Pain… Akira’s body ached all over.
The cold winter mountain wind tugged at his body which was no longer transformed. It continued to try to push and pull him from where he lay.
Akira slowly sat up and braced himself against the wind that was growing even more fierce. He checked his body to see how bad his wounds were. Oddly enough he found he had no broken bones or major wounds even though his body felt like every bone had been broken and was extremely uncomfortable when trying to move.
He did not know how long he had been knocked out and with how dark it was, he would have a hard time tracking time anyways.
Fluffball, only a short distance away, noticed Akira’s movement and struggled to stand up…
“Arrr…,” he let out a low whimper and fell back into the deep snow.
Seeing this, Akira forgot about inspecting his surroundings and crawled through the deep snow while fighting against the strong wind to reach Fluffball.
As he pulled his helmet visor up to inspect the wounded Fluffball, he received a rough lick on the nose from Fluffball.
After a quick inspection, the only visible damage was a broken front right leg that was covered in frozen blood.
Reaching into his bag Akira took out one of the several red potions he kept for emergencies. As gently as he could, he brushed off the snow and bloody ice from the wounded leg.
As Akira did this Fluffball did not let out any sound, but Akira could feel Fluffball’s body quiver as the bloody ice was removed.
When the ice was removed Akira poured a small portion of the red liquid onto the wound. Another small portion of the potion was slowly poured into Fluffball’s mouth leaving around half of the potion left.
Seeing the potion slowly taking effect Akira quickly took in his surroundings. From where he sat he was unable to see the stars above. The only light fighting against the complete darkness was coming from the gleaming icy walls of the mountain that shot up into the sky.
Even trying straining his vision to its max he was still unable to see any sign of the Dwarves or werewolves that had been fighting along with him. Even if the people at the top of the mountain shouted down the roaring wind passing by him ate most of the sound and replaced it with a cold wail as it rushed by him.
Because of the fierce wind, he could not light a torch to get a complete view of his surroundings. But there really wasn’t much to see, he was on a rocky ledge that jutted out from the icy mountain some unknown distance from the top.
He looked over to the spot he had woken up from and saw that only a few paces away there was a large freshly broken-off area that led to the empty black abyss.
“So that’s where the [Bryer] hit…” said Akira.
If Akira and Fluffball had not landed where they had they would have followed the [Bryer] all the way down to the bottom of the Abyss.
The biting cold wind was getting worse as Akira picked up his shield and warhammer that lay on the ground.
He placed his shield onto his back and his warhammer on his belt and then scooped Fluffball up off the ground as he walked towards the mountain wall to inspect it.
There was no way to safely climb the wall up or down with the injured Fluffball due to the ice being fickle.
As Akira walked along the wall with his hand sliding across the ice it dipped when it reached a crack.
This was what Akira had been looking for.
Using his right shoulder he slammed into the ice wall.
The sound of ice breaking rang out as a large portion of the ice fell to the ground.
Akira again rammed his shoulder into the wall and the rest of the ice fell to the ground revealing a stone door that was as tall as his chest.
Akira rammed his full weight against the stone door causing it to let out a loud crack. As he continued to push forward with all his strength the sound of scraping noises rang out as the door was pushed open enough for someone to enter.
“I hope this is a tunnel made by the Dwarves…” muttered Akira as he crouched down and moved sideways to squeeze past the thick stone door.
The freezing wind followed behind him entering the dark passage ahead of him bringing in the powder snow and fresh air to the tunnel that had been closed off for who knows how many hundreds of years.
Akira was forced to climb hunched over, up a steep stone ramp that only had small worn-out steps that looked to have been built for the small legs of the dwarves. The steps were so worn that they almost melded into each other.
Akira thought that even the dwarves would have a hard time climbing the ramp.
As he climbed he felt reassured that he would be able to reach some other tunnel that could connect him to one of the other dwarf cities.
After a half-hour of struggle the tunnel leveled out and opened up into a small barracks room similar to those he had seen before.
The sound of the outside fierce wind was now muffled but could still be heard all the way here.
But judging from the dust covering everything as well as a lack of any bedding on the stone bunk-beds that were carved in the wall, the place had long been abandoned.
In the center of the barracks, there was an old iron grate that held several chunks of black coal which had been left behind. In one of the corners was a pile of broken wooden chairs.
Akira picked up one of the chairs and broke it into smaller pieces before placing the pieces into the iron fireplace.
Using a flint, the old wood and coal caught fire quickly.
