Chapter 264 Stuck (Part 1)
Ye Ci stood at the bottom of the stairs leading into the Shrine of Sha’gar, and looked back at Mark, “Are you sure you saw those things entering this place?” she asked with a low voice.
“Yes, my friend. I swear to the Gods and all my lost wealth that they’ve entered this place.” came the reply from Mark who was shaking with here as he was reminded of the horrifying scene, “It’s so scary! They do not have their heads! They have no heads!” the man shivered.
Ye Ci motioned with her hand to quiet Mark down when she noticed that Alaunar’s already pale face had turned a shade whiter, “Alright, I get it.” She then turned to face the towering shrine, “Do you want to enter the shrine with us?” she asked.
“NO NO NO! I DON’T WANT TO! I’ll wait for you two here.” Mark furiously shook his head. He cleared his throat when he noticed Ye Ci’s darkened expression, “Actually, my friend… My body is too weak… I’ll just be a burden for you. I do not wish to drag you down, which is why I must remain here.”
Ye Ci nodded at the NPC. She knew that the absence of an NPC like Mark would only serve to benefit her as she proceeded with the quest. The presence of Mark would only degrade her quest into a tiring escort mission. Settling Mark down outside the shrine was a very wise choice, “Alright, be careful out here.”
“My dearest friend, if it’s of convenience for you…” Mark rubbed his hands together as he stared at Ye Ci with a glint of greed in his gaze, “If it’s of convenience for you, can you please bring my lost cargo along with you as well? I promise that I will make it worth your while.”
Mark’s request elicited a snort from Ye Ci, who promptly ignored the man and spoke to the pale-faced Alaunar, “Let’s go.”
Alaunar’s grip on his staff tightened as he glanced at Mark. He then nodded at Ye Ci and followed after her. Mark sighed as the duo headed into the shrine, “Don’t blame me if you die in there. This is not what I want… Of course, I'll be happy to see the two of you walking out of that place alive. My goods… My precious goods….”
Of course, Mark’s words were lost to Ye Ci and Alaunar, who were already ascending the stairs to Sha’gar’s shrine. Wind bellowed past the duo, peppering the duo with golden sand. Alaunar’s eyebrows were deeply furrowed as he walked behind Ye Ci, “Hey Elf, what are the headless monsters that the merchant was talking about?”
“I have no idea. We’ll find out when we see them.” replied Ye Ci truthfully. There are many types of headless monsters in Fate, I wonder which of them will we be going up against.
“Why do I have a feeling that we should not trust that merchant, Elf.” Alaunar spoke up carefully, “If those monsters are as formidable as he said. If they’re capable of slaughtering each and every one of the members of his caravan… Why is he the only survivor?”
Ye Ci was shocked by the boy’s words. She stared at Alaunar, an NPC like him is capable of such high order thinking? It seems that Alaunar will soon evolve into a higher level NPC. “He is not trustworthy at all.” Ye Ci confirmed Alaunar’s suspicion. To her, Mark was a mere quest giver NPC, and it mattered not to her if he was not speaking the truth. The man’s job was to grant her access into the temple. After all, Ye Ci wanted to leave the place as soon as possible, and entering the shrine will unlock the map. She knew not what awaited ahead, but it was something that must be done. To Alaunar, however, Mark was an outsider that could not be trusted as his treachery will threaten his life.
The differing opinions between Ye Ci and Alaunar regarding mark was something that was well within her expectations. But to help with the boy’s growth, Ye Ci placed herself in the shoes of Alaunar, and analyzed the situation from his point of view, “He must’ve had an agreement with the monsters. That was why he appeared before us. Besides, his appearance was so sudden that even I was unaware of his presence. Of course, this fact alone was necessarily an indication that something is wrong with the merchant.”
Alaunar immediately grabbed hold of Ye Ci’s arm, “Can we not go into that place then, Elf? Since even you are harboring some form of suspicion against Mark, he must be a bad man. Why must we let him lead us here? Why must we enter the shrine?” The boy looked up at the towered shrine and shivered, “I think we should leave.”
“Alaunar, there are things that you can’t back away from in this world. If you want to be a hero, you must have the courage to strive against hardship. Besides, we can’t leave this place without venturing into the shrine. Is that something you want? Once we exhaust our supply of food and water, we’ll either die of starvation or dehydration. We’ll become two corpses in this vast desert, and vultures will pick our bones clean. It doesn’t really matter to me, but you’ll never be able to see Yolan and Mara again. Is this something you want?” Alaunar was a very useful NPC, but his lack of courage was a difficulty that would hinder Ye Ci’s journey.
The only way to solve this problem was to face it head on, and light the flame of courage within his young heart with the things that he held dear.
As expected, Ye Ci was able to raise Alaunar’s courage by a small margin. The boy cast a glance at the bones half buried under the golden sand and visibly shivered. He immediately quickened his pace and followed after Ye Ci, “Did Khutak face hardship like this when he left the tribe, Elf?”
For an aspiring Shaman like Alaunar, Khutak was an idol that was beyond his reach.
“Of course he did. The hardship that he faced might even be tougher than this.” said Ye Ci, casting a sideway glance at Alaunar, “Do you think becoming a hero is easy? Their struggles were something that people like us would not know.”
Just then, Ye Ci stopped dead in her tracks and stared intently at the rows of pillars outside the shrine.
