296. Lastport Vista
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Seeing Lastport up close was as inspiring as seeing the Egyptian pyramids back on earth. Even after all that time, the undoubted looting, the passage of time, and the cracks that filled the area, one could see its magnificence. The gates were made of the same material as the houses in Nerosal’s noble neighborhood—clean, smooth, impervious to cracks or other decay creatures. The finer details—doors, windows, decorations, furniture—were long gone, leaving only the base behind, but even so, it remained a sight to behold.

The first thing Dallion asked was for a few hours to look about the town. After several minutes of arguments, during which his music powers were also used, Agnii finally gave in. Dallion was warned not to wander off too far away, and always be ready for a fight. The warnings were ignored completely. For the most part, he walked around like a tourist, or a child in an empty candy shop, helping himself to anything he saw.

It didn’t take long for him to spot the dangers, or rather annoyances, the city held. As Agnii said, there were creatures there. Neither minotaur, nor crackling, they were the equivalent of rats or coyotes scurrying around in what they believed to be their domain. The good thing was that while they remained highly territorial, the creatures didn’t wander beyond the buildings they viewed as theirs. According to Nil, Dallion had the skills to take a few on if needed, even without Lux’s help. Even so, Dallion preferred to avoid conflict, coming to an unspoken agreement with the creatures: he wouldn’t bother them, as long as they didn’t try anything against him. Sadly, there were a few cases in which that wasn’t possible.

The first pair of creatures that attacked were dog-like rats with fangs and claws that were the size of a small pony. The fight had been short and uneventful, and while Dallion had to put a bit more effort into that usual, it was nowhere as challenging as fighting guardian minions.

Maybe you should start thinking about returning to the camp, dear boy, Nil said. You’ve been wandering about for a while now.

In a bit, Dallion replied, looking at one of the large towers that stood out from the urban landscape. It was a perfect spot to get a good look at the city, although there was one small issue. The building seemed to be a lair of some sort of creatures that didn’t want to be disturbed.

You’re pressing our luck, the old echo said. I thought we had the conversation about taking on more than you can handle. Surviving in a place like this should be enough for you. There’s nothing to be gained by risking your health for a better view.

That wasn’t the topic and everyone knew it. Dallion didn’t merely want to go up the tower for the vista. There was that, but his main reason, and hope, was to see whether there were any hidden realms left within the city. Given the time past, the prospect was unlikely, but even so, getting a look would get rid of any future regrets he might have.

Fighting a pack of creatures wasn’t going to be easy, even if they weren’t terribly strong. Dallion would have preferred that Eury was somewhere around, but alas, she had gone off to do her own thing even before they came close to the city.

Harp, Shield, do you think I could handle them? Dallion asked.

There was a brief moment of silence, after which both guardians replied positively. Shield was a bit more reserved, but he was confident enough that his assistance against “city pests” would be enough to ensure Dallion’s safety even if there was trouble defeating them. That was all Dallion needed to hear.

Combining his athletic and acrobatic skills, Dallion parkoured his way onto the roof of the nearest building. Given that he had the ability to do so, it made little sense approaching the building along the road. Besides, he had always wanted to do this in real life. Back on Earth he had even done a few attempts to learn parkour, though sadly he had quit in a few weeks—the average time it took a wannabe to give up. Here, markers took care of the difficult part, making the entire process as simple as in YouTube videos.

Reaching the buildings itself took less than two minutes along the rooftops. Once there, Dallion directly leapt towards the nearest window opening. The recent body leveling up made it all the easier. For a moment, Dallion considered whether he could simply try and climb the building on the outside without having to face any of the creatures within. While it was technically possible, he had no dedicated wall scaling sub-skill, which made the process tricky. Rather than risk it, it was safer to deal with what he knew—combat and music.

The inside of the tower was pretty much what one would expect: a wide stairwell on the outside and openings on every floor leading to the chambers within. Knowing that once the local critters would attack him from all sides, once they sensed he was there, Dallion proceeded to clean the nearest floor.

 

 

COMBAT INITIATED

 

 

The red rectangle emerged the moment he passed through the doorway. A swarm of a dozen creatures or so were there, growling at him with bared teeth.

 

Species: Ratayou

Class: Dust

Statistics: 100% HP

Skills:

- Blunting

- Devour

Weak spots: Head

 

The names of the skills didn’t sound overly pleasant, making Dallion summon his standard short sword.

“We don’t have to fight, you know,” he said, adding the sensation of calm in his words through the use of music skills. “I just want to reach the top.”

