Princess Karinshan’s soul slowly opened her eyes and stared at us. Her pair of black, beautiful pupils were filled with both enigma and sorrow. She asked quietly, “Young infantrymen, are you the warriors of Floating Ice City?”
I stepped to the front of the group and nodded. “Mn!”
Karinshan let out a sob before asking another question. “Is Floating Ice City doing well? What… what year is it now? Has Heavenblessed Continent been reborn from the ashes of war?”
I shivered. Poor Karinshan seemed to know nothing at all.
This time, He Yi walked next to me and said clearly, “It is Heavenblessed 8125 right now, and the Silver Moon Alliance seems about equal to the Night Creatures in strength. The war has never stopped.”
Karinshan let out a long sigh before staring at her own palm. She whispered tearily, “I’ve been sealed here for a thousand years? What… what happened to my home while I was gone…”
I asked, “What is going on, princess? Your tombstone says that you have taken your own life at the foot of Floating Ice City. If that is true, why is your soul at this place?”
“Me, taking my own life? Hehe…”
Karinshan tried to chuckle, but it quickly turned into sobs again. “I would never take my own life. Even now, I still desire to protect my people and my home. It was all a ploy by Undead Magus Cardilla. He used a forbidden curse of the dead to rip my soul out of my body and seal it in this place. My real body is trapped in the basement beneath the royal court of Floating Ice City!”
I was shocked. I wasn’t expecting to unearth such a huge conspiracy when I chose to take part in this quest. After all, who would’ve thought that the wise and courageous Princess Karinshan herself would fall to the curse of a devious magus and be sealed in a place like this for a thousand years?
After crying for a moment, Princess Karinshan suddenly asked us a question, “Young warriors, do you know who is the monarch of Floating Ice City right now?”
I thought for a moment before answering, “I think… I think it’s Cardin The Third…”
Some time ago, I read that someone had accepted a quest from the king on the forums. I had never met the old man myself, though. I was an undead, a member of the neutral faction. Therefore, I was reluctant to approach the royal palace unless absolutely necessary. What if the king was accompanied by a Holy Magus or two? I would be burned into a crisp if they discovered my identity.
To my surprise, Karinshan shivered visibly when she heard my answer. “Wh… what?! Royal father is still alive… after a thousand years? How… how is that possible?”
Then, Karinshan burst into tears and collapsed next to her crystal coffin. Wiping her tears, she said, “My father is already dead. That ‘Cardin The Third’ ruling Floating Ice City right now has to be that damnable Undead Magus, Cardilla! How dare he possess my father’s body!”
I pulled out my sword and asked her solemnly. “Give us the order, Karinshan. What do you want us to do?”
Gripping her own sword, Karinshan gritted her teeth as determination returned to her features. She stared at us and said, “For the past couple centuries or so, no adventurer has ever dared to venture into this place until today. You are both my and the city’s hope. We must kill Cardilla, reclaim the city, and rescue it from the clutches of darkness!”
I gave her a nod of acknowledgment before voicing my worries. “Princess, your soul and body were separated due to Cardilla’s curse, correct? In that case, is there a way for you to come back to life?”
Karinshan wiped away her tears and nodded. “Yes, I still have some power in me. Time has frozen for me ever since my soul was ripped away from my body. As long as they reunite, I should be able to come back to life. However, I didn’t think that Floating Ice City would still be in the clutches of the Night Creatures after so many years!”
Karinshan fixed her gaze on us. “I have a very dangerous mission for you all. Floating Ice City and I are counting on you now!”
System Notice: Will you accept the follow-up quest, [Karinshan’s Request]? (Current Quest Rank: S-)
Fuck, S-rank? At this point, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call this an Epic-rank main quest!
Everyone in the party chose “Yes” in unison. A melodious ding later, the main quest entered our quest screens.
System Notice: You have accepted the quest [Karinshan’s Request]! (Current Quest Rank: S-)
Description: Karinshan believes that Cardin The Third is already dead. You must head to the royal palace, find Cardin The Third and kill him. Besides that, you must find Princess Karinshan’s sword, the Blade of Kings. Kill Cardin The Third with this sword, and the Undead Magus Cardilla who is possessing will perish as well. But be careful, Cardin The Third possesses incredibly powerful undead magic. He can summon an endless amount of lost souls with his devilish scepter. The Blade of Kings is buried beneath the red maple tree at the back garden of the royal palace.
He Yi blinked and smiled after she finished reading the quest description. “This quest isn’t easy at all…”
“Yeah!” I nodded with a sigh. “We must first slip into the royal palace and dig out the Blade of Kings. Then, we need to seek out Cardin The Third and kill him. Finally, we need to bring Princess Karinshan’s body back to this tomb and revive her. Only then will this quest be considered complete.”
Murong Mingyue waved her staff and said, “No time to dilly-dally! Let’s go!”
