123. Alex Cromerth, Member of the Vaun Qiuer Empire’s Elite Swordsguard Forces
Alex Cromerth, member of the Vaun Qiuer Empire’s elite Swordsguard Forces, stared up at me with wide eyes. He did not respond immediately. I did not know why he was taking so long. I waved a hand impatiently, and he blinked.
An explosion of ice shot out my way. I scowled and grabbed him, leaping back away from the breath attack. It froze the houses behind where I had been standing. The entire cobbled ground was covered in a thick layer of sleet. Even the flames that had been raging wildly were snuffed out.
“You took too long to reply!”
I scowled at Alex Cromerth. He was aghast, still in my arms. Then he threw himself off me.
“I don’t need the help of a Platinum Rank adventurer!”
He snapped at me. He drew his sword, a shadowed blade trailing its movements, almost like there were two weapons there at once.
“If you must, go save the other civilians and guardsmen scattered through the town.”
“Done most of them!”
I crossed both my arms. He looked like he wanted to retort, but the Kobold [Rogue] cast her gaze upon us with maddened eyes.
“A weak [Mage] thinks she can sneak up on me? Ridiculous!”
“I don’t think I can, I did—”
She lashed out with two frozen sickles. I ducked under the attack while Alex parried the strike. I watched the ground freeze in the direction she struck at. Frost seemed to form over Alex’s steel blade. But fire burst out, melting the ice.
“Don’t think my equipment can’t withstand your weak Skills, Kobold scum!”
“Worthless Human, your complacencies will lead to the end of all things!”
The two locked blades, almost ignoring me. Their battle was glorious. I watched as the shadow of darkness clashed with the bright, white ice. The earth was torn up. I shook my head, conjuring another bow.
A Refined Blazing Bolt struck the Kobold woman again, but this time, she did not just go sailing. She soared through the air, the blast much more powerful. It sent Alex stumbling back. I tossed a chain up into the air, catching the Kobold woman before she could reorient herself.
I tugged her my way, and she was ripped to my direction. She opened her mouth, once again letting out a plume of ice. I narrowed my eyes. Was that part of her evolution? Possibly.
I sidestepped the attack, bringing the kusarigama’s blade back up.
The blue flames almost seemed to morph in its color. A coat of black flames overlayed itself on the bright fire, snuffing out its light. It still burned brilliantly. A glow that was almost impossible shone out.
The weapon lodged itself through the Kobold woman’s chest. She screamed in pain and terror as it sheared through her. I grinned as I followed through with the attack. The strike itself propelled me forward. There was a force there that carried me. That made me stronger than I actually was.
“Who’s the weak [Mage] now, huh?!”
She did not respond. She was dead.
“Stupid wild Kobolds. Scale Sentinel jerks!”
I muttered, walking back to Alex. The Human man was panting, leaning against his sword. His surprise was evident.
Beaming, I raised my chin up and pointed at myself.
“I’m Salvos! That’s how.”
I walked past him, gesturing for him to follow me.
“Now come on, Alex Cromerth, member of the Vaun Qiuer Empire’s elite Swordsguard Forces. You said you’re here to help find survivors, right?”
He shook his head.
“No. I’m here to slay these Kobold scum.”
Gripping the hilt of his sword, he got to his feet. He met my gaze and pointed at me.
“As the one in charge of Ghostlight, adventurer, I order you to deal with the evacuation. Some of my men are closeby. Find them and ask them to aid you.”
“Hey! You can’t tell me what to do! You’re not even my companion!”
“I can, and I will.”
He aimed the sword dangerously close to my neck. I frowned. He was annoying me. I wanted to punch him between the legs. But I was not here to fight, anyway.
“Fine! I’m not doing this because you asked me to. My companions did!”
I stuck my tongue out at him and almost regretted it. But I remembered I was back in the Human lands. So, I stuck it out again, this time in full force. Alex Cromerth, member of the Vaun Qiuer Empire’s elite Swordsguard Forces, clicked his tongue and turned around.
I copied his childish insult. We parted ways there, at that courtyard. Maybe I shouldn’t have saved him from that Kobold. I assumed Daniel and Edithe wanted me to save and help everyone that was Human. However, if I had let one die, would they have even known?
I let those thoughts pass through me, finding the group of guardsmen I had been directed to not much later. There were a dozen of them. They were helping a family out of a burning building.
“Hi! Platinum Rank adventurer Salvos here! Do you need any help?”
The guards exchanged a few looks. Most of them were decently leveled. They were around Gold Rank. Not Silvers, at least. Those were probably most dead.
“This woman says her daughter is still trapped in that house over there.”
He pointed at the raging fire. I looked at it, then him.
“Why don’t you just go in there and save her, then?”
“Because she’s trapped in some ice we can’t melt. One of the Kobolds froze half the building over with their magic.”
Was it the Kobold woman I just killed? Since it was such high leveled magic, it was likely. I nodded and walked past them, shooting a thumbs-up to the panicked looking Human mother.
“Don’t worry, I got this!”
A single [Flame Burst] carried me into the inferno. It was hot, but it didn’t singe through my blue jacket. Parts of the roof collapsed. I sliced it in half with my kusarigama and continued into the house.
I found the frozen section of the building not long after. There was a door covered entirely in a sheet of ice. I swung my weapon’s blade at it hard. But not even a crack formed on the ice. I narrowed my eyes and repeated the strike.
It took a few hits for chinks to even form on the ice. It was solidly strong. I needed something that could damage it even faster. As I wasted time here, more Humans out there were dying. Finally, I took a step back and inhaled deeply.
