Chapter 317– Tier 3 Trial Ends.
Chapter 317– Tier 3 Trial Ends.
A large armored man was struggling against a large number of cables. They were all wrapped around his limbs along with the large mace he was holding in his hand. Even though there were many of them he was still able to struggle. Little by little he could unearth the things these cables were attached to. Their bodies were made from metal and their form was similar to a spider’s. Even though he was slowly able to yank these spider drones out, he could not do it instantaneously.
This was what the master of these golems was waiting for. He had recreated a similar trap that he used to take down a massive dinosaur-like monster. His creations had laid dormant through the entire skirmish only to act when he called for them. Traps like these had aided him in his adventures and this time again they would help him achieve victory. Even though the cables were already breaking, it didn’t matter. The little time he was given for him to bring this home.
Just as the golems were about to get fully yanked out of the ground a beam of condensed energy collided with the armored man in the middle. A thin layer of mana momentarily appeared to shield him from this devastating attack. Yet, the suit of armor had already decayed throughout the duration of the fight. It was close to a tier 3 item but even those had limits. With no magical protection to speak of the spell drilled itself through his chest.
“This took a lot longer than it should have…but now it’s time to end it.”
Roland was barely able to voice the sentence in what sounded to be a resolute voice. Thanks to his new skill that allowed him to articulate things better it might have seemed that he was still in control but the reality was different. After having to act as the bait for this massive lord commander through the entire battlefield, he was digging deep into his reserves.
Most of his mana had been spent and the golems that were hidden underground were almost out of commission too. Even when they shot support bolts into the ground the enemy general’s might was just too much. Their golemic appendages were all mangled and they would be unable to perform any of the tasks they were designed to. This didn’t matter anymore though, as the battle had almost been won and they performed their duty.
The ray of condensed energy, similar to the spell he used when farming the tier 3 skeletons, had done its job. It went through the right side of the Lord Commander and created a giant hole that he could see through. This was also the side on which he was holding that giant mace of his, the same weapon that caused Roland to have nightmares.
Roland was not a stranger to death as before arriving in this world of classes and skills he had been living on planet earth. Even though the trial had forced him to forget most of what had transpired on this first attempt, the death continued to be very vivid in his memories. Sometimes he would even wake up at night with the feeling of his face being crushed by something. Back in the past when he was younger a similar period existed which only time allowed him to mend.
Now the source of his recent trauma was before him. A big chunk of his body was missing and the enemy Lord Commander was twitching on the ground. The hole revealed the wooden parts under that thick armor he was wearing. If this puppet man had been a real man from flesh and blood the image would have been quite gruesome. Yet even without all the blood and charred flesh, his squirming was similar.
“I guess, things are reversed now…”
Roland reached out for the large mace to pick it up. Even with his current enhanced strength, he could feel the weight being tremendous. The fact that this wooden person could fling it around with just one hand was a testament to his levels and stats. His level of two hundred and Lord Commander class probably equipped him with similar power as a lesser tier 3 class holder.
After adding a second hand to the large mace he approached the enemy commander that was still trying to fight back. Yet his whole body was still wrapped around several metal wires, the golems that they were attached to still offered some resistance that in this weakened state the wooden person was unable to fight against.
When looking around he noticed that the fighting had momentarily halted. The forces from the enemy faction weren’t rushing to their leader's help, instead, they were inching in the opposite direction. This was the obvious fate of a tyrant that only ruled people by his own power. If that might that brought him up to the top were in any way stripped away, then there was nothing left. It was a fast way to gain power yet just as fast as it was achieved, it faded away even quicker.
The sound of the mace hitting the commander echoed through the now-silenced battlefield. Roland made sure to swing as hard as his body allowed him to do. The force of the hit drove the mace into the ground along with the Woodlander Commander's head.
Finally, the enemy leader was dead and his death brought an almost immediate change. The forces that were ruled by might started to retreat. Some wanted to continue, while others demanded that they became the new Lord Commander. Without the looming threat of the armored monster he slew, there was nothing holding these wooden people together.
“My Liege, you have been victorious!”
