The wind blowing against our faces felt as sharp as it was icy. Our surroundings might look green and comfy, but the fact was the edge of the Dharan City ruins alone felt as cold as the depths of hell. It was almost unimaginable that a place of cold and death like this could exist at the Center, a region said to have eternal spring no matter the season.
Suddenly, the Phantom Wolf King crouched low, puffed up the hair on its back and let out a low, guttural growl. It seemed to have sensed something ahead of us.
I pushed aside the shrubbery blocking my vision and moved forward. We were now just dozens of steps away from the vine-covered totems that stood outside the city, and one step away from the truth that was buried in the annals of history for countless years. So far, the devs of Heavenblessed had done a good job of preventing the players from uncovering the various secrets and mysteries of the continent too quickly, and the identity and background of the Nine Sovereigns was one of them.
After we arrived at the foot of the totems, I looked up and examined the dragon-like deity that was depicted on the totems. If I wasn’t mistaken, it was the guardian beast of the Dharan Empire. Besides that, I saw ten magnificent statues standing behind the totems and above the moat surrounding Dharan City. Five of the statues were warriors wielding swords, axes or spears. Their expressions were stern and angry, almost as if they were glaring at some unseen invaders at the horizon. The other five statues were two archers, two mages and one armor-clad woman kneeling on the ground on one knee. The woman’s broadsword was plunged into the moat beneath her and slowly being chipped away by the passage of time.
I unconsciously sucked in a deep breath as I stared at the scenery. I thought the city already looked magnificent from afar, but it was even more impressive up close. It was in no way inferior to our living miracle of a city, Sky City itself. At the same time, it was unimaginable that a human empire this powerful could be destroyed by the undead and corrupted into a den of one of the nine great evils, Ovia the Bloody Finger himself.
After we passed through the totems and reached the edge of the moat, we saw a stone tablet inscribed in the language of the ancient Dharan Empire. The system automatically translated the text and voiced it in a deep and resounding voice—
"The Dharan Empire was a prosperous border city that stood strong against the undead despite repeated invasions. Our warriors are fiercely united against our common enemy, and countless heroes died to protect the empire. Among them, ten ancient braves were conferred the title of ‘Ten Heroes’. However, the enemy’s cruelty far exceeded our imagination, and even they couldn’t resist the enemy forever. Their heroic spirits will never falter, just as we, the citizens of the Dharan Empire, will always remember our beloved Ten Heroes."
I smiled as I looked at the ten statues. "Ten Heroes? Interesting."
Suddenly, Beiming Xue pointed to our right and exclaimed, "Big bro, look! There are people over there!"
We looked at the direction she was pointing, and just as she said, we spotted about a hundred NPCs secretly surrounding the walls. They were friendlies because their names were green in color. Not only that, the city emblem on their shoulders marked them as NPCs of Vanished God City.
I squeezed my legs and rode up to the party. At close range, it was clear that they had fought the undead some time ago. Their armor was covered in black blood, the color that obviously didn’t belong to humans.
The commander of the party was a young warrior who looked to be around 25 years old. He stopped doing whatever he was doing when he saw me and said, "Warrior from distant lands, do you hail from Sky City?"
I gave him a nod of acknowledgment before continuing, "I received a quest to sneak into the Dharan City ruins and explore this undead-infested land."
While explaining myself, I took a closer look at the NPC’s name and was stunned by what I saw—
Malfor the Cloudway (Immortal Rank Boss)
Introduction: Cloudway is a noble of Vanished God City. He practiced martial arts at a young age, and he was famed for being the best student of Vanished God City’s School of Magic and Martial Arts. After he graduated, he became the commander of Vanished God Army’s main army. Cloudway has been a fiercely righteous man since a young age, and his one and only aim is to defeat the Night Creatures. He never took part in the fight for the throne even though he was the fifth prince, and he is well loved by all the commoners of his city.
This was surprising. I wasn’t expecting him to be a prince.
The first thing I did after the realization was to press down on my Dragonlight Helmet to cover up my red eyes. Only then did I ask, "Your Highness, why have you come to this dangerous city?"
Cloudway lowered his voice and answered, "It is not my intention to travel to this damned land of the dead, but the Night Creatures have been harassing our borders constantly as of late, and I received news that the Eye of the Purgatory at the center of the Dharan City ruins is emitting huge waves of energy. This means that countless undead are climbing out of the purgatory and onto the continent. I suspect that damned devil, Ovia the Bloody Finger, is up to no good again, and I’m certain that this ploy is a sword pointed toward Vanished God City. This is hardly the first time Ovia has plotted against Vanished God City, so I came to investigate the ruins and find out what it is."
