100 Vadoma“s Sorrow
Draco made no moves to stop her or absorb her anger. As dark and wicked as it may sound, he felt that this particular development was extremely good for her.
When he had been a 'good guy' in his past life, things had gone well.
However, he only rose to power after all his negative emotions erupted and he fell into the dark. One could say that his negative emotions had been strengthened due to the remnants of his bloodline, but it was crippled back then, and far too weak.
If Roma experienced an intense wave of genuine hate and anger, it would forever change her character into something he preferred.
Once a person fell into the dark, they never truly escaped. They just experienced bursts of light as they clawed their way back up.
Even Draco, who had cut off his hatred and anger in this new life, who had everything looking up and extremely promising for him, was still strictly a villain.
His actions were amoral and frankly, evil. He had no qualms doing certain things that most would not, just that his bottom line was much higher than in his past life.
If Roma went through this fully, she would become like him. In some ways, it was a good thing in terms of dealing with the reality of life and how humans behaved. On the flipside, it was bad because the world would no longer be colorful and beautiful, only becoming dreary shades of grey.
Knowledge was power, but it was also a curse.
The Party of Three walked through the leveled palisade walls of the Gypsy village to head into the interior. The further they went, the more dead Gypsies they saw, some even being women.
By the time they saw Vadoma's tent, Draco counted over 50 dead. Of course, there were quite a few monster carcasses as well, but not enough to justify the losses the Gypsies faced.
Draco entered Vadoma's tent to find the old woman seated at her table with almost dead eyes, her body slumped as if she had lost all hope in the world.
When Roma saw her mother like this, she cried out and rushed into her embrace. Vadoma seemed to come to life when she saw that it was her beloved daughter again, and she became a little more animated.
"Roma… my sweet daughter. I… sigh…"
Vadoma tried to say something, but halted immediately as she sighed with defeat. This made Roma even more distraught as she had never seen her wise and kind mother so weak in her whole life.
Our parents were always the most powerful people in our eyes, especially if they raised us with love and care. In the back of our minds, they would never fail and they would always exist to help you when you were down or defeated.
However, they were people too. Being the source of someone else's wisdom and comfort had its own stresses and difficulties. Vadoma usually did not have a problem, but today, she had been tested.
She had been tested and…
"I failed, Roma. I failed."
The Queenmother looked like she wanted to cry, but didn't even know how to go about it. She was completely lost.
"Mother, tell me what happened. Let us talk and share our woes, for it is only then that we might find clarity." Roma advised with a serious expression.
Vadoma smiled wryly and pinched Roma's nose lightly. "Repeating my teachings to me… you have truly become great, Roma."
Vadoma sombered and went quiet for a bit, organizing her words carefully.
"The walls fell just over 30 hours ago, leaving your brother Vano with the herculean task of leading our defenders to stall the monsters while the non-combatants escaped."
Vadoma sighed at this point. "However, we underestimated the monsters. We had taken them for maddened beasts that only sought to kill everything in sight, and that was true for the most part."
"However, some monsters which had killed enough of their kind, or even those of sapients who live in the Four Point Valley, seemed to gain strength and intelligence with each person they consumed. Those that had consumed hundreds had become no different from you or I, in terms of sapience."
When Vadoma revealed this, Draco and Qiong Qi froze as their hearts began to beat slightly out of order. The two of them felt like such an attribute was extremely familiar, but they absolutely refused to acknowledge the suspicion in their minds.
"They overcame our defenses and began killing all the guards. As their numbers dwindled and the non-combatants weren't out of the area fully, most of the men and the older generation chose to act as meat shields for them, a sacrifice so valiant that I've never been more proud to be a Gypsy."
Draco and Roma agreed with this, and so did Qiong Qi.
It wasn't solely due to the fact that they had sacrificed their lives to save their kin since the former were a weaker party, but because they had come to terms with the fact that for the purpose of continuing the race, more women saved was much more important than more men saved.
It was a very harsh and discomfiting truth, but nature made it that way. It was one of the reasons why women were largely excluded from wars, because without them, rebuilding a race or clan was not impossible, but very hard. It was also more time consuming.
"However, it was not enough. The monsters would soon overcome this last ditch attempt and kill everyone. I…"
Vadoma seemed to become weaker here. "I couldn't sit by and allow that…"
Roma, Draco an Qiong Qi's expressions changed here.
Roma's voice was cut off from the look Vadoma gave her in return.
"That's right dear… I interfered directly and vanquished the beasts while sending the remaining Gypsies to a special dimension only accessible by us witches. It should keep them safe and well until this incident is solved by Draco."
Despite hearing what should be good news, everyone in the room became solemn. Roma seemed like she was having difficulty breathing and her eyes began to tear up.
