Since she used a crossbow, Pristallia had the alertness skill but against traps in an intermediate zone that alone was usually not sufficient. Given a slow enough travel speed she could notice the traps before they triggered but that would have slowed the journey to a crawl. Eventually the team had to progress following Gardenia who continued to have physical enhancement spells active.
The traps were fortunately fairly rare an after triggering several of the traps, Pristallia could figure out what to look for. While this didn’t guarantee that Gardenia would not longer trigger the traps it did mean that no other one of them would trigger a trap.
After more traveling they reached beyond the zone that contained the traps. While still being careful they figured that the farther away from the lizardman village the less likely they would be to encounter traps. Still they tried to avoid letting their guard down since a mistake would result in one of them having to take a several hour hike back to this zone.
Beyond the region with the lizardmen there was a region full of ravine. The jungle trees bridges many of the ravines and while travel over the top was possible it was very dangerous. Although maybe not as dangerous as going through the ravines. Inside were snakes, a great many snakes.
Rather than attempt to pass through the snake filled ravines the party circled around the side. Pristallia had been marking all the important locations of interest on the map as they traveled and this was certainly an important landmark.
Beyond the ravines there was a large lake that reflected the light in an apparently tranquil scene until a crocodile around three times bigger than normal burst out of the water and attacked an animal which was drinking at the edge of the lake. After that the party kept a wide birth of the lake.
“Are you sure this is an intermediate zone?” Asked Perfect Zanth skeptically as their journey continued. “It feels more like an expert zone to me.”
“I said high intermediate didn’t I?” Said Pristallia. “That means that we are capable of surviving and winning against what can be found here using just intermediate skills. Since we are doing just that I would say that the estimate is correct. Obviously it would be easier with expert skills but that it true for basically everything.”
Drake scoffed at the exchange, “Honestly I had thought it would be a bit more dangerous. Were we not trying to explore quickly I think having a go at that lake crocodile would be fun. I don’t think it would be that hard for us to beat it.”
“Maybe, assuming it doesn’t ambush us and devour me right away.” Said Zanth hesitantly. While Perfect Zanth was commonly the one suggesting more caution action he could still keep up with the rest of the party when things got dangerous.
Certainly more nervous than Zanth was Leviathan. While Zanth’s cautioning words were good natured, Leviathan was more unprepared for the situation than he had thought. While his skills weren’t actually that inferior to the rest of the team their casual acceptance of the danger of the region grated on his nerves.
He tried to console himself that he wasn’t that behind everybody else but with else he felt like he was the normal person traveling with monsters. When Drake suggested that they could defeat the giant crocodile he could barely control his fear. While everybody else seemed to take it as fact that they would indeed be able to beat the monster, Leviathan had the feeling that any normal team would die horribly to it.
The think that made him feel even more nervous was the fast that they were searching for a dragon. He had been under the impression that the dragon would be the only real threat in the zone and that everything else would be fairly easy. However if the terrifying crocodile qualified as easy then how scary was a dragon actually.
Even the fight to the death against the groups of lizardmen had been only really a warmup to the rest of the party. He was figuring out that the stories that he had heard about the Forgotten Saviors were probably all true, that they were danger maniacs who did ridiculous deeds.
This was made all the more apparent when they wondering into a large next of flying creatures that resembled pterodactyl. There were more than a dozen of the birds that flew one way and another. Several times Leviathan thought he was dead only to have the monster that he was attacking either die abruptly from an attack or become blocked by Gardenia’s shield.
It wasn’t like the coordination between the members was especially good, they each basically just did their own things. It was just that each of them fought naturally like it was in their blood. While even the most basic player could take advantage of the game’s system to fight it was like these players actually knew how to do it and weren’t just using the support functionality.
By the time they had returned back to the starting camp Leviathan felt thoroughly exhausted and nearly collapsed when he heard Gardenia said, “Hmm, I am a bit disappointed. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. Maybe we should have fought the crocodile, it might have actually been a challenge.”
“Don’t jinx it.” Said Perfect Zanth, “If something goes wrong then it will take too long to walk back, After we deal with the dragon we can fight it on the way home.”
Steela snorted, “Like we would lose against that monster. Maybe we should take on the entire lizardman village, now that would be an actual challenge. Fighting ten to one odds sounds like it would be fun. Plus there is probably good loot there.”