“Hm, you’re the Aid from the Kindling side…”
While the enemy was in disarray the battle resumed. Even though the enemy leader was gone it didn’t mean that everything would just end. Roland had expected something like this to transpire as this was not the only enemy that he had been aware of. This trial would probably only end if his victory was more than assured. With another enemy standing before him, it would probably not be over unless he finished it all here.
“My Liege, let us drive away the Woodlanders together, I’ve seen one of their Commanders escaping towards the forest, we must chase after them!”
“They are escaping? Then we should follow right after them, just give me one of your horses.”
“Yes, My Liege.”
The aid looked towards one of the armored knights that were with him. The two exchanged a nod before he moved his wooden horse toward Roland’s direction. This was not the only mounted soldier that appeared at this location as there were five others. All of them shared one thing among themselves, they came from the side of his vassal.
“That’s enough mana to take care of this.”
“Did you really think that I wouldn’t have noticed?”
Roland spoke out while delivering a magically enhanced punch toward the soldier that was handing over the horse. His level was slightly above a hundred but with the difference in stats, he was unable to react in any fashion. The steel breastplate that was covering his chest instantly caved in from the impact. His body flew in the opposite direction while the other armored soldiers grabbed their weapons.
The Adi that was supposed to be one of his trusted followers shouted in anger while charging forward. The other soldiers knew that it was too late, they had been caught red-handed and their ploy was seen through. Their enemy was not easily defeated though and the magic blasts from the shoulder-mounted cannons just exacerbated this fact.
Before they could even approach their old Lord Commander the magical blasts rained upon them. The discrepancy in levels was just too big for them. Their main plan included fighting a surprised and weakened Roland, not that he would be aware of their subterfuge. Even in his weakened state, he was more than they could handle and with reinforcements coming from the side, they needed to either commit or abandon this endeavor.
“Treachery! Defend the Lord Commander! Kill them!”
A small group of armored units soon appeared to aid Roland in his fight. Even though he managed to blast some of the soldiers away his mana reserves were low. Luckily some of his trusted retainers were aware of this ploy and had been prepared to send aid when the time came.
Roland’s Aid that had been left behind in the Kindling faction had betrayed him. Even though he had replaced their leader he had been left alive and exiled. This opened up a little side event in this trial which culminated in this assassination attempt. He was not sure when these people would try to implement their ploy but he expected them to take it whenever the chance presented itself to them.
While normally he expected his own Aids to stay loyal there was a risk involved in leaving them in enemy territory. Roland decided to send out a few spies to keep tabs on this retainer that was left behind. During his stay at this new vassal, some information was unearthed which led him to take some precautions. It seemed that the trial was trying to teach him about trust and that it could not be given lightly.
‘This should have been enough to trigger the end… or could there be more to this trial than just war…’
Together with all the time skips the war had already raged for over two years. Even though the enemy lord was dead, this didn’t mean that the whole Woodlander faction was defeated. Perhaps the end of the trial would be only triggered if he managed to unite all of the lands. Conquering all the other locations after this battle was over wouldn’t be that easy. Even though he had won and the enemy combatants were scattering, his side had suffered a huge blow as well. Around half of his units had been destroyed and besieging all of the reinforced strongholds from the Woodlander territory would require some time.
‘Could it have some kind of hidden favorability rating too… what if I can only complete this if everyone is living in one big happy kingdom?’
While thinking about the worst possible outcome and even a need for more time to pass in this hellish trial, something strange happened. The whole place began to flicker wildly, it was as if this virtual reality was having trouble loading assets. Suddenly the scenery switched to another location where he found himself in a large church.
“I now pronounce you husband and wife, may your children lead our kingdom to prosperity and beyond!”
What was before him was the Lord Commander from the Forester faction. It seemed that he had just finished officiating the marriage between Roland and the wooden wife that he made a promise to. The wooden woman with the drawn-on face was wearing a white gown with various shiny gems on it. Behind them was a crowd of people cheering for them at this lush-looking marriage ceremony.
‘Wait what’s happening?’
He could only glance between his wooden wife and the ring on her hand in confusion. Before he could utter more words the whole scenery blurred even more before him as he was taken to another location. This time he was in some kind of royal corridor, on the other side he could see a woman in what looked to be a maid uniform running towards his location.
