Questing V1, Chapter 5: Skills

Unlike a certain bear, Demil was able to easily discover all of the incredibly useful aspects of her newly acquired Lunar seal. After reading through the intro in a few seconds, she immediately activated the ‘map’ function.

She didn’t even look at the explanation, and easily discovered that it only displayed places that her party had been before. However, between the four of them, they had been to all the major cities in the country, plus plenty of random places.

Most importantly, she was able to clearly see on the map, the exact path that Coffee had traveled from Angren, two-thousand miles to the east, and even where he was at that moment. When the map was zoomed out all the way, she could only see cartoonish portraits of her companions, and herself, covering their general location.

Demil giggled when she saw the adorable brown teddy-bear that was surrounded by nothing but orange sand, then she noticed something very strange. A hundred miles northeast of where he was, there was a fluffy white-furred squirrel, and the head-shot of a blond-haired, blue-eyed, Elven girl.

It was definitely strange, but once she thought about it for a moment, she honestly didn’t care how those two had gotten there so fast, or why they were even there in the first place. The most interesting thing, was that when she zoomed in all the way, she was able to see a close-up view, in real-time, of her sleeping boyfriends face: He was laying on his back.

When she pulled back a little bit, she let out a sigh of relief; although he was a bit injured, it was nothing compared to some of the wounds he had received in the arena. Confirming his safety, she quickly utilized the ‘party chat’ feature, and sent him a short message, before closing the map; she was sitting in first-class, on the magical maglev train.

The tigress was fine with riding on wagons or various animals, but if she didn’t have fresh air, and couldn’t see where she was going… well, reading definitely didn’t help with her motion-sickness. Her whole body was covered by a thin, transparent, ebony robe: made out of black-mithril fibers, which were grown from genetically altered cotton.

There was even a veil over her face, and she wore obsidian dragon-scale boots; all of it was to prevent her aura from leaking out, while allowing her to wear nothing but the bare minimum of clothing required to not be nude. Although, a white demon-silk bikini, which barely covered her genitals, and blended in with the color of her fur, was more like beach-wear than desert equipment.

Demil’s two black-mithril semi-automatic pistols, were holstered on the belt around her waist, but the rest of her weapons and supplies, were being kept in storage. She could afford to use one of the more expensive, private seats, but there wasn’t nearly enough room for her to keep all of her luggage with her.

With nothing to do, and unable to sleep, the nauseous tigress looked at her palm again; immediately, an illusion that only she could see was displayed. It appeared to her as a holographic image, but the information was actually being sent directly into her mind: though she had no way of knowing that.

There was a menu, with settings, stats, skills, chat, shop, help, party and she was able to scroll down the list of features with her left hand, as if it were a touch-screen. However, no matter how intuitive Demil was, she had lived most of her life in a jungle, where the most advanced technology was a stick with a jagged bone attached; even with everything she had learned since going to Black Mithril… computers, video-games, such concepts didn’t exist anywhere on the planet in that era.

Only beings such as Luna and Terra had access to magical and scientific knowledge, that was far beyond anything that a relatively normal person like Demil could understand. Of course, there were other spirits which defied the typical common-sense, but sentient celestial bodies were far more overpowered in comparison.

The first thing that the tigress wanted to know about was ‘factions’ because she wasn’t familiar with that word. When she accessed the information, the holographic screen changed to an incredibly long list, and at the very top were the three neutral factions: Luna, Terra, and Sol.

Then she noticed something strange, the first name below them was ‘Michael’ and when she tapped on it, she saw a ranking list. There were levels similar to the ones that the BCHAA used, except the classes were all much more specific and unique; instead of simply ‘tank’ or ‘ranged dps,’ Coffee was an ‘Aqua-Warrior’ and Demil was considered a ‘Runic-Markswoman,’ but their levels remained the same.

When she touched her name, it was possible to see her race, gender, age, sexual orientation, how many things she killed in her life, quests she had completed, achievements she earned; basically, all of her personal-information was easily accessible to anyone within her faction who was a player. Oddly enough, everyone except for her party of four, was listed as NPCs: which meant that, none of them even knew about the mysterious game that they were a part of.

