The crimson sunset fell below the horizon and darkness ruled the sky. The bright, round moon hid behind the dark clouds. Ice-chilling breeze sweeping along cold moisture blew through the mountain range. Even though it was midsummer, the mountainous atmosphere was somewhat chilly. Moreover, the season was about to enter winter. In fact, the ground on the mountain waist had been covered by a layer of thin frost.
Mini Bubble Gum stood by the waist of the mountain and pouted with puckered brows.
"It's a good thing that you don't need to move into this terrible place, Leader. The Land of Atonement is boring enough and compared to this place, it instantly turned into a heaven." Mini Bubble Gum shrunk and leaned into Canary's embrace. If it were any ordinary human, perhaps this ice-cold environment would leave them trembling. However, when one had reached Canary and Mini Bubble Gum's high level, one's body would have merged with Order together. In other words, their bodies would be like small worlds they could freely control. No matter how cold or hot the weather, they could adjust their body temperatures accordingly as they wished and maintain the most comfortable temperature. Even a player like Rhode who hadn't reached his peak, relying on his strong physique, could also resist this cold temperature.
However, the trio wasn't concerned about this chilly temperature. Instead, they lowered their gaze and spotted a massive stone building complex that had been surrounded by the mountains of Grenbell entirely. It would be impossible for one to spot the Saint Monastery unless one was as familiar as Rhode with this place.
The Saint Monastery was a rectangular shaped building among the complex of stone buildings. Although it hadn't been carefully maintained for years, the huge stone building was still intact. Its two meter tall stone wall extended along the mountain ridge and the arrow towers and watchtowers at the corner could be clearly seen. Under the radiance of the flames, warriors clad in scarlet armor roamed the place. Simple houses built of branches were the homes for the Dog-headed Humans. As one of the most unpopular rogue groups in the continent, the Dog-headed Humans could be considered as a must for new players to farm EXP. But here, Dog-headed Humans became the lackeys of the Cultists, which was why they plundered wantonly in order to sustain the Saint Knights. If not, the Saint Knights couldn't have remained active over all the years.
If one were to look closely, one would find that there was a translucent, light blue barrier over the ruins, which was the protection barrier powered from the Saint Monastery. The Saint Knights relied on this protection barrier during the Creation War to escape death. But now, after a long period of time, the powers of this barrier was getting increasingly weaker and it could be said to be meaningless.
"How should we deal with them, Leader?"
Mini Bubble Gum revealed a cheeky glint and clenched her fists. In accordance with the process, they should've entered through a cave and fought a nest of ferocious vipers before facing the Dog-headed Humans and entering the Saint Monastery. But after a long time in the game, the players had found several ways to avoid the annoying cave and climb over the mountains to enter the Saint Monastery directly. The Dragon Soul Continent was an open world game and no matter how one reached one's destination, there wouldn't be an invisible wall stopping them, forcing them to follow the route set by the game.
"Stick according to our plan. You take the lead and Canary will defend our rear. As for me..."
Rhode spread his arms apart and shrugged. Mini Bubble Gum let out a playful chuckle.
"I know, Leader will be freeloading off us for the EXP. Hahaha... How interesting. Let's move out!"
She took a final glance at the monastery and let out a snort. Then, she leaped into the group of Dog-headed Humans at the bottom. Rhode and Canary exchanged looks with each other and shook their heads helplessly. Then, they jumped down and followed Mini Bubble Gum.
To the Dog-headed Humans, everything was as though a disaster from heaven.
A petite figure descended from above and crashed onto the ground heavily, sending a deep, powerful shock wave that startled the Dog-headed Humans who were about to fall asleep. They got to their feet and frantically bellowed in an unknown language while rushing toward the source of the impact with their blunt hatchets and wooden clubs. But before they figured out the identity of the intruder, a golden ray of light shone before their very eyes.
Mini Bubble Gum extended her right hand forward with a complacent smile and along with her movements, five ritual circles shining with golden brilliance emerged around her. Shortly after, the ritual circles bloomed grandly like flowers and the radiance in the middle of the ritual circle coalesced into light spheres before eventually exploding.
Five dazzling light beams emitted in all directions and in an instant, the entire place was shrouded in glaring lightning bolts that devoured the Dog-headed Humans completely.
Everything had ended by the time Rhode and Canary landed on their feet. It had become a flat, burnt land without any signs of life. The houses in the area were nowhere to be seen anymore. If it weren't for the multiple lines of EXP notifications flooding his vision, perhaps no one could have imagined that there were a hundred beings inhabiting the place before.
"Phew... That felt great. How was it, Leader?"
Mini Bubble Gum whistled pleasingly as she gazed at the wreckage that she had caused before turning to Rhode as though to claim her credit. After Rhode carefully observed the system notifications, he nodded at Mini Bubble Gum.
"Yes, it's not bad. The EXP that I've gained is much more than when we're in a larger party. Basically, every point of EXP has been taken up by me."
According to the game system, the EXP would surely be shared in a party. However, due to the differences in their level, the proportion of EXP shared was different. A Dog-headed Human was worth about 500 EXP. According to the EXP sharing proportion in the game, Mini Bubble Gum and Canary would receive at least 50 EXP no matter how high their levels were. This way, Rhode could receive up to 400 EXP and if there were a few more members in the party, he would gain less EXP. And now, the system showed that he had received 500 EXP, which proved that the system was apparently counting Rhode as only one person while Mini Bubble Gum and Canary were part of the system and wouldn't 'snatch' EXP away from him.
