Chapter 14 - Escape
Having just put away his Transmission Plate, Regal peeks over the heads of townsman supporting the battle toward the city guard who are manning the walls at the frontline. Alchemical Divine Arts and Bullets are being fired repetitively between the invading community and the defending one.
Sand and dirt explode with every attack, causing even the stars to vanish as dark dust clouds paint over the night sky like a carpet. The community wall proves its sturdiness as each concussive blast deals damage to the outer protective plates but only vibrates slightly once the impact force has been dissipates out across larger sections of the wall.
Regal notes that several of the Greyhorn Guards take out their Transmission Plates and listen closely for several seconds before becoming rigid and hurriedly looking behind them at the crowd. Their intentions are unknown, but Regal is almost certain that they were just informed of Piora’s jailbreak and are turning to search for Regal and his squad members presence.
It is just as he imagined, and their orders are to immediately locate them and check to see if they know anything about Piora. They are to invite Regal up to the wall where he can get a first hand experience in defending a community, but it is actually just to monitor him and keep him within their grasp. Lord Solace had previously given out repeated instructions that he is extremely important to the stagnant community, and they are to keep him happy as well as possible so he willingly helps Greyhorn Townsend of his own volition. Otherwise imprisoning him and trying to force him to work would prove highly difficult.
Veronica tightly clasps Regal’s hand and pulls him close her, unwilling to let him separate from her as she also senses something amiss. Astore continues to fire low tier Alchemy Divine Arts to sporadically launch large boulders with traces of iron and other metals hardening the missiles over the wall at the invading force. Everyone is too high levelled and they can easily defend against his attacks, but it does serve as a distraction for the invaders and also helps them blend in with the community members and avoid the searching gaze of the Greyhorn Guard.
“Veronica, Astore, Aqua, follow my lead and slowly retreat from the battle,” Regal whispers quietly enough it is only audible to his squad members next to him. “Veronica, you need to let go of my arm, I can’t walk properly.”
Veronica ignores Regal telling her to release him and continues to tightly hold his arm in her grasp. They both then awkwardly lead the way away from the crowd and into the dark pathways traversing behind houses and villas alike. Veronica has no qualms with the awkward walking between the two of them, but Regal is hobbling at an awkward pace. Aqua also frowns at the scene of the two while Astore merely tilts his head in puzzlement.
Regal silently calls Hades to meet up with them. Not only does the Firestone Lizard need to escape with them, but Regal can share his senses with him and see in the dark through a form of thermal vision, greatly helping them detect anyone tailing them and avoid patrols. Most of the guards are on the southern wall at the moment, but that doesn’t mean the Greyhorn Guard has left the community unsupervised.
It isn’t until the sounds of the war between two communities grows distant and nobody appears to be following them that Veronica finally relaxes her grip on Regal. Regal then uses hand signals to tell everyone to be quiet and not speak in order to avoid giving away their presence. He does find it strange however that there has not been a single guard patrol that he has had to avoid.
Dim rays of light shine from some windows into the alley, which Regal, Veronica, Aqua, Astore and Hades quickly dodge through them one at a time. Half way to the western gate, Regal’s Transmission Plate sends an alert as Kilde contacts him.
‘Regal, there are guards patrolling the western gate and surrounding wall. They are paying attention to inside the wall rather than out so there is no way out from here. I suggest going to a different gate and taking a longer route,’ Kilde’s voice is quiet yet calm, allowing Regal to tell that he is still near the west gate and is hiding in the shadows with Piora.
‘No, the other gates will be the same. Wait for further instructions,’ Regal replies while rapidly thinking of methods to escape from the community, realizing that the lack of patrolling guards must be due to them hastily moving to guard the gates and walls not from the invading community, but to catch Regal and his squad who are trying to escape.
The walls are much easier to scale from the inside of the community and Regal has the items to do so, but with the guards patrolling the wall, they won’t be able to slip out unnoticed. They also can’t fight off the guards due the large disparity between their levels and the guards having stronger skills, weapons, and armor.
Regal and his squad also don’t have time to search the other gates anyway as the longer they stay in the community, the closer Lord Solace and the Greyhorn Guards will get to finding them.
‘Kilde, where are you. I will meet you at the western gate and discuss the plan,’ Regal says over the Transmission Plate.
‘Piora and I are behind the building fifty meters away from the gate at the 2 o’clock position,’ Kilde’s reply comes almost immediately, short and concise.
‘We will be there in ten minutes.’
Putting his Transmission Plate away again, Regal hurries the squad away to the west through the dark alleys of the community. Exactly ten minutes later, just as Regal had predicted, he arrived at the western gate and was quick to locate Kilde and Piora.
Kilde is peeking around the corner of a building while using the Tier 1 Divine Art ‘Visual Key’ to camoflauge his visual presence and avoid being detected as he spies on the Greyhorn Guard patrolling the wall. Piora is hiding slightly away from the corner of the building, tugging the hem of her shirt nervously.
Upon seeing Regal, Veronica, Astore, Aqua and Hades appear from the shadows, Piora jumps slightly in fright before attempting to yell at Regal, but Kilde hastily steps up to her and covers her mouth with his hand, successfully silencing her before her outburst.
“Piora, this is the seventh time. Please remember to be quiet as we are trying to escape while avoiding detection,” Kilde whispers to Piora who struggles against his hand and tries to break away from it, her temper governing her judgement.
It is unfortunate for Piora that Kilde has grown to be six levels higher than Piora during her imprisonment, and his strength is currently nearly twice hers, so her efforts to free herself from his grip is futile. Her cheeks flush red, unknown whether it is anger or embarrassment, as she eventually gives up and she stops struggling.
When Kilde releases her mouth, she glares at him intensely before turning her attention to Regal and quietly hissing, “I’m disappointed in you. You should have been a better squad leader.”
Regal, feeling a strong sense of guilt, dips his head in shame but has no words to reply with. He failed as a leader in this scenario, and despite learning and growing from the mistake, it was an error of judgement that had near catastrophic affect to the squad.
Kilde joins the whispering at the same time and asks Regal, “How are we to escape. I cannot think of any feasible methods to escape over the wall or through the gate without getting noticed. Even my camouflage Divine Art will be seen through by the guards that are on average twice our level.”
“Yes, I’m relying on you to be discovered for my plan,” Regal’s statement shocks everyone, especially Piora and Aqua. Veronica has her utmost trust in Regal and doesn’t question him, but the other two women are about to object but are stopped by Regal continuing with an explanation.
“There is no method for us to quickly get out of the community, which we need to do, while remaining hidden. We need to attract the guards off and away from the wall. We will make a break for it over the wall. The guards are definitely faster than us, so we have to quickly lose them in the darkness and hope none of the guards who are chasing us can use a Divine Art to light up the night or see in the dark.”
Regal’s explanation causes Piora to stare at him and quietly ask, “So how are we to lose them once we get over the wall, especially when they discover us before getting over the wall?”
“The guards are more heavily around the community gates. We will go toward the south more and scale the wall there. There will be a position with only one or two guards, that will be where we will escape from. I have the means to knock them out for a short period of time, potentially even killing one. Kilde needs to reveal himself trying to escape and then lead the guard back towards the trap. We will all then escape over the wall and head toward the south to lose any pursuers in the battle.”
“That’s too risky,” Aqua frowns a bit before saying, “we will end up dying in the middle of the battle field and reviving back in town before getting through the battle.”
“Perhaps, but it is our biggest chance of escape. Any guards following our tracks will be drawn into the battle and won’t have the chance to continue chasing us.”
Piora and Aqua think about the scenario and question it in several ways, yet in the end they trust in Regal’s decision as much as Kilde and Astore. He may have made several poor decisions for the squad since coming to this community, but he is their leader because he truly is the most capable.
Veronica’s trust in Regal is to the point where she would believe him even if he said they needed to jump into a bottomless abyss.
Regal leads the squad and Hades south through more dark alleys until they are in the middle of the south and western gates. On top of the wall here, there are only two guards within sight.
“What trap are we using?” Kilde asks, ready to charge towards the wall and attract their attention.
Regal just smiles before taking out an empty wooden barrel from his inventory. It is half as tall and as wide as a person standing up. He then removes tens of thousands of Blood Flint ‘Bullets’ and pours them inside. Thankfully the squad are still far enough from the wall that the noise from the pouring bullets isn’t enough to attract the attention of the guards.
Once the barrel of full, Regal seals a lid on it and places it in an especially dark corner before saying, “Veronica, when I give you the signal, I want you to shoot this barrel. It should cause a chain reaction and create a big explosion. If it doesn’t kill the guard or two that are nearby, it should leave them near death and close to it and definitely knocked away and dazed.”
Aqua and Piora are more understanding of the escape plan once they see the barrel and become more confident. Regal leads the squad and Hades to a dark corner without any light about a hundred yards away.
“We should be safe this far away from the barrel. Veronica, you take aim at the barrel and get ready to fire. Kilde, activate ‘Visual Key’ and run at the wall, slightly away from-”
Regal stops talking mid-sentence as he notices the two guards on the wall suddenly pulling out their transmission plates. They seem to receive a report of some kind before discussing it with one another and one of the two guards depart towards the western gate, leaving only one guard to remain.
“We only have fifty Blood Flint ‘Bullets’ remaining each, so if the guard is nearly dead, quickly finish him off. Don’t waste the bullets if he still has more than a quarter of his health remaining.”
“What are Blood Flint ‘Bullets’?” Piora asks in confusion, unsure as to what everyone is referring to.
“They are a new type of bullet I created through the fusion of Compounding and Forging. They don’t…” Seeing as Piora is only becoming more confused, Regal trails off before simplifying it into terms that she will understand. “They only look like normal bullets through their status information, but they explode upon hitting their target, so make sure you never fire one at anything too close to you.”
Piora’s eyes widen in amazement as she demands, “Well? Hurry up and give me some!? They sound amazing!”
Kilde was about to quickly silence her and give her an eighth reminder not to be too loud, but a quick glare from the latter already said that she knew and his actions were unnecessary. Regal still felt such actions were necessary however, as Piora’s fiery temper often controls how she reacts to situations.
“Actually, before our escape, I had the opportunity to prepare new weapons and armor for everyone. I also prepared a large amount of Blood Flint ‘Bullets’, but they were all nearly used up in our trap. I will need to procure more materials to create more ‘Earthen Blood Flint’ to refill our bullet supplies.”
Piora’s eyes stare at Regal intensely in anticipation and even Aqua is eager to see the new weapons. Astore and Kilde take it in stride while Veronica is indifferent to the matter as she was with Regal when he created the equipment and has already received hers.
One by one, Regal takes out new weapons and hands them out, each squad member checking the status of the weapons upon equipping them.
Black Fragmentation Hand Cannon
A sturdy hand cannon created purely out of Black Iron that trades ammo capacity and firing speed for gun damage. A work or high craftsmanship that is designed to do as much damage as possible with a single bullet. Two rounds can be loaded at a time, and can be fired one at a time or both together for accumulative damage.
Weapon Type: Hand Cannon/Single Handed
Item Grade: Rare
Requirements: Lvl 20, Dex 13, Str 22
Damage: 32 – 38
Range: 70 Yards
Ammunition: .44 Rounds
~ Damage increases the closer the target up to a maximum of 1.5x
~ Two bullets can be fired at once to deal an additional 1.7x damage
Stable Carmine Revolver
A revolver of high craftsmanship with a strong balance between the materials used and part allocation in the internal components to maximize stability. Crafted from Carmin Copper and Black Iron, this revolver has very little recoil and can be easily and accurately fired whilst moving at high speeds. This gun can load 5 rounds
Weapon Type: Revolver/Single Handed
Item Grade: Uncommon
Requirements: Lvl 20, Dex 19, Str 17
Damage: 25 – 29
Range: 105 Yards
Ammunition: .38 Rounds
~ Recoil reduced when firing whilst running
Rapid Combat Revolvers
A pair of symmetrical revolvers made with high craftsmanship and large quantity of Carmine Copper for rapid operation. Each revolver can hold eight rounds at a time.
