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66 An ex?

 "What did you find?" asked Lone Arrow.

He showed her the items.

"Oooh a blueprint!" She inspected it:

Blueprint: armor set, Epic tier

Crystal Lóngguī armor (full-set)


Large Exo-skeleton fragment of Crystal Lóngguī X 3

Moonstone ingots X 50

Gold Shards X 25

Black Meteorite Steel ingots X 30

X20 Diamonds X 20

Cured demon hide X 4

Required Level to handle the craft

Master Forgesmith

"This is a blueprint for Epic-tier armor, the whole set! you should keep some diamonds for the craft."

"What's a blueprint do?" asked Dave. He was still new to the game and unfamiliar with much of the non-combat related mechanics of it.

"A blueprint contains instructions and templates for creating an item. In this case a complete set of armor, not just a single piece of it.

"You can auction this for an ungodly amount of gold, more than all our diamonds together will sell for. Much more.

"Or you can give it to a high-level Smith to craft a set of the armor for you. Any high-level Smith would do it free. Hell, they would pay you to let them make you the armor just to get their hands on the blueprints."

"Why so?" Dave didn't understand why anyone would go so crazy over what was basically a crafting recipe.

"Think! If only one Smith in the entire game can make this armor, he, or she, will have a monopoly. At least until another blueprint of this armor or another one as good is found, if ever. A monopoly on an item like this armor can make the crafter rich, in and out of the game."

"Do you know anyone who could use the blueprint to craft a couple sets for us?"

"I do have a friend who is a high-level Smith, one of the best in the game actually. Naturally, he would be thrilled to get his hands on these plans. But the armor isn't a good match for my DEX-focused build, so we only need one set."

Dave saw himself rampaging through missions equipped in the Epic tier armor. He really liked it the idea, "Next time you contact him find out what the blueprint is worth to him, and what it will take for him to craft a set for me."

He looked down the tunnel, trying to see what might be waiting for them. "I also got a fragment of crystal turtle-shell. The blueprint calls for three fragments to make one set of armor. We're going to have to kill more turtle-demons to get them."

"Yeah, I don't think it will be a problem." Lone Arrow looked at Drahma, "Right, big-guy?"

"They are but mindless beasts, not a worthy challenge for the might of a Doom Knight," he replied.

Lone Arrow's eyes sparkled as she looked at Drahma, smiling to herself.

"Uh oh, what's on your mind?" asked Dave.

"Nothing, nothing. I'll tell you later."

She changed the subject, "What about the runes?"

Dave threw one of the runes to her so she could inspect it while he inspected the other one.

Xuanwu Rune (Medium Tier)

-Defensive School-

The essence of a mythical creature coalesced into a rune.

+1000 VIT

Reduces the cooldown of [Bastion] by 5 seconds

[Chest piece rune]

Cannot be equipped with Agility or Offensive school runes.

"This will unbalance the game play!" Dave looked at the rune, mind spinning with possibilities.

"Yes, it's a game changer." She tossed the rune back to Dave so he could inspect it.

Flood-Dragon Rune (Medium Tier)

-Intelligence School-

The essence of a mythical creature coalesced into a rune.

+100 INT

Increases the Damage of water-related spells by 15%

[Gauntlet-Piece Rune]

Cannot be equipped with Strength school runes.

"Any mage-class player would go crazy for this."

"We were the first discover Runes. But we didn't get any game notification for it, or reward from the system," Dave complained.

"You can't be rewarded for everything, you know."

She tried to console him, "Look at the stats the Rune gives, they are reward enough!"

"I can't use either of these, wrong school." Dave shook his head, and handed them to Lone Arrow.

"Put them up for auction, they should go for a nice sum."

Lone pocketed the runes, then abruptly stopped and placed a hand to her temple.

"Just got a message. The guildies found some boats on the shore, but had a little excitement crossing the lake to this side. A few of those two-headed snake monsters attacked. The group killed one of the monsters and looted a rune from it. It sounds like the snake-rune we got, but a Lower tier."

Looking at the countdown on Drahma's summoning timer, he figured that the situation became grimmer.

"How many players are in the lake group?" he asked.

Lone Arrow sent a message and ended the conversation with "I'll tell you later."

"What is it?"

"The guy was wondering why I was asking him about all of this, he does not know that we are inside the Raid-Zone, Anyway, There are about twenty. The highest is a level 350 Beastmaster."

