“What happened to you, sister?” I asked.
Tia let out a bitter laugh. “I had come to Dragonbone Mountain Range in search of a devilish den under Princess Karinshan’s orders, but I encountered a rare storm along the way. My green dragon was wounded when we crashed into this Dragonspine Basin. Moreover, an Earth Lizard Dragon had attacked us at the worst possible moment, and I became poisoned by its deadly venom. Neither the green dragon nor I have the strength to fly back to Floating Ice City now.”
Tia shot me a meaningful glance at this moment. “Young warrior, you were once an enemy of Floating Ice City. Will you help me?”
I smiled. “Since Princess Karinshan had pardoned me from all my crimes, I’m still an adventurer of Floating Ice City. What reason do I have not to help you?”
Tia chuckled softly, but she quickly shook her head. “It’s too bad we’re at the peak of Dragonbone Mountain Range; a place where evil beasts roam free. There’s no way a normal human adventurer like you can battle against those beasts, let alone kill that damnable Earth Lizard Dragon…”
I raised my eyebrows and smiled again. “Don’t look down on me that much, Tia. The fact that I am here means that I don’t fear any challenge this place might throw at me!”
A small smile tugged the corner of Tia’s lips. “It will be a shame to not reward such precious courage, so I will give you a trial. If you can complete it, then I will entrust my fate in your hands.”
“First, I need to make sure that you are indeed powerful enough to help me.”
“No problem, just tell me!”
“Very well!” Tia smiled and pointed at the distant Dragonspine Basin. “This basin contains a huge number of One-horned Rhinos and Fire Lizards, and I want you to kill 1000 of each. They are extremely violent and cruel creatures, so be extra careful when you fight them. Return to me after you’ve completed your task, and I will grant you a most generous reward!”
System Notice: You have accepted the quest [Tia’s Trial]! (Current Quest Rank: S+)
Description: Head to Dragonspine Basin and kill at least 1000 One-horned Rhinos and 1000 Fire Lizards to receive a generous reward. But be careful, an unknown evil power is also hidden in Dragonspine Basin. A moment of carelessness may lead to death!
Even the quest description was warning me of danger. Alright then, it looked like today was my lucky day. There was no guarantee that an S+ Rank quest would grant me an equipment reward, but if it did, it would surely be as amazing as always!
After bidding the wounded Green Dragon Knight Tia goodbye, the Sky Obsidian Greedy Wolf and I went back to Dragonspine Basin. Even as we slid down the edge of the basin, we could already see a horde of huge creatures feeding on a messy patch of dark grass on the ground. It was none other than the One-horned Rhino mentioned in the quest!
The rhino was covered in a thick shell, and it had a glowing red horn above its nose. Its eyes looked like a pair of bronze bells, and the ground thundered every time it took a step. When I got close to the mob, its stats immediately appeared before me—
One-horned Rhino (Shadow)
Skills: Thrust, Crush, Horn Strike
Introduction: As the guardians of Dragonspine Basin, these One-horned Rhinos are extremely heat-resistant because their diet consists mainly of fire-attribute vegetation. Over time, the fire energy accumulating inside their body grew into a thick shell that protects them from any weapon.
I couldn’t help but gasp in surprise. 1900 Defense was absolutely nothing to scoff at because there were less than 100 fighters in the entire Sky City who had the ability to break through such Defense. Thankfully, I was one of them. With the Heaven-stealing Sword and Martial God’s 94% boost to Attack, my displayed Attack was 2185, but my real Attack was close to 4000 or even 5000. The One-horned Rhino was a shadow-rank mob, and its level was higher than mine, so I estimated that its real Defense was around 3500 or so. 5000 Attack was absolutely enough to beat 3500 Defense!
Anyway, let me bait a One-horned Rhino over and test the waters first!
I swung my arm and hit a One-horned Rhino’s head with the Dragon Slaying Slash, dealing 6743 damage. I then backed away and kited it for a moment—firing another three more Dragon Slaying Slashes during this time—before activating Thunderous Charge!
I successfully stunned the One-horned Rhino. It was a bit shameful that the Level 140 shadow-rank mob had lost almost 20k HP before it even touched me, to be honest.
While it was stunned, I thrust the Heaven-stealing Sword forward and hit it with a triple-hit combo: Ice Ray + Desperate Gambit + basic attack!
Clang clang clang!
I specifically chose to attack its weakest spot, the neck. My sword successfully tore apart its thick shell and did a ton of damage—
That was great! Despite fighting against a mob that was famed for its Defense, I was murdering it as if it was completely defenseless! The combination of Martial God + Heaven-stealing Sword + God Suppressing Necklace + God Suppressing Helmet was truly awesome!
The Sky Obsidian Greedy Wolf wasn’t idle of course. Its damage wasn’t as high as mine—over 10k damage in one combo—but it still did a great job.
