Chapter 174 – Red Desert (1)
[This place is north of the Highwood Forest where the Wood Devils appear. It is called the Red Desert. Until now, no one has able to approach this unknown region.]
A User appeared within the footage. After he gave a brief explanation, the User turned to look at the Red Desert spread behind him. Then he pointed towards what he was seeing.
[It feels like I’m on mars. However, this place has a characteristic that is more interesting than its appearance. Please look over here.]
The view was tilted downwards towards the floor. One could see the feet of the man standing atop the red sands. The man stomped with his foot as if he was knocking on the floor.
When one watched the footage, one would expected the desert or the sand box to let out a soft sound when the foot came down.
However, the red sand beneath the User’s foot made a sound akin to what a steel would make.
The man didn’t end his actions there. He quickly unsheathed his sword from his waist, and he stabbed his sword towards the ground. The sword descended fast, and after letting out a violent sound, only the tip of the sword penetrated between the grains of sand.
[As you can see, this place is a desert. However, when you operate in this region, you should treat this place as a world made out of concrete. This holds true for the rest of the Red Desert you can see right now. These sands look like they are flowing like river water, but in truth, it could be treated as a very light layer of sand moving atop a material akin to concrete. This is a game. It is an awesome setting for one to experience in a virtual reality.]
The User finally appeared in full inside the footage, and the man started to move. The screen started to move with the man. The man walked towards something large, and he stopped in front of it.
There was a snake in front of the man. It was an enormous snake, and the snake looked bizarre in several ways. Snakes usually had scales that looked slick with oil, but this snake’s skin looked very hard. It looked like a bug’s carapace, and the glossy sheen made it look like an exoskeleton. However, the most surprising part was the fact that the snake’s body was half buried in the sand.
The User opened his mouth again.
[However, if you decide to hunt here, the awesome setting I described earlier is actually a very horrific setting. Wait until this guy comes out or please run away. If you are pulled below the ground, prepare yourself for a vacation. The Tankers have to on alert.]
In a flash, the mood within the footage changed. The screen started to shake as if it was really being filmed by a handheld camera.
[Shit! It appeared again!]
[Prepare for battle! Prepare for battle!]
[Don’t get dragged in! The Tankers have to be especially vigilant!]
Within the shaking footage, desperate voices could be heard. After a while, the footage stabilized, and the User spoke directly to the viewers watching the video.
[I’ll end it here. This is Big Smiles guild’s Sinclair.]
The video ended.
Hyrkan, who had been caught up by the video, was finally able to freely move his gaze. Hyrkan moved his gaze as he lifted his head to look in front of him. Hyrkan saw the same monster from the video right in front of his eyes. The Sand Snake’s corpse had been dismantled, and it was in the process of slowly melting away.
There were two Skeleton Knights on Skeleton Steeds around the Sand Snake. They looked forbidding as they moved slowly. It looked as if they were on guard. Both of the Skeleton Knights were showing a bold front, yet Hyrkan didn’t feel good looking at them. His foul mood was inevitable.
‘The Skeleton Knight was taken down in a single…’
When he arrived at the Red Desert, it was as if the Sand Snake had been waiting for Hyrkan. He immediately came across the most famous monster inside the Red Desert.
Hyrkan decided to answer the Sand Snake’s welcome. He gave it Skeleton Fragments as gifts for coming into its house.
The battle itself wasn’t too bad. The Sand Snake’s exoskeleton was hard as it looked. On the other hand, the monster didn’t have any Special Abilities. The Skeleton Warriors were trained well enough to fight in a melee with the Sand Snake. Then there were the Skeleton Knights strengthened using the Legendary Rank Ancient Power. With the help of the Skeleton Knights on their Skeleton Steeds, the Sand Snake wasn’t a difficult opponent.
Moreover, the [Corrosive Ghost] Skill effect worked very well on this monster. Hyrkan had a Transcendent Rank Ancient Power leftover inside his storage, so he had used it on the [Skeleton Science] Skill. The [Corrosive Ghost] Skill had become much stronger, and it quickly weakened the exoskeleton of the Sand Snake. Thanks to the recently purchased [Cursed Doll] Skill, it was easy to inflict the Curse.
The early portion of the battle was so easy that it made Hyrkan surprised.
‘Of course, there is nothing easy inside this game.’
In a flash, the Sand Snake suddenly grabbed onto the Skeleton Knight. After biting the Skeleton Knight, who was wailing away at the Sand Snake, the ground sunk inwards. The Skeleton Knight was killed.
Results that usually never happened to his Skeleton underlings occurred.
Afterwards, he entered into another battle with a Sand Snake. In the process, two Skeleton Warriors suffered the same fate as the Skeleton Knight.
‘I get what they were trying to do. Still, the Skeleton Knight atop the Skeleton Steed is immense. How does it make any sense that it could be dragged underground like that?’