"Mother… where is Vano?"
This question was like a whip that struck the back of Vadoma as she flinched and her lips began to tremble. Her old yet wizened voice became extremely feeble as she spoke.
"You know very well… that there is always a price to pay. For a spiritual leader to interfere with the battles of their clan, there is always a steep and personal price to pay…"
Roma directly broke down and began to cry as she hugged her mother tightly. Vadoma leaned into Roma's embrace and seemed to lose all her strength at this time.
The way they held each other, one would think that it was Vadoma who was sobbing while Roma comforted her.
Draco could only sigh.
To the NPCs of this world, the rules of the AI were the very truths of their reality. If the AI composed a rule and the NPCs - who were largely autonomous - broke it, there was always a price to pay.
NPCs were free to live or act how they wanted within the rules the AI had set.
Here, the rule was that these 'spiritual leaders', who were the Elf King, Vadoma, Lokthar and Flora, could not interfere in the battles of their clan in anyway. In fact, they could not do anything other than advise or guide.
This was naturally for the protection of the player. Not every player was savvy like Draco, who understood how to handle the different races.
Aside from evil players, who might either rape, kill or steal from the races of the Four Point Valley, some players with goodwill might inadvertently offend these spiritual leaders. If such a thing happened, how were they supposed to resist the wrath of a Rank 7 entity?
That was the meta-reason of course. To the NPCs, it was due to a rule of the world that dictated it to be so, and this rule had been kept for generations on end.
The rule wasn't oppressive though. If the various races under these spiritual leaders met with a foe they could not overcome, who were so far above them that it was an impossible fight, they could interfere and even the score.
Did the monster horde fall under this category?
No it did not, unfortunately. If the monster horde was comprised of Rank 3-6 monsters, Vadoma would have had the right to vanquish them all.
However, these monsters were all Rank 1, with some of them being within higher levels of Rank 1 than others. There was not a single Rank 2 monster in the lot.
To a human with emotions and empathy, one would try to ignore the facts and bend the rules a bit to allow the Gypsies a path to survival.
To an Artificial Intelligence that was emotionless and extremely objective in its thoughts, the rules were the rules. If it fit the rules, it was okay. If it did not, it was not okay.
The monster horde qualified as a threat at the same level of the Gypsies. This meant that it was up to them to find a path of survival and should they even be wiped out to a man, the spiritual leaders were not to interfere.
But how could anyone accept this? The Elf King and Lokthar might be able to overlook this and stick to the rules, but Vadoma and Flora were the type to break the rules for their people.
However, the punishment was swift and very harsh. The AI would take something of personal value of the NPC in question, which would serve as a lesson to the others in case they decided to stray from the rules the AI imposed.
So Vadoma had to pay her price. It would have been Roma had she not become Draco's Mystic Servant, so the next option was her only son, Vano.
Vadoma had to watch her son be decomposed into pixels as he cried out to her for help… but how could she save him?
She was the cause of his death…
That was why despite her grief and her tears, Roma's heart broke for her mother. What Vadoma was going through currently could not easily be comprehended by a third party.
The Queenmother wasn't even able to muster tears. Her heart was like dead ashes and the very world seemed to become gray to her. She had been running on some form of bizarre autopilot all this while, each second feeling like an eternity.
Draco and Qiong Qi remained silent for a bit before leaving the tent together, allowing the mother and daughter to vent their grief freely.
Draco left the Gypsy village with Qiong Qi, as they walked over to the central area of the Four Point Valley. Neither man nor lion spoke a single word, and their faces retained their solemnity through out their short journey.
They two weren't emotional fellows, and to some extent, one could call them indifferent to most things that did not concern them.
To Draco, who had Roma as his woman, her grief and loss impacted him. His family meant dogshit him as they had crippled him in order to appease the Pangu Alliance.
He only treated Fyre nicely because she had snuck away from the Lineage to look after him on her own.
He felt bad that Roma had to lose family that she loved and who loved her back. It was almost as painful as finding out that you were betrayed by the one you loved, and Draco understood that all too well, though it had been a misconception.
To Qiong Qi, his backstory was even more mysterious than anyone else. This Lion had posed as a common monster and had been introduced to Draco in a very bizarre manner.
Even now, no one truly knew what his goals were, or even what went through his mind.
Though, there was one thing Qiong Qi did display, which was his tense relationship with his own father. It seemed like they had a rift between them, with Qiong Qi escaping his grasp to roam the world and experience freedom.
After seeing Roma - who he had taken as his own Little Lass - so bereaved and sorrowful, he felt bad. He couldn't help but think of his own situation and his family.
When the two arrived at the Central Meadowland of the Four Point Valley, they noticed that the monster population was incredibly high here. In fact, it was so overwhelming that it seemed endless.
