After running a quick check on Lorek, I decided to follow through on my little tease to Accalia, and turned my sight towards Desbar. I wanted to take a look at the dragon myself, see just how similar it was to the one that I had fought. And what I found was… worrying, to say the least.
Not because she had exaggerated its abilities, one way or the other. It was every bit as massive as she had shown me, slumbering fitfully beneath a mountain. Its scales shifted through various colors in the same way as what I had seen. No, what worried me was its location.
The mountain that the dragon was sleeping under had the appearance of a volcano, but I could easily tell that it wasn’t naturally formed. Rather, every time that the dragon snorted out a bellow of white flames, another chunk of rock fell from its ceiling, splashing against the floor as glowing red magma.
I wasn’t sure whether the dragon’s body heat was insanely high, or if it was some sort of magical aura that it radiated, but the lava that it created in this way didn’t simply cool off as one might expect over time. No, it pooled up, creating a growing bath that wrapped around the beast. Yet that still wasn’t the part that worried me. What truly caught my eye, made me feel as if this was a truly dangerous monster, was the size of the entrance to its little cavern.
It was small. Far smaller than the dragon’s current size. Maybe three meters in diameter at the most narrow parts of the tunnel leading down to it. And yet, there it was… so very much larger than that. I had to look back through time to get a proper idea of what had happened.
In the beginning, it was truly just a small whelp. Large considering its parent wyverns, but still manageable. The kind of dragon that you’d see in your standard knight’s tale. Just a bit larger than a winged, reptilian horse.
But then it began to hunt. The game started small, at first rabbits or foxes which it devoured on the spot, but then moving up to wolves or deer. These, it brought back to this cave to save for later. What couldn’t fit through the passage, he tore apart and took in pieces. This went on for several months, a mountain of food piling up on one side of the cave.
Finally, when one particularly cold winter night came around, the dragon didn’t go out to hunt. It feasted, digging into the meat that it had accumulated. Whether it was rotted or not seemed to matter very little to the ferocious beast. It ate its full, and then curled up beside the pile to sleep. A sleep that hasn’t ended to this day.
Every now and again, a claw would stretch out from its curled form, grasping onto another chunk of meat and pulling it close, munching on it slowly. It even devoured the bones. And as it did so, it began to grow. Its small form expanded over time, more and more as it ate, until there was simply no more food left for it to consume.
That was when it became restless. Clawing at the ground where it had left its meals, it let out a low whine accompanied with a roar of flame. The first splash of lava fell over its form, and it seemed to settle, comforted by the heat. But then the hunger arose again, and again.
By now, the beast had melted away so much of the mountain that smoke began to rise from the surface. Holes dotted the top of the mountain, which nobody dared approach. Every test that the demons ran on the mountain warned that it was dangerous in one form or another. The heat, the mana, the powerful ki, everything within the mountain screamed of a disaster.
They didn’t seem to realize whether the mountain itself was alive, or if there was simply a powerful creature within it, but they were not about to disturb it to find out. Instead, they declared that island as a forbidden zone.
Thinking back, I honestly believe that they did the right thing. If they had disturbed the dragon, then there is nothing good that could have come of it. In the best case scenario, Tsubaki would have been called to deal with it… but I was honestly unsure if even she could do it. Leowynn, with all of her strength, could barely pierce the dragon’s scales when in a matching form.
I shook my head, casting my eyes elsewhere. It had been six months now since the release of Vision Expanse, and I wanted to see what people thought…
On a wide screen, there was the scene of battle. Ten brave heroes of various races standing against an army of monsters. Some of them fired spells, some fired arrows, and others simply gripped their weapons to ward off the tide of enemies.
“It’s been six months now since the release of the new Massively Online Virtual Environment, known as Vision Expanse. I’m here live, watching the battle of the ranking team known as Legion.” A gentle female voice spoke up from the screen, the sounds of battle quieting to allow her to talk.
“At first, there were many concerns that people had over the game. The first and foremost was the lack of space. However, we quickly learned that all of that was actually intended. See how Legion is battling against this army, moving off towards the distant mountain.” The camera panned up to see a lone mountain that lay beyond the horde of monsters. At the top of the mountain was a structure which could barely made out from this distance.
“The lack of space had always been intentional. It was a way to force players to work together, to grow. And now, we see where that finally culminates. Legion has been working together since their very first days in the game, and I am happy to say that I’ve been reporting for them for most of it. Now, they are in the final stretch of their grand quest.”
“For those tuning in for the first time, allow me to give you a bit of history. Before the release of Vision Expanse, there was a terrible tyrant who gathered the monstrous forces of the world. He formed armies that ravaged the land, causing empires to crumble. Those who survived were forced to hide within their city walls, unable to properly escape. Even now, there are still those cities who have yet to be freed. These are the types of cities that players start in.”
