Craiston, a village situated in the far northern reaches of the Annoldi Kingdom. It is a relatively quite village in a sense, with little political strifes due its location; far from other civilization and its position as a pioneer village.
However it is also a centre of activity as parties of adventurers horde the streets and crowd the nearby dungeons.
It is, as of this moment, the highest level area that is reachable for the adventurers of the highest level. Even the famous ones such as; Ankorr, the Water Warrior and Yisra, the priestess of Harmony.
These two are just a few of the many famous adventurers that have come to Craiston.
Of course there are a number of unrecognized and unvalued player, which are below the top 100, but they are still high enough level to be in Craiston; an achievement only held by a few thousand at most.
Usually, all would keep to their own business, but due to the infestation of dungeons, parties and even small raid groups are formed daily to combat together.
Thus many adventurers in Craiston got what every adventurer wishes; lucrative coin and xp…
Life in Craiston was as usual for the adventurers; bustling around for equipment and finding members for raids and everything was calm.
All except for one small anomaly which shuffled slowly through the village streets, wearing only a torn white robe; smudged with dirt.
“How’d the noob get up here?”
“That’s impossible, if he’d gotten hit by anything in this mountain range, he should be dead”
“Damn, that priest noob has got some balls”
“Making it all the way up here, phew, he must be one lucky bastard”
“What kind of hell did he go through?”
Similar exclamations of confusion and mild awe are directed towards the individual, who continues shuffling through the village, unnoticing or uncaring of the whispering crowds.
But even though many of these exclamations are passed around, they all have a single thought:
'He does not seem strong, nor quick. His eyes do not show intelligence or wisdom. But something, some feeling says that this many is more than what he seems, much much more...just who is he?'
“STOP RIGHT THERE”
A burly balding man with a cross shaped scar under his left eye steps out the crowd and menacingly places himself in front of the newcomer.
The newcomer stops shuffling and slowly moves his gaze towards the man
He drops to the floor and healers from the crowd jump out casting healing spells on the newcomer.
A particularly well figured elven priestess kneels down by the fallen newcomer, gently placing her hands on his temples and on his wrists.
“He’s just exhausted” She gives a relieved smile to everyone
They all give a small sigh of relief that the newcomer won’t die from his efforts. As powerful they might be, they still have a certain respect for the ‘noob’ who made it to Craiston in one piece.
The newcomer was set up in an inn and while he rested the day continued on the same.
The newcomers arrival was quickly told around the adventurers and it soon became a widespread gossip and speculation upon how he was able to make it up.
Some found it impressive however it was done, while more were scared about the possibility of others following up and beginning to take away their lucrative hunting spots.
But no more followed; only this strange newcomer with no name and the only understanding of him is the tattered white robes of a priest that he wore.
Day fell and night rose. Returning from their daily delves, all of the adventurers met up in the village centre, to look upon Wretched Ones; the 4th strongest guild in this world.
The guild leader; Mallark the Black, and his two advisors; Krea and Thallard. All stood on a small hastily constructed platform, so that all may see them.
The crowd is whispering many things, but all is silenced with the single wave of Mallark’s Black-steel gauntlets.
“Adventurers. Tomorrow, Wretched Ones shall raid the Wyrm Spires Cavern and we have 13 spots available in our raid. This is open to any and all who are present. Though we will decide based on your class mostly”
Krea takes a quill from behind her pointed ear and produces a blank vellum from the pouch around her thin waist.
A flurry of activity and many are in a line slowly filling in their names and class, along with their guilds if applicable.
The process is relatively quick, and after some minutes, dozens of adventurers have signed up, but the line is a few hundred long.
The line could be a few thousand, but most who do not try sign up are from the other major guilds. Though Wretched Ones are the 4th strongest, they have the least number of high level guild members by far. Their strength relies on their gargantuan number of guild members composed of lower level adventurers.
Within the better part of an hour, only a few people remain to sign up.
However, one more joins to the end of the queue: The mysterious newcomer exits from a closeby inn and makes his way, tattered robe and all, to the back of the queue.
Quite a few chuckle at the sight of a 'noob' trying to sign up for a high level raid, but most keep quiet from shock or respect for one who made it up here as a 'noob'.
Soon it is his turn and there is little reaction with Krea, as she passes him the quill and he writes his name and class, before returning quietly to the inn he came from.
“They’re not going to let that noob in the raid group right?”
“You never know, maybe he’s actually really high level”
“”They seriously can’t be considering choosing the noob?”
“Man has my respect, but I don’t think letting him join the raid will be any use to anyone”
Similar thoughts are voiced throughout the crowd, but their opinion doesn’t matter.
What matters is Mallark, who has returned to his room at an inn.
He sits by a desk and starts gazing down the list of given names and classes.
He flicks through page after pages, ticking a box here and there, before arriving at the final sheet a short while later.
