Instruments and intrigue
“We’re the first to find this!”
The quartet shouted ecstatically as they entered into the dungeon. Their levels may appear to be higher than the average, but most of this growth came from player killing rather than hunting. Therefore, this was their first time discovering a dungeon.
“Come! From this point on, we can only trust in ourselves.”
Gallantly the quartet took the lead. Originally, the purpose of going through the canyon had been for this exploration, so after having arrived at their objective their enthusiasm rose to an all-time high.
“I’m psyched! Right, Weed-nim?”
Mapan was happy. Quiet contrary to how the merchant normally reacted to going on an adventure.
Weed only nodded his head silently.
‘So the aim of those guys was to bring us here.’
Now he began to understand the quartet’s behavior. It completely explained why they were so strangely and openly kind, why they got them to go down into the canyon.
‘These guys were not trying to go over the Bar Khu Mountains; first and foremost they were trying to arrive here. They are after one thing, treasure.’
So taking us had had a purpose, Weed thought. If not, there was no recognizable need for them to embark with the four. Weed pretended to be completely oblivious of this.
“This an amazing experience, and it’s all thanks to you Mr. Gran. Sculptors do not find experiences like this so easily…”
“Yes, that’s what I believe: The fun in Royal Road lies in hunting together with others.”
The quartet bored a path deeply through as they entered. Weed and Mapan followed slowly after them.
“These humans enter our nest.”
The origin of the response was a little bit inside the tomb, a lit campfire at which werewolves were relaxing. A good number of werewolves were living inside this dungeon.
Lycanthropes were widespread in the Bar Khu Mountains. The werewolfes inside the cave transformed into wolfs and attacked
“What the… just Lycanthropes?
“What a huge disappointment!”
While unsheathing their swords, the quartet separated and gently managed (don’t know what to do with this…maybe surrounded.) the lycanthropes. Lycanthropes in the field were just a little above lv 130 normally. Gran and Levi were not concerned.
‘Those four are strong.’ Weed judged.
It wasn’t just their level. They also had good reflexes and judgment. They knew where and what to attack and how to properly strike an opponent. They were gifted in combat!
‘4 players… could they be the Dwichigi quartet?’
The movie Weed had seen on a website flashed inside of his mind. Videos uploaded with the vague hope for revenge. Up till now he hadn’t been able to put a finger on why they seemed familiar, now, after he had seen how they fought he had a guess. Weed sighed.
‘A group of beginner adventurers…yeah, sure!’
The first slain monster would drop a good quality item; that was the effect of being the first to discover this dungeon. Therefore, it would have been preferable to chase away the lycanthropes, which were too weak to give proper items, and focus on finding and taking out a boss-class monster. But the quartet didn’t seem to care and hunted the wolfs, advancing further into the cave. The benefit of being the first to find this dungeon had been wasted before Weed’s eyes.
“We trust only ourselves.”
“Then become cancer.” (No clue as to what this should mean…)
The four senselessly laughed as they butchered the lycanthropes.
Either way, one couldn’t ignore the quality of their combat skills. A player killer’s growth in skill proficiency was much higher compared to that of normal players of similar level. There was a lot of hands-on experience when you fought both people and monsters, you found yourself more challenged. Their skills were superb, they attacked without missing even a single opening.
But Weed did have a point of criticism: They spent money like it was nothing, gulping down mana, health and regeneration potions, which cost four gold coins each, as if it was water while they ventured further and further into the dungeon. They acquired money by selling portions of the items they gain from player killing, so they rarely had shortcomings in their purses.
Hunting monsters by yourself was far from a lucrative business: you could make a penny and you felt lucky when you made two by chance. But the quartet didn’t even bother to pick up loot worth copper! It was disturbing for Weed to see people waste items that could be sold for as much as one silver coin in a general store. It was a clash of entirely different worlds.
‘Should I also become a PK’er? All that money, but… my fame would drop!’
Watching Weed pick up the copper around the area of the fight, Mapan found himself in a crisis. The quartet penetrated right through the approaching waves of lycanthropes.