“What is it, Elf?” Alaunar stood behind Ye Ci. Despite the dose of courage he received, the boy was still alarmed by Ye Ci’s sudden behavior.
“Alaunar, prepare for combat.” said Ye Ci as she unslung her bow as she fired Illumination Arrows towards the pillars.
The effectiveness of the Illumination Arrows were greatly affected when they were used in broad daylight, but they still served their purpose of revealing a large group of mounted apparition at the entrance of the shrine. These monsters were capable of stealth, which would have spelled certain death for the duo should Ye Ci was not alert.
“Riders, a lot of them.” Alaunar visibly gulped as he took his stance, “I’m ready, Elf.”
Ye Ci had recently discovered a very practical use for her Cat Claws other than scaling walls, and that was to… She launched her Cat Claw at one of the riders, and pulled the apparition down from his mount and towards the duo. The rider was dispatched by the combined firepower of Ye Ci, Alaunar, and Ol’ Four before it could even react.
The same method was then employed by Ye Ci to eliminate the rest of the riders once she collected the loot of a few gold coins and a white-quality equipment from her victim.
As the map itself was meant to be a gigantic puzzle, the monsters were set to never respawn upon their deaths.
Despite their superior level, the riders were easily defeated by Ye Ci and her posse. They were able to clear the entrance of any foes in a very short time. Ye Ci stood before the doors of the shrine, which swung themselves open slowly without warning.
Ye Ci was startled, but it did not take her long to regain her sense. She picked Alaunar up from his feet and rolled behind one of the pillars. Ol’ Four followed after its master as well, taking great care to hide its huge body behind the large pillar.
“What is it….”
Alaunar stared at Ye Ci, confused. He was dumbfounded by the sudden change of event.
Ye Ci responded by placing her finger on her lips, and the boy immediately glued his mouth shut. The frightening sound of bellowing wind blew out from the temple when the doors were finally fully open.
She heard a deep, gloomy voice from the temple, speaking a language that she was familiar with, but could not comprehend. It was a language that was widely used by monsters in dungeons. If Ye Ci was not mistaken, the language that was being spoken was Demon Tongue. This was proof that Sha’jia was a subordinate of the Dark Lord Naga, and that the shrine was filled with Dark-type demonic life forms.
Divine beings are the bane of Demonic beings. Monsters with Demonic traits will receive additional damage from Divine-type attacks. With the introduction of more enemy types in the later stages of Fate, players were forced to their characters with skills of different elements. Many of the mage players at the current stage specialized in three elements, but when more monsters with resistance to specific types of damage appeared, they would be forced to improve the mastery they had on their characters.
In the later stages of the game, the players will gain access to a significantly larger variety of skills. The monsters that players had to face in the field would also be tougher. This meant that players had to utilize a wider variety of skills to defeat an enemy. A severe limitation to this would be a player’s mana points. Not many of them were equipped with Ye Ci’s Energy Conservation that guaranteed her an unlimited amount of mana. The amount of mana of a character is the direct equivalent of the ability of the character to deal damage in combat. If a character was never lacking in mana, then the character would be able sustain the usage of its skills and abilities. Then again, this situation was very rare among players, and their limitation in terms of mana in the later stages of the game would eventually force the players to be better at utilizing their mana.
Another barrier that must be overcome by players was the very limited Talent Points. A character with high Talent Points would be highly customizable, but players could only gain very limited amounts of Talent Points by leveling up. Additional Talent Points would only be awarded to players with special achievements.
This was why First Blood was very important to the players of Fate. There was no limit to the number of players in the game, but the First Blood to dungeons and BOSSes were very limited. Only a party with superior equipment would be able to obtain First Blood for the reward of Talent Points, which enabled the players to further strengthen their characters. These stronger characters will then be able to secure more First Bloods and First Fives.
It was an unending cycle.
The difference was miniscule at the early stages of the game, but when more and more Talent Points were accumulated into the later stages of the game, the differences were obvious.
A character with higher Talent Points would be able to unlock more skills, obtain more HP and mana, and more stat points. These Talent Points could even be used to master certain skills. This was why Ye Ci was very obsessed with obtaining First Bloods.
Greed was something benevolent to Ye Ci when used correctly. And it was her greed that greatly benefitted her growth in Fate.
Of course, players such as her were few and far between. The weak will always outnumber the strong, as nothing is far in our world.
Ye Ci listened closely to the Demon Tongue. She could not understand the words that were being spoken, but they reminded her of a speech given to an army before they depart.
But where is the army?
Ye Ci loathed her luck at times like this. She would often find herself in situations where her worst expectations were turned into reality.
Loud cheers from within the temple entered Ye Ci’s ears almost immediately after the thought surfaced in her mind. The sound was so loud that even the ground below Ye Ci’s feet began to tremble.
“What is happening?” Alaunar gulped anxiously.
Ye Ci shook her head, a signal for the boy to remain silent. She cast her gaze at the direction of the entrance, and the uniformed clacking of hooves entered her ears. A tall dark horse mounted by a rider in black armor soon appeared in view
The knight’s armor was glowing with a faint light that highlighted its demonic aura. The longsword hanging at the waist of the knight further contributed to its intimidating aura. Of course, the most eye-catching trait of the knight was the empty space above its neck.
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