The sun rose in the horizon, ushering in a new day as two elves and a rather large exited the northern forests surrounding Kerta. Kashi, Leila and Kira drew lots of attention from adventurers hunting in the fields as they walked past, the giant wolf walking between them. The trio paid no heed to the stares though, as they were engaged in a rather heated discussion.
“What’s your class? There’s no way a hunter should be capable of magic.” Kashi asked for the fifth time in a row. He was determined to find out her secret no matter how many times she rebuffed him.
“You’re persistent.” Leila sighed, massaging her temple with her hand. “Fine. I’ll tell you. My class is Light Hunter.”
“Light Hunter? What’s that?”
“A hidden class. To put it in simple terms, imagine a druid and a hunter class mixed together. Though my healing and support abilities are nowhere near as strong as a druid’s.”
“That’s awesome. Where did you get that class?”
“Say, Kashi, how come you don’t use that weird speech when you’re talking with me?” She suddenly asked, changing the subject.
“Huh? Why would I?” He looked like she had asked him the most absurd question.
“Why, you ask?” She could not think of a solid reason. “You speak that way to everyone else.”
“That’s only to people I don’t know. It would be unfair to treat someone I’ve already fought with in the same manner.”
“Ah, I see.”
“Geh! You tried to change the subject. Where did you learn that class?”
“Fladnag told me how to get the class?”
“… What do you mean Fladnag told you how to get that class?!” Kashi yelled, barely above a whisper.
Leila sighed, shaking her head. “Like I said, when I finished the training, Serti invited me to the brotherhood. He told me to go meet Fladnag; he said since you survived I should too.”
“What?! I was a test subject?”
She folded her arms across her chest and closed her eyes in thought. “Maybe. Who knows. Anyway, Fladnag asked me a few questions then pointed me to a dungeon where I obtained this class after defeating some boss.”
The dark elf was absolutely crestfallen. A dark aura of despair could be seen emanating from his body. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“Why are you so upset about it anyway?”
“I was told to raise her for three months.” He pointed at Kira who growled and attempted to bite off his finger. “See? I’ve had to put up with that for the past two months.”
“She doesn’t seem bad at all,” Leila said, petting Kira on the head. The wolf closed her eyes as a silly grin spread across her face. “In fact she’s quite cute.”
“Cute huh? How about you keep her?” Kira barked fiercely at him and he immediately raised his hands in surrender. “Joking, I was joking.”
“Hmm… I couldn’t. You two go too well together after all.”
Both the dark elf and the wolf raised their brows at the ludicrous statement. They looked at her, then at each other. They imitated gagging sounds in sync, repulsed by the very idea.
Leila sighed. “Need I say more?”
“Just a second! What do you… hm?”
During their discussion, they had reached the entrance to Kerta. A weird bunch were at the city gate, blocking their path. He recognized two of them as the swordsman Nyte and the rogue Asha. They were accompanied by a bunch of players, who judging from their gear ranged between fifties to seventies. This is going to be troublesome.
Kashi chose to ignore them and pass but just as his foot was about to cross the gate, Nyte swung his blade aimed at his neck. He jumped back and evaded the strike. “What is the meaning of this?”
“How to put this…” Nyte balanced his sword on his shoulder, scratching his chin in mock-thought. “… I got it! You’ve been banished from this city.”
“Surely you jest? You have no such authority. That can only be done by-”
“By the mayor?” A cocky grin rose up the side of his face. “You haven’t heard have you? Absalon-sama was voted mayor yesterday.”
“I-Impossible!” Kashi stammered.
It was possible for players to take up positions of government or public service in the game, but it could only be obtained through three major ways. The first and most popular was through fame points and elections. Players with high fame points stood higher chances of being voted into offices by the populace.
The second method was through recommendation. If a player has a high enough friendship with an official or performs an outstanding task, he stands a chance of being recommended for a position.
The final and most hated was by force. If a player wanted to lead a city, he could murder everyone in office with his guild or army and take over.
Despite what people may think, the first method was the hardest as it required a lot of public service to gain the amount of fame necessary to be considered as a candidate, let alone voted into office.
Someone like this Absalon who sent his henchmen to chase away potential threats to his business could not possibly have gathered enough fame points… Except!
“…You bastards!” The dark elf’s eyes burned with anger as realisation dawned upon him.
“You finally understand, don’t you?”
“What is he talking about?” Leila asked, unable to follow the conversation. She had her hands wrapped around Kira to prevent her from going berserk.
“He has been forcing his guild members to carry out public tasks and taking all the credit,” Kashi said.
“Is that even possible?”
“It is,” Nyte said. “Most players know that when a guild member performs a task, a percentage of the fame goes to the guild. What they do not know is that the guild master can set it so that all the fame goes to the guild. And as the guild master, all the fame is indirectly his and can be used in elections.”
“And I’m guessing they can’t leave the guild once they’ve joined?” She asked calmly.
“Of course not.” He laughed. “You think we would let go of our precious source of money and fame?”
“Money? You’re also taking money from them?” She released Kira and stood up.
“You got it. How do you think we’ve become the top guild in such a short amount of time? We provide our members with food and easy levelling, and in return they work and work for us! Impressive, wouldn’t you say?”
“Ah… Impressive indeed. It’s quite the business you’ve got there.” “What are you saying Le…ila… san?” The words died in Kashi’s throat when he turned to her.
Her glare was so cold, it seemed to freeze the atmosphere around her. It carried an intense pressure that caused several of the followers around Nyte and Asha to fall to their knees.
Leila suddenly dashed forward with a dagger in her hand. Her target was Nyte, but just before her blade could pierce the surprised warrior, Asha appeared in her path. She barely dodged the rogue’s swing by ducking below the weapon.
