Chapter 11 — Treasure Cave
The number of spooky incidents in Amber City was less than expected, thus Soran only took a little while to learn the general location of the treasure cave.
There was a mass burial pit around one kilometer north of the Agate River, and there had been multiple reports of ghost sightings around the region. As the witch had a tendency of placing the treasure caves near locations related to death, it was a rather obvious sign for Soran.
“Ghosts, huh? I might need some holy water.”
Although Soran was quite confident in his own abilities, the exploration might still take a while. In order to keep Vivian safe, he planned to send her to the Dawnlight Shrine and let her stay with Annalynne for a while. The young priestess was cold to him, but she was always willing to help Vivian and even tried to heal Soran when he was unconscious. Soran felt that there should be no problems if Vivian stayed in the shrine with her.
Of course, he prepared a considerable sum as a donation to the shrine, as the priests would not shelter a girl without any proper reasons.
At the entrance of the Dawnlight Shrine, Soran greeted Bishop Phil, who was in charge of the shrine, and handed over a pouch of coins as he slightly bowed. The bishop received the pouch and gladly accepted his request after hearing the pleasant sound of coins jingling.
“No problem at all! The God of Dawnlight protects all his followers. This little lady will certainly be allowed to stay in the shrine for a while.
“Hmm… We’ll assign priestess-in-training Annalynne as her guardian for the time being.”
This was a world where money talked.
Even the powerful bishops and priests in the world were bound by such rules, as they needed money to expand their religion by taking in believers from the lower class. Maintenance of the shrines, baptisms, and holding holy rituals—these all required money. In fact, for a while now most priests around the world had been blatantly providing divine healing services, such as curing illnesses and healing wounds, in exchange for funds in order to expand their religion. When compared to those shrines and priests, letting a little girl stay for a few days and selling a few gallons of holy water was nothing but a trivial matter.
The Dawnlight Shrine was only a second-rate shrine in Amber City. As the nobles had better options, they would rarely donate to the weaker shrines in the city. This further raised the value of Soran’s generous donation of 60 Silver Derahls. It was equivalent to the total amount of donations the shrine received in the past two to three weeks, and the unexpected income would allow Bishop Phil to exchange one or two of the ritual tools for high-grade silver ones.
Silver Derahls were coins made by the believers of the Goddess of Riches and had great quality; every 20 Silver Derahls was basically one pound of pure silver.
“Thank you Bishop Phil.”
Soran thanked the bishop in a respectful tone, then turned around and greeted Annalynne. “I’ll be troubling you with taking care of Vivian for the next few days then.”
The young priestess only snorted in response, but she did not deny his request either. Annalynne liked Vivian a lot even though she despised Soran, and she was more than happy to have Vivian staying in the shrine. Certainly, the priestess-in-training knew that the money came from shady sources, such as stealing or fighting in the slums. However, Bishop Phil had been trying his best to collect money in order to perform the ceremony of promoting her into a qualified priestess, and there was no reason not to take the money Soran donated.
If there were two qualified members of the clergy, Dawnlight Shrine should be able to raise their ranking to the upper quartile among second-rate shrines in the city.
“Vivian, be a good girl and stay with Annalynne in the shrine.”
Soran patted her head and continued, “I’ll pick you up in two or three days!”
He had already told her once on their way to the shrine, but it did not hurt to say it once more. Vivian was also satisfied with her brother’s arrangements and readily agreed.
“Don’t worry about me. Vivian’s a good girl and won’t run away.”
Soran lowered himself to kiss Vivian on the forehead, took the bottles of holy water, and left the shrine. Now that the skinning incident had occurred, he would have to speed his plans up.
During the period in which gods and goddesses were forced to descend into the mortal world as Saints, shrines were some of the safest places in Amber City, as the divine power generated from people’s prayers gathered at the shrine, not to mention the powerful shrine guards, who were as strong as people with Grade 2 professions. Even for a second-rate shrine like Dawnlight Shrine, there were six shrine guards, as well as a qualified member of the clergy who could defend the place. The evil forces would not invade such a tightly defended place lightly.
One of the shrine guards looked particularly strong, and his strength was probably on par with those with Grade 3 professions. A conservative guess of his professions would be Level 10 Squire/Level 10 Knight/Level 5 Shrine Guard or Level 10 Squire/Level 10 Warrior/Level 5 Shrine Guard.
Most, if not all, of the wizards who were original inhabitants of the world had the basic profession Sage and had levelled it to Level 10, as they had to learn how to read and write and have basic knowledge before studying arcane magic. Similarly, the majority of warriors had Level 10 Militia as their basic profession, which meant that they received training in a militia before formally becoming a soldier.
Soran’s basic profession, Commoner, was one of the worst basic professions. It did not provide boosts in weapon proficiency like Militia, nor did it give buffs in learning new knowledge like Sage. The only advantages of the Commoner profession were the 25 Skill Points given after reaching Level 10, and the freedom to choose any advanced profession.
Generally speaking, basic professions did not give additional attribute points, but the difference between the professions could still be seen as they all focused on different aspects. For example, the best basic profession for those who prefered melee combat was Squire, as it granted an additional point in proficiency for weapons. This, however, was only limited to those who could access the stats screen. The original inhabitants of this world, who had no access to the screen, could not assign skill points, attribute points, or experience points like Soran could. Typical commoners would receive basic education, and the development of their attributes and skills depended greatly on their personal growth. It was hard to tell whether they had talent or not until they gained an advanced profession on their own.
Shrine guards, on the other hand, would receive training as squires starting at a young age. As children, they would receive combat training and learn how to use various different weapons, thus their attributes in certain areas, such as Strength and Constitution, would be notably higher than commoners. The gap would only widen when those who had the profession Squire advanced to become warriors or knights and continued their training.