“My liege, it’s a healthy boy!”
“Huh, a boy?”
“Yes, the heir to the Kingdom has been born!”
“Now the line is secured! Oh, what a joyous occasion!”
To his side was his father-in-law who was jumping in excitement. Apparently, his wife had gone through labor and blessed him with a son. With horror in his eyes, he was guided to the room that his ‘son’ had been created in. The cries of a child were quite audible and he was forced to take the wooden baby into his hands to cradle it.
“This is my son?”
“Yes dear, isn’t he just the cutest?”
His wooden wife remained the same as before. Roland was unsure if she was smiling or not, her face was still made out of oil paint. The child that he was holding was the same and was giving him a vacant expression while still crying. Soon enough another flicker to the environment occurred before he was taken to another location.
Multiple such fast-forwarding events continued to play out before him. From the birth of his second-born daughter to his son taking fencing lessons, they flashed before him. It was like an ending to a game playing out with future events being listed down before the player. The trial was truly over and presented him with the history of his kingdom without him being able to change anything anymore.
Finally, it was time for the last scene to play before him. He was sitting on a giant throne made of precious gems and metal. Before him was a room filled with his subjects kneeling before him. Above them, he could see a map of the region he was forced to partake in warfare. Before it was a place separated by borders but now it had become one strong kingdom with one name over the lands.
“Does this mean that I have united the lands?”
He called out to his subjects while raising his kingly scepter that was in his hand. The moment he raised it he realized that his hand had aged quite a bit. Soon enough he also noticed that a long gray beard was hanging down from his face. How many years had passed was unknown to him but it was enough for him to become an old man.
“Long live the King!”
“Long live the Timberling Kingdom!”
No one answered his question, he could only hear them cheering out loudly while clapping. It was like a cutscene from a game, the only thing that it was missing were the credits rolling down. Thus he just remained there and let it end as within a couple of minutes everything went dark and he appeared somewhere entirely different. Gone was his old appearance and also the clothes he was wearing.
“Is it finally over?”
When he cleared his Runesmith Lord a pathway appeared after he had defeated his enemies. This time wasn’t the same, the whole trial area just vanished after he was given the ending recap. Instead of being given a new path to walk through, he appeared before a wooden door.
“I guess this should be where I gain my new knowledge or…”
He didn’t want to think about the second option and the possibility of a second part of this trial. From reading some recaps there was a possibility of multiple checks but not when the main one had already taken a whole year. There wasn’t even any mention of one taking this long which made him believe that what he went through was quite unique.
When looking behind him he couldn’t see anything. This door was just in the middle of nothingness with not much light around them. He could even walk around this door that was seemingly floating in the air without being connected to any wall. No invisible buildings or structures were there and without anything else, the door needed to be open.
Thus he went for the knob that was sticking out from this door to turn it. Without much resistance, it opened before him and to no surprise, he found something inside. The first thing that he noticed was the nice red carpet with runic patterns on it. It depicted some of the main runes that he had learned through the years.
When looking further in he discovered some shelves filled with thick books. On the sides he could see some shiny symbols, some of them he knew while others were familiar. In a similar fashion to his Runesmith Lord class trial, he was invited into a library. This one was a lot larger and contained even books with tier 2 knowledge.
“From spending a year battling to now reading…”
High-level knowledge wasn’t easily obtained. Simple skills could be injected directly into the brain after a person met the minimal requirements. Yet a skill like Rune Smithing at the tier 3 level wasn’t that simple, Roland didn’t meet the requirements and needed to go through the knowledge here before understanding the basics. His theory was that a person’s mind could not take the infusion of difficult knowledge, it would be unable to understand it. Thus a need for slow study in the trials was created to keep people from going crazy.
“Well then… “
The door slammed behind him and vanished instantly. He had a whole library filled with books to go through. He wasn’t sure why there were so many tier 2 ones around but perhaps gaining this class had some other perks than just gaining the ability to comprehend tier 3 runes.
“Heh, Greater Runes 101, who names these books?”
The first book he approached was out on the table next to the study chair. It would be the introduction to his new ability that he was so desperate to achieve. Now only the research part remained and when he left this place he would finally attain his new class.