Covered in soot, Aloz sat on the ground. No one dared to approach her for her golden eyes were burning with the violent flame of wrath. Everyone was concerned that the dragon would lash out at them next. Brendel made the smart choice to keep mum. If he were to tell Aloz that this was actually the Hall of Traps, one of the most famous locations in the game and that one-third of the difficulty to go against the Twins of the Dusk Wolves was attributed to the venue, Aloz would definitely take it as a jab. The little female dragon’s temperament was never docile. Aloz would’ve transformed into a giant dragon and swallowed Brendel whole if such remarks were made. Brendel’s silence was decided after careful considerations and a raise of his brow.
Mel was bound to die horrifically- This would be its outcome for angering a dragon. Strictly speaking, Aloz’s strength was about the same as the Twins of the Dusk Wolves. However, Mel wasn’t accounting for a furious Aloz. Surprisingly, the little female dragon morphed into a golden giant dragon and slashed its claw across the black wolf. The wolf was sent flying and before it could even register anything, it was already rolling down the abyss. The battle was over so fast that this might just be the fastest boss sacrifice in the ‘Amber Sword’.
Brendel went to the edge of the cliff, craning his neck over to see where Mel would have landed. What a pity. One-half of the twins had fallen, there really was nothing left. At this moment, he received an icy question. “What do they call that filthy animal?” Aloz’s voice made Brendel’s heart thump in fear. He wasn’t planning on agitating her further but the dragon seemed to have no plans to spare him.
“Mel, the Twin of the Dusk Wolves,” said Aloz with a cackle. The response sent shivers down Brendel’s spine, he was beginning to suspect that the little female dragon was rewired by the lightning trap earlier. Aloz narrowed her golden eyes and stated, “Ha, I can’t believe the legendary leader of the Dusk Wolves couldn’t defeat me. Looks like I can go through with my coming-of-age ceremony.
“Jeez!” Brendel retracted with wide eyes. He had seen narcissists but he had never encountered anyone so arrogant. Anyone with a discerning eye could see that Mel was still in its sealed state. Its strength wasn’t at its prime. After all, this was the Holy Cathedral of the Sleep. If this battle had taken place outdoors, it would probably take more than ten Aloz to stand a chance against any of the Disaster Twins. Despite that, Brendel had never heard of the Dragon Race’s coming-of-age ceremony. If it called for a challenge against a demon whose strength exceeded theirs- Brendel involuntarily cast another glance at Aloz. Could Aloz be thinking of using Mel to accomplish that requirement? Dragons couldn’t be that unreliable, right?
“What about it?” There was a sharp change in Aloz’s tone, her words filled with slight threat.
“No, nothing.” Brendel turned away from the edge. Mainly, he was worried that the little dragon would slap him off to the abyss to accompany Mel. That would be too unfortunate. His deliberate distance from the edge did not escape Ciel’s eyes. The young mage squire immediately betrayed his lord. The Silver Elf Princess beside him, who knew Brendel better, couldn’t help but giggle discreetly. Only the mountain bishop, Hipamila, had found the scene unfolding unbelievable. Hipamila innocently asked, “Sir wouldn’t do that, right?”
Shido, who was beside, nodded. To her, Brendel was already a true dignified scholar.
Ciel could only shrug his shoulders at the two innocent girls. Meanwhile, Brendel had already moved to Aloz’s other side. He changed the topic. “Say, does the Dragon Race’s coming-of-age ceremony really include gimmicks like that?”
“Gimmicks?” Aloz wasn’t too pleased by what Brendel had said. But she had noticed that the cunning human had already left the edge of the cliff, prompting her to snicker under her breath. There was a moment that Aloz had seriously contemplated pushing Brendel off the cliff. How dare he not warn her despite knowing full well that this place was full of traps? The little female dragon barred her teeth. “Since the Silver Ages, the number of giant Dragons had decreased drastically and the age of adulthood had been lowered. I’m old enough for a coming-of-age ceremony but I have to kill a stronger Twilight species to be eligible. Then, I’d need to take another test.”
“Oh, so it’s just to achieve eligibility.” Brendel finally understood. Looks like the Dragon’s coming-of-age wasn’t trifling at all, it was actually asking for one to kill a twilight species and not the demon he had in mind. Twilight species were very common before the era of chaos. Before the Twilight Dragons had died off, ancestors of these ferocious demons had roamed the continent. Today, one could only catch a glimpse of the Twilight species from ancient ruins. Stronger Twilight species were even more difficult to find. After the Azure Knights had split the skies, the superior figures of the Chaos Army were either dead or sealed. Their existences were nowhere to be found in Warndt thousands of years later.
Aloz studied Brendel’s expression, aware of his thoughts. She harrumphed, “Do you really think the Twilight Dragon is dead? At the border of civilization, the world beyond the Black Forest, living beings from the Chaos are not hard to find. The stronger ones are out of your imagination.”
