Chapter 118 – Sea of Bones
Nie Yan led the pair of Skeleton Kodos in clearing out to the rest of the monsters in the vicinity. During this, he would also occasionally use Undead Rite in an attempt to recruit more servants. After all, the chances of success might be slim to none, but what harm was there in trying?
Since the Kodos’ spawning areas were rather sporadic, Nie Yan had to lead his minions all over the region to hunt them, while steamrolling everything in his path. By the time he had killed ten Kodos, he was able to bring yet another Skeleton Kodo under his control.
Now, with three Kodos, he possessed enough manpower to move on to the next phase of his plan.
Tang Yao was left awed by the sight of these three immense skeletal minions.
“What’s your experience at now?” Nie Yan asked.
“57%,” Tang Yao responded.
“Nice, you’ll be levelling up soon. I’ll stick around for a little while longer, but then I gotta head off and take care of some business. When you reach Level 8, let your Arcane Fairy have all the experience, then I’ll help you evolve it to Rank 2. Afterwards, I’ll bring you to somewhere you can train on your own.” Raising a fairy from Rank 1 to Rank 2 was fairly easy, but getting it from Rank 2 to Rank 3 was a hundred times more difficult. From Rank 3 and onwards, the amount of experience required became even more excessive. This was also one of the reasons why Arcane Fairies were so difficult to nurture.
“Sure!” Tang Yao nodded. He wanted to prioritize leveling himself, but since Nie Yan had something else in mind, he decided to simply follow his instructions. Besides, he would have many more opportunities to tag along with Nie Yan in the future. Levelling with his brother was just too exhilarating to miss out on!
“So, where am I going to train?” Tang Yao asked in confusion. After all, with his current stats, attempting to solo grind mobs in this region was practically committing suicide.
“There’s a region to the east where Level 19 Skeleton Soldiers spawn. You should be able to train at that place. Oh, and don’t worry about their levels. You’ll understand what I mean when we get there,” Nie Yan answered.
Tang Yao was still slightly bewildered. Would he really be able to kill Level 19 mobs at his level? However, since Nie Yan said so, it definitely meant he had a plan.
Nie Yan led the Kodos around the zone, clearing out everything in his path. Eventually, a jingling sound rang out and he was enveloped in a brilliant radiance. He had levelled up as well.
Upon reaching Level 10, he opened his character page and saw that he now had seven stat points and two mastery points to allocate.
For the sake of being able to equip Sulgata’s Boots sooner, he unhesitatingly placed all seven points into Strength.
After allocating his stats, he glanced at his Strength which now amounted to a total of fifty-three. Although it seemed like a far cry from the one hundred and thirty points he’d need to equip Sulgata’s Boots, in actuality, it was almost within his reach. Nie Yan did, after all, have many methods of raising his Strength without needing to rely on the stats gained from levelling up, the Chapter of Freedom being one of them. The reason he had set out to retrieve this chapter next was because it increased Strength by a considerable amount. If he were able to equip the restored Sulgata’s Shadow, then everything would be perfect.
As for the two mastery points, he placed a single point into both Intermediate Marksman and Beginner Adept Hands. The former increased a Thief’s proficiency with bows and crossbows, which increased ranged damage and provided a one percent armour piercing effect. The latter enabled a Thief to nimbly switch between different stances when using a dagger such as reverse grip, forward grip, and so on. It also increased damage by two percent and provided additional benefits to Steal.
The Steal skill was just a method for a Thief to earn some extra income. For someone such as Nie Yan, who was already filthy rich, it provided little to no benefit when levelling. However, it wasn’t entirely useless to him since there were a few quests where it came in extremely handy. These were class restricted quests, available only to Thieves. The rewards were quite generous as well, even including top quality pieces of equipment that were capable of making most Thieves go green with envy. However, completing those quests would have to wait until after he retrieved the Chapter of Freedom which would allow him to equip Sulgata’s Boots and gain the Steal skill.