The powerful, blue fire engulfed the doorway. It melted a hole through the area that had already been damaged. The sides around it were weakened, too. But I got what I needed.
I pushed the door open, entering the room. Inside, I saw a shivering, pale girl. She was huddled in the corner covered in a thin blanket, her teeth were chattering, and she barely even glanced up to see me. I offered her a hand.
She could not even muster up a word. I picked her up gently, placing her on my back. I wrapped my jacket around her, whispering.
“It’s fine. Come, we’ll get you back to your mom.”
I left the burning house with the little girl. She was embraced by her mother the moment I put her down. The guardsmen pulled the mother away, immediately tending to the girl’s wounds. She looked like she was going to shatter if her mother squeezed any harder.
“There’s a safe zone in the forest just to the north… east… west… south? Somewhere over there.”
I pointed in a random direction as the guardsmen gave me a confused look.
“You’ll see a bunch of other survivors heading there. My companions will protect you if you bring anyone you can find that way.”
They were dubious. But I just helped them save that little girl. So, they nodded.
“We’ll do that. We think the city is mostly cleared out, anyway. We might head there soon.”
“Good. Keep this family safe, alright?”
I watched as the mother held two other children in her arms, tears falling from her face. Was she sad? Why would she be crying? I just saved her third child, did I not? I shook my head.
“Otherwise, my companions will be mad at me.”
“I’m not a Ma’am, I’m Salvos.”
I snorted and took off. I continued scouring Ghostlight for a little longer. I found more Human guards wandering around. Some of them were aimless. They were scared— as if they wanted to flee like an ordinary citizen. I directed those straight to the forest, not even bothering to ask them to help me in my search.
There were a few Humans— non guardsmen or guardswomen— who were actually embroiled in battle. I came across a group of Humans dressed as farmers, battling two Kobolds.
The Humans were massively outleveled. It was a group of Silvers against two high Golds. They did not stand a chance at all.
A [Warrior] screamed as he fell by the forefront Kobold’s claws. A woman shouted in anger, beginning to cast her spell. Before she could loose it, the Kobold was obliterated into a puddle of blood.
I began conjuring another Sickle Grenade, but found that it was not as easy to cast as I remembered. I clicked my tongue. Right, no more [Passive - Refined Casting]. The magic fizzled out as the remaining Kobold angrily shouted at me. He threw a dagger my way— which missed— before he ran up the side of the wall to get to where I was standing on a house’s roof.
I kicked him once, before wrapping him up in chains. He struggled, but a few [Barrage of Cinders] to the face made him go limp.
“Stupid Scale Sentinels. I am 20 levels higher than you! Why did you think you could beat me?”
It was not like he was me who could take on those 20 levels above me. Of course not! Nobody was me! Only I was Salvos.
The Humans did not immediately flee. They took a moment to shed some tears for their fallen companions. Once they were finished, I told them the same thing I had told everyone else, and they were off.
I continued searching until I found no other Human left in Ghostlight. I saw a few groups of Kobolds. They were mostly in pairs. Although some were alone. But they did not notice me. I was sneaky.
Satisfied with my job finished, I left the burning town and reconvened with Daniel and Edithe. I saw a large crowd of Humans gathered around, with Human [Warriors], [Mages], and other fighters gathered around the injured, prepared to fight. They were not all guards for Ghostlight.
Many of them were regular workers, traders, farmers, and laborers. Yet, they grew up here. They were used to dealing with Kobolds and the stray undead. But never to this scale.
“The Kobolds are trying to start a war… they’re going to raze down the whole town.”
Edithe breathed, standing at the perimeter of the haphazard camp. The fire was far away. Ghostlight was not close by any means. Its blazing flames were just so bright, we could see it all the way from where we were.
“The Scale Sentinels are trying to start a war.”
I corrected her.
“Their other factions aren’t involved in this.”
“It doesn’t matter, Salvos.”
Daniel walked up next to me, a grim look on his face. I cocked my head as he explained.
“This is not just a matter between nations, it’s a matter between two Species that have been historically enemies. They will see it as the beginning of a new Kobold invasion to the Human lands.”
“But Xidra wants peace with Humans!”
Edithe shook her head. She gave me a morose look.
“I know you’re friends with… some of them. But none of us here can do anything about what happens next. If war happens, your friends will be wrapped up in this war whether they want to or not.”
“War this, war that. Why do you Mortals like war so much!”
“I’m asking myself the same question…”
She nodded. Placing a hand on my shoulder, Edithe tried to comfort me. It worked. I cheered up in mere moments.
“It’s not like we’ll be involved, anyway, Salvos. We’re meant to be leveling in the Plaguelands, remember? Get me to my next advancement.”
“Woah, you’re quite close, aren’t you? You’re Level 69!”
Daniel remarked from the side before he cringed at himself, and I eagerly agreed.
“That is very nice!”
Edithe glanced around, seeing that most of the injured Humans had already recovered. That no more survivors were streaming out of Ghostlight.
“I think it’s time for us to move. We’ve gotten everyone we could, and if we stay too long, the remaining Kobolds may find us too.”
“Sure. Wait— where’s Alex Cromerth, member of the Vaun Qiuer Empire’s elite Swordsguard Forces?”
My companions blinked.
I opened my mouth to respond, when a round object rolled on the ground to my feet. I saw wide eyes staring up at me. A severed head lay there. Bloodied, with messy hair. I pointed at it.
“Oh, there he is.”
A mixture of fire, ice, wind, and air engulfed us, destroying the nearby landscape, uprooting trees and sending screams throughout the camp.