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A note from Belgianfri

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Cerion and I were inspecting the quest board. It had some abbreviated quest files pinned to it, though most weren't necessarily that interesting to us.

 

Quest: Exterminate the rats

Tier: 2

Danger level: Low

Recommended party size: 1

Location: Reito sewers

Suggested arrival time: Undetermined

Quest poster: Reito official of public health and safety

 

Abbreviated description: Kill 50 mutant rats in the sewers of Reito and provide proof to the city guard for your reward.

Reward: 3 silver per rat killed, for a total of 150 silver.

 

...

 

Quest: Investigate vampire activity

Tier: 2

Danger level: Low

Recommended party size: 2-5

Location: Relana

Suggested arrival time: Within a month of quest posting.

Quest poster: The mayor of Relana

 

Abbreviated description: There is a suspected case of vampirism within the coastal town of Relana. Investigate the town for possible evidence. Chance of an encounter with the vampire is low.

Reward: 350 silver if no evidence is found, 500 silver if evidence is found.

 

...

 

Quest: Defeat the [Terror swamp centaur].

Tier: 5

Danger level: High

Recommended party size: 4-6

Location: Rainlight swamp.

Suggested arrival time: Undetermined.

Quest poster: Guild master of the Reito witch hunters' guild.

 

Abbreviated description: A [Terror swamp centaur] has killed one of our members in an ambush. Hunt the beast down and kill it, no matter how.

Reward: 25 platinum, feat publicised by the guild.

 

...

 

The issue with most of the quests we had looked at so far was that they either weren't difficult enough, would provide too little experience, or were too difficult.

I was happy to see that the guild had put a bounty on that swamp monster though. It was in its nature to attack us, certainly, but that didn't mean I had to just accept it. If Cerion and I had been tier 5 we would have picked that quest, but it simply wasn't doable.

With a grunt, I continued searching for a suitable quest.

A few minutes later, Cerion pointed at a quest he had found and called me.

"Arthur, look! I think this one might be good for levels!"

Hopeful, I went over to look.

 

...

 

Quest: Exterminate the Tsuchigumo colony.

Tier: 3

Danger level: Mid

Recommended party size: 5-10

Location: Evergreen forest

Suggested arrival time: Within 3 months of quest posting.

Quest poster: Guild master of the Reito Alchemists' guild.

 

Abbreviated description: A colony of tsuchigumo, a species of giant spider, has taken residence in the evergreen forest near Reito. Exterminate the colony and kill the brood mother.

Reward: 3500 silver for the death of the brood mother, 7000 if both the brood mother and the rest of the colony are exterminated.

 

...

 

The rewards were very impressive, even for a tier 3 quest. I hadn't heard of tsuchigumo spiders before, nor did it mention how large the colony was, but with my current skills numbers wouldn't matter. The spiders would be shredded before they got to me. A heap of weak tier 3 monsters would be great for experience as well, no wonder Cerion had picked this quest out.

"This quest looks good, Cerion. Why don't we go and ask the receptionist for the official form?"

"Sure! See, I'm great at finding the right quests!"

"I never said you weren't."

 

We approached the receptionist at the desk and inquired about the tsuchigumo quest.

"Oh thank Helios, finally someone's willing to fight those hell spawn!"

I looked at Cerion worriedly. Were these spiders that bad? They were just insects, weren't they?

He, however, looked unfazed and nodded at the receptionist.

She handed over the official quest file for us to read. It had some more information on the monsters we were meant to kill.
 
Tsuchigumo are an invasive species from the east and are overhunting both monsters and animals in the forest, causing our ingredients to lessen in quantity, severely hurting the business of the alchemists' guild in the process. As they destroy the local flora and fauna of the forest, the colony's population keeps growing, threatening local villages and towns. Destroy the colony before they become a bigger problem.
 

"Well, if you're sure you want this quest, why don't I sign you up for it. Can I see your guild badges for a moment?"

We handed over our badges. I had hesitated for a while, but eventually gave in. If the spiders weren't something we could handle, we could always just retreat. Cerion's movement skill wasn't quite as good as my [Shadow apparation], but [Raindrop step] gave him a lot of mobility all the same. We would be fine.

"Oh dear, you two are just tier 2 though?"

Oh dear, I had forgotten about this issue. Last time the guild master had signed me up for a quest himself, but this time we would have to convince the receptionist that we could handle this. Or at least, normally we would've had to, if Doran hadn't walked in at that exact moment.

"They'll be fine, Xena. I know them both, and they can fight above their tier quite comfortably."

Phew. Saved by Doran. Thank Helios his hair had regrown by now with the help of a potion, otherwise, he would've left me to solve the situation on my own.

"Well...alright then, if you say so mister Doran."

 

The sign-up process went rather smoothly from there. A few hours later we had gathered our provisions and food pellets from the alchemists' guild, who were more than happy to give us a discount since we were heading out to solve their problem.

We bought some proper camping equipment and I went to look for Michael to tell him I would be away for a while. He was fine with it, and promised to study hard to get into the academy. I just nodded awkwardly. I still didn't know how to feel about that situation. With all that done, we headed towards the city gates.

"Wait a minute, don't you need a horse, Cerion?"

He looked at me strangely.

"No, I have a summoned mount. I got one from my dad as a birthday present when I was twelve. Don't you need a horse?"

"Uh...no. I got lucky and got a mount as well."

Cerion got excited hearing that.