Weapon Type: Duel Revolver/Two Handed
Item Grade: Uncommon
Requirements: Lvl 20, Dex 20, Str 15
Damage: 21 – 24
Range: 80 Yards
Ammunition: .38 Rounds
Warlock Penatrating Rifle
An extraordinary heavy duty rifle that fires large rounds which have a high chance of stunning the target. An extremely long range on the weapon allows for maximum control against enemies. This rifle can chamber only one bullet at a time.
Weapon Type: Rifle/Two Handed
Item Grade: Rare
Requirements: Lvl 21, Dex 24, Str 21
Damage: 45 – 52
Range: 235 Yards
Ammunition: .54 Rounds
~ 30% of stunning the target for 1 second.
~ 50% chance of penetrating 1 target.
The ‘Black Fragmentation Hand Cannon’ was given directly to Astore to replace the current ‘Heavy Ironplate Revolver’ he had been using till now. There are three identical ‘Stable Carmine Revolvers’ that he crafted, one gun going to Kilde and Aqua, while Regal uses the last to replace his current weapon. The ‘Warlock Penetrating Rifle’ wasn’t actually handed out, but Veronica still has it equipped and showed the rest of the squad with pride over the fact that her rifle is the best gun out of them all. It is the pair of ‘Swift Combat Revolvers’ which cause Piora to spark up once she sees its requirements though.
“What the hell new gun is this?! I can even equip it!” Piora shouts in frustration, manually equipping them on her belt while ignoring massive penalty for using a gun she does not meet the requirements of. It takes nearly the entire squad to convince her to hold onto the guns in her inventory until she reaches level 20.
Regal helplessly placates the disgruntled Piora before bringing out six sets of armor made up of solid Black Iron protective plates and dark scaly leather. Perhaps Piora figured she would not meet the requirements again, so she made little fuss when receiving her new armor.
Darkplate Leather Armor
Leather torso armor with protective plates of Black Iron to protect the most important areas from bullets and blades.
Armor Type: Torso
Item Grade: Uncommon
Requirements: Lvl 19, Str 13, Agi 12, End 15
Armor Protection: 14
~ 20% damage reduction from small calibre bullets and blades when hit directly on a Black Iron protective plate. Wears down durability faster and high damage can nullify damage reduction.
Regal then takes out another item. It is a set of large armor made from iron not meant for a person and four ‘Black Iron’ claws.
‘I wouldn’t normally make something like this, and for whatever reason it doesn’t have a proper status information, but the use of combining different crafting skills really made me wonder what else I could do,’ Regal silently thinks to himself while looking at the oversized armor and mulling over the status information of each piece that only states the material it’s made from. This armor was much more difficult to make and he even needed to heat up the metal and hammer it completely into shape after pouring the mold.
Regal calls Hades over and then begins strapping each piece of armor onto the Firestone Lizard. He also straps the Black Iron claws onto each foot which can be used to attack and conveniently climb up the wall which is only made from Silverstone on the inside. There is enough room to adjust the straps and alter the size of the armor should Hades grow after levelling up, but Regal isn’t too sure if they will be useful if Hades evolves like Lande and Lore did.
“Is everyone ready?” Regal asks after Hades is equipped with new armor and Black Iron claws.
When everyone nods back at him he then quietly signals Kilde to take off and points to which part of the wall to run toward.
Kilde activates the Tier 1 Divine Art ‘Visual Key’ turning into a shadow a he dashes toward the community at a location close to the patrolling guard. Just as predicted and planned, the guards notices Kilde and quickly moves across the top of the wall to block him.
“Halt!” The guard shouts while holding his hand up and using a defensive alchemy Divine Art that forms a near solid wall of wind between the two.
Kilde doesn’t saying anything, but stops one step up the wall in surprise before jumping back and running for where the barrel of Blood Flint ‘Bullets’ is hiding. He only stopped momentarily, but that was enough for the guard to get a glimpse of his face through the camoflague.
“Hurber reporting in. One target spotted trying to escape. Was intercepted and is now fleeing back into the community. I am pursuing,” The guard, Hurber, rapidly pulled out his Transmission Plate and reported before jumping off the wall and chasing after Kilde at twice the speed Kilde is escaping.
“Good work Hurber. What’s your current location, I will send two more guards to be escorts and restrain the target. If you can’t capture the target, kill it and we will move to the Rebirth Pond to capture once the invading community is dealt with,” A voice replies from the guard’s Transmission, a voice which surprisingly belongs to Greyhorn Guard Leader, Bryn.
Hurber chases after Kilde and rapidly closes the distance between the two of them, despite Kilde having a head start. Unfortunately the guard didn’t get a chance to report his location or catch Kilde, as at the opportune moment Regal whispered, “Fire,” to Veronica who had the sights of her new Warlock Penetrating Rifle set on the barrel full of Blood Flint ‘Bullets’
The bullet fired like a clap of thunder in a quiet night, even the distant sound of battle was completely drowned out for that instant. Hurber, the guard, reacted instinctively and altered his pacing to avoid the bullet, but the target was never him.
The bullet instantly exploded the barrel of Blood Flint ‘Bullets’ the instant it was fired, causing a chain reaction with all the bullets within. Rather than them all exploding at once though, it was a true chain reaction that took place over half a second. The explosion increased exponentially and caused mass destruction in a large area around the barrel.
The explosion even reached where Regal and the rest of the squad were, blowing them away like a leaf in the wind. They were thirty feet away, but Regal sorely underestimated the carnage a chain reaction can cause. Kilde was much worse off, having been running away from the guard and only fifteen feet away at the moment of the explosion. Not even Hades escaped the damage, losing half of his health despite his naturally high defences as a Mutant Beast.
Three houses, thankfully unoccupied, were completely demolished in the wake of the explosion, Kilde had been thrown through a fourth and was in an unconscious state. The unconscious debuff would last anywhere from a minute to half an hour, which the squad didn’t have.
Another miracle of the Blood Flint ‘Bullet’ barrel was that Hurber directly died from the blast. If he had time to use his wind alchemy defensive Divine Art or make other preparations, perhaps he could have defended against most of the blast, but the attack was so sudden there was no time for such.
Regal first quickly checked where the guard was previously when the explosion went off, and fortunately found a small bag of gold. Dropping half the gold he was carrying in his inventory shows that he truly did die, and it’s not an illusion. Regal is extremely happy with the amount too. The guard who should have been at least level 40 dropped 583 gold coins, a larger amount than Regal has ever held before.
With no time to waste, Regal and his squad pour a health tonic down their throats to restore their lost health and Regal pours one into the collapsed Kilde’s mouth before placing him on his back.
With Regal’s command, Veronica, Astore, Aqua, Piora, Kilde and Hades dash toward the now empty wall and jump up to the top in several steps. Hades is much larger and heavier than the squad members, so he has a little more trouble, but the new ‘Black Iron’ claws gouge into the Silverstone wall and allow him to climb up it extremely quickly.
“Let me carry him!” Piora demands after several concerned glances toward Kilde, but Regal only shakes his head and points out that his stats are much higher than everyone else so he should be the person to carry Kilde.
Piora makes a few more statements about carrying him once the jump to the bottom of the outside world, but ends up having to settle with helping him recover full clarity once he wakes up.
Regal leads the squad south around the wall, keeping enough of a distance so they will be outside the light that the flaming torches the sentries are holding won’t reach them.
Unbeknownst to the squad, Bryn was currently raging in the Greyhorn Guard Barracks. First the nearby Yuith Community had attacked the eastern gate with additional reinforcements he didn’t know they had and due to the spread out guards to catch Regal and his squad should they try escape, the gate may be broken through. Second was that one of Regal’s squad members was spotted by a guard but he went silent before stating the location for some reason. It was at the same time as a massive explosion that gave Bryn a foreboding sensation.
Even though members of the community won’t revive while the war is going on, Bryn never considered the fact that the guard may have died as all the guards’ levels and skills are much higher than Regal’s squads’, so even the thought that Regal can fight a guard and quickly kill them doesn’t occur.
“The Lord is not going to be happy about this,” Bryn silently said to himself as if he could smell an incoming storm.
Chapter 15 – Pursuit
Regal, Veronica, Piora, Astore, Aqua and Kilde silently dash parallel to the community wall just outside of the glow of torches that the patrolling guards are using to illuminate the area around the wall. There are still some guards who have supportive Divine Arts that would allow them to see in the dark such as ‘Night Vision’, ‘Thermal Vision’ and ‘Ultraviolet Vision’, but thankfully most of their attention is focused on the community inside to catch Regal’s squad and prevent their escape. They haven’t yet realised that Regal and his squad have already escaped the wall, and are currently fleeing toward the battlefield.
Not long after, several guards arrive at the location where the Blood Flint ‘Bullet’ barrel exploded. They quickly determine that this was not an attack launched from outside the wall as there are no invaders anywhere near the current location and it is unlikely for an attack of a Divine Art to stray this far away from the main battlefield.
The corpse of a guard, not yet dissipated into that world as it has been less than an hour from his death, is then discovered by the inspecting guards. The situation is quickly reported through a Transmission Plate to Bryn privately who quickly pieces together what must have happened.
“All guards are to stop guarding the inside of the walls. Regal and his squad have currently escaped outside of the walls and are fleeing. For the future of our community, we will recapture them immediately. I shall personally head over to the south west section of the wall to track them down. Merik, your scent tracking abilities are required so meet me there. The guards inspecting the site shall remain and join us with this task. Everyone else, annihilate the invaders and make them regret ever coming here!”
Bryn’s commands were heard from all the guards’ Transmission plates at the same time and everyone responded promptly and aggressively, pushing back against the attackers that were getting closer to the wall by the minute.
Bryn didn’t put his Transmission Plate away after passing on his orders, but instead changed the recipient to privately message Lord Solace who was commanding the defence from the front lines.
“Lord, Regal and his squad have escaped the community and are on the run. Not to worry, I and several of the guards are on our way to capture them.”
An extended silence pervades as no reply is heard from the Transmission Plate, but then Lord Solace’s stern voice finally comes.
“Don’t disappoint me.”
The three simple words placed an enormous pressure on Bryn, as he knew just how ferocious Lord Solace can be. Death is meaningless in this world as the Immortalis are true to their name - immortal. With an absence of the threat of death, the truly cruel experimented and found other means, particularly in the form of physical and mental torture. An immortalis can face through death quite easily, but such torture, if the captor is truly determined, can go on endlessly for years. This shows the truth in the original saying passed down from the last humans – sometimes there are things worse than death.
Bryn leaves the Greyhorn Guards’ Barracks with a calm visage. Anyone who knows him however, will understand this is but the calm before the storm. Below his simple expression, is a rage boiling and seething like a volcano that is about to erupt.
Bryn arrives at the scene where the explosion went off several minutes later, a speed in which would make Regal break out into a cold sweat if he had witnessed it. Merik, who Bryn called, arrives several minutes later a little short of breath, obviously using up his stamina in order to arrive here as soon as possible.
“Find the scent of the runaways and track them. We need to catch them as soon as possible,” Bryn says coldly, gazing at the wall where Hades new ‘Black Iron’ claws had gouged out the Silverstone foundation as he clawed his way over the wall.
Merik, without enough time to let his stamina regenerate, used a Divine Art which caused his nose to become highly sensitive and his pupils to turn slightly pink, allowing him to see a visual representation of the lingering scents and where they travel off to.
“They left not very long ago, this way,” Merik resolutely said before leading the guards over the wall and following the tracks of the scent.
At the same time, Regal and his squad were getting closer to where the main battle was. The sound of gunfire rang heavily in the air, only drowned out occasionally by high tier Divine Arts being used like artillery to try and take down the wall.
He had noticed the guards turning around and paying complete attention to outside the wall and immediately deduced that their escape had been noted. It was also highly likely that they had pursuers coming after them as well. The only part that made Regal feel better was that until they had visual confirmation of Regal’s squad, they would have to slow down in order to ensure they didn’t lose their tracks. That gave Regal and his squad a slim chance to successfully escape.
