Chapter 10 - Nightingale's Cry
Draco coalesced in Stagnant Moss town with a haggard expression. He had gone through quite the harrowing experience just then. From high to low then high to low again, before finally experiencing a high.
For him, it was the mental equivalent of running a few laps around Sturgehaven Kingdom. Draco felt that a breather was in order.
With that in mind, the best way to unwind would be…
A dungeon run!
Around Stagnant Moss town were three low level dungeons that players could enter in four man parties to clear. There were also a couple of ten man party dungeons and one single 20-man dungeon called Riverside Barrow.
Draco first checked the leaderboards for Sturgehaven Kingdom.
1st – Riveting Night: Level 4
2nd – Sublime Notion: Level 3
3rd – Dark Knight: Level 3
4th – Rambunctious Buttlover: Level 2
5th – Dreary Traveler: Level 2
He only had eyes for the first five, as they'd set the average for the current level standard. Draco was shocked to find that Riveting Night had already reached level 4. She must've had her own special encounters to climb that high.
Draco had no idea that such encounters were born from Riveting Night trailing him. Currently, she was taking part of the War of Attrition along with Sublime Notion. If Draco knew this… he might spit blood and die.
Rambunctious represented the proper standard that Draco expected. After all, it hadn't been a full day since Boundless launched. Draco was just abusing his knowledge as a reincarnator to gain benefits before the timeline deviated too far from what he knew.
Even then Rambunctious was a top expert to reach level 2 so quickly. Draco knew everyone in the top five except number 3, who made him wary. No such name had popped up during his past life, meaning that the timeline deviation had already begun.
Who was this Dark Knight? For a second, Draco wondered if he also reincarnated. He wasn't naïve to think that he was the protagonist of the universe. There was nothing stopping others from crossing time. After all, he didn't even know how he'd done it either.
Draco noticed that Stagnant Moss town was less crowded than it had been when the players ported in. Probably most of them had gone to level up in zonal areas or clear dungeons. The few who remained were those who targeted Tradeskill classes such as merchants, advisors, smiths etc.
Sighing, Draco blinked and appeared a few meters from the nearest 4 man party dungeon. None of the people there even noticed his appearance due to the spot he chose.
The dungeon he was at was called Nightingale's Cry. It was a forest dungeon, the spooky kind. Thrust into perpetual darkness, the monsters within were of the undead variety.
Draco chose this dungeon because of his Lightbringer title, which gave him and insane advantage over evil aligned beings. Coupled with every boon he had acquired so far, including his high level… he could solo this dungeon on survival mode for a whole day.
There were different ways to tackle dungeons in Boundless, three types to be exact.
A player could chose the traditional way and enter with a party to clear out the dungeon by defeating the boss and claiming the treasure chest. The Neo-Modern way was to clear by checkpoints. The dungeon would be split into sections with mini bosses at the each of each point. Defeating them allowed the party to exit and come another time to continue on the next part. The rewards were much less valuable in this situation until the final boss was defeated, but the difficulty in clearing each section was higher than fighting the boss in the traditional path.
The third and most revered way was the survival mode. That one was simple, you enter the dungeon and fight till you drop. Monsters kept respawning in set intervals, including bosses. For this mode, rewards were doled out according to the length of time you kept fighting and the quality of enemies you killed.
If you spent your time chasing after minions while avoiding bosses, you might survive longer but will end up with much less at the end than someone who fought difficult monsters for half the time.
Of course, the player perception towards each type was different. Completing the first was basic and most guilds were expected to do so. Standards for guilds were set based on the latter two categories however. The checkpoint a guild reached in the Neo-Modern mode and the amount of time spent as well as the quality of monsters killed in the survival mode was the line that separated guilds and created popularity as well as recruitment interest.
Right now, guilds were inaccessible so obviously, no one yet bothered with the latter two categories, opting to clear the basic version first. Draco noticed that the area was filled with players in parties or those who were looking for parties.
"Looking for a healer! Minimum level must be 1 and must have a basic package!"
"Noobs go die! We only want those who are level 1 and can tank like a rhino!"
"Damage dealing mage looking for team!"
"Swordsman with agility focus looking for a team with a tank! Minimum levels must be 1! You can't afford me easily!!"
Different calls were made by different parties and Draco found them amusing. The arrogance of noobs would always be refreshing to seasoned experts. It was the same as being an a.d.u.l.t where a child claimed they could lift a heavier weight than you.
Draco didn't bother to join any party. He simply walked into the portal leading to the dungeon while selecting survival mode. He was in it for the long haul this time. He had no intention to leave until his stress was beaten away.
No one noticed him enter, even those with their eyes on the portal. Draco's in-game speed had reached the level were mere walking was the same as using the venerated Shunpo skill.
Upon entry, Draco was brought into a dead forest that had an eerie atmosphere. There was no ambience, as the forest was dead silent. This usually meant two things. One was that there was a predator around. Two was that literally everything that could make a sound was dead.
In this case, it was the latter.