Then she noticed that Rachael and Alexis had levels that were drastically superior to what their adventurer’s badges said. One was a level seventy-eight nature-mage, and the other was a level fifty-five assassin; though it wasn’t actually that weird, since they had most-likely hidden their real power while taking the test. They also gained an absurd amount of power while gorging themselves at that buffet as well.

As soon as she saw the levels of the various spirits, she started snickering; the highest number was nearly a thousand, and it belonged to a certain dryad, but the ‘faction-leader’ was only at four-hundred. Although, those numbers were dependent on the ‘class’ of that person, so even though Ailyn Ironheart was a level two-hundred and fifty inventor… it had nothing to do with her combat prowess.

Considering that Demil had never even heard of runic-magic or firearms before she went to Black Mithril, she must have had a lot of natural talent in marksmanship; plus, all Tiger-Tribe who were born and raised in the third-ring, were gifted with a fairly high fire-attribute and a rather large mana-pool. Kodiak-Tribe were more attuned to water, and their extreme muscular-development and bone-structure, allowed them to grow up to eleven-feet tall and over twelve-hundred pounds; all of the races in that region had a huge advantage over anyone from the outer-rings of Lorthon Forest.

Once she was finished investigating random high-level spirits within Michael’s faction, she saw a huge list of hostile factions like: Hell’s Legion, The Seven Sins, The Righteous Seraphim, True Pantheon, and Draconic Supremacy. They had no allies, but plenty of enemies; yet her only reaction was “Well, whatever, it says that there are special rewards for killing them anyway.”

There were many types of ‘points’ that could be used to buy various items, information, and even biological upgrades. However, since Demil and the others were only given three skill-points each, her shopping experience was a pretty limited.

To test it out, she decided to purchase “Basic Identification” which was one of the recommended beginner skills, and only cost a single point. The instant she clicked on the illusory button that read “Install” she could feel the knowledge flowing into her mind, but she didn’t notice anything right away.

Then she pulled out a loaded magazine from her gun-belt, and when she gazed at it intensely, a holographic display appeared in the air beside it. “Black-Mithril Reinforced Semi-Automatic Pistol Clip: Contains seven fully charged, twenty-millimeter magnum incendiary runic-bullets. Approximate total value in Alfirin currency: one-hundred and fifty gold dollars.” If she wanted to receive anymore information than that, it would have required a more advanced version of the skill.

Demil smirked at the description and muttered “It’s interesting, but kinda pointless to use on things that I already know so much about.” as she put it back into her belt, and looked at her right hand again. It opened directly to the shop menu, then she scanned through her ‘class-specific skills’ and found something interesting.

Unlike the first one, the second not only required two points to buy, but she also received a painful migraine immediately after her purchase. However, she needed to find out if her skill worked or not, so she unholstered her left pistol, and aimed it at the ceiling; the moment she whispered “Trajectory Perception” she could see a beam of red light, shooting out of the barrel and clearly marking the spot where the bullet would have most likely impacted, if she had pulled the trigger… and didn’t have the safety on.

After happily giggling at her newly acquired power, she quickly put her gun away, and closed her eyes. Her smile turned into a grimace, because her headache increased in magnitude by a few times; there was still around two-hours before she arrived at White Mithril, so she decided to ignore her suffering by sleeping the rest of the way.

Since Rachael and Alexis were essentially comatose, the only person in their party who wasn’t unconscious was Coffee. The reason for his state of alertness, regardless of how incredibly exhausted he was, had to do with the violent sandstorm that was making it immensely difficult for him to keep from being buried; he honestly had no idea of what the proper procedure was under such extreme circumstances, so he just kept limping north-ish.

Not only was the bombardment and pointless exercise causing him to waste energy, he was also dehydrating at a quicker pace, and he kept wandering in circles due to the fact that his sense of smell was being hindered. Of course, he could have simply looked at his right hand and opened the ‘map’ function, but under the circumstances, he didn’t have the luxury of experimenting with that strange magic that he couldn’t comprehend.

