The monsters were restless.
On the other side of the mountain facing the hometown was an area players rarely set foot in.
In this area characterized by nothing but its vastness, all sorts of monsters had gathered without fighting one another.
Snake-type monsters. Tiger-type monsters. Bird-type monsters and humanoid-type monsters as well. There were even Chimera-types, fusions of several monsters.
Normally, such a high density of monsters would cause a reduction in numbers as they attack one other. However, a certain player’s presence prevented this.
Atop this area’s highest hill stood a lone player.
This player, Hameln, sighed while looking down on the monsters.
“So this is the maximum that low-grade items allowed me to gather. Causing an artificial invasion event is difficult indeed.”
Even while uttering such a line, his charming features showed the mischievous smile of a boy who had just performed a successful prank.
Hameln was 170 cemels tall and had typical Pixie tattoo-like marks on his face. He wore a gentleman-like attire, adorned with accessories here and there, complete with white gloves and a long stick held in one hand. The top hat on his head completed his gentleman-like appearance, but his demeanor was contradictory to that of any true gentleman.
A pack of monsters of all types. Controlling it in order to unleash it on a hometown was not something a sane person would come up with.
Just as Hameln pondered over his next course of action, he noticed that a monster icon disappeared from the map.
Two icons were breaking through the monster horde. Considering that the level of the gathered monsters was 300 at most, it was something any somewhat experienced player could have done.
“They’re probably thinking that they’ve found a nice hunting ground? Or perhaps they have come to exterminate the monsters because they consider them dangerous.”
Hameln activated 【Clairvoyance】 and 【Through Sight】.
His now expanded field of sight revealed a man wielding a glaive with a 1-mel long blade and another brandishing a broadsword with a very jagged blade, severely lacking in practicality.
The former, who was wearing silver armor, was named Vlad. Hameln’s 【Analyze】displayed his job as Dragon Knight.
The latter, wearing brown armor, apparently possessed higher stats; only his name, Gargalla, could be displayed.
“Oh my, he noticed me from such a distance?”
Hameln was genuinely surprised at feeling Gargalla’s eyes on himself.
It was well-known that some players sometimes felt mysterious sensations unexplainable by reason, such as “I felt someone watching me” or “I can feel someone’s killing intent”.
To be able to pinpoint the direction after only being in the line of sight for about 10 seconds, however, was something pretty exceptional.
Still in Hameln’s field of vision, Gargalla grinned. They adjusted their course towards the hill Hameln was on, blowing away the monsters in their way like pebbles.
“Heavens, their course changed. Maybe they’re the same type as I am?”
Hameln grimaced, lamenting the development of the situation.
The instant Hameln saw Gargalla’s smile, he felt that deep inside they were very similar.
He felt more displeasure rather than familiarity toward Gargalla, a perfect example of the inability to tolerate someone just because of how similar that person was to oneself. In short, it could be said that those who were very similar in this regard abhorred one another.
With this ambiguous sensation in his heart, Hameln observed as Gargalla drew closer to his position.
“Hey there. Gotta thank you for not hightailing it.”
“No need for thanks. I simply wished to confirm something.”
After roughly five minutes, Gargalla had reached Hameln’s hill.
Some time later, Vlad reached as well. They had arrived at different times, although neither showed signs of exhaustion.
“You’re slow, man!! Raise the pace, will ya??”
“Dragon knights are meant to be with dragons…please don’t ask for the impossible.”
Vlad darted an annoyed glance at Gargalla’s mocking tone. As he had implied, Dragon Knights could show their full capabilities only when accompanied by their dragons. In fact, when they were by themselves their stats decreased.
Naturally, it would have been very difficult to catch up to Gargalla, who had superior stats and equipment.
“Haha, ah, apologies for all the ruckus man. Let me tell you straight out, we didn’t come to fight or anything. Though it looks like doing so could be fun.”
“I will take that as a compliment. Now then, what brings you here?”
Hameln, who was just observing the two in silence, finally prompted Gargalla to speak.