A screech came from Draco's right as a ghoul came sprinting with claws outstretched.
｢Name: Ghoul – Private rank monster
Draco's brows furrowed. A simple cannon fodder monster had such a high amount of HP? Of course, the reason why players could even enter at this stage was that monsters were scaled by level according to the party member's strengths. Hence, level 1 and 2 players could still tackle a dungeon like this.
Draco was level 8, so he didn't expect them to be weak, but not this strong either. It was simple enough for him to sidestep the ghoul's grapple and leave two sword lines on its body, bottoming out its HP. Draco didn't receive any exp or drops as those would be calculated after he was defeated.
This ghoul was soon followed by a group of his kin. Draco backtracked and took stock of their number. Almost twenty of them were zombie-running towards him with arms outstretched and claws glistening with undeath.
Since the class he was aiming for had very little ranged capabilities, he would have wade into his enemies in order to defeat them. Some would find it daunting, not because of the high combat capability requirements, but the presence of what would make even the most avid horror fan tremble.
Still, these monsters were bottom tier and it took Draco very little time to dispatch them. All he had to do was leap into the air and land on one of the ghouls with Durandal cleaving it in half. Draco wasn't going to bother with activating Absolute Void for this. Instead, he showcased wuxia-tier swordsmanship as he weaved into his enemies and separated their heads from their bodies.
Of course, undead could function with appendages detached, but Boundless was a game that had rules. The damage Draco dealt was enough to bottom out their HP, so they were unable to rise again.
Draco smirked at this development. By the fourth update, such game-like logic would be taken out and what should have happened will occur. Still, he would take what he got with a smile, he wasn't a battle maniac who wanted a glory filled battle.
Heck, if it would've worked, Draco would've tossed sand into the undead's eyes. There was no such thing as fairness in this world or the real one.
Soon Draco's headcount of ghouls began to rise rapidly as their numbers saturated at an astonishing rate. It reached a point where Draco had to leap around like a frog and decapitate enemies through acrobatics rather than stay on the ground.
Eventually, the first round came to an end and he got a five second buffer. Draco hadn't lost even a lick of HP, so he used that time to stretch and make himself more limber. Back in the battle, he felt a few joints lock up every now and then, which was uncomfortable and painful.
The second round began with a new type of monster mixed with the old. The number of ghouls weren't as concentrated as before, due to the presence of a new ghost like entity with sharp claws and blood red eyes.
｢Name: Wraith – Specialist rank monster
Draco frowned seriously. He wasn't worried about the Wraithkin, but rather their high HP. It was comparable to a Sergeant rank monster, not a mere Specialist like what was before him.
If another player heard Draco describe the difficult to defeat Specialist monsters as 'mere', they would mob him. The skill required to solo a Specialist was more than an average pro player could put out. At most, it would take a four man party of semi-pros to handle one, much less the amount arrayed before Draco.
After all, the AI factored in levels, but not the amount of players. Most would enter the survival mode with at least, a 20-man squad of elites. Draco however, was soloing it, so he would have to face the same type of difficulty such a team would battle at his level.
If Draco had not killed Ratchet and entered the survival mode, he would have had to put in maximum effort to survive a couple of rounds. However, with the Lightbringer title, Richmond's heraldry items, the Dragon Soul and his stats, he was akin to a wolf that was in a forest full of sheep.
He was the hunter, the killer. They were the prey, the victims. He wasn't locked in here with them, they were locked in here with him.
Draco began a massacre that would have the Lich King of Boundless feel a twinge of apprehension. He moved so quickly that even an expert player would not be able to follow him, much less these Private and Specialist rank monsters.
The wraiths had the power in intangibility, which negated physical damage totally for lower tier weapons. Since both Excalibur and Durandal were rare swords with the passive Revenger skill giving Draco magical damage, he was able to hit them. Even with the highly reduced damage, his Lightbringer title managed to offset it a little, so he couldn't instakill them. But it didn't take more than a few hits to render them into cube like pixels.
The important part about Lightbringer wasn't its offense, but the defense. Draco was confident that he could stand there and give the Ghouls an hour to damage him. They would only be able to reduce his health by a percentage by then.
The only reason he exerted himself to dodge was the 'flawless' accolade which would give him a nice reward as well as to hone himself. Draco knew he was unparalleled in this timeline due to his skill, but that was on the condition that he had his old body.
His current self was like a boy toy, too soft and mellow. If it weren't for his overwhelming ability, he wouldn't be able to keep up. With such an intense battle that required him to remain untouched in a congested area of enemies that focused on melee, he was getting a workout and more.
Soon enough, round 2 came to an end. Draco once again spent the interval stretching. He wanted to maximize his gains, so he tried to loosen up his muscles again. After all, the last thing he wanted was to cramp while performing acrobatics.
Round 3 began with only Specialist wraiths populating the field. Not a single ghoul could be seen milling around. This actually eased things up on Draco, as the ghouls were the main headache due to their overwhelming numbers and single-mindedness. Draco waved Durandal and Excalibur in an awe inspiring way, leaving only faint afterimages of their movement.
