“Thought you might not show up.” Leon teased when he saw the elven mage appearing in front of him. She was dressed in a splendid silver dress, and shot him a glare that only seemed to make him chuckle. “Relax, Crystal. Put your game face on. We do this, and we might just make history.”
When she heard that, the elven woman hesitated, before nodding and taking a deep breath. “What’s our status?”
“Logain is grabbing the rest of the crew, and letting Pepper know that we’re heading out.” Leon glanced towards Crystal, noticing the faint blush that crept over her cheeks as he mentioned their leader’s in game name. “What’s the matter? Didn’t wake you up ill, did he?”
“I’m fine.” Crystal said, rather firmly. “When Logain shows up, tell him… that the rumor was confirmed. He’ll know what I mean.”
After she said that, Crystal struck her hand out towards the side, the air seeming to warp around her hand, before she pulled back a pitch black staff. Leon’s eyes widened as he saw that, since this was not the game’s inventory she was using. “You’re… even using that? You’re serious about this…”
“Oh, Leon, you have no idea just how serious I am right now.” She told him with a cold smile. At the end of the staff were two opposed metal hooks serving to frame a floating black crystal. “Tell the others that I’m going ahead to make sure the path is open. Jade should be able to teleport everyone to me when they’re ready.” Saying so, she tapped the staff’s base against the ground, and a black void seemed to open up in front of her.
Once she had stepped through, Leon wiped his brow for a moment, watching the void close behind her. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt the need to pity a goddess before…” Naturally, the entire team knew about Crystal’s… or rather, Crystal Harmony’s issue with the previous Mad King subjugation. It had nearly killed her love of the game, but also fueled her to find a way to surely defeat him if they met again.
“What’s going on?” A man walked into the room, wearing silver, knightly armor. “I heard Crystal’s voice, so I thought I’d come to greet her. Did she take off already?”
Leon gave a feeble nod of his head. “That’s right, boss. She went to ‘clear’ the way for us. And she brought out the Voidcaller’s Staff.”
Logain’s eyes immediately went wide as he realized what this meant. “We’d better hurry. Jade said she was just finishing up dinner, so she’ll be on in a minute.”
“Yeah, think things should be over by then.” Leon responded with a somewhat bitter smile. “Oh, and she asked me to pass another message onto you.” Seeing the captain looking at him with interest, he gave a small shrug. “She said to let you know that ‘the rumor has been confirmed’. Said that you’d know.”
If his eyes were wide before, this time they looked like they nearly fell out of his head. “She wouldn’t say that lightly… Leon, no matter what happens, Legion has to secure the Sky Citadel today. Whatever expense, the guild will cover it threefold.”
Leon blinked in confusion. He wasn’t against getting an extra share of the profit, since his was the most expensive skill to train out of the group, but… he did not realize the significance of the Citadel. Logain hadn’t needed to explain that to everyone to get them on board, and in fact didn’t even have time to do so before they agreed readily. “Sure, boss. I’ll break out the big toys today.”
Barely two hours had passed since the appearance of the Sky Citadel, and it was already starting to gently float beyond the grassy plains where it had first appeared. Down below, Beholder was gritting his teeth as he watched the flying castle. They hadn’t prepared for an air siege, so their flight items were all in safe storage. Didn’t want to risk dropping them on death.
Instead, Beholden was now forced to send people to the nearest city to access their storage. Well… getting them there was as easy as splitting a few skulls. Winning this base would be well worth any complaints that rose up within the guild.
The problem was the run back. This area had been chosen due to it being on unclaimed territory. It was a three hour sprint from the nearest town, which made Beholder simply pray that nobody more prepared would be able to arrive sooner. Looking to the Sons of Hanbei, it seemed like they were facing similar issues.
Personal flight skills were still very rare within the game, being regarded as a high level ability. Whether it was supporting yourself with the wind as a druid, using ki, or even magic, few mages had access to such spells. Teleportation… now that was even more rare. Only the true elites could teleport, and even then it was typically with the use of items that boosted their power.
However, as he watched, fervently hoping that no such elite would appear, he saw a patch of darkness forming in the sky. When it faded, there was an elven woman standing there, holding a pitch black staff in her hands. Beholder narrowed his eyes to get a better look at her, before his bearded face went pale. “Crystal Harmony…”
He knew that this mage represented the foremost elite team within the entire game. Whether it was personal skills or items, they had it all. Even worse, Crystal Harmony was the greatest mage within this elite team. Seeing her able to fly, even teleport didn’t startle Beholder. The problem was that she was outside their attack range… but they weren’t outside hers.
Crystal stood above the masses, staring down towards them. “Don’t hold this against me. You’re in the way.” Reaching out, she held her greatest weapon in front of her, wisps of energy seeming to warp the air around her.
