as you can see I am quite fresh here, still it’s already become somewhat unpleasant. I would want to continue playing with them but at the same time, I didn’t start playing EOA only to stay in one place. When I was training in Loris I was doing so because I didn’t want my low abilities to stop me from going where I would want to go. Sure I could pay someone to escort me somewhere like many peoples do but it wouldn’t be the same anymore. I looked for a strong group with whom I could go whenever I would want. Then I finally found it, there is even a person that I like among them but then after some time passed I learn that they don’t plan on going anywhere too far. Can you image what I felt after realizing it?
-I guess, still aren’t we exploring the west right now?
-yes and its great and this expedition just confirm that I love traveling through this world. Still even though from time to time there is adventure like this, it still will end with returning to Karma in the end.
-I see, well I think I do understand what you are feeling right now Julia.
-you do?
-yea, and it’s actually not something that is rare for gamers, or maybe for everyone, I will tell you my example on what I know though. There are many types of gamers in the world but in the end you could say that someone is either hardcore gamer or casual.
-what do you mean by hardcore gamer?
-well it’s someone who wants to be better than others and is not satisfied with the casual gaming. The casual gamers are usually people who play the game to have fun from doings what they do in it. For example I would say that your party is casual gamers that are enjoying playing the game in Karma and stay on level 150. Casual gamers take the joy from what they do and don’t really think that there is a need for a change. On the other hand the hardcore gamer always looks for the challenge and always want to go deeper and deeper and higher and higher. I would say that you were heading in that direction as you wanted to explore the world as much as you can. To do that though you would have to get strong enough as otherwise it wouldn’t be possible. Even if you are not a hardcore gamer, the level of play that you are on right now is not satisfying for you and you try to improve right?
-well, yes. At least I would want to try going to other cities and if I am already playing I also would someday want to hit as high level as possible that would allow me to travel to even more places. I don’t want to stay at my current level forever.
-in that case there will be the time in which you will have to make the decision, you know what decision I am talking about right?
-yes, you don’t have to tell me that. Still, there is also an option in which the party changes its ways.
-well there is also this, that would be your happy ending right?
-um… well for now I will be staying here and try to win my love.
-is love something that you have to win?
-if I can’t win it then it’s over because Shin does not think of me like this… .

“Well, I probably shouldn’t say anything here. The only thing I could base on would be my experience but I feel in love in Kotori like in instant and it only took a day for me to realize it completely. Still, hopefully for Julia the love can bloom with time as well because from my talk with Shin, he doesn’t think of her as anything else as a friend from his party. Although he treats all people in this party quite warmly so it’s not that bad.”

-then how about you Arata? Are you hardcore gamer or not?
-hmm, I would say that I am in worse condition than hardcore gamer.
-worse?
-you see, for me it’s either I aiming for the top and work hard or I get simply bored of playing the game. I would rather say that it’s a curse rather than a good thing.
-it’s about self-improvement so it can’t be a bad thing.
-I guess.
-still, if you are really aiming for the top then you have a long way to go, you know. I am not sure if I should be the one saying it but you just asked me about my speed, right? It was because you wanted me to give you some advices right?
-… .

Arata didn’t answer as he did feel embarrassed for asking someone like her for help.

-let’s see. Hmm, I never did any special training towards that or anything like that, I am also not sure how exactly to achieve it, or rather I would say that I am surprised that others does not achieve this.
-what do you mean?
-well for me, this speed simply become natural as I played, I felt like I can be faster and I knew that I can be faster so I simply started moving faster it’s something like that.
-that doesn’t tell me anything, you know.
-but that how it was for me. For me as someone who is using rapier to fight the speed is the most important so I focused on that area and I did it in exact same way as other training, namely I was imitating the best. So I founded few videos that showed the fastest player in EOA and tried to imitate him. Although there was not that much to imitate as he was simply moving fast, still because I saw how fast he was I found out that I should also be able to achieve that level if I try hard enough and that the speed like he had was possible. Well, I am not sure about getting as fast as that guy but I definitely knew that I can be faster than I was and I still know that I am still far away from the limits, if they even exists.
-so it’s something you achieve over time?
-I wouldn’t say so it’s just speed it’s not something you achieve. It’s not a skill or anything like that, you just move faster.
-your explanation doesn’t tell me much you know.
-unfortunately it’s not something that I can teach others as for me it’s something that was really natural. Still if I had to guess it is connected with level as every time I level up my limit somewhat slightly increases and then whenever I died and lost some levels I go back to speed I had at that time.
-I myself never felt any difference when leveling up. Also after seeing Rin do it, I believed or rather also knew that I can become faster as her but even while keeping that thought in mind nothing changed.
-I already probably told you everything I could think of so I won’t be able to help you here. But as I said, it was something that came to me completely natural.

“Completely natural??? If it’s completely natural then why didn’t it come to me even though I tried to achieve it. Eh…”

In the end Arata didn’t learn anything useful.

-well, hopefully I will understand it one day.
-it’s important to be positive right. Although, there already were people who asked me the same question and they said that they didn’t meet anyone else who achieved that. Because of that I also started to think that it may be because my class is only speed type focused…

“If its class based then it’s hopeless because my class is damn useless.”

-that or I am especially talented, yey! By the way Arata, what do you think that shadow over there is?

Julia pointed straight forward and Arata realized that she was talking about the colossal shadow in the distance. Although it would be probably many miles away from where they were right now.

-isn’t it a mountain? I mean it’s about the same size right?

