“Back up, Daniel!”
I yelled as I whirled my kusarigama in the air. The Human man glanced up at me, then disengaged from the [Skeleton Warrior].
Hurling the fiery chains forward, my Sickle Grenade— as Daniel called it— released itself from the chains, landing on the undead. It blasted the Skeleton apart, its bones shattering into thousands of pieces. I breathed a sigh of relief.
Defeated [Skeleton Warrior - Lvl. 102]!
More experience is awarded for defeating an enemy at least 20 levels above you!
Less experience is awarded for defeating an enemy with the help of others!
Subspecies [Asura Changeling] Level Up!
[Asura Changeling – Lvl. 74] -> [Asura Changeling – Lvl. 75]
Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!
“That was close. You almost died!”
“No thanks to you!”
Daniel shouted back at me. He raised an angry fist.
“I was taking care of it just fine until you nearly killed me!”
I waved a hand off dismissively, much to his chagrin. I stepped over the pile of bone and ivory, heading to Edithe. The Human woman was slumped over on the ground, panting and drinking a healing potion.
[Mage - Lvl. 62]
“Are you alright?”
Bending over to meet her gaze, I offered her a hand. She gratefully accepted it and got to her feet.
“I’m fine. Those Skeletons were just… above my level. Sorry.”
“I didn’t expect to find more [Skeleton Warriors] so soon.”
I remarked as I helped her up. There was a mixture of [Unarmed Skeletons] and [Skeleton Warriors]. However, after only fighting [Unarmed Skeletons] the day before— with the exception of the [Skeleton Warriors] who attacked us in our cave— it was definitely a surprise to run into more of the Level 100 variants of the Skeletons all of a sudden.
“Plus, they ambushed us. They hid under the miasma of blight before charging us when we got too close. We should keep a further distance away from those blight flowers.”
Daniel piped up from behind us. He shuddered, recalling something.
“That scene of those Skeletons running at us? It’s going to forever be ingrained in my mind.”
“In a good way?”
“No, Salvos, not in a good way.”
He replied flatly. Shrugging, I quickly looked over what the Skeletons were carrying; just in case they had any good equipment. They did not.
The wielded rusty swords and spear, nothing of use to us. Spinning around, I gestured for my companions to follow me.
“Let’s go back, shall we?”
The sun was beginning to set again. Today had been rather fruitful, what with me leveling and all. So, progress seemed good. Even if it was only a result of this unexpected ambush at the end of the day.
A dangerous ambush; one any of us could have died from. Regardless, we were fine for now and we were going back. Edithe and Daniel followed me as we went past a field of blight flowers. We crossed through thickets of dead trees and rounded around tall hills made of green-ish black dirt.
Until finally, the earth was no longer a barren wasteland, the sounds of animals began to return, and my companions spoke at the same time.
“Where are we going?”
“It’s not safe in the Plaguelands.”
I decided, peering over them. The pair exchanged a glance.
“We… uh, already knew that?”
“I’m pretty sure we knew that since this place is a damned Diamond Rank area, Salvos.”
Crossing two of my four arms, I agreed with them and raised a finger.
“That is why we should not be sleeping here! You Humans are too fragile and weak when you sleep! I can’t just protect you every night!”
“So, we’re just leaving?”
Edithe raised a brow, and I beamed.
“For now, yes. We go to Ghostlight!”
Daniel stared at me in disbelief.
I nodded eagerly.
“That way, you Humans will be safe when sleeping. There’s no point scouring the Plaguelands for Edithe to level up if she dies, right?”
“But the trip back to the town will take hours. We’ll be wasting precious time every day.”
He pointed out. I spun around, facing him seriously.
“That’s better than one of us dying.”
Daniel paused. Then he opened his mouth and spoke one word.
“I keep telling you, stop stealing my line!”
Edithe laughed at me as I shouted in outrage at Daniel. The pair of Humans were amused by my reaction, and a small smile spread across my face.
Once we were fully out of the Plaguelands, I quickly hid behind a bush and changed back to my Mortal Form. I became a Human— the same as usual. I was used to this body, as opposed to a Cyclops.
The blight— the thick miasma— soon disappeared behind us. We crossed through an empty plains, until grass started growing thicker and the foliage reappeared. Vegetation seemed to sprout— xenile roots were ripe for the plucking. I heard they were a very useful ingredient for alchemy.
A town showed itself to us in the distance; it had tall wooden walls, but they were cracked. Obvious holes showed themselves, damaged from some kind of attack not too long ago. They were haphazardly repaired. As if they were put back together in a rush.
The gates were guarded by a few Humans wielding weapons that were no better than what the Skeletons had. However, as we made our approach, they huddled together and one of them went behind the wooden walls before returning with a fancily dressed man.
This man was higher leveled. Level 105. His face looked like it was twisted into a permanent scowl. I almost thought the guards woke him up from a nap before bringing him here.
“Who goes there?”
I called out, waving a hand.
“Coming from the Plaguelands!”
He narrowed his eyes, and snapped at one of the guards.
“Those are people, you idiots! Not undead! Not Kobolds! Why would you fucking wake me up?!”
