A couple of dings followed immediately after the first system announcement—
System Announcement (War Report): Floating Ice City Border Commander Stark has answered Princess Karinshan’s summons! He is leaving his fortress with 50000-strong Black Cavalry to quell the insurgency at Floating Ice City!
System Announcement (War Report): Floating Ice City Border Commander Ziyan has answered Princess Karinshan’s summons! She is leaving her encampment with 70000-strong Frost Army to quell the insurgency at Floating Ice City!
System Announcement (War Report): Floating Ice City Border Commander Lintus has answered Princess Karinshan’s summons! He is leaving Wind Moon Fortress with 40000-strong Scarlet Wolf Army to quell the insurgency at Floating Ice City!
The three consecutive announcements were all the players needed to hear to know that a new ruler was about to be seated on the throne of Floating Ice City. It was surprising that Princess Karinshan still commanded this much influence even after she was declared dead for an entire millennium. The wise and courageous princess had definitely been loved by her people, but that wasn’t all the reason the NPCs had reacted so decisively.
I had heard that Cardin The Third was a cruel and tyrannical king, and that the quests players were receiving around the city were often about nobles oppressing the common folk. In a sense, it was unsurprising that the city was corrupt knowing that an evil and greedy undead magus was in control.
Besides that, I quickly checked the database and discovered a small rumor that Cardin The Third had been leading a rotten life for the past millennia or so. It was said that he demanded a virgin to be brought to his palace everyday to satisfy his sexual needs. Of course, this part of the history was considered “unofficial”. If someone were to check official annals of Floating Ice City, they would discover that the twenty-thousand-word-long text was blotted out by asterisks.
I got lucky and was able to let loose another Purgatory Slash. An entire group of low HP guards immediately dropped to the ground and turned into experience!
Behind me, Murong Mingyue laughed melodiously. “Faster, faster! There are only a few of them left now! We’re the first warriors to answer the call to arms, so maybe Princess Karinshan will grant us noble titles once she reclaims the throne from that undead magus!”
I rolled my eyes at her. “Sis, you’re dreaming again.”
I swung my sword repeatedly and focused on killing the mobs as quickly as possible. Murong Mingyue was a super priest, so I didn’t need to worry about running out of potions. Moreover, the Purgatory Sword would occasionally trigger its Outstanding skill and delete a large number of enemies from existence, speeding up our grinding even further!
Less than half an hour later, all one thousand or so Level 80 elite mobs had been killed by our combined efforts. All the girls leveled up, I didn’t. At Level 78 my EXP requirements were way higher than theirs!
The ground was completely covered in glittering pieces of gear and various items. I said, “We’ll spend one minute to loot the battlefield, no more. Be ready to enter the palace once the time is up!”
Everyone got to work immediately. A Level 80 elite mob would only drop items at the Dark Steel grade at best, so there was no point in hoping for a Silver-grade item, even in the mountain of corpses we just killed. Dark Steel–grade items weren’t really all that impressive these days and could only sell for several dozen of gold, maybe a hundred. That was of course if they didn’t have powerful passives like boots increasing movement speed, wristguards increasing attack speed, or weapons with lifesteal. Lifesteal in particular was so rare that I hadn’t encountered a single item with this attribute. Players who had such items could probably be counted on one hand.
We continued forward after taking all the equipment and magic stones we could take. As usual, I stood at the forefront of the party with the Dark Wasp in tow, but this time I also used Summon Undead to call Xinran over to my side!
System Notice: Your pet "Xinran" has refused to fight for you!
Dammit, she’s throwing a tantrum again?
One more time!
System Notice: Your pet "Xinran" cannot be summoned!
Fuck! What on earth is going on here?
Absolutely annoyed, I tried again and finally got a response. The magic formation glowed brightly before a black hole appeared at the center of it. It looked like an entrance that led straight to the Netherworld. Suddenly, a black figure leaped out of the hole and stood next to me. She was a small female warrior covered in leather armor from head to toe.
System Notice: Your pet “Xinran” has killed the Skeletal T-Rex while adventuring in the Netherworld and obtained the Dragonbone Spear (Dark Gold–grade, max Attack 750, Strength +70, Stamina +65. Increases user’s attack power by 24%, pet-exclusive)!
I was floored. Holy shit, not only was this Dragonbone Spear a Dark Gold–grade weapon, its stats were way higher than my Purgatory Sword’s. The unfortunate part was that it was a pet-exclusive equipment, and it was something Xinran had gotten on her own when she was gone. Just who on earth was Xinran? Why did she have so many secrets?
But it was no time for idle thought, so I said quickly, “Cardin The Third is possessed by Undead Magus Cardilla. If we don’t kill him, Floating Ice City will be stuck in darkness for a long time to come.”
As a small breeze lifted Xinran’s hair a little, she pushed her helmet up to reveal her blood-red eyes. “Is that so? Whatever…”
Whatever? What kind of attitude is that?