The ground was rumbling from the earthquakes that were over a hundred miles away from him, but in the middle of a sandstorm, he didn’t even notice it. Eventually, a chime started resounding in his mind, and he felt an intense burning sensation on his right palm, prompting him to stop and pay attention to a message he had received from Demil: “I’m going to sleep now, so I wanted to remind all of you to buy some skills… there are a lot of really useful ones, and you should all have enough points to get a few of them.”

Coffee sighed, and opened the menu while grumbling “What the hell kinda martial arts or spells could possibly be useful in this situation?” However, the moment he saw the ‘recommended’ section on the first page, he had a dumbfounded expression as he muttered “This really would have been helpful, two days ago…”

Mana didn’t only congregate in matter, but also within energy. After the sandstorm had finally passed, he was finally able crawl up onto the biggest dune that he could find, and begin attempting to use the two skills that he had purchased a few hours beforehand.

Fortunately, the sun was already beginning to rise, so he would have a full day to try and learn the “Beginner Solar Aura Absorption” technique. The whole trick, involved utilizing the giant patch of bark on his abdomen, plus the smaller ones on his chest, left shoulder, and right thigh, to ‘capture’ the mana which was carried along with the various types of electromagnetic-radiation.

The efficiency was far lower than if he had been an actual dryad, but in the middle of the desert, it was on par with the amount of mana his body could soak-up by simply breathing the atmosphere in the first-ring of Lorthon. However, there was an obvious reason why it only cost him a single skill-point; the ability was only useful during the daytime, in places with excellent sunlight, and it was so simple that practically all plant-life could figure it out on their own: Well, they did have genetic memory to make things easier though.

Absorption was fairly simple, retention was a lot more difficult. Coffee had spent the other two points on the “Basic Dryadic Aura Crystallization” technique; which was something that treants typically had to figure out on their own, and usually required thousands of years for them to understand. Although, he just tapped a button and had the information downloaded into his brain, causing a severe headache; but once it was done, all he had to do was practice.

Under normal conditions, mana-infused food, drinks, or simply the air that a person inhaled, would have entered their body, and been consumed; as digestion or respiration was occurring, the person’s internal mana-pool would begin to rapidly transmogrify the new mana. Eventually, it would lose its adhesion to the matter, and then be able to freely pass through the organs, bones, and other tissues; most animals and plants wouldn’t be able to control it at all, and their auras would immediately dissipate into the atmosphere: mainly from exhalations.

Mages whom had lived in a level-zero mana-zone for all of their lives, wouldn’t have been able to comprehend that someone could cast even the simplest spells, without many years of practicing some sort of mana-retention technique. It was the same way that Coffee felt a strange sense of freedom in Black Mithril, as if an immense pressure was released from his body and mind; however, that desert was more like being in a vacuum, where even his internal aura was unable to persist.

Well, since he had the knowledge forced into his brain, it didn’t require a great deal of effort for him to comprehend what needed to be done. It was nature-magic, which he had been completely unfamiliar with, but still had a great innate affinity; each of the grey-ish and wilted patches of smooth bark on his abdomen, chest, shoulder, and thigh, had begun losing their luster at a rapid pace.

As the mana-rich solar radiation bombarded him, the dryadic parts of his flesh were managing to hold onto that power, and using it to transform into a much more effective absorption and storage device. The rest of his muscles, flesh, organs, and bones were meant to function in an environment with mana so dense, that the typical human would simply die from the pressure on their weak auras; which meant that they needed to push with enough force of their own, to let him live in the third-ring comfortably.

While Coffee was frantically struggling against his impending death, by dehydration, a hundred or so miles to the northeast… calamity was unfolding. Quena was near the coast, but far enough from the shoreline to be unaffected by the tsunamis; unfortunately though, all five villages were within range of the violent hurricane that had suddenly appeared.