Regal shared the vision of Hades with one eyes as their bond grew stronger, allowing him a thermal vision of everything in front. The battle up ahead was truly a hotspot of people, and the fire based attacks they released was almost blinding to the eye through thermal vision. Strangely enough, while Regal has to squint his eye to shield them from the extremely bright light, Hades was completely unfazed. Regal tried but couldn’t discern where the difference between Hades and him was when they are both sharing the same vision but only Regal felt the pain.
Passing a few jugged rocks and sparse trees, Regal could finally see the battle going on with his own eyes, unlike when he was inside the walls and the crowd of defenders blocked him from seeing anything other than Divine Arts flying through the sky like a rain of arrows.
All kinds of attacks are launched at the southern walls and gate of Greyhorn Townsend, shaking the earth with every collision made. The extra defensive layer on the wall that Regal designed truly did a marvellous job, far more than he had predicted. Whenever an attack would hit it, the thick, hardened bronze plates attached to the outside would depress with the springs and disperse the force throughout larger sections of the wall. The attackers could see this as well, and no matter how penetrative an attack they used, the force would be dispersed.
Regal and his squad, along with Hades, emerge from the darkness as they run toward the rear of attackers, just behind their back line. Seeing the squads emergence, a large number of the attackers, particularly those in the rear line, are greatly surprised. Many people quickly ready their attacks to wipe out the surprise attackers with sheer numbers, but most of the strong people noticed that these people are not very strong and changed their targets back to the main walls.
“Focus on evading! Don’t retaliate!” Regal commands to his squad over the deafening sounds of the battle.
Three weaker attacks are still released toward Regal and his squad, in which they follows Regal’s orders and begin evasively moving in a jagged pathway, weaving through the attacks and emerging out from the other side after only losing a quarter of their health. Piora was a little worse off
Fortunately these attackers are unaware that is was Regal who designed the new wall defences, else they wouldn’t hesitate the capture him, string him up and torture him for several days just to vent their frustration about the wall on him.
After Regal broke out on the other side and continued fleeing, the three people who still released attacks at them looked on in confusion before shaking their heads and turning back towards the community. Regal took advantage of the first danger passed and began to veer the squads path and head away from the community.
“Can’t you be a bit faster?” Bryn questions as he coldly glares at Merik who is currently tracking the scent of Regal to follow the path they took.
“I can’t. If we go too fast, I won’t be able to follow the tracks correctly. It also runs the risk of dispersing the current scent and making it near impossible to trace direction they were going,” Merik timidly replies, trying his best not to get on the bad side of this guard captain.
“Then can’t we just dash forward and slow down to check the scent every hundred meters of so?”
“No, ignoring the dispersing of any scent we charge through, there is a chance they may have abruptly changed direction and we could lose them entirely.”
Bryn was furious, but he was truly helpless in this situation. He wanted to rush ahead and capture Regal, and his instincts were screaming at him to hurry up, but this rush could be exactly what helps them get away.
“Don’t worry, captain. While we aren’t moving very fast, we are still gaining on them. I suspect we will be able to spot them within the next twenty minutes or so.”
These words pleased Bryn greatly, and helped appease his burning instinct. He followed Merik’s lead as they arrived at the rear lines of the enemy community attackers. The members of Yuith Community who were assaulting the town walls were once again shocked by people of Greyhorn Townsend emerging from the darkness around them. This time they quickly noted that the people are much stronger, and some people even had a ferocious glint in their eyes as they recognized Bryn.
Hundreds of attacks suddenly focused on Bryn, whose face had twisted into something incomparably ugly to behold. He realized too late that the tracks wouldn’t just pass by near the battle but go straight through the rear lines. Bryn was about to retreat when one of the aggressors who was about to attack Bryn let out a snort and stated.
“The great Bryn’s reputation resounds like thunder in the ear, I’ve heard many great things about your ferociousness. You don’t quite look as mighty as I had imagined.”
Bryn mustered every ounce of willpower within him to restrain his impulse to turn the loudmouth into a pincushion and forced a smile.
“What would it take for you to ignore me passing through?”
The man stared dumbfounded before roaring out in laughter.
“The rumours truly are overstated. You are but a coward who doesn’t want to fight. But very well, you want a condition. Surrender to us and let us take over this town and we will no longer be enemies, but friends instead.”
There was a strong hint of mocking in his tone, but even he was greatly surprised when they saw Bryn seriously considering it. He secretly wondered who was the group that ran through earlier that Bryn considers to be just as important as the entire community itself.
Only Bryn and Lord Solace knew the true value of Regal being within the community, which is precisely why Bryn honestly felt like agreeing to the enemy’s condition. Lord Solace explained to Bryn that the current community was like a lifeless husk that was hovering on the line between living and dying. Occasionally a few new people came and joined the community, while occasionally some left, opting to either join a different community or enter the eternal rest.
The community would never grow, and would only stagnate in its current condition, which is why Lord Solace said that it was threatening to die off. Regal’s appearance in the community, along with his innovative ideas and talent in crafting, especially the new Blood Flint ‘Bullets’, could truly be the saving grace of the community to attract attention toward it and help it thrive. More traders would come for the specialty product, more hunters would become aware of it and several would even join at a time, new craftsman would come with a burning passion and would strive to learn the communities crafts.
Lord Solace and Bryn consider Regal to be the lifeline their community needs, and as such the both of them would probably agree to give up the current location and even find somewhere new if they could capture Regal and bring him with them. They would work him for the sake of the community and both Lord Solace and Bryn would have a royal treasury’s worth of fortune come their way.
Unfortunately, Bryn couldn’t accept such a demand, as not only would the enemy start making more outrageous demands, but it would also highlight the importance Regal has to them.
“I was so stunned at such a stupid demand that I forgot to reply,” Bryn uproariously states, covering up his consideration of Regal’s importance. “You insult me again and again, and treat me like some kind of paper tiger. I will show you why people fear me, I will reduce you to the shit on the ground that you are!”
Bryn’s voice is laced with an icy chill, his rage finally getting a chance to release itself. He begins releasing both alchemical and martial Divine Arts in conjunction to one another just as over a hundred alchemy Divine Arts of all the elements are released at him. The other two guards and Merik quickly step forward to act as support for him, protecting him from the incoming assault and also launching a counter attack.
While it didn’t go exactly as he had thought it would, Regal’s plan of leading any pursuers toward the enemy attackers could be said to be a resounding success.
After leaving the vicinity of Greyhorn Townsend, the light from the city vanishes and is replaced by the silvery glow of the moon. It is a full moon this night, so the world portrayed beneath its glow is quite eerie in appearance and seems to be full of sinister intentions. The sounds of gunfire and alchemy being fired behind them along with the distant howls of mutant beasts also adds to the malevolence of the night.
Ten minutes later, Regal and his squad, along with Hades, meet up with Lande and Lore who were waiting at Regal’s instructions. They emerge from behind an overly large rock that protrudes from the ground like a small mountain while gazing at the incoming squad with steely eyes.
The two Iron Mountain Wolves, Lande and Lore, have become one and a half times as large since Regal last saw them. Despite sharing a soul link with them, even he had no idea they had grown this much from levelling up.
Lande and Lore transmit their intimacy upon seeing Regal, moving closer to him and rubbing their iron scaled heads against him. Regal quickly transmits his haste to them and they immediately set off further south, away from any pursuers.
“We should have some distance between us and any people trying to catch us, but that will quickly close unless we do something. They are much faster than us, even when tracking, so we can’t be complacent,” Regal states to the squad, Aqua and Piora solemnly nodding their heads in response.
Veronica stares at Regal protectively, unwilling to let them be separated again like last time when her mind was confused. She secretly decides that if they are captured, she will cling onto Regal and refuse to part from his side. Even while imprisoned, she will do anything to not leave his side.
“Should we contact my father for backup?” Aqua dejectedly sighs, feeling an invisible pressure like a bearing down on her.
Regal truly doesn’t want to, as it would hurt his pride. He wants to be able to survive out in the world with his squad on their own, without having to rely on the support of others. At the same time, he knows they are currently in over their heads and possibly won’t be able to escape on their own.
With a sigh, Regal takes out his Transmission Plate while merging his consciousness with Lande to sense the vibrations in the ground through the Iron Mountain Wolf’s feet. The greatest vibration is coming from the squad themselves, especially Hades who tears up the ground with his ‘Black Iron’ claws, but there aren’t any signs of pursuers nearby.
Regal turns his head toward the direction of Greyhorn Townsend and gazes at the flashing lights on the horizon and residual red glow of flame alchemy Divine Arts still burning.
Safe from anyone catching up immediately, Regal slows the pace of the squad to find King Tanner’s name on his list of contacts and opens a communication channel with him.
“Tanner, our squad has run into trouble. One member was locked away in the prison you mentioned may exist, we rescued her and are on the run, but it is highly likely we are being pursued! If we don’t make it back to Grand Theore, can you please send people to rescue us?”
Any other person should respectfully call him King Tanner, but Regal doesn’t as he still thinks of him as the same person who taught him forging and set him on his path of being a crafter.
After a brief silence, King Tanner’s heavy voice responds from Regal’s Transmission Plate, “I thought I told you to call me Uncle Tanner?...”
“Umm… Uncle Tanner…”
“Good! Now, don’t you think you are thinking about this too much?”
“What do you mean… Uncle Tanner?”
“What I mean is the biggest question, why are they chasing you?”
“I honestly don’t know, there is currently a war going on between an invading community and Greyhorn Township, but they were extremely attentive toward stopping us from escaping. Once we were outside, they no longer paid attention to inside the wall. They were also actively trying to separate our squad.”
“Regal, I think you’re being a bit paranoid on this. While there are many unscrupulous Immortalis, including lords of communities and even some of the kings ruling other grand cities, everything has its limit. It is usually determined by profit. Unless you have something they greatly value, while they may mistreat you while you are in their grasp, once you escape they won’t bother anymore.”
“Something of value? I did help improve the community defence walls, and I did create a new type of bullet.”
“Har har, you need something more than that to attract their attention. You are overthinking this Regal. You need something much more valuable that just that to make them so adamant to hold onto you.”
Regal began to question his intuition about people chasing them after hearing what Tanner said. He truly can’t see anything he has of being worth a value great enough to warrant pursuit from Greyhorn Township. Of course, he has no idea that what Lord Solace values about him is his talent and future aspects, and the impact it would have on the community.
The other squad members can also hear the conversation and each have their own opinions. Kilde and Astore think logically, and agree with Tanner’s reasoning. Aqua frowns defiantly as if she believes otherwise while Piora is completely biased against Greyhorn Townsend. Meanwhile, Veronica has no opinion for or against, only placing her trust solely on Regal’s decisions.
“I still think we are being chased though…” Regal mumbles under his breath while trying to revaluate the situation.
At this moment, danger signals transmit from Lande and Lore via Regal’s soul connection he has with them. Focusing his mind to share the Iron Mountain Wolf’s senses, Regal can feel the vibrations of people running toward them along the same path Regal’s squad took. What makes it even worse is that they are moving extremely fast, much faster than Regal’s squad have been escaping.
“We are being pursued! Everyone, pick up the pace. Kilde, support Piora so she can keep up,” Regal hisses under his breath, rapidly thinking of a means to throw off the pursuers.
Kilde twists his body while running, picking up Piora and throwing he onto his back. Piora yelps in panic and quickly clasps onto him as the squad pick up their speed.
Regal can tell that they still aren’t going fast enough and thinks to himself, ‘I want to hide and let them pass by, but they’ve been following our tracks exactly. I don’t understand how exactly they are tracking us. Could it be scent? They are moving too fast to be checking for traces of our path. If it is scent, that’s a big problem, we can’t hide, and I have no items to remove our scent.’
Regal wants to contact Tanner again but doesn’t have the opportunity while running at full speed. He glances at the rest of his squad helplessly as his innermost feelings turn to a disparaging sobriety.
Regal notices Piora, arms wrapped around Kilde’s neck while being piggy backed, keeps avoiding his gaze. Curious and somewhat concerned about what she is trying to hide, he can’t help but quickly ask between bated breaths, “Piora… What… Is it?”
