Unnalt groaned and repeatedly tapped his bronze sabaton on the snow, flicking his eyes from the sewer’s hole to the castle’s entrance. Why was Wicky taking so long?
He exhaled a long held in breath when Wicky finally arrived. But he didn’t come alone. Two Level 25 Warriors that he recently hired in yesterday’s panic followed on his heel, and the servant Unnalt sent to contact Wicky about the hole came, but instead of following Wicky, he ran straight for the castle’s gates.
“Where’s he off to?” Unnalt asked, glancing at the servant.
“I sent him to contact Eveena to lock down the city immediately.”
“You should’ve done that yesterday.”
“If the Dream Knight wants to leave this city and us alone, why should we stop him?”
“I wonder.” Unnalt sighed and shook his head. He glanced at the two Warriors by Wicky’s side. “If you’re bringing Gorra and Linolt along, where’s Ranro and Dilla?”
“I gave those two horses and sent them down to the canal side of the sewer. I gave them sketches of the Dream Knight so they’ll do a better job of finding him than random Frankmark soldiers that’d probably get distracted by the useless Ranger and Sorceror.”
“You were able to sketch him?” Unnalt smirked. “Did the heart rattling power of a mere Level 3 human burn himself into your mind so severely?”
“If your skull wasn’t filled with shit, then you’d share my sentiment,” Wicky snapped, scraping his sapphire smothered plate armour across the snow as he crouched in front of the sewer hole and pushed himself down it. Gorra and Linolt followed him down into the darkness.
“At least I’ve got something in there,” Unnalt snickered as he crouched into the hole and fell down into the sewage, splashing it on the walkways.
“After hearing you talk, yes, it has withered away quite swiftly,” Wicky snorted, stepping onto the sewer walkway along with Gorra and Linolt. “So my skull doesn’t follow my withered brain; how about you shut up and focus on hunting down the Dream Knight?”
Unnalt shrugged. “You’re the boss.” He hopped onto the sewer walkway and followed Wicky, Gorra, and Linolt down a turn. “Let’s go hunt some humans.” Unnalt and all the goblins together smirked as they marched and descended into the depths of the sewer.
Edward opened his eyes as he exited from his Dream World. Charlotte was already standing up and ready to leave, crossing her arms, tapping her foot and glaring down at them. “Wakey, wakey slowpokes,” she nudged Richard with her foot as his lashes fluttered and slowly opened.
Edward hopped to his feet and walked over to Charlotte’s side. When Richard opened his eyes, they snapped wide. His knees and arms trembled as he staggered to a stand. Charlotte groaned at the sight, snatched Richard’s wrist and yanked him to his feet. “We don’t have time to waste,” she snapped. “The goblins could enter the sewers at any minute, so we need to leave as soon as possible. Staying in here for so long was already a reckless and borderline unnecessary risk.”
“Ok, ok, I get it,” Richard. He turned and jogged to the wrong side of the tunnel and turned left, towards where they entered the sewer. “This is the way out, right?” Richard called back. Charlotte’s face slapped in her palm at the sight and Edward snorted.
“No, that’s the way to the entrance,” Edward said as he beckoned him back.
Richard stopped and flushed just as he began turning around a corner. Whilst he twisted his body away from it and back towards Edward and Charlotte, he glanced down the tunnel the turn led to. His eyes bulged, he lurched, and he leapt away from it and behind the wall, hiding from whatever he saw down there. The shuddering of his legs morphed into a violent shake.
“What is it?” Edward asked.
“T-they’re here!” Richard whispered with a stammer as he ran towards them.
Edward’s stomach lurched, and Charlotte bristled. Once Richard approached them, Charlotte snatched his ear and scowled down at him. “You see what I mean?” She hissed in a whisper. She turned towards the direction of the exit and ran. “Let’s go!”
Edward nodded and ran up to her side. Richard followed, wincing as he rubbed his reddening ear.
“Was it just Wickancis?” Edward asked Richard.
“N-no, Unnalt, and two other goblin Warriors were with him.”
“What level were they?”
Charlotte clicked her tongue, and Edward grimaced. Their situation only got worse and worse. So the three of them turned their run into a sprint, rushing to the sewer’s exit.