He muses, thinks, contemplates on the idea of dragging the 'noob' along. Firstly, the 'noob' made it here, so he is of some value, due to his unrecognized skills…furthermore, the 'noob' is apparently a priest, as his class says…but that doesn’t help explain how he survived getting here.
Priests are known for their squishiness and so in all honesty, only a rogue would possibly make it to this mountain, through stealth.
A priest would have no chance, unless he buffed his stamina so much his health pool wouldn’t run out from attacks or he had some extremely high level healing skills.
Either way, this ‘noob’ might be quite an interesting find for Mallark.
Although, he seems to be affiliated with a guild already; The L1ONs.
Mallark has never heard or seen such a strange guild name, but if he doesn’t know its name, he’s sure he can convince them to be absorbed by his own guild.
With a sigh, mixed with relief and worry, he ticks the name, Lionel…
Mallark smirks…even if he may seem like the guild leader of The L1ONs, Mallark is sure he can still absorb the guild.
“Alright everyone, MOVE OUT”
A cheer raises from the small crowd of 40 players as they follow Mallark out of town.
Most of the 40 carry the insignia of Wretched Ones on their pauldrons, while 13 hold different insignias or none at all.
Mallark looks back as they walk, spotting Lionel in his tattered robes walking alongside the others. Who pay him much heed.
He does not pay the others much heed either as his head is pointed to the ground, hood covering his face.
Turning back, Mallark continues leading the way.
Reaching the Wyrm Spires Cavern is simple enough, only having to kill a few adolescent along the way; a simple enough task for the many level 90 adventurers present.
The location isn’t secret anyways, so many know the direction they’re going and didn’t get frustrated when they follow seemingly dead ends and dangerous ridges; as it is the right way.
With a few minutes break to make sure everything is packed and ready, they all enter the dungeon, through a large cavernous hole in the side of the mountain.
Entering the cavern, the party stops at a dead end.
Mallark takes out a small key made from frost but not brittle as one might think, and places it into a small hatch in the wall of the dead end.
Opening the doors, they all enter the dungeon.
Due to information scouting, they know the dungeon itself is simple; a 20 floored dungeon going up in a spiral fashion with more dangerous creatures each level.
The raid group power their way through the frost arachnids on the first level and charge through the ice trolls on the second.
Blazing through minor frost elementals on the third and smashing through hordes of glacial goblins on the fourth. The raid group reaches the 5th floor.
The 5th floor was slightly different from the others, as it was one huge room, covered in ice and a young frost wyrm rests in the center of the room.
The boss battle commences and everyone fights to the fullest unleashing barrages of arrows and fire upon the waking beast.
Mallark leads the front with his scaled black-steel shield and longsword. He and many of the frontliners collide with the wyrms tail, stopping it completely with their shield and high strength.
Lionel, is left behind, at the back of the room, watching the battle unfold. Mallark believes mostly because the wyrm is quite terrifying for a ‘noob’ like himself.
The battle does not continue on for much longer, as under the brutal firepower of many mages and archers, the wyrm falls dead.
Cheers come up from the raid party and after a short break, they continue moving.
Elated as none of them died in the first boss battle, they continue grinding through the floors.
The dungeon is recommended level 85+ and these adventurers are having no problem with the monsters in the slightest.
They do slow down however, after killing a pair of giant ice golem bosses on the 10th floor, because of the upgrade in difficulty from the new level monsters.
Each level only contained one, or maybe 2 types of monsters, uncoordinated and feral. However for the next 5 floors, there is a semblance of hierarchy, of command from the monsters and the usual one sided massacre becomes a true battle against organizing forces.
Within hours, the group makes it to the 15th floor, with only a few casualties and they take a rest to recuperate mana and breath.
Once buffed, the party charges into the 15th floor boss room and fight a bloody battle against a triplet of frost wielding wyrms, first in their human form, but later in the fight transform into their wyrm form and wreak havoc with their claws and frost breath.
This was the most brutal fight so far, causing a double digit of deaths through ice, claws and bite.
However, the party still won after 3 hours of constant battling, dying and chugging of potions of all kind.
After Mallark wrenches his sword out the last wyrm triplet’s gullet, he lets her die and has everyone set up camp.
The remaining party members are 24 for the moment, however almost all of those are members of Wretched Ones.
The exception to that are Lionel and a lanky human archer with dirty blonde hair, Rick.
Rick is simply alive because he was the only non-frontliner out of the chosen 13, thus the aggro on his was minimum. Lionel is alive because he has been far away from the combats staying hidden in the corners.
Mallark feels annoyance flash across his mind as he looks at Lionel, because the ‘noob’ has perfectly shown he was just that. Throughout the entirety of the raid, he did nothing to help, no healing, no fighting. He only remained in the back and watched.
