The team followed the man who lead them through the jungle to a set of huts surrounding a large raised wooden plateform. The man motioned for Drake to step onto the platform and Drake obliged him by stepping up onto it and swinging his large spear back and forth several times.
After a few minutes an extremely large man stepped out of one of the huts. He was wearing crude armor which seemed to be made of large insect carapace. He also carried a hatchet and a shield covered with scales.
In the background Steela leaned over to Vanishing Doubt and asked, “What do you think of the skills level of that NPC? He seemed pretty intimidating.”
Vanishing Doubt could analyze what skills a player or NPC had although without seeing them in combat the accuracy was lower. He watched as the brute of a man stepped forward and stood on the platform with Drake.
“I would put their skills at about par. It doesn’t like the NPC has any expert skills but I can the feeling that he has multiple mastered intermediate skills. He is certainly a difficult opponent.”
Leviathan also leaned in to ask, “What do you think that Drake’s chances are of winning?”
Steela laughed slightly, “I expect Drake to win handily. If their skills are about the same then there is no way that Drake will lose.” The rest of the team nodded in agreement.
Leviathan wasn’t so sure however. If their skills were about the same it would fall back to luck or style matchup. He had seen them fight and while everybody was impressive the npc certainly looked impressive as well.
The man who had brought them to the village stood on the edge of the platform and said, “The fight continues until one participate surrenders or becomes unable to fight. Begin!”
With partially no waiting the man ran in with his axe and swung at Drake. Drake was able to sidestep around the attack and sent his giant spear snaking toward the man’s side. He blocked the attack with his shield but the force of the attack sent him back a few spaces.
It only took a moment for the man to stabilize himself and regain his footing but that was all the time that Drake needed. He brought back his spear and the tip glowed with black energy. He called out the name of the art. “Demon Strike” and thrust the spear toward the man at extreme speed.
Once again he brought the shield up to defend but against this attack it was basically useless. The shield shattered at the impact and the man as sent flying across the platform. However the battle wasn’t completely over yet. The man managed to catch himself and roll along with the ground before springing back to hid feet.
He spun to find Drake charging at him. This time however it was the man’s turn to activate an art. He gripped his hatchet in two hands and raised it up over his head before calling out. “Ancient Split” bringing his hatchet down. However there was a world of difference between the technique of him and Drake. Drake was able to bring up his spear and almost gently deflect the attack sending it to one side. The force of the attack still caused Drake to lose some hit points but it allowed him to keep moving and push the weapon out of the way.
Before the man could even respond the great spear that he was using thrust forward. “Giant Thrust” called out Drake as he activated an art once again.
“No wait…” called out Gardenia as she stumbled forward but she was too late.
The attacked pierced the man’s chest in one instant the man had lost all of his hit points and collapsed to the ground. There was a moment of silence as all eyes continued to stare at Drake. He pointed his spear at the man who had announced the beginning of the fight and said, “It is over, you can announce my victory.”
He had a sour look on his face. “You are the victor. We will show you the Sky Terror.” As he spoke the body of the defeated man began to dissolve into glowing particles.
Drake took a step off the platform and slung his spear over his shoulder once more. He looked over at Gardenia and asked her, “Is something the matter. You called out at the last moment?”
“You didn’t have to kill him. You could have just made him surrender.”
“Is there any point to that? He was just an NPC.”
Gardenia has trouble forming the words to explain the sinking pit in her stomach. Eventually she managed to say, “It probably dropped your reputation in the village.” There wasn’t much else that she felt that she could say.
He pondered that for a moment before saying, “You are probably right. Although I don’t plan on staying here to do quests so it shouldn’t be an issue. After all learning about the dragon was one of the conditions for this fight.”
Gardenia just let Drake past as she tried to wrestle with her own inner thoughts.
Meanwhile Leviathan was in awe of the fight, the actions of Drake were beyond what he could imagine. Not only had Drake beaten the man but he had done it without having to use his expert skill. He had watched several high ranking PvP battles before but nothing compared to the quick thinking and techniques that Drake had used. Before he had hired he hadn’t thought that such a thing was possible.
With the match over the team followed the man and Drake into a tent. Gardenia could feel the gazes of all the other people living in the village and wondered why nobody else seemed to be worried about it.
Once the leather door cloth closed behind her the man spoke, “I will answer you questions about the Sky Terror. Speak quickly so that you may leave quickly.”
“Give us directions to the Dragon and anything that you know about it or its lair.” Said Drake plainly.