Her lukewarm response annoyed me, but on second thought I supposed I understand why she was acting like this. Xinran was an undead creature, and she probably couldn’t care less who was going to become the ruler of Floating Ice City. But I do, because it was either completing the quest successfully and getting a generous reward, and failing it and suffering a three-level penalty! There was no way I was falling back to Level 75 after everything I have done to come this far!
Murong Mingyue glanced at Xinran before commenting, “I heard you had a humanoid pet earlier, but I had no idea she was this beautiful!”
I laughed. “But of course!”
Xinran raised her head and stared at me coolly, so I changed the subject and said, “Come on, let’s go find that Cardin The Third already. Let’s see if he has any bite behind his bark!”
I walked to the front of the party as usual before taking off. He Yi was running on my left, Xinran on my right, and Beiming Xue and Murong Mingyue behind the three of us. Highly motivated by our successes so far, we charged toward the palace hall with all the confidence in the world!
My eyes turned cold when I stepped on a leaf in the palace hall. It looked like the enemy knew that we were coming. Cardin The Third was looking down at us from his throne, and he was surrounded by a dozen or so angry-looking NPC generals. One of them raised his spear and charged toward us, shouting, “You damned adventurers, how dare you defile the royal power of Floating Ice City! Die!”
It was just a Level 82 miniboss. He wasn’t all that powerful at all!
I let out a shout and activated Wild Roar. Everyone including Xinran had their Attack increased by 15%!
Then, I met the general head-on and activated Charge!
I hit the general in the blink of an eye and thrust my sword right through his chest. Then, I executed Ice Ray and Slayer Slash. He had around 50k HP, but it only took one combo to deal 5k damage, taking 10% of his HP. Clearly, he was a poor excuse for a boss!
He Yi buffed herself with Rock Shield before attacking the miniboss with Flame Thrust, piercing him and dealing 1987 damage. He Yi’s attack power was certainly growing more and more delightful everyday. Not even a Level 82 miniboss was able to endure her attack now!
However, an icy voice interrupted our rhythm all of a sudden.
“You two, out of my way!”
The moment I sensed a gust of wind behind me, I hurriedly jumped to my left, hugged He Yi and rolled out of the way. The Dragonbone Spear was just centimeters away from my back when it struck the miniboss right between the throat!
The miniboss dropped to the ground and died. It was a one-shot!
Xinran withdrew her spear slowly and expressionlessly. Her eyes were harsh, and her lips were pursed tightly as she stared at the blood gushing out of the general’s fatal wound like a fountain.
“Heavens, how… how is this possible?”
He Yi, Murong Mingyue, and Beiming Xue’s jaws hit the floor because they hadn’t seen Xinran devastating an NPC like I did that day. The miniboss was easy, but he would’ve kept us busy for a while. But thanks to Xinran, the poor bastard didn’t even get to attack once before he was one-shot by her!
Of course, I had never thought of Xinran as a pet from the beginning, just as she had never thought of me as her master or “tamer”. Our relationship was a mystery to say the least.
Cardin The Third suddenly rose to his feet and raised a bony, jade-like scepter into the air. Then, he shouted, “Warriors, kill these traitors for the glory of the empire!”
The generals responded to his cry and attacked us all at once. A quick count told me that there were 17 of them. That was way too much for us to handle at once!
He Yi stood protectively in front of Murong Mingyue before saying, “Watch out, everyone! Beiming Xue, don’t attack too frequently or Lu Chen might lose aggro. Mingyue, stand by for now until Lu Chen has killed a couple of them!”
I groaned inside my head. It wasn’t an impossible task, but I absolutely needed Xinran’s help to pull off this feat. Otherwise, this fight would be incredibly difficult to say the least.
Thankfully, Xinran seemed incredibly pissed off for some reason. She charged a miniboss of her own accord and slaughtered him in two strikes, but she also took a couple of hits as a result. She glared at me. “It’s your turn!”
Her order caught me off-guard, but I didn’t hesitate. Charing into the fray, I raised my sword and activated Thousand Mirage Slash, drawing all the minibosses toward myself!
I swung my sword all over the place. At this point, speed was way more important than efficiency. Hopefully, my splash damage would be good enough to kill at least a couple of them!
Minibosses had their own skills, and they didn’t hesitate to wrap their blades in fire, ice, wind or earth powers before beating the shit out of me. My HP dropped drastically as pain seared my senses!
My HP almost hit rock bottom in just an instant. Thank goodness I had over 4000 HP, or these bastards would’ve killed me already!
I pulled out a HP potion and drank it immediately!
Woohoo! Long live Rank 8 Health Potions!
However, the worse had yet to come. An icicle suddenly appeared from the distance and hit me squarely in the chest, turning me into a block of ice in an instant!
What incredible magic attack! This was definitely the attack of a boss!
Everyone looked. Cardin The Third was slowly walking down his throne with eyes that were full of hatred. Laughing scornfully at us, he said, “Damned adventurers, you will pay the price of blood for your insolence and recklessness!”
Suddenly, Cardin The Third and Xinran locked eyes with each other. They let out an exclamation of surprise in unison.
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