“Oh crap! A lycanthrope…”
He looked at Weed, pleading to be saved, but Weed completely surprised Mapan instead. He had seen Weed extinguish many a lycanthrope.
Many, many lycanthropes!
As soon as they had appeared, Weed had ripped them to shreds.
“Kuhaha ha ha!”
Because of him, lycanthropes were mercilessly mashed into pulp. When his sword had needed repair and couldn’t be used, kicking and head butting had been the way to go for him. Weed not being able to fight was impossible. It may have seemed strange seeing such confident behavior from a merchant, but you couldn’t be even remotely frightened by lycanthropes when Weed was around. Mapan had the solid belief that Weed would protect him. He was the ace in the sleeve.
But…how could this be?
Weed showed signs of being far more terrified than lycanthropes justified. His face had turned into a deep blue color; his body was shaking in fear, in complete and utter desolation.
Weed couldn’t even hear him.
“Are we going to die?”
For once, Mapan was left speechless. He had no clue about what Weed was thinking.
The Lycanthrope attacked!
The werewolf charged at him but Mapan avoided it by rolling on the ground without a second. Even so, he had been extremely lucky. The lycanthrope focused most of his attention on fighting Weed. He performed straight lined assaults, his claws and fangs making it a dangerous but close-quarters attack. Due to that, Mapan had been barely able to avoid it. Even Weed had to roll along the ground to avoid his fierce attacks. The dirt left his clothes stained.
The lycanthrope pursued Weed.
Weed was able to escape with an intact body. Fortunately, three of the quartet came back soon while Margaux finished off the remaining lycanthrope.
After the battle, the quartet apologized to Weed and Mapan.
“We are sorry about this. This one time we forgot about you, it was a big mistake.”
“No it’s ok; we are still alive after all. Thank you for saving us there…”
Hearing Weed’s words, Halman grinned.
- Guys like these are common, they afraid of fighting.’ (As a side note –is the sign to show that the players are whispering, a communication method that allows only friends and party-members to hear what is being spoken)
- When he becomes tense any weapon he’s holding becomes useless.’
Well, classes that do not fight monsters are prone to be unable to wield weapons. It’s my guess that at most he is just a simple level 100. He’s probably even carrying a weapon he’s not accustomed to.’
There are all kinds of people!’
With thoughts like that going through their heads the quartet finally dropped their guard; they were unaware that since entering the tomb, Weed had known all too well that they had black intentions, and that he was waiting for this moment.
Weed had watched as just one escaped the quartet’s slashes.
It seemed coincidental that one of them went past the quartet to threaten Weed and Mapan, but it was obvious that they had planned to do so from the beginning; given that the combat capabilities of the quartet would have been enough to stop them all. The logical result of Weed’s play of thoughts was that they had intended to evaluate the skills and the behavior of both him and Mapan. And Weed’s act had tricked them.
Without a thief in the party, the risk of traps couldn’t be removed.
They had triggered traps 10 times so far, struggling through sand as steel bars popped up to crush them. There were traps everywhere, sometimes one of the four was caught and escaped only to fall into another trap. To Weed the traps were far too obvious, he could see the pitfalls far in the distance.
“Gah, this can’t be happening.”
Halman screamed after seeing his own blood oozing out as his health vanished.
The underground dwarven tomb had two floors. After having found the stairs down, Gran headed towards it without the slightest hesitation.
“Haha, fortune smiles on us.”
Weed didn’t take him seriously, including his laughter.
They came to the Second floor.
The place was even more dangerous; traps were installed everywhere. Sometimes lycanthropes appeared, but, compared to the traps that made their dungeon-walk truly miserable, they seemed to be the lesser evil.
Oil poured from the ceiling, igniting into flames. Standing under the fiery rain, Halman, who had already been seriously damaged, soon died and became a gray flame.
Following slowly behind, Weed and Mapan were still safe.
“This…Wasn’t this trap a bit extreme?”
