When she pulled away from the yeti it watched the carefully. The one that came out better in the exchanged was the yeti. It had only lost about 50% of its health but Gardenia had lost around 70%. If things continued like that then the yeti would win.
However the skill that Gardenia was the best at had not really come into play. While it was slower and less powerful without a casting implement she could still cast her healing spells. With the time the yeti was giving her she cast the spell, instantly recovering most of her hit points.
Then the yeti bellowed and charged her again. It was just charging to its doom. Gardenia was able to follow the same sequence of actions and that was sufficient. The yeti collapsed on the ground, defeated.
When it was over Gardenia sheathed her sword. It was close, close to what she was aiming for, but she wasn’t quite there. She know she couldn’t reach that feeling again with her current skills and against enemies like this. Her skills with swords were just too low.
Once again she trudged through the snow. While she could see her destination off in the forest she didn’t know the way to get to it since she had fallen down from the actual path. She just had to make her way and hope things connected.
What could charitably be called a path continued alone the side of the mountain. Really it was just a less steep part of the mountain. She wanted to take a moment to recover her mana but it was just too cold to stay still for too long.
To her surprise the path turned and at the end was an opening to a cave. She could see blue crystals inside. She did really have any other paths so this was her only real option. She did hope that at least the wind was less severe inside the cave.
She walked into the cave, although she kept an eye open searching. While enemies seemed to be rare in this zone those enemies were stronger than many other enemies she had faced. While she might be able to beat a single yeti with great mp expenditure she was certainly going to fail to win if she fought more than one at a time.
The shining blue crystal lit the cave and drew her deeper inside. Then she began to hear a crashing sound, an irregular smashing of crystals. Hearing that Gardenia began to pick up her pace, moving faster through the tunnels. Soon the tunnel opened up into a larger cavern. In the cavern a man was running away from a giant lizard with the blue crystals stuck to its back.
The man wore extremely thick black robes and had black hair that partially covered his eyes. He had a gnarled wooden staff in his hands. As the monstrous lizard continued to attack him he could only run away from it to try and stay alive.
Gardenia remembered seeing the man before. He was one of the others who had survived the initial wave of yetis. They hadn’t been introduced but he had been a skilled wizard. Gardenia quick drew her sword and shield while running toward the lizard. She interposed herself between the lizard and the man while calling out.
“I will hold it off. Cast your spells now.” The lizard smashed into the shield that she was holding and she was pushed back from the force. Still she grinned, it didn’t feel as hard as when she had block against the Boar King.
She tried to swing her sword against the lizard but it was difficult to find the time. While the lizard’s attacks didn’t seem as hard hitting as the yeti’s it made attack after attack forcing her to continue guarding with her shield. It also wasn’t giving her time to cast any of her spells. The only thing she could do was activate her sword arts to keep herself alive while trying to chip damage at the lizard.
Behind her the mage in black was chanting a spell. Second after second he continued to chant before he finally called out, “Dark Tendrils”. As he finished the spell the shadows of the lizard leapt up out of the ground and began to wrap the lizard. In only moments the lizard was tightly trapped and wasn’t able to move.
Gardenia knew not to let this moment go to wait. Restainment spells like this had limited durations and she needed to do what she could while it was restrained. She activated the “Overwhelming Strike” art which was much slower than normal attacks but did considerably extra damage. Normally it was use against slow but high defense enemies and right now the lizard was the perfect target for it.
While she was fighting off the lizard the man had already started casting another spell. When he finished casting it a dark mist began to spread across the battlefield. He followed this up with a couple of very quick spell targeting both him and Gardenia.
The dark strands preventing the lizard from moving were quickly beginning to snap. Using her last free moments Gardenia cast the biggest healing spell that she had. Her mana was practically empty at this point because she hadn’t fully recovered from the previous battle against the yeti.
The black mist had covered the battle field and Gardenia noticed that her hit points were very slowly lowering, although it was practically nothing compared to what the lizard was losing. Its life was dropping extremely quickly. That put Gardenia in a good state. All she needed to do was defend.
She didn’t have any aggro pulling skills but whatever spells the man was casting caused very little aggro. Gardenia still needed to be careful however since her hp was lowering as well. But at this point the battle was already over, it was just a matter of time.
As the lizard collapsed and the black fog disappated Gardenia sheathed her sword and turned toward the man in black. “I’m glad to see that you also survived the avalanche. I assume you have not seen any of the others?”