Moments after their ‘Goddess’ had awoken from her seeming eternal slumber, the earthquakes and volcanic eruptions had started. At first the ignorant masses, less than five-thousand fox-tribe, had attributed it to her presence, influencing the world by her immense power; however, once the tidal-waves and tempests began killing hundreds of villagers who had been idiotically close to the ocean, they needed someone to blame.

When they noticed that their people’s faith was waning, the various patriarchs and matriarchs spread the news of a certain ‘evil’ god who was approaching them. They decided not to send an envoy out to the mysterious brown-furred man, and were hoping that he wouldn’t be able to find their villages.

None of the desert-dwelling clans in that region had ever experienced a hurricane before, but they had lived through plenty of sandstorms; so they knew that once the wind picked up, they needed to take down their tents, and retreat into the various caverns within their territories. There were hundreds of cave systems, and thousands of underground tunnels in that region, most of which were completely safe. However, thousands of years before then, there were legends of dragons, monsters, and divine beasts inhabiting the deep underground-chambers; plus, some of the caves were filled with poisonous gas, extremely hot, flooded, or unstable.

The palace of Maat, was an ancient and colossal, two-hundred meter tall, pure-white metallic-obelisk; it was situated on the peak of a very small mountain that was protecting Quena village from the tsunamis. Even though the majority of the sacred temple was just a spiral staircase, the very top of it was incredibly spacious; the entire structure was shaped like a relatively thin pillar, with a hundred-feet in diameter disk balancing upon it.

There were no lightning rods on the building, because the material it was constructed out of was able to maintain in pristine condition for millions of years: A few earthquakes, hurricanes, and even a nuclear explosion wouldn’t have proved very dangerous to anyone who was living inside of it. Within the hollow disk was an extremely large and empty circular room, with an abnormally high ceiling, and each of the walls functioned as a panoramic window.

Five female Fox-Tribe mystics, wearing coyote pelt skirts and nothing else, were gathered around their goddess; the nude but fur-covered, vulpine-girl was hastily devouring a wide assortment of ‘delicacies’ that had been offered by her followers. Even in such horrible weather, hundreds of devout worshipers were making pilgrimages from dozens of miles away; although, on the back of camels or horses, it only took a few hours.

Most of the food really wasn’t that impressive, simply fruits, dried and fresh meats; many of the deaths were caused by zealots attempting to catch fish for Maat. It wasn’t as if she was forcing them to carry out such foolish actions, but her policy was to never turn down a free meal.

They might have been her descendants, but after a few generations the familial connect became a bit weak. Her mates over the first couple centuries were of her race, but had significant differences in physical features, and then somewhere along the line a handful of desert-elves were mixed in; essentially, everyone she had ever truly known, died of old-age, disease, were killed by monsters, committed suicide, or were murdered.

Once her last great-grandchild died, a strange blue-skinned lamia who had lived in the cavern underneath Maat’s palace, told her about the mysterious obsidian-egg; thus, she stayed in a dreamlike state for millennia, and when she received a rather simple telepathic message saying nothing but “Time to wake up, little girl.” she immediately did as she was instructed.

The outside of the palace might have been pristine, but the floor inside was covered in dust, sand, dirt, mud; there were goats, chickens, oxes, hares, rats, coyotes, lizards, snakes, even cacti, palm-trees, grasses, and other plants were growing near the windows. Vents in the ceiling connected to the outside, allowing for lots of fresh air and water to enter the giant saucer-shaped room; there were several drainage grates to prevent flooding as well.

It was a mystical ancient artifact, which Maat had claimed as her own when she was young; strangely enough, even after all those millennia, her descendants had managed to maintain the crowded ecosystem she originally created there. The animals were all essentially domesticated livestock, and the plants were either to feed them, or for the caretakers to eat.

She was sitting on some orange sand, near the northernmost window; laid out before her were many of the offerings that she had yet to devour, resting on a large cowhide carpet. They used gourds, coconuts, animal bones, and palmleaves as bowls, cups, and plates.