The remaining members of the quartet didn’t shed a tear for their fallen comrade. They looked at the result with a slightly different approach: One less person meant a higher share for those remaining.
‘I should try to kill another one, so that just two survive this…me and one more.’
‘Well, if one more dies, I will get….’
‘I want to be the only one left alive.’
They did not care about loyalty.
After Halman’s death, the others quietly wished for the deaths of the rest. They already had had the intent to murder Weed and Mapan, so one or two more deaths amounted to nothing.
“But…” Gran suddenly spoke.
“It is a little unfair that we are the only ones at risk.”
Margaux and Levi were surprised with Gran’s words.
- Gran, what the hell are you doing?
We need someone to sacrifice when we get to the thunderbolts. There’s no way you plan to deal with them right now, right?
Just watch. I have an idea.
“I beg your pardon?” Mapan asked awkwardly, but Gran only smiled in response.
“It’s not a big deal. It is my intention to distribute the risk. One of my own colleagues died; don’t you guys feel a responsibility?”
“Then, what do you want of us?”
“I would like for one of you to take the lead. We take the center and the other one of you takes the rear. Like this we share the same risk”
Mapan was clearly hesitant. In his mind, it didn’t matter which way you stacked it, the result was the same. But somehow, the atmosphere made it a bad time to speak out. He had the impression that he should never have come to this place!
‘Still, I am truly indebted to Weed…’
At that moment Mapan decided to take the lead.
“I want to take the lead.”
Weed came out and volunteered first.
“As a sculptor my offense is minimal, but I do have HP to spare, so please allow me.”
“Oh, then you have my thanks.”
From then on, Weed played the lead. You couldn’t call them a party because Weed and the quartet had never proposed it!
They had not invited him to their party as they had been against the sharing of experience. They only gave away the cheap common loot that they didn’t want.
Player killers were usually not allowed to enter most towns. In very serious cases, village guards could attack player killers. There was also the chance of finding someone that had a grudge against them, so it was better to refrain from visiting a town. Anyways, they were only willing to share the loot they thought worthless.
‘This is an interesting place.’
Weed had explored many dungeons and places with monsters. Swarms of bloodthirsty monsters moving about in packs, dangerous hunting grounds infested with wandering Death Knights. Of the many dungeons he had been to, this was the first one with traps.
‘Need to stay alert, or I will find an immediate death.’
Just a little bit ahead of him was a place where blue and red tiles were arranged like a board. A trap-finding skill should have been implemented; however, there was no thief or ranger in their group able to use it.
“Hey Weed, we have to keep moving.” Gran encouraged him from behind.
Weed advanced slowly while pressing lightly on the floor, in order to quickly respond to any traps.
‘First let’s try a blue tile.’
‘What a relief.’
‘Next I’ll step on a red tile.’
Again nothing happened.
It’s a pathway, but Weed was still not even close to the end, more than 50 meters remained.
With no clue when a trap might spring.
‘Blue tile. Red tile. Blue tile. Red tile. Alternating steps and nothing happened. If this was the way to dismantle a trap, then it was far too easy. If it is like that…?’
Weed had a thought: he stopped alternating the colors. He stepped on blue tiles twice in a row. Still nothing happened.
This made him even more wary.
‘This colored walkway is a deception. It is not meant to be anything. It was made as a distraction. If that is the case….’
Weed’s eyes became sharper.
He saw it just ahead, an almost invisibly thin thread extended at the height of an ankle. There it was, at the boundary between the red and blue tiles. Unless you concentrated hard, it was a difficult to find thistrap.
‘The person who trips it is in trouble.’ (Wanted to go with “is in deep sh*t”…such a shame! :D)
Weed naturally stepped past the string. Gran followed directly behind him. Rather than sticking close, there was a little bit of distance. Weed had no intention of bailing him out if he tripped the trap! Ten steps away, Gran avoided it safely. Those left were Margaux and Levi. Mapan, the one person he wanted to keep alive, was last in line, the safest place he could have been.