The monsters fought each other in a bloody and non-stop conflict, the weak being consumed while the strong continued to acquire power. It was a large and headless melee that seemed so chaotic that one would be lost just looking at it.
However, what was strange was that the conflicts were contained within the map-demarcated zone of the Central Meadowland. It didn't spill out in the least, which explained why the whole Four Point Valley hadn't been overrun.
It seemed like some strange rule was keeping these monsters locked in the Central Meadowland. A few of the bloody ones that ended up being pushed out due to a strong blow or a sharp dodge stopped and looked around with confusion.
It was almost as if when inside the Central Meadowland, they had no idea there was a world outside. Once they crossed the barrier, they would encounter the outside world and realize that such a place actually existed.
Then, they would quickly rush into the wilds to find new prospects, instead of fighting in an endless melee.
This happened to only 1/1000th of the monsters in here every minute, which highlighted just how absurd the number of monsters in the Central Meadowland were, compared to the amount that had overrun the rest of the Four Point Valley.
Draco took a deep breath and spoke deeply. "Leave this to me, Brother Qiong."
Draco took a step forward and crossed the boundary of the Central Meadowland, officially entering the fray. Before he could take another step forward, a screen popped up before him.
｢System to Player Announcement
This zone is set at a high difficulty level! Once you attack any monster within, the final phase of the Unique Quest will be triggered and cannot be exited unless fully completed!
Monsters in this zone will not drop any money or loot, but experience gains are boosted by 300%!｣
Draco read this quietly and closed the screen. He was already willing to end this quest, so this warning would not stop him.
The reason the AI bothered to warn him was that it had noticed Draco had not followed the script by rallying the races of the Four Point Valley under his banner in order to vanquish the monsters in a valiant war.
He was under no compulsion to do so, but that was the best way to finish the quest for the average player. However, Draco was clearly not like the average player.
On Glory's Wings!
Draco unleashed all his broken and overpowered skills at once, allowing his power to rise to the heavens and beyond!
This monster army before him wasn't made up of only Rank 1 entities. There were Rank 2, Rank 3 an even a few Rank 4 monsters. Draco could not fight any of them and win on his own, so he had to pull out all the stops!
[On Glory's Wings: Activating this skill allows the user to summon the Knights of the Round Table to fight for him for 1 hour. Cooldown: 7 days.
Note 1: Knights will be mounted on High Rank Dragons.
Note 2: Knights will possess a rank of the player's + 3. Maximum Rank increase is capped at Rank 5.]
[Nature's Call: Activating this skill allows the user to summon an army of Ents, Dryads and Shamblers that are of the same Rank as the user for 1 hour. Cooldown: 7 days.]
[Dragon's Force: Activating this skill gives the user a boost of power by a factor of 700% for 30 seconds. Cooldown: 12 hours.]
[War Monger: Activating this skill allows the user to merge with the Fire of War, boosting damage by 100% for as long as there is stamina to burn. No cooldown.]
[Absolute Void: Create spatial anomaly in an area of 100*50 yards around user which boosts attack and movement speed by 10% for each enemy within. No cap on percentile increase. Duration: 1 minute Cooldown: 10 minutes]
The heavens were ripped open and made into screen, displaying 12 Knights seated around a round table as they laughed and made merry.
When they noticed that there was a space crack so close to them, the leader in red armor with an extremely handsome visage stood up and bellowed.
"Some fellow uses the token of mine wife to summon us. Knights, to arms!"
The various Knights of the Round Table rose to their feet and jumped through the space crack to fall through the skies like meteors. Instead of crashing to their deaths, their falls were broken by a bunch of red dragons that quickly caught them in their saddles.
The Knights laughed gaily, as if risking their lives like this was nothing more than a fun pastime.
On the ground, one could see a green light spread out from Draco's body towards the horizon, which an echoing 'boom' sound meeting his call.
This noise didn't stop after sounding out once, but reverberated in the ears of every living thing in the Central Meadowland like thunderclaps in their ears.
All the fighting stopped as these parasitic monsters beheld the forms of thousands and thousands of various forest and woodland monsters charging towards them while roaring in an wooden cacophony.
Ents, Shamblers, and Dryads rushed over from the edges of the horizon, their steps shaking the earth as they cried out.
Draco stood near the edge of the Central Meadowland.
In front of him was an almost endless amount of parasitic monsters who had stopped their fighting due to shock.
Behind him was a charging army of monsters and in the skies above him were powerful Knights riding High-Rank Dragons.
Draco himself stood there, his snow white hair billowing in the wind as he unsheathed his blades.
He pointed his Dragorugio blade towards the parasitic monsters and uttered one word as his eyes glinted with battle intent.