After assessing the battle again, Hyrkan clicked his tongue in dismay.
This wasn’t an insignificant loss that could be glossed over.
Hyrkan couldn’t summon the Skeleton Knights indefinitely. The Skeleton Knight suffering an instantaneous death was a very big loss for him.
‘I think the Golems might be the only ones that can tank the Sand Snake.’
Of course, he had to change his tactics from the norm. He couldn’t use the Skeleton Knights as hybrid Tankers and Strikers. For tanking, he would have to send out a big Golem.
‘My magical consumption would be too large.’
In the end, that was the problem.
Hyrkan didn’t use the Golems as his main troops not, because they were weak. The Golems were strong. However, the cost of summoning was too large to use them against normal monsters. Basically, if one took out a Golem in a fight where one Skeleton Knight would suffice, one was killing a chicken with a butcher’s knife meant for a cow.
Moreover, everything Hyrkan did here was costing money. It wasn’t as if there was an infinite number of consumables he could use. If his consumption was too fast, it would restrict the number of hours he could operate here.
Hyrkan looked up at the sky.
‘I can’t fly around….’
The best option would be to fly on the Bone Wyvern without getting into any battles as he looked for his destination. However, Warlord didn’t permit such an easy method.
The Riding Skill could be used only if one had a destination in mind. The destination had to be a colonized region like the Heard Fortress ruin town.
Of course, it was ok to mount it. However, it was impossible to control it. In the case of the Bone Wyvern, it just stood on the ground during non-combat situations. It only moved when the battle started. Moreover, it was suicide to ride a Bone Wyvern into a battle.
This was why he had to walk around this place.
Of course, he would have to continue to walk. He would have to leave behind his footprints on this hell-like Red Desert.
Hyrkan, who had been looking up at the sky, lowered his head.
‘Yes. Let’s see who wins.’
[Your level has increased.]
[The Skill Proficiency for the Iron Golem Skill has risen to Rank D.]
[The Skill Proficiency for the Bone Dragon Skill has risen to Rank D.]
The Level Up Announcement was heard, but the Announcement didn’t register in Hyrkan’s ears.
Hyrkan ignored the Red Scorpion he had just caught. He turned his head, then he started to run.
He just ran.
As Hyrkan ran, harsh cuss words flowed out his mouth. A forest was seen far into the distance.
‘I’ve finally found it!’
It was a forest filled with trees that rivaled ones seen in the Highwood Forest. This forest was beyond being silent. It felt dreary. It welcomed the visitors with an atmosphere that was quite different from the Red Desert.
‘If I hadn’t found this today, it would have driven me nuts.’
He had spent 10 days within the Red Desert, and he spent to extra days in locating this place. This was his first success on this trip.
The hardship endured by Hyrkan for the past 12 days was beyond imagination. The environment tested the Users in a different way. It didn’t allow for breaks, and one had to be always vigilant. The time spent inside the Red Desert felt longer. A 10 minute span spent inside the Red Desert felt twice as long as any other region.
Moreover, he had found his target destination only when the Consumable Items stored in his body was almost all gone.
If he hadn’t found the location today, he had no choice, but to head back. Of course, Hyrkan’s eyes were about to flip over at his current situation.
‘All right. I don’t care what comes out. Even if it is a Zombie, I’ll kiss it!’
Hyrkan approached the forest with a happy heart, and Hyrkan was able to have his long awaited encounter.
“Do not approach this place dead human. I’ll forgive your trespass only once. If you return to this place again, even your corpse won’t survive the encounter.”
It was an Elf with red colored skin.
[You’ve gained the title ‘The First to Encounter the Red Elf Tribe’.]
[Quest ‘Elf’s Artifact’ has started.]
Hyrkan’s headlong charge, which even Anugas wasn’t able to stop, came to a full stop at this moment.
A sword was lodged within the Voodoo Lizardman’s neck like an axe embedded in wood. The Voodoo Lizardman’s body shook.
However, the only ally of the Voodoo Lizardman couldn’t give any help.
“We’ve cleared the Zombies!”
“You just have to kill that one now.”
There were two other Users. A man and a woman cleared the Zombies. Surprisingly, all 10 Zombies had been summoned. The last Zombie was killed, and none of the Zombies were able to repair itself.
The User kept his sword lodged inside the Voodoo Lizardman, but when he heard their words, he retrieved his sword. He stopped prolonging the fight.
Blood sprayed out from the Voodoo Lizardman’s neck.
The sound of its dying breaths could be heard.
As the User retrieved his sword, he kicked the ankle of the Voodoo Lizardman with his foot. It fell in an instant. Before the fallen Voodoo Lizardman could let out a cry through its opened mouth, the tip of the sword fell.
