The two of them stood on the cliff and gazed at the deathly silent valleys.
“Down there is the Holy Seal Valley. Do you remember the exact steps to capturing the Crystal Stag?” Brendel observed the landscape beneath them. The lower parts of the valley were also covered in dense forests of cedar, but on the grounds between the forests he could see sparkles of light, like stars scattered on the ground. That was the light from the Moonlight Grass.
Brendel turned around and looked at the unperturbed female knight. That answer was exactly like something Bai Jia would give: simple, straightforward, and leaving no room for doubt.
“What are you looking at me for? With your current skills, it shouldn’t be hard for you to capture it. All I remember is that this valley is a concentric circle. The outer ring is where the frost demons live, and then there’s a shallow lake, so shallow that you can directly wade across in some parts.” Maynild looked calm as she breathed in the night breeze.
“You can get all of that from the Empire’s geographic magazines…”
“You guessed correctly, Mr. Brendel. I did get this information from the Manoweir Geographics published in Year 355. My dreams are fragmented and sometimes I have to verify everything using literature.” Maynild answered calmly.
“But you told me you can find the Crystal Stags! They only appear tonight at full moon around 3 or 4 in the morning. They walk along the River of Magic but I don’t have any experience finding the River of Magic…”
“I do, but you have to take me down first.”
Brendel sighed in relief and looked back at the pitch black forest. He nodded and said, “That’s not a problem.”
The region between the outer ring of the valley and the lake in the center was a slope that slanted towards the lake. There were big patches of cedar trees scattered loosely in the area, and Moonlight Grass dotted the ground between the cedar trees. They glinted in the moonlight and, from a distance, they looked like a field caught on fire. That was also where the frost demons resided. Frost demons were a type of Secondary Elemental Beings. They looked a bit like flattened paper figurines, except made of ice. Their powers were equivalent to about three skeletal troopers and they had more HP than those creatures as well. But they didn’t have any special attacks aside from a magic spell called “Blizzard Blade.”
As a low-level monster, frost demons also lacked intelligence and operated purely on beastly instincts. Therefore, hunters could set out traps and capture them. The magic core in their body, the Frost Core, could be used as a poor quality substitute for magic crystals and was sold for a pretty penny on the market.
But Brendel had no intentions of dealing with these creatures -- most frost demons liked to travel in packs, especially in areas near their nests. He did not want to have these monsters attack him as a group.
This was the first challenge of the mission.
For your average player, this would be a source of some trouble. Brendel can imagine that, with the exception of master players, most average players would choose to summon their friends and fight their way in to complete this part of the mission.
But this mission was ridiculously simple for him. He took out King Bunil’s Concealment Cloak and shook it out. After he stood underneath it, he looked up at the female knight next to him and said, “Come on in.”
Maynild hesitated for a fraction of a second and then dove under the cloak, squeezing in with Brendel.
“I’m warning you, don’t use this as an opportunity to mess with me.” She breathed out, her breath smelling fresh as a daisy.
Brendel nodded slightly awkwardly, then closed the cloak around them with his hands. Unavoidably, the two of them got even closer. Maynild snorted quietly but understood that Brendel wasn’t trying to take advantage of her so she didn’t say anything.
With the Concealment Cloak, it became very easy to cross the land inhabited by frost demons. They didn’t even have to entertain the thought of looping around them. Bredenl walked in a straight line across the first half of the valley. Very quickly, he detected spots of silver light in the forest. That was a lake; it sparkled with silver light because its glass-like surface reflected an endless area of Moonlight Grass.
Brendel got nearer to the lake and the Concealment Cloak he held up with his arms began to gradually lose its magic. It flashed twice and then turned back into an old rag.
Just then, Brendel heard a high pitched chitter from behind him. He cursed inwardly and hurriedly packed away the cloak so he could draw Halran Gaia. He turned around and, just as he had expected, he saw a creature, clear as ice, standing in the shadow of a tree not far away from them. The creature was looking at them.
That thing looked exactly like a flattened ice person and was about half of an average human’s height. You could barely make out the bright red glob of light that glinted roughly where its head would be, which looked like an eyeball. But Brendel knew that was just the creature’s magical core.
This was a frost demon.
“Looks like your cloak has a shorter effect time than you expected. You’ve slipped, Brendel.” Maynild turned around and drew her longsword with a ringing sound. She stood back to back with Brendel.
Brendel immediately felt self-conscious. It’s true that since transmigrating into this world, his attention has been taken up by other matters, and his reflexes as a player have slowed down quite a bit.
A piercing scream made twenty to thirty similar looking monsters immediately rush out from the cedar forest and surround the two humans.
“How do you want to fight them?” Brendel asked.
“I can take care of seven or eight without a problem.” Maynild answered calmly.
“Then you protect yourself and leave the rest to me.”