Since he received two mastery points every five levels instead of only one, thanks to the Chapter of Courage, he wasn’t so conscious about where he was allocating them. He would place a point in any mastery that he felt would be useful.
Eventually, Tang Yao also levelled up and reached Level 8, whereupon he began diverting one hundred percent of the experience he gained to his Arcane Fairy.
As they set off and hunted more Kodos, the fairy’s experience bar began to fill at a frightening pace.
There were very few regions that spawned Undead near Calore. Not to mention that, by the time he reached level 20, 30, and onwards, there would basically be no suitable areas to make use of Undead Rite. Therefore, he had to take advantage of these maps while they were still considered off limits by most players. If Tang Yao nurtured his Arcane Fairy now, then he’d have a much easier time levelling in the future. This would be especially true if he improved his magic attack and learned more high damage-spells, as his damage output would reach unprecedented levels with the aid of his Arcane Fairy, enabling him to dispatch large groups of monsters in a quick and efficient manner.
After leading Tang Yao around killing mobs for almost half an hour, the Arcane Fairy finally evolved. Thankfully, raising a fairy from Rank 1 to Rank 2 was fairly simple. Rank 2 to Rank 3, on the other hand, was much more difficult.
“What are your Arcane Fairy’s properties now?” Nie Yan asked.
“Mana Recovery Rate +300%, Cooldown -40%, Cast Time -40%, Magic Damage +10%, and… Ignore Level +2.” Tang Yao gasped in surprise upon reading out the final property.
“Very good! That’s just the property we needed! With it, you should be able to kill the Level 19 Skeleton Soldiers by yourself,” Nie Yan said. The reason he had been so confident Tang Yao could be left on his own was due to the Ignore Level property.
His plans had long taken even this small detail into consideration.
Afterwards, he and Tang Yao headed to the east. Eventually, they came across a large chain of unbroken sand dunes where hordes of Skeleton Soldiers wandered aimlessly at the base.
“Get on top of one of those dunes. As long as you don’t fall down below, the Skeleton Soldiers won’t be able to attack you,” Nie Yan explained. Since skeleton type monsters were inherently awkward and clumsy, they were more or less incapable of climbing these sand dunes. “Levelling here is much faster than following me. You should be able to grind out a few levels easily, but I still suggest giving all the experience to your Arcane Fairy since it’s that important to your progression right now. I know those skeletons are Level 19 and you’re only level 8, but the amount of experience you’ll gain for killing monsters eleven levels above you will be incredible. Not to mention, all of it will be going directly to your fairy. So, if you keep grinding, you should be able to evolve it again in just three days.”
Due to the discrepancy between the amount of experience needed for each rank, Arcane Fairies required a slightly different method of gaining experience than players. If Tang Yao were to follow the normal way, even if he were to give all of his experience to the fairy, it would still take at least a month for it to rank up again. Who knew what sort of unforeseen dangers a player might encounter during that time span?
In the previous timeline, a player had used a similar method to train their Arcane Fairy. After an entire month, they were able to evolve their fairy to Rank 4. Yet, no matter how much they grinded afterwards, they were unable to raise it to Rank 5. Later, they discovered that after Rank 4, an Arcane Fairy no longer required experience from monsters, but rather experience obtained by killing players.
However, most Arcane Mages who were able to reach this step would have their fairies slain by an enemy before they could get the required experience. If you walk alongside the shore, how can your feet not get wet? Even powerful experts could be killed when they were ambushed by a group of players.
“You’re right, this place isn’t bad. I’ll hurry up and raise my Arcane Fairy to Rank 3. That way we’ll be able to level together again!” Tang Yao exclaimed. His fairy already had such amazing properties at Rank 2. He could hardly imagine how monstrous it would become upon reaching Rank 3.
Generally, most Arcane Mages would be Level 40–50 or higher before their fairy reached Rank 3. If one were to emerge in the present, then the player who owned it would be far ahead of the pack and possess an equally astonishing might.