Clearly, the effect wasn’t enough, for the creatures merged into one large coyote-like rat. At this size, the creature looked even more like a dust deposit, as if someone had painstakingly gathered all the dust off an old desk and arranged it to form a sculpture. Particles fell off at every step, only to float up back to the creature’s body moments later.

Are you sure these aren’t cracklings? Dallion thought. Or are dust bunnies a thing here?

Dust is the price of progress, Nil said in a very serious voice. It would take a while for them to grow to such an extent. They tend to be quite amusing when small and taken care of. The Imperial capital even has made it into a thriving business.

Well, I doubt they’d want to have a pet like this.

The creature leapt forward, several mouths forming on its body. Before they could reach Dallion, however, it was already too late for them. Dallion had split into four instances, each performing a series of dicing attacks combined with an acrobatic jump.

Four different attacks were performed, each dealing a series of moderate wounds, killing the creature outright. This was pretty much the first instance Dallion had difficulty deciding which instance to choose, because all of them were so good.

Moments later, he was standing along in the room, sword in hand. For several moments, he stood there, but no reinforcements came. The creatures from below had scurried down, while those above remained perfectly quiet.

Way to go, the armadil shield said. See, you’re not weak. You’re just not strong enough to take on an elite yet. That’ll happen too, though. Give it a few years, or maybe even months if you’re lucky, and you’ll be able to stand your own against the best of them.

Right, Dallion smiled.

The compliment was a much-needed ego boost, but it didn’t deny the fact that Dallion had failed his last leveling up several times so far. Taking on weaker enemies, even in large numbers, wasn’t going to prove much use if he couldn’t advance.

Sword in hand, Dallion went back to the tower staircase and continued up. There were a few scuffles along the way—mostly creatures scared that he might enter their floors who decided to attack preemptively. Thanks to the constant use of combat splitting, Dallion got to no harm.

Any chance of getting an achievement when I reach the top? Dallion asked, thinking of the games he played back on Earth. This is a major city, so getting a good look around should be of some use.

What’s next? Getting an achievement for waking up? Nil grumbled. Achievements are generally gifts from the Moons you get by actually achieving something. Walking up a staircase is supposed to let you get to the top of a building. There’s nothing special about that.

There was nothing special about going up the mountain either…

No, the mountain was made by the realm’s creator to be of major significance, and that was acknowledged by the Moons. The achievement wasn’t for you reaching the top, it was for crossing the highest point of the world for the first time.

Does that mean that captain Adzorg can add a few achievements in the training items in the basement?

Sure, the echo snorted. Provided that they are world items. My original is good, but not that good. Even the Emperor can’t create world items. Even the Order has lost the knowledge.

So, in theory, if I were to reach a high enough level and am granted the knowledge from the Moons, I’ll be able to give away achievements to people?

Dear boy, if you reach the level at which you can create world items, you’ll be able to do quite a bit more than that.

Reaching the top of the tower yielded no achievements. What it did give was a clear view of the entire city. Even without music skills, Dallion was able to see several party members—most of them were at the main square, resting at a large well—as well as every building there was. He could see the palace with towers higher than he was on, a number of large mansions that once must have belonged to local people of importance, guard forts, gardens, shops, but most of all, he was able to see the shipyards. Giant quays of wood and stone extended into the calm waters. Once they probably were bustling with people and trade, now they were little more than a memory, but even so, not all ships were gone.

Sneaky, Dallion thought. When Agnii said that she’d set up a ship, she never meant that she’d build one from scratch. She was simply going to make use of what could be salvaged. Looking closer, Dallion also saw how they had remained in such good condition after such a long time. There was glimmering from some of the shipyards—the unmistakable indication of hidden realms. Any other seer would have seen that as well. The previous expeditions must have discovered the ships and revealed them in preparation for this day. Since all the cracklings had been dealt with, it was a safe thing to do. The presence of minotaurs had changed things. That probably was the reason that Agnii was so concerned—she was worried that someone else might have taken the ships or, failing that, sunk them.

As you can see, dear boy, the chances of you finding something that others have overlooked is pretty small, Nil said in smug fashion. You aren’t the first that arrived here. You aren’t even the second. Everything of value has likely been collected, while what is left must be of no significance.

As much as he didn’t want to admit it, Dallion knew that Nil was right. Even so, he looked around carefully, combining his music and forging skills. From what he could see, there were several dozen hidden realm spots, all at the city piers. Whatever good—and not only good—there had been was long found and taken, leaving only potential ships behind.

Suddenly, something caught Dallion’s attention. Strictly speaking, it wasn’t a hidden area. Instead, it was a metal item with its own emotions that flickered like a glowing needle in a haystack. What more significance, though, was that the light surrounding it clearly showed that it, too, didn’t belong in this world.

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