Chapter 14 – The tomb of Gerald
Things were a little different compared to Freya’s route. Sneaking into the farmhouse was aided with the cover of the trees, while Brendel had to move to the patch of short trees under the skeleton soldiers’ watchful eyes.
He had to take a risk here but there was also no need have additional risk by going in early. He decided to only act after the sky turned darker. Even though the undead was able to perceive the life force, their range was limited during the night time.
Meanwhile, Brendel studied the patterns of the skeletons patrolling the area. He quickly found there was a gap between the two squadrons. When the two intersected with each other, he was able to move forward safely for approximately ten seconds.
He looked at the area in front of him and estimated he was about twenty meters away from his destination. Even though he had 2 OZ worth of agility, he was definitely unable to able to run forty meters to and fro and dig up the key that was under the tree. He also had the attribute of being weakened too, and it seemed like an impossible task.
He decided to make a new strategy instead.
The sky rapidly darkened.
It was time to act. His heart pulsed rapidly and strongly from the tension in the darkness.
He was using his life as a token to play this game, and was there anything more exciting than a game with death as punishment?
He held his breath and counted fourteen steps from the skeletons. This was the time that the two squadrons intersected, and he threw his sword to the direction of the short trees.
This was the first step.
The sword was thrown over to a patch of piled leaves, and caused a slight rustle when it hit the leaves. Brendel waited anxiously for a long time, and he relaxed when the two squadrons intersected for the second time.
The next step was the most important one. Brendel counted again, until the two squadrons intersected for the third time. He drew a deep breath sharply and rushed out. His mind was void of any thoughts and he blanked his fear and tension out. The only thing that he had in his mind was speed, more speed.
Brendel reached his destination and exhaled slowly. He knelt down, parted the leaves, took his sword and started digging. But his efficiency in digging up the soil was worse than what he expected. He dug as he counted in his heart.
He had prepared an extra second for himself. He left his sword and started running back, the surroundings around him passing by him in a frantic blur. He dove in the bushes and stopped there, feeling like his heart was going to stop any time.
The skeleton soldiers intersected for the fourth time, and did not discover his presence. Brendel breathed in deeply again. He felt that this tension had started to turn his limbs into jelly, but the adrenaline rush made him incredibly excited.
He continued to wait for his second chance. Brendel had calmed down greatly when he made his move, but he still came back empty handed.
He only dug for two seconds the third time as his stamina had clearly dropped. He tried for the fourth time, and finally discovered a four sided slab from his fingertips. Brendel had never seen this in his gaming history, and his heart started to race again from the excitement of discovering something new.
This was it.
Brendel was incredibly relieved and for a moment he almost could not stop digging, but he knew time was running out. He breathed in and out, calmed himself down, left the sword and ran back.
The fifth attempt, Brendel’s mind had calmed down and he was more than ready. He ran towards the tree to try and pry the foreign slab out. It had began to loosen, but Brendel’s ears caught a sudden sound that did not feel right. The skeleton soldiers’ route had changed.
Our protagonist felt the blood in his veins turning into ice. He did not know if it was a cruel joke played on him by the heavens. The Madara skeleton soldiers lack the basic intelligence to think, so they would not change their patrolling route by themselves. The only ones who could order them to do would be the necromancers, but they had no reason to do so.
Unless they discovered foreign invaders.
He cast a glance to the farmhouse. Did Freya and Irene get exposed? But there was only silence from the direction to the farmhouse, and he overturned this idea.
The clacking steps were getting closer and closer behind him. These monsters was probably able to spot him already. Brendel felt the world was crashing down on him. What should he do? He faced six skeleton soldiers, and they were easily able to cut him to pieces.
Use the Ring of the Wind Empress? No. Putting aside the noise caused when casting the spell, destroying even three skeletons was considered to be the best outcome possible. How about the remaining three skeletons?
Brendel kept on reminding to calm himself down even though every hair on him seemed to be standing. He questioned himself what he would have done in the game. Indeed, he would go through every skill and stat points to try and survive from certain death.
He only needed to use his imagination to do so.
He instantly thought of an idea but the madness of it frightened even him.
[This is not a game, Brendel, can you afford to do this?!] He could not help but ask himself.
But the skeleton soldiers were getting closer and closer, and he had to make a choice.
He took a deep breath.
And plunged his long sword into his stomach.
Agonizing pain spread throughout his body from his stomach. The feedback from it was ten thousand more intense than it was in the game. Brendel cried out once and nearly fell over. He felt he was just too crazy; the perspiration had started to gather and rain down from his forehead.
Right at the same time, the skeleton soldiers’ clacking footsteps also stopped.
The ‘Unyielding’ skill had activated and deceived the skeletons that were void of intelligence.