They arrived in a few minutes, reaching the turn that would lead to the exit. Moonlight pooled on the sewage smothered stone walkway beyond the turn.
Charlotte was the one to step out of the shadow, let herself get showered with moonlight, and turn to the sewer exit, but she lurched, leapt backwards, and beckoned Edward and Richard to stay back. She brought them close and pressed her index finger to her lips, signalling them to be quiet. “One Level 19 Warrior, and one Level 21 Warrior is standing there,” she whispered, pressing her back to the stone wall and carefully peeking out behind it.
Not only Richard’s legs shook, but his entire body wobbled like a string in the wind. His knees buckled, and they hit the stone floor. His face fell into his palms and his fingers clawed at his forehead. “What do we do now?” He whimpered.
“We fight them,” Charlotte whispered as he pulled back from the corner and faced them.
Edward nodded. Charlotte was right. It'd be ideal to use their high agility, Richard's Wind Blast, and his Agile Aura to just run past them, but those iron gates were in their way. Whilst Edward could easily break them down, it'd take at least 10 seconds of kicking to do so considering how thick the iron that made up the gates was and how deeply they appeared to be rooted into the ground.
“Fine.” Richard sighed, clenched his fists and grimaced at the ground with tears in his eyes. “I’ve trained. I’ve levelled up! I can do this! I can do this!”
“Immediately,” Edward whispered as he marched past a shivering Richard and past Charlotte, cupping her chin in her palm and staring at the moonlight. “We need to fight them now and quickly. There’s only two of them, and there’s three of us. And they’re not far off from our level anymore, so it should be easy.”
“I agree,” Charlotte said as she snatched his shoulder and yanked him back from the corner. “But it won’t be easy. I inspected their stats.”
“What did you see?” He stopped and turned to her.
“Their stats aren’t the result of pure levelling. Despite them having uncommon classes and being pretty much the same level as you, their strength and defense stats are higher than yours.”
“They have two sets of stats for strength and defense. One of them is the normal stats you’d expect for a Warrior of their level. But they have a second set of stats that’s much higher and is shown in brackets.”
“That’s ridiculous!” Richard whispered.
“What does that mean?” Edward asked. “Is it some sort of ability buffing their stats?”
“No, I think it’s a result of their items. We’re naked, but they’re wearing iron armour and holding weapons. It only makes sense that such things would increase their stats. And trust me, they increase their stats by a lot.”
Edward shrugged. “Ok, they’re stronger. Who cares. We’re still in the same predicament. We need to fight.”
She rolled her eyes. “I know, but don’t do it randomly. Try to dis-arm them or attack the parts of their body not covered in armour.”
“I can do that.” He turned to Richard. “You can aim well enough to shoot fire between their armour, right?”
Richard hesitantly nodded. “If I get close enough, then I can try. I shot those small slime cores from quite far away.”
Charlotte turned to Richard. “When we head into the fight, hit us with a Wind Blast so we can gap close without them having the time to react. It’d also push them against the sewer's railings, dis-orientating them.”
“That’s not the point of the Wind Blast,” Edward said. “The plan was for Richard to use it to escape from them if they tried to run past us and attack him. My agility is much higher than there’s and you can use your Swift Feet ability. I’m sure that’ll be enough for us to close the gap.”
Charlotte furrowed her brows at Edward and was about to open her mouth but-
“No, it’s alright,” Richard staggered up to his feet and smiled at Edward. “I appreciate the sentiment, but it’s fine. I can handle myself.”
Edward nodded and smiled. “Are you sure?”
“It has a 20 second cooldown. I’ll be ok.”
Charlotte flicked out three fingers and said that when she closed her hand into a fist, the three of them should to run out. She and Edward needed to run out next to each other, and Richard needed to be behind them so he could hit them with a Wind Blast.
So she closed one finger.
She closed a second.
She closed a third. Her hand closed into a fist.
Edward and Charlotte burst into the moonlight. He glanced backwards and was glad that Richard was behind them, keeping up. His legs continued to tremble and his extended arms shivered, but he furrowed his brows and his eyes burned with resolve.
The two goblins bristled and snapped their eyes wide. Richard thrust his hands at Edward’s and Charlotte’s backs.