Asha raised her knee and hit Leila on the chin, but the wood elf softened the blow by back-flipping just before impact. Leila countered mid-flip by returning the kick with one of her own to the rogue’s chin. Asha softened the kick in a similar fashion and they jumped back, separating from each other.
Leila quickly unslung her bow and shot three arrows at Asha. Her hands moved so fast Kashi lost sight of them. She had spent time upgrading the <<Chain Shot>> skill which like many other skills was semi-exclusive to archers. It increased the speed at which she shot her arrows, making it possible for her to loose and arrow and have another nocked in place before the other reaches its targets
Players who chose an archery related class as their primary class obtained the chain shot and other skills once they changed. These skills could become available to other classes who decide to use a bow, but they would only receive them after they passed a certain level of Archery Mastery. Naturally, this worked the same way with other classes.
Asha’s hands moved in a similar speed, knocking away the arrows before they hit her. Leila fired off another volley while Asha charged forward, daggers at the ready.
A black blur dashed in between them, knocked away the arrows and pointed his drawn bow at Asha at point-blank range, causing her to stop. “That’s enough Leila-san,” Kashi said, keeping his eye on the rogue.
“What are you tal-”
“You cannot fight all of them,” he interjected and looked at Nyte. “The ban only applies to me right?”
“That’s right…” Nyte, who had been looking on with amusement said. “The boss knows nothing about her.”
“Fine. I won’t sell anything anymore, and I won’t return to this town. In return, let her pass.”
“Why should I agree to your re-!” The words died in his throat as the adventurers in close proximity fell to the ground unable to move as if a huge load had been dropped on them. Even he and Asha had trouble standing.
Blood lust Activated:Scorn of the Fallen Activated!
“Do not annoy me any more than I already am!” Dark, sinister aura poured out of the elf in droves.
Was he always this big?! The dark elf seemed to grow in size, but that might have just been intimidation from his aura. Nyte raised his hands in a show of surrender. “I understand, I’ll let her pass. Just stop it already.”
Kashi relaxed his glare, the thick aura around him seeping back into his body. He sighed loudly and turned to Kira and Leila. His raging blood lust had also affected both of them and he looked away, ashamed as they stood up. “Sorry about that. I lost myself.”
“It’s fine,” Leila said, dusting herself off. “I would have gotten myself killed if you had not intervened. More importantly, will you be alright?”
“I will be fine. Kira is much stronger now so I can spend my time training. Tell Serti and Yugo I’ll see them later.” He smiled sheepishly and turned his back to the gate. He looked over his shoulder at Nyte before he left. “Break your word in any way and you will see just how dangerous these forests can truly be.” His voice was low but carried a maddening amount of bloodlust in them.
“I understand,” Nyte said through grinded teeth.
Kashi added Leila to his friend’s list then walked away, several pairs of eyes locked on his retreating figure.
Syèl and Ouiji reached Neverun just as the sun rose. While the city had been scary at night, it was even more eerie seeing the statues in broad day light.
“You’re telling me each of these guys are still alive?” Syèl asked, knocking on one of the statues.
“What do you think you’re doing cross dresser?!” He yelled, holding the back of his head.
“Nothing much. Just thought I would teach a certain barbarian some manners.” She said, massaging her knuckles.
Alure’s temple looked more like a run-down church, its doors barely hanging on their hinges. “You sure this is the right place?” Syèl asked.
“Of course. Come.” She opened the door and walked in. The inside of the church was just as desolate as its exterior. It was a complete mess. The wooden benches used during mass where broken in pieces and the supporting pillars were cracked in several places. Cobwebs spanned the ceilings and corners, with all manner of rodents scurrying around. The smell of rust and death hung in the air. “How terrible.”
“Really?” Syèl asked in a carefree voice. “This doesn’t look all that bad to me.”
“I think I saw a ghost.”
“G-g-g-g-g-g-ghost?!” he yelled, rushing behind a chair. “Where?!”
Ouiji bent over in laughter, clutching her stomach. “I can’t believe you’re really afraid of ghosts. You struck me as the stone cold killer type.”
“Shut up! Ghosts are different! They can’t be touched; they move through walls.. they cannot be killed.. they should not exist!”
“Yes, yes. My bad. Come on, we’ve got to find out what’s really going on in this town.”
The alter was a statue of the goddess, placed on an elevated ground. It had been smashed to pieces though. Just like Fodam said, there was a trapdoor behind the alter, though it was hidden underneath some tapestry which they tore away.
Ouiji slid the key she was given into the keyhole and after a few tries, she heard a clank and the sound of shifting gears. The trapdoor opened of its own accord, releasing a thick stench of rotten flesh that wafted mercilessly into their noses.
“That’s terrible!” Syèl coughed hysterically and they both dashed outside the church for some fresh air. “What do you think they kept in there?!” He asked once he had finally calmed down.
“Beats me. But I bet we’re about to find out.” Ouiji said, pulling a scarf from her inventory. She tied it around her nose to reduce the stench, handing an extra one to the elf.
“Thanks.” He put it on as they returned to the trapdoor.
Inside was a ladder which they climbed down, Ouiji first. Once they landed, they had to squint their eyes to see as it was very dark. A sole torch burned next to them and Syèl picked it up.
He used the light to search around the area they landed. His hands felt a weird moisture inside a dugout in the wall. He put the mixture to his nose and winced, recognising it.
Syèl tossed the torch into the mixture, then watched as the oil caught fire and burned across the wall, illuminating the passageway. The sight that awaited them caused his eyes to widen in disbelief. “You’ve got to be kidding me…”