"You got a da-"

I put my hands on his mouth to shut him up again. We hadn't left the city properly yet, and this idiot was about to proclaim that stuff out loud. To his credit, he realised his mistake a moment later.

"Sorry, I got too excited. Still, I'm curious to see how he...it? looks..."

"He. Revan is a 'him'. At least, I think so..."

"Revan, huh?"

 

A few minutes later, we were out of the city. We kept going on foot for a few minutes, until we found a secluded pond.

"Let's mount up right here! My mount needs water nearby to summon!"

Cerion ran up to the pond and held out his hand. He had two rings on his right hand, both of which I had thought were spatial rings. It turned out that one was a summoning item.

The ring glowed blue, while the water of the pond gathered and turned clearer. The murky brown water cleansed itself, leaving a transparent ball floating in the air. It concentrated and slowly got a shape. After a few seconds, I could start to make out the monster it was forming. It was a serpent of some kind. Its scales were a deep blue, while its size was only slightly smaller than Revan, about the size of a horse, only longer. Its head and back were adorned with large white horns along its spine.

It floated down to Cerion and let him on its back, not even giving me a second glance in the process. Cerion summoned a saddle from his other ring and attached it to a horn on the back of the serpent's head.

"This is Alia! My dad has a feathered serpent as his mount, and this is her child."

"Well, colour me impressed."

Still, I didn't feel like being outdone. I held out my talisman and summoned Revan. Dark mana gathered, forming the black skeleton of my giant lizard. Revan appeared and roared, scaring the nearby birds out of the trees.

Cerion was looking at him in admiration. If Revan had lungs, he would've puffed up under the attention.

"Revan, this is my friend, Cerion, and his mount Alia. They'll be travelling with us for a while, so be nice to them."

Apparently, Revan was more than willing to make nice with them, because he went up to Cerion for praise and attention almost immediately. Traitor.

Alia was less enthused, however. She turned her head up at Revan and snorted, as much as a serpent could, anyway. Before Revan could start a fight, I summoned his saddle on top of him and fastened it.

I jumped on his back. Night was starting to fall, which would camouflage us. Now, we were ready to set off.

 


 

A day of eventless travel later, we arrived at the evergreen forest. For once, the quest location wasn't far from Reito. It made sense. The alchemists wouldn't use this place as their go-to ingredient farm if it wasn't somewhat close to Reito.

Evergreen forest was described to us as a forest that's usually filled with sounds and roars from the various monsters and animals that live there.

Cerion and I didn't hear a thing, however.

It was dead silent.

That meant that we were near spider-territory, despite the fact that we had only just entered the outskirts of the forest. The colony must have grown quite a bit since the quest was posted.

Cerion and I entered the forest with our swords drawn. We kept Revan and Alia with us, just in case.

The trees of the forest were giant, easily reaching thirty meters in height each. Despite this, they were growing quite close together, limiting the amount of space Revan and Alia had to move around. Luckily reptilians were more used to dealing with limited space than mammals.

The sky was covered by the crowns of the trees, limiting the amount of light on the forest floor. I could see perfectly fine, but Cerion wasn't as perceptive as I was used to.

We were ready to fight at any moment, yet were instead interrupted by a scream from a child.

It sounded like a small girl that was crying.

"Help, help..,hel, hel, p,..;"

Cerion rushed after the sound, intending to help the victim. I ran after him, with more caution. Something clearly wasn't right here.

As we got closer and closer, the screaming turned distorted, and started turning into chittering instead.

We found ourselves inside of a small clearing, surrounded by giant trees on all sides. Cerion looked around, searching for the source of the scream, yet found nobody.

"Cerion! Cerion! I don't think that scream was real!"

He finally came to his senses and turned to me.

"What do you mean, real?"

I didn't have to answer him, because at that moment we heard loud skittering noises. The sound of insect legs on a tree. Big insects.

Hundreds of spiders, each the size of a human head, descended from the trees. Some used webbing to drop down from above, while others simply skittered down the tree trunks to reach the forest floor, where we were standing.

Both of us stared in shock for a moment, before I shot into action.

"Cerion, stay near me!"

He ran up next to me, right as I activated my [Overload Aura] and pushed as much mana as I could into overload. My maelstrom of black winds might not be a skill yet, but it was none-the-less effective.

A few seconds before the first spiders got to us, I had enough overloaded mana expelled to form a whirlwind around Cerion and me. Now it was just a matter of maintaining the shield.

 

Thankfully, the spiders were dumb as shit. They ran into the cutting winds as if they intended to overwhelm it. Instead, they got cut into tiny pieces within a second of touching my barrier.

Sadly, that also meant that Cerion and I were getting splattered with bug guts every time a suicidal spider approached us.

We couldn't do anything but endure.

"Should I use a skill to help you out, Arthur?"

"There's no point. I have a practically infinite source of mana to keep up this shield, especially in this dark forest, but you don't. Keep your mana for after we've killed these bugs to clean us of all this bug juice."

"Sure thing. Ew."

Ten minutes later, the last of the spiders had killed themselves.

With a sigh, I dropped the barrier and looked at my system notification.

Ding! Combat finished. Congratulations on reaching [Overloading Death Knight] level 4!

Reach level 50 to advance to tier 3.

Stat points allocated. 5 free stat points per level up awarded.

 

Finally, some levels. It was about damn time.

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A note from Belgianfri

Tsuchigumo are a type of monstrous spider-like yokai from japanese folklore. Look them up if you're interested!


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Belgianfri

  • Your holiness

Bio: I like fries. The belgian kind.

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