Gran had also seen that thread. Though it was very faint and thin, being keen on Weed’s cautious movement had allowed him to discover it. Weed must have been lucky, seeing as even he had almost fallen for it himself.
‘Hmm, this trap…Is it just coincidence that he silently avoided it? Or….’
Gran lightly passed over the thread. But he didn’t stop to say anything to the person behind him. If they didn’t know about it yet, they would know soon enough after one more step.
*tuduk (sound effect of trap being sprung)
Levi had moved carelessly onto the thread, no doubt cutting it along the process. At that moment, the walls to the left and right opened up and a rain of arrows poured out.
Levi was overwhelmed with shock from the arrows flying into his body! The only thing he could do was scream helplessly as arrows penetrated hi armor.
“Someone, help me!”
As Levi begged, Gran and even Margaux stood still on the spot. Eventually Levi died from the numerous arrow wounds, and a single breastplate dropped where he had been standing until a moment ago.
“How pitiful to die at a place like this.”
Margaux took the armor for himself. Gran and Margaux just grinned at each other. They considered the other to be an ally, seeing as neither of them had moved a finger to help Levi.
After all, the four members of Dwichigi had met each other as murderers in the first place. The group was merely formed to kill others for fun and deprive them of their items. They had never cared about friendship and loyalty was a thing that one could part with at any time.
Boom! Boom! Kwaang!
The pathways appearance changed.
A single, straight tunnel appeared before them, leading through the underground cave.
Thunderbolts crashed just into the road. White lightning blasted randomly inside the passage ahead. Although it was a magnificent sight, it was also endlessly dangerous.
A three circles spell with a mind of its own, striking without any kind of pattern.
Weed looked back.
“I’m supposed to go through there?”
Gran pulled out a small stone.
“We’re fortunate. This is a stone that collects lightning. With this, we can safely go across.”
Weed identified the stone as he took it, just to be on the safe side.
This stone is considered special because of its high iron content.
It has the power to attract and resist electricity. If it is refined it can become good quality iron.
Options: Electric Resistance 99%.
As Weed read through the stone’s description, Gran and Margaux laughed coldly.
‘We will cross while he takes the lightening.’
‘When we have passed this last obstacle a mountain of treasure will be waiting for us.’
One victim was necessary in order to cross this road. This lighting-collecting-stone stated that you would probably survive.
“Hey weed, just go through it already. You may die but then we would be safe, isn’t that worth the risk?”
Gran gave a toothy grin.
At that moment, they finally revealed their true colors!
“It is a good thing if only I die and everyone else can cross.”
“What are you going to do on the way back?”
Gran and Margaux looked at each other with dumbfounded expressions.
They had only thought about getting the treasure. They had not even thought of how to get back. It had completely slipped their minds.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
They had obtained only one lightning stone! It was irrefutable that they would all die trying to get back.
Gran drew his sword.
“I won’t spare you guys, now that I know that you’re good for nothing. Drop dead.” Gran shouted as he fell into an attack posture. He was on the verge of his breaking point.
“You dirty bastards….”
Mapan snapped back as he grasped the reality of the situation. Yet Mapan still had his ace up his sleeve. Weed.
Weed would deal with them. From observing till now, Mapan knew that Weed was more than enough to fight against Gran. However, Weed still had a terrified look on his face. In that condition, he wasn’t able do anything. Even pulling out his sword seemed improbable.
‘Why… just why? Weed is enough to handle this…’
As Gran began his attack, Mapan thought that something seemed odd about Gran. He didn’t try to attack Mapan or even Weed, no, Gran targeted Margaux, much to Mapans surprise.
“Gran, I knew this would happen!”
Gran and Margaux started a fight to the death.
Gran thought was that he could kill Weed or Mapan at any time he wanted to. As a professional, Margaux had to be the first to die. They had not trusted each other from the beginning, so Margaux was prepared as well.
“Sword of flames!”
The elements of Fire and ice.
