Thought Aisha as she looked at Matagi, Electra and Atlas' levels. 113, 95 and 98 respectively. Her level was even higher than Gaea, which was 138, the guide from Bathory's guild that was supposed to escort Electra. The most pressing fact was that her familiar was only level 58. The huge disparity between their levels was indeed a problem.
'Hunting monsters near Electra, Atlas or Maverick's level is a waste of time, they are too weak to give the rest of us any exp and it would take forever for those three to level up. We should try a higher leveled monster and if it works, we should increase the number of monsters pulled one at the time.'
The five people were currently at Daphthee, an inn located in Shazil, the nearest village to Jurta. It's where Kaine had teleported Electra and Atlas and where the two met Gaea for the first time. After Matagi was able to play again, her and Aisha used the portal in the Pantheon Church of Tihghul to teleport to Shazil, unlike Bathory and Kaine who went back to their guild's HQ. Once they found an inn where their avatar could rest, Daphthee, the two girls only had to wait for Atlas, Gaea and Electra to arrive.
There was a
Considering Aisha's high notoriety, if she had walked into a town or city while marked, the guards would have either killed or imprisoned her. Matagi also didn't want to waste time by waiting for Gaea to come to them, even though it would've probably been easier if Gaea, along with Atlas and Electra, came to Tihghul and afterward went all together to Shazil or somewhere else.
"First of all", Aisha began to talk, "I think we should wait for my familiar to reach a suitable level, so we won't be useless later on. Are there any mobs of a sufficiently high level nearby?"
She looked toward the three that were already familiar with the environment. Electra and Gaea began to think about something but Atlas didn't hesitate to say
"Right here. If you go near the mountains there are monsters with a really high level, and the more you climb the more it'll increase."
When he finished speaking both Gaea and Electra nodded, confirming Atlas' statement. Aisha fell once again in deep thought while Matagi quietly listened to their conversation; she couldn't find anything to say at the moment and even if it wasn't so for the others, she found it awkward. Aisha then held out her hand, the one with the black bracelet, and summoned Maverick.
"Climb the mountains near this village, there should be enough game to level you up to a decent point. We'll be back here in two days."
Maverick bowed his head and proceeded outside the inn, passing through the cracks of the wooden wall. Aisha turned to look at her companions and spoke
"Log out, you have 11 hours to do whatever. When everyone's back we will decided where should we go while we wait for Maverick."
As they all didn't mind taking a break, they nodded their consent and started logging out until only Aisha and Matagi remained. Matagi looked at Aisha for a couple of seconds, her eyes seemingly trying to convey something to her girlfriend in vain, before she too logged out. Aisha stared at where Matagi was seated just now for a bit, her head slightly inclined and eyes that undoubtedly probed for an answer. Her pointless staring ended soon after and she logged out.
Maverick's nose twitched. He smelled a creature nearby. His eyes darted from side to side, scanning every detail of every tree, every leaf and every flower. Then he saw it. A white kitten was trembling, stuck in-between the roots of a big tree. When he was near enough, Maverick activated Sickness, hexing the animal. Then, he cautiously neared him to finish it off.
Still maintaining his ethereal body, Maverick quickly moved his snout on the kitten to bite him, but seconds before he could do it, a white mist-like substance spread out from his body. Maverick calmly retreated a few centimeters and observed the creature. Now it wasn't a little white cat anymore, it was a kind of raccoon dog, his fur a mix of various shades of brown.
The raccoon dog got on all fours and growled at Maverick, who, after seeing the challenge, did the same. They stared for a second until the creature's face twitched, probably from the pain inflicted by Sickness, and once again enveloped itself in mist. What exited the mist was a brown bear two times as big as Maverick. The bear roared and lunged toward him, hitting nothing when he was near enough.
The Mistress had found out that Maverick could fight in his ethereal form at the price of receiving less experience, so he had been exploring the mountain without taking his corporeal form even once. He intended to first scout ahead, killing every single type of monster once or twice to find their weaknesses, and then he'd go back to the start and hunt every single creature on his way to the top of the mountain.
The bear/raccoon dog/kitten wasn't much of an opponent in the end as he even started stumbling and falling to the ground after four or five special bites. Continuing upwards, he found various enemies, but perhaps his most difficult battle was against a group of elves.
"I've never seen that kind of mob here before."
"Perhaps a new mini-boss?"