Arata answered as compering to the mountains that were far to his right the colossal shadow was of about the same size.

-but it doesn’t look like a mountain, it’s too longitudinal right?
-well we can’t tell what it is from here but if you are asking if this is some creature then I think that despite this game standards, there are some limits on how big something can be right?
-hopefully but I was rather thinking that it’s some kind of large statue or something.
-if that is a statue then someone must have to sculpt it in the mountain. Although this is a game world so all one need to do is write a script. Anyway there are many worrying sights around so there is no need to overthink this one in particular. Also look it seems like we are finally arriving somewhere.
-ah you are right!

Even though by the look of it would still take about two hours to reach it. Because the land was quite flat here they could see a forest in the distance and reaching ‘some forest’ was their objective today based on what Shin said earlier. As to why they finally could see the forest out of sudden it’s because they just reached the peak of the hill. Well rather than calling it a hill it was a ground that was just slightly higher.
Still after getting there they quickly saw it but also not only the forest was visible for them.

-seems like we will finally get something to warming up.
-rather than I hope that we will not die… .

Right after they reached the top and got the better view they soon saw something alarming. There were the remains of some large elephant like creature lying on the ground. The size would be probably even bigger than that of the lion that they meet earlier. Still that elephant with three trunks was already death and currently his body was being eaten away by the pack of hyenas. Probably because they were eating the body of the elephant the blood was dropping down from their mouths, also when the party reached the top the hyenas immediately reacted to their presence and looked in their direction and they also right away stopped eating and started gathering in the front of the elephant body preparing to attack.

-it shouldn’t be that bad right?

Arata said that to Julia but second later the pack of about 30 hyenas started rushing in their directions and even though their size was not bigger than that of a huge dog, they somewhat had crazy look and blood thirsted eyes that would scary anyone.

-they are coming! Prepare for battle!

Flynn made a shout to wake up everyone who was not paying attention as of late. Although it was quite safe for some time now to the point where Arata and Julia could have a talk on the front line of formation, the situation once again changed unexpectedly, but once again that was the west.

The pack of the hyenas attacked with their high speed. Still because there were so many of them when range attacked them their shots hit well. Even before the first clash began the firepower reduced the number of hyenas by 10 as this time it were not basic attacks but more mana eating spells. Still even if 10 hyenas were killed the 20 of them was still more than number of fighters.

The twenty hyenas rushed forward and even though there were two tanks at the front they naturally couldn’t stop more few each. The rest rushed pass them but they were soon meet with the melee dps, which included Arata.

About four hyenas were rushing forward right now at Arata’s position. Two of them were at front and two at the back. The two front ones rushed at Arata together with bite attack. Arata used his two swords to block those two away.

Raid battles were different. When normally Arata would simply dodge the attacks, here he had to stop them to not let the hyenas enter the formation because if they do the range might be killed instantly. It still depended on the individual range but still enemies entering inside the formation were bad.

One way or another it came down to contest of strength between Arata and two hyenas that were pushing on his sword. Still it was not over as the other two hyenas that were behind those two jumped up and attacked Arata from above.

“Ah, this is bad, I will have to take those.”

Arata probably could jump back at this moment but he couldn’t let four hyenas enter the formation so he decided to take the attacks and then.

Still he did not take the attack as from his right came a linear yellow beam like light that pierced through the two jumping hyenas. The both hyenas were pierced through this light and a small hole appeared on their bodies that went from one side to another. After receiving those blows the hyenas were stopped and they landed on the other two hyenas that Arata was blocking. Still even after that, they were far from dead as they started moving right away.

“Four before me.”

[Shadow hand]

Arata still had his two hands occupied as he was holding back two hyenas jaws with it. Still, if two was not enough what about the third hand. Arata activated his skill with the focus of a fist, the large black hand of shadows came out from his belly and hit forward with the punch. The punch landed on both two hyenas that Arata was holding back and two hyenas that landed on them. After the punch all four hyenas were sent flying to the back and Arata’s skill ended.

Now that he had a free moment Arata looked to his right behind him to see Julia struggling against two hyenas. Compared to Arata who could hold back hyenas more or less, Julia was complete speed type that was not supposed to tank anything. Even though in EOA the melee’s job was always ‘semi tank’ in a way, some melee relied heavily on dodges. In Arata’s case he dodged because it was the most effective but it was not because he had to use them. Arata could also block attacks alright and his class wasn’t complete speed type.

“What are you doing? Helping me when you are in trouble yourself.”

The yellow linear light came from Arata’s right and on Arata’s right there was only Julia so it had to be her spell.

“I can’t move from here so sword slashing it should be the best.”

But just before Arata was going to do that, the attacks from range on the left came on hyenas on the right, so there was no longer the need for Arata to interfere.

The first push of hyenas was held back but the hyenas that received the hit mostly come back soon after. For example Arata’s ‘shadow hand punch’ did send hyenas flying but that was not enough to defeat them. Even some hyenas that took the first attack from the range started to get back on their feet with more or less success.

“Yes, cutting off the head is the way.”

The monsters in EOA even if they did not have high level were quite resilient still Arata’s tactic to cut off the head worked even on boss class monsters so the health of the monsters wasn’t based only on their health points or it was simply that certain in certain places were enough to destroy enemies HP in an instant.

The battle with the hyenas continued. Because of numbers and strength of the hyenas the team C which was currently resting ended up joining as well. It made the fight much easier as in the distance between Arata and Julia, Kei jumped in as another melee so there was less space for each of them to cover. Now it was more of Arata and Kei defending the right flank and Julia hunting down the hyenas that tried to go around.