“If we are talking about loot then the snake ravines is probably the best location. There are likely mining nodes in that location and anything we fight here is probably rare and sells for a lot. Metals are always in high demand.” Said Arthur.
“No, no, no, while metals are valuable they take up too much inventory space.” said Pristallia, “Long lost ancient treasures are the most valuable per inventory space. We could see the abandoned city just before we headed back. Whatever treasure lies in there is going to be worth more,”
“Focus.” Said Drake, “The dragon comes first. After that we can hang around and fill our inventories before returning. Is everybody ready for the four hour break? Nobody needs more time do they?” He looked over the team and everybody shook their head. They had all planned on spending a lot of time exploring so a short break was all that they needed.
Leviathan secretly wanted a little bit more than that but his commission cost was earning him a quite a lot of gold so he wasn’t about to make them regret bringing him for such a minor reason.
After those few hours everybody logged in once more. They all found Drake had already logged in, assuming he had logged out at all. Once they had all returned it was back into the jungle. The abandoned city that Pristallia had mentioned as their next destination. Pristallia estimated that they had hit about 35% of the major land marks on the first journey into the jungle and they intended to see the rest of them on this voyage.
While there was still no sign of the dragon or the dragon lair, Pristallia wanted to make sure the map she was creating was as complete as possible before scouring the zone for the dragon. The city was overrun by giant apes. The initial battle with them was quite promising, uncovering several valuable treasures like Pristallia had mentioned but then the even larger leader of the apes showed up and the team decided to pull back, after all looting the city was not their primary objective and dealing with all the apes would probably take at least a day.
Although if you asked Leviathan they would have all died if they tried to take on that many apes and the leader of the apes at the same time.
As they approached the farthest reaches of the zone they were stopped by Pristallia who motioned for them to stop and then pointed, “Does that look like that I think it is?”
“Like decorated ape skulls hanging from the trees in a parameter telling you not to pass it or you will die? Yes, that is what it looks like to me.” Said Perfect Zanth as he stared off at the thing that he had just described.
“Maybe a town all the way out here? There wasn’t any reports of such a town existing were there?” Asked Gardenia.
Pristallia looked concerned, “No, nothing that was mentioned in what I heard, although this is pretty deep into this zone. It is also possible that the town was added by the same update that added the legacies.”
“Should we try and talk with them?” Asked Gardenia, “Maybe they know where the dragon is?”
“Talk with them…” Said Perfect Zanth, “Did you miss the ape skulls portending our deaths?”
“They might just be there to ward off the apes.” Gardenia said it but she still felt skeptical about that idea. It did seem more likely that they would try to murder the party.
Drake walked forward, “Come on. They will either answer or they won’t no need to debate about it. If they don’t want to talk we can just threaten them a little bit and I’m sure they will tell us where the dragon is.”
Gardenia was a bit uncomfortable barging in but followed Drake anyways as they passed through the parimeter of ape skulls and into jungle on the other side. It was only a few minutes later that they were surrounded by a bunch of people who were pointing a variety of crude weapons at them.
The people were all dressed in clothing made of plants or animal hides and the weapons were made of stone strapped to wood. However Vanishing Doubt whispered to the party, “Be careful, their actions imply that they all have intermediate skills despite their crude equipment.”
One of the NPCs stepped forward from the group and spoke. “Who are you intruders and why have you trespassed on our land? Speak quickly.”
Drake just casually placed his hand on his spear while he said, “We are Travelers and we are seeking a dragon that lives in these lands. Tell us were he is and we will leave your lands.”
There was some nervous glancing back and forward as they watched Drake carefully, clearly willing to start a fight at any moment if Drake decided to do anything with his spear. Still, the spear that Drake was using was much larger than any of their spears. After all the great spear that Drake used would be more accurately described as a polearm than anything else.
“You seek the sky terror? Then you see your doom.”
“I don’t need your commentary about the dangers of fighting a dragon. Just tell us where the dragon’s lair is or I will have to force it out of you. And don’t think I won’t be able to.” Said Drake in a threatening tone.
The man who had first spoke took several steps back. He consulted with a couple other members of the tribe before eventually stepping forward once more. “We will only show you the location of the sky terror if you want prove you are strong enough. If you can beat the strongest warrior in the village then we will give you the respect that you deserve and show you where the sky terror resides.”
Drake smirked, “Fine with me. Bring me your strongest warrior and I will defeat him.”
The man turned and pointed deeper into the jungle, “You will follow me to the village. It is there that you will do the battle.”