Ouiji and Syèl surveyed the loot left behind by the skeletons and Krogh. The skeletons had nothing valuable: they left behind rusted swords and shields. Since neither of them was a blacksmith, they could not fix them up and they would not sell for much.
On the other hand, Krogh left a treasure trove of items. These included his scythes, coat, a ring and an oddly shaped stone.
Neither of the duo had the identification skill so they could not tell what the ring did. The coat and scythe on the other hand were already identified.
Made from solidified flames of Vehena, this jacket grants its wearer with increased resistance to both physical and magical attacks.
Raises Physical and Magic Resistance by 20%.
The Druhler’s favorite weapon. It is quick and deadly, ending most fights before they begin. However, it is a cursed blade which draws from its user.
Attack: 26 ~ 28
Restrictions: Lv. 60
Chance to curse target with Bleed status. Chance to curse target with Slow status
Syèl took the jacket and equipped it immediately, pleased at its warmth. It was a long red jacket with a matching cowl. Its ends were designed in tatters to resemble flames.
Ouiji picked up the scythe, marvelling at its black scabbard and grip that was of a silver metal set with black pearls. The scythe’s guard was styled to resemble a hand with a gray-colored material inlaid in the fingernails, which curled protectively over the wielder’s own, adorned by a pommel shaped like a pyramid. She drew out the scythe and sliced the air with its keen blade.
“Heavy… this is a magnificent blade,” she said as she sheathed it.
They did rock-paper-scissors for the unidentified ring and she won, much to Syèl’s chagrin. She placed the ring into her inventory, making a mental note to see an appraiser as soon as possible.
Syèl bent to pick up the stone but it suddenly glowed bright and shot into the air, causing him to reel back and enter a combat stance.
“Hahaha!” Krogh’s voice called from the stone. “To think I was beaten. I applaud your strength travellers.”
“You’re not dead?” Syèl asked, trepidation in his voice.
“I was never alive to begin with child. I perished several years ago. My soul was merely trapped in this soul stone.”
The colour drained from Syèl’s face. A real one… it’s a real ghost!
“You said you would show us the way out?” Ouiji said. If she felt odd talking to a glowing stone, it didn’t show .
“Ah, yes. I do not have much time. Place the stone on my throne,” Krogh said.
“Doesn’t matter.” The stone fell onto her outstretched palm. “Now, place it gently in the middle, then step back.”
Ouiji did as she was told.
The stone’s glow brightened and increased in intensity until they had to shield their eyes. They heard a loud grating sound accompanied by low rumbling of the earth as the light slowly dimmed.
Spiral steps ascended from where the throne had been leading to a higher floor. Puzzled and slightly excited, the duo climbed the stairs.
The room they entered was made of pure white, with several statues of a lady lined up towards an altar.
They walked up to the altar and paused, shocked by what they saw. The ‘altar’ was actually a transparent coffin with one of the most beautiful lady Syèl had ever set his eyes on laying inside.
He placed his hand on the coffin and a message popped up.
You defeated Krogh the Druhler, releasing the Destroyer’s hold on Alure. Will you release her?
He looked to Ouiji who had also received the same message. She nodded her approval and he said,
The coffin’s lid burst off with so much force it knocked him back. It crashed into one of the statues as black demonic aura gushed out of the coffin, slamming against the ceiling above.
“What the hell?!” Syèl cursed. The force from the aura threatened to throw him off his feet.
“Not again…” Ouiji said.
The body in the coffin levitated horizontally, then righted itself slowly, white hair billowing in the wind.
“Shit!” Syèl shouted and dove onto Ouiji, effectively pinning her to the ground as Alure’s eyes snapped open. Several pillars exploded into dust, raining debris around the room.
Alure hunched over then let out a shrill cry that threatened to burst their eardrums.
“One last thing,” Krogh’s soul stone said. “Alure has gone mad from centuries of imprisonment. It will take some time before she regains her senses.”
“Now you tell us?” Syèl said as he rolled away from over Ouiji.
He stood up, Ouiji by his side as they stared her down.