“Ah, I am not really suited to this.”

As Arata was fighting against hyenas, he arrived at this though. In large group fight like this there was little move for maneuver’s or using any techniques that use high advanced footwork. Arata couldn’t even let the hyenas bypass him to attack it on the sides. All he could do was to attack the front and block their charges which he was actually doing.

“Another head sliced in half.”

Hyena that just charged at Arata ended up having its head split in half. Still on its place another one jumped on its friend corpse forward and attacked with its claw. Arata blocked them off with one sword and pierced with the other at the belly which ended up landing on the hyena as still with this single shot it wasn’t enough to kill her off. Still after that, hyena was attacked by two arrows that came from Arata’s back and those were enough.

The number of hyenas was dwindling down and at the moment Arata did not have any attacking him. Still he managed to spot one that was pushed away and was not getting back on the feet.

[Shadow hand]

Arata used his skill to pull it to him. He released his shadow hand from his left arm. The shadow covered both the hand and the sword that Arata was holding. The shadow hand skill could be activated from any part of Arata’s body and doing it from hand felt actually the most natural. Arata used it the same way when he was jumping onto the lion. In a way by using it from hand it was as if Arata’s hand got bigger and stretched away.

The ‘shadow hand’ went after the hyena and caught her in the grip. After that it was pulled right to Arata who pierced forward with his black sword in his right hand. Another hyena ended up being killed off.

“Hmm. The basic use of this skill is really good in the end. Still there is one more usage that I wanted to test.”

[Shadow hand]

This time Arata send his shadow hand from the right hand and ended up catching the hyena that Flynn was fighting against.

“Grip.”

Arata then though of squeezing off the hyena with his shadow hand which ended up resulting in hyena being squeezed to the point where it died. Although Arata hoped for more.

“Works but it didn’t get destroyed. But its dead I guess.”

-hey don’t steal my kills!

Somehow Flynn was not thankful for Arata’s help.

Arata looked around and as it seemed there were not many hyenas left and most of them were getting destroyed now. The battle has ended… or maybe it did not.

-three large elephants coming from the right.

While the last of hyenas were being dealt with, Vivi shouted the alarm.

Arata looked to the right and there he saw three large elephants which weren’t exactly elephants as they had three trunks each. Still the problem was that those elephants were of the size of the one that hyenas were eating before, meaning, they were even bigger than lion, they at least had six meters in height. Still while lion was swift and fast the elephants were fatter and they didn’t have the thin legs. Their legs would actually end up crushing anyone who would get underneath them.

“Oh. This is bad.”

-Musashi, Flynn, take one each on the sides and kite them out to the left and right. Everyone else focus their attacks on the middle one. Make enough power to push the elephant back and afterwards nuke it down!

Still when there were people who did not know what to do in situations that looked quite hopeless there would a person who would already have the solution to the problem and voice it right away.

Musashi and Flynn ended up rushing forward to meet the rushing in elephants and Flynn took one to the right and Musashi took the one to the left. In the meantime Vivi shooted the one in the middle with her bow and it kept on going forward. Soon later other range started as well.

“Do I even need to do anything?”

Seeing every spells, arrows, bolts and ‘flying red things flying over his head Arata arrived at the conclusion that there might not be really need for him to do anything. Still even with the armada like this the elephant was still charging forward, well maybe until one point.

Levi ended up running towards the right flank from the left side where he stood earlier. There he started generating lights around his shield that after combining into one orange bubble that flied up a little.

“Ah that spell.”

After the orange bubble was in place all the fire power that was going at the elephant ended up going through it and then coming out from it with its new form. The attacks both increased in the power and size.

[Sword slash]

Arata and other melee also ended up adding something from them as well and the middle running elephant was meet with overwhelming power that not only stopped it charge but completely destroyed him.

-okay now team A and also Bran and Thesar go deal with Flynn’s elephant. All the rest deal with the other elephant!

The party split up and ended up dealing with both elephants at once.

Arata ended up running towards the elephant that Flynn was tanking and started unleashing his dps on the right back foot of it. Apart from elephant slightly moving and trying to stomp on Arata there was little else that Arata had to do. The other dpses were the same. The only one who had ‘the fun’ was probably Flynn as he was defending against three elephant’s trunks that were falling down on him but he was both dodging and blocking them well while attacking at them with his axe whenever he could. Although this time there was not instant kill the elephant after about 4 minutes was dead.

After Arata looked back to the other elephant, that one was already dead as well so this time the battle ended for sure. There were no more surprise enemies rushing at them this time.

-let’s group up once again and continue! We are nearly there!

The party went back to its usual formation soon after and about 5 minutes later the walk continued.

Arata was once again back on the right flank of the formation with Julia walking next to him.

-hmm, surprisingly it ended up well.

Arata started.

-haha, I thought that I will die when I had to defend against those hyenas. No I think I would actually die if I didn’t receive support from the back at that time.
-if that was the case you shouldn’t bother with helping me.
-how do you know it was me?
-the attack came from your direction and you just sell yourself anyway.
-well when I saw that you got attacked by four of them together I had to do something, right?
-nothing would happen if I took those attacks.
-you never know if nothing would happen, sometimes you can get one shooted just like that out of sudden, I couldn’t let that happen, right?

“Hmm, now that I think about it if my attacks can one shoot people by cutting their head off, then I can get one shooted as well.”