Piora, much more comfortable being carried by Kilde, awkwardly meets Regal’s gaze and states, “Well, I wasn’t sure how to say this, but… I contacted my mother a while ago and they’re on their way.”
Regal was shocked. He wasn’t upset with her, in fact he wanted to cry as if he’d seen a light of hope from within the abyss. What he really wants to ask her, is why she didn’t say anything about it sooner about it.
“When did you contact your mother?” Veronica chimes in, seemingly unfazed whilst running as fast as she can.
Regal notices a draft of wind coming from behind her and realizes she must have used the Tier 5 Divine Art ‘Speed Enhance’ from the Lesser Gale Alchemy skill, and has the sudden urge to interrogate her as to why she didn’t use it on everyone earlier. He also understands that using mana can leave behind residual marks that can be used to trace them easier which is why he didn’t consider using such a skill in the first place.
“She contacted her mother as soon as we left the Lord’s manor. She had a lot of anger to vent apparently,” Kilde stated matter of factly, ignoring Piora who’s glaring and considering strangling him on the spot.
“When… Will she arrive… Here then?” Regal asks Piora, trying to fully understand the scenario.
“I’m not sure,” Piora shakes her head softly, no longer feeling awkward. “Mother just said she would leave immediately and would track me based on my Transmission Plate.”
Regal isn’t sure exactly how someone can trace another person based off their Transmission Plates, but he can only place his trust in this. Even if they are captured before any help can arrive, the help should know where they are being held.
Just at this moment, Regal hears the sounds of boots crunching on loose rocks coming toward them. Quickly syncing his senses with Lande, Regal extends his feelings into the ground and traces the footsteps that are coming toward them.
“Everyone… Stop,” Regal stated helplessly and realizes they have been caught.
The squad quickly stop running and turn around to face their pursuers. They don’t wait unprepared though as Piora gets off Kilde’s back and everyone prepares their weapons.
Just as four members of the Greyhorn Guard rush out from the bushes, Regal’s squad fire in conjunction with an unspoken coordination. Almost immediately however, one of the guards waves his hand and an abstract Alchemy circle radiating a green color materializes.
The Blood Flint ‘Bullets’, which initially should have hit the guards and knocked them back, especially the one fired by Veronica with her ‘Warlock Penetrating Rifle’. The bullets however are struck by a wall of wind and blown off to the side, where they explode after colliding with random rocks and half dead trees, lighting up the confrontation between Regal’s squad and the guards with a crimson hue. Seeing this, Regal actively commands Hades, Lande and Lore to stay back behind the squad and wait for the opportune moment to attack.
“You know, you caused me a lot of problems chasing you,” Bryn states calmly in the face of the gunfire, also being the person releasing the wall of wind to blow away the fired bullets. “Unfortunately, I already know how your bullets work, so they can’t harm us anymore. Now, how about we discuss how you are going to make it up to me after causing such a convoluted mess.”
“Like you can talk, wasn’t all of this the fault of your actions? Why can’t you just let us go?” Regal asks while raising his hand to stop the rest of the squad from firing to save their bullets.
Bryn seems to think about something briefly before smiling sinisterly.
“You are the one we want, Regal. You are more valuable to us than you realize. I can make a deal with you. You agree to follow me back and work for us forever, and we will agree to let everyone else go free and never bother them again.”
Before Regal can even consider the deal Bryn proposed, Veronica glares at Bryn more violently than anyone else and shouts, “NO!”.
Veronica then adjusts her aim with the ‘Warlock Penetrating Rifle’ and fires toward a dead tree. The bullet, however, gets caught by Bryn’s wall of wind and gets thrown off course. The redirection of the bullet is not some random location as one might think but is changed trajectory and instead collides with the side of Bryn’s head.
The explosion happens before Bryn can even express his surprise and due to hitting him so high, causes him to be knocked off his feet where he is standing and be thrown face first into the ground.
Bryn gets back up quickly, and ugly distortion expressing on his face while glaring at Veronica before shouting.
“Follow the original plan! Kill everyone, we’ll snatch them back up at the Rebirth Pond in the community!”
Merik, the guards’ tracker, and the other two guards rapidly jump out through the wind wall and aim their weapons at Regal and his squad. Hades, Lande and Lore are poised to attack and Regal is also about to give the signal to fire when a low buzzing sound emits from the sky.
Before anyone can react, a meter-wide rain of burning finger thick lights falls from the sky and onto the guards. Each light beam burns a scorching white color that gives off a dangerous heat and makes people looking directly at them squint their eyes.
Bryn and the other guards are so shocked they can’t react as the rain of lights sweeps across, tearing apart the ground and guards alike. Even Bryn’s wind wall is torn to shreds by the attack and he suffers the same fate as everyone else.
Several spot lights fuelled by sunstones and mana then turn on and illuminate the area around Regal and reveal a terrifying airship floating barely a hundred meters above them.
The airship isn’t like the ones who the traders came in the other day and is clearly built for war. Large cannons and revolving rifles are attached at strategic points and one of the crew members will climb out of the airship to control them in a battle. The airship itself is pitch black, and on the side is a red and yellow emblem of a phoenix.
Regal feels sweat beading on his forehead and thinks to himself, ‘How terrifying! Rather than calling this an airship, I think saying it is a warship is more applicable. The most frightening thing is, however, that I have no idea when they appeared above us.’
Chapter 16 – Apocalypse
The warship in the air slowly descends above Regal and the squad, even Hades, Lande and Lore can’t escape its shadow. The warship itself deftly and silently turns in mid-air as it lowers to narrowly avoid protruding mountain like rocks while ignoring and crushing any frail trees beneath it.
When the ship finally lands, it is positioned just in front of Regal’s squad. Regal gets a closer look at the warship and can tell that it isn’t painted black at all, but is made from a reflective metal that is naturally obsidian in hue. The entire balloon compartment at the top is structured from this metal as well, thousands of plates interlined with one another to create this sealed elliptical shape.
A large side panel from the base compartment is wide open and from within it stands a mature woman with fiery long hair tied up in a ponytail. Light shines from within the open door and highlights her extremely voluptuous figure. She is the kind of woman most men would drool over, and even causes Regal to somewhat lose focus in his gaze. Veronica immediately notices this however and gives him a quick elbow in the ribs, earning an affectionate gaze from the woman.
The woman has one thing that is somewhat menacing though, and that is an extremely large multi-barrel revolving machine gun with a science fiction appearance being hoisted over her shoulder. The barrels on the gun are still emitting a light haze of heat, identifying this to be the weapon that instantly annihilated the guards before.
“Piora!” The woman almost flies toward Regal’s squad member with the same color hair, intense affection radiating from her gaze.
“Mother!” Piora angrily rebukes, her flushed expression betraying her embarrassment.
Piora doesn’t hesitate to draw her gun and shoot at her mother in an attempt to stave her off, but the latter easily passes through the barrage of bullets as if dancing and manages to avoid every single one. She also ignores the Blood Flint ‘Bullets’ exploding inside the warship, causing small concave dents each time, as she continues her charge.
Piora gets even more flustered and when her mother is too close to shoot accurately, she reverts to hand-to-hand combat, attempting to beat her back. Unfortunately for Piora, her mother also excels at martial combat and easily traps her in a hold before falling to the ground while holding her.
Piora’s mother charmingly rubs her face against Piora’s and hums, warranting a desperate shout from Piora who is close to tears.
“Mother, stop! That’s enough!”
“But I haven’t seen my darling daughter in so long. I’ve missed you so much it’s been utterly unbearable! When you told me some filthy man locked you up in a prison, I knew I couldn’t leave you be any longer.”
Regal seems to get a sense of danger from the words Piora’s mother just said, but chooses to ignore it and hope nothing serious comes from it.
Piora’s mother then looks toward the rest of the squad along with the three mutant beasts and says with a smile, “All of you, get on our warship. We have a simple matter to handle then I will bring you all back to Grand Theore.”
Piora is then picked up by her mother still restrained and then taken into the warship. Regal and the others have difficulty refuting her command and quickly follow behind her. They step out from the chilly night and enter a brightly lit compartment. Several doors lead off to different sections which would surely be sleeping quarters, a cafetaria, the main deck, storage areas and other miscellaneous facilities.
Regal had been in the cargo bay of some of the merchant airships which visited Greyhorn Townsend, but he quickly discovers that the lower compartment is many times bigger than the equivalent of the merchant airships. It was difficult to tell from outside because it was too dark, but from inside Regal can tell that the lower compartment must be nearly as big as the metal balloon providing lift for the warship, perhaps even a little larger.
“Are you surprised by the size?” A middle aged man with spiky brown hair and a stubbly beard walks out from one of the doors leading into the open compartment area and says when he notices Regal’s confounded gaze.
“Yes, its huge. I’ve never seen one so big,” Regal wondrously states while still looking around.
“That’s because this is a warship,” The man chuckles lightly, pulling out a cigarette and lighting it. “The upper body of a ship determines how much it can lift. A merchant’s airship is designed for carrying extremely heavy cargos, so they need to minimize the weight on the lower body of their airships while maximizing how much they can carry in order to make the best profit. We don’t move large cargo around for a profit, so our warship is designed specifically for battle. Carry as many weapons as we can and a large number of crew. Of course, only twenty of us came on this little trip so it may feel a little empty.”
“I see! Umm… I don’t know your name,” Regal awkwardly says, trying to keep the conversation going but not knowing who he is talking to.
“Hahah, you can call me Graft. Our violent guild leader over there is Loretta-” Graft says cheerfully when Piora’s mom, Loretta, shoots over and punches him in the face with a fist akin to lightning, crushing the cigarette in his mouth that was still talking and blowing him away and into the wall like a cannonball.
“I have told you to call me Fiona!” Fiona(Loretta) states dangerously, a thick killing intent filling the air.
Graft gets up casually and looks at the remains of his cigarette that is now a scattered mess of tobacco and paper spread out across his beard and the ground he was previously standing on.
“That was my last one…” Graft painfully says while brushing tobacco residue out of his beard. “Well, just call her Fiona(Loretta), else the guild leader decides to become violent. As for everyone else on the ship, you will meet them after.”
“I am Regal,” Regal manages to state in the middle of nodding his head toward Graft’s words. “Piora and her mother look so much alike, it’s hard to believe.”
What Regal is pointing out is that all children in this world are adopted, with the exception of the Soulless. For Piora to look so similar to her mother, it is astronomically rare to happen.
Graft grimaces before explaining, “Guild leader is crazy for her daughter. She actually has black hair, but died it to match the same color as her daughter’s. She even changed her name to be similar to hers. Unfortunately for her you can’t change your birth name in the world’s system, but that doesn’t stop her from forcing everyone to call her Fiona.”
Regal looks toward where Fiona(Loretta) has once again restrained Piora and is forcing her to remain in her embrace. Kilde, who was called over by Piora for help is absentmindedly standing next to the two of them unsure as to what he is supposed to do so is remaining on standby. Regal notices that what Graft says is true, that while Fiona’s(Loretta’s) hair is the same crimson as Piora’s, her eyebrows are obsidian black in color.
Graft then looks at Veronica who is standing half a step behind Regal, her eyes only looking at Regal and ignoring everything else around. His gaze suddenly becomes somewhat mysterious but he doesn’t say anything.
Aqua and Astore seem to be forgotten within the warship, Aqua timidly going over to see Hades, Lande and Lore in order to look busy, while Astore stands beside the wall awaiting what he has to do next.
“All of you, hurry up and follow. We’re going to the main deck to take off,” Fiona states and walks toward the end of the compartment, carrying Piora in her embrace who is now limp like a doll.
Graft is left behind as he takes on the duty of closing the compartment door before also heading toward the main deck. Hades, Lande and Lore also remain as they are too large to fit in the corridor out of the main compartment so sit down calmly once Regal transmits his reassurance through their link to them.
On the main deck at the front of the warship, enormous reinforced glass windows give a large view of the area outside the warship. Eighteen guild members of varying ages and gender are sitting around at various spots either playing cards or checking on complex alchemy formulae that run and operate the warship.