The Twilight Dragons hadn’t gone extinct yet. Brendel wasn’t surprised to learn that. After the Slate War, there were plenty of clues that pointed to its presence. The Twilight Dragons had been defeated multiple times. It could just be hibernating now, awaiting the call for its awakening. If the Twilight Dragon was long dead, the Order of Chaos that worshipped it wouldn’t be so fanatic. Plus, Brendel was aware that the Twilight Dragon bore no physical form. It was just a representation of Order. Just like the world of Vaunte- where Order and Chaos coexisted. Order and Chaos were opposed but interdependent.
Aloz’s words made a lot of sense. The world beyond the Black Forest was unchartered territory for all gamers around the globe. If something was in there, it was reasonable.
Aloz continued delightedly, “After Mister Mephisto kills that one-eyed wolf, I’ll present it to the council as the result of my test. The Twins of the Dusk Wolves… Hahaha. The elders would definitely approve of it. At this rate, my performance will be the best the Dragon Race has ever seen in centuries!”
Brendel was slack-jawed. “Wait, but you’re not the one who killed it.”
“So what?” Aloz rolled her eyes. “How are they going to find out? Who’s going to tell them? You or those Kirrlutzians?”
The way the little female dragon rolled her eyes was oddly charming, or at least this was a rare sight of her girly attitude for Brendel. Almost immediately, she barred her ivory teeth to threaten everyone present. There was no way in hell Brendel would expose her. He wouldn’t benefit from being a whistle-blower and worse even- No, it could almost be confirmed that Brendel would suffer consequences delivered personally by Aloz. He could totally ignore it but his territory would suffer. Imagine having an evil dragon that bore malicious intent towards you near your territory. The dragon didn’t even need to be ferocious. Aloz could just instruct Shitah to hide in one of the mountains to attack passing merchants and make them lose their supplies along with sustenance. Brendel couldn’t afford such damage. Trade was the one that barely brought Trentheim its prosperity. If the trade route was compromised, it wouldn’t take long for Trentheim to return to its impoverished state.
As for the Kirrlutzians… If they wished to expose Aloz, could they even locate the Dragon Race’s territory? It wasn’t a small pitiful country like Aouine. It also most definitely was not a place that one could leave and enter at will.
Regardless of everything, Brendel found it weird. Did the Giant Dragons not care much about their coming-of-age ceremony? He stared at Aloz oddly before the latter responded languidly, “It can be considered that I went on an adventure with everyone.”
So this was what true teamwork was, huh?
Brendel could finally confirm that the Dragon Race’s coming-of-age ceremony had indeed borne no substance.
Just as his mind was fixated on the abnormalities of the Dragon Race’s coming-of-age ceremony, news had finally arrived from the front. Mayne, the one-eyed wolf had been defeated by Mephisto and Veronica. This should be an honour to the unlucky Dusk Wolf as it had been killed under the hands of a maximum level Sword Saint and a Law Peak’s Sword Saint, who was also a squad leader of the empire. Brendel could count the few who had received such honour in the game with a few fingers.
The messenger was a young knight, perhaps instructed by Veronica as Mephisto was currently considered to be on Brendel’s side. Hence, Mayne was killed through the joint efforts of a Kirrlutzian and Aouine. The victory was shared equally. The Kirrlutzians desired to obtain Mayne’s magic crystal and blood. The magic crystal of a demon as strong as Mayne was incredible, it was almost on par with the giant dragons. Veronica too shared the same desire. Unfortunately for her, Brendel knew better that Mayne and Mel’s drop list was one of the best in the game- They had the drop list of the highest rank world boss. Though their levels were honestly a tad lower, anything more superior were items that Brendel couldn’t utilize. Therefore, they shared the loot naturally.
He had asked the knight some simple questions before bringing the Laurenna couple to where Veronica and Mephisto was. Before Mayne could escape far, Mephisto had killed it with one stab at the corridor on the other end of the hall. This had even required Mephisto and Veronica to chase after it for a while. As the nominal teacher, Brendel would’ve already killed the wolf as soon as it moved.
Brendel came to stand beside the huge carcass, noticing that a big hole was made atop the wolf’s skull. The magic crystals were probably dug away. He turned to face Veronica, who was smiling delightfully after having collected such a big loot. Noticing Brendel’s gaze, she quickly said, “Hey, kid. If you want some, I can give you the monster’s blood. You know it too. With the Holy War around the corner, high-level magic crystals are just too important to the empire.”
This sounded like a joke to Brendel. Of course he knew what high-level magic crystals could be used for; it was mainly utilized to power top-level magic-driven weapons. In the Holy War, the Holy Cathedral of Fire was expected to be fully devoted to the battle. This was a battle between authorities, any cowardice would not be tolerated. However, Veronica’s manner was a little too outrageous. Brendel couldn’t help but wonder what kind of magic crystal had she obtained.
But of course, Brendel was sure that the squad leader would never let loose. He turned around and looked at Mephisto, who nodded and promptly signalled something.
“Fuck!” Brendel immediately cursed at his poor luck. The magic crystal was indeed as powerful as a Dragon Crystal. At this rate, the Holy Cathedral of Fire’s war machines had found their power source. However, he genuinely wasn’t that jealous. High-level magic crystals did not amount to much for him. Though it could become an energy source for Valhalla’s growth, middle and lower-level magic crystals could achieve the same too. There was no need for valuables with no demand like these.