-still you should prioritize yourself.
-ah no, I wasn’t in pinch because I helped you. It was simply because I am not good at tanking. I am not good at blocking and I don’t want to get hurt either as it hurts that’s why I always used my speed to avoid being attacked or fight in close combat for too long while facing enemy. When I play in party then I usually just have to dps but when fighting alone I am using hit and run tactic.
-hit and run as a melee?
-well it works like this, quick move towards the opponent hit and moving away before he reacts.

“It’s quite different from my dodging near the enemy and attacking nonstop. Still I guess there aren’t many people that can do what I do so for speed type melee something like this probably works.”

-I see… anyway while I was saying about it ending bad, I mean the elephants no hyenas.
-hmm? But weren’t elephants were much easier.
-well, yes with that tactic it was easy fight them but when I first saw them charging at us I somehow had the feeling that someone will die again.

Arata was not lying there. Even if he himself could survive by rushing away from the elephant on jumping onto it, the others who were not that agile could have problems.

-honestly I panicked at that moment myself as well. After all we just finished one fight that was not easy and another one started right away.

Julia answered.

-well I wouldn’t say I panicked but I didn’t see it end up this well.
-and why it did not end bad?

Julia asked obvious question.

-hmm, I already said that, it’s because of that guy tactic that he made in second.
-haha, so you finally see Shin’s greatness…

“Wait did she just make me said it?”

-in this group it was always like this. Anytime something unexpected happens and anytime we think that this is the end, Shin with few words of wisdom will change the tides of battle immediately.

Even though those were the words of ‘maiden in love’, there was much of truth in them.

-eh… well after experiencing the raid for the first time in EOA, I don’t think that I will ever be a good raid leader here.
-haha, don’t worry about it that much Arata. Also there aren’t many people that would be able to lead the raid in the west where unexpected happen all the time. Comparing yourself to Shin is also not good. Remember what I told you, Shin is the famous raid leader that any guild would want to get.

“Well she did say that once.”

-yes about that, how exactly did he become famous?
-well it’s quite simple. This party was posting on the internet how they defeated this or that boss or completed this or that dungeon. Then many people would watch those videos just to learn the correct tactic for this or that boss. Around Karma, practically everyone is using Shin’s tactics to complete dungeons.
-okay I understand that he is famous in Karma but you said worldwide.
-it’s natural that even if people were not going to use it, the news would spread and the fact that someone could confirm them just by looking at the videos on the internet made it even stronger.
-wait, do you mean that this expedition is also going on the internet!?
-well, probably not. You know not everyone liked those videos in the group and in the first place they were posted without everyone’s knowledge. Actually I don’t even know, I wasn’t in the party at that time. Anyway currently no one is making any videos anymore well at least they don’t go public.
-that’s good then.
-what you don’t want to be famous? I think that some people would be impressed by seeing how you destroyed that lion in one attack.
-well, being famous is a one thing but letting other people know your skills is another.
-I see… well that’s reasonable I guess. Still it’s not like you can hide everything forever. Also I don’t know if you knew but the news about black-white haired swordsman who could keep up with Karma’s rank zero already spread. While we were in Larisane and there was a break I even found a video that someone posted on the internet of your fight with Rin in the arena you know.
-wait, what!
-why are you surprised? Remember I also was watching that fight and it was not something that you can see very often, especially when it did not involve the game skills. So naturally if you see a fight like this in arena it’s obvious that someone is going to post it on the internet later on. Not to mention that there are even people, that posts every single fight in arenas on the internet, and then if there is a special fight like yours it’s going to be posted everywhere. Sure normally people don’t have time to watch it although your fight did have a lot of views.
-but what about people’s rights? No one ever asked me about this.
-hmm, if you want to go into it then you could probably remove that video from that channel but it’s already in the internet so it would be fighting against the windmills. You will never be able to remove it completely and people already saw it so it’s too late anyway. Internet always followed its own rules. Anyway if you wanted that fight to be hidden from people’s eyes then you should ask Rin to do it elsewhere rather than in a place with so many spectators.
-well, I didn’t mind spectators that much but I didn’t know that it will go that far. Oh wait a second…

The conversation had to be stopped for a second as one of the beasts avoided the range attacks and managed to break through. Still Arata just slashed it with one sword starting the swing from the left down corner and ending it in the right top one. The beast died soon after.

-where were we? Ah yes… well at least that was a fight without spells so no one will find them out.
-well, it’s not like people you meet will immediately recognize you, and get a clue on what you can do. For something like that you need to be really famous, you know. Your fight will be a cool video to watch but people will forget about it soon after.
-I see, it’s nothing bad then.
-why do you say it’s something bad, don’t everyone want to be famous?
-hmm, I think that being famous isn’t that good also even though it was Rin, for one I don’t want to be famous for losing to the girl.
-oh, I will get angry Arata. You think that girls are weaker?
-no, no definitely not, and definitely not in EOA, rather I already got beaten by Rin so many times that they are much more scary to me.
-haha, yep gender will not signal anyone’s strength, although what you said is something like male pride right? Well you are not the first one to have it. Or rather there are way too many people who have it.
-I would say it is natural instinct of ours.
-even if it is natural instinct, I would say it’s a little silly. Although it’s still isn’t the worst. In EOA, I already meet some males who ended up jumping right in front of me to save me from dying and in process they ended up dying themselves. When I asked them later on why they did it, they answered that it’s their duty as a men, can you understand them Arata?
-hmm… I think I would probably end up doing the same if there was the occasion.

