Sunshine Forest was a contested territory. Since the decline of the World Tree, the people on the continent had been living in utter misery. The humans, barbarians, elves and succubi had to rebuild their cities to fight back against the Night Creatures, and some of these starting villages could be found around Corpse Heap Graveyard, eating into the Night Creatures’ territory.
Sunshine Forest was a high-level training ground outside the starting villages. It was a hotspot for Night Creatures and a place for high-level players to grind experience.
According to official data, Sunshine Forest was an area where monsters’ levels ranged from 5 to 12. For players under that requirement, it was inadvisable to enter. Even if a player was Level 5, they were advised to first form a team, because the forest was crawling with many dangers that could prove to be fatal.
A skill was unlocked only when a player reached Level 10, meaning that physical damage was the only available source of DPS at this time, even for cloth-based professions like Priest, Mage, Tactician and Bard. It was why melee-based classes were extremely popular in the starting villages right now, while Mages and Priests were given the cold shoulder.
That being said, once the player hit Level 10, entered a tier 2 main city and learned their respective skills, Priests—especially hot female Priests—would instantly become the most sought-after class.
I couldn’t form a team because there was no one suitable for me to team up with. Technically speaking I didn’t belong to the true Night Creatures, and I definitely didn’t belong to the human alliance either. I doubt that the players from the Light faction would be willing to team up with an ugly little skeleton like me. Therefore, I could only grind solo for now.
The sun was just rising when I stepped on fallen leaves and arrived at Sunshine Forest. Rays of sunlight peeked through the dense leaves and branches, casting uneven shadows on the ground. Everything looked very peaceful.
I opened the map. The quest marker highlighted the Green Praying Mantises’ spawn area on the map, so I knew it was just a small distance ahead of me.
I was on full alert when I entered the dense forest, sword firmly in my bony hand. It wasn’t long before I suddenly sensed danger!
A sharp, green blade cut through the air. Something was attacking me!
Not even my top-tier +9 Defense chest armor was able to stop the attack from penetrating my defense. A huge damage number rose from my head—41!
What a guy. Its attack power was insane!
I looked up and saw a green, armored creature clinging upside down to the branch of a short tree. It was a terrifying-looking praying mantis with a tough carapace and a pair of forelegs that could transform into blades. This was the monster that attacked me just now!
Green Praying Mantis LV-7 (Common)
Hmph, Level 7? No wonder I took so much damage. That being said, I immediately realized that it was incredibly slow to move and act despite its impressive offensive power; it took four full seconds to recover before attacking again, meaning that killing it solo was no problem at all.
I moved in a perfect arc and arrived on the praying mantis’s right side. Then, I stabbed my sword into its body!
The damage dealt was okay, mainly because the Green Praying Mantis’s defense wasn’t crazy high. Otherwise, I would have been lucky to break its defense with this shabby sword.
A Level 7 monster with less than 300 HP. It shouldn’t take long to grind it down to nothing.
The Green Praying Mantis hissed loudly as it slowly turned to face me. Then, it swung its twinblades in an attempt to catch me in a pincer.
I backed out of its range as smoothly as water before moving behind the Green Praying Mantis, dealing three consecutive strikes in the process. It had been a long time I felt this comfortable leveling up; the superb rhythm I had gotten into made me feel like I was in the zone. Hehe, after being tortured by the three-second brain delay for over half a year, I felt like a fish that had returned to water.
I kited in and out to waste the Green Praying Mantis’s attack opportunities while scoring hits of my own. The Green Praying Mantis might be two levels above me, but its death is all but certain.
Inside a forest, the spectacle of pinnacle leveling efficiency and tactics were brought to life by a skeleton and a praying mantis. Despite the two-level difference, the entire fight felt incredibly easy.
After dozens of attacks and a splatter of green blood, the Level 7 Green Praying Mantis finally let out death throes and collapsed to the ground. It dropped a 14 Quality Small Magic Stone—the lousiest magic stone you could get—that probably fetched for about 140 copper. It wasn’t much, but raw money was incredibly valuable during the early stages of the game. All of the skills you learned at Level 10 cost money, and not being able to buy it because one was poor would be frustrating to say the least.
When I tossed the Small Magic Stone into my bag, I noticed that my experience went up quite a bit. As I thought, the reward for killing a monster that was level-wise superior to you was very valuable. After that, I ventured deeper into the forest and sought out more-isolated Green Praying Mantises to kill.
After nearly two hours of hunting, I successfully killed eighty-seven Green Praying Mantises and reached Level 7. After dropping 20 points into Strength, my attack power had also increased to 22~37, making killing a Level 7 Green Praying Mantis incredibly easy. Unfortunately, the deeper I went into the forest, the higher-level they became. In fact, a Level 10 Green Praying Mantis very nearly one-shot me. Left with no choice, I retreated to the outer edges of the forest and hunted monsters that were Level 8 or below. Better safe than sorry.
