122. Helping Hand
Daniel dashed forward, his sword glowing, overcome with the [Aura of the Sentinel]. He was not sure why he got that Skill when his Class advanced; it was more than just the bright coat covering his blade. It could move. It could do more.
He pointed his sword forward, and the golden aura lanced forth. It did not tear into the ground. Instead, it extended out, forming a shield that intercepted the charging [Skeleton Warrior]’s attack.
The red-haired woman stumbled back as the undead’s strike landed against the barrier. Daniel swiped the [Skeleton Warrior] off its feet and dug his sword down into its skull.
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!
“Are you alright?”
He walked up to Edithe. She was bent over, panting and bleeding. She glanced up and raised a hand.
“I just need a potion, and I’ll be fine.”
Nodding, he gave her one of his healing potions. She gratefully downed it, wiping her mouth with her sleeve. The young man’s gaze turned to the sky, then to the desolate landscape of the Plaguelands.
“Maybe we should go back. We’ve ventured deeper into the Plaguelands than we’ve ever done before.”
“It’s not even the evening.”
Edithe corked the bottle and handed it back to him. Her eyes were determined. She was fixed on her goal. Daniel sighed.
“We’ll press on for a bit more. But don’t be reckless, Edithe. If Salvos were here— well, she would ask us to be even more reckless. But she isn’t here. We can afford to be a little lax, can’t we?”
She nodded after a moment. Then she pressed her hands against her temples.
“Damn, she’s really rubbing off on me, isn’t she?”
“She really is.”
He placed a hand on Edithe’s shoulder.
“But that’s not a bad thing.”
She stared at him.
I ran through the Plaguelands— the Kobold robes I had been given tied around my neck alongside my jacket, over my torn cloak. I was no longer in my Mortal Form. I would not risk traversing this place alone in a weakened state.
Sure, I could change back at any point in time. But I would have torn the only piece of clothing I had. Which would have made it awkward for me to explain when I finally found Daniel and Edithe.
My eyes snapped towards the compass in my hand. It was pointing towards… a direction. I could not just follow it in a straight line. There were fields of blight flowers often blocking my path. Sometimes a horde of undead would intercept me too. There were so many obstacles here that I could not just activate [Self Haste] and [Flame Burst] my way to my companions.
I avoided a group of [Ghouls] bounding towards me. This was the first time I saw more than one gathered together. Their curses would have been problematic. I still had yet to face one alone, but I was pretty sure I could take one out by myself.
I sent a [Flaming Breath] at a flying undead bird thing. It was a [Nightscourer]. Its wings were tattered— torn with holes in them. It had deep violet skin, with a lighter shade of purple in some parts. Although it had beady red eyes which almost seemed to shine eerily, it was not that aggressive.
Probably because it was only Level 102. Not high leveled. But a pest, regardless.
The sun crept across the sky as I made my way through this Dead Zone. The Plaguelands full of undead. At one point, I spotted what seemed to be a sprawling castle in the distance. It peaked up, above clouds of the miasma of blight. Almost like if I was in an ocean, staring towards the shore, and seeing a vast city. But there was too much blight for me to even attempt to see what it was. So, I moved on.
I was in a hurry. I needed to ensure that my companions were fine. That they were at least not in Ghostlight. The Scale Sentinels were attempting a raid at the Human town. That was what Hoxle told me. If they were anywhere near as high leveled as the ones I fought— and if they were far more numerous— they would be in trouble.
So, I made haste. I avoided all fighting. I kept the undead away from me. I circumvented the blight, moving quickly on all of my limbs, until the sun was beginning to set. It was then I saw the figures in the distance.
Shadows that moved more fluid than just the stiff undead. It was not mindless milling. The figures were moving with intent.
I called out as I ran over to the pair. Daniel glanced around, halting mid-step, while Edithe looked up, having been staring at the ground as she walked almost aimlessly. I waved at them.
“It’s me, Salvos!”
The red-haired woman blinked, while the Human man opened his mouth.
“Salvos? Where did you come from? Wait, no— I mean, where did you go? How did you find us?”
I came to a stop as he finished letting out his myriad of questions. I hesitated, not sure which question to answer first.
“I… got lost?”
“...we knew that. It was kind of a given.”
He shook his head, but a small smile spread across his lips. Edithe stepped past him, relief evident on her face.
“I’m glad to see you’re fine, Salvos.”
I felt my entire body relax. I thought they were in danger. But they were just out here, in the deadly Diamond Rank threat Plaguelands, safe and sound and covered in cuts and blood. Wiping at my forehead in relief, I straightened.
“I got worried! When Hoxle told me the Scale Sentinels were going to Ghostlight, I panicked! If it became another situation like Iron Champions Company, but I’m too late—”
They exchanged a glance. Daniel raised a hand placatingly.
“Slow down, Salvos. What’s going on? And who is Hoxle?”
“He’s the Kobold man who helped me find you. Look!”
I raised the compass— its hands were still pointing at my companions.
“See? He did this.”
“A Kobold helped you?”
Edithe stared at me in disbelief. Daniel was less surprised; he was from another world, so he probably did not care as much. I nodded eagerly.