Lin Yixin blinked once. "But why must you, a prince, undertake such a risky venture yourself? Is Vanished God City lacking capable people so much?"
Cloudway gritted his teeth but kept his tone civil, "Hmph, those nobles only know how to drink, pleasure and politic for their own gains. None of them are willing to spare even a moment of their time to wonder about the Night Creatures, especially since they believe that our border fortresses are sturdy enough to protect our lands. Long story short, they’re just unwilling to let go of their decadent lifestyle. However, someone must deal with the undead, and if they won’t do it, then I will!"
I gave the prince a respectful nod before shooting the ragtag band of troops behind him an incredulous look. "Your Highness, I’ll be frank with you. If Ovia the Bloody Finger discovers you right now, you won’t have nearly enough men to protect yourself!"
Cloudway gripped his sword in anger as he voiced his agreement. "I know. We were twenty thousand strong until we were attacked by a band of Rot Feeders. At first, I thought that it would be a quick rout, but they kept coming almost as if their numbers were endless. In the end, only a hundred or so of us were left. Nevertheless, I will explore this place and deliver the information back to our garrison even if I am the last living person of my army."
Worried for the fate of the prince, Beiming Xue gripped her bow and pulled my arm a bit. "Let’s help them, big bro? If we don’t, this brave prince is probably going to die."
I nodded in agreement. "Yes."
So I turned around and said, "Your Highness, we may be adventurers from Sky City, but we are all warriors of the Silver Moon Alliance. We are willing to offer you our aid to complete your quest!"
Cloudway exclaimed in pleasant surprise, "Thank you! The fact that you were able to come this far already proves your strength, so I am sure that I will succeed with your aid! Now, let us walk together. Princess Karinshan of Sky City is a good friend of mine, and I have visited Sky City many times as an emissary. Today, our cities shall join forces and resist the Night Creatures together!"
Of course, NPCs couldn’t form a party with us, so we simply followed behind Prince Cloudway and his soldiers.
Cloudway looked at the walls and lowered his voice again, "There aren’t many undead soldiers in the city, but we shan’t be careless nonetheless. There are 10 axe fighters on the walls, and we have 5 ropes in possession. Let us scale the walls in silence and assassinate them without alerting the giant beasts guarding the city."
There were two ropes right next to our party, so I grabbed one and unsummoned the Armored Ice Qillin Horse. As I scaled up the walls, Lin Yixin grabbed the other rope and climbed up as well. Beiming Xue and Lian Xin followed behind us, and Murong Mingyue behind them. Cloudway and his soldiers occupied the other three ropes.
When we reached the top of the walls, I sneaked a glance and saw three axe fighters dozing off not far away from me. I bet these dirty undead never imagined that someone would be bold enough to attack Ovia the Bloody Finger’s stronghold.
I looked to the side and saw Lin Yixin staring at me with her big, round eyes. "Go?"
"Go. I’ll take the two on the left, you take the one on the right!"
I abruptly jumped up the wall and waved my arm at an axe fighter. He was immediately bound by the God Binding Art. Before the other axe fighter next to him could react, I stunned him with Thunderous Charge, summoned the Phantom Wolf King and hacked away like crazy. Beside me, Lin Yixin had also stunned the third axe fighter.
Shortly after, Beiming Xue scaled up the wall and fired her deadly single-target spells and arrows at the mobs. The axe fighters’ HP dropped like a rock, and in less than half a minute, all three were dead where they stood.
Our speed was nothing compared to Prince Cloudway’s, however. When I turned around, I was shocked to find Prince Cloudway cutting off the axe fighter’s heads with a single strike of his weapon. This meant that the NPC was dealing at least millions of damage per hit! It was the power of a Level 200 Immortal Rank boss, and it was something no player in the world could ever hope to achieve.
Cloudway pointed to our right, and we saw a spike-covered forest giant dozing off right beneath the gate. It was a Level 210 Immortal Rank boss, and it was surrounded by a ton of sleepy undead archers. Thank goodness we hadn’t chosen to attack the gate directly, or the Immortal Rank boss and the archers could most likely instakill me even through my shield.
We carefully sneaked our way down from the sides without alerting the giant. It wasn’t like I wasn’t tempted to kill the Immortal Rank boss, but it simply wasn’t possible with our current manpower. It was accompanied by a thousand dread-rank mobs, and they would surely attack us at once if I aggroed a single one of them. There was only one outcome here, and that outcome was death.
Speaking of which, a new SSS+ Rank quest had appeared in our quest log, and the quest objective was to scout the enemy with Prince Cloudway. It didn’t take a genius to figure out how difficult this quest would be. Lin Yixin and I couldn’t help but exchange a worried glance with each other. It was like pulling chestnuts out of the fire.Previous Chapter Next Chapter