“You can keep the blood. As long as the empire can remember the contributions presented by me and the Royal Highness Princess, and not trouble us at critical moments, I will be eternally grateful,” answered Brendel calmly. Honestly, he wasn’t all that interested in Mayne’s blood. Though the blood of the twilight species were high-level demon blood and was a fundamental material to various higher rank equipment, it was different from the magic crystals. No matter how powerful or how much energy was stored in the Chaos being’s blood, it was never considered as the best material. There was no other reason for that- It was too impure. The top blood was still the Golden Blood. If it was permissible, Brendel would’ve planned to have Aloz bleed some time ago.
Naturally, this plan just didn’t make too much sense. The little female dragon’s temperament was plain evil. Perhaps Shitah would be a better choice. With the existence of a moving blood vault like the little stout dragon, how was Brendel supposed to be interested in impure blood?
Brendel’s answer had Veronica shaking her head with a bitter smile. She understood what Brendel meant but the empire’s decision was nothing she could alter. Gryphine wanted to rebuild the kingdom and this went against the interests of the empire. The empire couldn’t just change their idea because of a mere high-level magic crystal. But of course, there was no way she would willingly return her attained benefit. Hence, she decided to keep quiet and stand her ground- Perhaps this was one special benefit limited to ladies.
Brendel stepped over to Maybe’s body and lifted its huge claw. Then, he turned around and asked Laurenne, “Madam Laurenne, can I borrow your fiance for a moment?”
The female knight was blushing furiously. “W-What are you talking about?” She answered stiffly before delivering a slap onto Filas’ back hard. The latter was already moving over to Brendel’s side with a mischievous smile. In the ‘Amber Sword’, lower-level beasts provided no drops. Their parts were already material, which could either be bones, fur or blood. In the case of demons, things were the same except for the addition of magic crystals. High-level beasts were completely different. Demons that had mastered dark magic would typically collect magic items and a small part, like dragons, would carry them around. The other demons would opt to store it with magic. The Dusk Wolves were the same. Brendel learnt that it would normally hide its loot between a magic space between its claws.
Filas pressed a finger against Mayne’s claw tip and a clatter was heard suddenly. It sounded as if something had fallen out of nowhere and onto the ground.
Everyone lowered their heads in response- It was a peculiar golden pocket watch.
The pocket watch had no cover and only half of its dial was left. There were only minute and hour hands on the dial and despite the lack of a pointer, it was still working like a dream. It was as if it wasn’t damaged at all… Or one could say that the remaining half of the watch’s mechanism was still working fine. From Brendel’s perspective, one would notice the incredibly detailed internal precision components exposed on the side of the watch. The gears along the fracture were left in halves, but this didn’t seem to hinder its operation.
As soon as Brendel caught a glimpse of it, his vision went dark.
“What the fuck?!”
He screamed internally.
This was the Elapsed Pointer, a sub-artefact, the top drop in Mayne’s drop list! Filas was definitely worthy of his Face Fighter. With just a casual touch, he could score that one in a ten thousand chance. However, the crux of the problem wasn’t that but a whole incoming ordeal that made Brendel wish to vomit blood----- The pocket itself wasn’t the sub-artefact.
Specifically, this was a sub-artefact set.
When two watches- the Elapsed Pointer and the Backtracking Dial- were combined, they could only be considered as a complete sub-artefact. The current issue was that these two items were supposed to appear together. But Mel, who was supposed to provide the Backtracking Dial, had been slapped off the cliff into the abyss courtesy of Aloz. The abyss beneath the glaciers had led to the Sulfur River below the giant hive. How was he supposed to retrieve Mel’s carcass? It had probably become some demon’s meal.
At this moment, Brendel felt like crying. The bosses he defeated after arriving in this world were already of two digits. He couldn’t believe that when he finally encountered a rare sub-artefact, it was only left with half.
Only half of it…
And it was the most pitiful half- The Elapsed Pointer.
‘The Elapsed Pointer - Once activated, time will accelerate around you. You can achieve effects equivalent to time acceleration. The acceleration speed is up to your discretion but it cannot exceed ten times faster. When time accelerates, any time-based effects (eg: Cooldown, Recharge, Recovery) will accelerate as well. Time acceleration will lengthen your lifespan. When you activate the Elapsed Pointer, you’d lose one-thousandth of your total experience per second. With faster acceleration factor comes corresponding Experience loss.’
‘The Backtracking Dial - Once activated, time will reverse around you. You will be returned to your state ten minutes ago. All your statistics (eg: Life Status, Experience and all other time-based statuses) will reset according to recorded time. The Backtracking Dial requires 72 hours to recharge after each use.’
An Elapsed Pointer without its Backtracking Dial was notorious as the trigger to many accounts of rage-quits. A two-minute usage could easily return the player to its earlier stage before everything else was unlocked. There were many words Brendel wanted to say but his violent urge to kill the little female dragon was stronger. Can’t we just focus on killing monsters nicely?