The man nodded, “When you leave the village you will see a large tree. It is the biggest tree you will see. You must go in that direction. Once you pass that tree you will continue in that direction. When you get to the burnt lands you will know that you are in the right place. The Sky Terror lives within the burnt lands. As for information about the lair or the creature itself. It has large horns which it can use to gore you. Heat radiates from the burnt lands so we can not go within and find out about the lair.”
Drake nodded and turned away, leaving the hut. He was followed by most of the group. Gardenia stayed behind a moment and once all of the others left she said, “Thank you for your information. I am sorry about what happened to your warrior.”
The man stared at Gardenia, looking deep within her eyes. “It seems that not all Wanderers are completely heartless. I would be wise to abandoned this foolishness of fighting the Sky Terror. Its power is greater than whatever you think it might be.”
“We are going to fight it anyways. However thanks for the warning.”
Gardenia turned and began to leave as well. However just as she was about to leave the man said, “You must avoid its blood, whatever you do, do not let the blood touch you.”
“Thanks.” Said Gardenia as she nodded at him and left through the door flap. She hurried to catch up with the others who were already leaving the village. She turned to see the villagers all still watching them as they left and heading in the direction of the large tree.
She grimaced but followed her companions. They headed through the jungled until they reached the giant tree. It stretched up high in the sky. Drake stopped them there and said, “We are taking a break here. Everybody log off and make sure to do everything you need to once. After we come back we are going to going into the Dragon’s territory and I want to make sure everything is perfect. Be back in two hours.“
Everybody nodded one at a time before starting to log off. Eventually only Gardenia and Steela were still standing under the tree.
Steela moved over to Gardenia and asked, “Is something wrong? You have been a bit out of it since we went to the village?”
Gardenia signed and said, “I don’t know. I guess I am just a bit upset about how Drake treated the villagers?”
Steela leaned in closer to take a better look at Gardenia’s face before saying, “Hmm… you feel sympathy for them, the NPCs?” She seemed to nod to herself before continuing, “I don’t thing there is anything wrong with that. Although you shouldn’t be as worried. NPCs respawn just like we do.”
“I guess. Still I do feel bad for them, especially when we could have done something better.”
“Listen, it is simple. This world is a game, so just do what you want to do, what makes you happy. There shouldn’t be anything else you need to worry about. You joined us here because you enjoy fighting tough monsters right? That is just one way to play the game. Whatever you decide is the right way to play is the right way. Got it?”
“Umm….I think so but I don’t know if that really eases my concerns.”
“Maybe not right now but just think about it.” Steela waved and then began to disappear as she logged out. Gardenia still couldn’t figure out what she was really implying but logged out as well. She needed to make sure to get something to eat.
Gardenia returned near the end of the allotted time. Everybody else had already logged in and as soon as Gardenia arrived, Drake made a movement with his hand and everybody began to head out. After not to long they arrived at the burnt lands that had been spoken about.
The jungle just stopped and before them was a field of what could be described as ash. Immediately they could feel the head emanating from deeper in as they crossed over into the ash field. As they moved farther everybody took battle positions, with Gardenia in the front.
Drake spoke as they walked, “This Dragon is a horned dragon so be on your guard. Horned dragons have the highest physical attack damage of all types of dragons so make sure to guard or block the attacks. Also it seems that it has high fire damage too. This dragon probably don’t have any great weaknesses.”
He spoke using the knowledge from his Dragon Encyclopedia skill which provided him information about different types of dragons. Gardenia has a similar skills but her skill provided a lot less specific information in return for having information about all types of monsters.
Gardenia hesitated and then said, “Are there types of dragons that have poisonous blood?”
Drake turned his head oddly before saying, “Some dragons have special blood. Burning blood, poisonous blood, all kinds of things. But… that is usually reserved for adult dragons. Young dragons usually don’t have those features. Why are you asking?”
“The man in the village mentioned something as I was leaving the hut. To be careful of the dragon’s blood.”
Drake paused and said, “Everybody. Keep the utmost care. This will be the hardest battle we have ever faced. Leviathan, stay out of the fighting. Staying alive is your first priority.” Leviathan nodded, of all the members him staying alive was the most important. As long as he lived to harvest the dragon body it didn’t matter how many other members of the team died.
Gardenia kept the physical enhancement and fire resistance spells that she knew up on herself. It was normally a waste of mana but every second might battle when the dragon appeared.