Maverick continued to stare at them, trying to deduce whether he'd have to fight or not.
"It says he's level 73, so we can manage."
"Yeah, you are right. C'mon guys, i—"
The moment Maverick hear the word 'manage' when they referred to him, he started to spring toward them, not wanting to give them a chance to organize. His opponents were four elves: a mage, an archer, a warrior and a priest. The priest-looking guy would have been the most bothersome in the following fight, so he had targeted him first.
Phasing the warrior, Maverick continued unperturbed toward the first victim when a purple beam grazed off his skin and was actually able to damage him. Still, he didn't stop, or he'd die for sure. When he was near enough Maverick took his corporeal form and bit the priest in the neck, the momentum bringing both down on the ground. Once there, Maverick shook his head, still biting on the priest, as hard as he could manage.
When Maverick felt his grip waning, he quickly activated Sickness and bolted out of everyone's reach. The moment his fangs disconnected from the guy's neck Maverick stopped using his corporeal form. The shock from the recent event gave enough time to the priest to die. The next on the list would've been the mage if the archer had not almost successfully sniped Maverick when he was about to bite the priest.
Unfortunately, the time it took him to kill the archer was enough for the mage to enchant the warrior's sword with his purple-coloured magic. After that, Maverick had to twist and turn his body in mid-air or mid-run half the time, as he dodged the mage and the warrior's combined efforts. But what interested him the most was their position.
During the fight, Maverick was able to finally push the warrior near the mage without letting them notice. Maverick knew how the two cured themselves with some potion before, so he used it again.
Surprised by the hex for one or two seconds, Maverick used the opportunity to land as many Luck Stealer Bites as he could before backing off. Then the mage made a cage around Maverick, entirely made out of the purple substance that could affect him. Deciding he should not waste time and that perhaps attacking with his ethereal form would be counterproductive, Maverick used Corporeal Form and his body once again had mass.
The cage got smaller and smaller, so it became increasingly difficult to evade the sudden attacks from the sword of the warrior outside. Still, Maverick persisted: he put his paws on the wall and concentrated all his remaining strength in them. Slash, slash. Nothing happens, thus he concentrated again, calling forth more strength. Slash, slash. For a brief moment he could see the outside. The warrior's sword suddenly appeared near him, so he dashed to another wall.
Maverick repeated the routine, putting more and more strength in his paws until he felt a tingling sensation. He growled as he put his paws on the wall once again. Slash, slash. The wall gave away and he could get out, surprising the two elves. The warrior ran for him while the mage began preparing another spell. Maverick became ethereal just as the warrior was about to attack, he ran through him and went behind his back.
Maverick assumed his corporeal form again and used the new skill he had just learned, Wicked Claws, on the warrior. His armor posed no resistance and his flesh had the consistency of butter, no more hits were necessary as his lifeless body fell to the ground. When Maverick turned around he saw that the mage had five purple spheres over him and he did not hesitate to attack.
As he ran toward the mage, he had to dodge the spheres, first going to the right, then the center, left, center again. The last sphere hit Maverick as it was hidden behind the fourth, it sent him flying away and since he was ethereal at the moment, no tree could stop him. Maverick got up from the ground instantly, even if he knew he was almost dead, he couldn't stop and rest.
He made a last dash for the mage, who was already casting another spell. When the mage saw him he began to hurry to finish the spell as he was defenseless, but Maverick reached him before he was done, breaking his concentration as he was bitten in the neck and clawed at the shoulders. Seconds later, the mage died too. Maverick, content with the result went to find a place to rest before he resumed his hunting on the mountain.
Everyone had logged back in and started discussing where to go. Gaea and Atlas had made some research on the internet and they were the deciding factor for their destination. While they waited for Maverick to return, they mainly chit-chatted about the game or about nice new clothes or accessories they bought, making Atlas feel excluded and alienated.
Once Maverick returned, Aisha appreciated that he rose to level 87 and that he had learned a new skill, which she decided to check later. The five stood up and walked outside the inn. They all were already prepared so they didn't have to go around Shazil to buy resources. As they walked toward the town's gates, Maverick talked to Aisha telepathically.
—Where are we going, Mistress?
'To the Yinyue Empire.'
Lol are you guys happy I gave you a longer chap? :grin:
The third volume began! Now I can't wait to end this volume too and write about what I believe is my favorite arc of this story~