108. Crossing Borders
Daniel and Edithe followed me as I led them through the winding roads beyond Viechester. With our farewells said and done, there was nothing left for us to do at the city. We had packed everything we needed beforehand; both their storage equipment carried most of it, so we did not need to bring big bags with us.
I wore a few of my new purchases on me. Nothing too fancy. Apparently, Medium Grade items and above were often hard to come upon. I could always just create my own, so I did not bother getting anything that was not simply supplementary.
One of the items I got was a leg bangle. The merchant had called it a Band of Resistance. Daniel almost mistook it for something in his world when I mentioned it to him, but it was a completely different thing. A single chain was wrapped around my leg, with some inscriptions engraved onto it. And apparently, that would have helped me resist against ailment effects like burning or poison.
That was what I especially had to look out for, considering we were going to the Plaguelands. Daniel and Edithe, seemingly enthused at first, began to voice their disagreements with the idea as we marched down the gravelly path.
“Salvos, I don’t think this is a good idea. Look, I know of a few Dungeons around the area. They’re Platinum Rank threats too! Just like the Brilsum Ruins! We can start off there and then maybe work our way up to the Plaguelands?”
“Yeah, I agree with her. This is, uh, not the best idea you have. In fact, it is probably one of the worst.”
I stared at the pair, aghast.
“What’s wrong with going to the Plaguelands? I think it’s a wonderful idea!”
They exchanged a look then spoke at the same time.
“It’s a Diamond Rank area…”
I beamed back at them. They still did not seem to understand. So, I began to explain.
“I’ve done a lot of research, since you Humans keep needing to sleep. I’ve stayed up all night reading books from your libraries and stuff. And they all say the same thing! The Plaguelands are full of these creatures called undead!”
My logic seemed to bounce off some thick shell covering the heads of the Humans. They were perplexed. Confusion was evident on their faces. I crossed my arms.
“Skeletons, Ghouls, Wights, Draugrs! They are mindless and wild— even more so than Centinels. And the most important part is: they aren’t even alive!”
Comprehension finally settled into my companions. However, instead of the understanding nods I was expecting, there was a sigh, a shaking of the head. Edithe stepped forward and began to explain.
“Look, Salvos, I’m not exactly… in the best shape to fight right now. I can only cast spells equivalent to someone 10 levels lower than me, and Daniel is just a Level 70 [Warrior]. Maybe you can survive fighting in the Plaguelands, but neither of us can. Even if you prefer this, the fact is we’ll die.”
I frowned. Daniel seemed to agree with her. And then I grinned and started around a nearby tree.
“What are you doing, Salvos?”
The Human man hurriedly turned away while Edithe tried to stop me. I waved her off.
“We’ve already left Viechester! I’m done keeping secrets. It’s not fun.”
I winked over at Daniel, and although he didn’t see it since he was pointedly facing the ground, he still tensed up. Edithe however, did not pick up on the cue even as my body started to shift.
I was glad she did not, because that was meant only for him. It was his choice— his secret. However, I have had to pretend to be a Human for so long. And I was getting sick and tired of it.
I stepped forward and placed one of my four hands on the red haired woman’s shoulder. She looked up at me, hesitating.
“This is dangerous. If someone sees you—”
“We’ll move away from the roads and keep away from Human sight. Plus, I can always change back if I sense anyone approaching us! I have [Passive - A Hunter’s Sense], after all!”
Smiling, I spoke reassuringly to Edithe.
“I know you may not think I’m the most reliable person, but I’ve learned a lot since coming to the Mortal Realm. I know better than to get in trouble over nothing. The same goes for heading to the Plaguelands. We aren’t just going to charge in and attack a horde of Level 100 Skeletons! We’ll be smarter than that. Draw them in slowly. Use teamwork to take them out one by one.”
She still seemed uncertain, however my mind was set. She had let me decide where we were going. I had promised Edithe I would make her stronger. She did not want to forego her Class. So, we just had to advance her Class to something even better.
Gesturing at my companions to follow me, I started into the forest and led them through the country of Nixa.
A day later, Edithe and Daniel took charge of directions.
“You’re terrible at directions, Salvos.”
“Yeah, at least I know how to use a map.”
The Human woman did not get what he meant by that, but she agreed anyway. We made our way through Nixa, staying close to but away from the roads where Humans could possibly see me. The Sunmere Republic disappeared far behind us, and even though I wanted to pay a visit to Silvergrove or Hazelbury— just to hear the oo’s and the ah’s from those there who knew me and saw how much I leveled, I knew it was pointless.
We ran into quite a few monsters through our path. However, that was what I had intended; not only could I remain as myself without being forced to constantly wear a Human skin, we could work Edithe’s way up before reaching the Plaguelands.
I yelled from the side as she cast spells and flung them at the swarm of [Vurats] attacking her. The monsters flapped their jagged wings and charged her, but droves of them fell from the Gold Rank adventurer’s spells.
She panted, hands clasped on her knees as she cast a glare at me then at Daniel who was playing with his sword’s scabbard.
“You know, you could have helped me, right? Those were fucking Silver Rank threats! Not something that would help me level.”
“That’s the point!”
I grinned back at her. She faced me with a frown as I elaborated.