The stun lasted for 5 seconds, and during this time the poor rhino had already lost half its HP. Its health pool was ridiculously high though. The mob hit my chest armor with a Thrust the moment it broke free!
Acceptable. I had no problems tanking this amount of damage.
I stomped the ground and used War Crush, eliciting roars of pain from the One-horned Rhino. This battle was always going to end with the death of the Level 140 shadow-rank mob since its opponent was a high-level undead swordsman with a sword channeling undead energy, super-high Defense, and even more formidable Attack.
In the end, my sword cut through the rhino’s head, dealing over 7000 damage and killing it where it stood. The battle was over in less than a minute.
A Phantasmal Magic Stone dropped from its collapsing body, and I tossed it into my bag. A penny saved is a penny earned, not to mention that I had enough bagspace, and I wasn’t gathering food ingredients right now. They would bring me a couple thousand gold after I went back and sold them at the shop. How joyous was that? This was possible only because I had a high Luck stat that increased the drop rate of Magic Stones. Had I been a normal player, I might not be able to get a single Phantasmal Magic Stone in 10 kills. I would be lucky if the system decided to reward me with two Big Magic Stones, which were now worthless in every way.
I continued forward and killed a couple more One-horned Rhinos. I quickly discovered that my HP usually hovered above 95% after a kill because my lifesteal and my Regeneration of the Undead X were just that powerful. Not even a Level 140 shadow-rank mob was a challenge to me anymore.
I clenched my teeth and made a snap decision. I’m going to AoE these mobs down so I can wrap this up as soon as possible!
The One-horned Rhinos ran like an earthquake, but their actual movement speed was so-so. I should be able to aggro them safely myself. However, I ultimately decided to aggro the mobs with the Sky Obsidian Greedy Wolf because its movement speed was almost double of mine. There was no chance the luring would go wrong this way!
Swhoosh swhoosh swhoosh…
The Sky Obsidian Greedy Wolf darted between the One-horned Rhinos and aggroed them with ease. Usually, you couldn’t aggro a mob too far before their AI decided that enough was enough, and that range was about 200 yards. That was why I couldn’t aggro all of them in one go.
I looked at the walls at the edge of the basin and spotted a decent choke point almost immediately. The area was shaped like a V letter, and it was just wide enough that my AoE skills could encompass all the mobs in front of me. It also minimized the amount of mobs that could attack me at once.
Despite my apparent superiority, I never forgot the fact that I was battling Level 140 shadow-rank mobs. Even with my Defense I still took over 1000 damage per hit, and a quick calculation showed that I was capable of facetanking two One-horned Rhinos at once, with three being my absolute limit. Any more than that and I would die even if I used Tenacity of the Dead, health pots, and every trick up my sleeves. Again, I must iterate that the One-horned Rhino was a Level 140 shadow-rank mob that hit like a truck. If I weren’t myself, I would have never thought of grinding these mobs en masse with AoEs.
I backed into the choke point until my armor squeezed into a gap between the rocks. That was one space occupied. Once the Sky Obsidian Greedy Wolf arrived and occupied the other space, I could officially begin my 100% safe mob grinding!
At the distance, my pet was running toward me while a huge cloud of dust chased behind it. Its tongue was lolling as if it would run out of breath at any moment.
The preparations were complete. It was time to mow down these berserk rhinos!
Bang bang bang!
Three rhinos hit the flat side of my sword as I held the weapon in front of me. I just barely avoided being knocked further to the back. Thank goodness I had enough Strength to keep my balance, or the mobs’ charge could very well knock me out of position and put me in trouble!
Thousand Ice Slash winked into existence and landed right at the center of the mob, dealing damage and freezing dozens of One-horned Rhinos in one go. As I thought, I had chosen a very good choke point. Thousand Ice Slash had a fan-shaped area of effect, and the choke point was almost the perfect size of it. Every hit of the skill dealt about 70k damage to the mobs around, and the splash damage increased this cumulative number by even more. I was pretty sure I could kill an entire group of One-horned Rhinos in just 5 Thousand Ice Slashes. I could never achieve this killing speed and efficiency had I chosen to tackle them one by one.
Well, the quest requirement was to kill 1000 One-horned Rhinos and 1000 Fire Lizards, so this was always going to be a long and arduous task one way or another. The good news was that the Level 140 shadow-rank mobs were 24 levels above me and rich in EXP, so they were the perfect targets to grind until Level 120!
Dust flew everywhere as I murdered an entire ring of mobs with War Crush. Then, I fired a Thousand Ice Slash and just barely absorbed enough HP to tank the next wave. I was trying to fight three One-horned Rhinos at a time, but it really was too much even for me. I had to use Tenacity of the Dead and a health potion to get myself healthy again.
Panting heavily and staring at the equipment dropped by the dead One-horned Rhinos, I complained unconsciously, "Fuck, these things are so hard to kill…"Previous Chapter Next Chapter