Alure Goddess of Death : Lv. ???
The question marks told them all they needed to know. They did not have a snowball’s chance of winning this fight. This would be a battle of survival.
“The hunters have become the hunted,” Syèl said with a wry smile. “This kind of battles can also be fun.”
Under one of the few trees in the open fields southwest of Brigrove, sat a dark elf mumbling to himself. Several beasts ran by him, instinct instructing them not to attack lest they lose their lives. A few miles off a similarly black wolf hunted herds of deer.
Kashi reviewed the information he had gleamed from the villagers. There were several tiny villages like theirs with mini harbours, and five major towns with large harbours for trade and fishing excluding the captured capital.
Before making any decisions on how he would attack, he had done some light recon on the security around the neighbouring harbours, careful not to get caught. What he learned was the smaller towns like Ranad had little security around their harbour.
There were usually no more than ten men stationed. They generally consisted of three archers; three rogues; three warriors, and a leader whose class varied. The only major port close to him was called Nohra, and it boasted close to fifty guards.
To make things worse, the Froggers and bandits seemed to have teamed up to protect the harbour. They also had several mages which were bad news for him who had no Magic resistance.
How to go about this?
He pulled a map he had obtained from a villager. While well detailed, it was made from very bad material that threatened to crumble to dust any second. It was truly unfortunate to be poor.
“I can go here… then here… I get this… maybe… let’s try this out,” he mumbled. He folded the map carefully – he would not get any as detailed as this anytime soon – then whistled.
Kira abandoned her hunt, displeased by the results. She could only manage to capture the stragglers of the group; the rest were usually long gone before she reached them.
Kashi noticed her sour expression. “Still no luck huh?”
‘Way to state the obvious,’ she thought, but he did not understand her.
He sighed as he crouched in front of her. “Don’t know why I’m helping someone who’s trying to kill me… Look, you’re too impatient. I have no doubt that one day you will beat them all in terms of speed, but for now you need patience if you’re going to succeed.”
She cocked her head to the right to indicate she was listening.
“Next time, don’t just charge at them. It might work on rabbits cause you’re faster and they are smaller, and on other carnivores cause they attack you, reducing it to a contest of strength. Treat herbivores like a target for assassination, not killing.” His voice lowered to a whisper. “Take your time… stay hidden… approach carefully… then wait. When your target is least
prepared…….. BAM!” he suddenly shouted, clapping his hands together.
She yelped and jumped back in fright, then growled angrily when she realised he was playing with her.
“Oh my. You should have seen the look on your face.” Kashi clutched his stomach in uncontrolled laughter. “Come on, we’ve, pfft.. got to.. hahaha.. get going.” He managed to finish, releasing a huge breath to calm himself.
She snorted and marched off in the direction of Ranad, followed closely by a still laughing Kashi.
Several minutes later, they reached the village but this time, Kashi and Kira walked past. They stopped behind the village where its harbour was situated. Long, thick grass populated the area but there were clearings at the shore for people disembarking from their boats and on the path leading to the village.
As he had thought, there were nine bandits at the harbour. One tended to a tiny rowboat while three
chatted near a large stone building he guessed to be their HQ, and the remaining were scattered around to spot any intruders.
The fact they did not have any more security told Kashi none of the villagers were traitors. This in and of itself was very important information.
Now, how to go about this.
He whispered some instructions to Kira and made his way towards the shore, thankful for the large shrubs he used as cover. When he was in position, Kira ran into the harbour and barked at the bandits.
“A black Direwolf!”
“Quick, catch it! It’ fur’ll sell fer a pretty penny.”
Several of the men ran off chasing after Kira, who turned on her heels and ran away, careful not to lose them.
“Good. That leaves only three. One tending the boat, and two guarding the entrance.” Once Kashi noticed none of their eyes facing his direction, he dashed towards the river and dove in.
“Hmm.. did you see something?”
“No. You gotta lay of the drinks man.”
Kashi held his breath as he swam underwater, stopping just below the pier where the good boat was being tended to. He bid his time, thankful for his high stamina which allowed him to hold his breath for longer periods of time.