Maat finally started to feel better after eating and drinking non-stop for several hours; then she noticed the five women who were kneeling patiently beyond the extravagant feast, and tilted her head to the left, before yelling “Are you brats just gonna stare at me all day? If you’re hungry, eat; there’s no way I can finish all of this myself!”

A woman with dark-brown skin, but thick, braided grey hair and fur, was in the middle; she frowned and asked “Goddess, how could we lowly servants possibly consume the divine offerings, meant for Your Eminence?”

The raven-winged obsidian fox-girl snickered for a few moments, then her face turned deadly serious, and she said “You fucking brats… just what the hell has gotten into everyone since I left? It’s fine if you revere me as your ancestor, but there are limits. When the hell did you kids decide to deify me? Damn it, you need to make sure that everyone stops that, now! Shit, well, we still don’t know who that guy is yet… hopefully, he isn’t one of ‘those’ bastards.”

Maat had been around for long enough to know that there were quite a few taboos, which would only invite misfortune if broken. Unreasonably powerful beings and organizations existed throughout the world, all of whom had their own rules; under normal circumstances, they wouldn’t even notice or care about a few thousand desert-fox tribe. However, that aura she had felt, coming from that woman who told her to awaken, was truly terrifying.

She wasn’t willing to take any chances, especially since so many strange things were happening one after the other. The completely pale-skinned, and white-haired woman on the far right, who was slightly chubby, quickly replied “Goddess, you are our creator! I-I don’t wish to sound impudent, but how can you expect us to throw away the beliefs which we have held in our hearts for over a century?!” while scowling.

Each of the mystics were extremely distressed, but Maat was even more so. She grimaced, which appeared similar to a snarl on a fox’s face, and calmly told them “You’re simply too young to understand… if you have faith in me, then just do as I’ve said. As long as they stop using the word ‘goddess’ everything should be fine, I just hope that it isn’t too late already.”
A thousand miles to the southwest, it was a beautiful sunny day at the border between Lorthon Forest and The Endless Desert. There was a colossal, five-meter tall, silver-scaled, four-legged lizard treading across the orange sands, heading east; dozens of very large bags were spread out across the beast’s flat and rugged back. On the monster’s forehead was a runic seal, which appeared similar to the one on its rider’s left hand.

The number seven-hundred and seventy-seven was tattooed, using a tiger-girl’s blood as the ink. It was a proto-dragon, indigenous to the mithril mines of Angren; not only was its intelligence equivalent to a generic reptile, but anyone with a proper mana-sense would have easily been able to verify that it didn’t have a soul.

Fortunately, that meant there were no moral issues with Demil buying it and connecting the creature’s mind, to her own. It was the typical procedure for taming powerful magical beasts, a rather complex runic spell that very few people could actually use: which was one of the reasons why it cost her so much money.

She was able to easily relax atop the gigantic iguana, because it was nearly as wide as it was tall; the lizard’s length was at least fifteen meters, and its tail was nearly twenty. The proto-dragon was able to walk and slide its body across the sands without making the ride too bumpy for the tigress, who was sitting atop an incredibly comfortable white, magical-beast leather, sofa-chair.

Demil was still wearing her loose and transparent, black-mithril fiber robe, which had a hood and veil to completely prevent her aura from escaping. Next to her right armrest was a mounted, obsidian-colored, semi-automatic, twenty-millimeter sniper-rifle: with a relatively small and simple scope attached.

There was a large ebony pistol holstered on each side of her waist, and a very sleek, reflective, silver assault-rifle was resting across her lap. It was a fairly simple design, with a forty-five caliber barrel; the gun was up to scale with a tiger-tribe female’s body size, so it was pretty big, and used an ammo-drum: which held a hundred dwarven-steel bullets, that were basically a cheaper alternative to black-mithril.

Occasionally, she would utilize her “Trajectory Perception” and test how far the illusory beam of red light would travel. Unlike a laser, it would actually be completely visible to her from as far as her incredibly powerful eyes could see; the red line was affected by the wind, gravity, and other obstructions, so she could tell exactly where her shot would potentially impact without having to know or think about such things.

