A rat scurried across the dirtied floors of the deserted dungeon, nose twitching in anticipation. Many had died, becoming both food and shelter for the furry little creature, and it knew many more of the large creatures would soon perish. It made its way into one of the cells where a dark-haired elf was sprawled across the floor, hair covering his face.
The little creature approached its potential meal cautiously, standing on its hind legs every few steps to see if there was a reaction. The elf however did not react to its taunts. It took a few steps closer, listening for signs of life, but still there was no response.
Deciding its target was dead, it inched closer, whiskers away from his target’s head, but the prisoner lay motionless. It relaxed, but regretted the decision soon after.
The mass of hair moved too fast for the rat to react as sharp teeth bit down on its tail preventing it from fleeing.
Kashi grinned triumphantly as he picked it the squealing animal, and then snapped its neck with his bare hands. The creature exploded into a myriad of shining light, leaving its bones on his palm.
“That was close,” he said, exhaling loudly. “Any longer and I would have failed”.
“Good work,” a voice called from the cell next to his. “Now hand me those bones.”
Kashi obediently dropped the bones through a small hole in the wall, praying his newfound comrade did not betray him.
He and the other soldiers had fought valiantly against the Aergiaen army, swiftly gaining levels as they slaughtered the enemy. But the numbers were against them; too many players had sided with the Aergiaens and after losing their commander, Kashi’s team could do nothing but wait to be routed by the enemy. At least he and the remnants of the final company had been able to give them hell before they’d fallen and he’d woken up in this cell
The man in the cell next to his had introduced himself as Leon, a thief who had been arrested when he tried to steal from the king. Unlike most of the other prisoners, he was human, and did not participate in the war.
Leon had offered his assistance, saying he could create a skeleton key but needed the bones of a small animal.
The rat could not have appeared at a better time.
Fortunately for Kashi, his little trick with the rat had just taught him two new skills:
New stat: Stealth
Stealth: The ability to erase one’s presence and move unseen and unheard. Stat points may be distributed here but depending on avatar’s actions it may increase itself.
New skill learned: Play Dead
Play Dead : A basic technique used to hide the Inner Ki of its caster, and slow down one’s heartbeat. It is said that at the expert level, practitioners of this art can completely stop their hearts for lengthened periods of time.
Increases Stealth by 50%
Restriction: User must be stationary to activate.
Consumes :20 MP
Kashi grinned as he stared at the new windows while he waited for Leon to finish up.
What other skills could he learn?
The sound of a gate creaking open shook him from his thoughts and he glanced at the door of his cell. A tall man in an overly large, tattered striped black and white jumpsuit with unkempt brown hair and a massive beard stood before the bars.
Leon fought with the lock on Kashi’s gate and heaved a sigh of relief when a clack rang out. The door to the cell swung open and Kashi had to suppress an urge to dash out.
“Follow me and be quiet,” Leon said. He turned away from the cell and made his way towards the end of the hall. His voice was cracked and hoarse, most likely from the many years spent in the dungeon.
Kashi followed closely behind. The sound of his feet on the hardened earth echoed down the hallway, but he heard only one pair of footsteps. He glanced at Leon, who seemed to glide soundlessly across the floor.
“If it is not too bold of me, may I inquire as to how you move so softly?” Kashi asked, suppressing the desire to burst out laughing.
“How, you ask?” repeated Leon distractedly as they rounded a corner. He was trying his best to feel the presence of any guards in the area. Either they were none or he had lost his touch. He prayed it was the former. Then the question finally registered and he answered, “When you walk, try rolling your feet from heel to toe.”
The dark elf nodded and glanced down at his feet, trying to imitate the other man’s movement.
New skill learned: Silent Feet
Silent Feet: A basic technique used to reduce the sounds of one’s footsteps. The great elder Wan-Ren was said to have run in a field of broken glass without a sound. Higher levels reduces cooldown time and increases skill time.
Raises Stealth by 2%
Muffles movement by 5%
Reduces movement speed by 50%
Duration (5 mins)
Cooldown time: 30 s
Kashi punched the air in excitement. Rika had not been joking when she said the skills were only limited to his imagination. He wondered what other skills he could learn as he activated /Silent Feet./
He did not notice a drop in movement speed, but that might have been because they were moving at a snail’s pace already what with Leon stopping every few steps to scan the area for guards.
Finally, they made it to the armoury. “Pick a weapon,” murmured Leon to Kashi.
He glanced over the few swords, spears and axes present. A few bows and arrows at the side caught his eye though. Deciding to go a different route than usual, Kashi opted for the bow and picked one up. It was heavy, but not too heavy. He could definitely lift it. Taking an arrow from the quiver, he nocked it to the string and drew it back. He released it and the arrowhead struck the wall with a thunk. Satisfied, he slung the weapon over his shoulder.
You received Practice Bow
“Interesting choice,” Leon said, inspecting Kashi. “Not many would go for the bow and arrow.”
“I am not most people,” Kashi replied, eyeing the bow. There was nothing special about the wooden weapon, but he felt like a brand new chapter could be opened in his life if he used it.
Leon outfitted himself with two short swords, which he belted to his waist. He also picked up a pair of daggers and hid them up his sleeve for good measure.