I was right! And he was very grumpy. He spent a whole minute reprimanding the guards for bringing him over a non issue, until he stormed back through the gates.
“Let them through. And don’t call me unless it’s something important!”
“What’s his problem?”
Edithe commented with a frown as we entered the city. One of the guards jerked back and squeaked.
“Uh, captain Alex has been stationed here after a recent raid on Ghostlight.”
He explained, eyes darting between us and the flatlands ahead, almost as if he thought something could pop out at any moment.
“A group of Kobolds attacked our town just the other week. We’re used to dealing with the single stray undead from the Plaguelands, but… that’s not something we can handle.”
“Is there any reason why they’d attack? Is it common for them to do this?”
“It’s not normal, no. And… I don’t really know. It just kind of happened.”
It didn’t look like Edithe was going to get any more answers from the guard, so she nodded and thanked him. We finally entered the town. It had a bleak atmosphere, especially so since it was in the middle of the night.
The Humans here walked with sagged shoulders, trudging along as if their feet were sinking into the mud. But there was no mud here. Just regular dirt and stone.
Men hefted sacks of grain around their backs as they walked by us, returning from their day’s work in the fields. Women tended to their children, many of whom were silently playing with their toys. It was a gloomy sight— compared to Viechester.
And yet, there was only one thing here that stood out to me. One thing which was abnormal, unlike any other place I had been to.
Almost everyone had a combat Class.
Most of the town was composed of Humans who were ready to fight. Their average level was not extremely high, but it was in the 30s. And those in the 40s were not unusual to see. Still rare. Just less so. Like I was in a busy Adventurers Guild.
Daniel stopped a passerby and asked for directions for a place to stay. She pointed us down to an inn down the street, and we soon found ourselves in a small, single-storeyed tavern with a creaky wooden door.
It swung open, and a head popped out.
“Welcome to Ghostlight’s only inn. Ghostlight’s Inn. I’m the [Innkeeper] here, Jaden.”
Daniel and Edithe blinked.
“What the fuc—”
I stepped forward and greeted him cheerfully.
“Nice to meet you Jaden! Woah, you’re so small. How old are you?”
The little boy nodded curtly, pushing the rest of the door open.
“Please, come on in.”
Ushering us inside, a rather empty lobby is revealed to us. Daniel and Edithe still remained silent, casting the odd glance at Jaden every once in a while. I didn’t know why they were so perplexed. Because he was a Level 32 [Innkeeper] at 10 years old? Sure, that was impressive.
But I was even more impressive, and yet they didn’t stare at me that way!
Pouting with my arms crossed as the boy went behind a counter, Daniel finally mustered up the courage to speak to Jaden.
“Hey, uh, Jaden, where are your…”
He looked at my companions. The pair nodded dumbly. The boy shrugged.
“They’re dead. Mom was killed by a Skeleton shortly after I was born. Dad died a month ago, when the Kobolds attacked.”
Daniel trailed off. Edithe took over.
“And you’ve been running this inn ever since? Are you… sure you can handle it?”
“I’ve been managing the operation of Ghostlight’s Inn for three years now. How did you think I got to this level?”
Jaden spoke simply. He grabbed a pair of keys and placed it on the wooden countertop.
“Here. It’ll be five silver for a week. Your rooms are down the hall and to the left.”
I accepted the keys gratefully, bowing my head at him slightly like I sometimes saw Humans did.
“Come on guys!”
Facing my companions, I shook my head.
“I swear… sometimes you two are weird!”
They said nothing, instead choosing to follow me in shame. We settled down into our respective rooms— Edithe and I sleeping in the room next door to Daniel. I would not sleep, of course.
And Edithe agreed to letting me go out, so long as I stayed away from trouble. I found myself excitedly bouncing on my toes before I swung the door open. Waving bye at my companions, I rushed past Jaden who was cleaning a beer mug, and burst out of the inn—
Only to be me with a misty night. Darkness. There was no one about. Not even guards. Feeling my enthusiasm from before disappearing, I returned back to the inn and sat next to the snoring Edithe as I read a few books.
I waved my companions forward as they dragged their feet on the dirt ground, slowly following after me. I was already waiting by the town’s gates, its wooden doors held open for us.
It was early in the morning— the sun had not even risen. Yet, we had to leave Ghostlight now. Because of the trek it would take us to return to the Plaguelands.
I skipped past a group of guards as they spoke in murmurs. Their conversations were inane— things that did not matter.
“...do you think they want a ransom?”
“Nonsense! Why would Kobolds want a ransom? They don’t even use our coins!”
My companions picked up the pace as we left Ghostlight, leaving behind the monotonous Human civilization, and returning to the wonder of nature. The Plaguelands made it visible up ahead. If we ran, we would have gotten there quickly.
But Daniel and Edithe did not want to run. They took their time, following after me with labored steps.
The sun was starting to rise by the time we arrived. The blight greeted us once again, and we were safe, prepared, and ready to resume our hunting.
- Self-proclaimed most Successful Young Author on RoyalRoad based off the overly specific criteria he set. Hit 10,000 followers on the 21st of September, 2021, at the age of 21.
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