Arata ended up answering honestly.

-no! You too Arata. Why? No don’t answer it, I do know why… but even though I do know why it’s so illogical! Ah… I will never be able to understand guys.
-hmm, I think that the answer is rather simple. We just don’t want to see a beautiful girl before us get hurt.
-I told you, you don’t need to answer, well thanks for the complement. Still, does this argument hold for people like you who have girlfriend?
-yes why not? It’s not like its anything bad right? Is there anything bad by rescuing a friend?
-probably not but… I am not playing this game to be a damsel in disaster!
-in this case you just have to be good enough to not need help, right?
-I guess… still, it’s also not that simple. Sometimes even before anything happen there are people who will try to sound cool and say lines like ‘hide behind me’ or ‘I will protect you don’t worry’.
-haha… .
-what? Don’t tell me that you also go around saying things like that.
-not exactly but the words that you said just reminded me of the reason why Levi is playing the ‘semi tank’. He said exactly that he wants to be tank from time to time to say those lines.
-and what about you?
-fine I might have done that once or twice but I wasn’t trying to sound cool then.
-yes, yes definitely.

Arata didn’t want to continue that conversation anymore as for the whole time he was in losing position anyway.

The walk continued. The party was traveling nearly for the full day already as the sun was now slowly disappearing behind the horizon. Currently it was red shining in the west which was a little to the Arata’s right. Even though the party was traveling west it seemed like their current direction was more of west-south. That was the route that they chose and even though it was adding to the distance, it was probably the safest route from all available. The forest that they were going to was for a long time now in seeing distance and now it seemed that really soon in about ten minutes they will finally reach it and as it was said earlier, there will be a stop in some suitable place. Still the day was not going to end that well.

-Shin, I am not sure what it is, and it’s probably still far but there are some concerning sounds coming from the south…

Bran ended up reporting at some point.

-I will send my eagle to check it out.

With that said Bran ended up summoning an eagle, which soon ended up flying up the skies. The eagle wasn’t that big so it’s probably was used mainly for scouting like this although in EOA you can use anything you want in any way you want if you only realize that fact. Still despite the fact that Bran’s profession was called beastmaster he was not using beasts but rather he was shooting his crossbows all day long. He also had many skills that were connected to the shooting so despite being a beastmaster he was a marksman. It seemed like the EOA’s class system that chose the player’s profession as so called destiny was no foolproof, or maybe you could simply ignore your destiny and do what you want. In the end, EOA had a lot of freedom.

The walk continued but after about 3 minutes the eagle returned bringing bad news.

-how is it Bran?

Shin asked.

-well, it’s says enemies are incoming. Currently based on the sound I would say that it’s similar to some kind of cavalry?
-cavalry? … oh, I see. So how long till they get her?
-hmm, we might have a chance to reach that forest before they come still there are some good news as I would say that their number isn’t really terrifying.
-so it’s not an army size.
-nope, it’s shouldn’t be more than the last time.
-still I don’t think that they are reckless enough to attack us without any plan. Anyway let’s try to avoid them completely. Everyone! It might be a little too much to ask after the full day of fighting but we are going to run the rest of the distance and enter the forest immediately.
-what if there is some army of spiders waiting for us there?

Vatras ended up asking.

-who knows, there is little information on that area.
-little information? Then why do we choose that route?
-well it’s because any other route was a ‘dead end’ with something bad killing the whole expeditions. That’s why I think that it’s better to try the unknown.
-we are already this far?
-no it’s rather other groups didn’t go that far in this part of the west. Anyway let’s try to reach the forest as quickly as possible. Musashi make some good tempo that everyone will be able to follow!
-okay.

And so the party started to move much faster than throughout the whole day so far. Still even though the whole day was full of fights and there was no real rest, everyone still had some reserves for the last dash.

-hey, I am all up for running and in the first place I think we should do it from the very beginning but why now?

Arata ended up asking Julia.

-who knows, but there must be some reason for it.

The party ran for the next three minutes and in a short time got close to the forest but then when the distance was not that much anymore the enemy appeared.

-Shin, we won’t be able to outrun them after all.

Bran reported seeing the enemies on the horizon.

-in this case we will fight them off. Everyone, our friends from the morning have come for another round, even though it seems like there are only twelve of them I doubt that they would simply rush at us without nothing in store. Still, it will take them two or three minutes to reach us so in that time we will get to the forest and prepare our defense by facing back to the forest.

After hearing it Arata looked behind him. In the distance he could saw a shadow of the enemies that were coming at them. They were, just as Shin said earlier the friends from the morning, the centaurs.

“Hmm? Why are they attack us with only this number after they got beaten up at morning. Well maybe it’s because at that time no one lived to tell the tale.”

Arata did not see that matter was really concerning but still did as instructed. Soon enough the party positioned itself while having forest behind them. Luckily there weren’t any creatures in that forest that would welcome them with the attack. In fact that forest seemed a little strange as despite it being 18:00, the white mists appeared in it even if the mist was something that usually would appear only in the morning. Still, that was completely not concerning matter at all as in the end the only thing that mists did were interrupting the visibility also, the party was not entering the forest right now.

The number of centaurs this time was twelve. In comparison to the ‘morning centaurs’ those were slightly bigger and more muscular but in the end they were still of the height of a rider on the horse. The other difference with them would be that few of them had numberous scars on their bodies. The one in the middle who seemed like the leader of that ‘cavalry’ had the largest amount of them and he even had a pirate like black eye-patch on his left eye. Then the next difference between the centaurs would be that current one had much better equipment. Those weren’t only swords axes shields or bows, it seemed like they also had magicians on their sides as there were centaurs the hold staffs and some books. Then there were also the fact that those centaurs had armor on their bodies. In this case also, some were wearing plate armor while others leather or cloth equipment.