Demil’s brain was still doing all of the work, it was just being carried out by her subconscious mind; she had bought a cheap, nine-millimeter pistol, and a few dozen boxes of generic ammunition, so that she could test out her seemingly overpowered ability. The result, was that the bullet was completely accurate at close-range, but past a certain distance, she wasn’t even able to see the beam anymore: essentially, it wasn’t quite as amazing as she had first thought.

Every now and then, the mithril proto-dragon she was riding, would need to stop and dig-up some minerals to eat; the creature was able to survive for an incredibly long time without water, but there was no point in crossing the dunes… when there were truly massive rivers along the way. As long as they stuck close to that northernmost, winding, and seemingly random riverbank, they didn’t have to worry about starving or dehydrating for at least six-hundred miles of the journey.

There were plenty of animals and fruit to devour, no magical beasts, but she had exorbitant amounts of dried, pickled, jarred, or canned mana-rich foods; she had also bought plenty of bottled beverages, there were enough provisions for her to be comfortable for a few weeks in the middle of the desert. Demil and her silver-scaled mount, didn’t seem like they were in any kind of rush to reach their destination; the giant lizard’s maximum speed was close to a hundred miles-per-hour, but it was just casually walking, and taking a lot of breaks.

Sometimes, the white-furred tigress would take out an ironwood fishing-rod, and would spend up to an hour catching a fresh meal; she was able to cook using fire-magic, but that would have been a waste of mana, so she just used a lighter and a portable grill. She would also go swimming to cool her body down, even though she could have solved that problem with a bit of mana as well.

For most of her life, Demil had never even heard of seasonings; however, before leaving civilization, she made sure to pack plenty of preservatives, sauces, vinegars, spices, and dried herbs for the trip. Her preparations were truly extravagant and if she didn’t have such a colossal beast to ride, there would have been no possible way for her to carry a fifth of her luggage.

Fortunately, the map feature of her Lunar-Seal seemed to work all day and all night, so she could see that Coffee was… relatively fine. Rachael and Alexis showed up, but when she tried to zoom in, all she could see was a large silver disk; once her boyfriend figured out how to communicate with her through the chat feature, her worries completely vanished. Neither of them seemed to have been very concerned about their silent comrades.

While the bear-man was struggling every day to absorb and retain enough mana to keep his body hydrated, as he slowly starved to death, the tiger-girl was treating it like a luxurious vacation. There were several instances where she happened upon ‘bandits’ from a reptilian tribe, that had dark-orange and rough skin, slit pupils, and had large crocodile tails; although, for the most part, they were basically five to six foot tall humans.

Since the brigands only had simple spears, bone-clubs, and sometimes slings, even if there were a thousand of them, they wouldn’t dare attack or even show themselves to a giant silver proto-dragon. Demil had an incredibly sensitive nose, so she could easily smell them from a mile away, but that was it… she didn’t really have any way to know who they were, or what their occupation was.

However, on a beautiful moonlit night, three days after she entered the desert, the tigress received a notice from her hand. It read “New Lunar Quest! The ‘Sahidic Demons’ are an infamous clan of bandits who have a large encampment along The Iteru River, three miles north of your current position. They ambush unsuspecting merchants who enter their territory, stealing whatever they can, and they have murdered three-thousand, five-hundred, and seventy-nine people over the course of sixty-two years. Your patron spirit Luna has placed a bounty on each member, depending on the severity of their crimes, with their clan-leader being worth the most favor. If you exterminate all of the bandits within one night, you will receive a bonus of three skill-points. Do you wish to accept this quest?”

Demil immediately touched the yes button, and then her map popped-up; she could clearly see a small fortress that appeared to be constructed out of massive orange rocks. It was obvious to her that the original creator had been a fairly powerful earth-mage, so she didn’t want to be too incautious regarding the way she handled the situation.