“You’re the tamer who uses monsters to attack people outside of towns, right? There’s something ya gotta help us with. This guy here will tell you all the juicy details.”
“First you leave me behind and now I have to do all the explaining?”
Vlad voiced his dissatisfaction, but Gargalla, looked in the opposite direction while ignoring him.
Hameln, thinking that the newly-arrived duo was a pretty hilarious combination, was holding back his laughter.
“Gentlemen, please continue your bickering later. So, what exactly did you want from me? Though, I can feel that you probably share the same sentiments.”
“My apologies for showing you such an embarrassing scene. We wish to request for you to use monsters to attack a certain town. I am sure you have also grown bored of crushing small settlements, yes?”
I see, they sure did their homework. Hameln was honestly impressed to hear what Vlad already knew about him.
With the items Hameln could find, there was a limit to the amount and levels of monsters he could gather. He enjoyed observing how people fought against adversities and lately often thought about wanting to cause something more spectacular.
“I must admit, that is quite the enthralling proposal.”
“I am truly happy to hear such words.”
“With my current gear, however, all I can procure are monsters such as the ones you broke through just now. To attack a hometown fortified by player defenses, their fighting power is severely lacking.”
Just based on the level, as soon as advanced players joined in the fray, the assault would be quelled in no time. It was also clear by how easily Gargalla stomped through the monster horde earlier.
“The only reason for that, though, is item quality. Am I right?”
“Hmm. I’m not sure how you know that, but yes, you are correct. Just as average iron cannot create Ancient-grade weapons, high-grade items are necessary in order to produce good results. Well, quite obvious, isn’t it?”
Some low-grade items were sometimes necessary, in a “secret trick” sort of way, but generally if one wished to have rare gear and skills, equally precious materials or items were needed. Those, however, were extremely rare and difficult to obtain.
“Don’t worry. We have come to meet you precisely because there is something we would like you to take a look at.”
Vlad flashed a very confident smile to Hameln. It was meant to show friendliness and affability, but Hameln simply found it very suspicious.
“What will you do after making me cause a monster attack? It depends on the town too, but I’m sure you are aware that most of them are heavily fortified and defended.”
“We know, to an extent, what the conditions for the start of a monster invasion event are. Mr. Hameln, we wish for you take part in it and take control of the monsters.”
Hameln’s eyes narrowed. Using monsters to attack cities was something he was very interested in too.
Many players theorized about the conditions for the creation of such events, hoping to defend their bases better, but they had not been fully revealed.
“To be honest, I am more interested in these conditions than the items…but I suppose I will not ask. I would like to know your goals though. Some are interested in the invasion itself, but you two do not look like you would care for that.”
“Yes indeed, our goals are different. Well, we both have different ones, actually.”
PKs using invasion events to hunt for players rarely shared common goals. What they had were only their respective desires.
For Vlad, it was the desire of getting rid of the “player trash” around Shin.
For Gargalla, it was the desire of dueling strong players to the death.
Some just wanted to go on a rampage, while others still treated the current situation as a game, engaging in very dangerous endeavors.
“I see. I used to think of myself as someone pretty strange, but I see that I have good company.”
Hameln spoke without breaking his smile.
“It is quite normal to use whatever means possible in order to achieve one’s goal. Is it not?”
“It’s what they call being loyal to your desires for me.”
Neither one of the three cared in the slightest about the possible victims. Even while thinking that the other two were abnormal people, they could keep cooperating. Likely because they did not have any interest in each other.
“That’s good enough. Unleashing a monster attack on a town where a High Human resides sounds quite appealing. So, about the items and the day of execution?”
“It will depend on your monsters. How much time do you need to gather them?”
Vlad inquired as he handed the item he had brought to Hameln.
“With this item, I certainly should be able to gather monsters of a relatively high level. I would need about one week.”