“Are those some elite centaurs? Well, I won’t probably even be able to fight against them as the range will take them down before they get close.”

Those were Arata’s thoughts as he stood on the right flank looking at the charge of the centaurs and then the prepared for the assault party.

-fire!

The range assault began. Every time Arata saw it he could only image what the other side must feel. When the artillery was aiming at you with this fire power there was little that most could do. Still this time the centaurs answered with solid defense. All of their mages set up some green barrier at the front that blocked away all the range attacks.

-everyone prepare yourself it will be a hard battle, one wrong move and you may even die!…

Shin shouted it although everyone realized that it won’t be easy after seeing this defense.

The centaurs were closing in with the barrier at front of them that blocked out the attack but then when they were thirty meter away from the party, the centaur on the front with black eye patch jumped out from the barrier and with incredible speed rushed forward.

-take him down!

Seeing the target the range quickly changed their target of attack, still only few of their attacks managed to reach that centaur in time and also that centaur had some green magic appear near his wounds anytime he got hit. That magic was probably casted by one of the centaurs’ healers at the back.

The boss centaur was ignoring all the attacks and continued his charge. He was charging with the simple looking metal silver sword at the left side of the formation, from Arata’s perspective. There Musashi was already ready to take the horizontal slash that the centaur was most likely going to use given the position of his sword and that attack indeed came, although the ‘attack swing’ started surprisingly early. Two meters before Musashi.

The moment ‘the centaur with the eye patch’ started the swing, the sword itself somehow in instant turned from the simple silver metallic sword into a one gigantic silver metallic sword that’s blade was at least as long as seven meters. The gigantic sword still had the momentum of the swing while it was in the small form so it came with the incredible speed at the whole left side of the flank.

The first one to meet this surprising attack was Lee who was on the furthest to the left side of formation. It was the same position that Julia had on the right side. Lee managed to react to the attack despite being completely not prepare for it, still his reaction was wrong as he tried to jump over that gigantic sword thinking that it will go much slower, but the sword still had the same speed as before. In the end, Lee only started his jump and the sword came on him and cut him in half which naturally killed him instantly.

The second person on the left side Konan, did not react at all, although that might have save him. Konan’s height was lower than that of the dwarfs so when he just stood on his legs the gigantic sword went over his head and only cut off some of his spiky hair.

Then the next person who the sword attacked was Rin. In comparison to two others she reacted to the gigantic sword immediately, still her reaction was bad or rather, what she wanted to do was not what she should even try. Rin was holding two red swords in her hand and prepared to block the attack to defend the rest of the party from getting hit. If no one were to stop that sword it would end up with the sword going through the whole party and probably killing many people in the process. That’s why Rin decided to block this attack, still even though that decision came from the fact that she wanted to defend the party of her now dead friend, it did not mean that that decision was right. After the gigantic sword meet up with two red blades, Rin ended up being pushed away like fly and she ended up flying to the forest with a great speed that made her disappear from the scenery in two seconds.

Then lastly the last person that took the attack of the gigantic sword was Musashi who already had his shield ready for the attack. Somehow the shield managed to block the gigantic sword and on the impact Musashi was only slightly moved to the left. Although, his ‘tower shield’ now had a linear dent in the place where the sword attacked.

After the attack the boss centaur was not wasting the time in comparison to the whole team that still did not manage to realize what has just happened. The boss centaur dropped the gigantic sword after the swing was finished. It seemed like he could not use it anymore. Still without delay he continued forward at what remained of the left flank of the formation that was now nearly completely devastated.

The boss centaur took the spear that he had on the left side of his horse-like body and with that spear he was going straight at Konan who still like many people was not ready to do anything. Still there was one person that would not get influenced by no matter what happened. Shin in response to boss centaur charge cased one of his runes on the path where the centaur was going it was in the yellow color. The boss centaur ended up stepping right into it and he could no longer move any forward. Still, that did not stop him as he realized that he can’t move in seconds and that’s why he decided to throw his spear at his prey. The spear flied through the air and in two seconds ended up going right through Konan’s forehead which resulted in him dying instantly and falling to the ground with the spear in his head. Even Shin’s quick intervene did not help.

“Rin?”

Arata’s eyes were currently focused on the forest where Rin just disappeared into. Judging by the strike she just took, it would not be surprising if she just died after crushing into something on her way which would mean that the boss centaur already scored three deaths.

-Arata, it’s not the time to look around the others are coming!

Julia brought him back to reality with the shout.

-right!

Arata shouted back and unsheathed his swords. There was no time to look around as the remaining eleven centaurs also were reaching the party as well. Five of them rushed to the front while remaining six was probably ‘the range’ and they started shooting from afar. Still Arata had no time to look around and could only focus what was before him.

There were three centaurs that were rushing at the right side of the flank. The first one was stopped by Flynn, the other one was pushed back by Hiro’s water attack, then the third one came at Arata. This one was holding black one-sided axe in the left hand and a leather shield in the other one.

“This time I should have a little bit more freedom.”