We all used a return scroll in order to save time. After we teleported back into Floating Ice City, we ran straight toward the royal palace.
The royal palace was situated at the center of the city. Elite cavalries could be seen practicing their horsemanship and attack movements on a plaza, and their roars were loud enough to send shivers down one’s heart. No one could possibly imagine that this seemingly peaceful city was really a poisonous thorn the Night Creatures had planted at the edges of the Light faction. If Cardin The Third were to mutiny against the empire, Sky City would most likely become its first victim.
Undead magi were incredibly scary. These fallen mages were willing to annihilate everything in their pursuit of infinite power. If the right opportunity were to show itself, Floating Ice City’s armored cavalry would attack Sky City and kickstart an endless civil war within the human race.
A couple of leaves were crushed beneath our boots as the royal palace appeared not far away from us. He Yi looked a little worried when she saw how heavily guarded the fortified structure was. “What should we do? I don’t think we can get in without a pass...”
I frowned. I couldn’t think of a good idea to get in either.
Suddenly, we saw a platoon of soldiers herding a group of ragged prisoners toward the palace. I quickly ran up to the officer-in-charge and asked, “Sir, why are you escorting these prisoners into the palace? Wouldn’t it be easier to just execute them?”
The NPC officer was a man with a big beard. There was a small crack at the center of his armor, and a bit of fiery red hair was peeking through the cracks. He laughed loudly after turning toward me. “You didn’t know? Our king, Cardin The Third, is a man who possesses infinite lifespan and power. However, there is a thousand-year-long family law that requires these death row prisoners to be executed by the king himself. That is why we bring them into the palace! It is so they may receive his holy judgment!”
His answer made me chuckle a little. Standing beside me and holding my arm, He Yi also let out a giggle. She whispered, “Unless I’m sorely mistaken, these death row prisoners are brought to the undead magus so he may absorb their souls and extend his lifespan. I heard that evil mages who cultivate the forbidden longevity arts usually sacrifice living beings to perform these rituals.”
I teased her with a smile. “You know too much, Eve~~”
He Yi smiled, but didn’t say anything.
Suddenly, the death row prisoners at the front started struggling and caused a small commotion. The big-bearded officer immediately waved his leather whip and yelled, “Do you want to die? You dare cause trouble in front of me, Lord Drew? Do it again, and I’ll send you to the wilderness and make you dig coal for the rest of your life!”
Frightened, the prisoners immediately controlled themselves. I seized the opportunity and persuaded the big-bearded officer, “Sir, it looks like these prisoners are a rowdy bunch, and you don’t seem to have enough hands to keep the situation fully under control, do you? Why don’t I and my group help you escort your prisoners into the royal palace? By the way, here’s some copper for you to buy some good ale and wet your throat. I’m sure you’re tired of having to serve those annoying nobles all day and night!”
I said copper, but I really stuffed about 100 gold into the big-bearded officer’s hand. As I thought, he immediately broke into a wide smile and gave me a pat on the shoulder. “Young warrior, I sense a bright future ahead of you. Take your friends and follow me!”
He Yi and the girls were dumbfounded by my success. “OMG, how on earth did that work?”
I shrugged. “The game devs wouldn’t design an impossible quest. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were at least a thousand pre-planned ways to slip into the royal palace. Anyway, let’s go…”
We quickly caught up to the big-bearded officer and entered the royal palace with him. Then, we slipped away while he wasn’t looking and started sneaking toward the back garden.
I instinctively bent lower and walked slower as we made way toward our destination, but He Yi grabbed my cape and pulled me upright again. “Don’t act like a thief, you’ll only draw more suspicion like this. I bet we’ll be a lot safer if we pretend like we actually belong here. Just imagine that you’re the royal administrator or something…”
I almost vomited blood at her analogy, but her method proved to be very effective. We were all combat-type players, so we didn’t look too different from the guards who were patrolling the place. Miraculously, we were able to reach the back garden without any incident at all.
“Look, the Blade of Kings should be over there!” Beiming Xue suddenly pointed toward the front.
There was a giant red maple tree inside the back garden, and it was clearly the tree where the sword was buried in. We could finally do what we came to do after we dug the weapon out of the ground!
When we ran toward the tree, we were spotted by two female attendants from the distance. They immediately grew suspicious of our motives, and when I actually started digging the ground with the Purgatory Sword, their beautiful faces suddenly turned much uglier. A pair of fangs appeared at the corners of their mouths, and they shouted at us in fury, “You dare steal the Blade of Kings? Die!”
As it turned out, the two female attendants were actually demons. They screeched like banshees and pounced at us!
Beiming Xue immediately nailed them to the fake mountain at the back garden with two successive arrows. Then, she followed up with an Evil Spirit Volley. Not to be outdone, He Yi ran over and swung the Abyssal Sword twice, cutting off their rotten heads and sending them rolling a long way across the floor.
Hmph hmph, the girls sure were ruthless when their opponents were undead creatures!
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