“With the initial limit of three cities, players were cramped. Even with the initial playerbase being small, there were too many people, and not enough resources.” There was a sorrow to her tone as she spoke, the camera once more panning down to the battle.
“That’s where Legion came in. Shortly after the launch of the game, they began to train, wanting to fight against this Mad King. And now they’re here for the final battle. A battle to liberate the world of Vision Expanse. But… what is to come after this? Is this the end of Vision Expanse’s storyline, or is it merely the opening chapter? Let’s find out together, everyone!”
With that, the voice of the reporter went silent, at the battle was once more played at its full volume. It also became apparent at this point that only nine of the ten members of the party were truly participating in the battle. The final one, the last member standing at the center of the encirclement, was writing furiously within a book.
“Are you about done over there?” One woman, an elven mage holding a large silver staff, called back towards the scribe as she fired a beam of ice that swept away a horde of hobs and demi-gorgs, larger red creatures that carried oversized weapons.
“Almost… got it!” He flipped to the last page, his pen moving quickly. “Everyone, barriers!” As he spoke, he slammed the cover of the book shut, throwing it high into the sky.
Every member of the party huddled close together, gripping a golden pendant on each of their chests. Domes of energy sprang up around them, connecting to one another to become one powerful shield.
Up above, the book began to glow violet, turning darker and darker. Then, suddenly, it exploded. Rays of black energy swept over the battlefield, seeming to simply erase any living creatures that they touched. These rays swept against the shield as well, of course, but bounced off of it, only hitting more and more of the enemies.
By the time that the spell ended, less than a tenth of the monsters remained. The burden had been lessened considerably on the party, and they could take their time cleaning up the rest of the monsters. It was then that the reporter’s voice spoke up again. “Wow! Leon’s Grimoire Destruction skill gets me every time! He’s not called Death’s Scribe for nothing, folks!”
...A scribe… leveled a battlefield. Okay, that’s it, calling Vivi. I quickly pulled up my chat interface, knowing that she could hear me as long as I had it open. “Vivi… you see that battle, right? What is this Grimoire Destruction skill, and why does it seem so overpowered?”
I assure you that it is quite powerful indeed, Dale. However, it also comes at a heavy cost. This is a third tier spell, learnable only under special circumstances. If you are referring to the player known as Leon, then he chanced upon it through his own efforts, and has not properly received the experience bonus for learning from an NPC.
To summarize, someone may take a freshly written grimoire, or book of scrolls, and activate every spell in it at once. It’s necessary for the ink on each page to still be fresh, so that it seeps through each page to link the spells together. Only someone with exceptionally fast and accurate hands can pull off the feat of scribing fifty scrolls in that time, even if they are of the lowest rank.
If successful, however, the spells merge and create a powerful effect like what you saw. And of course, it has its obvious downsides. The user has to be entirely focused during the scribing of the grimoire, to ensure its effect. That means that they must spend at least a dozen minutes in a chaotic battle without being disturbed. Even one attack slipping through could cause the pen to slip enough to ruin the grimoire’s chances of being used in this manner.
I couldn’t help but grimace when I read that. “Well… now the skill honestly just sounds like more trouble than it’s worth.”
When used like this, you aren’t wrong. Originally, it is part of the Siege Mage skillset. Its true purpose was to be used in a calm environment, to be the opening attack in a city siege. There are many, far easier to use skills that can be utilized to clear out groups of enemies. Though, admittedly this way gives a lasting impact to the viewers.
It didn’t take me very long to figure out what she meant by that. “They’re just putting on a show. If he’s that advanced of a scribe, he would have hundreds of scrolls and talismans prepared for them. They could have easily gotten through that army, just by pouring money at it.”
That is correct. Indeed, each of them has dozens of Good quality area-effect scrolls in their inventories. However, they aren’t simply doing this to ‘liberate’ this world. These players are professional gamers, and are thus suitably paid based on their popularity. Showing the world the power that a production class can personally unleash on a battlefield… I’m seeing a distinct spike in forum activity discussing his skill.
I wasn’t quite sure how to feel about the fact that they were just doing this as an act. Sure, to them it wasn’t a real world. To them, it was all a game that they were beating and a way to earn a living. But in truth, there was so much more to it than that.
My next words, I sent both verbally to Vivi, and also mentally to Ashley. “Alright. I think it’s time to get players a bit more involved. If they run out of things to do but explore the planet after defeating the Mad King, the game’s popularity will plummet. They need a reason to become even more interested… After the Mad King’s death… I’d like to reveal the true origins of the game. Thoughts?”
As you wish, Dale.
Well… I mean, we can. It won’t impact any of us too heavily. But you’ll need to make a personal appearance in order for people to truly believe it. As for additional content… there is some. But yeah, most of it is just getting the rest of the world reclaimed. For now, at least.
“Okay. And also… I’d like one of you to pass a message along to Aurivy. Ask if she’d like to play the role of the Mad King. She could put on a good performance for them, I think.”