Alana pulled her hood tighter around her face to block off the chilling, snow-covered edge of the wind. It cut off her vision somewhat, but her Perception was more than high enough that she was able to keep her feet underneath her on the snowy mountain path.
She would not fall here. This pilgrimage up the mountain was the goal of how she had spent the last three weeks, after all.
After being knocked off of the mountain by the terrible breath attack from the Dragon, Alana had struggled with every fiber of her being to survive the fall. Even with a profoundly reinforced body due to the System, there was so much ice and rock tumbling down with her that it was possible to have been buried and smashed out of existence.
But Alana had survived. And during the fall, she had an epiphany.
I can’t be all of Donnyton’s image. But that doesn’t mean I can’t possess an image of my own with enough power to protect an entire city.
So Alana had ignored the messages from the other members of the party sent by Donnyton to this Zone and hunted. She had struggled alone for two weeks straight, simply letting all of the responsibility she had let suffocate her into failing to create her own image. She had relied on her own Skills and refamiliarized herself with her own desires.
Without anyone else around, Alana’s internal and external worlds finally seemed to overlap. Rather than responsibility, she could now move confidently toward her desire.
The hunting was extremely abundant in the area around the Epic Dungeon, which was exactly why the individuals from this Zone had required Donnyton’s immediate help. High-Level pseudo-dragons like wyverns and kobolds bred like flies underneath the purview of the Broodmother that ruled from the peak.
Alana’s spear during those weeks drank deeply the blood of dragons. And she had grown strong.
Class: Valkyrie of the Red Dust
Health(/R per hour): 3101/3952 (963)
Mana(/R per hour): 1474/1474 (421)
Stam(/R per min): 1927/1927 (642)
Skills: Life of Alaihym, the Angel with no Lineage Lvl 2249, Ferocity Lvl 139, Running Lvl 203, Physical Fitness Lvl 179, Spear of Red Valkyrie Mastery (A) Lvl 206, Triage Lvl 72, Great Leap ® Lvl 129, Animal Skinning Lvl 49, Prey Stalking (Un) Lvl 117, Sun Strike Lvl 209, Advanced Fighting Proficiency ® Lvl 180, Hawkeye Lvl 74, Block Lvl 19, Heavy Blow Lvl 132, Herculean Strength Lvl 114, Spear Deflect Lvl 82, Sweep Lvl 51, Mana Bolt Lvl 16, Dodge Lvl 99, Valkyrie’s Clarion Call ® Lvl 96, Hot Blooded Lvl 98, Child of the Sun Lvl 205, Crimson Ire ® Lvl 74, Avatar Form (A) Lvl 101, Descent of the Radiant Wings (Ru) Lvl 79, Solar Flare (Un) Lvl 49, Hunter’s Instincts (Un) Lvl 61, Dragon Slayer ® Lvl 52
How much have I narrowed the gap between you and I, Randidly Ghosthound?
Alana wondered as she shouldered her way upward through a particularly deep snowdrift. Her thighs churned ruthlessly, pressing up against the elevation and the weight of the snow around her that was made illogically heavy by the magic of the Dragon Broodmother.
Or is this still not enough to be able to catch up to you…?
Over the past several weeks, as Alana pushed herself to her limits to find her own image, one word kept ringing in her head over and over. It was a word with such weight that it continued to press against her subconscious, even now.
That terrible cry that rang out from the Grim Chimera’s mouth as it condensed around Randidly’s true body on that final stage of his challenge against Donnyton. It raised its head to the sky and roared its contempt of Donnyton, but more largely that word had been a dismissal of the entire Earth. Before that incarnation of the Grim Chimera, the humans could not even approach. It was only by borrowing the weight of Donnyton that Alana had been able to move to meet him.
Yet even then, she was still found wanting.
Despite the fact that it allowed snow into her hood to land on her face, Alana turned her gaze upward.
Almost there now. This time…
At least against this monster, I…
Because the truth was that it was not the message of the Grim Chimera only. After Alana had faced the breath of the Dragon Broodmother and then struggled alone around the base of the mountain, she realized that message that had been delivered by the Grim Chimera’s mouth was part of a litany of hate that was spewed toward Earth by the System every moment.
