The black, barren land beneath my feet stretched all the way into the distant horizon, and pale dragon bones about dozens of meters tall could be spotted here and there. These skeletons once belonged to low-rank dragons of the Cretaceous Period, and only heaven knows how big these ancient creatures were when they were still alive.
There were huge, fat maggots wriggling beneath one such giant skeleton, all over a rotten carcass of a local hyena.
A vulture abruptly swooped down from the sky and picked up a fat maggot with its beak. Upon swallowing, it quickly ate a second maggot.
One by one, the second, third and fourth vulture showed up and cleaned out the hyena’s rotten carcass in the blink of an eye. All that was left was a bloody skeleton when the feeding was finally over. The scene was so realistic that I had to swallow my bile and keep from throwing up. I wasn’t sure if I could eat dinner after witnessing something this disgusting.
Gripping the Heaven-stealing Sword, I stepped on the black land of rotten carcasses and ventured deeper into the map. On the way, a couple of vultures were scared off by my presence, but I still couldn’t find a low-level draconic mob anywhere.
I continued forward for about five minutes when suddenly, I heard the sounds of a fierce battle over the other side of the barren hill in front of me. Who were the combatants, players or NPCs? If it was a player, then they had to be an expert because the highest-leveled mob I encountered at this place so far was Level 155. It was simply impossible for a normal player to come this far. If it was an NPC, then it meant that a quest was waiting for me!
Thud thud thud...
My Barbaric War Boots thudded against rocks as I ran up the hill. When I looked down from a vantage point, I immediately saw twenty or so NPC soldiers enduring the assault of a group of Night Creatures. They had created simple walls from rocks so that the Night Creatures could only assault the entrance. While the archers were shooting across the walls at their enemies, the warriors were standing at the entrance and holding up big shields to stop the Night Creatures’ charge.
Unfortunately for a warrior, a brutal one-and-a-half-meter-tall Hellhound managed to penetrate their heavy shield with its sharp teeth. The monster then yanked its head back and forth like its life depended on it and flung both the warrior and his shield into the air. At the back, the other Hellhounds immediately let out violent howls and swarmed the poor guy from every direction. His bloodcurdling screams filled the air for a time.
I glanced at the NPCs’ shoulders and noted that they carried the emblem of Sky City, meaning that they were our city’s adventurers. I had to save them!
I looked at the Hellhounds next and read their stats. They were Level 137 shadow-rank mobs with a max Attack of 1700, but they shouldn’t pose a problem because I had become considerably tougher since Who Will Rise. As for the Hellhounds’ 1650 Defense, that was even less of an issue. There were practically no mobs below Level 170 that could block my Martial God–empowered attacks.
"Let’s go, wolfie!"
I shouted and rushed down the hill with the Sky Obsidian Greedy Wolf, hitting the swarm of mobs from the flanks. I raised my sword and fired a Thousand Ice Slash at a hundred mobs or so, and nearly a third of them suffered a CC, encased in ice. While they were busy thawing themselves, I quickly made my way to the entrance of the encampment and stood in front of the defenders. Frankly, these Level 130 elite NPCs would die like dogs if I didn’t protect them.
The Heaven-stealing Sword shone brightly as I executed a War Crush, killing all the low-health Hellhounds around me. To my surprise, my "dead" experience bar actually blinked for a second and progressed a tiny bit. I should’ve known that Level 137 shadow-rank mob would yield a lot of experience. Alright, I’ve decided. I’m going to grind at this map today!
A Hellhound roared and hit my armor repeatedly with their claws. Sparks flew every as a series of damage number floated above my head—
It was a pleasing sight to see. My base Defense was 1920, which was already pretty high. I also enjoyed +35% Defense from my Ghost Deity Armor X, +30% Defense from the God Suppressing Necklace, +20% from the God Suppressing Helmet and +14% from the Obsidian Dragonscale Armor, which added up to a total of 99%. This meant that I was really sitting at almost 4000 Defense. How could these lowly Hellhounds possibly pierce my Defense? If they weren’t shadow-rank and 22 levels higher than me, I bet they wouldn’t even be able to deal three-digit damage to me.
Long story short, I took so little damage that Regeneration of the Undead and the lifesteal from my Heaven-stealing Sword were enough to negate them. Absolutely no health potion was necessary throughout the battle! Moreover, because I now had a huge health pool of 12k HP, Regeneration of the Undead was regenerating a lot more health than when I was sitting at say, 6k HP. The skill was slowly but surely showing its true power.
Almost ten minutes later, I killed all the Hellhounds and gained 2% experience for my efforts. Not bad. There was hope as long as there was experience.
I stepped to the sides when a couple of NPC archers walked out of the camp entrance and stopped in front of the Hellhounds’ bodies. They were retrieving the arrows they had shot just now. However, they weren’t always successful because the arrowheads would sometimes break free of the shaft and remain stuck in the mob’s flesh.
"Sigh, we’re really starting to run out of weapons and ammo…" an archer said with a deep frown on his face. "These cruel Hellhounds have been attacking us relentlessly ever since we provoked their community. They won’t stop until we’re all dead."
