The basilisk's six broad, padded paws kept them from sinking into the Southern desert sands. Crossing the dunes was like being on a rollercoaster, the basilisk sprinted up the face of a sand dune, throwing up plumes of sand behind, then came the descent, jumping and sliding down the opposite side. Rinse and repeat, over and over.
Dave's armor was scorching hot to touch, the desert sun wasn't hot enough to cause [Overheating] but it sure did feel like it was. It felt like his already dessicated draugr skin was going to become brittle and crumble to dust. Maybe he'd evolve into a Mummified Draugr.
They were halfway to Mt. Glory when the weather changed. Dave noticed the sky was less bright and the wind had picked up, he looked around and then behind. Rushing toward them was what looked like a wall of roiling reddish-yellow chaos, the phenomenon stretched across the horizon and towered high into the atmosphere.
"Sandstorm! Run, Grumps, runnnnnn!" Dave shouted.
The basilisk snarled and increased his waddling lizard-gait.
They had just slid down into a small open area between several large dunes when a rancid smell assaulted their nostrils.
"You gotta be fucking kidding me!" Dave yanked desperately at the basilisk's dorsal spines to get him to veer away.
The stretch of sand ahead of them collapsed, the sand around the edge flowing into a gaping hole filled with concentric circles of sharp teeth. Grumpy was sliding down toward the gaping maw, carried along with the hissing rush of sand. The basilisk roared and leapt in the opposite direction of the sand flow, landing, he moved his six limbs rapidly, scrambling to get away from the trap. Finally after seconds of desperate effort the basilisk outpaced the pull of the sand eater's trap and escaped.
They survived the sand eater but they weren't out of danger.
The sand storm was closing on them rapidly, moving much faster than their best speed. They would be engulfed by it soon, and Dave would be sent to respawn seconds after that.
Grumpy stopped abruptly.
"Grumps?" Dave looked behind at the looming sandstorm.
The basilisk hunched his back and leaned over to the side, dumping Dave into the sand. Dave's shoulders slumped as he sat up and looked disconsolately at the approaching sandstorm.
"Yeah, no sense trying to outrun it. Fucking punk-kid and his stupid quest." He was not looking forward to making another try at this fucking desert at all.
The onyx basilisk grunted and began digging and pushing sand around furiously.
"What are you doing Grumps?" Dave asked.
The basilisk kept working, soon it became clear he was forming a nest-like sand structure. Grumpy nudged Dave over the low wall into the depression he'd created.
The storm hit them almost immediately after that. The basilisk groaned, his bulk still partially exposed, the shrieking winds blew so hard and fast that the sand particles were like tiny flying teeth, stripping flesh from bone.
But the wily basilisk knew how to survive in the desert. It didn't take long for the sand to accumulate and cover them almost entirely.
That's how they waited the storm out, huddling under the growing weight of sand that formed a windbreak around them. Dave sat in the hollow created by Grumpy curling protectively around him, leaning against the basilisk's bulk, bored out of his mind.
When the winds finally subsided, Grumpy stuck his frog-head up from the sand covering them. Dave's draugr head popped up through the sand right next to the basilisk. After making sure the storm had blown itself to nothing, the two of them left the depression.
Dave turned, everything looked different, as if the dunes had moved or changed completely.
"Fucking sand gets everywhere!" Dave was glad the girls weren't along on this quest, because the sand did actually get into every nook, crack and cranny, EVERYWHERE.
After doing his best to get the worst of the sand out of his armor he jumped onto the basilisk.
"Let's hit the road, Grumps!"
Dave chuckled when the obviously puzzled Grumpy looked around, searching for an actual road.
"It's just a figure of speech, big guy."
They took off, resuming their up-one-side-and-down-the-other mode of travel, heading for the Mt Glory marker on the map.
A black dot appeared on the horizon.
'That must be it.'
It grew slowly as they continued their trek until Dave could finally make out some detail. The mountain was unusual to say the least. The conical peak didn't rise up from the surface of the desert, the entire thing floated on top of a shimmering column.
"What in the name of Alfred...?"
As they got even closer Dave realized the shimmering column was a continuous fall of sand. A falling river of reddish yellow sand. Even more strange to Dave, there was no accumulation of sand at the bottom of the column, no growing mound of sand where the falls ended.
Soon they were standing near the falling curtain of sand, Grumpy even walked right up to the falling sand and sniffed at it curiously. Dave checked his map, the location of the quest marker was nearby somewhere.
They followed the quest marker, moving around the curving border of falling sand until Dave spotted two players.
A girl in leather armor with a green coolie on her head looked back at Dave curiously.
The red-armored knight standing next to her had a hand on the big two-handed hilt sticking up over his shoulder.
Dave inspected each of the players in turn.
Name: Winter Rose
Class: Sword Dancer
They were high level players and he still had multiple bounties on his head, the ones issued by Heaven's Dawn and the Blood Ragers.
"Mr. Skeletal!" the girl, Winter Rose, said.
She skipped across the sand towards them. Coming to a stop right next to the basilisk she looked up at Dave.
"Whatya doing way out here in the desert, Skelly?" she asked in a giggly voice.
"I'm on a quest. What about you two?" Dave asked.
Omni looked up then back, "We're waiting for the lift. Old Glory is a good grinding area even though it's a pain coming through the desert."