“We’re helping you refine the use of your spells. Since you can’t rely on half of your Skills right now, we want you to get used to fighting without them. What better way to test that than by fighting monsters below your level?
“That’s… oddly well thought out for you, Salvos.”
“Hey! I take offense to that!”
I feigned hurt.
We fought more monsters and continued through the country. Until finally, a month passed and we arrived at the Vaun Qieur Empire’s borders.
Defeated [Shadow Wolf - Lvl. 43]!
Less experience is awarded for defeating an enemy at least 20 levels below you!
Defeated [Moss Slime - Lvl. 25]!
Little experience is awarded for defeating an enemy at least 30 levels below you!
Subspecies [Asura Changeling] Level Up!
[Asura Changeing – Lvl. 72] -> [Asura Changeing – Lvl. 73]
Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!
There was a border check we had to go through. I briefly had to revert to my Mortal Form because of that. I folded all four of my arms defiantly at first, turning away from my companions when they insisted I had to change.
“If we go into the country without receiving the proper documentation, we’d be criminals. Wanted by the law.”
I finally acquiesced. We passed through a bridge with a small, castellated fort sitting on the other side and the guards there studied us thoroughly. They wore rather decorated armor, unlike the ones I had seen in Nixa and the Sunmere Republic. But it was not special. Not like an adventurer or high leveled guard’s armor.
This was purely aesthetic.
A guard with a scarred face looked us over with suspicious eyes. I nodded eagerly back at him.
“We are! Platinum Ranks, see?”
I produced my badge and he took note of it. Despite the fact that I was literally twice his level, he pushed me and waved me through. I frowned. Rude.
“Just get a move on if you’ve paid your fee, I don’t care if you’re Platinum or nothin’.”
Daniel was treated far less harshly for whatever reason. But Edithe received the same shove as me. Narrowing my eyes, I watched as another group showed up at the guardpost. They were merchants, mostly Human barring a single Cyclops.
“Let’s just go.”
Edithe tugged at my arms, but I stood still and watched as everyone in the merchant except for the Cyclops was let through. In fact, the guards at the gates jeered at the Cyclops man and even pushed him back towards the bridge.
One of them— the one who pushed me— was just about to hurl a rock when I grabbed his arm. He grunted and snapped back to face me.
“What do you think you’re doing? Let go of me you damn bitch!”
“Hi. You know, you pushed me, right?”
I ignored him as he struggled as Edithe and Daniel watched me from behind; they were caught up in uncertainty, that they were not prepared for what I was about to do next.
“I don’t like being attacked.”
“What are you—”
I punched the Human man in the face, sending him flying a good distance. Just before I delivered the punch, I had activated my Amulet of Strength. Just to add the extra bit of air time.
Everyone stared at what I had just done, including the Cyclops man whose one eye was wide open fixed upon me. I scratched the back of my head and gestured behind me.
“You might want to run.”
“She assaulted a guard of the Vaun Qieur Empire, seize her!”
The guards in the fort exploded into action. Edithe looked at me— she wanted to come to my aid, but Daniel stopped her.
“She asked us to run, let’s go!”
I watched as they made their escape, but the Cyclops man stood dumbly with his heavy bag on his back. What are you doing? Move! I sighed and then breathed out brilliant blue flames up into the air.
The [Archers] and [Mages] who were taking aim at me from the walls covered their eyes as the glare blinded them. The [Warriors] drew back from the intense heat, and in that moment where everyone was inert, [Self Haste] propelled me towards the Cyclops man and I grabbed his arm.
He bumbled forward, following me as I pulled him through and past the small fort. Spells exploded overhead and arrows landed around us. One splintered and broke on my back, tearing through my Unique Grade jacket.
I spun around and sent a simple Blazing Bolt back their way, missing all of the guards on purpose, but leaving a smoldering hole on the gray stone wall.
That left enough of an impression on the [Archers] to pull back and take cover from my attacks. I smiled and finally pulled the Cyclops man to safety.
I found Daniel and Edithe soon after. The pair wore unhappy looks. The former had his hands buried in his face as he sat on a rock while the latter was pacing around with her arms crossed.
“Why did you do that, Salvos?”
She stopped and demanded from me. I shrugged.
“I didn’t like how they were acting. Also, that man pushed me.”
Edithe let out a frustrated sigh, however she did not prod me with any more questions. Instead, she shook her head in resignation and turned to the Cyclops man.
“I… apologize for my friend here. She got you into a lot of trouble. Sometimes she’s kind of impulsive?”
She spoke hesitantly, unsure of how the Cyclops man would react. Then she blinked as if she remembered something and quickly bowed her head.
The Cyclops man let out a hearty chuckle and waved a hand.
“No, no, no. I appreciate her aid. If I could not have gone through this country, I would have been unable to proceed on my journey. Salvos, was it?”
He spun to face me and lowered the cap covering his bald head. I nodded.
“Thank you for your assistance.”
I beamed and turned triumphantly to Edithe. Then I focused back to him and cocked my head.
“What’s your name anyway? And where are you going?”
He drew back, slowly lowering his arms.
“Ah, I am Adan. A traveling merchant. And I wish to take my wares to the land of the Kobolds.