Rhode sat calmly in the chariot as the horses galloped to their destination. He gazed at the fast-moving scenery outside the windows while Gillian was curled up listlessly on the soft sofa opposite him like a cute little puppy. Her fluffy tail served as a blanket over her body as she dozed off.
The road to Castel Plateau was full of twists and turns. Rhode had to board the chariot from Twilight Forest through White River Valley in the northeast before reaching their final destination. It was located in the junction between Paphield and Dortmund Mountain, belonging to the territory of Purple Lily Guild.
After years of neglect, this road had become extremely bumpy and was a pain in their butts. Although this chariot sponsored by Matt was quite luxurious and was laid with thick fur cushion for the comfort of the passengers, Rhode didn't feel comfortable at all. There wasn't any rubber in this continent and the chariot wheels were made with a combination of wood and steel. Although the flat, cone-disc wheels could resist the impact generated when traveling on uneven ground to a certain extent, it still took a toll on everyone after a long journey.
It was moments like these that Rhode began to miss the fluid movements in the game. Although it was an immersive game, transportations on chariots were designed with the considerations of players where their journey would be as smooth as boarding a high-speed rail. At this moment, Rhode was beginning to get affected by motion sickness.
Rhode leaned back in his seat, closed his eyes, and sighed. The journey from the Land of Atonement to Castel Plateau would need at least five to six days and to hasten on their journey under such conditions gave him a huge headache. And the most depressing thing was that the wind direction wasn't favoring them. If not, the Floating Boat would have been a much better
\"Master, what are you thinking about?\"
Gillian's voice rang in his ears. Rhode opened his eyes and turned towards the source of her voice. The fox-ear young lady was laying before him lazily, displaying a proud smile while scanning at him with narrowed eyes. Unlike Rhode, who was feeling the motion sickness, Gillian didn't seem to have any problems. Although the chariot rocked from time to time, she continued to sit at ease as if nothing disruptive was happening.
Rhode let out a sneer at her expression. It had been a long time since he met this peculiar Elemental Lord, and he figured that Gillian must be making a joke about himself. However, being Rhode, he refrained from revealing his fatigue and ignored her jeering gaze. He adjusted himself straight on the seat and focused his attention on the book in his hands. This book recorded the strategies targeting the ruins of Castel Plateau.
In the game, Starlight crushed their way through in the reclamation of this area without knowing its prefix mission. As this news spread, the prefix mission had become the required course for most guilds. With the 'better than nothing' mentality, Rhode still held some knowledge of this prefix mission. However, the problem lay on here.
Castel Ruins was a one-time dungeon and the main reason for Rhode to understand this prefix mission was purely due to his curiosity and hobby in gathering equipment. So he had rushed through the entire process and left the knowledge in his brain without applying it. As he didn't attempt this mission personally, he couldn't recall the crucial details, and this was why he specially held a meeting with Canary and Mini Bubble Gum to recollect on most parts of this prefix mission.
This prefix mission wasn't considered too challenging. Players had to visit Eagle City in Castel Plateau to search for an ancient book. Following the instructions in the book, they had to search for four fragments scattered within the city. These four fragments would form a key and it could be used to open an entrance to the underground maze situated below Eagle City, where players could then obtain an ancient treasure from deep within it. According to the prefixed game-flow, players would be informed of the presence of the ruins in Castel Plateau after obtaining the ancient treasure. From there, players would head to Castel Ruins to trigger the dungeon mission. The ancient treasure which they obtained would be the core that could activate the internal ruins. Relying on this rock, not only could the players shut down the guards defending the ruins, but they could also activate a safety defense system that defended them from the ambushes of critters, which allowed them to enter the dungeon unperturbed.
As for the underground maze, it was only an ordinary area and the dungeon mechanisms were without much threat, which was why Rhode wasn't worried about any potential problems. However, the only flaw came from the fact that he had never attempted the prefix mission and he was unfamiliar with the exact locations of the four fragments. If he had to follow the mission flow given to him, he might waste even more time. Luckily, Rhode was able to recall the general locations of the fragments, so he didn't need to start mindlessly. However...
Why is this so similar to the game...
Rhode sighed in dissatisfaction before closing the book and gazing at Gillian.
\"You seem to be very relaxed, Gillian. Had a good dream?\"
\"I'm bored, Master. No one is chatting with me and you have been studying the strategies all day. I think that everything will turn out for the best, so let's just worry about it when things happen. Even if you don't have a strategy, doesn't it only take a few minutes to settle this crappy mission?\"
Gillian's ears perked up proudly and her fluffy, big tail started swaying.
\"Besides, it's fine if we don't have the key. Master, you should still remember the general location of the underground maze right? So, how about we break down the entrance and rush our way in after we reach Eagle City? What problems can you possibly get? Unless you tell me there's some zombie virus in there?\"
This sounded like a plan too.
Rhode nodded as he analyzed Gillian's suggestion. However, to be frank, he wasn't too hopeful in this. Although the game seemed similar to the real world and he wouldn't need to act according to strategies of the game, Rhode remembered that the entrance of the underground maze was sealed by magic. He was worried that if they forcefully opened it, there might be some problems. Without a doubt, this was set for regulating players, and he could only know when things really happened.
However, this wasn't the only problem that Rhode was worried about.
\"I have thought of the matters in the ruins. But I am more worried about another matter.\"
\"You are referring to...\"
Gillian tilted her head curiously to the side.
Rhode agreed and nodded slightly. As a matter of fact, before both of them left the fortress, Christie once again said strange things that even she wasn't aware of. However, Rhode remembered that sentence clearly in his mind.
\"Asin Bunyle Kuse.\" (The Executioner is waiting for you)
It was the Abyss Language which she had spoken unconsciously before. As usual, she had no explanations for her actions. In Rhode's memories, there wasn't a monster or BOSS named as the 'Executioner' in the Castel Ruins. Similarly, there wasn't any individual or organization with this name in Eagle City. However, after this recent experience from Christie again, Rhode didn't think that she was speaking without thinking the matter through. But he had to admit that this little girl's ability to predict was indeed strange because he couldn't remember there was such a person in the Dragon Soul Continent.
\"Although I'm not too sure what Christie was trying to say exactly, it seemed that it wasn't any good news. Master, we may have a much harder time after we arrive in Eagle City than we expected.\"
\"No matter what, be careful when we're there because it isn't our territory. Gillian, you...\"
As Rhode was speaking, the chariot jolted suddenly which forced him to shut his mouth in order to prevent biting his tongue. At this moment, there was a dreary scream. Rhode turned towards Gillian quickly and to his surprise, the fox-ear young lady was still curled up in her seat languidly, as though there was an invisible line tying her tightly to the soft cushion.
\"Gillian, were you speaking just now?\"
Gillian widened her eyes in surprise while Rhode noticed her ears slightly twitch.
\"Ah, I didn't, Master. You must have misheard or something.\"
Everything went well.
Although Rhode didn't stop for a break in order to pick up speed, they arrived at their destination, Klett Town, at dusk. According to Rhode's plan, they would be spending a night there, before heading to the White River Valley.
Upon stepping on the solid ground after a long journey, Rhode took in deep breaths of fresh air in Klett Town, which was filled with a floral and earthy aroma. While he was stretching, suddenly, the chariot driver screamed from the back.
Rhode and Gillian immediately ran to the back and saw the elder chariot driver sitting on the ground with an ashen face, pointing towards the box in the back of the chariot which was used to store traveling clothes and food. But now...
As they turned their gaze towards the box, what reflected in Rhode's eyes was a fair, delicate thigh dangling out from it...