Inside the six-meter tall, stone walls, were hundreds of rather large tents; there was an illusory red target atop the head of every person, which also gave a number, so she was easily able to determine how many bandits were within each of the fur tents. The average was only one to five, but above a huge wooden longhouse in the central area, she saw a handful of golden skulls, that each had varying amounts of crossbones behind them.

All of the crocodile-tailed bandits were males, but there were a few women and girls wearing collars, and shackles, who didn’t have any kind of identification above them. There were also a few men who were completely unarmed, severely injured, emaciated, and in chains as well; the moment she saw them, a sharp pain shot through Demil’s head, and it felt like the seal on her left hand was on fire.

After taking a deep breath, and heaving out a long sigh, the tigress had managed to completely suppress the rage. However, there was a sharp and cold look in her glowing silver eyes, as she muttered “I didn’t want to use them this soon… but if I want to make sure that everyone dies quickly and without incident, I suppose that I’ll have splurge a bit. Well, it’s already midnight, and those skill-points are definitely worth a lot more than a few hundred gold.”

She commanded the mithril proto-dragon to stealthily slither across the dunes, to a little less than a mile from the walls of the fortress. Actually, there was no possible way that a shiny metallic giant lizard could sneak anywhere, especially with so much moonlight and no cover at all; that didn’t really matter though, because a person who lived in a level-zero mana-zone would have never been able to come to the conclusion that the massive, shiny, hill in the distance, was a sixty-ton iguana.

Even if the lookouts did spot the monster or the seven-foot tall tiger-girl, they definitely wouldn’t have left the ‘safety’ of their stone walls. No one even sounded an alarm, and she was able to use her map function to constantly observe the situation as if she were a hawk, looking down on a huge group of unsuspecting mice.

It took a half-hour for her to set it up on a dune with a decent elevation, but once she had put-together the two-meter long, ninety-millimeter wide, black-mithril tube, it was finally time for her to complete the quest. She carefully opened up a thick silver case, and inside of it were five rather large bullet-shaped objects; each of them was held in place by soft purple fur, and every one of them was of the same caliber.

Demil snickered as she took out the red one of the far left, which was labeled “Ailyn Ammunitions: Hellfire Round. Warning: the use of this product within the first, second, or third rings of Lorthon Forest is strictly prohibited!” She was only able to purchase such a dangerous weapon, because her friend Tomas Ironhammer, was one of the only people in Alfirin who even knew how to make mortars, and had a license to sell them to high-ranking adventurers or military officers.

Once she used her “Trajectory Perception” to find the perfect angle to set the tube at, all she needed to do was drop in the giant bullet. It was actually the first time that she had ever used one before, but it wasn’t a particularly complicated device.

As she looked at the map view one more time, and saw the slaves, she had a wry smile; then she whispered “It will all be over soon…” while dropping the mortar. Almost immediately, there was a loud bang, and a plume of flames fired out of the hole, launching the round high into the sky; after traveling directly above the center of the fortress, there was a small explosion and a bright light.

Ten seconds passed, and Demil aimed her right hand, which was covered by a black glove, at the area where a beautiful silver fog was descending onto the bandit encampment. She charged her fiery aura into the tip of her index fingernail, which was slightly exposed, and made out of mithril; a thin beam of her concentrated mana fired out like a laser, taking less than a second to reach its destination.

Then she roared “Burn!” and her relatively small, but incredibly intense, fireball spell formed in the center of that sparkling cloud. The circular fortress was roughly ten acres, but in what seemed like an instant to the inhabitants, everything aside from the stones was incinerated by flash of blindingly bright, white-light.

It ended as soon as it began, but the devastation was quite severe; the temperature within the silver fog was so extreme, that all of the sand within the blast radius had melted. People who had inhaled some of that strange gas, were too busy choking to death, to feel their skin and muscle searing off, before their lungs detonated; sending fragments of their charred bones, and boiling blood, firing in every direction as shrapnel.

The “Hellfire Round” was rather merciful against all of the weaklings who had been hiding in their tents, or gathering outside to find out what was causing all of the noise. On the other hand, six out of the eleven targets who were gathered within the longhouse, didn’t die right away; the moment that they heard the first explosion, they immediately tried to hide in the ‘treasure room’ below the building.

