Chapter 18: Spiky Skeleton

Frost Mound was as cold and eerie as ever. Bronze poles protruded from the ground, devil images engraved onto their surface. The heads of humans, beastmen, succubi and so on were impaled at their ends. Succubi were naturally seductive, and most of them were females. It was also why most succubi in the game were female players.

I entered Frost Mound and stopped in front of Sentinel Leader Fark. The moment I spoke to him, the careless skeletal warrior swung his arms and laughed. “Little skeleton, your growth is truly impressive. Seeing your current strength, I’ve decided to entrust you with a very difficult quest!”

I dipped my head a bit and replied, “Give it to me!”

“For the past few days, an Undead Lord had been lingering about the Frost Mound Necropolis. Before he died, this Undead Lord was a human noble and a knight. As he has invaded our territory, I would like you to kill him, little skeleton. Of course, this Undead Lord is incredibly powerful, so the strongest undead swordmaster of our camp, Suren, will be accompanying you. However, you’ll need to bring him 40 Spiky Skeleton Fingers first. Otherwise, he won’t agree to help you kill the Undead Lord, Cyan Rain!”

Ding~!

System Notice: You have accepted the quest [Undead Lord Cyan Rain]! (Quest Rank: E)

Description: Head to the inner part of Frost Mound Necropolis and kill 200 Spiky Skeletons. Collect 40 Spiky Skeleton Fingers and give them to the Undead Swordmaster Suren.

I was very excited. An E rank quest was very prestigious, quite possibly the highest-ranked quest a player could accept at this stage of the game. Heh, it looks like I’m gonna be rich!

I entered Frost Mound Camp, bought a couple of pots from an NPC and repaired my equipment. After everything was prepared, I took off to perform my quest!

As I plodded along a small forest path, I could see Gui Guzi grinding away at the distance. He was leveling very, very efficiently, killing a skeleton every two or three hits before using some sort of skill to obtain additional experience.

I didn’t disturb him. I continued to walk deeper into the graveyard for almost ten minutes until the ground took on a darker shade, and the stench of rot grew thicker. A bunch of tombstones appeared ahead of me.

There were ghastly figures all over the place, and I focused my attention on a skeletal soldier that I had never seen before. Sharp spikes were jutting from all over its body, and they were tinged with a chilling green glow. I wonder what’s so exceptional about this Level 21 skeleton?

Eh, more action, less thinking. Here I go!

I rushed toward the enemy and struck a Spiky Skeleton hard on the shoulder. Crack! The Forest Green Blade sank right into its body.

170!

My attack did considerable damage, taking away a huge chunk of HP. However, I also felt pain when my attack connected. I actually lost 8 HP from my own attack!

Beep!

Combat Log: You used “Slayer Slash”, dealing 170 damage to Spiky Skeleton. Spiky Skeleton used “Damage Reflect”, dealing 8 damage!

Fuck! Damage Reflect?

Luckily, 5% was still within my limits. If it was as high as say, 20%, then I could log off and go to bed now.

Now that my opponents were higher level, the Forest Green Blade’s attack power was starting to lag behind. It took me almost half a minute to kill a Spiky Skeleton, and it was slower than I would have liked.

That being said, the experience from a Level 21 mob was nothing to scoff at. I could see my experience bar bumping up visibly after the kill. At this rate, I would probably reach Level 20 after this quest was complete. I would be one step closer to my goal of reaching Level 30!

After killing another 3 Spiky Skeletons, I finally got my first Spiky Skeleton Finger. There was nothing special about it; just a bone that happened to be a quest item.

I roamed the forest and continued to search for isolated enemies to kill. The Spiky Skeletons’ attack power was very high, and I took considerable damage even with 37 Defense. Generally, I had to drink 1 health potion for every 3 kills, which meant that I was burning through my money at an astonishing rate. Luckily, I had plenty of silver to spare, and the item drops turned out to be better than I had imagined!

Pop!

A magic stone appeared after a Spiky Skeleton died a glorious death by my hands, causing my eyes to widen. It was because the magic stone was a Big Magic Stone! I didn’t think that it was possible for a common mob—high-level it might be—to drop a Big Magic Stone! The previous 77 Quality Big Magic Stone I had gotten sold for an exorbitant price of 15 silver, and it had a quality of 55. If my calculations were correct, this thing could fetch me at least 10 silver! Haha, I’m rich! I’m rich!

I shoved the Big Magic Stone into my bag and went back to killing. Ten minutes later, my good luck loomed again and gave me a 67 Quality Big Magic Stone! This one was even more pricier than the previous one!

