Kang Oh, Eder, and Sephiro gathered at Viyoom Inn once more.
"Did you find anything?" Kang Oh asked.
In response, Sephiro smiled and Eder nodded his head.
"Then I'll start with what I've learned. The Nuwak Tribe lives within the Great Forest; if we find the Nuwak Chieftain, then we'll get some information or some sort of lead."
Once he was finished, Eder raised his hand.
"Who is this chieftain?"
"He's called the Wise Soul, and he apparently knows everything there is to know regarding the Great Forest."
"I've been to the Great Forest a few times, but I've never heard of the Nuwak Tribe before. Did you figure out where they live?"
"I tried to, but I couldn't find anything. We’ll probably have to find them ourselves."
Several tribes resided within the Great Forest; some of them were kind and welcomed players.
He planned on seeking those tribes out, and asking them where the Nuwak were.
"I found out where the Parmarl Underground Labyrinth is via my information brokers," Sephiro said.
"Ooh. As expected of you, Mr. Sephiro!"
"To be more specific, I found out where the approximate location is."
"What do you mean?" Kang Oh asked.
"Apparently, the entrance to the dungeon has been sealed, so no one has gone inside of it before. Based on circumstantial evidence, it seems like that area is indeed the Parmarl Underground Labyrinth."
"Is that circumstantial evidence accurate?"
"The tribes of the Great Forest call it the Parmarl Historic Site."
"Then it must be the Parmarl Underground Labyrinth. The problem is opening the door."
"Any other info?"
"For now, that's all I have for you, but I've told my information brokers to inform me whenever any new info comes in."
After Sephiro was finished, Kang Oh stared at Eder.
"What about you?"
"I focused on finding information regarding Grande Loxia."
Grande Loxia was renowned enough to be recorded in history, and there were several books that detailed his exploits.
"I eventually came across some information on the demon he defeated."
"Have you ever heard of Blood?" Eder asked.
"I've never heard of it before."
Sephiro and Kang Oh replied.
"Blood was a monster born from the union of a demon and a human, and became stronger the more blood they took from others."
"Did Grande Loxia defeat this Blood?" Sephiro asked.
"Yes, that's right."
Demon swords were a medium in which creatures of darkness dwelt.
If that's the case, then Grande Loxia's demon sword had been used to seal Blood.
'If I want to wield Blood too, then I'd likely have to pass the Trial of the Demon Sword again. Its trial must have something to do with blood.'
While ruminating over various matters, Kang Oh subconsciously rubbed his chin.
Eder rubbed his hands together.
Kang Oh knew what he wanted: his information fee.
"Here, take it."
Kang Oh gave him 50 gold. Eder grinned and placed the gold into his breast pocket.
"Anything else?" Kang Oh asked.
"No," Eder and Sephiro simultaneously replied.
"Alright. We'll have to go to the Great Forest in person then. Let's head for the Parmarl Underground Labyrinth first."
Kang Oh possessed Hyper Intuition, an ability that no one else had. With it, he should be able to find something that would allow him to open the entrance to the Parmarl Underground Labyrinth.
"If we can get in, then we can start exploring immediately, but if we can't, then we'll head for the Nuwak Chieftain."
"Then, shall we go?"
To the Great Forest!
* * *
A giant tree shot up into the sky like a mountain.
This tree was older and larger than all other Agrashi trees, which were known to grow indefinitely.
It was called the Sacred Tree or the World Tree.
The forest continuously grew around the World Tree; the southern part of the Arth continent was filled with various colored flowers, grass, and trees that were sky high.
This was the Great Forest.
Kang Oh's party arrived at Modrak Village, which was the only place within the Great Forest to have a transfer gate.
"Is this the Great Forest?"
Eder, who'd left the gate, looked around.
There were burly trees, as well as tree houses all around him. Of course, there were also ladders that allowed people to get down.
"Yes. We're in Modrak Village; modrak means to live above the trees. They're also the tribe most open to players," Sephiro said.
"There are also tribes that are either closed off or hostile towards players, right?" Kang Oh asked.
"Yes. Sometimes, players get attacked by those tribes."
The Great Forest was not a place to take lightly by any stretch of the imagination. The forest was filled with danger, so players couldn't afford to lower their guard.
"I pray that the Nuwak aren't one of them."
"We can worry about that later. Let's head for the Parmarl Underground Labyrinth first. Please take us there, Mr. Sephiro."
Sephiro had already come to the Great Forest before, and was also the one who'd procured information on the Parmarl Underground Labyrinth.
"First, let's go to Ucle Village; they're closest to the underground labyrinth."
"You can hire a guide there. I plan on hiring one of them to take us to the Parmarl Underground Labyrinth."
Sephiro roughly knew where the dungeon was.
Despite that, he believed that hiring a guide to take them there was a better idea.
Danger lurked in every corner of the Great Forest, and hiring a guide would help them avoid it.
"The guide fee will obviously..." Kang Oh began.
"Then I'll leave it to you, Mr. Sephiro."
"Alright. But we'll need a new means of transportation in order to get there," Sephiro said.
"Can't we just ride our horses?" Eder asked.
"The land is too dangerous to travel via horseback."
"So you want us to buy Yumas," Kang Oh said.
Yumas looked like kangaroos, but possessed rabbit ears.
They were slower than horses at max speed, but they could jump high and could use their hands like a monkey could, so they were better at overcoming obstacles.
"I have one already, so only the two of you will need to buy one."
