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“So do you feel that you should be called ‘diluo’ as well?” said Ye Ci coldly as she stared at the boy’s back.
The boy’s response did not arrive immediately. The boy remained silent, and just as Ye Ci was starting to doubt her own actions, he finally spoke up, “My name is Alaunar.” his voice was soft, and was devoid of confidence.
The ghost of a smile appeared on Ye Ci’s lips. Good. This means that I’m right. The boy has an unyielding spirit within him. He will grow up to be a very successful man as long he does not give up.
Ye Ci was not good at striking up conversations while Alaunar was a person of few words. It was impossible for the two to keep up a lively conversation. The duo proceeded on their journey, and Ye Ci was finally able to find out about the story behind Alaunar during one of their few small talks.
Alaunar was the son of a warrior of the Doluo Tribe. His mother possessed a weak physique that was rare among the tribe. Alaunar’s father alone shouldered the responsibility of providing for the family. He died in a hunt for the sake of putting more food on the table for his wife and child. Despite the tradition among the tribe to take care of the widow and child of a warrior, the family of Alaunar’s father was fond of him and his mother. Despite his physical weakness, Alaunar was a male, he was the man of his family. Dalufar could not break the rules established since the formation of the tribe to provide aid for this unfortunate family. The only thing he could do was to arrange for Alaunar’s position as one of Nuoba’s men. His meagre salary would be sufficient to provide for his mother and himself.
However, Nuoba was a man who worshipped martial prowess above all else, and was nowhere as sympathetic as Dalufar. He expected his men to be brave and strong. Alaunar received the scorn of the general as he was only able to join the army due to Dalufar’s good graces. The boy’s weak physique had also provoked much ire from Nuoba. He could not disobey the orders of his chieftain, but he could still make Alaunar’s life a living hell.
Ye Ci’s arrival was the perfect opportunity for Nuoba to be rid of Alaunar. He was willing to go to great lengths to expel Alaunar from the army. Besides, if the boy remained alive, he could earn a profit a 50 Ancient Crimson Ores a day. This was a great deal for the general.
As tragic as the story was, sadness was the last thing that Ye Ci felt. There were many tragedies unfolding all around the world every single day. Who would have the tears to spare for the sob story of somebody else? Besides, even Alaunar himself did not think that what happened to him was a tragedy at all.
“Have you been to a battlefield?”
“Are you talking about a hunt?” Alaunar was no longer wary of Ye Ci after realising that the Elf was not a bad person during their many interactions.
“Yup.” the Doluo tribe was living on an isolated land. The only conflict that its warriors would see was during a hunt.
“Yes. Nuoba made sure that I was positioned at the front every single time. Perhaps he hoped that I would die in battle.” Alaunar’s tone was relaxed as he answered the question, “But I was quick on my feet, and my luck was good as well. I’ve always managed to go home alive.”
Ye Ci nodded at Alaunar. She could tell that the NPC had a high Agility value that rivalled even that or her own.
The ground on the mouth of the Kalidor Volcano was littered with black ores. As the duo advanced further into the crater, the ores began to thin out. Ye Ci would occasionally dig up some ores during their descent. Most of the ores were Ancient Crimson Ore, followed by Ancient Azure Ore. The Ancient Golden Ores were an even rarer existence, and Ye Ci had never even seen an Ancient Emerald Ore during the journey.
Alaunar would always wait patiently by Ye Ci’s side as she labored away with her shovel. His gaze was calm, and there was not even a single hint of greed in his eyes. It was as if Ye Ci was simply mining up ores that mattered not to him instead of the currency used by the rest of his tribesman. After another round of hard work, Ye Ci was able to dig up a piece of Ancient Golden Ore and a dozen of Ancient Crimson Ore. Even as she sat on the ground to catch a breath, Alaunar remained standing, constantly surveying their surroundings like a very competent sentry.
Ye Ci was baffled, “Hey Alaunar, can these ores be exchanged for items once we get back to the village?” she asked.
“So why don’t you dig some of them up as well?”
“I don’t own them. They belong to the tribe. I’m not allowed to mine any of them. Besides… Nobody can mine the ores without a shovel enchanted by Lord Dalufar.” Alaunar shook his head.
So that’s how it is. He’s not a person without his own thoughts after all. If that’s the case, I’ll just go back to mining the ores.
It did not take long for Ye Ci to realise that mining was a painstaking ordeal. Her patience was long since exhausted, and she no longer wished to continue such a mundane and meaningless task. She remembered Dalufar words, and made the decision to try out the other option of obtaining Ancient Ores.
“Alaunar, do you know where the Pitch Black Cave is?”
“Yes.” Alaunar nodded. He was surprised by Ye Ci’s sudden mentioning of the place. Before he could speak up, however…
“I want you to bring me there.” at that very moment, any form of ugly monsters that might be dwelling in the cave was way more adorable than the unmoving ores waiting to be mined.
“What are you going to do?” even when he knew that he was not in the position to question Ye Ci’s decision, Alaunar decided to voice out his thoughts.
“To get more ores, of course.” Ye Ci rolled her eyes at Alaunar. Does he not know that the monsters in the Pitch Black Cave produce ores as well?
“But… The Magma Golems in the cave are strong! We’ll both die!” Alaunar shook his head.