I kept grinding for another two hours, but I never got another Big Magic Stone after that. I did get 4 Small Magic Stones, though they could no longer be considered valuable at my level. Still, every copper counted, and there was no reason not to keep them. Raw money was a hot commodity in the early stages of the game, and there was still no way to exchange real money for in-game currency. The only way would be to perform an offline trade. But everyone was a noob right now, so how many people could have had luck and skill to accumulate almost 1 gold’s worth of wealth like me?

…...

It was late into the night, and I was still killing mobs while checking the latest ranking list. Floating Ice City was one of the nine tier 2 cities of the China server, and the gaming elites of Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Shanghai were all gathered in this place. If I truly wished to establish myself in Floating Ice City, I had to familiarize myself with the players on the list!

Beep!

I turned a page, and a column of IDs entered my view. These were the Top 10 players of Floating Ice City— 

NameLevelClass
Wind Fantasy
25
Light Wanderer
Dominating Mage God
23
Mage
Dominating Knight God
23
Magic Knight
Dominating Archer God
23
Archer
Dominating Warrior God
23
Warrior 
Hot Sun
22
Warrior
Gui Guzi
22
Undead Knight
Roaming Dragon
21
Magic Knight
Clear Perfume
21
Archer 
Cloud Sky River
21
Mage


For a moment, I was completely speechless. Who would’ve thought that the waters in Floating Ice City were this deep? Also, I was really surprised to find four people from the Domination Clan in the top rankings. Just who were they? So far, it looked like they had the highest chance of reigning over Floating Ice City...

But of course, true pros didn’t show themselves until they were ready.

Gui Guzi himself was looking to be in high spirits. Despite sleeping for only three hours a day and being killed by me many times already, this crazy leveler was still clinging to the top rankings. He truly deserved the title of crazy leveler.

Of course, the ID that caught my attention the most was Wind Fantasy. Not only was Light Wanderer no ordinary Wanderer class, Wind Fantasy’s level was higher than everyone else’s. He was crème de la crème, and it was revealed in the official forums that Wind Fantasy was among the Top 3 even when compared to all the other players in the nine cities! This person deserved my full attention. He could very well be the biggest obstacle in the Ancient Sword Dreaming Souls guild’s way to Floating Ice City’s domination. I couldn't do much from the shadows, but I could clear the obstacles in their way before the inevitable.  

I also noticed that the strongest of us four elders, Xu Yang, was at the 6th place of the Heavenly Ranking. It looked like he was grinding like crazy as well! Personally, my impression of the three elders of Ancient Sword Dreaming Souls wasn’t very good. Half a year ago, on He Yi’s birthday, they had come to me about making a collaborative effort to send a birthday greeting to He Yi. We were supposed to send a syllable each—”ha”, “ppy”, “birth” and “day”—to her phone and complete the message “Happy Birthday”. However, they pulled one over me and didn’t send their message as promised. I was the only one who did my part and sent my message, “birth”.

You could imagine how He Yi looked at me the next day. I fulfilled the first requirement of the quest pretty quickly, but the drop rate of the quest item was surprisingly low. Despite grinding for almost 8 hours straight—it was morning already—I was still 3 Spiky Skeleton Fingers short.

By now, I had killed almost all the Spiky Skeletons there were in the graveyard, and standing at the center of the sea of wilted bones and holding a sword was none other than the Undead Lord I was tasked to kill, Cyan Rain!

I dared not attack it yet. I was now Level 20, and I had squeezed my way into the Top 100 again. I grinded for another half an hour and got 2 Spiky Skeleton Fingers in the process. Just one more, and I could drag my trainer over to help! I checked the time and noted that it was 10:30 am. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel the even the slightest hint of fatigue. In that case, let’s continue!

…...

At the bustling business district of Shanghai, inside a conference room on the top floor of an office building.

Eight elites were sitting on two sides of a table and talking about business. The young woman at the farthest edge of the table wore a coffee-colored uniform and a badge with the name “He Yi” on it.

“Eve? It’s your turn now. What is your opinion on this?” a middle-aged man urged.

However, He Yi’s attention was completely absorbed by the sky outside the window. Her beautiful eyes were tinged with sorrow.

“Eve, what do you think about the decline in performance this month?”

“Eve?”

He Yi’s long eyelashes slowly fluttered close in front of the directors, and tears slid down her soft, pale cheeks. She opened her mouth as if she was about to answer, but the words that stumbled out of her mouth were, “But… But Lu Chen… he…”

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alyschu's Thoughts

The ranking will be fixed once we figure out a way to not crash the app with HTML tables.