Maynild nodded. She was very aware of Brendel’s skills. With her abilities, she’d only cause trouble for him right now. All she needed to do in this case was to protect herself so she didn’t distract Brendel.
The moment Brendel finished speaking, he made a light slashing motion with Harlan Gaia. With a rumbling sound, as if something was rising up from underneath the ground, two sharpened pillars of earth pierced through the ground and flew at two frost demons. Before the latter could react, they were pinned to the trunk of the cedar tree behind them.
With a crack, the cedar tree broke in half and the two frost demons shattered entirely into a pile of crystal shards.
All of this happened in just a blink of the eye, so fast that before the crowd of frost demons realized it, their numbers were cut down by two. But as everyone knew, the Staff of Earth only activated once it’s been swung. So this swing hadn’t missed its target; Brendel just hasn’t gotten there yet.
Brendel’s figure was slowly turning translucent.
But on the other side of the battlefield --
A black blade appeared right in front of a frost demon -- the demon raised its head and watched as Harlan Gaia bisected its body and its body fragmented into tiny pieces as glass would when struck by something.
Brendel’s attack seemed to slash space open. The blade swung around in a wide arc and three frost demons disappeared into countless tiny shards.
The frost demon began to shatter in the middle of the air and started to melt at a visible rate. Before its body could hit the ground, it turned into a chunk of blue crystal and fell onto the ground.
That thing was the Frost Core, which was a very poor quality substitute for magic crystals but could barely qualify as a renewable resource. If Brendel had just arrived at Trentheim, this type of substitute would have been a valuable treasure. But now they were just extra baggage - he didn’t even glance at the loot. Instead, he rushed into the middle of the pack of frost demons as if he was a whirlwind. In a second, it seemed as though four or five Brendels simultaneously appeared on the battlefield.
Maynild quickly joined the fight and their victory could only be described as overwhelmingly one-sided. It was only towards the end when a couple frost demons used their dying strength to scratch the female knight with their Frost Blades. It was practically impossible for these monsters to pose any kind of threat against Brendel.
The last frost demon turned into shards of ice under Brendel’s sword attacks. The battle only took a few minutes and Brendel didn’t even feel his body warm up. But Maynild spent quite a bit of effort and she used the last of her strength to push away the final frost demon she killed. Its body clanged against the ground as it broke into a thousand pieces. Then she used her sword as a crutch and appeared to be barely standing.
Brendel turned around and looked at the red-faced female knight captain. He teased, “You seem to have lost quite a lot of your skills too.”
“Don’t compare me to her. I’m not her.” Maynild let out an inaudible sigh and then raised her head to give Brendel a furious stare.
Brendel smiled slightly. He knew that Maynild wasn’t Bai Jia, but they seemed to be influencing each other. He could see hints of Bai Jia in the details of Maynild’s behavior. Now he finally knew why, aside from her looks, Maynild had always seemed so familiar to him.
Maybe it was precisely because of this feeling, but he had a hard time being antagonistic toward her. Quite the opposite, he felt naturally close to her.
The last frost demon that Manyild killed was melting. Its body seeped into the meadow-like melted snow, leaving behind a dark blue hexagonal crystal. Brendel’s smile immediately froze on his face.
“Hmmm…” Maynild also discovered the thing at her feet. She gently lifted it and remarked, “This is…”
“Heart of Frost!” Brendel almost yelled out.
“Marsha above, how’d your luck get better?” He stared dumbfoundedly at the female knight and blurted out, “The drop rate for this thing is a mere 0.003%!”
Maynild paused and then glared at him with hatred. She enunciated clearly. “I said, I’m not her --”
“But you have the same rotten luck.” Brendel couldn’t help but tease. His heart shuddered upon recollecting the knight captain’s previous experiences looting vanquished monsters.
“What did you say?’
“Nothing, just remarking…” Brendel shrugged.
Maynild looked at the gem in her hand with a slightly puzzled gaze, though she clearly knew what the thing was. She lifted the Heart of Frost and asked, “You want this? Does it help you?”
“It’d be a very big help.” Brendel inhaled deeply and answered truthfully.
“But you’re not an Elementalist, are you?”
“I know, but it’s more useful for me than it would be for an Elementalist --” Brendel answered.
When she heard his answer, Maynild didn’t hesitate at all. She looked at the gem in her hand as if it was a piece of trash and tossed it over casually.
“Remember, don’t compare me to her. I am me and my name is Maynild.” The female knight commanded coldly as she did so.
Brendel paused and then he suddenly seemed to think of something, “Is that why you don’t want to study magic…?”
But before he could finish saying so, Maynild’s cold glare made him swallow his words. “I am going to take care of my wounds now.” With that being said, the female knight disappeared into the forest.
Brendel already knew the answer in his heart but he paused slightly before bending down to pick up the Heart of Frost. He opened the interface and a familiar attribute appeared in his field of vision:
Heart of Frost
Wind, Water Element Pool Reserve + 5%