Fortunately for Demil, she could clearly see where they were hiding through her map; the building that was made out of mud, sand, and clay, had been thoroughly baked, but was still standing there. After leisurely packing up the mortar-tube, she casually rode her giant mithril-iguana, into the deep-fried fortress.

With a simple smack of the pro-dragons whip-like tail, the fragile structure easily collapsed. Then she had to wait a few minutes for her pet to remove the rubble from the thick piece of solid granite, which ‘Angu’ the giant lizard, quickly devoured with its ridiculously powerful maw.

Inside of that cramped, airtight vault, there were seven people; all of them were terrified, but one of them was bitterly smiling. Six of the men had crocodile tails, snake-like pupils, and appeared to be humans in their mid-forties; however, the one who was chained up against the wall, seemed to have been from one of the many desert-fox clans. He had obsidian skin, scarlet eyes, pure white hair, and orange fur on his triangular ears.

Unfortunately, it seemed like his beautiful, fluffy tail, had been amputated; on his body were innumerable scars, but plenty of fresh bruises and cuts as well. All of his facial features were very feminine, and if he wasn’t completely naked, it would have been rather difficult to verify his gender… though, even that area had been taken from him.

Three relatively large, and incredibly muscular, pale-skinned men were wearing thick leather armor, and wielding iron scimitars; while the others were much smaller in stature, holding knives or daggers. The prisoner began laughing hysterically, as he witnessed the colossal lizard’s face, slam through the thick, granite slab; it crushed the battle-hardened warriors to death so quickly, that they didn’t even have the chance to see what killed them.

Once the massive beast devoured what was left of the bandits and rocks, it backed away from the ‘vault’ and allowed its rider to gracefully jump down. He wasn’t afraid when the proto-dragon appeared, because he had been expecting to die for months; there was no way that being eaten could possibly be more painful or terrifying than what he had already been through, but meeting ‘Her’ was a different matter.

While gazing upon that beautiful, pristine, white-tigress, his only thoughts were of awe and shame. Tears began welling up in his crimson, vulpine eyes, as he tried to kneel before her; since his arms and legs were spread out, being stretched to their limits, while being chained against the wall, he was forced to displace such a disgusting scene to the ‘goddess’ before him.

With the head of an animal, and the body of a woman, there was no other possibility in his mind; his vocal cords were clipped, so he wasn’t even able to verbally apologize to her. All he could do was be suspended there, helpless, worthless, weakened and beaten to the point of near death, unable to properly greet such a perfect being; obviously, he was a bit delusional and delirious, but under those conditions… it wasn’t exactly surprising.

The tigress was staring at her right hand, while poking the air with her left index finger, and completely ignoring the man in front of her. There was a huge grin on her face, as she snickered quietly; then her eyes suddenly flashed with a bright silver light, and she gazed at the ebony-skinned fox-man.

She glanced at the bindings around his wrists and ankles, then noticed that his hands and feet were completely broken beyond repair. Without a hint of hesitation, she unsheathed the large mithril combat-knife from her left thigh, and used a bit of fire-manipulation, to super-heat the blade; in four smooth strokes, she performed a few amputations, and released him from his shackles.

Before he could fall to the ground, she grabbed him by his long, matted, white-hair; then a huge iguana foot, reached down into the room and allowed her to ride it outside. There was a thick smell of burnt flesh in the air, and a massive cloud of smoke blotting out the moon, but being dragged out of that hellhole by a ‘goddess’ was one of the happiest experiences of that obsidian man’s life until that point.

Then she quickly walked up the twenty-meter long tail, and onto the proto-dragon’s back; dropping him next to her ‘throne’ as she sat down, and purred in a deep, satisfied tone “I wonder what I should get this time?”

(Proofread by Thoeberus)

Next Chapter

3 thoughts on “Questing V1, Chapter 5: Skills

  1. Pingback: Chapter Four: Trial and Error | Immortal Soul

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