“Yep! After I saved his aunt, Xidra, from the Scale Sentinels, she asked him to do this for me.”
They both tried to come up with words. I had that experience just a few hours ago. It was not easy, apparently. When you lost something it was difficult to get it back! That was why I would try not to get lost again.
Finally, Daniel spoke in resignation.
“So, you’ve been on quite the adventure since we last saw you.”
“A lot has happened! I nearly died to an angry fire-breathing Kobold man!”
“Right. And the people who helped you—”
“I helped them. Then they helped me after!”
“...yes, that. They told you we were in danger?”
I waved a hand off, letting out a light chuckle. Did he not listen? Seriously, Daniel, sometimes you were silly.
“Not you two. Ghostlight!”
The Human man had an uncertain look on his face, but Edithe was a lot more pressed from this news. She frowned, crossing her arms.
“Ghostlight is in danger? From who?”
“Kobolds, of course!”
She narrowed her eyes.
“But didn’t they help you?”
“No— not them. The ones who helped me are from the Risen Dragons faction. The ones doing this whole attacking thing are from the Scale Sentinels. Entirely different groups!”
There was a pregnant pause as the pair processed this. Then it ended. Clicking her tongue, Edithe marched away from us. I hurried after her with Daniel.
“It doesn’t matter who is behind this. Come on, we need to stop it.”
She spoke simply. Daniel agreed.
“Yeah, I’d have liked our reunion to last a little longer, but innocent people’s lives are at stake.”
“More experience for me.”
Since my companions were not taking their time to move at a glacial pace, we reached Ghostlight just as the sun set. This time, I tried to take note of the various scenery on our way to the Human town. If I could identify anything that was somewhat recognizable, maybe I would not get lost again.
I ignored the rocks, though. They were all the same!
Smoke trailed off in the distance. Despite the dark night, there was a bright orange light visibly shining even from a mile away. A raging fire was spreading through Ghostlight. The walls around the city were set ablaze. But it was not just on fire.
I spotted ice layering over an entire section of the wall. It was not melting even under the intense heat. A few bloodied Human guards lay at the gates. Their bodies were not alone. I discerned a single Kobold dead amongst them.
So, not as high leveled as Gexli and his followers, huh? That made sense. From what I had seen of Unarith, Kobolds were not especially higher leveled than Humans. There was a slight difference. But not that significant.
A cough caught the attention of Edithe. She ran over to a man, stumbling out of the gates. It was not a guard, but a father with his child. She tended to them and helped them outside. After feeding them a healing potion, she finally asked the Human man.
“What happened here?”
“K-Kobolds— dozens of them. They’re trying to destroy the entire town.”
He managed to cough out. Edithe clenched her fist, casting her gaze towards the burning town.
“Are they still in there?”
“What about other survivors?”
The Human man managed a nod. He seemed like he almost wanted to collapse, but Daniel caught him.
“Come on. You should get to safety.”
Edithe turned to me as I stared at the burning fire, thinking that I could probably have created hotter flames. I cocked my head.
“Can you find the survivors? Bring them to us. We’ll gather them in the forest over there.”
I nodded. I was in my Mortal Form, now. As a Human. I was wearing Kobold robes that were a bit too small for me. But I had Daniel’s jacket over it. It would withstand the heat, right? It was Unique Grade, after all.
I activated [Self Haste] and hopped into the fire. Daniel and Edithe disappeared behind me as more survivors streamed out of the town. They followed my companions’ instructions and began making for the nearby forest.
Running past the burning buildings, I found a lot of survivors in Ghostlight. The attack must have just happened, since not a lot of people were dead yet. It was not like Lucerna’s attack on Silvergrove, which had gone on for a while before I arrived.
I simply directed those who seemed capable enough to the forest, while I actually carried those who were injured out of the burning town. This repeated a few times. I even found Jaden— the [Innkeeper] boy who managed Ghostlight’s Inn— and brought him to safety.
It was only when I went back into the city after helping him that I caught a glimpse of the first battle. The sounds of sword clashing echoed in the distance. A powerful blast resounded, and a handful of buildings collapsed.
I headed in that direction, leaping up onto a rooftop to get a view of the fighting. I saw a Human man— one I recognized— as the captain Alex who I had first seen when I came to the town. The Level 105 [Warrior] who recently arrived.
The bodies of two Kobolds lay next to him, but a third one slowly walked towards him, almost uncaring. I identified the Kobold— she was a woman— and found her to be at around his level. The only problem was— he was tired and she was not.
“Kobold scum. I am Alex Cromerth, member of the Vaun Qiuer Empire's elite Swordsguard Forces! I have felled two of your allies here, and three more before. Do you think you can defeat me on your own?”
“Nir the [Mage] and Kaks the [Warrior] were weak. They had not attained their evolution yet. I have. And I am not—”
She did not get to finish. I loosed a Blazing Bolt right at her. The blast sent her flying into a building. I landed next to Alex.
“Hi, Alex Cromerth, member of the Vaun Qiuer Empire’s elite Swordsguard Forces. I’m Salvos!”
I offered him a hand as he blinked.
“I’m here to help find survivors and bring them to Daniel and Edithe. Do you want me to carry you, or can you walk by yourself?”