This strike allowed the ragged Voodoo Lizardman to meet its death.
When the short death cry ended, the three Users all heard the same Announcement.
[You’ve killed the 100th Voodoo Lizardman.]
[You’ve fulfilled the requirement for the Quest ‘Barley Tribe’s Request’.]
The two Users raised both their hands into the air when they heard the Announcement.
“We’ve finally caught 100 of them!”
“I really thought this Quest was ridiculous, but we’ve finally finished it! Ooh-ha-ha!”
The two Users looked very happy. Whistling, who had killed the Voodoo Lizardman, let out a happy smile. His face was harsh, so even his smile looked very scary. He looked at the two with the smile on his face. It wouldn’t have been rude to flinch backwards, since his smile was terrifying. However, the two had seen his smile before, so they were unsurprised.
“Shall we go immediately?”
“We should go immediately!”
The two Users were like dogs running over to Whistling to beg for a walk.
Whistling spoke to the two.
“Let’s rest a little bit.”
“Then we’ll butcher our kills.”
“You dismantle the Zombies. I’ll dismantle the Lizardman.”
“Hey. Why do I have to be stuck with such an unpleasant task?”
“Did you forget I’m a Crusader? The Undead monsters melt at my touch.”
“That reason is valid only during our hunts. It has no effect during the dismantling.”
“Eh-ee. Let me live out my character. If I was in a fantasy novel, the zombies would melt at my touch, and the loot would disappear.”
The two ignored Whistling, who was in front of them. They bickered with each other then they turned their heads away as they dismantled the corpses.
Whistling had a light smile on his face as he watched them.
‘They are an interesting duo.’
Whistling thought about the day when he met those two for the first time.
‘I never expected to find people like me inside the Hydra guild.’
The memory started when the Fighters guild were purchased by the Hydra guild. At that time, the mood within the Fighters guild was celebratory. Most of the Fighters guild members would be immediately inducted into one of the 30 great guilds, so very few Users had complaints.
Whistling was one of the few, who was troubled by the move. He started to think about whether he should leave the Hydra guild or not.
He didn’t have any negative feelings towards the Hydra guild. However, their policy was the problem. Whistling had been given a very long leash inside the Fighters guild, but he didn’t think the Hydra guild would give him the same type of freedom.
Moreover, he didn’t think the Hydra guild would leave an asset like him alone.
However, the Hydra guild gave a proposal to Whistling before he could speak to them.
The Hydra guild had Quest Task Forces within its rank. If Whistling wanted to, he could pursue the Quests of his choice. Moreover, they would give him full cooperation at a guild level, which will allow him to quickly progress in his Quests.
Whistling thought over it, and he gave his answer.
He decided to try it out!
If he didn’t like it, he could always leave the guild at a later time!
This was when he met the two Users in front of him. One was a Monk, who had gone through 2nd Advancement, to become a Crusader. His name was Yojori. Then there was Joba. After going through her 2nd Advancement, she had chosen the Class of Magic Swordsman. It was a Class that was as rare as the Lich.
These two Users were in the same category as Whistling.
The were skilled weirdoes. They weren’t playing this game to achieve endless Spec ups. They were here to enjoy the game.
“Anyways, if we finish this Elf tribe’s Quest, will we finally be able to meet the Red Elves?”
“Of course. That’s what the hint said.”
“I can’t wait for it. What will the Red Elves look like? I’m pretty sure they’ll have red skin, so their presence would feel different from others.”
“They’ll be pretty.”
“You only care about beauty?”
“How about you? I bet you only care about how handsome they are.”
“Hmmph. Handsomeness by itself isn’t that important. One to be handsome in a solemn manner like the Chieftain of Drah.”
“Your tastes seems really perverted.”
“How about you? Last time, I saw your gaze linger on the young Elves.”
“N…No way! Bitch! Are you trying to get me locked up!”
“Isn’t your reaction a bit weird?”
“I said no! How about you? When you went to the Frozen Lands, you took several hundred pictures of Bagle!”
“All women would understand my action. Our basic tastes run the same.”
They really liked Elves.
Whistling laughed when he heard their conversation.
Unlike him, these two had always had the pleasure of playing with each other. Whistling had fun playing this game, but at times, he did feel lonely. Their presence was a big boost to his game play.
‘It makes me think of that guy.’
At that moment, he received a message.
It wasn’t strange for him to receive a message, but Whistling became surprised when he saw who had sent it.
He immediately read the message, and he put on a serious expression.
‘How interesting. So this is how······.’
Whistling spoke towards the still bickering Yojori and Joba.
“Let me ask you guys a question..”
The two immediately stopped their war of words.
“You can ask me two questions.”
“Then you can ask me three.”
“Does anyone here have a bad relationship with the Hahoe Mask?”
For the first time, the two noisy Users shut their mouths.