Hameln made his decision after observing the item given to him, the 『Putrefaction Nectar』. The 『Putrefaction Nectar』 was dropped by Queen Rafflesia, a Trent-type advanced monster. Queen Rafflesias were monsters of considerably high levels in the 800-850 range and attacked in circular patterns using their roots and vines.
Huge flowers, roots and vines attacking in waves, branches lashing from the stem. It was difficult to decide whether it was a flower or a tree, but on the other hand it was undoubtedly a level 3 monster that players needed extensive skill to defeat.
The 『Putrefaction Nectar』 could be used to create the 『Tempting Beeswax』 and 『Hungry Beast Ambrosia』 items using a Tamer skill. The former allowed one to temporarily control monsters, while the latter, once materialized, allowed one to attract monsters up to level 700.
“One week, is it. Can we set it for 10 days from now then? Even if we know the conditions, we cannot just do it anytime we want.”
Hameln nodded while pondering what could be involved in these conditions. There was too little known information, though, preventing him from reaching any conclusion.
“You are interested in the conditions, yes?”
“Yes, well, but I suppose it is better not to ask.”
“Not at all, we came to you to seek your cooperation, after all. Telling you won’t be a problem.”
“Oh? You would reveal it so easily?”
Hameln thought it to be very important information and was puzzled to see Vlad agreeing to talk about it so easily.
“That’s not a problem. It’s just a matter of time until they are found…no, I should say that while they are not made public, some players already found out.”
After this premise, Vlad started talking.
The monster invasion event creation condition, as far as Vlad knew, was either that the number of players in a town, or the number of players going outside from a Hometown, had to exceed a certain value.
The more players that were in a town, the greater the event manifestation probability, as well as monster numbers and levels would increase.
The progress of the dungeon clearing had spread the players wide, so the first condition had become difficult to fulfill, thus decreasing monster invasion events. When they manifested, it was always because of the latter condition.
“Hmm, I see. I can understand the first, but the second seems rather difficult to find to me. Did you find the answer on a stone inscription maybe?”
When game events ended, stone inscriptions with their creation conditions appeared as unique items. Some recurring events, like monster invasions, were exceptions to this rule, but from Vlad’s explanation Hameln supposed that it was the reason.
“Yes, it is exactly as you guessed. It seems that it is dropped rarely, in areas seldom frequented by players. ”
“Not even major guilds are aware?”
“Those, other than us, in charge of large numbers of people…like prominent members in major guilds probably know already. The stone inscriptions do not come in singles after all. With many people the probability of finding them rises as well. We too are employing spies to prevent information leaks, but there is no way of absolutely preventing information from spreading, thus I suppose it is better to consider it to be already known. Even if it was, there might be several reasons why such information is not revealed at large.”
Knowing the conditions could have made it possible to prevent the event from manifesting. But no guilds had ever shown such intentions, nor was such information ever revealed publicly. At most, there were some unreliable rumors, nothing else.
Major guilds had their own philosophy. This is what Hameln gleaned from Vlad’s words.
“Hehe, humans are truly never boring. Yes, I shall lend you my help. A large-scale monster invasion in a hometown, used by PKs to infiltrate the town. I do feel like I am going to see something unprecedented.”
Just imagining it all was beyond exciting. Noticing that Vlad and Gargalla were grinning just like he was, Hameln’s smile widened.
A few days after their meeting with Hameln, Vlad and Gargalla went to visit Aldo.
Aldo’s home was located in Kalkia; it had not been just a coincidence for Robin to meet Shin on the latter’s way back from the orphanage.
“We’re going to see that guy again?”
“Yes, because thanks to the items Shin gave us, another dungeon has been cleared. After all, that too is one of our accomplishments.”
“Even if Shin didn’t do it himself? Will the man really accept this?”
“He will. These kind of people just love to interpret things in the way most benefiting to them.”
It’s just hilarious how ridiculously dumb they are. After adding this comment, Vlad knocked on Aldo’s door.
Aldo’s home, located in what could be called a quiet, luxurious neighborhood, was a mansion that towered above even the other high-end homes of the area.