“We have two choices: we charge through the back or we sneak out the side,” Leon said when they were both ready. “The back has only a few guards and we should be done in a few minutes, although one of us will most likely fall. The other option is to scale the walls on the other side of this building. It’s both more risky and time-consuming. If we fail, we’ll both die. If we succeed however, we will both definitely survive. You choose.”
Kashi scratched his chin in thought, the bow weighing down on his shoulders. His eyes widened as an idea formed in his head. “Let us go around to the side.”
“Smart choice, kid. I’m beginning to like you,” was Leon’s reply as he opened the armoury door softly.
Leon peered through into the hallway, and when he did not sense anyone else’s presence, he motioned to Kashi to follow him.
The duo reached climbed a flight of stairs and Leon stopped in front of a steel door. He paused for a moment, seemingly lost in thought. His expression was a mix of anticipation, fear and joy.
Kashi understood the reason for his pause when he opened the door. A blast of fresh air rushed in through the opening, and Leon sniffed back a tear as he stepped out the door. A soft breeze caressed the duo under the starless night-sky, washing away their fatigue with promise of freedom.
Breaking out of his reverie, Leon motioned for Kashi to follow him across the outer wall of the garrison. The sound of hearty laughter drifted up from courtyard below them, from two guard who were oblivious to the escaping prisoners.
Leon stopped when he saw two guards with their backs to them, leaning over the wall chatting heartily. He pulled his dagger from its holster but Kashi grabbed his wrist shaking his head.
Sighing, the older man sheathed the dagger and the duo crept up behind the guards. On Leon’s signal, they attacked. Leon quickly disabled his mark, slamming the side of his palm into the small curve at the base of the skull, where it met the spine.
Kashi tried to copy the older man but he lacked the strength to completely knock out his target. The guard fell to his knees and opened his mouth to shout. His scream was cut short by a punch, followed by many more until he was out cold.
Passive skill: Silent Take down
Silent Take down: Attacking an enemy while under stealth increases critical hit chance. If hit from behind, damage is doubled. Critical hit while under Stealth triples damage.
Critical rate (+30%)
Kashi closed the window that opened without so much as a glance. There was no time for that. They silently took out any guards in their path as they traversed the wall, until Leon came to a halt.
“This is where we descend,” said Leon, peering over the wall. Kashi joined him and noticed a stable below them, guarded by a lone soldier. A little further away stood another group of four men, engaged in animated chatter. “I can take out those four without a sound. The problem is the last one by the horses. I can’t reach him once I descend.”
“Leave him to me,” Kashi said, bow in hand.
“Alright,” Leon agreed. “Once I go, fire.”
Kashi nodded and notched the arrow. He raised the weapon and aimed, lining up the arrow with the lone soldier.
Leon jumped down the side of the wall, cushioning his fall with by landing on two of the guards. Leaving no time for the other two men to react, he folded his fingers and struck them in the throat with his palms. They coughed and hacked, stunned. Grabbing them by the hair, Leon delivered the final blow, smacking their heads together and grinning as they crumpled to the floor.
The guard by the stables heard the commotion and reached for his sword. He stopped short as an arrow pierced his abdomen. Kashi’s strength stats were still too weak to fire a fatal attack, but it stunned him nonetheless. A shadow crept across his vision and he dropped unconscious as Leon kicked him in the face.
New skill: Bow Mastery
Bow Mastery: Those who seek to pierce the heavens with their arrows. Critical rate and damage increases with increase in level.
Once again Kashi shut down the window without paying too much attention.
Leon found a rope in the stable and tossed it to Kashi. Securing the rope to a parapet, Kashi climbed down to join him, and found himself face to face with a brown stallion. Taking the reigns from Leon, he swung his leg up onto the saddle and mounted it.
The moment he was seated, another window opened, but Kashi shut that one before he could even see its contents. Controlling the horse was hard enough on its own, but trying to keep up with Leon, who had broken into a full gallop, proved challenging.
They rode well into the night, without pause, until they reached a cliff. Leon stopped and dismounted. Kashi joined him, question in his eyes.
“We’re free now,” Leon whispered. A huge sigh of relief escaped his lips as he fell on his back and lay on the grass.
“We are?” Kashi asked sitting next to him. The horses grazed on the grass nearby.
“Just crossed the boundary. They can’t chase us this far.”
The horizon lit up in a bright orange flame, illuminating a magical sight beyond. Before them stood a city and at its centre rose a tower of glass. The sunlight glanced off of it, shining like a fountain of light. The rising sun had never been so beautiful.
As if agreeing with him, a gentle breeze blew across the field, and for the first time since entering the world, Kashi was impressed by the realism before him. Yes, he could live in this world, he thought.
“Beautiful right?” Leon gazed at the landscape with a look of pure bliss.
“What’s that?” Kashi asked, pointing at the glass tower.
“Cat’s Glass. The famous tower in the town of Kerta; our final stop.”
“Still with the formalities? Just call me Leon.” He shrugged, exasperated by the dark elf’s polite speech.
“Okay. Thank you for everything you have done, Leon.” Kashi clasped his hands together and bowed.
“O-Oi! D-Don’t go thanking me!” Leon spluttered, face flushed. “I couldn’t have escaped without your help either so it’s fine.”
The duo got on their horses, and trotted leisurely towards Kerta. They spent the ride chatting amicably about what to do once they reached civilization.
It truly was a beautiful sunrise.