Mallark silently curses his curiosity and wasting a spot where a valuable tank could be.
Looking at his forces, only 3 tanks remain. The rest are; 2 priests(not including Lionel), 13 mages and 5 archers.
The lack of frontliners are worrying but the amount of firepower the mages deal should help lighten the load somewhat.
Everyone catches some sleep on the icy floor, all shivering in their tents…all except Lionel, who falls to sleep immediately, uncaring that he’s lying on bare ice.
Many raise their eyebrows, but after today, many would let him die without a second thought; since he’s just a worthless ‘noob’.
Once rested, they all travel up the next few floors.
These floors are different from the last as all are joined together by one large spiral ice staircase all the way to the ceiling.
Around the staircase, are numerous alcoves, with heaps of wyrm tails swishing out sleepily.
Starting to walk up the spiral ice stairs, the wyrms wake up and angrily head towards the party.
Luckily they are just younglings, so they are somewhat easily taken down by the mass of mages.
However as the party rises up the stairs, the wyrms get higher leveled and turn from younglings into juvenile and then into adolescents.
The mages getting dangerously low on mana by holding the wyrms back causes everyone to start charging full on up the stairs, causing more and more wyrms to appear from their alcoves.
A wyrm slips in through the mass barricade of explosions from the numerous fireballs and arrows.
This causes all the mages to blast it collectively, and it upon its death, rams into the staircase separating a portion of the party to the lower section of the stairs.
The party, almost split in half, continues to charge up the stairs, while the remaining few fight to their last drop of mana as the wyrms converge on the easier prey.
Hearing the screams of being overwhelmed a few minutes later, the rest of the party reaches the top of the staircase and enter the 20th floor through a small entrance, stopping any wyrms from making their way through due to its small size.
Exhausted. The remaining 16 members drop to the floor and pant.
After a short while, they’re all rested and Mallark checks what he has left to work with; 3 warriors, 8 mages, 2 priest, 3 archers.
Mallark curses lightly under his breath for various reasons; one being that he lost a third of his party going through this floor, and the other was the fact that the ‘noob’ wasn’t here further adding insult to injury about his choice on choosing him.
He curses himself a few more times before everyone is sufficiently rested and walks into the boss room
Lying in a small crater, surrounded by wyrms biting at him, Lionel mildly regrets his choice of signing up for this.
His experience of those nasty mountain tigers should have been deterrent enough, but nooo he just had to see frost wyrms with his own eyes.
One particular wyrm opens its mouth extremely wide and begins dragging itself up Lionel’s lower body.
Well, now he’s going to see the inside of them so he isn’t counting himself lucky.
The other warrior’s scream is cut off as the adult wyrm swallows him whole
Immediately the two priests focus on Mallark and constantly pump healing spells onto Mallark as he taunts and faces the adult wyrm shield raised.
While the mages burn through their mana and the archers shoot a rain of arrows, Mallark is flung into a wall, before being healed and rushes the wyrm once more, only to be blasted to the wall again.
The wyrm, constantly aggroed onto Mallark, who is living thanks to his above average armor and crazy defense, keeps batting the man away with its tail while taking a long deep breath.
“BREATH” Someone screams.
Suddenly, the spells and arrows stop as everyone dives out the way, or try to at least. The breath attack comes in the form of a wave of ice spikes that impale 3 of the mages and one of the archers, immediately killing them.
The wyrm stays still recovering for half a minute, but the others all spend that time regaining their footing.
The wyrm looks somewhat damaged, but somewhat is in the form of a few scratches on its tail and a few small burn marks on its shining blue scales.
The party, down to 10 members, is in a sorry state; with only Mallark as tank, the wyrm continuously beats him for a few minutes before he inevitably dies.
After that, the mages, archers and clerics try to run, getting a small distance before the wyrm leaps and lands on them massacring survivors with claw, bite and tail.
Within 10 minutes of that battle starting, the entire party is wiped out.
After the fiasco, Mallark revives in Craiston a minute later.
With a heavy heart upon failing the raid and losing potential glory, he gives entrance key to the third strongest guild; Sovereign. As this is what all the major guild leaders agreed upon.
They collect their strongest members and move out, with a party consisting of 2 tanks, 6 priests and 32 mages. A bizarrely huge amount of mages for a raid, but the firepower would be tremendous.
They all begin moving out, but stop as a system message pops up in front of everyone on the village, and for everyone else in the world.
The L1ONs guild has conquered the Wyrm Spire Caverns
Everyone in that village look completely flabbergasted, because no one knows who the hell the L1ONs guild is…
All but one person.
That little shit! Just how the fuck did he pull that off?
“Eugh, I’m going to have to get a new robe now”
Walking out of the dead adult wyrm’s mouth, Lionel places the still beating heart in his inventory.
“Now…what else do I want to explore?”