Based on such differences, the players of <<Clash of the Titans>> would determine the base attributes of a non-player character by looking at their basic profession. They came to the conclusion that commoners were average, militias had slightly better attributes than commoners, and squires were well-rounded, while sages specialized in Intelligence and learning things.
The first profession was the basic profession a person had before choosing more advanced ones. The people of this world did not know about the game system, meaning they could not manually assign points to different professions. Using the shrine guard as an example, he once trained as a squire. When he was considered good enough as a squire by his mentors, he started training as a warrior instead, and the subsequent EXP was automatically assigned to the profession Warrior, leaving his profession Squire at Level 10. Similarly, after he was strong enough to become a shrine guard, the profession Warrior no longer leveled up, and instead the profession Shrine Guard did.
Since the skills and attributes earned were transferred, he was significantly stronger than Grade 2 warriors, despite Shrine Guard and Warrior both being Grade 2 professions. Typical warriors would have lower attributes and could only use basic sword skills, whereas shrine guards would have higher attributes and could use over three advanced abilities. Soran could still remember the power of the sword skill Crossed Slash, which could only be learned after mastering the Cross Sword Style.
When Soran finally arrived at the mass burial pit and found the entrance to the cave, it was already late afternoon.
The entrance was concealed by a simple device that was rather similar to traps. A pitch-black cave entrance appeared in the nearby hill after Soran pushed a certain rock at the mass burial pit by ten centimeters. After he entered the cave, the rock moved back to its original place, and the entrance was concealed once again. As expected of a well-known witch, the mechanics used for the device even amazed the ex-Legendary Rogue player.
There were two damaged torches on the walls near the entrance. Normal adventurers would not be able to move inside the cave without a torch, but as Soran was a half-elf, he inherited the night vision ability from his elven ancestors.
This was also one of the reasons he dared to challenge the treasure cave alone—he could move around silently without alerting the swarm of monsters residing in the cave, as he had the skill Sneak and would not give away his presence by holding a torch. The expedition was a lot safer, as it could be done without battling waves of monsters.
Soran’s figure gradually faded into the darkness. Now that he had awakened to the Profession Ability Grasp of Shadows, he could feel that his senses were rather different than before. He seemed to have completely vanished into the shadows and could only barely be spotted when he moved vigorously.
His breath, heartbeat, and smell were all concealed by the power of shadows.
Some footsteps could be heard from the front. The rogue silently reached for his dagger and lurked at a corner.
The treasure cave was by no means small. After all, the legendary witch did not just dig a hole in the ground, but instead laid a wide range of traps in the various underground tunnels. There were also monsters to act as guardians.
A skeleton appeared in front of Soran.
As the eyes of the skeleton lacked soul fire, it was just a skeleton of the lowest grade. Perhaps it was subconsciously defending the cave, as the energy of death gathered in such a spooky place. This type of skeleton was relatively weak, and even an average adventurer could single-handedly defeat two or three, but fighting them in large swarms was still impossible without a decent group composition. Skeletons were undeads and had no physical weak points that adventurers could take advantage of, not to mention that their strength was about the same as a trained militia. A swarm of them was so hard to defeat even though the skeletons were just of the lowest grade.
Soran sneakily approached without the insentient skeleton noticing. It was holding a rusty iron sword in its hands that seemed to belong to the adventurers who died in the cave. In the original storyline, the number of NPC adventurers was comparable to the number of players. There were plenty who cooperated with the players, as well as those who joined the evil alignment and backstabbed the innocent players. Everyone who underestimated the game had to pay a price.
“Successfully hidden in the shadows!”
“Successfully activated Backstab*2, dealing 18 (+1) damage to the target!”
“Target severely injured!”
This was the first time Soran failed to kill an enemy in a single strike with Backstab, but he was not surprised at all, as the dagger he was using was just a normal dagger that had no special effects and was not enchanted. It should also be noted that undeads had resistance against physical attacks as they lacked flesh and blood, which made them hard to defeat even though they were just rated as Level 1. This skeleton alone had 30 HP.
Even though it was insentient, the skeleton still retained the battle instincts from its previous life. It immediately slashed at Soran after receiving the attack and produced a whoosh! sound as the rusty sword swiftly cut through the air. Soran blocked the attack with his dagger and shuddered a bit.
“It has at least 16 Strength…”
He dodged the second attack while moving his slightly numbed arms to regain his senses.
“It was surely an advanced warrior in its previous life… It’s impossible to have so much strength after turning into an undead.”
Generally speaking, normal human beings had around 10 Strength, while laborers at the docks had around 12. People who had 14 Strength were considered to be strong, while professional weightlifters in Soran’s previous world would have around 16. With 18, one could use a weapon weighing over a hundred kilograms with a single hand without breaking a sweat.
Only players who specialized in melee combat would raise their Strength to 16 or above. Attribute points were hard to obtain, as players would only receive one every two levels, which meant that they only had 10 free attribute points even after reaching Level 20, the benchmark for becoming a Legendary player.
Soran was especially lacking in Strength, considering that he only had 12 points in the attribute. The previous ‘Soran’ did not train his body, nor was he a blessed child who had blessings that granted buffs to his Strength; thus, he was only on par with laborers in this certain aspect.
A great example of having 20 Strength or above was mountain giants. Five meters in height and half a ton in weight, these monstrous giants wielded a waist-thick spiked mace and could smash everything within their sights if they wanted to.
This was the standard of having 20 points in Strength.
Except those who had blessings since birth, most warriors would not have such tremendous strength even after reaching Grade 2.
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