“We are taking off!” Fiona commands aggressively once she and Regal’s squad enter the main deck.
The several crewmembers who are checking on the alchemy formulae quickly assert their confirmation and operate several levers, causing the slowly rotating alchemy formulae throughout the main deck to brighten several degrees and emit a powerful force of mana. The other guild members are more for military support as controlling the warship does not need a large number of people, but they still keep one eye out for if any battle is to take place and will move into position immediately.
Regal had never felt pure mana before, so the oppressive feeling he received from it comes as a shock and he feels the air is slightly difficult to breathe. The rest of the squad fares no better, each turning pale and feeling weak in the legs. Piora is the same, but is unable to release herself from her mother’s grasp and is forced to sit on her lap when she sits in the commander’s chair in the middle of the deck. Veronica is the only one who is not affected, resisting the pressure through pure force of will as she grabs onto and supports Regal with concern on her face.
“Feeling slightly ill?” Graft appears behind Regal and Veronica unexpectedly and asks slyly.
“This… This feeling… I’ve never felt mana like it… Who is strong enough to release… Such an anount?” Regal turns his head and huffs between breaths in pure shock.
“This is not wielded by anyone. It is caused by the Grand Mana Alchemy Formula.”
“What… What is that?”
Graft gapes at Regal before recollecting himself and saying, “Ahem, you are truly young and inexperienced, aren’t you? There is much more to the world than what appears before you. Knowledge is a strong dividing line between the strong and the weak, but I thought this would have been something taught to you in school.”
“Can you… Explain it… Better?”
“Take a seat first,” Graft guides Regal, Veronica, and the rest of his squad toward a long bench against the rear of the main deck and helping them sit down before continuing.
“As you all know, learning crafting skills imparts upon you basic knowledge of the craft and the skills learned. Recipes are even delivered straight to the memory. Items crafted are then displayed by the world with their information comprehendible by simply reading it. Crafting is not limited to this however, and it is possible to create things without skills and without the world’s support. These items can’t be displayed by the world because they aren’t part of it.”
Toward Graft’s quick explanation, Regal truly understands. This is because his Blood Flint ‘Bullets’ come under the same category. The core ‘Blood Flint’ is hand crafted with a complex procedure and then modified into the bullets to create a new product. While Regal has been considering it the fusion of two different skills and slightly different from Graft’s information, the end result is the same – a type of round that is not displayed by the world.
“The old airships and warships used to rely on a type of mana ore fuel to run and were extremely expensive, but fifty years ago a genius third generation Immortalis completed the Grand Mana Alchemy Formula. His name was Mana Austin, and he was a genius at alchemy. He didn’t even have the inscribing skill, yet he was able to devise a foundation for alchemy that only he could understand and create a formula that when inscribed and filled with a particular silver-based reagent, will directly absorb the mana from the air and emit it the same way as we do naturally. It doesn’t require the inscribing skill to create, just the appropriate materials and someone accurate enough to carve it. Airships evolved from that day into what they are now.”
Regal naturally understood some principles about mana. He was taught in school that it exists everywhere and inhabits everything within the world. Immortalis naturally absorb mana from the air they breathe which is how mana is restored. Their bodies are also highly attuned to it and the mana simply existing around them is the reason why wounds heal nearly instantaneously. At least, this is what he was taught.
“That’s… That’s incredible… Is he… Still around?” Regal asks eagerly, greatly admiring Mana Austin just from hearing of his accomplishments.
“Indeed, apparently he lives in one of the southern grand cities and is trying to create more alchemy formulae to then give an attribute to the mana and turn it into different phenomenon, similar to Divine Arts. I hear he has made absolutely no progress in it though.”
Graft chuckles at the end before quietening down as the warship lifts off from the ground. There are no vibrations or noise as it lifts up, just the feeling of gravity increasing as they ascend.
“Turn forty degrees west, head directly toward the battlefield,” Fiona coldly commands from the commander’s seat. Regal suddenly has a chill of danger run through him from her order and knows something major is about to happen.
Piora sends a helpless glance at Regal trying to express frailty and seeking assistance to be released from her mother’s grasp, but Regal quickly averts his eyes from her, ignoring her plight and earning a scornful glare. It’s not that he doesn’t want to help her, it’s that she isn’t in any danger and he absolutely does not want to get on the bad side of her daughter-crazy mother.
The warship rapidly picks up speed and shoots through the night sky like a spectre toward the battlefield going on between the invading Yuith Community and defending Greyhorn Townsend. The battle has completely changed favour as the Greyhorn Guard are overwhelming the Yuith Community. The tides changed considerably when large groups of bandits ambushed Yuith Community from the rear and caused devastating damage. Regal instantly pieces together the rumors he heard about Lord Solace being connected to bandits and the devastating pincer attack that took place on the battlefield.
In only ten minutes, Fiona’s warship is silently hovering above the battlefield. The Greyhorn Guard are the first to notice it when it is revealed by the light emitted from ongoing alchemy attacks.
Lord Solace, who Regal has only met once, appears on the wall personally like a hurricane and glares up at the warship with hostility. He does not know who is aboard the warship, but with the timing that is made its appearance, he can tell that it is not a friendly force. Little does he know the might of the people who he is directing his hostility at though.
“All guild members, board the aerial battlestations! Commence full scale bombardment to the vile community below!” Fiona commands with absolute malice, causing every member of the guild to rush out of the main deck at a speed akin to lightning.
Even Graft disappears from Regal and Veronica’s side, leaving them to sit in silence. Aside from Regal’s squad, the only other remaining person is Fiona, who still refuses to relinquish her hold over Piora despite the occasional unhappy outburst and unsuccessful escape attempts.
Fiona takes out her Transmission Plate from her inventory and quickly opens up a communication channel with all guild members currently on this expedition.
“Don’t make me wait.”
Immediately following her frigid words, a deafening thunderstorm erupts outside as a third of the heavy machine guns and cannons attached to the outside of the warship are manned and open fire upon the ground.
Hundreds of heavy calibre bullets and a dozen oversized artillery shells are fired at the battlefield every second like a storm of death. Even inside the warship on the main deck, Regal finds the noise deafening as it is incomparable with any sort of gunfire he has heard before. To make the attack even more destructive, extremely high level alchemy attacks are fired off simultaneously, creating lightning dragons and magmatic rivers that will melt iron like butter.
Both communities and the bandits desperately flee from the concentrated attack, but what was initially an isolated assault rapidly spreads in destruction. All the fleeing Immortalis are caught with the area of effect of the bullet rain and alchemy barrage, with only a handful of stragglers escaping out of sight. Screams of anger and injustice are lost to the wind as what was once a battlefield has become a desolate no man’s land. The attack doesn’t stop there however, as the target of the guild members manning the weapons and launching changed targets to sweep through Greyhorn Townsend.
The wall Regal was once so proud of instantly turned to rubble, the Silverstone Building fragmented into small pieces and became an ocean of Silverstone dust and rubble that continued to increase in size every second. Silver and grey dust fill the air in a massive smog that blots out the moon and stars, but the flashing of Alchemy Divine Arts can still be seen emanating within the smog like vicious beasts fighting an apocalyptic war.
Less than a minute later the gunfire stops, leaving a faint ringing in Regal’s ears. Not just that, but Regal and the rest of the squad also receive a notification from the world that appears in front of them.
Subsidiary Rebirth Pond has been destroyed along with Greyhorn Townsend. Point of rebirth has been reset to Primary Rebirth Pond in Grand Theore.
Regal is shocked speechless. The entire battle only took place over two or three minutes, yet everything had been destroyed, including the community itself.
“All guild members pull back, we are returning to Grand Theore,” Fiona speaks calmly, smiling satisfactorily at the destruction of the community.
The guild members of Fiona’s guild enter the main deck as if they just went off for a stroll, returning to the positions they were in previously.
The warship turns around and departs the wasteland, but before they move more than several dozen miles away, Fiona stops the ships and has it turn around to face the mountain of dust still floating around the community and preventing a direct visual of the damage.
Fiona then raises her hand toward the community and a massive alchemy circle shaped like a unicursal hexagram fills the main deck from the floor to the ceiling. Layer upon layer of complicated runes and formulae fill the circle and form an overlapping pattern that rapidly breaks out of the confines of the alchemy circle and spills into the world in strings, mixing with the mana in the atmosphere.
“O-Over-Tier!” Regal panics immediately upon noticing it. Aqua and Piora are also frightened while Veronica, Astore and Kilde become highly alert and watch the outcome of the Over-Tier Divine Art.
Perhaps it was because of the shock of the alchemy Over-Tier Divine Art Fiona released but Regal didn’t even notice that he had already become accustomed to the pressure of the mana drawn in and released by the warship’s Grand Mana Alchemy Formala.
In the skies above the ruins of Greyhorn Townself, a flaming red speck of light rapidly enlarges. A meteor a mile in diameter falls towards the wreckage on the ground with invincible might. Regal pales when he sees the barometric pressure alone caused by the meteor hurtling through the atmosphere blows the dust away to the horizon, revealing the fine rubble where the community used to stand.
The meteor collides with the ground moments later, resulting in a force unlike anything Regal has ever conceived possible. The ground splits open like a cobweb all the way to the nearby mountains, each crack becoming bottomless ravines. The center of the collision formed a massive concave hole as large as a single floor of Grand Theore, while all the dirt, sand, rocks and plants that used to exist there are annihilated into fine dust which forms a large mushroom cloud and extends even further than the visible horizon.
The force of the collision was so great that despite being in the warship floating in the air, Regal could still feel the vibrations in his bones.
“Oh, I levelled up,” Fiona cheerfully says in surprise which puts her in an excellent mood, even releasing Piora in the process. Regal is aghast while the guild members can only sigh in comparison.
Piora flees directly to Kilde and squeezes in between him and Astore, then leaning on Kildes shoulder exhaustively and relaxing. Kilde looks at her questionably but Piora just ignores him and refuses to get off him. Regal grins wryly and truly wants to point out the irony of how the daughter is very similar to the mother, but fears the repercussions that will follow so chooses to remain silent.
The warship has then turned around once again and slowly drifts toward Grand Theore, the journey expecting to take day. It was much quicker coming here as Fiona rushed everyone to move at full speed to save Piora and the squad, but these immortalis can live forever if they want. They have all the time in the world, so what’s the need to rush.
Graft is back to sitting with Regal and Veronica, but this time he sits beside Veronica and decides to chat with her.
“So, beautiful lady, what’s your name?” Graft lathers on his rugged charm and tries to get close with Veronica.
Graft had seen how close Veronica is with Regal, but from his observation, it only appeared to be that of a squad leader and an overly loyal squad member. While his observation was indeed correct, their relationship extended far beyond what he had predicted.
Graft stretches out his arm to shamelessly pull Veronica into his embrace. Regal was about to react aggressively to that action while reaching for his gun, but before he could do anything, Veronica acted.
Veronica unhitched the ‘Warlock Penetrating Rifle’ that was slung over her back and pointed it at Grafts face in point blank range. Graft was expecting himself to be in the wrong and receive a threat so he didn’t react to it, but Veronica pulled the trigger on her rifle without a single shred of hesitation.
The high calibre Blood Flint ‘Bullet’ caught Graft completely off-guard, exploding in his face violently an blowing him away down the bench, colliding with the rest of Regal’s squad and causing them to fall into a heap. Regal and Veronica also didn’t escape the explosion, being blown away themselves in the opposite direction and even losing a third of their health at the same time.
Veronica regrets hurting Regal, but she isn’t remorseful in the least as the man who tied to touch her was cleanly blown away. Graft even took damage and lost a sliver of his health. Considering the enormous difference in level and equipment they are wearing, to be able to break through his defence and cause damage only served to highlight the might of the Blood Flint ‘Bullets’ even more.
The explosion caught the attention of every guild member in the main deck, and even caused Fiona who had been watching the entire time out of the corner of her eye to raise her brows in surprise. It had to be understood that when she blew him away into the wall earlier for calling her by the wrong name, he did not take any damage at all. The guild leader is a mighty powerhouse over level 100 as well.