That was why Randidly had felt it was necessary to make a stand and force Donnyton’s attention to focus. Because it had overcome the initial trials of their new world, but that was just the beginning of the hell that awaited them.
The System had more yet in store for Earth. If they rested on their laurels today, they would die tomorrow. Because truly, in the broad spectrum of things…
They were weak.
Silently, Alana trudged up the snowy mountain. She broke apart the ice in front of her with the butt of her spear and continued to put one foot in front of the other. Broken ridges and long fields of ice arrived and faded as Alana made a meandering path upward. Although her high Endurance did a lot to block out the cold, her feet were still tingling from the slush that she had hiked through for the last four hours. She did not rush, but Alana also didn’t hesitate. Her pace carried her toward the towering form of the Level 80 monster that waited above.
Alana had no doubt that the monster hadn’t been sitting idly either. Unlike most monsters, these three disasters that had come out of the Epic Dungeon were able to grow relatively quickly compared to most monsters. More quickly even than humans could grow, at least in terms of Level, and each Level above 79 contained a frightful amount of power. The Dragon Broodmother was the most visible, but the other two were also staking out areas where they were setting up monster kingdoms.
Despite the fact that Alana had refused to answer any communication that came her way, she still received updates on the status of Donnyton’s expedition. Both the Bog Hydra and the Rakshasi had been seen moving and attacking humans. In the latest report, the Rakshasi was reported to have reached Level 81.
Alana barred her teeth toward the summit as she continued upward.
Don’t you dare disappoint me, dragon.
Alana maintained her silent pace as she arrived at the familiar top portion of the mountain. The clearing was exactly as she remembered it with but a single difference from her first arrival; the towering black form of the Dragon Broodmother was not present.
This didn’t throw Alana. She calmly walked to one of the nearby piles of snow and dug herself a burrow. Then she drew her hand along the outside and tested its strength. Using the heat of her hand, she melted the interior slightly to add some structural integrity. Finally satisfied, Alana settled herself within the burrow. Then she waited for the Broodmother to inevitably return.
While she waited, her thoughts were completely still. Not a single ripple ran across them. Time lost all meaning as she settled down to stalk prey.
Because that was the image that Alana found. She might be a spear, but when she stared at the depths of her soul, she learned that she wasn’t a warrior, not truly. She would never lead armies or orchestrate thousands of people. She could not carry the banner as the supreme commander of Donnyton’s forces. Or rather, she could, but it would be missing out on her own truth.
Because Alana was something far older and more primal than a warrior. Her spirit harkened back to the days where small communities were propped up by the daring actions of a single individual that left the safety of the settlement and came back with the meat of a dead beast. Tribal, instinctual, but most of all unrelenting, Alana found in herself a Hunter. She still was the spear of Donnyton. Yet as Alana discovered herself, what that phrase meant to her changed.
The Valkyrie of the Hunt. The being that had guided humanity and protected them long enough that they could settle and shift toward an agricultural society.
Eventually, the flapping of wings drew Alana’s attention upward. Her eyes flicked side to side, quickly piecing through the flurrying snow above and seeing the long-winged dragons that glided down to land around Alana. The young and small dragons opened their mouths and shot bursts of ice toward each other, the gentle and primal posturing of siblings.
Once they were on the ground, they sauntered toward each other, stretching their long necks to nip at each other’s vulnerable bellies and sides. Their scuffles shook the snow around Alana, but she didn’t even blink. Her breath was slow and even.
Then, after a few minutes past, the roars and hisses fell silent. Now arranged by strength, the Dragons awaited their Broodmother.
When she arrived, she slowly circled before descending. It seemed that this Dragon was more than intelligent, it was also arrogant; Alana could clearly tell that the thing enjoyed making the others wait for her descent. But as Alana looked up toward the Dragon Broodmother, she was forced to admit that this creature definitely had the capital to make others wait.
Dragon Broodmother Lvl 82
Its wide wings spread and beat downward, slowing its descent. The snow around Alana rustled and was blown away, slightly revealing her burrow. Still, Alana didn’t move. Instead, she watched the Dragon with glittering eyes.
As soon as you land… your life is mine.