Dave knew Drahma could easily take down twenty players. But if word of the giant berserker got back to the guildies outside the Underworld, everyone would go balls to the wall to get a whack at the giant. Not to mention a chance at Mr. Skeletal.

"Drahma, we need to move faster."

Drahma leaned into his stride and stomped forward in such a thunder Dave worried the cave would collapse.

Dave heard another howl, this time two of the turtle creatures stomped their way towards them.

The two Demonic-Snake-Beast rushed at Dave with their Power-Roll skill, like two crystal wrecking balls .

Drahma stepped forward to intercept their advance. A swing of his iron pole sent the two spinning balls into the far wall. Dave heard multiple cracks as the turtle-demons impacted the stone, and high pitched squeals rage and pain reverberated through the cave.

"Welp, that's a home-run." Dave snorted.

Dave and Lone arrow used [Spectral Bomb] and [Binding Arrow], This way once Drahma got rid of the two monsters they will be entitled to the EXP and Loot.

"This is so cheating," said Lone Arrow. She almost pitied the doomed demon-turtles.

"It's not cheating, it's called 'being power-levelled by a boss-mob,' and it's uber-cool!"

Only one of the turtle-demons used the [Rolling-Stone] skill to attack a random enemy this time. Lone Arrow was the target, but she escaped with a perfectly timed use of her [Blink] skill, and Drahma ended the fight with a brutal downward chop that shattered the crystal-armor shell.

Dave was disappointed though, the two demon-turtles dropped less loot than the first one.

"We only got two Crystalline shell fragments and a Xuanwu Rune this time."

He showed the rune to Lone, "But, the rune is for a helmet-piece.".

Xuanwu Rune (Medium Tier)

-Defensive School-

The essence of a mythical creature coalesced into a rune.


Reduces the cooldown of [Warrior's Will] by 5 seconds

[Helmet piece rune]

Cannot be equipped with Agility school runes.

"It gives a different Skill Modifier. Any tank-class would kill or die for a reduced cooldown on [Warrior's Will]," she said.

"Yea, but we need the right equipment to use these. I haven't seen any items with sockets for runes yet." He stashed the rune."Alright, let's keep moving."

Dave worried as he looked at a ticking timer next to his HUD.


01:56:03 Time Remaining.

Drahma's time was counting down, inevitably they would lose the giant's help. Dave would most likely have to disconnect until the underworld closed. Otherwise he risked being found by the guildies and killed.

Dave shook his head and looked at the loot they just collected.

More Crystalline shell fragments and runes of the same school.

They had five defensive runes, and four of the Flood-Dragon runes.

"So far the runes don't modify any of the Special skills, just the Basic ones," Dave remarked to Lone.

"It's still a powerful mod, runes to modify Special skills would be really broken." .

They approached what appeared to be an opening at the end of the tunnel, and stepped out onto a wide ledge that overlooked a wide canyon. A river of magma flowed through the canyon just below the ledge, and a natural stone bridge reached across the magma river to the other side, where another tunnel opening was visible in the canyon wall.

The magma bubbled and eddied unnaturally as it flowed past the bridge. There was something underneath the flaming surface of molten rock.

Drahma released a heavy gusting breath, his giant version of a sigh, and said, "This ..." .

Dave snapped around to stare at the berserker, surprised by the uncharacteristic behavior and unsure what to make of it. Lone, too, had turned to stare up at Drahma, wondering what was happening with their invulnerable damage-dealing tank.

Before he could question the giant, Drahma bellowed out, "Show yourself, Zora!"

His voice blasted across the canyon and echoed back at them. The surface of the magma rippled and seethed from the force of the sound.

Dave and Lone looked at Drahma then at each other, both of them wondering what the hell he was doing.

A beautiful woman emerged from the magma, she didn't make a single ripple on the fiery pond. She had red scales all over her body except her belly. Her red hair was draped conveniently over her chest.

Golden horns grew from her temples curving gracefully into dangerous points.

She had the upper body of beautiful woman, but clearly the rest, still under the surface of the magma-river, was not. Dave saw a large fin molten rock when she moved to lean her elbows on a nearby boulder resting her chin on her folded hands and gazing up at them coyly.

"My dear Drahma, you escaped your prison. What brings you here...again?" She fluttered her eyelashes at the giant.

The giant berserker answered through clenched jaw, "I thought it was only by chance that I was summoned here, but it seems fate is playing with a stacked deck ." He gripped his pole tighter.

Something strange was going on between the two monsters. Then it hit Dave. They had history!