"Yeah, that sandstorm was a real motherfucker," Dave commiserated.
"You got caught in a sandstorm and survived? How?" Omni asked.
"Yup, thanks to Grumpy here. I guess he just knows his deserts," Dave patted the onyx basilisk.
"Grumpy the basilisk? Cute name. Can I pet him?" Winter rose asked.
Dave shrugged, Grumpy growled but let the girl scratch his chin and even seemed to enjoy it.
"What were you saying about waiting for a lift?" Dave asked.
"An elevator. The platform should be here anytime now. It runs every hour," Omni said.
Dave decided to wait for the lift with them. He chatted with the two players and they seemed nice enough.
Then Omni pointed, "There it is."
Dave looked up. A wooden platform was descending rapidly, no ropes, no wires, just seeming to levitate. The lift slowed and touched down on the sand.
The other players hopped onto the platform without hesitation.
Winter Rose looked back, "Are you coming?"
"Yeah," Dave nudged the basilisk onto the platform.
All three players got a notification.
Weight limit exceeded.
Lift operation will resume when the load is reduced.
"Sorry, Grumps, you gotta get off, you are just too fat, bro. I'll summon you when I get to the top." Dave said.
The basilisk grumbled unhappily but complied. Dave dismounted as the basilisk shuffled off the platform..
"Where did you get Grumpy?" Omni asked, "I'd love to have a basilisk mount."
"From the Underworld. You might be able to get one once the expansion opens."
Dave didn't know the two players well enough to give them free game tips or other vital information. But he didn't want to be a dick and antagonize them either. He was learning to get along with people. Slowly.
"Aren't you worried about leaving him down there alone?" Winter Rose asked, looking concerned.
"Nah, Grumpy can take care of himself."
The lift was accelerating upwards, the curtain of falling sand was behind them while the panorama of the bright desert spread out before them.
"Hey, have you guys heard of an NPC named Balaam?" Dave asked.
Omni spoke up, "Yeah, he's the weird guy that lives at the top of the mountain. Why?" .
"It's for my quest."
"He's useless. He doesn't give any quests, he never even talks to players."
"Just don't try to fight him, I saw him one-shot a level 400 Blood Rager that was messing with him," Winter Rose added.
"Huh. Good to know, thanks."
The platform rose past the top of the wall of falling sand then jerked and came to a stop, they'd reached the top.
"We're heeeeeere," Omni said in a sing-song voice.
Winter Rose clapped, jumping up and down.
Dave smirked and rolled his eyes at their antics as they debarked the platform.
Mt. Glory dominated their view, its peak hidden in clouds. A forest covered the gentle slopes that led to the mountain until it the terrain changed to bare grey rock and steep cliff faces. Trails led from the platform area to the right and left, curving around the top of the 'pillar.' Walking down either would put the forest on one side and the precipitous edge of the sand falls on the other, not a pleasant thought for Dave.
A curbed walkway paved with white stone stretched straight ahead into the forest. The walkway apparently extended all the way to the mountain, Dave could see a white line of stairs rising from the forest and up the steep cliff sides toward the hidden peak. Just past the edge of the trees a red-painted Japanese torii gate adorned the walkway. There was a torii every few hundred steps as far as Dave could see, little bits of red color accenting the white line of the path going up the mountain side.
The two players turned to the right and started walking down the trail.
"See ya, Skelly," Winter Rose turned and finger waved at him like a little girl.
"Yeah dude, laters. Good luck on your quest," Omni looked back and threw up a peace sign.
Dave waved back at the two players.
Once they were out of sight he crouched down and put a hand to the ground to initiate the summons for Grumpy.
He got a notification.
You cannot summon your mount (Grumpy) to this location.
The air turned pleasant cool as he climbed, and the view became more and more spectacular. He could see the forest around the mountain and even the desert beyond.
The temperature dropped continued to drop as he got closer to the peak. Soon the the way ahead was hidden by a blanket of thick white, he was about to walk into a cloud. Dave walked continued climbing, soon after, his. The stairs did in fact lead all the way to the top of the mountain. Unexpectedly, the peak was flat and level, as if something or someone had sliced the very tip of the mountain off. .
Dave smiled as he climbed the last step and walked onto the stone surface.
'True level huh'
An old man weighed down in heavy chains was walking slow circles around nothing in particular that Dave could see. The old guy had worn a visible path into the bare stone of the ground.
The man nodded to Dave, "Servant of the Undeath God."
"I need to find Eleanor daughter of the king of the undead legion."
"I know why you are here. What are you willing to sacrifice for your desire, young draugr?"
Blade Dancers dominate the battlefield using a combination of high damage output, rapid movement abilities, and potent control skills. Foregoing most defensive capabilities, they evade attacks instead of blocking or absorbing damage.
Blade Dancers excel at blitz tactics, often ending a fight before enemies can even retaliate. They overwhelm opponents with chained, high-damage physical and magical attacks while moving at high speed. Blade Dancer crowd-control abilities are class-specific, the effects synergize with the damage and movement skills, significantly increasing their power and effectiveness.
Blade Dancers do not have the stamina or resilience to survive prolonged heavy conflict. But they are an ideal class for short, intense engagements and they can excel in both individual and group combat.
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