Unlike a player, the NPCs in Fate had only one life. They would be erased from the world of Fate permanently upon death unless a special resurrection skill was employed to bring them back to life. This was of course something known to Ye Ci, and she was reluctant to see Alaunar dead. She needed information from the boy, which meant that she would not do anything that might endanger his life, “Don’t worry. Just bring me to the cave. There’s nothing to worry, I can take care of them.”
“But… I’m your mercenary…”
The boy’s stubbornness was something that Ye Ci could understand. “Exactly. You’re my mercenary, so all you have to do is to obey my orders.” she shook her head at Alaunar.
Alaunar was about to voice out his protest, but chose to swallow his words instead, and led Ye Ci towards another direction.
With Magma Golems as her opponent, Anti Burn Potions were definitely a necessity. Ye Ci took stock her inventory, and found that she had a healthy supply of Medium Anti-Burn Potion. While the fight ahead will be tough, it was enough. She did not know the levels of her opponent, but she was confident of her ability to finish them off as long as their levels were under 80.
It did not take long for the duo to reach the Pitch Black Cave.
The small cave entrance was hidden behind several huge chunks of black rock. A person who was not familiar with the terran would never be able to locate the entrance. There was no sign of plant life in the area that was littered with black ores. The ground itself was charred black.
“This is the Pitch Black Cave, Elf. Are you sure you want to go in?” Alaunar was nervous.
“It’s very scary inside. Nuoba and his men came to this place before, but they suffered horrible casualties. Lord Dalufar is the only one in our tribe who is able to approach this cave even until now. The Magma Golems are very strong. They are covered in lava that can roast a man alive.” the fear was apparent in Alaunar’s expression. This Elf was the only one who had treated him kindly other than his mother and the chieftain Dalufar. He did not wish for harm to befall upon the Elf.
“Are you afraid, Alaunar?” Ye Ci smiled at Alaunar.
Alaunar lowered his head and answered truthfully after a short moment of silence, “Yes, Elf. I am very afraid. They say that it’s very scary in there.”
“Do you know why we feel fear?” asked Ye Ci in a gentle voice as she caressed the head of Alaurnar.
Alaunar shook his head, “I don’t.”
“Fear is caused by two things.” Ye Ci smiled at Alaunar, “One stemmed from our fear of the unknown, while the other was born out of our own weakness. So which of them is the source of your fear?”
Alaunar raised his head and stared at Ye Ci with vigor in his eyes. It was as if Ye Ci’s words had opened a new window in the boy’s soul, showing to the boy a world that was previously unknown to him. “Are you afraid then, Elf?” he asked after a moment of thought.
“No, I was never afraid.” Ye Ci shook her head, “Even when my foes were far superior, I held on to the belief that I will win. Of course, I’m talking about situations when the disparity of strength between us is not vast. I will never be able to last against an opponent like Mr.Dalufar, which is why I will avoid conflict with someone like him. Do you understand what I’m trying to say?”
Alaunar shot Ye Ci a weird look before finally nodding his head, “I understand.”
Ye Ci patted the boy on his head, “Alright Alaunar, wait for me here. I’ll return safely.”
She then unstrung her bow and headed into the Pitch Black Cave.
Just like its namesake, the interior of the Pitch Black Cave was pitch black. It took Ye Ci quite a moment before her eyesight could adjust to her surroundings as she advanced slowly into the darkness. Even when she was not able to every single detail of the cave in the dark, Ye Ci was still able to have a good grasp of the terrain with the aid of the superior night vision of the Elven race.
Ye Ci felt a puff of hot hair against her face as she entered the Pitch Black cave. While the difference between the temperature of the cave and the outside world was not as great as expected, it was still a telltale sign that Ye Ci had entered a more hostile environment.
Due to the narrow terrain, summoning Ol’ Four was not an option for Ye Ci. Ol’ Three, on the other hand, was very behind in level. This meant that he would not be able to withstand sustained damage from the mobs in the cave. The only thing that Ye Ci could do was to press forward in hopes of finding a wide opening where Ol’ Four could be summoned. With the situation ahead unknown, Ye Ci made the decision to enter Stealth.
She advanced slowly into the deeper parts of the cave, with the temperature rising with each step she took. The temperature was not high enough to deal damage to Ye Ci, but she was already sweating profusely from her forehead.
It would be a long while before Ye Ci heard a low rumbling sound in the cave. She cautiously advanced to the source of the sound, and found two Magma Golems sleeping on the ground. The rumbling was actually the sound made by the golems as they slept. There was another Magma Golem lurking not far from the sleeping golems.
Magma Golems were not made out of magma, but was instead formed by huge chunks of glowing red rocks. Some of these rocks were molten by magma, and they dripped onto the ground with a sizzling sound as the Magma Golems walked.
These golems were not an unfamiliar sight for Ye Ci as they were often present in large numbers in late game fire-themed dungeons. The Magma Golems could deal huge amounts of burn damage with the magma dripping from their bodies, but they were physical damage monsters. As long as Ye Ci was careful to keep her distance, it would be easy to dispatch her foes.
Ye Ci cast Detection on the Golems, and found them to be lvl75. They were 15 levels above Ye Ci, which meant that the level penalty would be significant. Despite that, she had no intention of summoning Ol’ Four. The golems’ melee attacks could deal a lot of damage, and even Ol’ Four would not last in the face of their attacks.
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