“No, I did not see anybody else. After the avalanche I found myself alone on top of the ridge. I thought I was certainly going to die however you managed to save me this time.” Said the man.
“Your spells were pretty impressive. That was curse magic right, probably intermediate since I don’t recognize the spell.”
“Yes, I use curse magic. I am known as the Oblivion Shadow.”
Gardenia nodded, she had gotten used to some of the strange names players chose for themselves. “My name is Gardenia. Since we are both heading to the monastery do you want to team up until we get there. It is probably safer to travel together.”
“I would only be doomed to die if I traveled alone.”
“Alright, then that is decided.” Gardenia said, “If you didn’t get knocked down in the avalanche then this must be the main path right?” She looked around. The cavern was pretty big and there were several entrances. She could remember which one she had come in but she could only make educated guess about the others. “Which way did you come from?”
Oblivion Shadow looked around the room before shaking his head, “No idea. Once I entered here I just contemplated my own mortality while running away from a giant lizard. That messed up my sense of direction.”
“Right…” Said Gardenia, she decided she must have a knack for finding weirdos in online games, although they might just be common in them. “Well, this entrance seems the most likely.” She pointed toward one of the exits. It was an estimated guess that was probably in the direction of the monastery.
The man nodded in agreement and they both began traveling that direction. Gardenia tried to make small talk while they walked through the blue crystal tunnels, “So, if you don’t mind if I ask, what kind of skill are you hoping to find in the monastery? I heard they have an inner focus skill which makes it easier to cast spells without an casting focus but that probably isn’t what you are looking for.”
“I am searching for inner peace.” Said the man cryptically.
“Is that a skill?”
“The information that was released about the monistary is that the practitioners there meditate on the secrets of the universe and that reveals many mystical truths to them. I want to learn to do that.”
“That sounds like an important technique to them. Do you think they will be willing to teach it?”
“Not really… however I didn’t really have anything better to do.”
There was silence as the two of them walked.
“Well, I hope that they will teach it to you.” Said Gardenia. It was clear that Oblivion Shadow was no the most talkative person. If Gardenia didn’t keep up the conversation then he would probably just stop it after whatever he last said.
So Gardenia kept up talking by herself, “I’ve been searching for skills to help me create my build. I am seeking to become a Holy Knight. One of my friends suggested how I should adjust my build but the biggest issue has been the difficulty of casting spells without an implement. Have you had any trouble finding the right skills for your build.”
He just shook his head, “I’m basically just a pure curse mage. Although maybe you can say that I am searching for what else I might want to do.”
Gardenia nodded in understanding, “I can see that. When I first started the game I was a Fire Mage, although now I don’t really do that any more. It wasn’t until after my first real boss fight that I had a feel for how I wanted to fight. Since then I’ve been trying to adjust my build to accomplish that.”
“Hmmm.” Was his only really reply.
Gardenia wanted to speak some more but instead she saw something ahead and raised her hand. “Wait, it looks like some kind of structure ahead. We should proceed more cautiously.”
They slowed down as they got closer to the strange structure. It was like a temple built underground. A large empty platform was in front of a door. Along either side of the door was a serious of statues. They statues were old and worn, carved in the image of men and woman. Each of them wore exotic clothing and had a regal look about them.
“Do you think they are supposed to be depictions of gods?” Asked Gardenia.
“It is the eight forerunners. The champions that came before.”
“Right, you might not have hear of them but back in Trezy you could find a bunch of stories about them. The myth goes that long long ago the different regions were completely untamed, full of monsters with not a single human. The eight forerunners came from the Endless Realm, bringing humans to these lands. They founded the great cities and created the pillars. There are a lot if individual stories about them but that is the general gist.”
“Majestic heroes of the past huh. Does that make this some kind of hero worship?”
“You aren’t too far off. The forerunners are thought of like gods. Legends say that all the skills we can learn today were passed down by the forerunners. Of course this doesn’t really mean much to use players but is more like the lore of the realm. Following the trails of these great heroes will probably lead players to dungeons and great rewards.”
Gardenia looked over the eight carved statues. “I didn’t realize the lore was this deep. Where did you find this information?”
“The NPCs can sometimes talk about it. Also there is a large library in Trezy that I went to. A lot of the stories there are about the forerunners.”