“Go off and level then. You shouldn’t run into any more mana issues since you have your Arcane Fairy with you, especially now that it’s Rank 2. Just send me a message when you’re about to leave,” Nie Yan said before examining the remaining duration on his Skeleton Kodos. The very first one he took control of, Kodo #1, still had a little under an hour left.
“Alright, no need to worry. I’ll definitely finish the task in three days, but I’ll probably end up sticking around for five, so you don’t need to go looking for me before then,” Tang Yao replied. After getting his fairy to Rank 3, he wanted to stay here awhile longer to quickly raise his level.
“Your gear is a little behind, but you should be fine since your Arcane Fairy increases your magic damage. Even if you wait until Level 15 to replace your equipment, it still shouldn’t be a problem. Well, I’ll leave you to level then.”
Afterward, Tang Yao made his way up to the top of one of the sand dunes and began bombarding the Skeleton Soldiers below with magic. Although most of the spells in his arsenal were single target, Meteor being the only notable area of effect magic, he was still receiving a considerable amount of experience. This was because he was able to continuously chain spells without worrying about mana!
After leaving Tang Yao, Nie Yan and his Kodos headed off into the distance.
As his silhouette gradually receded before finally disappearing into the vast horizon, Tang Yao glanced at Nie Yan’s back once more, then returned to bombarding the Skeleton Soldiers with magic.
He would have to survive out here on his own for the next three to five days.
“Ahh… what a lonesome life!” Tang Yao sighed to himself. He opened his chat and began searching for beautiful women to talk to.
「Hey babe, what are you up to?」
「Wanna chat with me to pass the time?」
「W-wait, don’t be so quick to brush me off! I’m actually an expert! I’m levelling in a Level 20 zone right now. I’ll prove it by bringing you here when I get back!」
「Hah… Like I’d believe you.」The other side abruptly disconnected from the chat.
Tang Yao let out a bitter smile. Why was it that when he spoke the truth, no one would believe him? He pressed the avatar of another beauty and proceeded to bother them. Harassing beauties while levelling, that was the only way he could keep himself amused in this tedious grind. He also found the sound of his fairy blowing bubbles by his side to be quite pleasant to listen to. No matter how he felt, if he wanted to become a genuine expert, he needed to be capable of tolerating long periods of loneliness.
In the meantime, Nie Yan was slowly venturing deeper into Hems Wasteland, a place where strong winds would scatter yellow sand across the barren land. Here, practically no plant could be seen as almost nothing could survive the harsh conditions.
The sky was overcast and blotted with sand, the unchanging scenery easily capable of making a person lose their sense of direction.
Nie Yan checked his coordinates. Although his memories of this location were fuzzy, he felt as though he was going in the right direction.
After ten minutes, Nie Yan finally found a graveyard in the vast barren. Countless tombstones jutted out of the ground, dotting the entire land. It was an endless graveyard that stretched out as far as the eye could see.
This quiet graveyard, which had experienced the passing of numerous ages, stood testament to those who had died.
As he looked a little further, he spotted a ruined building hidden within the yellow sands. It was the entrance that led to the catacombs underground.
Here lay Necromancer Abraham, who led an army of undead from the underworld to invade the Viridian Empire. He was a dreaded figure who controlled death, fear, and disease. After he was smited by an archangel, his body was eternally sealed inside this tomb.
According to legends, a Thief had entered this tomb in an attempt to rob the Necklace of Abraham. However, the Thief failed in his grave robbing attempt and died in the catacombs, leaving behind the Chapter of Freedom.
As Nie Yan drew closer to the tomb entrance, a dark wave of energy washed over the area. Suddenly, numerous skeletons pried their bony hands out of the sand as they began climbing out of their graves. One turned to tens, then hundreds, then thousands until the entire graveyard was filled with countless skeletons.
The vast graveyard was now dotted with skeletons stretching out as far as the eyes could see, resembling a sea of bones.
In that instant, Nie Yan understood what the term ‘army of skeletons’ truly meant. He was even able to vaguely imagine the spectacular sight of an ancient battlefield.