Sephiro shook a whistle shaped like a Yuma's face.
A short while later...
"Tch. They're crazy expensive."
Kang Oh clicked his tongue after buying a whistle.
The whistles cost 100 gold!
"Exactly right. They are crazy expensive!"
Eder exploded in anger from beside him. The 50 gold he'd just received, as well as his daily wage that he'd been saving, had disappeared in an instant.
"At least you can use them more than once," Sephiro comforted them.
"It's still expensive."
It'd been a long time since Kang Oh and Eder had agreed on something.
"Anyway, let's go now."
* * *
They forcefully blew their whistles and their Yumas appeared.
Yumas possessed brown fur, rabbit ears, a kangaroo's face, a muscular lower body, as well as human-like arms and hands.
They were about the same size as a horse, and there was a saddle attached to them as well, allowing players to ride them. They also made this sound...
Ming, ming, ming!
Kang Oh petted the head of the approaching Yuma and got on top of it.
Eder and Sephiro rode their Yumas as well.
Sephiro's Yuma led, as he was the party's guide, while Kang Oh and Eder's Yumas followed behind it.
Tap, tap, tap, tap!
The Yumas ran on two legs like a tyrannosaurus.
How much time had passed?
They were blocked by a pile of wood, but their Yumas jumped over the obstacle without any hesitation.
Eder marveled at the sight.
"That's why you have to ride a Yuma in the Great Forest. These guys can scale cliffs too, but only the small ones," Sephiro said.
"I guess they really are worth their money."
"Where is Ucle Village located?" Kang Oh asked.
The Great Forest was divided into northern, southern, eastern, and western regions. There was also the central region, where the World Tree was located.
They had started in Modrak Village, which was located in the northernmost area.
"It's in the western region."
"Tch. It's quite far."
"It is. We'll probably arrive by the time it gets dark."
In essence, it would take a quarter of the day to reach Ucle Village.
"Then is the underground labyrinth also located in the western region?"
"I want to get there ASAP."
At that moment...
The Yumas shrieked and stopped.
"We've encountered monsters!" Eder yelled.
"They're Lizardmen," Sephiro said.
Lizardmen were blocking their way!
These bipedal lizards were the most common monster that players would encounter in the Great Forest.
Their levels varied between 200 - 250.
They wielded a light shield, as well as a sword or a spear. While they weren't intelligent enough to speak, they were quite skilled for monsters.
There were five Lizardmen blocking their passage.
All of which wielded swords.
The Lizardmen rushed at them.
"Please focus more on their tails than their weapons. They're more dangerous," Sephiro said.
"This is our first battle in the Great Forest, huh."
Kang Oh disembarked from his Yuma and engaged the approaching Lizardmen. Eder prepared for battle as well.
Kang Oh cleaved horizontally, and Eder swung downwards with his mace.
The Lizardmen nimbly dodged both the sword and the mace, and completely surrounded Kang Oh and Eder.
However, one of them ignored the two and rushed at Sephiro instead.
Sephiro let loose an arrow.
The Lizardmen rolled onto the floor, dodging the arrow, and quickly approached Sephiro, making one question whether they were actually lizards or not.
"C'mon, let's go!"
'I'll show you that not all Archers are weak close up!' He then engaged the Lizardman in CQC.
The four other Lizardmen had surrounded Kang Oh and Eder, and were violently swinging their swords around.
Clang! Clang! Clang! Clang!
The area echoed with the sound of their weapons repeatedly clashing, but in the midst of all that, Kang Oh would aim for his opponents' weak spots.
Whenever he did so, red shards of light would burst through the sky.
The Lizardmen were about the same level as the Red Beard Bandits, so they were a piece of cake.
Their voices became more agitated as the battle went on, and eventually began using their trump card, their tails.
Kang Oh tilted his head, dodging a sword swing, but then, a tail came flying at his lower body.
He didn't panic at all; he merely swung his sword and parried the tail.
Then, another Lizardman followed up with an attack of their own. Unlike the other Lizardman, this one attacked with its tail first and its sword second.
'The tail/sword combination attack ain't half bad.'
Contrary to the Red Beard Bandits' attacks, these attacks were weaker, but they never stopped.
He easily counterattacked whilst elegantly dodging every single attack.
There was too much of a disparity between Kang Oh and the Lizardmens' strength; it wasn't a paper thin difference that would allow numbers to overcome the difference in strength either.
'Let's start finishing them off.'
He'd been taking it easy, as it was his first battle in the Great Forest. But now, he decided to take them down in earnest.
He swung his sword as quick as lightning, cleaving a white line in the air!
The cut Lizardman fell to the floor. Only the Lizardmen that'd retreated at just the right time were able to avoid the attack.
As the saying goes, 'The hand moves quicker than the eye'. True to the saying, Kang Oh's left hand moved quickly.
Kang Oh threw a Gladion's Dagger at the rolling Lizardman; the dagger struck true, causing a lightning bolt to fall from the sky.
Kang Oh swung diagonally, stabbed, and then unleashed an upward, vertical strike. Then, he finished it with a forceful downward strike.
Whenever his blade made contact, white/red/black shards would burst forth!
Eventually, the Lizardmens' cries died down.
Sephiro had also finished off his opponent. If he hadn't been able to take down a single Lizardman, then he shouldn't be a ranker.
That's how the battle ended... or so they thought. Something gigantic suddenly popped out of the ground.
Which then promptly attacked Kang Oh.Previous Chapter Next Chapter