Mini Bubble Gum said in an envious tone.
"I've never had the chance to receive full EXP in a party. Such a map is too difficult for Clerics to grind..."
"But you have to be careful too, Bubble."
Rhode showed a bitter smile. He wanted to say "you will have a chance in the future too". But on a second thought, he knew that Bubble wouldn't have another chance, so he acted as though he didn't hear her remarks. Then, he shook his head as he gazed at the burnt land.
"We aren't here only to grind for EXP."
"Of course. I know that, Leader. We're still gonna farm for some equipment. Anyway, nothing great comes out of the Dog-headed Humans and we must have another plan to deal with the Saint Knights. Leave them to me!"
Mini Bubble Gum turned around and raised her right hand.
"Battle Angel Suit!"
A pure white beam shone from above and shrouded her petite body. The light rays within solidified and revolved around her in a gorgeous, complex pattern. Then, the radiance shrunk abruptly and a set of blue and white holy armor emerged on her body. A white round shield and golden pike appeared in her hands and a pair of wings glittering in golden radiance expanded from her back. In an instant, specks of light dust fluttered everywhere just like a dream-except for the protagonist.
"Worthless Saint Knights!"
Lifting the pike high in the air, Mini Bubble Gum yelled out a line that didn't suit her appearance at all. The wings behind her expanded magnificently and flapped, sending a powerful blast to her surroundings. She dashed forward like a meteor streaking across the sky.
The deep sound of bells rang.
The presences in the Saint Monastery discovered that something was amiss and hurriedly raised the alarm to get into combat mode. At this moment, they saw the meteor that streaked across the dark sky.
"Release your arrows! Now!"
Arrows rained from the towers and swarmed toward the dazzling sphere of light. However, Mini Bubble Gum wasn't concerned about the attack at all. Before the arrows struck her, they were immediately deflected by the holy radiance around her. She disregarded the pitch-black dense arrow rain and crashed onto the heavy stone doors of the Saint Monastery.
An ear-deafening explosion like deep rolling thunder boomed and the three meter doors collapsed and shattered into countless fragments.
That group of Dog-headed Humans wasn't comparable to the Saint Knights in terms of strength. Although Mini Bubble Gum had proven how powerful she was, the Saint Knights clad in scarlet armor gathered at the quickest speed and charged toward the entrance. They didn't need to find out who the intruder was because her actions had shown that she was the one. It was apparent that she came with malicious intents and there was only one thing that they had to do-eliminate the enemy!
Their ideal was beautiful, but reality was cruel.
Another loud explosion boomed and the Archbishop clad in a red robe frowned and stood to his feet. Then, he heard hasty door knocks and spotted a frantic soldier rushing into his room desperately.
"What happened? Why is it so noisy out there? Don't you guys know that we're in the midst of an important ritual?"
The soldier looked on with the same ashen expression.
"R-Reporting, Sir! We're under attack!"
The Archbishop sulked slightly. Could the attackers be the private soldiers of the noble family member we've captured? How did they find us out? But... Even if the noble family sent out their private soldiers, they wouldn't pose any threat to the Saint Knights, won't they?
"What exactly happened?! Pull yourself together! You people are the brave and holy protectors. Even in the face of death, you shouldn't be frightened at all. Tell me. Who are the attackers? Where are they now?!
Before the soldier finished his sentence, another burst of loud noises interrupted. The Archbishop hurriedly left the room and exited the main hall to check on the situation - Then, he saw a scene that left him stupefied.
"Get lost! Get lost! Get lost!"
Mini Bubble Gum bolted forward with her raised pike as though a heavy tank charging across the land. Anything that stood before her flew away upon impact and disappeared to nowhere. She expanded her golden wings comfortably like the wings of an airplane and also as a shield that negated every attacks. Although there were arrows shooting at her body and even magical arrows flickering with radiance, they weren't able to hurt her at all. All attacks were negated immediately as soon as they reached her.
The Archbishop widened his eyes in disbelief. How is this possible? Ever since the Saint Knights had vanished from the Creation War, they had never appeared before anyone. The Saint Knights harbored hatred towards the Archangels who had abandoned them. Due to this reason, they had given up on their beliefs and walked on a completely different path. The Saint Knights knew that even though they had disappeared in the historical battle, they were still in a region ruled by an Archangel. If the Angels discovered that they had abandoned their beliefs, they would possibly be faced with unprecedented attacks by them. Therefore, the Saint Knights had always been patiently waiting and hiding themselves. If it weren't for their two superiors who felt the revelation of fate and believed that the Saint Knights was about to re-emerge on the continent and spread the days of destruction for their own faith, no one knew how long they would need to lay low.
The Archbishop felt a shiver down his spine.
That's right, the ritual! It is the most crucial moment of the ritual now. Through this ritual, we will receive supreme honor and strength. This ritual mustn't be interrupted!
"Stop her! Destroyer Guards!"
The Archbishop ordered without any hesitation. The Destroyer Guards clad in black armor gathered with their shields and swords in hands swiftly. Then, a scarlet radiance shrouded them and formed into various mysterious patterns that buffed the Destroyer Guards into double their sizes. They grew to three meters tall and their robust body had become a strong, solid wall to stop Mini Bubble Gum. They let out bellows in unison and slashed their sword at the girl diving toward them!