“Sky above, and earth below, twist and invert.” The wisps of energy split apart, forming strange patterns in several locations high in the air. “I call through the void beyond the sky, to shattered lands beyond. I desire a mountain of fire and stone.”
The patterns seemed to rip apart the sky, creating swirling vortexes which grew wider and wider. She could already see the troops below dispersing… no, fleeing. They were scattering in all directions as five large rocks slowly appeared beyond the vortexes, falling through them.
The air seemed to ignite around the rocks as they fell past Crystal herself, colliding against the ground below. The shockwave toppled over the troops that were lucky enough to escape the blast radius, sending them flying dozens of meters. For those less fortunate, they had either been instantly killed, or were now buried under mountains of rubble.
Each rock looked to be at least fifty meters tall, and even Crystal herself felt the shock of the impact at her position in the sky. However, she didn’t launch another attack. Her staff needed time to recharge its mana. And besides… her point had been made.
Silently, Crystal received a mana crystal from her inventory, and placed it against her chest to absorb the energy within. The last thing she needed at this point was to fall from the sky. Instead, her body turned, her gaze settling on the Sky Citadel. An almost sinister grin formed over her face while her eyes narrowed. “You aren’t getting away from me.”
Her staff flashed briefly, and another void appeared in front of her, which she promptly stepped through. When she stepped into the void, the world seemed to turn dark, objects strangely outlined with thin white and blue lights. In this state, she was one with the void, able to travel vast distances in a single breath. Only… she couldn’t breathe. There was no air within this void for her, so she had to keep her journeys to short jumps.
Almost casually, she walked towards the Citadel, seeing the heavy barrier around it. Yet, when she approached, she seemed able to pass through with ease. She doubted it would be so easy to bypass the barriers of the true Sky Citadel, but… they had to at least make it possible for players to enter. Otherwise, there would be no point in having this place as a dungeon.
Within the garden just outside the main palace, she saw roving monsters, four-legged beasts that sniffed the air. It took a moment for her to recognize them with how her vision had been altered, but then she shook her head. They really aren’t making this easy.
If she was correct, then these should be Chaos Hounds. Each one could be considered a boss monster for a mid-level hunting ground. Even Crystal herself had reservations against fighting so many. However, she could only hold her breath for so long.
She transitioned out of the void, already reaching into her inventory. She couldn’t pull out the scroll she needed just yet, as she had to verify the color of the monsters’ furs. Chaos beasts such as these had weaknesses that could be observed through their fur or scale tone.
What she saw was a mass of silver fur, letting her know that these were wind-attuned monsters. “Dragon’s conflagration.” She muttered, pulling out three scrolls from her inventory and throwing them into the air. Just as the monsters began to react, and moved to pounce towards her, she shifted back into the void to escape.
For a few, long moments, Crystal was able to watch black fireballs crashing into the garden, and witness the silent screams of the beasts. She did not show any mercy, watching their health fall while she moved outside the area of the three scrolls.
When she appeared again, she was now in a safer location. She could see the dying beasts falling one by one, unable to find her as they were burned. Only when the last fell did she move, collecting the loot.
It should be known that chaos beasts were extremely deadly when one was not properly prepared. Fighting them with any element that wasn’t their weakness would be harder than almost any other encounter. However, equally, they gave rich rewards to match their difficulty.
Some of the most powerful items circulating within the game were dropped from chaos beasts, or crafted using their materials. Even Crystal’s staff was the same, being made from the loot offered by earth, light, and dark chaos beasts. Of course, even though her staff was powerful, its strength could only truly show when wielded by a skilled mage, one capable of twisting its innate magic to form her own spells.
“Crystal, are you there?” Her fairy appeared on her shoulder, speaking with a voice she knew all too well.
“I’m here, Logain.” She answered. “Have Jade send you all to me. I’m standing in the gardens right now. It looks like the theme of this dungeon’s monsters should be ‘chaos’.”
The cursing she heard from the small fairy brought a strange relief to Crystal. Logain knew all too well what kind of monsters she meant. “Our repair fees are going through the roof… are they at least moving in packs?”
“For now.” Crystal confirmed with a nod, gathering the last of the loot. “There were eight wind-attributed hounds in the garden. Bur… sorry, Brace is going to have her work cut out for her today.”
“We all will…” Logain sighed, before ending the connection.
After the call ended, Crystal was able to feel a small thrum from the amulet around her neck. Bringing her hand up and grasping it, she inserted a small amount of mana to ‘accept’ the teleport request.
Blue and white mana erupted around her body, forming into a pattern along the garden floor. As it shone, brighter and brighter, she was able to make out figures appearing within the light, standing alongside her. Once the spell had ended, and Legion was assembled, it was time to move.