Brendel did not dare to waste any more time. He endured the waves of dizziness as he pulled out the sword. Even though he intentionally avoided the fatal areas, his blood still sprayed out and pooled onto the ground. The youth was not brave enough to look at it, and continue to pry the slab of stone out of the ground with his sword. He finally tore it out and started towards the slope and slid downwards.
He only had five minutes to save himself, a gambit between the fine line of life and death.
The ‘Soul Fire’ that was activated by the ‘Unyielding’ skill supported him the entire way towards the village. He was momentarily startled when he saw countless skeletons everywhere from the ruined buildings. They were the work of the necromancers. They crawled out of the graves or even tore themselves out from the bloody corpses when their souls were summoned.
The night that had fallen seemed to give the skeletons a frightening aura. It was fortunate that Brendel had seen enough of them in the game, otherwise he would have been frightened to the point of collapsing.
He quickly soothed his feelings and did a rough count. He saw there was over fifty of them. It was certainly not a small number, and would mean that Madara’s invading forces were increasing with every step they take. The only thing that made him feel a little easier was how these makeshift skeleton soldiers’ combat prowess was much lesser compared to the other undead skeletons.
They were even weaker than an average adult male.
Brendel advanced forward while he looked at them. His destination was a small shrine within the village and recalled that it was somewhere in the north. These undead soldiers saw him as an undead, and even if Brendel knocked into them, they merely adjusted their postures and continued forward.
It was good news to Brendel.
With this advantage at hand, he merely used three minutes to find the shrine of Kaldas. The undead did not respect God of Pottery, and already destroyed a section of the shrine’s wall. He remembered that this shrine was later rebuilt.
He entered in the building and felt his way into it. It was pitch black inside, but after searching inside for a while, he quickly found the way towards the ‘Room of Solitude’.
What he did not expect was a wandering skeleton in it, which gave Brendel a huge jump scare. It was fortunate his nerves were tough enough to endure it and he quickly calmed down, with the thought that it was merely a puppet that had no intelligence.
He felt it was getting harder and harder to breathe, and his vision was starting to become a blur.
He had only one minute left.
After searching through his memory a little, he searched behind the podium, and discovered a four-sided depression there. At this moment he thanked Mother Marsha and put the slab into it with trembling fingers. He was afraid that a cruel joke would be played on him again.
Fortunately no such event like that happened here.
At first, it was an unlocking sound in the darkness, then a second low rumbling sound from beneath, and finally a third sound that seemed to indicate something was opening. He felt a slight breeze blowing him from his back. When Brendel turned around, he saw light coming from within the passageway of the tomb.
There were purple colored crystals that decorated the walls. These were not worth anything due to the light being too weak, and thus they were not used.
He shook his head as he nearly collapsed from the giddiness. The game’s version was completely different from this world. Players did not experience what Brendel was experiencing right now, and in fact they were completely unaffected for five minutes. However, once the time was up, no matter how fine they felt, they would immediately collapse onto the ground.
Brendel was completely relying on his own willpower and the desperate resolution to survive. He tried to keep himself awake by recalling the details about the person who was buried here. The NPC who was buried here was famous, and his name was Gerald or something who was born in this village. He had participated in Aouine’s battle for Independence, and he acted honorably for his whole life, and requested to be buried in his hometown when he died.
It was said that this location used to be part of the forest which was later cleared, and a shrine was built on it. The Holy Cathedral of Fire created a pathway inside the shrine to make a tomb for this holy knight, allowing him to forever sleep in peace. Brendel wanted to get this knight’s weapon that he used in the past, which was the ‘Thorn of light’. He did not wish to interrupt the knight’s eternal sleep, but even the knight was probably unwilling to desecrate this village.
The youth panted as he struggled forward against the wall another twenty or thirty meters. He knew that he had gradually reached the end of the passageway when it started to brighten from the effects of high grade crystals that adorned the walls. He tried to wake himself up, but he did not have the time to relax, as a black figure suddenly dropped down on him.
Two steely claws hooked onto his shoulders and lifted him upwards into the air.
Brendel felt the immense strength penetrating his shoulders. He could not move at all from the vice-like claws and he recognized there was an absolute difference in strength between them. In his great shock, his mind started rattling and he realized that it was a gargoyle. It had at least the strength of 4 OZ.
[The person who completed this quest in his previous life did not say anything about a gargoyle!]
A gargoyle was the great work of an artisan Bucce wizard. It was a level 23 monster, and a low ranking necromancer was like a gentle puppy compared to it.
Before Brendel finished thinking, he felt himself hurtling through the air and smashed against the icy wall. His bones creaked and groaned, as if every single one of them shattered.
He did not have any time to worry about it, as the gargoyle started to attack him again. He climbed up and shook his head.
Was there any chance left?