The same maid NPC that had welcomed them last time appeared. Aldo seemed to be at home; soon after the maid went to report their arrival, they were allowed inside.
“Yes. Just a few days ago, we have obtained his cooperation and another dungeon has already been cleared. As proof, there is the public statement from the Savage Lions, one of the guilds which was already involved in the clearing.”
“Oh oh, you surely produce results quickly. Unlike that Robin.”
Aldo was alone in his home. Vlad had planned to just take his reward and leave the rest for a time when Robin was not present, but now decided to take the chance to do it all, grinning deeper.
“Thank you very much. Thus, I must ask…knowing full well that this might sound impudent, I would like to receive the promised reward. I promise, of course, to continue pouring every last effort into dungeon clearing.”
“So be it. You showed results, I suppose you deserve compensation.”
With an arrogant attitude, Aldo took a bunch of cards from his item box and flung them at Vlad.
Vlad barely managed to catch the flying cards. The cards’ holder name had been erased, so they did not bounce away when he caught them.
Looking at their names, Vlad was very surprised.
“『Excalibur』, First Rate Potions and Ethers? These would be worth a fair amount of money. Are you sure you can give them to us?”
Vlad had gathered information about Aldo, but would have never thought that he would give Ancient-grade weapons away.
“Even in heaps, this world’s currency is worthless. I have too many of those items too. Use them well.”
Aldo could not see what there was to be surprised about and Vlad thanked him with a wry chuckle. This man really did not understand anything.
“We shall strive to do our utmost. By the way, I do not see Mr. Robin anywhere. Is he at work?”
“What is your business with that useless fool?”
“Well, as he apparently hasn’t produced results yet, I was thinking of having him help us.”
“What could a man who can’t even call someone even do?”
Aldo’s lack of any expectations from Robin was evident.
“I heard that he has contacted Shin, but has been refused. As an apology, I was thinking of having him approach the man again. Not for a cooperation request from the clearing team, but because the life of someone dear is in danger. That would surely spur him to clear dungeons even faster. Things would become much easier for us too if he was mentally cornered enough to get rid of his hesitations.”
Vlad explained his plan of using Robin to further press Shin, without his smile ever leaving his lips.
“Hah, you’re some villain.”
“My deepest gratitude for such praise.”
“That works for me. His uselessness has started to become unbearable after all. Do as you please.”
Aldo mercilessly cut off Robin, as if ordering a broken tool to be disposed of.
Witnessing such a display of humans being objectified, Vlad thought that this man must be seriously mentally cornered, and put away the other lines he had prepared to convince him.
“Thank you very much. Then I shall start preparations immediately.”
After expressing their thanks to Aldo, the two returned to the hometown.
“Are we going to wait for that Hood guy now?”
Gargalla, who had not spoken a word during the meeting, finally talked to Vlad with a tone full of despise.
“Yes. He should be at his limits, so we have to make sure he acts on the designed day. I am sure he is desperate himself, so I don’t think it will be difficult.”
“Amazing how you get all these ideas though. I have it easy since all I have to do is watch, but it’s a pain for sure.”
“Despite that, you are quite helpful.”
“If your plan works out, I can fight him going all out, that’s why. If you fail, I’ll crush you, end of story.”
Gargalla clearly stated that his reason for cooperation was only their common goal.
Vlad responded by looking at Gargalla with a somewhat bored annoyance.
“You cooperate because we share the same goal, I know that already. But there is one thing I must say.”
“What’s that now?”
Gargalla snapped back and Vlad looked at him again, this time with a stone-like expressionless face.
“If he goes all out on you, you’re going to die, you know?”
Vlad expressed his, albeit twisted, absolute trust in Shin and his abilities.
If the plan succeeds Shin will likely come to kill the perpetrators, Vlad and Gargalla, without hesitation. That eliminated any chance of Gargalla winning.
“I’ll be trying to kill him. Nothing strange about getting killed.”
Gargalla smiled broadly, expressing how he would enjoy that too.