Once the guard tending to the boat turned around, he slowly climbed onto the boat, wincing whenever a droplet of water made a small splash against the wood. Once he was on the boat, he paused to make sure the other two guarding the entrance to the building were not near them.
Once his confirmation was over, he grabbed the guard from behind and slammed him onto the boat. He kept the guard’s mouth shut with his left hand and repeatedly punched him with his right till he passed out.
When he was sure the bandit would not wake up, he crossed the pier and climbed through an open window, entering the main building. The room he entered had several fish inside, most of which were rotten.
‘This better not stick.’ Kashi used <<Silent Feet>> as walked through the room, then opened the door slowly. It led to a main hall which was supposed to have a bar. Instead, there were broken bottles and tables everywhere.
He had two choices. Take the flight of stairs heading to the higher floor or a door at the right wall. He could also take the door right across of him which lead outside, but the remaining two guards were chatting amicable there.
“Tell me Pedo, what you think about the women in the basement?”
“Dunno Bare, the capn’ says we mustn’t touch.”
“Bah! Cap’s asleep in his room upstairs. He’ll never know.”
‘Thank you for the well timed convenient info.’ Kashi left his place by the door and climbed the stairs taking each rung slowly.
He reached the landing at the top and paused in front of the door. Shit! What if it’s locked! Offering his prayers to the god of assassins, he twisted the doorknob. His pounding heart settled when he heard the familiar click.
The dark elf’s eyes gleamed with delight when he saw the interior of the room. His target lay on a bed snoring like a drunk pig, dressed in a leather tunic. All of the captain’s heavy armour which he would have found bothersome was neatly placed by the side of the bed.
‘Yes! They don’t unreasonably sleep in full armour!’ Kashi rejoiced mentally. Judging by how buff his target was, it would be impossible to hold him down like he had the bandit.
He equipped his weapons and nocked an arrow onto his bow, drawing it to full length. He released it and it struck neatly through the guard’s throat.
Much to his dismay, the captain did not die instantly. Instead, he shot up from the bed and crashed into his armour. He proceeded to around the room like a mad goose, slamming into everything before he finally succumbed to his injuries and fell.
“Acha~…” Kashi whistled at the sight. It reminded him of a beheaded chicken for some reason.
“What’s going on?!”
“I heard something! Cap’n!”
Kashi heard the footsteps running up the staircase and waited calmly behind the door. The first guard opened the door and was greeted with three arrows through his head that launched him off the staircase and over the railing. He fell onto a broken table and cried out in pain as splinters stabbed through his abdomen and leg.
“Pedo!” the second cried, looking down at his dying friend. He looked up and saw the sole of a boot.
Kashi kicked the second guard, then rode him down the staircase. At the base, he kicked against the bandit’s skull, launching himself into the air, then whirled around and launched several arrows through the bandit, ending his suffering.
Kashi walked over to the first guard who pleaded for his life, tears streaming down his face. “Sorry. You’ve seen me. Can’t let you live.” He shot an arrow through the guard’s skull releasing him from his pain. “Aethir guide you,” he said and walked to the second door which lead to the basement.
The door was locked so he returned to the captain’s room where he picked up a bunch of keys from a dresser by the bed. He returned to the door and after several tries, a key finally worked, opening it up.
It opened up to a narrow staircase leading to a basement. There was no lighting inside so he picked a lantern hanging on the wall and proceeded down the staircase. The basement was quite wide, if not dark and musty. He heard muttering voices and walked over to a series of cages.
His face twisted in a mask of furious anger. The women from the women were tied up in the cells, and there were bruises on a lot of them.
“Please leave us alone!” they cried, huddling at a corner of the room, frightened by the scary dark elf. Everyone there had heard of or witnessed the Dark Elves’ atrocities. The scary one had probably come to use them for vile experiments.
Kashi realised he was scaring them and relaxed into a soothing smile. “Don’t worry. I’m here to
help you.” He opened the cages, then freed the women from their bondage. “Follow meeeee-!”