“Graft, don’t be sleazy or I’ll throw you out again and make you run all the way back!” Fiona says cheerfully, stabbing a verbal spear in him in the form of a threat. “Piora, you shot them at me too. I thought it was the gun, but I was wrong. What are those bullets?”
Piora also looked confused and glanced over at Regal, who Fiona then addressed in regard to the rounds.
Regal, under the pressure from the overbearing woman’s enthusiasm, helplessly takes out one of the spare bullets from his inventory and hand it over to her. He then explains they are his own creation and are exclusive to him, indicating that no matter what he won’t explain how to make them.
Fiona inspects the bullet with the red painted ring on it closely, opening her eyes wide in surprise when realizing it was a special item that was registered with the world. She proceeds to pull it apart to find the dual types of ‘Earthen Blood Flint’ hidden within the head of the bullet and is puzzled by it. She has a rough understanding of how the bullet as a whole is crafted and finds it quite simplistic, but is still greatly impressed nonetheless.
“Regal, what level is your ‘Forging’ at?” Fiona asks tenderly.
“Well, I did help with building the wall at Greyhorn Townsend, and made everone new weapons, so it’s already reached ‘Forging: Intermediate’ skill level 9.”
Regal says it proudly, but Fiona just laughs at him and chastises, “Don’t be too proud. While reaching such a stage at your age is truly impressive, you can’t be proud until you reach ‘Forging: Advanced’. That is the stage all the master blacksmiths are at, and if you want to be proud of your crafting, reach that stage first.”
“Eh? But I’ve done so well so far, doesn’t it count for anything?” Regal asks tenderly, his pride wounded from her previous words.
Fiona just grins slyly at him and says, “Wait until you reach the advanced stage, then you’ll understand. Ignore all requests to join guilds or communities before you reach that stage, you’ll thank me later.”
Regal doesn’t have any rebuttal to say to her and can only accept her words. While her tongue is a bit vicious, her advice is solid and trustworthy.
“Regardless of that,” Fiona continues, “I want to make a purchase of large quantities of this ‘Earthen Blood Flint’ of yours. I would buy the bullets, but you are only one person and I need large quantities of them crafted. Don’t forget to give me a bulk discount. Now, everyone go to the cafeteria and eat before getting some rest. Hilbert, you’re in charge of the main deck tonight!”
Fiona doesn’t leave any room for Regal to even negotiate with her and pressures him to accept her business transaction.
Regal and his squad follow a now gloomy and downcast Graft toward the cafeteria where a simple mean is prepared before being introduced to their own rooms for the night. The warship is mostly empty of crew so everyone gets their own room.
While preparing for bed, the door to Regal’s room silently opens and Veronica sneaks in. Ever since Veronica broke through the compulsion on her and reignited her feelings for Regal, she has been extremely passionate about not leaving his side and has spent every night with him.
Regal was expecting her and doesn’t need to turn around. The two of them quietly remove their armor pieces, placing them in their inventory, before changing into thin loose clothing to sleep in.
Once Regal is in bed lying down on his back, Veronica quickly slips into the bed as well and moves closer. Tonight is different from the previous few nights they’ve spent together as she directly climbs on top of him and stares passionately into his eyes. Even in the dark, they are so close they can make out the small details on each other’s face.
Regal feels Veronica’s hot breath on his face, her large breasts tightly pressing through her shirt and onto his chest. Despite sleeping together every night, Regal and Veronica have not been intimate since the first few days they had sex, leaving Regal to feel awkward in the current scenario and unsure as to what he should do.
Veronica slowly moved her face closer to Regal’s as his heartbeat began to accelerate. The next moment however, completely blew away all Regal’s thoughts.
Lying on top of his, Veronica didn’t try to kiss him, didn’t try to do anything that would be considered intimate, she merely pressed her face into his. Veronica’s messy amber hair that appear like it will explode into a Needle-Backed Lizard should the iron and copper hair clips come loose is sprayed out across the pillow around Regal’s head.
All intimacy fled, the awkwardness Regal was feeling increased, and he was suddenly wide awake. Veronica lay there with her face pressed against his comfortably, her eyes closed and breathing softly, displacing her hair and tickling Regal’s ears with each exhalation.
“Umm, Veronica?” Regal tries to quietly gather her attention.
“Mmm?” Veronica hums, purring gently into Regal’s ear.
“Is it possible to move?”
Veronica lifts her head and opens her eyes slightly, gazing into Regal’s eyes tenderly. She states a simple, “No,” before closing them again and pressing her face back against Regal’s, this time falling completely asleep and leaving Regal to feel helpless for the entire night. All he could do is gently wrapping his arms around her and trying to get comfortable.
For Veronica, is was one of the most comfortable and satisfying sleep she’s had in a long time. For Regal, it was one of the longest nights he’s had in a long time.
Chapter 17 – Companions
The next morning, Regal is still awake with bags under his eyes. His stats have also reduced two or three points due to sleep deprivation, creating a specific debuff called ‘Mind Fatigue’.
Veronica wakes up drowsily, her clothes askew and threatening to reveal more than they should. She lifts her head and looks down at Regal tenderly. She feels some pain seeing that he has not slept, but secretly thinks that sometimes love can be selfish. It can still be considered a short time since her emotions flourished, and they fill her with a feeling she never wants to not have again.
Veronica gently kisses Regal, making up for the lack of intimacy the previous night, before sliding off him and getting ready to get up. Regal then finally closes his eyes and falls into a slumber once the pressure is off him, secretly confiding within himself that he needs to have a serious discussion with Veronica and set some boundaries.
When Regal wakes up again and has removed the ‘Mind Fatigue’ debuff, he also finds Veronica had returned to his bed at some point and is curled up resting her head against his chest. She isn’t asleep however, and immediately opens her eyes upon seeing that he is also awake now.
“We need to talk,” Regal states first, surprising Veronica.
“When sleeping, I need to be able to sleep as well.”
Veronica doesn’t reply, instead choosing to close her eyes and stubbornly ignore the matter.
“When walking together, you need to keep a one foot distance from me and stop pulling me back.”
Veronica opens her eyes again and gazes at Regal with a painful expression.
“This will continue for a week. Consider it a punishment. I don’t mind when we are sitting together or resting, in fact, I quite like it. But that is a different matter.”
Veronica calmly accepts Regal’s command, but a strong resistance can be seen in her expression.
Although the conversation was short, Regal has expressed the points he wanted to and feels relieved. The two then get up out of bed and dressed into their usual clothing, adorning their armor pieces as well even if they don’t need them at the moment.
Regal and Veronica then head to the main deck where they find the rest of their squad and most of Fiona’s guild members lazing around. Regal peers out the large window panels on the main deck and sees the massive tower of Grand Theore about a hundred miles away, like an enormous pillar holding up the heavens.
“I was about to send someone to go wake you, we are nearly back home,” Fiona says cheerfully and full of vigor.
Regal solemnly nods his head. He had wanted to practice his crafting skills when he got the chance but lately no such opportunity has presented itself, causing his skill levels to stagnate. The only ones that have had some increase are ‘Forging: Bullet Casing’ and ‘Compounding: Intermediate’ which have reached level 19 and level 8 respectively. Even those have been stagnating at their current level as he has mainly been repeating the same recipe to create Blood Flint ‘Bullets’ which has stopped increasing his skill levels now.
Regal also took over the kitchen just before the warship arrives at Grand Theore and cooks with the rare and bizarre ingredients belonging to the Immortal Phoenix Guild, the guild Piora’s mother is guild leader of which Regal only learned the name of recently. Due to cooking high level monster meat and rare vegetables in even more exotic spices, he finally managed to push ‘Cooking: Intermediate’ to level 10, reaching the 2nd Tier and gaining the Divine Art ‘Intermediate Recipe Arts’, a knowledge based Divine Art that instantly transferred information on more complex recipes directly to his memories.
From the windows on the main deck, Regal watches Grand Theore grow larger and larger, until it takes up his entire vision. The grand city’s dock for airships and warships alike they are heading toward on the third floor initially look like small specks in comparison to the massive size of the city, but as they get closer, they can start to see the details of the ship and the people milling about.
The dock is made out of reinforced steel and a copper, rivets as large as a person hold it all together and give it a feeling of being invulnerable. Countless airships of varying size and design, each with unique logos painted on the side are docked there. Fiona spots a pier which has the Immortal Phoenix Guild logo painted on it and commands the guild members. This is a private pier that only those who are reserved are aloud to dock at, a privilege of a guild residing in the upper floors of Grand Theore. A city guard who is in charge of collecting fees for the ships docked looks over but recognizing the symbol on the side of the warship and that it matches the pier turns his head back to monitor the other ships and immortalis milling about on the piers.
Fiona leads her guild members along with Regal and his squad off the airship and onto the docks. The first thing Regal feels when he steps off the airship is an incredibly strong gale, threatening to blow him away until he regains his balance.
The are guard rails around the pier to stop people from simply falling off from losing balance, but they are only waist height and if someone was to run into one fast enough, they would topple over. Likewise, if they fell down, they could also roll beneath the rail.
Regal moves cautiously to the guard rail on the opposite end of the pier and gazes down at the ground below. Staring down from six thousand feet where even the largest rocks look like specks of sand, Regal can’t help but feel queasy as if one step will cause him to plummet toward a certain death.
Veronica closes in on Regal and wraps her arms around his waist after seeing his disorientation. Regal wants to rebuke her that it was just earlier today he told her she needs to maintain a one-foot distance from him, but a single glance toward the care and concern she is expressing to him causes him to swallow his own words.
Hades, Lande and Lore also climb out of the warship nervously. They are each extremely heavy and have low centers of gravity, so the wind doesn’t bother them, but being so far in the air is without a doubt making them unsettled.
Aqua, Astore and Kilde are waiting for Regal and Veronica at the end of the deck, along with Fiona and Piora, the rest of the Immortal Phoenix Guild members already having departed into the city.
Regal leads Veronica where everyone else is waiting, mentally assuring his three mutant beasts to calm their nerves as they nervously follow as well.
Fiona smiles toward Regal and asks, “What do you plan on doing from here?”
Regal doesn’t have to think about it at all, he calmly looks over his squad members and resolutely says, “We will stay here for a night or two, then we will be heading out again. Our initial purpose in joining a community was to get experience before starting our own community. Now that it is over, it is time we start.”
“Ohh?” Fiona widens her eyes in surprise and places one hand on her hip, the other still casually holding Piora like a ragdoll. “That’s surprisingly ambitious of you. Do you have the means to even start a community? You need a location with natural resources, nearby dungeons, enough strength to protect your community or coin to hire hunter mercenaries, and connections with traders to open trade routes and secure the resources you can’t get locally. You need to run a profit or it will fail miserably and you will be homeless and have all your expenses drained.”
“I know, I’ve thought about all aspects of it. I learned some of managing a community at Greyhorn Townsend, the smaller bits I will learn as we go. We already have a location to go start our community,” Regal looks toward the setting sun over the mountains in the west that looks like a giant molten ball of copper.
“As for strength, I had wanted us to be stronger before we go, then train at that location before bringing other people around to grow the community, but we came back early. Thankfully, just yesterday I had solved that problem. It will also help with trade routes as well.”
Fiona squints her eyes slightly, her gaze becoming quite serious with a trace of hostility after understanding the intentions of Regal’s words.
“So you want the Immortal Phoenix Guild to be your guardians?”
“Fiona, to be more precise, I wish to negotiate a contract to guard our community while we grow.”
“And you think I’ll agree to it?”
“Why is that?”
“In addition to the terms, Piora will be there with us.”
Regal’s last statement was truly his trump card in succeeding this negotiation, he had seen how protective her mother is of her and can only use her as the compulsion to grant their future community protection by her mother’s guild.
Fiona tightens her grasp on Piora, making it difficult for the latter to breath, but a calm and resolute stare from Piora is enough to make her give in.
“Very well, we shall discuss the terms tomorrow. Take this, use the lift next to these docks and come to the 42nd floor first thing tomorrow morning. There will be someone to guide you when you step off the elevator.”