Behind them, a knight wielding a heavy sword emerged from the entrance and walked toward me. The text above his head—”Guard Captain Budo”. It looked like he was the leader of the adventurers.
As I thought, Captain Budo saluted me and said, "Thank you for your assistance, young warrior. Without your timely aid, we might’ve fallen to the Hellhounds already."
I smiled and nodded. "You’re welcome. By the way, I don’t think this place falls under the control of Sky City considering that it’s beyond Dragonbone Mountain Range. Why are you here?"
"Haaaa…" Captain Budo let out a long sigh before answering, "We were a scout squad of the Sky City’s 4th Legion, but we accidentally stumbled into this place while we were carrying out a mission. Worse, we entered a place we wished we would never have to enter again in our lives."
"What is this place?"
"Just five kilometers away from here, there is a place called the Land of Dragon Bones. It is there we discovered the footprints of some lower species of dragons. Those one-horned land dragons are absolutely monstrous, and that one battle alone reduced our numbers from 100 to 23, and took all our horses… that wasn’t the end of our misfortunes either. When we evacuated to this location, the Hellhounds started attacking us from every direction. These terrifying creatures are everywhere on this land…"
Captain Budo’s eyes were filled with despair. "I doubt we’ll be able to make it back to Sky City and our homes…"
I broke into a smile and rubbed my palms together. "Worry not, my lord, for I am here. I will do my utmost to help you, so speak. What can I do to help you out of your predicament?"
"You? Are you sure you can help us?" The NPC seemed to be doubting my strength.
I pointed at a dead Hellhound on the ground and asked, "Do you really think that these beasts can stop me?"
A bit of hope entered Captain Budo’s pupils as he exclaimed with joy, "No, I do not! It’s like this, we lost our magic scroll in the Land of Dragon Bones, and it is the only thing that can open a teleportation formation and take us away from this god-forsaken place! Please, find it and bring it back to us!"
"A magic scroll?"
"Yes, we lost it along with most of our supplies. But be careful, there’s most likely more than one low-rank dragon in that place, and we won’t be able to hold out for long. You must find the scroll and return as soon as possible!"
The second I took a step toward the Land of Dragon Bones, a timer appeared in my field of vision—"04:59:59”. So it was a timed quest, with a limit of 5 hours. Well, it was probably enough time, and even if it wasn’t, I hadn’t forgotten that I was really here to gather some Dragon Meat. This quest was an extra at best.
I brought up the map. A quest marker had already appeared on it. The Land of Dragon Bones was straight ahead, but I had to pass through Hellhounds’ territory first before I could make it there. Some consideration later, I ultimately decided not to take a circuitous path. I could just Charge a Hellhound, take off, wait until my cooldown was ready before charging another Hellhound. It should not be too much trouble to shake them off because my movement speed was the same as theirs.
I ran into the Hellhound’s territory, and a second later, an entire horde of Hellhounds was chasing after me. Since I couldn’t be bothered to kill them, I locked onto a Hellhound directly ahead of me, activated Charge, covered 40 yards of distance in an instant before taking off again. The sight would’ve been quite humorous had anyone been around to see it: a well-equipped warrior calmly charging and running away from a sea of snarling Hellhounds. The second I left Hellhounds’ territory, I activated Earth Escape and shook off all the aggro I had accrued in one go. Piece of cake!
I continued forward until a huge valley appeared in front of me. Unlike most parts of the plains, the valley had patches of greenery here and there and wild animals such as rabbits, hyenas, boars and so on. No wonder the low-rank dragons were spotted here of all places. It was basically brimming with food necessary to sustain their growth and keep their big bodies alive.
I summoned the Sky Obsidian Greedy Wolf and continued forward in my best form; I had a feeling that the upcoming battles would turn out to be pretty difficult. Low-rank dragons were still dragons, so there was no way they would be easy to kill.
My war boots made a scratchy noise as I trekked deeper into the valley. As expected, not long after I entered a ravine, a gigantic creature suddenly emerged from a foggy area, and it was making a low, guttural growl. It was as Budo described, a one-horned land dragon. Judging from its size, the monster probably weighed about seven to eight tons at least. It was covered in dark, matte scales, and it looked a bit like a rhino. The horn on its head was glowing a little, courtesy of little zaps of lightning swirling around it.
Thunderous One-horned Dragon (Shadow)
Skills: Stomp, Thrust, Thunder Strike
Introduction: The Thunderous One-horned Dragons used to be Thunderous Lizards. After devouring the bones of One-horned Land Dragons in this place, their species evolved into lowly subspecies of dragons. Although they can’t be considered real dragons, it doesn’t change the fact that blood of dragons is pumped through their veins. Moreover, they are slowly but surely growing stronger and more violent with each passing day. They are a huge threat to humanity.
I hid a gasp. Holy shit, a Level 150 shadow-rank mob? It’s 35 levels above me, and it’s a dragon! It looks like I’m the one who bit off more than I could chew this time!
But the thought of retreating never crossed my mind. The moment I was 40 yards away from the Thunderous One-horned Dragon, I activated Thunderous Charge and hit it like a lightning bolt. Go, for my Rank 10 Magic Consumables!Previous Chapter Next Chapter