Because the number of the enemies was not that big Arata did not have to hold the complete formation but only stop the incoming attackers. Currently there was a single enemy so Arata decided to rush out to him. It was only a meter distance but he moved a little. Arata was going to make two horizontal slashed at the legs of the centaurs. Still the centaur using his horse legs made a fast jump to his left and dodged the strike.

[Sword enchant: earth]

Second after the attack, Arata saw that behind him a large ‘earth fist bullet’ was coming at him from the mage centaur in the distance. That’s why Arata immediately get ready and cut through the attack with both of his sword which resulted in four pieces scattering around.

The centaur that jumped to the Arata’s right was second later attacked by Julia. She already managed to wound the opponent three times with her reaper. Still that was only a minor wound. The centaur made a swing with his axe on Julia. Seeing it Arata immediately jumped to his right and blocked the strike with two of his swords crossed together as it was a powerful blow. Even if the other centaurs were probably not as strong as the boss one, they still were elite.

-don’t concern yourself with me!…

Arata blocked the strike without thinking but there was absolutely no need for that as Julia quickly moved to the right and dodged it completely, she shouted those words and seeing that the centaur stopped at Arata. She attacked at the side which even though was armored did not provide much resistance.

The centaur moved its body and blocked with the shield Julia’s attacks still that made him open on Arata’s side and Arata did not waste a second and attacked with his swords. He attacked at centaur’s front right leg and cut it off with double slash. Afterwards, Arata dodged the axe attack that centaur made at him. Still after that attack the centaur, fall to the ground as he lost his balance without his leg.

-I will finish him off.
-Julia, watch out!

Julia prepared herself for the strike but the position in which she was did not allow her to see the ‘range centaurs’. Arata saw the arrow that was flying surrounded by the red light with the great speed at Julia. He immediately stomped on the centaur’s body that was before him and then from there he jumped at Julia and brought her to the ground. While doing so he ended up receiving a linear wound from the arrow on his back.

Still after landing over her, Arata didn’t even have the time to hear her thanks as he saw a large thunder ball coming in his direction. Seeing that they were on the ground the centaur’s mage decided to attack them.

[Sword enchant: thunder]

Arata get back on his feet just in time to cut through that spell, still second later he did that he felt a pain in on his legs and ended up falling to the ground right away.

“He is still alive!”

It was the fallen centaur who attacked him with his back horse legs and when he hit with them it hurt. Still that centaur couldn’t move right now well so Julia attacked him second later on his bottom where he didn’t have any metallic armor and with five quick attacks where her rapier was shining in yellow light the centaur dropped dead.

Arata started to get back on his feet and then he heard someone’s shout from the back.

-Musashi!

It was a desperate shout so Arata turned back his head for a second. There he saw Musashi who was not tanking the boss centaur with the black eye patch. Despite the large strong attacks that the boss centaur was making using now two large black axes in his hands, Musashi was standing firm and was defending against them while at the same time he also sometimes used his trident to attack at that centaur’s body. Still the shout that came meant something different. While Musashi was blocking out the double strike from the boss centaur from behind him a large darkish energy ball came. It was fired out from one of the magician centaurs in the range line. Still Musashi was now wearing his helmet and was tanking the boss centaur. His line of sight did not include the ‘range centaurs’ and also there was no one who could block off that attack, nor there was anyone who could set up some kind of barrier. Even though there was a shout, Musashi was barely holding back against centaur with the eye patch, he did not have time to look around. The dark energy bolt landed on Musashi’s body and about few seconds later when it’s disappeared only Musashi’s metal boots remained. The death count increased once again.

Then second later Arata’s image was blocked by the stream of water that fired right before him. It seemed like while Arata looked in Musashi’s direction there were five arrows fired out from the centaur’s side at his position. The one who blocked them was Hiro who appeared there in flash out of nowhere.

-Arata, we are going to attack their range!
-what about the melee?
-leave them to others. We are going to have six centaurs of our own. It’s slightly suicidal for us two to do it but Shin said that we have to distract them while rest will deal with the melee.

Arata made one quick look at the party. Currently even though Musashi just died nothing changed and the fight continued. Including the one that he and Julia just killed there were two other centaurs killed off which meant that there were three of them left. Currently Flynn was tanking two of them while the boss centaur was now focused on Levi who jumped in after Musashi’s death.

-okay, let’s go get them although rather than distracting them, we are going to kill them off.

Even though the boss centaur was incredible danger, the same could be said about the range centaurs, like their mages who could use spells of the level that would vaporize the tank in the instant, also there was the fact that the boss centaur was devastating partly because he kept on receiving heals from the healer centaur in the range line.

-well, it can’t be anything else.

Hiro answered, it seemed like he also was coming there for blood.

Even though the leg attack of the centaur hurt, Arata quickly get back on his feet and second after he did that he even received a heal from someone that healed him completely.

Arata and Hiro started running at the centaurs that were in the range, then also surprisingly there was one person who followed along.

-I am coming as well!

Julia ran up to them and said those words, but after that she started to run faster and it seemed like she wanted to attack first. Still their movement was quickly seen by the range that started focusing all their fire power on them.

-Julia, hide behind me!
-Arata, remember when I told you that I hate lines like that.
-it’s not time to be picky. Hiro you two, both of you run behind me. I will take care of incoming shots. Hiro start attacking them with your spells while we run.

Even though unwillingly, Julia listened and got behind Arata, Hiro was doing it from the start so for him there was not a change.

[Sword enchant: water]
[Sword enchant: thunder]
[Sword enchant: earth]
[Sword enchant: light]
[Sword enchant: fire]

The range centaurs were in the distance of 60 meters now as they backed off after providing the barrier for melee charge. Still that meant that Arata and others had to run quite a distance. Arata was running at the front at cutting through the spells and arrows that were coming at him.