Fiona releases Piora and hands over a round copper token with the Braxinus Guild emblem and some sort of numerical code engraved onto it to Regal. She then walks away from the dock and into the city, vanishing from Regal and the crews sight. Piora hurriedly rejoins the squad before collecting her emotions and returning to how she usually behaves.
“Let’s head in then. I have some people to contact and we should rest and see our families,” Regal says gently, trying to push away the painful memories that his parents aren’t around anymore.
Aqua looks at Regal complexly and timidly asks, “Umm… My father…”
Regal frowns in annoyance before replying, “You should contact him and spend some time together. I would rather not talk to him at the moment.”
Aqua understands why Regal is unhappy, he had asked for help from Tanner and was basically ignored. She understands her father is usually busy with management duties of the city, and it was only while raising her he took a break, yet still has conflicted feelings not knowing whether to side with her father or Regal.
Aqua takes out her Transmission Plate and contacts her father while speaking in hush whispers, yet Regal can still make out a few words. He does his best to ignore her conversation as he leads the squad to enter Grand Theore, taking one last glance at the setting sun.
Passing through the bronze inlaid arch wide enough to fit four abreast, the outside world vanishes and the nostalgic scenery of inside the grand city welcomes Regal. Directly next to the dock’s exit is a large elevator that is currently in use. The platform is many levels above the third which is clearly Fiona returning to the 42nd floor. The sound of gears turning and whistling of steam can be heard faintly from deep below.
Regal presses a large button that lights up red faintly to indicate that he wishes to use the elevator and waits nearly half an hour before the lift finally returns. A few strange hunters in high level gear and equipped with deadly looking weapons are already on the platform when it arrives but they pay little to no attention to Regal and his squad when they step on it. They show a little interest in Hades, Lande and Lore, but nothing beyond that.
The first floor has already been selected on the worn control panel so Regal has everyone patiently wait as it descends once more. One short stop at the second floor to pick up a few more passengers and the lift finally arrives at the first floor.
Seeing the wide cobblestone streets, densely packs houses of brick and iron, along with the large clocktower rising in the middle of the city, Regal has an instinctual feeling like he has returned home.
“Everyone, head back to your family for now and we will convene tomorrow evening back here on the first floor. I’ll contact you of the inn I’ll be staying at.”
At Regal’s command, Astore and Kilde nod their head and bid farewell. They then take out their Transmission Plates and contact their family to notify them that they are coming to visit before heading off from the squad.
Aqua also departs, returning to the elevator and pressing the button for the top 47th floor while shyly smiling. The only two left are Veronica and Piora.
Piora is conflicted for a while before partially saying, “I’ve already seen my mother, I’ll-” before running off without finishing what she was saying. Regal had already added her back into the squad after breaking her out of prison, so he can feel the relative direction she was going. He is at a loss of words as he realizes that she is heading in the same direction as Kilde was. Regal noticed she has been acting much closer to Kilde since the escape, and can’t help but suspect if she is intending on following him back to his home.
Now there are only Regal, Veronica and the three mutant beasts remaining. Regal takes a breath to remind Veronica to see her family, but seeing the determination in her eyes he can already depict the answer. Exhaling a sigh, Regal leads the way toward the center of the city where the majority of inns are located.
It is late evening so a large quantity of hunters are flowing into the city, thankfully the roads are wide enough that he can lead the three mutant beasts through without causing too much of a disturbance considering their larger than average size. He is forced to weave through some crowds, but they soon make a path and observe the mutant beasts with some curiosity.
Thanks to Veronica minding Regal’s one foot distance rule, they progress quite quickly and find a large accommodating in as the city turns dark and the street lights come to life. A large sign hangs on the front of the inn with the name Commodore Inn.
The three story inn has copper figures of small mutant beasts along its eaves which have been heat treated to create shadows on the models and give them a near life-like appearance. The rest of the building is also quite high class, made from faintly engraved bricks and polished brass décor.
Regal enters the inn with Veronica and quickly pays for a double bedroom and for Hades, Lande and Lore to stay in the stable out back. The three mutant beasts do not need to eat often due to their nature, but it was a considerable trip back on the warship and they have been transmitting their hunger to Regal for a while. Regal is forced to pay more to feed the mutant beasts than the room for Veronica and himself but at least his mutant beasts go to sleep satisfied.
Regal doesn’t head to bed immediately with Veronica as there are still some people he needs to contact. In particular, he wants to contact his crafting friends from Greyhorn Townsend. Taking his Transmission Plate out of his inventory, the first person he finds and contacts is the crafter he was closest to, Seref.
“Seref, how are you faring?” Regal asks awkwardly, unsure as to how to start the conversation.
“Ahh! Regal, it is not good!”
“What? What is not good?”
“How are you confused? It Greyhorn Townsend of course! It was destroyed!”
Regal is taken by surprise. He is unsure how he should reply when Seref’s depressed voice continues from the rectangular plate.
“Do you know what happened? I didn’t even realize what happened before everything was gone and I died!”
“I haven’t even contacted the other crafters yet, I’m too hurt by the loss. Do you think we could rebuild it?”
“Hmm… I don’t think rebuilding is possible…”
“What? Why? Do you know what happened?”
Regal then proceeds to explain the situation of Piora being captured by Lord Solace, their escape, their rescue by Piora’s mother and her guild, along with the eventual destruction of Greyhorn Townsend out of selfish vindication by said person. When Regal describes the devastation to the land where the community used to stand and how it is no longer traversable by land let alone rebuilding on it, Seref becomes even more depressed than ever.
Seref doesn’t blame Regal, he knows Lord Solace was an unscrupulous person as well as most of the community. He isn’t even sad over the destruction over it, what has been tearing him up is all the materials and effort he put into the construction of the local community crafting hall. Anyone would be depressed if years of their hard work was destroyed so simply.
“Regal, where are you now?” Seref finally asks
“I’m at the Commodore inn on Grand Theore’s first floor.”
“I know where that is! I will be there within an hour!” Seref hurriedly says before closing the communication line.
Regal sighs to himself and then contacts the other crafters he has in his contact list. Fourteen more are also from Grand Theore and are heartbroken over the loss of the community and destruction of all their hard work over the years. The remainder are from different Grand Cities and can only express the pain in their heart through the Transmission Plate.
While Regal and Veronica are waiting, they leave their room and head down to order a low alcoholic drink at the public bar while waiting for their visitors. Before the two can enjoy their drink, a loud shout comes from across the room where a bunch of menacing looking men are crowded around several tables.
After shouting, the man with deep red hair and the physique of a bear storms over. Regal and Veronica find him to be familiar and quickly recognize him as the bandit leader who tried to rob them on the way to Greyhorn Townsend.
Veronica instantly cocks her ‘Warlock Penetrating Rifle’ and aims it at the red haired man’s head. The bandit leader gives her a look of ridicule and continues approaching.
“Horton, do I have to call the guards?” Before a spark can set of the situation explosively, the laid back innkeeper behind the bar asks calmly.
Horton, the bandit leader, instantly falters before he adjusts his destination and sits down at the open chair next to Regal, causing the tension in the latter to calm down slightly. Veronica on the other hand continues pointing her gun at the bandit until the stern gaze from the innkeeper softens and he asks her kindly to remove her hostility.
Regal glances over and sees the bandit who nearly robbed them dry several months ago furrowing his brow.
Horton glares at Regal and demands, “Why are you here? Weren’t you staying at that treacherous community?”
Regal, unsure how to reply, awkwardly looks avoids eye contact with Horton before stating, “Well, Greyhorn Townsend has been destroyed.”
“Har Har Har! Welcome to the real world, brat!”
Regal frowns at Horton’s arrogant words, and finding courage from the safety of Grand Theore, quirks back, “What about you? Why are you here? Banditry not working out for you?”
Horton’s expression plummets and Regal’s back perspires as he can feel a storm brewing within Horton. Just as Regal is regretting his words, Horton sighs deeply, his frustration draining from his countenance.
“It was that despicable Greyholm. We chased after him to kick him out of our territory and were instead ambushed by a whole group and were killed. We came back for revenge and only got ambushed again, and the same on the third try. That pass is no longer our territory and we need to find somewhere new.”
Understanding what happened, Regal is taken aback. That was the same person who warned Regal about the bandits before he ran into Horton. It was likely that if Regal believed his words and turned back instead of pressing forward, he too would have been ambushed by Greyholm and his bandit group.
Regal also wonders if they are related to the bandit group who worked for Lord Solace, but there isn’t enough evidence to come to a conclusion. If they had run into his bandits, and they released him upon learning they were moving to occupy a position within Greyhorn Townsend, he would know, but alas it is too late now to discover the truth.
Suddenly a radical idea comes to Regal, which he becomes conflicted in emotions about. Veronica notices Regal’s absent expression and slides closer to him, wrapping her arm around his like a snake and gazing into his eyes. Whatever she tries to convey to Regal is lost in the silence and her barely notices her close proximity while he puzzles within his mind.
Horton also glares at Regal once again upon seeing him suddenly ignoring his presence, and is about to punch him, but a calm look from the bartender quickly quashes that movement.
“Horton,” Regal says curiously, “have you ever considered giving up being a bandit?”
Horton is greatly surprised by this question and roars out in laughter, “And then what would I do? Peddle around as a merchant calculating profits to try and earn money and avoiding bandits like myself? I would rather die, such a life would not be worth living!”
“I’m considering work as a guard,” Regal ignores Horton’s look of ridicule and continues, “Not the type that patrols the city or a community to keep the peace, but as a fighter for times of battle.”
“What are you suggesting, brat?”
“My squad and I are going to start a new community in a new location, somewhere that hasn’t been mapped yet. Hopefully we will get some protection from one of the upper guilds if all goes well, but we still need some permanent muscle. You want excitement, right? Unexplored lands, strong mutated beasts, and later there will potentially even be assaults from communities. I need a strong defence, and the strongest firepower possible.”
Regal can instinctually tell that Horton isn’t an unprincipled person. He is arrogant, aggressive, and highly intimidating, but he isn’t a bad person. There are many cruel and merciless bandits out in the world, but this current one is extremely straight forward and currently “unemployed”.
“Sounds interesting, but aren’t you ‘fraid I’ll simply take it for myself? It’s way I do best,” Horton says with a malevolent grin, bandit group nearby also let out insidious chuckles.
“And then what? Just wallow away by yourselves?” Regal asks resolutely.
Horton goes silent for a while before giving in.
“What’s the pay?”
“No pay, you keep what you hunt. I will provide status instead. Captain of the guards.”
The bandit leader laughs uproariously at this deal, but nonetheless still agrees to it. The enticement of starting a community in new lands and the excitement it will bring are enough for the bandit leader. Regal predicted this as if he wanted a high paying job with little effort, Horton wouldn’t have turned to highway robbery. What this bandit leader wants more than anything else is an exciting life.
Horton grabs out his Transmission Plate, forcing Regal to take out his before sharing their contact information.
“Notify me when we are leading, Lord Regal, I’m looking forward to this,” Horton then says his farewell rather crudely, summoning up his bandit group before heading off into the night to do who knows what.
“Are you sure about this?” Veronica asks with concern.
“Yes, it is for the best. We need their strength while ours is still growing. Our community will start off small and I don’t want to be a juicy steak to other communities.”
“I trust you.”
Not long after, Seref arrives at the Commodore Inn out of breath followed soon by the fourteen other crafters Regal invited. The inn which became empty due to Horton and his gang’s departure is crowded once again.
Regal explains everything that happened at the end of the community to the crafter and they all have heart broken expressions. There is no love lost between them and Lord Solace and they do sympathise with Regal and his squad, but all the work they have put into their crafts being destroyed just like that makes them feel like everything they worked for was pointless.
Regal then brings up the proposition of them coming on the journey to start a new community together. Each of the crafters have a fiery passion burning in their gaze and are extremely eager to join. With everything previously gone, a blank slate to carve their talents into is the best path forward for them.
With the plan further solidified, Regal bids goodnight to everyone before leading Veronica upstairs to their room. Perhaps it is due to finally having no worries resting on his shoulders as everything seems to be falling into place, but Regal takes advantage of Veronica this night as they entangle together for a long period of time before finally falling asleep.