After putting a few more pieces of another broken chair onto the fire, Akira placed down an old cloak on the ground and sat on it with Fluffball laying on his lap.
“Although we need to hurry up and get out of here, we still need to warm up first or we’re going to catch a cold and die…” said Akira as he held his hands over the fire.
“Yap,” said Fluffball, agreeing with Akira.
Akira once again looked over Fluffball and saw that his broken leg seemed to have healed but he would wait a little longer to make sure the potion had finished the healing process of all his wounds even those he could not see.
The small fire fought against the cold winter air that had filled the room and slowly warmed Akira’s body to the point where his hands and legs felt like he had several pins poking them as they thawed from the extreme cold and wind that had seeped into his body. If he had stayed out there any longer he could have had frostbite in both his feet and hands.
Now that he was somewhat safe and was warming up, Akira noticed several messages were waiting for him.
Branch 3 stage 3 completed!
Reward: 300 main quest points 300 gold. +30 fame.
A bonus reward of 20 levels has been given to the top contributors: Akira, Fluffball, Zundar.
All other group members who participated will receive ten levels
You have reached level 143!
Fluffball has leveled up to lvl 117!
+10 toughness Leadership level has reached Veteran officer lvl 7!
Seeing this, Akira was able to understand how he was able to survive such a fall and the cold wind without dying.
If it were not for the healing from the level up, he might have been in worse shape than Fluffball and maybe even frozen to death.
Once again Akira was happy to have completed one of the main quests as it saved his life as well as strengthened him and the other allies of Kodria that had fought against the infected.
Countdown to the start of the S rank Branch 3 stage 4 begins now!
The dark forces behind the plague have noticed your actions in cleaning up the areas and killing thousands of their undead pawns.
They have decided to take action and are gathering a large force to start a massive wave attack of molten onyx infected!
Their target? Kodria!
89 days and 15 hours until the wave attack begins!
Similar messages popped up to warn the Demigods who had accepted this branch of quests. Each guild was warned of a coming wave towards the cities they called home.
This message sucked out all the warmth and happiness Akira had been feeling just moments before.
A fierce shiver ran down his back as he re-read the message to make sure he had not misread it.
Fluffball felt the change in Akira’s mood and looked up at him questioningly with his head cocked to the side.
Akira rubbed Fluffball’s head, reassuring him that everything was fine.
“We can’t stay in this place for long. We have to get out of here and get back to the others,” said Akira as he leaned closer to the fire to receive more of the heat.
When his body was fully thawed out the fire was now only burnt down to red coals that let out pops every so often sending sparks and ash into the air.
Akira placed Fluffball onto the cape and walked over to the door that led out of the barracks.
It was tightly closed forcing him to once again use his shoulder to slam into it and push it open.
Step by step he moved forward. The sound of whistling wind surprisingly grew louder as he pressed the door open to a point where he could get through without any trouble.
The sound caused Akira to stop as he listened intently. Then he walked back to the ramp and listened to the wind that came from there. It was quiet compared to the wind on the other side of the door he had just opened.
Fluffball seemed to have noticed the difference as well as he let out a “Yap,” he stared at the slightly open door fully alert as he stood up and walked over to Akira.
Akira picked the old cape back up and placed it in his bag before walking back to the cracked door only hesitating for a second.
Fluffball followed right behind him as they passed through the tight opening.
“Miss… I said ten times already that going down that way is suicide!” said an elderly dwarf who was being bandaged up by several other dwarf doctors.
Luckily his wounds were not infected but were caused by weapons that the infected had used. This was the first time seeing such things being used by the infected who normally acted in a way that weapons were useless.
“We can’t just leave him down there! We have enough rope and people to climb down don’t we?” said Mileena in a fit.
“Jumping off or climbing down by rope is suicide! Not only will the wind knock you around like a piece of cotton, the creatures and other inhabitants living down there will eat you alive for entering their territory.”
“I can feel it here. He is not dead,” said Mileena, placing a hand over her heart.
“We must go and find our lord! If you will not help us then…” said Vilkas, not finishing the sentence as he shot a look to the dwarf.
Several of the other werewolves including Zundar all stared at the dwarf with sharp gazes.
“Friends, there is no need to look at me that way! I only said we can’t go that way, not that we would give up on searching for him. I am sure if we ask some of the elders who are knowledgeable of the maps of the mountains, we can find a path down to where he may have fallen.”
The stares did not lessen.
“Follow me,” said the dwarf as he stood up and walked down a branching tunnel from the barracks where 100’s of others were being treated for minor wounds.