Heavenblessed’s death penalty was very harsh. Once a player reached Level 10, every death would result in the loss of a level. A dead player would turn into a soul after they died, and if they wished to revive on their corpse they could spend a level to do so. They could also revive inside a city, but the cost of that was three levels. It was a twenty-minute journey between here and my starting village, and I had no intention of wasting my time like that.
I checked the time and noted that it was over 4 am, but the server was still jam-packed with players. Obviously, a ton of players were still hustling despite the hour.
“Mn, I should try to reach Level 10 and grab my class skills before logging out today!”
I encouraged myself mentally while wandering inside Sunshine Forest. I could head back and complete my quest once I had enough kills.
While I was grinding, I suddenly heard someone speaking from afar. It must be a player!
I quickly picked up the Small Magic Stone on the ground before diving into a thick bush to conceal myself. The only thing that was visible was my eyes—wait that’s not right, I’m a skeleton right now, so the only thing that was visible were my eye sockets.
There was a bunch of rustling sounds, and soon four people trekked out of the forest. There were three men and one woman, and they all looked to be about twenty-five years old. The woman was a Level 7 bard, and the three men were a Level 8 magic knight, a Level 7 warrior and a Level 6 tactician respectively. It was a perfectly standard powerleveling team composition, although, of course, tacticians and bards weren’t useful before they picked up their skills.
“Old Three, are you sure that Green Praying Mantis King is here?” the warrior asked with clear dissatisfaction. “We’ve been killing praying mantises for half an hour already. These Level 6 praying mantises barely give any experience!”
The magic knight said calmly, “Boss, I’m sure we’ve got the right coordinates. Half an hour ago, an assassin friend of mine was one-shot by the boss right here. He didn’t want to revive and get killed again, so he chose to revive inside the city. He lost three levels and over two hours of effort as a result.”
The warrior nodded and replied, “Hmph, I hope you’re right. You’re treating us to a dinner tomorrow if this turns out to be a waste of time, get it?”
“Hah, no problem!”
The group continued to move swiftly. Less than half a minute later, the magic knight suddenly raised a hand and said loudly, “Watch out, it’s here! I knew it, hahaha!”
I saw the boss through the leaves too. A huge Green Praying Mantis shrouded in golden glow was standing not far ahead of me. It was swinging its twinblades looking all cool and impressive.
I slapped my thighs in regret. If only I had taken a couple more steps! I could’ve discovered this boss first before anyone! That being said, I quickly dismissed the foolish notion. Even if I did see the boss earlier, fighting it would probably result in death. After all, I couldn’t even see the boss’s level.
The Level 7 warrior couldn’t stop himself from laughing. “It looks like we’ve struck gold today, brothers! This Green Praying Mantis King is a Level 12 F+ Rank boss and definitely the strongest boss of the starting village! It’ll definitely drop powerful equipment once we kill it!”
Again, the magic knight said calmly, “Please keep your wits with you, boss. This is a Level 12 beast, and the highest-level player among us is only Level 8. We haven’t even learned skills yet. Our chances of killing it are less than 20%!”
The warrior let out a cold snort. “We should give it a try even if it turns out to be impossible. It’s not my style to encounter a powerful boss and not do anything about it.”
“In that case, let’s prepare ourselves for battle!”
After the group had clarified their roles, the magic knight launched the first attack while the rest supported him.
“Here I go!” the magic knight shouted as he charged toward the Green Praying Mantis King. He swung his rusted spear and stabbed it in the mandible.
Cold sweat poured down my head. This defense is just ridiculous! That magic knight was Level 8, but his fully-powered attack could only tickle the boss!
“Not good, we’re no match for it!”
The magic knight retreated in shock, but the Green Praying Mantis King caught him by surprise and landed a slash on his head!
That was close, the magic knight had almost been one-shot by the boss. If his class didn’t naturally have high HP, he would’ve died already.
Currently, the highest-level player of the starting villages was at Level 9, meaning that this Level 8 magic knight was a top-tier professional compared to the rest. But even he was nothing but a noob before this boss.
The magic knight retreated without hesitation after the first attack. The praying mantis moved slowly, so escaping wasn’t impossible.
However, the group barely ran a couple of meters before a group of players suddenly entered their field of vision. They looked menacing, and their levels ranged between 4 and 7. They were obviously elite, and their IDs all had the prefix “Mad Dragon”. The leader of the group was called “Roaming Dragon”. He was a Level 9 magic knight and the highest-leveled player of the starting villages.
Roaming Dragon moved to the front and shouted at the group of four. “The Mad Dragon guild is taking over this place, all unrelated people should get out of our way! Don’t wait till it’s too late!”