The next morning, Regal and Veronica both of a fatigue debuff on their stats, removing a point or two from each stat, due to a lack of sleep.
It is only a minor inconvenience however and they are not about to fight so it doesn’t affect them. Regal senses Lande, Lore and Hades through their soul connection and summons them out of the inn’s stable. He then gets in contact with and meets up with the rest of the squad before they make a beeline towards the elevator they descended the day before and ride it all the way up to the 42nd floor of Grand Theore.
On the way up, Regal notices that both Kilde and Piora have dark rings beneath their eyes, indicating that they are suffering the fatigue debuff just like Regal and Veronica. Regal sends a curious gaze at the two, Piora fiercely blushing while Kilde doesn’t understand what Regal is insinuating with his gaze.
Veronica notices this too and affectionately says to Piora without any subtlety, “I’m happy for you. It seems like you also had lots of sex last night.”
This caused Piora almost pass out in shock while wishing there was a hole for her to hide in but Kilde is the one to reply.
“We did not have sex.”
“Why do you both have a fatigue debuff then?” Veronica is confused and currently only able to link the lack of sleep with her own experiences, unsure what else could lead to this condition.
Kilde, unable to shake his logical thinking answers honestly and straight away, “Piora came to my house yesterday and had dinner with my family before staying over. She climbed into my bed with me but spent half the night punching and kicking me. I didn’t have the opportunity to get much sleep.”
Veronica proceeds to try motivate Piora while Regal gives her a mocking chuckle, leaving the fiery haired girl in a mixed state of anger and shame.
The elevator by now reaches the 42nd floor. There are two high levelled city guards of over level 100 guarding outside the elevator when Regal and his squad step off and he quickly presents the guild emblem to the guards who then let him pass. Not far away, Regal see Piora’s mother, Fiona, along with several other guild members to escort them to their guild hall.
Regal gazes around curiously at the 42nd floor as they walk through it, surprised at how open the land is. Unlike the lower floors of Theore, these upper floors have vast expanses of land with gardens and hedge mazes alike. Several extremely large exotic trees also grow in the distance, each one being the property of the guild which brought them back and planted them here. The three mutant beasts also show great interest in the floor as they have never witnessed such expansive greenery before.
Fiona leads the squad to a majestic four story palace made of marble with a crimson timber décor, stained glass windows lining the wings of the building. Regal has Lande, Lore and Hades relax outside and allows them free reign to explore nearby while the squad head inside.
“This is the guild headquarters for the Immortal Phoenix Guild. Follow me to the war room.”
Regal and his squad come to a large room with a circular table in the centre bigger than any Regal has seen before. Across it are sprawled various maps with different markings and notes on them. The pile is quite messy, but Fiona seems to make sense of it all as she arranges it all to the side and makes room for Regal and his squad to sit down with her.
“You want us to protect your community, so what are your terms exactly?” Fiona says businesslike, but her constant glances toward Piora indicate that she isn’t overly concerned with the small details of the deal.
“As it is a new community with an existing inactive Pond of Life, we have a one year grace period where other communities can’t launch an assault on us. I want to have protection for another year following that.”
“Done!” Fiona states immediately, not even negotiating terms on her end.
“I also want to make a trade arrangement in regard to the ‘Earthen Blood Flint’ you want,” Regal continues, catching Fiona’s interest. “The materials for the Blood Flint ‘Bullets’ most likely won’t be available at my new community, so I need them imported. If you can provide the goods, fifty percent produced will be provided to your guild.”
“What materials are required?”
“’Blood Flint(Low)’, ‘Rockdust Fragment(Medium)’ and ‘Rock Lizard Scale(Medium)’ with a ratio of 4:4:2. I haven’t tested with other qualities, but I would suspect a higher quality would create a more potent Earthen Blood Flint.”
“Done, but if we are providing the materials, we will be taking sixty percent of the product. We have many more people than you, so our consumption will be much greater.”
Regal considers it briefly before agreeing to it. With the quantity he must produce, it is likely that the remaining forty percent will be an enormous amount.
After working out the finer details of arrangements such as other necessities being delivered and good for sale being brought back with each transaction, all that remains is the departure. The Immortal Phoenix Guild is actually a combat guild, who mainly rely on hunting strong monsters and swarms of mutant beasts for their income. For them to make a trade agreement with Regal truly shows the favouritism Fiona is showing toward the squad which her daughter is a part of.
“We will depart this afternoon!” Fiona states, understanding it may take a few days for Regal to locate the Forest of Dawn toward the west that his information indicates.
Regal and his squad also have no time to make many preparations, but they also have a lack of coin to purchase raw materials. Regal arranges for everyone to stock up on necessary food and some equipment for mining and wood chopping. Even if the rest of their squad don’t have the relevant skills, it doesn’t prevent such basic tasks.
Seref, the other fourteen crafters and Horton are notified to meet them at the dock where the Immortal Phoenix Warship is stationed. Each party hurries forth to collect everything they need before moving out with eagerness.
Two days later, in the skies far west of Grand Theore, Regal is sitting in the bridge of the warship with large maps laid out in front of him. Each and every one are his creations, mapping out the entire west of Grand Theore as they pass through it. The scale is too large so it only contains terrain types and significant landmarks, but the quality is impeccable. A member who is responsible for the maps in the Immortal Phoenix Guild also sighs in praise and shamelessly copies it for his guild archives.
With the exception of Veronica by his side and Piora once again entrapped within the grasp of Fiona, the rest of the squad, crafters, and Horton’s former bandit group get along extremely well. Horton and his gang were initially quite rampart upon the warship but a thorough beating by Fiona shortly afterwards poured cold water on their heads and forced them into timidity.
“I don’t see this Forest of Dawn we are searching for,” Fiona frowns while gazing around through the bridge’s large window.
“The main clue in this is to search for a forest. This direction has trees with more vitality and more vibrant life. Mutant Beasts are more abundant so based on my deduction of the clue, we should be getting closer. It definitely exists out here somewhere.”
The world outside was indeed no longer the deprived wastelands with little life that Regal is accustomed to, and indicates that they should be heading in the correct direction. All he knew from the book left behind by Shen Wan Xing, a human from the past, was that this area definitely existed, he just wasn’t sure where other than a general direction. The information stated it is to the west, but not how far north or south.
“Head over those mountain ranges to the north, I feel the vitality is much stronger over there,” Regal states, garnering Fiona and the other guild members approval.
The warship flies north toward a mountain range full a jagged cliffs and Ironwood Trees. Regal doesn’t understand exactly why, but despite the vitality of the region they are passing through, he can’t help but feel an ominous intensity from the area.
Passing over the large mountains, everyone on the bridge gasp in shock, even Fiona herself. A call quickly goes out with good news to everyone on the warship and they quickly flood the bridge, everyone dropping their jaws at the sight.
What is revealed as the warship flies over the towering lustrous mountains is an enormous valley in the mountain range. The area is more than a hundred miles in each direction and looks more like a flat forest hidden within the mountain range than a valley. The most shocking matter isn’t the dense forest of dark trees, but what is situated in the middle of it.
A dilapidated cathedral of enormous proportion made from dark grey stone blocks is built in the center of the forest. Flying buttresses thicker than the warship is long decorate the building, and fortifications similar to those of a castle can also be seen.
It is a shame it is in such a state of disrepair, as once towering spires are now missing and sections of the cathredal have collapsed inside themselves. No glass remains unbroken but fragments of stained glass glitter in the evening sun as remnants of what they once were.
Regal and the others can’t believe that such a location has been hidden all this while. The cathedral is larger than anything he has seen before, only paling when compared to one of the great cities. Even the largest of communities would not be able to fill this location, but the mountain range surrounding this area is a natural protection to keep it remain unknown, so nobody even knows of its existence yet.
The warship silently glides over the parapets and deeper into the compound, several roof tiles dislodging from the wind alone and sliding off the roofs they pass over. Eventually finding a large open courtyard to land in, the warship opens its compartment doors and everyone gets off to explore the area.
While it seems a little off from the Forest of Dawn idea Regal had in his mind, this location is truly first class. As long as he has time to build his strength and the larger communities don’t become aware of its location, he should be able to defend it as well.
The wind outside the airship is quite chilly, but the fresh scent in the air is both new and refreshing for Regal. He squints his eyes against the evening sun and looks toward the empty windows and balconies of the building wings around the courtyard. Even more towering and magnificent architectural structures of the cathedral can be seen over the rooftops, but many of them are significantly damaged and in need of repairs.
Lande, Lore and Hades, the three mutant beasts, show a timid side once they get off the warship, passing to Regal a sense of being supressed by a intimidating force. Regal isn’t sure if it is the presence of a natural predator, or the general aura of the cathedral that has the effect, but they aren’t in any danger so he consoles them over their soul link and bids them to bear with it for now.
Regal’s squad groups up and heads in one direction, Fiona takes another with her guild while Seref leads the crafter and Horton his bandits in their own respective directions. The four groups explore different areas in great excitement, as if there are lost treasures to be found.
Regal leads his squad through wide corridors and peering into empty rooms, not finding anything of great interest and realizing they are in a residential area. The residences take up an enormous space and Regal’s group take up until night by the time they leave it.
Just like Fiona and her guild members, Regal is heading toward the main hall of the central cathedral. Each person holds a torch up high lighting the way as their footsteps echo in the empty halls.
They find themselves entering a nave so large their torches can’t light up the ceiling, but the stars can be seen through broken sections. Manoeuvring around pieces of fallen rubble, Regal discovers an enormous steel and stone throne that was once gaudy but is now mostly broken and rusted. Despite all that, it is still possible to use and it even fits the atmosphere of the cathedral extremely well.
“Regal, we found the Pond of Life, come over,” Fiona says to Regal over his Transmission Plate after contacting him.
Regal leads his squad to follow the directions given by Fiona, meeting up with the crafters and former bandits along the way before arriving where the Pond of Life is.
The inactive Pond of Life is blue just like an active one, except the water is much murkier and darker than standard. Regal crouches down in front of it under the watchful gaze of everyone and dips his finger into the pool. A confirmation screen then appears in front of him.
Inactive Master Pond of Life for Saint Hope Cathedral. Activating will cost 245,000,000 gold coins.
Do you wish to activate?
Regal started sweating bullets after reading the price to activate the pool. Even if he worked for eternity, he may not be able to earn that much. It was the kind of price that even the kings of the Grand Cities would have to consider twice before accepting. He is surprised though that it isn’t the Pond of Life for the Forest of Dawn, but doesn’t consider it too deeply.
Thankfully he has the ‘Blank Title Deed’ from the Theore Substructure dungeon and hastily brings it out while accepting the choice to activate. Both the Pond of Life and the ‘Blank Title Deed’ are activated at the same time and light up, the latter dissipating into light specks and vanishing within the Pond of life, while the former is filled with vitality as light blue lights flicker throughout the area.
Inactive Master Pond of Life for Saint Hope Cathedral has now been activated. Regal Havier is the current ruling lord for Saint Hope Cathedral. As a newly activated community, would you like to set a new name?
Regal quickly selects ‘Yes’, renaming the new community as ‘Regalia’. It is a simple name that Regal had thought of long ago and he was quite fond of.
Fiona is surprised to see the Pond of Life activate so easily as she wasn’t sure what method Regal had planned on using to take this location and still held doubts. She had also checked the price for activating it and nearly had a heart attack, but seeing the vibrant blue light now emitting from the pond, is at a loss for words.
Horton looks over with a grin, being the first to jump and and set it as his new resurrection point.
“Congratulations, Lord Regal,” Horton says both excitedly yet still mocking toward Regal.
Regal merely congratulates him on becoming a guard captain and leads his squad to enter and set it as their respawning point as well. Seref, the crafters, and finally Horton’s former bandit squad then take turns to officially join this new community by passing through the pond.
Fiona looks at Regal eagerly, nodding her head before also simply stating, “Congratulations on starting your own community, Lord Regal. I’m sure we will have many dealings in the future.”