In fact, it looked more like he was waving a blue and golden streak of light. The sky was dotted with rising damage indicators as Draco pulverized the opposition. To an onlooker, it would seem like a bunch of urchins trying to fight a heavyweight body builder.
The third round came to an end much quicker than the first two. Draco could slightly feel that his skill was being polished. His current body was slowly merging with his level of skill, but on a technical level. To truly reach that level, Draco would need to build muscle memory and well… muscle.
Still, he was greatly satisfied with his progress so far. He didn't bother to warm up for the next round as he had already jolted all his muscles into action.
The fourth round came with very little fanfare. In fact, there wasn't any noticeable enemy in sight.
And yet, Draco's expression became grim as his hands tightly clenched the hilt of his swords. A terrifying aura was being emitted from all around him, pressuring and enclosing upon his body. It felt like diving into the deep sea. The further down you went, the more pressure exerted on your body.
And yet, the cause had not even made itself truly known.
Suddenly, a rumbling sound echoed in the forest as the ground began to quake violently. Draco found that he could barely remain upright with all the shaking. It was like standing at the epicenter of a magnitude 8 earthquake.
Draco's apprehension soon turned to surprise then shock as a creamy white skeletal hand burst out from the earth. It was soon followed by another hand, then a head… a torso… then legs.
All in all, a 9 foot tall Bone Golem was standing before Draco. It looked like the skeletal frame of a giant, which had some muscles still attached to its joints. It was definitely a bizarre and freaky sight to behold.
That was all Draco could mutter in the face of this monstrosity. Soon, the monster turned to stare at him with its empty eye sockets and semi-unhinged jaw.
After a minute, it roared in a bone-chilling voice as it raised its hands up. They came down in the form of an axe, crashing into the area Draco stood. That zone became a crater as the earth buckled from the sheer force of the Bone Golem's attack.
｢Name: Boneshaker – Sergeant rank monster
This monster was definitely not going to be a walk in the park like the ones before it. After all, Sergeant rank monsters were party tier boss monsters. A minimum 4 man party of equal or higher levels would be needed just to contend against it, much less obtain victory. On top of that, the monster was one whole level above Draco.
Despite landing an area destroying hit on Draco, the Bone Golem let out an earth shattering roar. The simple reason for that was its target. Instead of becoming meat paste under its hands, Draco was standing atop them with his arms folded and a c.o.c.ky smirk on his lips.
Pointing to the Golem, Draco provoked it further. "Haha! What a loser. You should go home and drink milk to buff up your calcium, Bonehead. Maybe then you might be able to hit my shadow."
A roar of anger as well as hatred was Draco's answer as the Bone Golem quickly brought its hands up in order to upend Draco and send him airborne. From there, the Bone Golem would show him who needed calcium after it crushed his bones and slurped on his marrow.
Still, the Bone Golem realized that its hated enemy wasn't airborne at all. Unfortunately for it, Draco was seated on its shoulders and calmly staring at it with a mocking expression. This made the monster almost go mad.
Swiftly, its hand broke the sound barrier as it slammed onto its shoulder at a horrifying speed. Yet still, Draco wasn't under its palm, but rather on its other shoulder.
I'm a bit overpowered now. Sigh. Anyone who's spectating my match would be bored to death from the lack of real danger.
Had any player of Boundless listened to Draco's thoughts, they'd be spitting fire. Who cared if spectators were bored? With your ability, you could solo guild dungeons, yet here you are toying with a Sergeant. A Sergeant!
This was a monster that only a 4-man party of top tier experts who possessed flawless teamwork would be able to kill. Typical parties that are formed in a rush wouldn't be able to contend even if they had normal pros, unless those pros possessed god-like skill or a trump card with overwhelming power.
And yet, Draco was treating it like a little brother trying to attack his big brother in a tantrum.
The Bone Golem, despite its anger, felt apprehension. Each tier of monster possessed more intelligence than the previous one. As such, the Bone Golem came to realize how Draco managed to avoid its strikes that were filled with raw speed and power.
It was simple. Draco was simply faster than it was. Such a thing was hard for the Bone Golem to comprehend. Normally, it would be fighting against a 20 man team of immortal adventurers who it would give a tough time before being defeated.
Yet, a single human adventurer was sitting atop its shoulder like it was a prime relaxation spot.
Draco was having a field day. He hadn't felt the need to go all out against the ghouls and wraiths, but this Bone Golem certainly forced him to be quick on his toes.
And quick he was. With all of his boons stacking on top of each other… Draco was invincible to anyone within his tier. He couldn't wait to reach level 10 and gain the avenger class. As a Rank 1 player, he would have access to various facilities and locations which would allow him to step in to phase 2 of his early game plan.
With a chuckle, Draco decided to stop playing with his food and performed a flip. Landing perfectly, he finally unsheathed his blades and pointed Durandal at the Bone Golem.
"Bring it on, Bonehead."