There were six centaurs in range. Three of them looked like mages although one of them was a healer as he was not attacking. The other three had the bows. Upon seeing the charge at them, they started to slowly go back and when later on they started to run away.

-one of them stayed, take him down! I will continue to defend against the spells but they are now scattered around so look out for them as well.

Arata said that to his teammates on his back while seeing the one centaur in robe that stayed behind. It was the centaur that was a healer and it seemed like he was too focused on healing the boss centaur with the eye patch to realize that he is under attack.

Hearing this Julia rushed forward and passed by both Arata and Hiro with ease and after she did that her whole body shined in the yellow color and second later like laser she went forward right through the healer centaur’s body. The ended effect was the healer centaur being now slit in half and Julia stopping two meters behind him. She killed the centaur even before Arata had to cut through any spells.

[Sword enchant: earth]

It did not mean that he didn’t have to cut through anything later on though.

-the rest scattered around so I think that we should do the same and chase after them.

Hiro proposed the idea.

-okay, just don’t get yourself killed, Julia will you be okay?…

Arata ended up asking although to his answer he only got annoyed look of Julia.

-let’s go then.

The three scattered around. Arata went first after the first centaur that he saw which was one with the bow. The centaur was running back while his torso was shooting arrows at Arata who was running after him.

“Hmm, it is like running after the horse in full gallop.”

[Lighting speed]

Arata was not going to try his strength against racing with the horse and turned on his skill right away. His speed increased drastically and even though the centaur could probably still run away with its horse body, because he was maintaining the speed so far he was quickly catch before realizing that he has to speed up. Arata used the moment of the distraction and after catching up to the centaur he cut of both of its back legs which resulted in centaur crushing on the ground. The centaur still managed to fire his last arrow that he had already in hand but that didn’t change much and Arata killed of the centaur in seconds. This centaur had only leather on its body so there was practically no resistance against Arata’s swords.

[Sword enchant: fire]

Arata without trouble quickly located another centaur that just shoot at him some kind of fire spell that was in the shape of flying fire lance. Naturally Arata cut through it and started running after the mage centaur. Still because this centaur was well aware of Arata’s speed catching up to him was problematic.

[Sword enchant: ice]

Not to mention that Arata still had to defend against his attacks as the mage centaur was still casting it’s spells on Arata while running still that plan of his backfired. The centaur that was running away ended up running right into the rock that was on his way and in effect he ended up crushing into the ground. His front legs could not support his weight anymore so the centaur could no longer run away, and that’s why he bet everything on his last card. A colorful ball appeared in his hand that combined the elements of fire, earth and light. It was some kind of combination spell that Arata never saw before. The second that spell was ready the centaur threw it at Arata.

[Reflect enchant]

So far Arata still was cutting through the spells as he always did because he was used to it still now that something of unknown element came at him that was not possible. There was still possibility of dodging the spell but that was also quite risky as the spell could for example explode. That’s why Arata ended up pushing it back to the caster.

Arata reflected the spell and it returned at its caster and when it did the second before it reached him the spell indeed did explode. The explosion was big enough that it covered the whole body of the centaur who ‘disappeared afterwards’.

“Oh, I just wanted to test my spell once again but it really did explode. Anyway where is the next one?”

Arata looked around for another centaur. There was one archer centaur in a distance that he saw but he was chased by Julia across the field.

“I really need to find out what is the deal with that running speed.”

Seeing her being able to chase after the centaur without any skills or spells made Arata thought like that. It still seemed like it will take her some time before she manages to catch it though but it didn’t seem like she had any troubles right now also Arata didn’t want to hear what she would say if he were to go to help her.

Then there was another mage centaur that was currently ‘playing around’ with Hiro. It seemed like that fight came to pure power struggle as both Hiro and the mage centaur ended up powering their spells at each other. The mage centaur was firing some kind of black energy beam while Hiro was doing his usual water ‘beam’ as well, still there it also seemed like Hiro was wining as his beam was pushing back the enemy’s beam. There was no need to help him.

Then Arata located the body of the last range ‘centaur archer’ who ended up being killed by someone from the party as that centaur ended up running in the direction of the party and there he was killed.

Lastly it also seemed like the party managed to deal with the remaining melee centaurs including the boss centaur with the eye patch. Because of Arata’s, Hiro’s and Julia’s attack on the range, the rest of the party didn’t have unexpected situations anymore and even though the boss centaur was strong with the healer that was backing him up dead, he also followed the fate of his comrades. There also were no more deaths in that fight anymore as the fire power of the centaurs was disrupted. Still, the losses of that fight were big, currently the only person that Arata could see from the group B was Vatras. In comparison Musashi, Lee and Konan died in this battle. Then Yume who was also part of the group was no longer with them for the long time already and lastly Rin, who was sent flying to the woods was nowhere to be seen either.

Arata ignored the two last centaurs that Hiro and Julia were finishing off and ran up towards the party with his lighting speed still on. He did not exchange many words with them there, nor did he listen to the story about the fight with the boss centaur with the eye patch. He just asked them, ‘-where is Rin?’ but no one could answer to his question. Arata also did not wait for the answer too long and after five seconds of silence, he rushed into the woods without a second though.

Next Chapter
Advertisement

About the author

ziki

Bio: ?

Achievements
Comments(71)
Log in to comment
Log In