Gran had finished the test for his second job advancement, he specialized in fire fencing. Margaux’s specialty as an assassin was the assimilation of darkness. He tried to inflict damage while he remained hidden. Skills ran rampant as flames and drops of blood sprayed. Both men were very offense oriented killers, wholeheartedly devoted to offense rather than defense. Their skills were evenly matched but Gran eventually got him. Maybe as a person optimized as an assassin, he couldn’t achieve victory in straight forward contest.
“Fare well, Margaux.”
“Dammit, I was so close, just a little bit further to that treasure….”
Though Margaux was betrayed, there were no hard feelings between them as he lay dying.
Justice, friendship, nothing! Taking pleasure in the face of deceit is a useless subject. Margaux was near death. Gran stabbed his sword into Margaux’s throat.
“Keuhahaha! Now the treasure is mine.”
Gran’s smile turned into a smirk. Where Margaux had died a shield dropped.
“Weed, Mapan. Two of us will go inside with one of you holding the stone. When we return you will give the stone to me and I will give you the shield instead. The requirement of the shield is level 200 or higher, it is sufficient to include the possibility that you won’t die once the exchange is complete. It is better if you do not reject. I will kill the remaining person now, as I only need one.”
Gran finished the calculations in his head.
When you enter, sacrifice one person and obtain the treasure.
The chance of losing the treasure when you died was low. If you did drop that special treasure, it would be very bad luck. In all probability, if you died, the possibility of dropping the treasure which you got from the dungeon was really low. In addition to that, it was more acceptable that he dropped his own items.
Gran was already savoring the joy of the treasure in his grasp. That was until Weed drew his sword.
The clay sword slipped softly out of its scabbard. Gran’s tone immediately changed, in response to the affront of Weed daring to lift his sword against him.
“Whoa, you plan to defy me? If so, then die here, Mapan you’ll guide me then. I may be considerably injured but this is hilarious, I thought you’d know better than to attack me. Okay, I’ll take any of you attacks for three seconds, try as much as you want.”
“You have my thanks.”
A three second concession like out of a chivalry novel. Weed did not refuse.
“Your choice, have it the way you like. Engraving sword!”
As the sword gathered light, a new sense of insecurity showed in Gran’s eyes.
‘Is it too late to yield now? Yes, you should have anticipated that before you pretended to be chivalrous!’ (Weed should be the one thinking that, no sense otherwise…)
Head shaking, Gran could not imagine Weed wielding a sword, swinging it towards his neck.
The moment before his death a mask of disbelieve covered his face.
Weed executed just one attack with absolutely no chance for a counter; perfect to such an extent that that single attack caused Grans lowered life to be completely drained. Mapan breathed out a sigh. He had predicted as much. This ended the schemes of the quartet, at least for a while.
“So what do we do now? Shall we go back now?”
“We’ve come this far so I’m going to find out about this treasure. Though I find it questionable.”
“How? Once you enter, you can’t come out…. we were brought here to be sacrificed by those four.”
“That does not necessarily mean that you necessarily have to die. These people were novices when it came to adventures; they failed to choose the correct path, that’s all. Although the place is fixed strongly, it does not mean the route itself is, if you understand me.”
Weed chanted a spell and pure white wings sprouted from his back. Since the beginning he had been confident about flying over the Bar Khu Mountains. The reason why he was so confident lay in these wings.
Taken from the Mireukan tower of Lavias, with these wings for 10 gold pieces one could fly for the duration of one month.
Avoiding the falling lightning and thunderbolts, he flew to the opposite side. There he saw smaller pipes and a thing that appeared to be a musical instrument, a harp.
‘This is the treasure?’
Weed took the musical instrument.
Harp of Vino the Dwarf:
Ability: 30% Rise in Female NPC popularity.
Weed looked at the harp, stunned. Eventually his mouth broke into laughter.
Halman, Margaux, Levi, Gran.
For all their conspiracies, only to die by their own schemes! And the treasure was a simple magical harp. It could have been stronger weapons, better armor, but no, it was an instrument to earn a woman’s favor, and the map had even indicated it.